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The Dark Side of Freshly Pressed: Handling the Highs and Lows

Three bloggers and three editors discuss Freshly Pressed from both sides — and offer insights on blog exposure, engagement, and growth.

A roundtable of bloggers and editors:

Paula Reed NancarrowPaula Reed Nancarrow
Peg Schulte, Peg-o-Leg’s Ramblings
Stephanie Summar, Listful Thinking
Krista Stevens, editor
Michelle Weber, editor
Cheri Lucas Rowlands, editor

Since the publication of this post, we’ve launched Discover, a new showcase of editors’ picks and recommended sites that has replaced Freshly Pressed. All links in this post have been changed accordingly.

The editorial team behind The Daily Post works on other projects such as Longreads and Freshly Pressed. On Freshly Pressed, which you’ll find in your Reader, we share top picks, community recommendations, and our favorite reads. Freshly Pressed has evolved over the years: it began as a developer’s Hack Day project to showcase user-made content on the WordPress.com homepage, and has become a favorite space to discover standout posts and new bloggers.

The So You Want To Be Freshly Pressed support page explains what we look for, although these are merely guidelines — there’s no magic formula to be featured. We, too, are people who love to read. We look for posts that are thought-provoking, inspiring, unexpected, unique, relevant, and resonant. We’re drawn to topics and elements that move you as well, from a compelling story to a strong voice to a new perspective.

In this roundtable, we ask three multi-Freshly Pressed bloggers about the highs and lows of their experiences. We want to shed light on a process that might feel mysterious, but also to share insights on how to deal with sudden exposure, blog growth, and writing for a larger audience as you put yourself out there.

What’s been the most surprising outcome of having a post shared on Freshly Pressed?

Paula Reed Nancarrow writes and performs personal and historical narratives, as well as folk tales and myths, that reflect the texture and complexity of family and community life and the blessings and betrayals to be found therein.

Paula: My first Freshly Pressed post, “Puzzles,” was a story I was getting ready to tell on stage at a story slam. The traffic boost was incredible, as was the increase in comments — I had trouble keeping up with them. I was surprised at the number of people I didn’t know who used these comments to nominate me for a blog award. I’d been previously nominated for one or two, by regular readers I knew. These nominations, on the other hand, seemed to be driven by chain letter desperation.

The most surprising outcome from my second post, “Forgotten Is Forgiven,” was not the post’s high traffic on the first day — which I expected — but a two-hour period over dinner when page views to my blog more than doubled. (The actual views of that particular post represented less than a third of this number.) At first I thought new visitors were reading other posts, and that is partly true.

Related Reading: For information on indexing, check out the Search Engines support page or this Kissmetrics post.

But I discovered that every other post over the last year had been accessed precisely five times. I suspect that I had a case of the bots; that is, the blog was being indexed. I’ve had more traffic from search engines ever since, which is nice, because social media promotion is a lot of work.

Krista: Selecting and featuring a post on Freshly Pressed can be somewhat daunting. I never know how an author will feel about the exposure. There are more comments to moderate and sometimes authors feel put upon having to deal with an influx of people reading their work. It’s like a bunch of enthusiastic folks crashing your party, so to speak, where with organic growth, you get to know your regular readers over time.

Peg Schulte at Peg-o-Leg’s Ramblings is a humor columnist for a newspaper and lifestyle magazine, and a small-town insurance agent in her spare time. She’s been Freshly Pressed nine times since 2010.

Peg: The whole thing was a surprise the first time. I’d been blogging a couple of months, and my three regular readers had commented on “My Sister-In-Law is Ruining the US Economy” one morning when strangers started weighing in. This was the first time I dared to think that people who weren’t related to me might want to read my writing. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that realization was life-changing, and I was hooked.

This was the first time I dared to think that people who weren’t related to me might want to read my writing.

In recent years, the most surprising thing is that you can appear on Freshly Pressed with not much impact on your stats or readers. From what I can tell, it depends on the category under which you are featured. For instance, “We Need More Taxes” was tagged under taxes. This attracted a mere handful of earnest CPAs who had to be told that I was kidding. “Mortal Kombat: Battle For The Monkey Bars” was under nostalgia, which apparently only appeals to your Great Aunt Millie. Unfortunately, Great Aunt Millie doesn’t own a computer.

Cheri: Readers are naturally drawn to specific topics, while some categories, like writing and photography, are perpetually popular.

I, too, have noticed the overall decreased effect of Freshly Pressed since I was first featured five years ago (when I was not yet an editor at WordPress.com). The first few times, the visits and comments to my blog were instant, constant, and overwhelming for several days.

Each Freshly Pressed post is distinct and performs differently, and oftentimes you don’t know what will go crazy on the internet, what external factors might push a post to go viral, and which posts will hit that magical sweet spot.

Stephanie Summar at Listful Thinking is a writer obsessed with lists: numbered lists, bullet lists, outlines…

Stephanie: In that first day of being Freshly Pressed, you check your stats like crazy because every time you refresh the page they’ve gone up by approximately one trillion. You also do a lot of humble-bragging to people who don’t know what you’re talking about when you say you’ve been Freshly Pressed. (“My dumb blog was featured by WordPress, but I’m not even sure I’m literate.” That kind of thing.) That goes on for several days until your post moves down the page. It’s hard to see it go, but it’s the circle of life. And once it’s over, you have a bunch of new followers who expect you to write something good and who you will inevitably let down.

After I was Freshly Pressed the first time, I tried to think of a follow-up topic, and the only thing I came up with was “Thinking of a New, Impressive Topic Now That Gaining So Many New Followers Has Broken My Brain.” I never wrote it, but I think it illustrates where I was in terms of total panic.

. . . there’s some pressure, but it’s motivating.

There’s a bit of pressure knowing that Freshly Pressed exists: knowing that someone might read what I write and share it with thousands of others makes me want to write better things. So yes, there’s some pressure, but it’s motivating.

