This post isn’t about Kim Kardashian or Donald Trump, of course. I’m sorry for being sneaky. Feel free to leave this page if you feel you have been bamboozled.
I’m thinking of quitting writing Fruit Tree Blog, or at least winding it down. It’s been something I’ve been considering for a while. I wish I could say that it’s time for me to move on, that I want to refocus on other more exciting projects, or that I don’t have much left to say. But none of those things is true. I’ve got plenty of ideas for posts I still want to write. I just don’t have much confidence that anyone will read them.
There is a small group of people who have been hugely supportive of this blog since I started it in 2010. The interest they’ve shown, and the emotional support that that interest has given me, have been tremendous. But other than this loyal few, getting people to read this blog has always felt like pulling teeth, and the past few months have been especially hard.
For sure, one reason is that I haven’t done a good enough job promoting it. A legendary Baha’i blogger gave me some sage advice on this when I was starting, along with some useful tips: apply for blog awards and recognitions; post to other sites and forums to get your profile out there; use social media. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to follow through, at least not to the degree I would have liked. My current job is a big reason why, for reasons that I’ve already touched on and won’t burden you with again. Like I’ve mentioned a few times, the nature of my work has essentially forced me to write under a pseudonym, and almost all of the writing I’ve done for the site has been on my smart phone during my morning and afternoon commutes. The blog essentially has no personal element, other than the vague acknowledgment of some shadowy author named “Ed Hollison”.
But I don’t think this is the main reason readership has failed to take off. I’ve gradually come to grips with the fact that what I write just doesn’t resonate with people the way I originally thought it would. Partly, I think the issue is that people just don’t read long-form articles and blog posts like they used to, with our interactions on the internet shifting towards tweets, likes, and emojis.
If I’m honest with myself, however, the content is also to blame. Maybe people don’t like the thought of reading a blog dedicated to religion, especially a particular religion, however loosely. Maybe the style of blog posts is too preachy and predictable: news story or trend, commentary, some Baha’i passage, conclusion. Maybe the sentences are too rambly and long sometimes. I’m sure all of this has contributed.
Beyond all that, a lot of the blog’s failure to reach a wider audience, I believe, pertains to the fact that the main themes are not attractive to many readers. If you can pluck one single overarching message out of the blog, I’d say that it’s personal responsibility. I’ve argued that major economic and social problems — inequality, failures of democracy, racism, etc/ — require not just a change in public policy, but a change in our hearts and in our behavior. If we truly want to change the world, I’ve argued, maybe we need to start by looking in the mirror.
That message is at the heart of the Baha’i Faith, and for that matter every other religious path. But if I’m honest with myself (there’s that phrase again), I must admit that that message also cuts very much across the grain of society, both as it is now and how it is trending. It is simply too easy and fashionable to couch difficult subjects in the language of “us versus them”, or to conclude that every conflict can be solved by supporting the right cause or vanquishing the right villain.
Beyond that, I’m not really sure prospective readers actually care. For me this point was driven home recently, when I shared my most recent post on my personal Facebook page and earned a total of three “likes”. I subsequently shared a funny meme about Cookie Monster and got a dozen within a few minutes. As you may have gathered, that was the point of the Kim Kardashian/Donald Trump thing; I wanted to see how much attention a post with a sexy title and image might attract when it showed up in people’s Facebook feeds and email inboxes.
The blog isn’t necessarily dead. In all likelihood you’ll see me (or Ed Hollison) in this space again, and in the meantime, the existing posts are still there for whoever finds them useful. Maybe at some point I can actually start using my real name, which would change things quite a bit. But in any case, it’s time to take a bit of a step back and think things through. For the few loyal readers of Fruit Tree Blog, thank you truly. For all others, you can find Kim Kardashian’s Instagram page here.
7 thoughts on “Kim Kardashian’s latest Instagram about Donald Trump nearly broke the internet!”
I’ve been enjoying your blog! Best wishes, and I look forward to reading an occasional post now and then!
