The Web We Have to Save
Hossein Derakhshan

Photo via Shutterstock.

Reading in the (New) Web

Or, why it is so difficult to attract readers to your blog?

I read a lot of posts and comments complaining about the difficulty of getting noticed on Medium (and elsewhere).

“I’ve written three pieces and got just a few views.”

I’ve been on Medium for four months now, and I started posting without having a previous community on the site. I didn’t have — and still don’t — any growth strategy. I opened the account just because it seemed to be a good place to start from zero. Yes, I used to read some publications before I opened my own account, but without interacting.

At this time, I’ve got 1k followers to my profile and 2,3k to my main publication. It’s been hard to getting noticed, but it’s growing day by day. I don’t worry too much about it anyway.

The Iranian-Canadian blogger and author Hossain Derakhshan, after having been imprisoned for 6 years, noticed that the web has changed. I completely agree with him.

There was a time when you opened a blog and your main concerns were to write, and to answer some comments from time to time. Now, if you want visits, you need to promote what you write here and there, although this promotion doesn’t guarantee the visits either.

Like Derakhshan states, the web today is all about entertainment. You don’t take the time to read, one by one, the posts that interest you; on the contrary, most people get fed posts by a secret-algorithmed never-ending flow of news provided by any of the internet giants.

These companies are doing their homework well. With the excuse of enhancing user experience, Facebook and Apple are launching their own readers’ systems, so you don’t need to get out of their platforms to find any content. They simply collect “stories you want to read based on topics you’re interested in”. They decide on these topics by the likes you give, the links you open, or the friends you have; on the way, you lose control of your readings.

All writers should know this. There’s no way to escape this maze.

Medium seems to have implemented its own algorithm. You can follow an author, a topic, or a tag, but this doesn’t guarantee you are viewing everything from them.

As a good girl, I promote all my posts in my social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Linkedin, and sometimes or Pinterest), but for a reason I still don’t know, about a month ago, after 3 months blogging on Medium, my posts started being read and recommended much more than before.

Some authors say that emailing their friends with their blog updates works for them. Some others try to promote their posts where they can. In any case, a good text doesn’t necessarily imply reads or recommendations on Medium, or on any other publishing platform. The truth now is that we as authors need to build our own spaces and audiences, and this takes time. If you are lucky enough, you might be read by someone with a lot of followers and that could give your blog the spark it needs, but, to be honest, this doesn’t happen all that often.

It’s on us to change the way we live the web.

We can’t complain about how others read, and then read in the same way ourselves! This is why I still use sites such as Evernote or Delicious, or feed readers such as Feedly and Feedspot. Because I don’t want any algorithm to decide what I have to read and what’s good for me, based on any interest they might think I have. In this reading thing, I trust my friends to a point. I usually enjoy reading what they have shared (usually is the key word here), but not always. Sometimes I also enjoy getting out of the cave and surfing the net in search of the unknown. Most of these times, I find great stuff.

If you only write for the pleasure of writing, you won’t mind whether you have hundreds of views or none. If what you write is good, visitors will end up coming, reading, commenting and recommending.