Cheri: That’s nice — it’s something driving you as a blogger, in the same way that there are other goals people can shoot for, from literary prizes to music awards. This type of system naturally creates competition, even animosity, which we sense when we read posts about Freshly Pressed. Ultimately, we hope you all blog because you want to, because you’re passionate about something — not to be Freshly Pressed.

Do you write about friends and family on your site? Take a look at our guidelines and tips, and learn more about how to maintain good blogging boundaries.

Michelle: The traffic can be a double-edged sword, too. I once featured a very personal, powerful post by a blogger writing about her troubled childhood. Her family didn’t know she was blogging, and some of them found the post when the Freshly Pressed exposure led to it being more widely shared — and since the post contained some less-than-flattering stories, it caused a significant rift for them.

What downsides have you experienced from being featured on Freshly Pressed?

Curious about reblogging? Read Elizabeth Eurello’s post, “Reexamining the Reblog.”

Paula: The first time, the downsides were the aforementioned blog awards, which I politely declined, and the let down when my page views went back to normal. The second time, the issue of reblogging caught my attention. I hadn’t thought much about this practice; I tried it once myself, like menthol cigarettes, and didn’t like it. But many people reblogged my post — often with no comments or any explanation of why they shared it.

Don’t want others reblogging your posts? You can disable the feature.

I have different expectations relative to original content when I’m on a platform like WordPress, versus Tumblr. It’s possible that all those reblogging instances caused the SEO bots to mobilize — I don’t know. It bothered me, however, that my personal photographs were being uploaded automatically into other WordPress media galleries, without attribution.

We all have different practices and preferences. Some bloggers love receiving awards from other bloggers; some don’t. Check out Michelle’s primer on blog awards to learn more.

I dealt with these downsides the way I deal with most things I’m trying to make sense of: I wrote about it. I put a stop (mostly) to award nominations by writing a post called “Blogligations,” and a follow-up, “10 Ways to Just Say No to Blog Awards.” I also added an Awards Policy page to my blog. I then wrote a post about “The Dark Side of Having a Blog Post Freshly Pressed,” which discusses reblogging and why losing control of my photographs is an issue for me.

Stephanie: One downside is the guilt I feel over not being able to reply to all of my comments. I don’t often reply to comments anyway and I already feel guilty about that, but this compounds it.

Quick tip from Cheri: I have a note above the comment field at the bottom of my posts: “Please note: in most cases, I don’t approve self-promotional or off-topic comments, or those that don’t add to the discussion.”

You can update this section in your classic dashboard in Settings → Discussion; scroll down to the field under “Comment Form” next to “Prompt.” (If you’re not in the classic dashboard, head there via your My Sites tab by clicking on the WP Admin link.)

Krista: One thing I recommend for any blogger is a Comment Policy. I’ve encountered plenty of bloggers who struggle with what to allow and what to delete. Some feel it’s rude not to approve every “Great post!” when they’d prefer something more substantive. There are no hard and fast rules, and I suggest checking The Daily Post‘s Comment Guidelines as a place to start. Bloggers are free to copy, revise, or modify it to suit their commenting philosophies.

Peg: I hope I don’t sound unforgivably ungrateful when I admit there are a few downsides. First are the people who show up with the sole intention of pushing their blog. We all want to be appreciated, but c’mon people — there are ways and there are ways. I blogged about this and give advice in one of my favorite Should-Have-Been-Freshly-Pressed-But-Was-Criminally-Overlooked posts, Miss Peg-o-Leg’s Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Comment Etiquette.

Another downside is that Freshly Pressed is a drug. Once you’ve experienced it, you want more. As quickly as your stats go up, in two days they drop so fast that bloggers have been known to suffer a bad case of the Freshly Pressed bends. Afterwards, everything around the blog looks flat and dull and uninteresting and hey, where’d everybody go? Don’t you want to read this stuff? This stuff is good, too, right?

Stay motivated, post-Freshly Pressed:

Cheri: Peg, you’ve been pressed nearly 10 times, so you know that traffic ebbs and flows, and that readers come and go. Post-Freshly Pressed, when you feel deflated, what do you do? Cease writing for a bit? Publish the next post soon after?

Peg: I tend to post fairly quickly after being Freshly Pressed, to give new readers another reason to stick around. Several times, the subsequent post has been about that Freshly Pressed experience. It’s a rollercoaster ride and a topic of interest to many.

How have you leveraged your Freshly Pressed “appearances” over the years?

I’m more committed to blogging, and I take it more seriously than I would if it felt like I was shouting into an abyss.

Stephanie: I probably wouldn’t have a blog right now without them. I’d have a disappointing bass fishing career. I’m more committed to blogging, and I take it more seriously than I would if it felt like I was shouting into an abyss. It’s also affected my writing overall. It’s one thing to write weird jokes by yourself for no one; it’s totally different to know there are people out there who like what you write and look forward to your work. I’m never going to get over that, and I wouldn’t know I had an audience at all if it weren’t for being Freshly Pressed. I sound like a huge suck-up right now, but I mean it.

Michelle: Personally, I’ll read anything you write, and that includes odes to bass fishing. A unique and compelling voice is always the first thing I look for in a Freshly Pressed post — if the voice is there, I’ll follow the author down any topical rabbit hole. And realizing that your readers will give you that leeway is huge for any writer.

Peg: I know I should be Tweeting and Facebooking and Redditing and all to really leverage success, build my brand, and push the numbers, but that’s all very exhausting and confusing. My modest success on WordPress did give me the courage to approach my local paper, knees knocking, and suggest they have me do a humor column. They fell for it, and I’m now being paid to write.

Crossing over from blogging to “real” life was terrifying, but exciting. Now I’m trying to figure out how to syndicate my column. If any newspaper editors are looking for a humor column, practically dirt cheap, contact my agent (who happens to have the same name and contact info as me).

