Exactly five years ago, another translator told me “Steve, you should have a blog”. I don’t remember whether she said it at the Baker’s Crust restaurant in Greenbrier here in Chesapeake, Virginia, or whether the sentence that launched my silly blog appeared in my e-mail, but that is not important.
The important thing is that I listened to her, went to WordPress.com and figured out how to create a new blog, including that the format that I wanted to use should be framed in two Youtube videos, one at the beginning and one at the end. After all, some people may share my exquisite taste in music, and those who don’t do not need to click on the videos (though they don’t know what they’re missing)!
At first, nobody seemed to have noticed my blog during the initial months when the prospects of another blog on such a pedestrian subject as “translation” seemed somewhat uncertain.
I remember how deeply moved and touched I was one Saturday morning 5 years ago when the blog view count suddenly jumped from something like 163 to something like 167 within a few minutes. Wow, some people must be reading it, I thought to myself, my chest swelling with pride. I was not quite rubbing my hands with glee, but I was very close to it.
Then one Sunday evening I received a first blog comment praising my lofty and inspiring thoughts and elegant style. It hit me like bolt of thunder – I remember thinking, wow, I did not know myself that I was so good. It took me a whole day before I realized that it was a spam comment from some lowlife who was trying to sell fake medications by leaving spam comments on blogs.
But after my blog was listed in alphabetical order under P for PatentTranslator’s blog on the ATA (American Translators Association) Blog Trekker list of translation blogs, the view count started growing. Out of gratitude to the ATA because the ATA Blog Trekker was the first major site that listed my blog, I wrote quite a few posts over the 5 years filled with scathing criticism of inane articles in the ATA Chronicle. But of course, I do it out of love for the profession. I just want the Chronicle to finally try to do better!
From about the third year, my posts started being listed on blogrolls of other blogging translators and also quite regularly on topics for discussion posted on the Proz site by Romina (I’m afraid I forgot her last name). That got me even more views than the ATA Blog Trekker. Out of gratitude to Romina, I started mercilessly criticizing Proz, and she stopped for some reason including my posts in her food for thought.
Then my silly blog about all things translation plus anything else that momentarily tickled my fancy, including my son’s amazingly gentle pit bull Lucy who was so far featured in about half a dozen posts, was listed also in the LaRassegna list of blogs and the number of my followers kept growing. Not exponentially, but quite significantly.
Incidentally, when you have accumulated a certain amount of followers, some of them will be unsubscribing themselves, probably because you say something that they find so offensive that they just cannot …. countenance it, that is the right word, I think. It breaks my heart every time it happens, but I guess it comes with the territory.
My biggest coup in terms of how many views my silly blog generated in one day and how many new subscribers I then gained within a few days came on April 6, 2012, when I wrote my inspired post “Translator’s Dementia (TD) – What It Is and How to Recognize the Signs”. That post had almost 2,500 views in one day, to date it has more than 2K likes on Facebook, and the last comment about it, praising my acerbic wit, of course, was received yesterday.
Interestingly, with the exception of my scholarly analysis of TD, the most popular posts on my blog generally have absolutely nothing to do with translation. For example, a very popular post that I wrote just before Thanksgiving in 2013, titled “How Many Calories Are There in One Section of Toblerone Chocolate”, had 1,130 views in January and 705 views so far in February of this year, while another off topic post under the nasty title “If You Believe That You Can Learn a Language in 10 Days, You Deserve To Be Ripped Off”, which I wrote in October of 2012 and which had almost 20,000 views so far, had 373 views in January and 285 views so far in February of this year.
Clearly, what must be happening here is that people are typing into a search engine the words contained in the title of the post and that is how they find my blog. I am particularly delighted about the continuing popularity of the latter post because the way the so called “Pimsleur approach” to learning of languages is marketed is nothing but a very nasty scam, very costly to poor victims who fall for it, namely people who want to learn a foreign language while knowing absolutely nothing about foreign languages and naively believing that there is always a simple shortcut for everything.
If my post helped to open the eyes of 10,000 people out of the 20,000 people who seem to have read it and stopped them from wasting hundreds of dollars on this scam, I think that it should count as atonement for my many misdeeds in this life, and as I have done some good in this world, I hope that Saint Peter will take it into consideration when he hears me banging on the Pearly Gates.
Probably like most bloggers, whenever I finish a post, I am convinced that this is absolutely the best post I wrote so far, much better than all the previous ones. In other words, I have no idea which of my posts may not be so bad and which ones are less than mediocre.
But I generally find out soon enough what was it that I wrote from readers’ reaction to each post, by which I mean mostly how many people share the post on Twitter and Facebook. But not always. Some posts are “sleepers”: nobody notices them at first, but lots of people will see them eventually. How all of this happens is another thing that I have not been able to figure out so far.
Maybe I will know more in another 5 years of new exciting adventures in the blogging universe.