Reflections of the Freshly Pressed

30 Dec

In May of 2014, I achieved one of my blogging goals:  I became Freshly Pressed.  It was a pretty cool moment for me, and one that many other bloggers would like to achieve.  But as amazing as it was, it didn’t play out like I had pictured in my mind.

So what was my experience like?

  • First off, it’s tough to explain to those outside the WordPress community why being Freshly Pressed is a big deal.  My mom told me congratulations of being “newly ironed”.

    Freshly Pressed / Newly Ironed.  Potato / Tomato

    Freshly Pressed / Newly Ironed. Potato / Tomato

  • I didn’t see the statistical explosion that I expected in terms of views.  I was expecting thousands and thousands of views of the Freshly Pressed post and a notable spike for other content.  That didn’t happen.  Granted, a lot of it has to do with the piece that was chosen:  2,500 words on the trap falls of paying NCAA student athletes doesn’t convey “this is going to be a fun read” like some of the other Pressed posts.
  • My traffic on the day I was Pressed was far, far below my personal best, and has been topped by several other posts before and since.  I don’t get a ton of traffic, but even with all of the exposure that being Pressed provided, that post will only be the fourth most read thing on this site for the year
  • That said, I received far more likes on that post that anything I’ve ever published.
  • Ditto for followers.  In the first two weeks, I gained over 200 followers, which almost doubled my count to that point.  Most of these were actual people and not the foreign language spam accounts that seem to be attracted to my blog of late.
  • Most of my posts do not get comments, but the Pressed post had over 50.  I had some excellent, well thought comments on that piece.

What advice do I have for those who aspire to be Freshly Pressed?

  1. Be patient.  I was at it for almost three years and 350 posts before I got picked.  And I’ll be honest – the piece that got me pressed is not my best work.  I like it, but I probably could find a dozen or so that I feel are better.
  2. Visit other blogs and comment.  I have no way of proving it, but the email notifying me of my Freshly Pressed selection came a day after I commented on a Daily Post blog post.  Would I have been selected if I hadn’t commented?  Maybe.  But I doubt it.  And almost definitely not that particular post.
  3. Don’t be afraid to break the rules.  In WordPress’s “So You Want To Be Freshly Pressed” guide, they list several recommendations.  You may notice that my Pressed post does not have any accompanying images.  They say “Readers are overwhelmed by huge chunks of text”, yet I have several lengthy paragraphs with not a lot of white space.  My headline (“NCAA Pay for Play (P)”) is not catchy, and the random letter in parentheses (part of an A-Z challenge I was in at the time) is odd.  And there are probably more of their recommendations that I didn’t follow.  Bottom line:  be yourself.
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