On the afternoon of Tuesday, June 19, I logged into my WordPress account, with no suspicion of the whirlwind that was about to hit me. I had hit a personal blogging milestone that morning — I published my 50th blog post (the one about Lucy Maud Montgomery and Prince Edward Island) — and I was curious to find out what the reaction had been from my usual readers.
And there it was, front and center, on the WordPress homepage for the entire world to see. Along with a group of other bloggers, WordPress had chosen my June 5th blog post about wacky word origins for their “Freshly Pressed” award.
There was “Oh, WOW!” repeated about a billion times. There was the wild shrieking dance of joy, accompanied by the appropriate celebration music and a packet of chocolate pretzel M&Ms. There was a tweet on Twitter. There was immediate notifying of friends and relatives: “Guess what happened? The website that hosts my blog featured me and some others on their homepage today! This is HUGE worldwide publicity for my blog!”
I was briefly tempted to set off fireworks in the backyard. However, I desisted because a) it was still daylight, b) I didn’t have any fireworks and c) we save those for Independence Day (July 4th).
Congratulations poured in from kind people all over the globe (well, okay, Antarctica and Iceland missed out on the party, but I suspect Internet service is a bit spotty in those areas). Comments came from old and young, married and single, male and female. I heard from people in Asia, South America, North America, Australia, Africa and Europe. Some congratulations came from fellow bloggers I’d already “met”; others arrived from new readers who happened to click on that Freshly Pressed link.
Likes, blog followers and hits to my blog skyrocketed. My blog followers are now double what they were (thanks, new followers) and blog hits increased by the thousands.
My e-mail inbox squealed, reeled and fainted. Then it recovered and busily resumed collecting new e-mails with its usual efficiency.
Once the initial elation died down, I grew analytical. What made WordPress choose ME, since my blog was relatively young in the blogosphere? I had studied the Freshly Pressed selections, which featured a mix of topics, some relating to current events, news or holidays, others relating to people’s interests such as photography, travel or cooking. Some blogs were younger than mine; others were older. I had also read the judging standards WordPress uses, described in the Support section in the article “So You Want To Be Freshly Pressed.“
I hoped that I would make Freshly Pressed someday, but I didn’t expect it to happen this soon since I was competing against thousands of other bloggers (according to their stats, WordPress hosts a total of 74 million blogs and has half a million posts published every day). I think WordPress mostly chose me because I met their judging standards — create unique content, be visually appealing, add relevant tags, give credit where credit is due, use a compelling headline and so on. But I suspect that following proper SEO (search engine optimization, a.k.a. how to get your posts found by search engines like Google and Yahoo) techniques didn’t hurt, either.
So now things have calmed down somewhat and I’m adjusting to the new normal. I’ve made more blogging friends and have been made aware of some wonderful blogs that I intend to visit as soon as I can.
And the best part? People worldwide shared information with me and we traded facts and opinions on different topics. I learned some new things, such as the origin of “cost you an arm and a leg” and the fact that “Singlish” exists.
This interaction with people all over the world is what I love most about being a blogger. I can safely call myself a blogger, now that I’ve been officially recognized by WordPress, right? (insert wicked grin and saucy wink) I hope anyone who hasn’t been Freshly Pressed yet gets to experience the same joy, someday. Good luck.