Two Fridays ago around 5 pm (11 am EST), I noticed a slew of comments on my latest blog post on hiking the Männlichen summit. Not that I haven’t been getting occasional comments all along, but the majority are from people I know personally, and the spike in external commentators was unusual. I scratched my head over what could be inspiring the bump in traffic, then scrutinized my blog stats to find that WordPress.com was sending referrals my way faster than a time-strapped doctor. Sure enough, when I checked the WordPress landing page, there I was, featured in the top-right corner under “Freshly Pressed” blogs.
For a blog that has only been around for two months and hasn’t had time to develop much of a content library or a following, this is kind of a big deal. WordPress receives thousands of hits every hour, and even a sliver of that directed toward the average indie blogger is a tidal wave in comparison to normal traffic. Prior to being featured on Freshly Pressed, I received somewhere around 50 hits a day, which is not bad for an amateur blogger but nothing to brag about. On the other hand, the Freshly Pressed spotlight led to an immediate skyrocketing in views, with the aforementioned hiking post receiving 50 comments and 38 “likes”. Better yet, I was selected on a Friday, and since Freshly Pressed only selects blogs on weekdays, that meant my blog would stay featured through the weekend.
I am not going to lie–I have always yearned to be “discovered,” and receiving the Freshly Pressed nod sort of validates all the time and energy I spend writing this blog. For the rest of the day, I walked around with a huge smile on my face from my instant “celebrity.”
Now, the real question is how much of that traffic would return after my Freshly Pressed spotlight had faded. Looking at initial hits by page, it was clear that most people simply read the highlighted page on Mannlichen, about 20% went on to the main home page, and even fewer read subsequent posts. This did not bode well for having many return visitors.
At any rate, I decided wait a couple weeks for the dust to settle before drawing any conclusions. Looking at hits for the last month, you can see that there was definitely a large drop-off in visitors after the Freshly Pressed peak, but the new equilibrium is higher than it was previously, despite a 9-day stretch with no new posts. Looking at Google Reader RSS subscriptions, there are 5 new subscribers compared to the pre-Freshly Pressed accolades, a 20% increase. So, I’d say that being Freshly Pressed does provide permanent benefits after all.
If you are wondering how WordPress chooses blogs to highlight, you should check out “Five Ways to Get Featured on Freshly Pressed.” In essence, the article discusses the importance of having well-written, original content. So although luck certainly plays a significant role in being selected, you can improve your chances by producing interesting, eye-catching work.