Once as a child I caught more fish in a day than I have for the whole of the rest of my life. All I had was a cane pole, a bobber, and a tin can full of night crawlers. I must have caught 30 bluegills and sunfish that day. I returned diligently to the same dock on the same lake year after year, but the run of luck never happened again, and I never had as much fun fishing.
Until I became a blogger. Blogging, when measured in page hits and traffic patterns, is a lot like fishing. You impale some juicy, writhing worm on a hook and throw it into the blank sea of attention. You have no idea what will bite. Sometimes you forget you even have a worm in the water. You get a nibble, then a solid strike, and suddenly you feel like Ahab chasing the white whale. You crest the waves like it’s a Nantucket sleigh ride. Life is good. Then your endeavor slips back into slack water. You get bored waiting for something to happen. You get sun-burned. Forget blogging. All you want is a cold beer.
Ethan Zuckerman analyzed his blog stats recently and reflected on the fickleness of search engines and Internet attention in …My heart’s in Accra:
The lessons I take from this? Be obscure. Write about stories that other people don’t write about. Write about brilliant people who aren’t well known to the web. And if you’re having problems getting people to pay attention to your stories on Somalia, it never hurts to put in the names of obscure starlets who’ve taken their clothes off for photo shoots.