Based on your experiences, what advice can you share with others who have been newly Freshly Pressed?

Paula: Enjoy it. Remember that anything you say on the internet can be shared, and that your work will have a larger audience than you may have originally conceived. If there are things in your post you would only say to your closest friends, edit them out. Finally, read other Freshly Pressed posts, and leave a comment or two. It’s a great opportunity to broaden your blogging horizons.

Cheri: I’ve received negative feedback from several bloggers over time, from a photographer not happy with the surge of random followers and less-thoughtful comments (“Congrats on FP!”) to a woman who published something controversial and closed her comments. When searching our Freshly Pressed archive, I’ve found that some bloggers have deleted these posts.

If one of your posts gets a ton of attention — whether via Freshly Pressed or another way — you open the door to, well, the entire internet. Expect all types of readers and prepare yourself for criticism. Remember that if you have a public blog, anyone can read it. If you aren’t sure whether to post something, think it through, as Paula said. (And, if we ever feature your post and you prefer that we don’t, we respect that and will remove it.)

Related Reading:

Inspired by Peg’s comment etiquette guide, here are tips for newly pressed bloggers (and readers entering the commenting waters):

  • You don’t have to respond to comments on your Freshly Pressed post, but if a reader responds thoughtfully, it’s good practice to reply.
  • Don’t know the blogger? That’s OK! Introduce yourself.
  • Reciprocation isn’t automatic: don’t be hurt if a person doesn’t visit or comment on your blog, too. Real connections take time.
  • Avoid an empty, self-promotional linkdrop to your blog in a comment.
  • Disagreeing with a blogger is fine — just be respectful.
  • “Liking” a Freshly Pressed post is fine, but if you do it all the time and never engage, it might appear as if you don’t actually read the posts.

Finally, what does “blogging success” look like to you?

Peg: Success is writing well, having people read what I write, and having it impact them in some way. Although Peg-o-Leg’s Ramblings is a recommended humor blog, some of my more thoughtful posts, like “Why I Would Rather Try to Find The Funny Than The Meaning of Life,” generate responses that show I have truly touched someone, and that is a wonderful feeling.

Cheri: I second Peg’s reply. I’m always happy when a reader tells me that what I wrote inspired them or made them think. I also don’t have a clear focus on my blog and write about whatever I want, but that hasn’t seemed to affect my readership in the long term. Success, to me, is seeing readers come back to read me, not a topic.

Have you been Freshly Pressed, or dealt with sudden exposure and a influx of readers from a post that’s gone viral? Share your perspectives.

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  1. Great post. I’ve been Freshly Pressed several times, and I agree with most of the above. The hardest part is the inevitable downward traffic spiral a few days late. At first, you kind of think “all these people are going to start coming to my blog every day!!” but that just isn’t true.

    I’ve learned that when you stick with blogging and blog consistently, your traffic will slowly grow anyway. The occasional FP bump is nice, but you can’t depend on it. And if you’re only blogging for the occasional “traffic high,” then you’re blogging for the wrong reasons in the first place.

    Liked by 10 people

    1. My thoughts exactly! I’ve seen my audience grow over the last year of consistent blogging… ok, it’s a slow grower, but it’s definitely going in the right direction, and I only rely on myself to push it. I just wrote in the comments that I did come to WP for an audience, but I’ve realised it’s about so much more than that. You’re right, if you’re just blogging for the stats then you may as well give up!

      Liked by 6 people

  2. This makes me smile because after a year and three months of keeping my blog, this is when I become aware of Freshly Pressed concept. I’ve had a really quick glimpse there just now but (because I have too much of my own selected reading and viewing material) decided not to investigate further, because whether I want it or not it would influence the way I do it. But good to know that somebody chooses promising new voices. *Croaks on badly out of tune but happily.*

    Liked by 3 people

  3. It’s like a starving person standing outside a restaurant window watching diners complain the butter on their rolls is too hard.
    (Just kidding. 🙂 Actually I congratulate everyone who has been featured on Freshly Pressed.)

    Liked by 15 people

    1. I love this! I would love to be featured too. On the other hand, I might blow a gasket. I put a “Contact me” tab on my blog, and somebody actually contacted me! I was so excited somebody had read the blog that I had to go take a long walk to calm down. Sad, but true.

      Liked by 4 people

  4. Peg nailed it with this:

    “Another downside is that Freshly Pressed is a drug. Once you’ve experienced it, you want more. As quickly as your stats go up, in two days they drop so fast that bloggers have been known to suffer a bad case of the Freshly Pressed bends. Afterwards, everything around the blog looks flat and dull and uninteresting and hey, where’d everybody go? Don’t you want to read this stuff? This stuff is good, too, right?”

    It felt nice, like validation. But then later you write things you like better, or that matter way more, and because it doesn’t always receive the same attention, you sometimes catch yourself wondering: “Do I suck more now?”

    And in my case, that’s certainly possible.

    Freshly Pressed is a really nice feature on many levels. The experience is a million percent more good than bad. (I can’t verify that math.) And I’m grateful it happened once.

    A long time ago.

    When I was better. 🙂

    Liked by 12 people

  5. Reblogged this on Peg-o-Leg's Ramblings and commented:
    You may not know that I’ve had the honor of being Freshly Pressed a couple of times. You probably didn’t notice the pop-up box containing a list of Freshly Pressed posts that appears every 3 seconds on my blog, the fact that I use “Freshly Pressed” as a tag on 97% of my posts, and I bet you totally missed the 8-foot tall, flashing, neon sign that says “HEY, SUCKAS, I’VE BEEN FRESHLY PRESSED!!!” that lights up when you first arrive here.

