I’ll begin by quoting the e-mail that started all this. Brian said:
Bill – You have some very good points in this article. I wonder how we can increase readership of your blog?
Two ideas come to mind:
- Consider changing the name of your blog to something like “The Homeless Blogger”
- There are a number of newspapers that are by homeless people for the broader community. We have one here in Columbus called Street Speech. You could submit a weekly blog there. Here is a partial list: http://www.homeless.org.au/directory/news.htm
Some background: WordPress gives me very detailed stats about who visits my blog: where they are; what posts or pages they read; where they clicked on a link, if they did, to get here; what search engine terms they used, if any; and more.
The quickest way to increase my readership is for my readers to link to and quote from the blog early and often throughout the day. Incorporate links into your e-mail signatures. Regard any Facebook post or Tweet as incomplete until it includes a link. Do the same with comments on other blogs or news articles …
I have the conviction that the right eyes will find the blog at the right time. That doesn’t mean I should do nothing.
After church 09/08/13, a Follower told me she agreed with Brian’s suggestion. She said that “The Homeless Blogger” tells a story, whereas “William Tell” and “Trojan Horse” do not; and that my voice as a homeless man is important, since I defy the stereotypes.
I didn’t want to hear this, but I need to listen to good advice.
On the one hand, Trojan Horse Productions and William Tell are the brand I want to carry into radio. I’ll explain that more below. There is already one user who routinely accesses materials at the Library using search terms like “trogen horse productions.”
On the other hand, there are dozens of homeless bloggers already. My therapist, BB, asked whether they have what I have to offer. No matter.
I don’t want to be a spokesman (or spokescritter) for the homeless. I want to find a route out of homelessness, and walk it, and enable others to walk it. In my dream of climbing up the ladder out of the pit, consistently, as soon as I get to the top I immediately turn around and throw a rope back into the pit, to help others pull themselves out.
As I recently told my brothers (quoted in an earlier post): “Brian and others have suggested I rebrand myself online as ‘The Homeless Blogger.’ Then my work might get more of the attention they think it deserves. But I don’t want to be ‘The Homeless Blogger.’ I want to be William Tell the talk show host (New idea: a homeless talk show host?), William Tell the secretary or cashier or grocery store clerk. I want to become one of the 53%, and a.s.a.p. Ironically, once I do enter the 53%, I’ll probably still be homeless.”
That said, I have launched a new blog, The Homeless Blogger, where I duplicate the posts from Trojan Horse Productions. I’ve also begun embedding the phrase “the homeless blogger” at various points throughout both blogs. Anyone who searches on “the homeless blogger” will find me.
I recently learned that post tags are effectively keywords, that search engines use in indexing web pages; so I’ve begun tagging my posts differently.
Standard operating procedure
WordPress and other blog-hosting sites primarily stress social networking to increase readership. They say:
(1) Read other blogs and Like and Follow them; then those bloggers may like and Follow me. But I sure don’t have time for reading other blogs — apparently lots of bloggers do do this, a lot a — and the blogging world isn’t whom I want to reach. (2) Sign up all your e-mail contacts and Facebook friends as Followers. I’ve already done that with all the e-mail contacts I can trust with my pseudonym; as for Facebook, I don’t want a Facebook presence. This blog and my participation at Messiah Truth are all the Web presence I can handle.
They also advise using catchy post titles (e.g. “Andy Kessler: Guilty as charged” and “Sneak peek”) and an attention-grabbing lead paragraph (“Chaos overwhelms the poor” begins with a killer.)
Commenting on news
Some of the rationale here will become clearer when I discuss my product and market below.
Yahoo! News sometimes captures blog posts. And this is how I became aware of Yahoo! Contributor.
I now have accounts at HuffPost, the Washington Post, NYT and Baltimore Sun to enable me to comment on news articles online; and I can post my URL in each one. The risk here is getting lost in the shuffle: when I copied the Maggie Fox article (“Sneak peek“) into Word to print out, it came to 40 pages — 3 pages of article and 37 pages of comments. A recent article about Dick Cheney’s view of the Tea Party got 2409 comments within two hours of its release. But I have already had one hit from a comment on a NYT article.
OTOH, I may as well start submitting articles to those papers myself.
Note from diary, 10/10/13 — “This morning looked at columns by Charles Krauthammer and Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post. I had gotten the impression before that Krauthammer is a conservative, and now I’m getting the impression that I just don’t like him, not that that should make any difference. Overall, I am seeing the same issues in print that concerned William Tell from the start on the airwaves. Many of these guys talk about government the same way other people talk about sports: they’re concerned with who’s got the best field position and which team is more likely to win. They also think that deriding opponents is likely to alter the outcome. Questions of prudent public policy really aren’t in the mix.”
On 09/24/13 I went to the print edition of the Baltimore Sun to check my horoscope, and was inflamed to glimpse a certain by-line on the op-ed page, Peter Morici. They identified him as an academic and “a widely published columnist.” In short, if his work belongs there, so does mine.
I can play with the big boys.
What is my product, and who is my market?
In the short term, my product is The William Tell Show (See “My Resume.”), and my market is radio station programming directors. The whole point of the blog and my Yahoo! pieces is that some such person will see them and say, “We’ve got to get this guy on the air!”
A lot will change once I find a job, even if for only ten hours a week. I will have bus fare to go to church on my days off and use the computers there almost without limitation. I will get a tablet and be able to go online anytime, anywhere. I will get a digital audio recorder and create audition tapes.
I don’t plan to invest any time formatting Homeless Blogger, but for $30 a year I can so upgrade Trojan Horse Productions as to be able to format it to my liking in every detail.
There are things I can do in free time before then.
My resume references Free Speech Handbook and Guides to Straight Thinking. FSH appeared on my former web site, and I can restore it to the current blogs. It illustrates a lot of what William Tell is about, and any member of my target market who visits needs to be able to find it. GST has entered the public domain, so I can display that now, too. There are techy issues, though, as my copy is a set of Word files that use extensive tables.
An issue in selling to this audience: There is a limited market for spirituality. In recent weeks I should instead have been posting about Tom Cruz and Syrian sarin. But I’ve just conceived a new piece on secular matters that will be timely anytime from now until They Do It Again In February.
In the long run, however, my real product is religion. “The Way of Peace” is my name for what I believe Jesus actually taught.
I confess the element of subterfuge — trying to sell that through the vehicle of The William Tell Show. I love subterfuge, however. The Trojan Horse was a subterfuge; thus my business name. The centaur logo is a subterfuge again, since it’s really not a Trojan Horse. It derives from my strong identification with Chiron, “the wounded healer,” who nonetheless would have lived in the same age, ca. 1400 B.C.E., the same era as the Exodus.
Apparently my ultimate product is hope, or courage. I see from “Chaos overwhelms the poor” that I am already peddling that now. I conceived William Tell ca. 1993 in response to the fear-mongers who seemed to me to dominate talk radio at that time; so if I’m peddling hope or courage now, it’s consistent with that goal.
Compare Isaiah 35.