April 26, 2015 by Paula Reed Nancarrow
When I write something good and powerful and true that touches people, and they tell me so, it is a beautiful feeling.
So when an editor from WordPress contacted me to let me know “Forgotten is Forgiven: An Alzheimer’s Story” had been Freshly Pressed, and gave me specific, insightful feedback on why the piece moved her, to say I was pleased was an understatement.
This piece socked me right in the gut. There is so much… that resonates with me: the marriage hierarchy that unravels; your dad as the undisputed head of the household that your mom actually ran; how difficult it is to watch your parents age and go through the role reversal that becoming a caregiver entails. How some patriarchs can never let go. How some women set themselves aside as individuals to appease/please their husbands. I could go on. Thank you for putting into words things I have been ruminating on for years.
If you don’t have a WordPress blog (or even if you do), you might not know what being Freshly Pressed is.
Essentially, it’s a weekly curation of posts by a team of editors featured on the site. WordPress users can get to the Freshly Pressed page from their blog reader. There’s a nice description of how the process works here.
Most people who have been Freshly Pressed will tell you that your page views, comments, and followers will shoot up, and then things will sort of return to normal, which can be a little anticlimactic. If you have an experience like mine, the day your post goes live on Freshly Pressed will make your stats look like your blog is giving you a single digit salute.
A book blogger who was Freshly Pressed twice, Emily Peterson, bemoans the fact that once Freshly Pressed, a number of her favorite bloggers simply stopped writing. They seem to think they’d reached their peak – or perhaps that single digit salute was too much for them. Steve Morris, who shows a similar stats graph to mine on his post-FP post, written in 2013, talks a bit about how intimidating it is to have to live up to his newly acquired fame.
But he’s still blogging. So is Emily.
In A Word to My Fellow WordPressers, Tim of Second Lunch, who was thrice Freshly Pressed, gives a lovely illustrated step-by-step deconstruction of his process in the light of what the editors value. Sadly, he hasn’t had a new post since October 2013. Who knows what has become of Timmy. We miss him.
There’s also a 2011 guest post on Problogger from Hassan Osman, who was Freshly Pressed three times in six months, explaining how he did it. Finally, Vanessa Chapman analyzed 100 Freshly Pressed blogs and drew her own conclusions.
This is the second time I’ve had a piece Freshly Pressed.
“Puzzles” was also about my parents and how they are coping with my mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The similarity in theme to “Forgotten is Forgiven” is not a coincidence. The same editor picked both pieces. This phenomenon is not something I’ve seen referred to by others who have had a repeat pressing, but it makes sense. Editors are readers first. They come back for more of what they like.
They also have lives. Like more and more of us these days, my editor’s life includes caregiving for an elderly parent; in this case, a father-in-law. I was grateful to hear that “Reading posts like yours really helps — as I’d mentioned before, simply knowing that there are other sandwich-generation folks working their way through the minefields of caring for aging parents is a gift.”
Being Freshly Pressed allowed me to share that gift with a broader audience. The proof is in the stats.
Last week my blog had 1,971 page views and 805 visitors – about three times what it had the previous week. The week the post was published, it was viewed 244 times. The week it was Freshly Pressed, it was viewed 550 times. At last count it had 147 comments (of which about half are my own responses).
There were some things about the attention this post received that made me uncomfortable in ways that are worth reflecting on. But that’s next week’s post.
One thing about those stats surprised me, though.
Only a fourth of the total views last week were for the Freshly Pressed post. My highest single day was the date on which the Freshly Pressed post went live, when my blog had 722 page views. On that day there were 230 visitors, and an average of 3.14 views per visitor, much higher than my blog normally receives. Yet only 189 page views that day were for the featured post.
What does this mean?
It means that people may have found the blog because this post was featured. But they spent time on other posts, and other stories. This may be the biggest benefit to being Freshly Pressed you’ve never heard of. Getting them there may be a stroke of luck. But keeping them there is up to you.