    You know I don’t like to brag – tooting your own horn is so tacky – but I am being forced to lay aside my natural modesty and reticence about this accomplishment because WordPress is covering the topic today on The Daily Post. Cheri Lucas Rowland’s article is a fascinating look at the Freshly Pressed process from the standpoint of both editors (yes, real people choose the posts) and bloggers. Yours-Truly is one of the bloggers who was interviewed for the article. Please go check it out.

    Incidentally, I learned that, while they don’t really keep track of such stats, I do NOT hold the title for most Freshly Pressed posts. That honor apparently goes to some dude who has been FPd something like 16 times just because he takes pictures that are so beautiful they make people weep.

    Pfffft.

    Liked by 11 people

    1. That honor apparently goes to some dude who has been FPd something like 16 times just because he takes pictures that are so beautiful they make people weep.

      🙂

      Just for reference for our readers, that dude is Steve McCurry. I’m not 100% that this is the current “record,” but if it’s not, it’s pretty close!

      Liked by 6 people

    1. As the reigning President of the NBFP Club (https://thecvillean.wordpress.com/the-nbfp-club/) I’d like to congratulate Peg and all the others on their remarkable achievements. However, I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t take this opportunity to mention a few of the many perks of Never Been Freshly Pressed membership. Of course there is the obvious…..never being disappointed with a sudden drop in readership. I know my two followers will always be there for me no matter what. Thanks mom and dad! Secondly, there is a certain sense of security in being never with wit, i.e. a nitwit. There’s very little challenge to following up one indecipherable post with another epistle of pure drivel. And last, and certainly least, We can break each and every rule of “So You Want To Be Freshly Pressed” continually without fear of criticism. In fact, the less attention to the rules, the more “likes” we normally get.

      So there you have readers. The choice is yours. You can fret and stew and worry about your next post attaining the lofty goals of Freshly Pressed, or you can come over to the dark side, join NBFP and post without conscience.

      P.S. Dues can be deposited directly in my account via Paypal.

      Liked by 14 people

      1. There’s a club?? I missed that memo…

        I long ago gave up any aspiration to be Freshly Pressed and now take it as an anti-establishment point of pride NOT to have a Magic Blue Sticker cluttering up my wall.

        When’s the next meeting? I’ll bring the cocktail onions.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Wonderful, I was just mixing my first martini! It also makes you a bona fide member of NBFP….I will gladly add you to our list of esteemed members.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I second your comments, Al! As Founder, and Past President of the Never Been Freshly Pressed Club, I would like to say that being Freshly Pressed was not the highlight of my blogging career. My FP post about the Alberta Floods in 2013 attracted commenters of both the best and worst kind. I felt even more devastated because of some of the things said to me by people who weren’t being impacted by the flood (and hadn’t just lost a home.)

        I think the Freshly Pressed engineers should make it a policy to ask bloggers whether they want to be FP for a particular post. I know that a public blog can be read by anyone, but as most of us know from our stats, the public is not beating down our doors – unless we are Freshly Pressed. It is not enough that we can ask to have a post removed from FP – by then the damage has already been done. The bulk of the FP readers, likers, commenters, and followers have often read a FP post before the author even knows they have been Freshly Pressed.

        With all the blogs there are in the WordPress world, I truly don’t understand how a great blogger like Al has never been Freshly Pressed, and how some bloggers, who while sometimes talented, are Freshly Pressed over and over again.

        Freshly Pressed creates this huge divide between the large mass of bloggers, many who aspire to be Freshly Pressed and probably never will, and an elite few who have been tapped on the shoulder. Personally, I think Freshly Pressed should be discontinued.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Well said, Margie. It would be so simple for FP to email a blogger and say we would like to post this on FP, do you consent? There needs to be a coherent plan for FP. For example, once some one has been FP’d once they should be dropped from the list. Frankly, I follow a few people who in my estimation should be FP’d every time they post….they are that good. But that discourages others who only occasionally have a very entertaining blog that should be out there for all to see. I think most of us use blogging as a kind of journal and are not looking for recognition…but WP is the one who is recognizing blogs so it should be on a more equitable basis. Good comment as usual, Margie.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Freshly Pressed represents the choices of 4 Happiness Engineers, Al. There are almost 59 million WordPress Posts per month… It is unfortunate that so few resources are used by WordPress for a feature that is so highly coveted.
        Glad to see you are still actively blogging and participating, Al. You are such an excellent advocate for NBFP!

        Liked by 2 people

      6. Hi Margie,

        I think Freshly Pressed should be discontinued.

        Yes, we are replacing Freshly Pressed this year with Discover, an online magazine featuring the best of WordPress (content across WP.com, Jetpack, and self-hosted WordPress blogs and websites).

        We hope to launch this fall.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I think if bloggers realized readers can click on their name to check out their blog, they wouldn’t spam up the comments. Maybe I’m giving them too much credit.

    I had three posts “Pressed” the first year and then it was two years before I was Pressed again with “An Open Letter to My Boobs.” I am grateful for being included in the Open Letter suggestions. Any bump in views is most appreciated.

    My last FP was awarded over a year ago. With thousands blogging every day, there is stiff competition. Luckily, I stopped holding my breath when I thought one of my posts worthy or I’d be dead by now or at least very blue around the edges.

    I am curious about how Recommended Bloggers are chosen and if it depends on the number of their Freshly Pressed awards. I noticed that several “RBs” rarely blog or are completely inactive.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I am curious about how Recommended Bloggers are chosen and if it depends on the number of their Freshly Pressed awards. I noticed that several “RBs” rarely blog or are completely inactive.

      Great question. We add sites to Recommended Blogs on a regular basis — generally sites we’ve followed along for a bit and feel they are solid and cohesive sites overall in their respective categories. They don’t have to have been featured on Freshly Pressed before (although many of them have been).

      We do periodic sweeps through the showcase and remove sites that have moved off the platform or have been inactive for a number of months. If you notice a site that you feel shouldn’t belong there anymore, you can let us know (@freshly_pressed) and we’ll take a peek.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. With thousands blogging every day, there is stiff competition.

