It starts with checking your pageviews.
You check the numbers of your articles out of curiosity, telling yourself it doesn’t matter that much anyway. When you see the numbers of the articles you’re most proud of, you’re a little disappointed. The views on the articles that are written about celebrities, TV, what everyone’s talking about – they’re better. A lot better.
You start to brainstorm new ideas.
You’ll write articles like that, and you’ll get more views. You slowly slip away from what you used to write, what made you the proudest. You stop writing about your genuine thoughts on anything other than recent trends or celebrity beef. You stop feeling vulnerable when you admit something, because that something is, “Confession: I hate hot coffee!” You select and delete, replace a long sentence with a short one, topped with an exclamation point. You shorten everything, simplify it, and smile widely at the end.
Someone asks you, “Why don’t you write like you used to? I loved your articles. They helped me so much.”
You wonder if you’re helping yourself. You wonder if you’re thinking too much about the numbers, the views, and the clicks, when you should be thinking about what you’re writing – not just what you type, but what you feel. What makes you smile or cry when you read it. You’ve been spending more time reading the analytics than you’ve been spending time reading the article, over and over again, so proud of what you wrote.
Your eyes swim with numbers but the words on the page catch your eye. You have a portfolio of articles, bright pictures on the covers. The lettering across your page is bold and official. It solidifies your place here, that you belong here for what you wrote. So it can’t be so bad that sometimes you look at that number. Everyone does.
But the numbers are nothing without the words. You are nothing without where you started. You might write about celebrity drama, but you can never forget what’s most important to you. Someone is reading what you are most proud of, and they are proud of it, too.