(Sorry, put this in the wrong place at first.)
“Sir Edward of Hollison”, that was a poignant piece to read. I knew you weren’t writing about The D and The Ks, but was still a bit sad to read your (non-manipulative, reasonable) comments about the low readership you get. I’m fairly recent to this blog, and find your stuff interesting and enjoyable (this from a guy with little interest in economics). All the reasons you gave for low readership, though, apart from your willingness to accept that your writing may not be for all tastes, struck me as valid. My own blog putters along: I’m getting close to having made 700 posts over the last nearly 10 years, but I’m losing steam. In addition to some of your observations — who reads long-form stuff on click-bait-free topics? — I know that mine may be too diffuse. In addition to your comments on reading religion — I do write about it sometimes, though mine is not as clearly a “Baha’i blog” — mine likely suffers because, as even my wife says, it is about *all* the stuff I think and care about, which is a lot. (And I don’t have kitty GIFs.) While I worry about ploughing the same ground too often, I suspect it’s the opposite: hopping from sports to books to environmentalism to movies to sons to imprisoned Baha’is to education and back to sports likely makes my stuff un- (or maybe even anti-?) popular. (www.JamesHowden.com)
So I sympathize. I wish I could give you an unreserved “keep goin’ man!” or “hang in there” but I can’t put up much of an argument, I’m afraid. I’m going to try to ramp up again, if for no other reason than incentives to SIT DOWN and DO IT and feed my own thinking, but I’m far from sure this is a significant contribution to anybody but me. Thanks for your work, in any case.
I really appreciate your blog, as a fellow Baha’i I look for Baha’i blogs with longer, thoughtful articles. But you can’t tell since, as an older person, I’m not used to doing Likes, and I use a RSS reader, so your hits probably don’t show it. That I can change.
Robert Grunloh, Tucson.
I really, really appreciate these comments. Today some friends who know personally gave me some really kind feedback that was truly touching. Let’s see what happens, but for now let me just thank everyone for reading and their tremendous kindness.
Hi “Ed”, I also wanted to say that I have really appreciated your efforts. I hope you will keep writing when you are passionate and feel you have an idea that needs to be said. It doesn’t matter if you write regularly or not. But when you do write, I hope you could share the posts widely–not just in your dedicated blog, but also in spaces that collect articles from many authors. Of course there are other things you have thought about that really could matter when trying to increase readership in a world of information overload (attractiveness of the email format that goes out, mixing in shorter formats like lists and “best of”, working hard on networking to build followers, etc). People really do spend a lot of time on those things. But if you don’t feel like doing them, then don’t. I think what matters most is to write when you really have something to say, share that as widely as you can, and keep your ideas archived so they can take shape over time and build into other conversations. Maybe say a prayer and offer up your efforts with love, as one part of the constructive contributions that are needed to transform this world. Wishing you all the best.
Robert’s comments resonated with me as I too am an older Baha’i who doesn’t use social media or “Likes”. As a regular follower of your blog though, I just want you to know how much your writings gave so much food for thought and touched my heart. I’ll look forward to your return if and when you feel ready!
Sorry to see you go… at least for the time being.
I wouldn’t feel too bad about this. I have been a loyal reader for some time, but the numbers around blogging are… well… enough to make anyone depressed. And I seriously doubt it’s the content. I’ve come under the impression that a blog that has a few dozen regular readers is one that is unusually well-read. I’ve started and stopped myself. Putting together a blog is an incredible amount of work – almost an hour for something that can be scanned in three minutes by someone. About eight years ago, a regularly updated blog of this quality might have picked up readership, but then again, it might have ahd the same result. And now, fuggidaboudit. At this point, given how much traffic has been driven away from individual blogs and toward the big aggeregators, doing a traditional blog has a real “message in the bottle” quality.
You will no doubt get plenty of advice from other people, so I won’t add to it. In any event, I hope our paths do cross one of these days, whoever Ed Holliston may be.
Joe B., West Harrison NY