      You said it! So far in 2015, there has been on average, 55 million posts each month and a handful of human editors reading a tiny fraction of those pieces each day.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I have been Freshly Pressed, for funny song lyrics I wrote in response to a Daily Prompt. (Thank you, Krista!) But it was way out of the topics I normally write about (textiles and rural life in Texas). It was put in the DIY category, and I had not posted a picture with it, so it looked pretty dry, and it certainly didn’t stand out among all the other choices.

    Since it was not a characteristic post, I don’t think it helped me connect with long-term readers — the ones who read it probably weren’t interested in my usual stuff, and the ones who would be interested in my usual topics weren’t drawn in by that post.

    But I’m glad for the experience!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Great additional insight. When we feature a post, we might already be familiar with the blogger; or, we might’ve stumbled upon a single post on a new site and may not yet know a blogger’s body of work. That said, it’s very possible that we might not select the “best” post on a blog. And I think that’s OK — ultimately, we want to share great posts, and pieces that are timely and appropriate for a certain moment, regardless of a blogger’s history and track record.

      Like

  8. Freshly Pressed gave me a few things, but I’d focus on:

    1) A readership for a new blog
    2) The process reminded me of the need for me to improve my attention to detail in all my posts (thanks Cheri!)
    3) Confidence

    Like many of us, I started blogging filled with self-doubt. I believed (and still do, but maybe less so) that I was:

    A) A terrible writer
    B) An average photographer
    C) Below average at using technology

    I am now 10 weeks in to blogging and thanks in part to Freshly Pressed, am much more comfortable with who I am, and why I am blogging. Like anything that gives you confidence and rewards us with appreciation, it certainly is a drug that I’d be happy to take again.

    There was no downside at all. Sure, the visits drop off a cliff, bots appear, shameless spam creeps in, but these things are a small price to pay for the opportunity to inspire or touch one stranger, somewhere in the world.

    I had 2 other post that saw a surge in readers, but they were referred by Facebook pages. This was a completely different experience, as there was little or no engagement through comments, likes or other posts visited. The WordPress community understands that we want to engage; for visitors from outside the community, it is just a good or bad read.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. This is so true. I had a similar experience with a semi-viral post that people discovered via Facebook. Although that post is now my most popular by far in terms of hits, it generated very few comments or any kind of interaction. As you say, most of us bloggers want to engage.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It could be a powerful lesson in the workings of the human mind. Many people do what they know to do or what they are told to do. I also learned from Facebook that only about 10 to 12 % of people who “like” a post actually open and read the article. I find that a little worrying 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Nice insights, David — thank you for sharing your own experience.

      …these things are a small price to pay for the opportunity to inspire or touch one stranger, somewhere in the world.

      Well said, and I totally agree.

      Your comments on the different sorts of engagement (via Freshly Pressed or Facebook, for example) are interesting, and I’ve experienced this, too. Sometimes I’ll receive heavy traffic via FB on a post on a random day — the stats are booming, but nothing meaningful comes from this (for me, I consider one thoughtful comment that makes me think or respond as “meaningful” engagement). And so I’d rather get that meaningful interaction with one new person than, say, a bunch of views from people who’ll never visit my blog again.

      Liked by 4 people

  9. It might be time to revamp FP, change your criteria (mystifying as they are), stop repeat awarding people and widen it out a little more from America. I follow some good blogs that have been FP (not why I follow them) and they are all American, and I follow some equally good ones that haven’t been.

    Maybe you should have Newly Pressed (ie 1–2 year blogs), Vintage Pressed (ancient blogs), and Popular Press(ed).

    Liked by 4 people

    1. This year, we’ve been busy building a new online magazine called Discover, which will expand upon (and replace) Freshly Pressed.

      In the meantime, we’re always open to blog and post recommendations — tweet us @freshly_pressed or post your favorites here, if you’d like.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Thanks for that info Cheri. It will be interesting to see how it develops. I think the issue with FP over the years is that it has tended to end up slightly stereotyped and, um, pretentious. Should it really be the world’s best photographers, prose writers, most heartfelt story ever? It would be nice to see normal people in there. Maybe that’s what’s been lacking. Anyway, good luck with Discover and hope it goes well 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I couldn’t agree with you more. I read the article and was running through the comments, wondering if I was the only one thinking the same thing. I’ve been a pretty regular FP checker for the last six months or so and I feel like it’s on repeat. Same “controversial” topics, same thoughts…. I’m not trying to downplay it by any means (I often hope for the notification of being FP, but don’t stay up all night checking those stats), but it feels like there are only a few criteria that will bring your post to the FP boards.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. Great. Here I am, drunk on feelings of pride and achievement, this day a shining moment of joy in my otherwise humdrum existence, and you tell me it’s all about to go bye-bye. Thanks, Cheri.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thank you, I recently came across a post I thoroughly believe is worthy of being featured on Freshly Pressed but could find no comment option or contact form on The Daily Post to tell you about it. I will tweet it now.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I got pressed once, a year into blogging, and never looked back. There were no downsides that I experienced. The recognition, exposure and explosion in followers was amazing. I can see how it could get addictive but, on the other hand, there are so many FP-worthy blogs out there who could so much use the boost, I think it’s probably better for editors to share the wealth.

    Liked by 8 people

  11. Ugh, blog awards, yes. Thank you for helping me feel like I wasn’t all alone in my absolute hatred (or at least, extreme dislike) for them. I didn’t know how to handle these at first so I’d go and say something nice on the person’s blog who nominated me and then just quietly ignore the request and hope it would go away. I finally put something on my blog about them (they really don’t work with my blog’s style, and I find them annoying), but I still feel guilty.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for your additional perspective on blog awards! I think it’s fine to ignore them and not participate, which is also my approach — they’ve simply grown to be another way to engage and get motivated within a blogging community (I suppose in the same way that some people view Freshly Pressed). Again, they can be incentives for some, but certainly not all.

