The ‘Freshly Pressed’ Fallout

Most WordPress writers hope to be Freshly Pressed someday. Back in June, when my post “Confessions of a Former Worship Leader” was chosen and featured, I danced a jig and nearly sprained my ankle. It was great, and now I bear the mark.

But don’t let those pesky WordPress editors fool you. It isn’t all daisies and sunshine. There’s fallout, baby. Aftermath. Radiation with no radioactive suit. I grew an extra eyeball on my elbow. True story.

Here’s what happened to me:

The Freshly Pressed Post-Press-Process 

Euphoria (I’m the best blogger ever!)

Addiction (It just feels so good…)

Depression (My stats are going down… )

Desperation (Just give me one more hit…)

Replication (I must recapture my former glory!)

While enduring this terrible Post-Press-Process, I trapped myself in a rabbit cage called Christian Today and labeled my name tag as the “Go-to church-criticism guy.”

(Just one more hit…)

See, there’s this inherent blogosphere rule that says the better you focus your blog towards capturing one audience, the faster your readership grows. After having a taste of sweet, sweet mass readership, I was hooked. Crystal Blue Persuasion had me, and I was damn well sure I’d corner the Christian blogger market any day with my product.

History is so Passé 

Before FP (because initials are cool), I was an average blogger, and I wrote whatever I wanted. Sure, I didn’t have a solid focus or steady readership but that was alright. I just wanted to write and get better at it. Sometimes, I wrote about being a Christian; other times, I wrote about Mexican food or getting my butt stuck in a car seat.

“Confessions…” was different. It was the most honest thing I’d ever written; my heart was entirely in it. I spent a year formulating drafts in my head, searching for the right words, finding ways to elucidate my complicated and awkward spiritual journey. It meant a lot to me to get it right. After a week or two of editing the actual draft, it finally worked. I clicked “Publish” (the button was heavier than normal that day).

What I’m getting at is that “Confessions” wasn’t normal nor was it ever meant to be a flagship. It was just a process that gave me healing, what I needed at the time. I hoped for it to resonate with one or two others.

But when “Confessions..” hit, everything changed. I was no longer just another average, over-churched burn-out. I was a Freshly Pressed over-churched burn-out! (Big difference okay).

I was given an audience who redefined my writing identity. I became one of those dumb cool-young-hip Christian bloggers.

First World-Blogger Problems

After the traffic died down and I was left with my wonderfully old (and new) subscribers, I noticed interesting stat patterns. The blogs I wrote about life, travel, and every-day-faith earned me decent traffic (better than before but not the consistency I was hoping for). The blogs I wrote about church-criticism nearly always doubled my traffic.

So as any red-blooded blogger would, I (fracked for crack) wrote more and more about the church even when it didn’t feel natural. Oddly enough, when the impulse was sincere, I usually talked myself out of it in favor of trying to “Grow.”

It’s like being stuck in some sort of.. Post-Pressed-Pressure…

IMG_3015

The awkward “Post-Pressed-Pressure-Pose”

My first thought: “Hey, maybe I should focus all my energies on church reform. People obviously want to hear what I have to say. And I do have more to say!”

My second thought: “Didn’t I leave the church?”

Then, after a root beer, my third thought: “Does this mean I have to join a church to stay current for my audience?”

Then, after a slice of pizza and an hour of Netflix, my fourth thought: “If I don’t write about the church then am I shooting my writing career in the foot?”

My fifth thought: Who do I write for, my audience or me?

Kevin’s Final Thought on Friday Show: Is this how one-hit wonders feel? “I want to play the new stuff.” But they like the old stuff. Give ‘em the old stuff. Old stuff or die. 

Old stuff or die.

Old stuff and die.

Epilogue/Backsliding

Christian-blogger is a stupid term. I think so, any way. C.S. Lewis wrote in an essay about how people shouldn’t look for labels to promote their faith, or book, or ideology, that what people cling to are the natural outputs. I’ve always felt that there’s nothing sincere about labels and agendas. It’s why American evangelism sucks. Instead of reaching out to serve and be sincere, we seek others only when philosophy conversion is possible or at least part of the conversation (as if people aren’t worth our time otherwise).

This is where I find myself today, with a reminder for you (but mostly for me): Be sincere, good people. Be sincere.

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24 comments

  1. This was so entertaining! I’ve never been Freshly Pressed but I can understand the pressure that blogging can cause once you’ve gained more attention. It can make you forget your original intent.

  2. While I’m still totally new to this and don’t get a lot of views in comparison, I know how you feel to a degree. My heartfelt posts on faith and my issues the church had far higher views then any music post I did.

    I told myself that maybe this is just God’s way of saying “hey man, your reaching people and you gotta do this more”. Yet I find writing a album review easier,and less stressful. I have to reach every time I write a faith based post, but music comes easy, but I have half the views…

    I’d say do whatever you want, and write for yourself.

    1. “I’d say do whatever you want, and write for yourself.” Thank you. I will try my best to take that advice!

