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Going Viral

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Going Viral

Forgive me for using a buzzword (  But it's the dream of every schoolgirl blogger to write a viral post.  (Did I really just refer to myself as a "blogger"?  Christ, makes me hate myself even more.)  You strive to write a post that achieves viral status, thus instantly catapulting you into the upper stratosphere of fame, fortune, and six-figure book deals from publishers who don't give a flying fuck if you can actually write.

I mean, let's face it.  I like you people just fine, but I don't religiously write this goddamn thing, spending over two hours a day to have my cousins in upstate New York think I'm witty ("Oh, that Joey.  He's such a card!"  Not that I don't appreciate it, Diane!  Keep reading!).  I write this fucking thing so that I will get enough people to read my work and publishers won't be able to ignore the gushing praise any longer, like this comment, which comes from Jay L. in CT, who writes,

While blogs are a nice, albeit brief, respite from reality, I have been finding this guy rather entertaining lately. Not sure if it is that life is getting pretty crazy right now, and I can finally relate to him, maybe my unconditional love for Diablo Cody, who knows... I can now confidently say he is pretty damn funny and a great writer, obviously enviable skills. I know pushing blogs is like recommending that others use your toothbrush, but following Joe Clifford allows me that temporary moment to reflect and say... "what if I committed to writing for a living...and could uses ellipses as much as I wanted?" Thanks, Joe, for that reality check, and now back to writing that $1.5M demand letter that will remove women and children from their homes on Christmas Eve.

Which might mean a lot more if Jay L. didn't play in my fantasy football league. (Plus, his team routinely sucks).  My dream, is that I one day reach the status of Hyperbole and a Half (, which averages over 1,000 comments per post, with legions of devoted fans.  I average somewhere between 0 and 1 comments, depending on whether my wife is mad at me and how much I insult hippies, and my biggest fans are in my hometown.  Still, we have made some progress.  We're projecting somewhere around 75K hits in our first year, which isn't too shabby, and those numbers have been steadily increasing, from under a 1,000 our first month to over 7,000 these days.  

But you know all that, I guess.  I try to keep everyone updated on our progress. Because we are in this together.  I write this daily, you read this daily, and the goal, which I hope is mutual (although I admit the urgency is probably tilted a little my way), is to get my books published.  

I chart the trends on this blog (soon to be updated with flashy, new, sparkly parts), trying to glean what makes a particular post successful, not unlike my strategy of actually reading the literary magazines I want into (, y'know, give the people what they're asking for.  Except I've been much more successful in extracting and dissecting the appeal of, say, Nick Sparks, than I have in trying to understand why my own work resonates (or doesn't).  

For instance this week a post I wrote last week has suddenly gotten 500 hits.  The post, which I thought was a bit of a throwaway, is getting passed around, albeit on a relatively small scale, throughout Europe, Romania, and the southeastern part of America.  500 over the course of a few days isn't an astronomical number; still, these are strangers who for some reason have glommed onto a quirky little thing I wrote.  The post is called "Debra Morgan," and if you didn't catch it the first time, here it is again (  Now here are the next two most popular posts this week, and, both of which were actually written quite a while ago.  

And what do these three posts have in common?  Fuck if I know.  One is about my crush on a fictional, socially awkward TV character with goofy eyes and potty mouth; the next about some poems I had in a UK-based journal; and the last is about some sick fuck who dressed up corpses like giant dolls and threw tea parties. How in the hell do I draw a conclusion from that? A lot of pieces I think will be huge hits often go over like farts in the wind, while the stuff I write spur of the moment tends to be wildly popular.  The "Burning Man" series was a rousing success, except for Pt. III, which sucked horse cock.  Interestingly enough, it was Pt. III of the "I'm Big in Japan" series that seemed to click most with readers.  OK. Maybe not that interesting.  But it is a bit maddening trying to figure out why readers in both Amite, Louisiana and Sarpsborg, Ostfold are reading the same goddamn post I wrote about a Showtime orignal series at 4:15 on a Wednesday afternoon.  The key of course is to tap into the collective resource and find out what sells, like dramas in which people suddenly burst into song or shows about cake. I'm not above that sort of thing.  I just can't figure out what that "thing" is.  Dirty stinking hippies.  A serial killer's make-believe sister.  Poetry in England.  Damned if I can take those pieces of a random puzzle and make a coherent picture.  How do I manipulate that commonality for personal gains?  Comments are always welcome!

Or to appeal to the cake-making market, I only need to figure out the recipe so I can get baking...

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At December 22, 2011 at 1:19 PM , Blogger Laura said...

Maybe your analytics program is fucking with you.

At December 22, 2011 at 9:57 PM , Blogger Joe Clifford said...

Now why would it do that, Laura?

At December 23, 2011 at 9:12 AM , Blogger Laura said...

To drive you barking mad, of course. Pretty soon you'll be up nights, 3 or 4 a.m., ripping at your bountiful hair, trying to solve the unsolvable puzzle. Let's hope you can stop before you're wandering the streets of your gated enclave, chased by torch and club wielding pieces of code, while imploring the heavens, "WHY?!" That would be terrible.

At December 23, 2011 at 10:27 AM , Blogger Joe Clifford said...

I knew it!


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