      Whatever works to get each of us excited and inspired to blog and write and create.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I got featured on Freshly Pressed early last November. It coincided with my (successfully) attempting National Blog Posting Month or NaBloPoMo, which ensured consistent readership for most of that month. I had been blogging regularly for 5 months before, receiving single digit number of ‘likes’ and the occasional comment. Therefore, I found it bewildering (and immensely gratifying) to even be featured in the first place. I would read Freshly Pressed posts regularly, and I didn’t think the post the editors selected felt “important” enough in style and subject matter. I have since also unconsciously looked at stats of other Freshly Pressed posts (why can’t I just stay happy with “being” happy?) and realised my ‘likes’ and comments are comparatively less.
    Which ultimately doesn’t bother me too much. Freshly Pressed happened to me around the time I had decided to quit blogging due to lack of readership. If it didn’t bring so many new readers in, a handful of whom have remained regular readers and commenters, I may not have continued. I had very realistic expectations of the attention dying down, of some readers not being interested in the variety of subject matter. There have been many, many posts since that have behaved akin to pre-Freshly Pressed days. Even if that depresses me, I still look at that badge on my homepage with pride, thinking my blog is worth something. I have recently started writing a book based on my blog, something I may not have even attempted if I hadn’t received that attention all those months ago. Thank you!

    Liked by 3 people

  13. This was a really interesting read. I think it just tends to mirror life… most people dream or strive for something they consider is an ultimate goal, and for those that get it, sometimes it isn’t all rosy. You see it so much with famous and hugely successful people.

    I’ve reached a few tiny goals in my writing career so far, and most of them have provided a moment of bliss, shortly followed by the fear of not being able to replicate it or do any better, which is followed by the need to find something else to get my next fix of self fulfilment or validation. I guess we’re all addicted to something…

    I haven’t featured on freshly pressed. I initially came to WordPress for the audience, but I actually found a lot more than that, and I will hopefully continue to grow with my blog and see those reader numbers rise whether I get a helping hand or not 🙂

    Liked by 7 people

  14. I was Freshly Pressed over a year ago and it had a big, positive impact. Big increase in followers. I mean really big increase. And encouragement to write about aging and how I’ve struggled to get my feet under me as I get older. The Freshly Pressed recognition made me stand up a lot straighter. It was really great.

    Liked by 6 people

  15. Vis a vis Peg’s comment on leveraging your brand, I was.just thinking this morning about my preference to build readership organically rather than cross-platform social media marketing. I say this not only ly to agree with Peg, but also to offer up a “Yay, you!” and also because I just love a chance e to say vis a vis.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I agree with you, Hippy, but I think it’s mainly because I’m too tired and clueless to go the distance on all that social media stuff. I wish I had a magic wand to instantly increase my readership exponentially and yet organically. Visa V.

      Like

  16. I was Freshly Pressed only a month into my blogging journey. Suddenly, my anonymous little blog blew up…for about 2 days. The post was in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge which was a great way to find readers (although it seems to have disappeared now) as well as to have a chance to be Pressed. Since then, I have received more traffic but have also found disappointment. Being Freshly Pressed as such a new blogger made me think I had something special, which is maybe true if you ask my loyal readers, but my blog has since shifted from letters and stories to mostly poetry, a genre that is not often acknowledged by Freshly Pressed. Despite the fact that I’ve never had the honor again, I still write and will continue to write until my words wash away. Each like or comment motivates me to keep going for my amazing readers even without Freshly Pressed.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The post was in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge which was a great way to find readers (although it seems to have disappeared now)

      That’s correct — we stopped publishing writing challenges. We didn’t feel that it was generating enough participation, and also wanted to focus on other projects and ideas that were growing in popularity, like Blogging U.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I participated in the Poetry 101 series and enjoyed it, but it also felt like a job which is not how I blog even though I post regularly. I liked the Weekly Challenges because I could choose to write if the prompt suited me and it gave me a chance to interact if I wanted to. Freshly Pressed was a great little ride and I met some fantastic people because of it. My followers increased and that encouraged me to hone my abilities. Like some of the other commenters, I agree that FP seems so specific now that I know I will probably never get the FP notice again, but I am totally OK with that. WordPress has given me so much more than one Freshly Pressed post ever could. Thanks, WordPress! 🙂

        Like

    2. mostly poetry, a genre that is not often acknowledged by Freshly Pressed

      I’d like to feature more poetry (as well as fiction! and mathematics! and science! and business! and…). For me, it’s personally harder to find material in these (and some other) topics (Ben mentioned something similar with humor posts). From my experience, posts on memoir, parenting, culture, and photography posts are more plentiful — I suppose what we find is somewhat of a reflection of what is out there on any given day.

      Feel free to tweet us @freshly_pressed with poems you find that you love. (And on Discover, the online magazine we’re building to replace Freshly Pressed, we’ll have a poetry category so you can locate posts in this topic quickly.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m quite excited about the new Discover magazine and its poetry category! I read amazing posts ever day from talented poets. I will be looking forward to discovering more poets and writers at Discover. 🙂

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  17. This was a good article. It was interesting to see the downside to being Freshly Pressed, where I always assumed there was only good. I haven’t been featured and though it would be nice to raise the profile a little more I can understand the potential letdown after the dust has settled. Writing about music, particularly some below the surface artists has ensured that the views I get are often hard won, with a lot of research and efforts to share things via social media with the artists. Most times I will get a message from those artists which makes me happy, and occasionally I will get a really nice message. The best one came from one member of a band who said to hear that people like my songs is great, but to hear that someone was inspired by my song to use it for their own inspiration and creativity is the best of all. It made me realize that is why I really decided to start blogging, and awards and hits are all well and good, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t check my views and hope for a blogging award. But at the end of the day, it is comments like this one that really make me happy I blog.