      Some things are worth battling through, even if it is stressful. It’s good to be challenged. It’s good to be honest. What a funny world us bloggers live in.

  3. Good insight on being Pressed. The “Epilogue/Backsliding” section is an entry in itself. I’ve dealt with the “love that expects nothing in return” topic before. Please, my friend, write that post!

    1. Thanks, Michael. I named the ending section “Backsliding” because I started writing another post about church issues without really thinking about it! haha. I guess it is what I know. It could make an interesting post. I’d rather read your thoughts on it, however.

  4. Be sincere. Great advice. Or, to fashion some initials out of it – DBFF (Don’t Be Foney, Fool).

    You’ve detailed well your personal struggle since Freshly-Pressed fame found you, but I want you to know your writing has not suffered.

    I’m not a shrink (nor do I play one in the blogosphere), but I’m pretty sure, my friend, you are pathologically incapable of being insincere.

    Keep up the good work.

  5. I think if you stay sincere and heartfelt, writing about things people can relate to and identify with then you’ll be fine. I know it’s very tempting and sometimes agonizing to keep looking at your stats and comparing them with your best ones, but I’ve learned this isn’t good for me. It makes me focus on what writing things that I would know people would go for thus becoming commercial and lacking genuineness instead of writing what I feel is on my heart at that time. Sometimes something you write goes viral and some other times, the posts that you would expect to do that end up being read by a very humbling 20 or 30 readers. But I personally feel God is constantly reminding me that the reason I’m writing is because he’s asked me to and has put the things I write about on my heart, and not because people expect me to deliver them something they will enjoy.

    Thanks for sharing this candid post with us, I could definitely relate to what you’re saying, even though I was never freshly pressed 🙂

    1. Wow. Powerful comment. Thank you so much. “But I personally feel God is constantly reminding me that the reason I’m writing is because he’s asked me to and has put the things I write about on my heart, and not because people expect me to deliver them something they will enjoy.” This is a great reminder.

  6. I think you’re funny and write the truth, so focus on that and get rid of pigeon-holing yourself into the Christian realm. I can empathize, since I started my blog to chronicle my pregnancy, but then stray away from ‘parenting’ issues to talk about identity and yoga and spirituality, etc. etc. It’s hard sometimes when I push the publish button knowing that most of the people following me are parents who write about parenting stuff…like…are they going to stop?

  7. Kevin,

    Ricky Nelson often lamented that people only wanted to hear his old songs – his response….he would rather drive a truck. I think the most important thing to do in any moment or any blog is (to quote Shakespeare) be true to yourself. I’m not a Christian, although I do sometimes like to read your observations about being one, it is why I read your blog. I know you personally and I like to keep in touch. Why do I like to keep in touch? Because you, the person I once worked with, is a cool dude, who was always honest and sincere. That’s what I like to read…anything you are being honest and sincere about. You inspire my own blog – which much like you I struggle to define. I also wonder if I’ll ever get any devoted readers. Keep being the lovely human being you are and it will all be OK.

  8. I’ve found a bunch of interesting TCK/expat blogs here, and when I wrote a post based on something from one of those, I garnered several new readers. However, since then most of my posts have been about remodeling my house. I used to participate in writing challenges and post poetry and fiction. I also post photos from wherever I am or have been recently, and translated lyrics from my favorite Latin American songs. All over the map. I suspect that most of my Followers ignore the majority of my posts.

    I could probably get better stats as a TCK niche blogger, but that would mean thinking a lot more than I usually do.

  9. Ha! I am going thru the same process. I was FP’d and thought I finally made it! Then I wish I could have all those numbers every day…doesn’t happen. I struggled over what to write. Like a one-hit-wonder, how do you follow up?! Trying to get back to my ‘roots’ –trying to find my roots.

  10. You are the only YOU there is. If you lose yourself to please others, what — who — are you? I’ve never been FP’d. Probably never will be. I write whatever I feel lilke. This isn’t a paying job, so if I’m not getting satisfaction from doing it, I’m getting nothing. The temptation — even without FP — is to go in the direction of whatever posts hit big. It doesn’t work. You have to be you because it’s what we know how to be.

  11. I understand your question about who your real audience is.
    I was Freshly Pressed in July 2013 for a post about the Flood in Alberta that wiped out our entire community of 305 homes and cabins. My viewer stats did not change at all, and shortly after that I wrote a post called “My Freshly Pressed Natural Disaster”. A month after that I stopped blogging completely.
    I had to take time off to find my ‘Happy Place’ both in the real world and in my mind. In doing so, I also had to answer the question – Who am I writing for?
    When I started blogging again, I knew that my blog was one of my Happy Places, and that the only person I was writing for was me. If others enjoy it, fine.
    WordPress.Com makes blogging a competition, and it is easy to get caught up in hopes of traffic from followers and being Freshly Pressed. That, however, isn’t a realistic dream for someone in my demographic and I’m comfortable with that!

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