    Liked by 4 people

  18. I was Freshly Pressed just a few weeks ago, so this conversation seemed particularly relevant to me. I enjoyed reading about what other bloggers have to say about their experience. For me, it was a surprise to be featured. Also a bit of, “why this and not that other post”. Since being Freshly Pressed I have gone back to my same schedule of visiting others for a certain amount of time each day, liking and commenting when I have something to add.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Also a bit of, “why this and not that other post”.

      In addition to the general criteria that includes strong writing and good photography, there are a lot of factors that affect what each editor chooses. Time of the year, the season, current events, the types of posts already in the queue. (For example, if there’s a lot of dark or heavy topics, we might go out in search of something lighter, in an attempt to strike a balance.)

      There are four of us in total, sifting through posts. We each have different backgrounds, we enjoy different topics, and have different viewpoints on what we share on FP. We will often share a post among ourselves if we’re not sure — we don’t always agree that something should be featured (we even refer to a caveat that “reasonable editors may disagree” just because making choices is such a human endeavor, influenced by a myriad of factors).

      What we’re striving for in the end is to share the interesting, the thought-provoking, the unusual, the unexpected. It’s a fun and ongoing challenge.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I’ll bet it is a challenge. One of the things that I love about having a blog on WordPress is the great variety of other blogs I have discovered. I just feel like there is a lot of passion for life and creativity here. As a reader, that is great, for you the editor, a never ending challenge 🙂 It sound like you like your job though, and I think that is great.
        Cheers!

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  19. I actually found this VERY interesting. I hadn’t really thought about the Freshly Pressed thing because I assumed that since I was new and just writing for myself I had no chance anyway. BUT I didn’t know you also try to feature new bloggers too.

    I will continue to write just as I always have but knowing that even as a newer blogger I could maybe, possible, one-day, be featured does gives me a tangible reason to try to write better, more thought provoking, posts.

    I also assumed that being Freshly Pressed would be completely awesome. I never considered that there could be a downside to it. We are always being told that more views are good but in some cases being an unknown means more freedom. You get popular and all of a sudden there are expectations, bleck!

    Hm, something to think about for sure. Thanks 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. BUT I didn’t know you also try to feature new bloggers too.

      Yes, we pick posts on new blogs.

      I think the criteria has evolved over the years, given changes in goals, editors, etc. A few years ago, I believe the focus was on new, recent, “fresh” content (eg, posts published within the past week or so). This has changed: we actively seek out older stuff — posts that are timeless, work well in archives, and can be revisited again and again.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I agree with Cheri that a blog’s age is not a major criterion when I consider posts for Freshly Pressed. It gives me as much pleasure to find an early post (or even a first post) on a brand-new blog that hits it out of the park as digging up a solid piece of writing from an older, established blog.

      At the end of the day, a great post (read: what I happen to think is a great post on that given day) is a great post. Circumstantial details shouldn’t detract from it, though they can add to it, like when a blog I’ve been following for a while, thinking it’s promising, delivers with something truly delightful.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. At the end of the day, a great post (read: what I happen to think is a great post on that given day) is a great post.

        Agree!

        To some of the “Why did they pick this post, but not this one?” comments on this post — my selection of a specific post doesn’t necessarily imply that that post is the “best” post or most representative of the blogger’s work. That’s not really what I’m looking for or thinking about when I look for picks for Freshly Pressed. As Ben said, a great post is a great post.

        Like

  20. I’ve been Freshly Pressed four times, although the last time was a few years back now. One of my Freshly Pressed posts, about grammar, got me as many views in one day as I normally got in a year (at that time). Freshly Pressed has brought me many of my regular readers.

    One thing I think I’m seeing about Freshly Pressed is that several years ago it seemed to feature interesting writing about a number of subjects, but now it seems to favor writing on topical subjects (racism, campus rape, that sort of thing).

    Two of my Freshly Pressed posts were reviews of vintage film cameras (as using old film cameras is a major hobby of mine and one focus of my blog). The fourth was about classic cars I photographed at an auction.
    I try to write all of my posts to be interesting even to someone who is only casually interested in the subject. But given what I perceive to be a shift in Freshly Pressed’s focus, I would be surprised if one of my camera reviews or an old-car post were Freshly Pressed today.

    Each time one of my posts has been Freshly Pressed, it’s been enormously fun to watch the stats climb and have my email box blow up with comments. I respond to all comments but the shamelessly self-promotional ones; I’ve even been known to delete the most egregious of them. And I click through to the blogs of every non-self-promoting comment on my blog hoping to find interesting writing to add to my own feed reader. I’ve found several great blogs that way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. One thing I think I’m seeing about Freshly Pressed is that several years ago it seemed to feature interesting writing about a number of subjects, but now it seems to favor writing on topical subjects (racism, campus rape, that sort of thing).

      I try to do keep a balance — I’m very much interested in seeing what’s trending and what’s being shared across the web. We’re not a news organization, and will never be a “breaking news” feed, but I think it’s important to see what our bloggers are saying about current events and hot topics (and want and need to feature more international voices).

      I’ve found that the more reflective commentary on current events/hot topics — which surfaces on WP.com after several days of an event — is often more thoughtful, and that’s the type of writing I like to feature. Timely and relevant, *but* resonant over time. A pick that, upon finding in our post archives, I’d click on to read again, months or years later. This is something I look for in topical posts.

      All that said, I’m always looking for a beautiful, poignant, timeless piece of writing on anything. But it has to move me in some way, or offer something unique or something I’ve not read before.

      Thanks so much for your comment.

      Like

  21. I’ve stopped by to wish people congrats on being Freshly Pressed, and I followed FP for awhile, but to me posts chosen seemed to focus on political or cultural hot topics. That isn’t what interested me since I write fiction for kids. I didn’t start on WP seeking recognition, so it remains a topic of occasional concern rather than a focus. I do find the criteria a bit baffling, but I guess that just gives the editors complete freedom to choose whoever/whatever they want. I’m not sure that that leads to the best posts or writers being chosen. It ends up feeling a bit random. I hope the new “Discovery” continues to motivate great writing.

    The down sides here seem to focus on the limelight being too brief. That has a poor little rich kid feel that is hard to relate to unless you are one of the validated.

    My readership has grown slowly over 2 years, and continues to grow, which is gratifying. Many readers read and comment daily, which I find amazing. How many book authors have daily readers? I enjoy the relationships that developed over time most. It most closely reflects how relationships develop in person.

    The real reward is the voice we are allowed here, each of us with our own agenda and thoughts, finding other people with like minds. There’s no down side to that. Thanks for that, WP!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I do find the criteria a bit baffling, but I guess that just gives the editors complete freedom to choose whoever/whatever they want.

      Thanks for your insights. There are millions of people publishing on WP.com, and it’s hard to summarize what we look for in one tidy support document. Again, they’re general guidelines, ultimately to help people improve their writing, period — best blogging practices to think about. I don’t think it’s possible to strictly define an “excellent piece of writing” when there are so many types of bloggers and writers out there.

      Like

  22. My very first post ever was Freshly Pressed shortly after I published it, and since then, crickets! Talk about a roller coaster with a crazy let down! I agree with Peg about it feeling like a drug. Every morning (literally, sadly), I open up my email wondering if I will see anything from the Freshly Pressed editors again. So far, no dice. But regardless, this has all been an incredible experience, complete with a viral post that came with hundreds of horrible comments about what a terrible person I was, and too many great(?) posts that have gone unnoticed to count. It’s fun. Freshly Pressed is a great kick in the pants to keep trying to put out good material.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I vividly remember your post — the one we featured on Freshly Pressed back in the Fall — and this is actually the first time I realized it was your first one. I actually really love it when it happens — when a first post is so irresistibly good.

      It makes me happy to to hear that being Freshly Pressed has given your blogging a positive boost, horrible comments notwithstanding, of course.

      Liked by 2 people

  23. I spend a lot of time thinking about how to deal with being Freshly Pressed considering how I have never once actually been Freshly Pressed.
    Is it true that newer bloggers have a greater chance of being chosen?

    Like

  24. I got my first troll once when I was FP. I felt like I had arrived.

    The first time I was FP was the day after my birthday. Best. Birthday. Ever. The downside was that no one in my waking world had any idea what I was talking about when I tried to explain my excitement.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Exactly. The first time I was in my office and I let out a whoop. My husband couldn’t understand what the heck all the hubbub was about, so I just screamed, “It’s a big, &$%#@ deal!” He smiled politely and said, “Oh. Congratulations.”

      I don’t have any trolls, though. Gives me something to shoot for.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I got my first troll once when I was FP. I felt like I had arrived.

      UGH.

      You raise a great point that didn’t come up in our roundtable — the fact that sometimes the new visitors that FP can bring lack manners, or even a sense of humanity and decency.

      In case anyone following along here is currently dealing with a less-than-pleasant commenter, we’ve got a few really good articles in The Daily Post archives about dealing with trolls.

      Liked by 3 people

  25. Thanks for inviting me to participate in this, guys! Two-thirds of the way through I noticed I’d been nodding the whole time. And by noticed, I mean my boss walked by and asked if I was trying to dance. But that’s how much I agreed with everything.

    Liked by 3 people

  26. I enjoyed reading this because, I’ll Be honest, I never read Freshly Pressed. Don’t get me wrong, I have popped over there before now but every time I do I find the blogs that have have been selected to feature are in no way of any interest to me. I always find that the topics there are way over my head and I agree with some of the previous commenters, they seem like hot-topics, stuff that not everyone can actually enjoy. I actually don’t know the first thing about being freshly pressed because I’ve never had that happen and after reading someone else’s comment here, I wonder if I ever would, because I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen a British blogger featured, it’s all very American to me. It’s hard to explain, when I have read stuff off FP it’s makes me feel stupid and my blog pointless because I can’t really spell and sometimes i waffle on about cleaning instead of world problems I have no idea about lol that’s why I avoid that area of my reader. I’m happier when I think I’m clever instead of realising I’m not haha!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We do feature British bloggers — but we need to feature more. You’re always welcome to tweet us recommendations (or drop some links here for us to look at).

      In regard to finding stuff of interest, follow specific tags in the Reader and continue to follow blogs you enjoy so you can shape your Reader into a space that you want to browse.

      Thanks so much for your comments.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Good to know that we can recommend blogs for consideration – I’ve come across a few from time to time that I thought deserved the accolade. I guess the thing to do is to check with the blogger whether they would welcome the recommendation?

        Like

      2. @Jill’s Scene —

        I guess the thing to do is to check with the blogger whether they would welcome the recommendation?

        You can if you’d like, especially if you feel the content of the post is sensitive in some way and you aren’t sure the person would want that extra attention. On our end, as editors, we generally don’t “ask permission” to feature a post — if a post is on a public blog, it’s there to be read and shared! — but there are rare cases where we might ask permission.

        In general, I think bloggers have different practices here — some people tweet us and mention the blogger in the tweet, for example, at least to show they “nominated” one of their posts. It’s a nice gesture (but not a mandatory step.)

        Hope this helps!

        Like

  27. Thank you so much for this realistic look at what sometimes beckons like a Holy Grail. Nothing surprises me that any of you have said, but I appreciate hearing validation that the honor of being Freshly Pressed isn’t a bouquet of roses without a few thorns.

    Although part of me would love to someday be Freshly Pressed, most of me is so tickled that I’ve become part of an engaging, interesting, caring community of bloggers who interact in authentic ways that are manageable for each of us. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

    Liked by 4 people