Website WOW: Top Post Tops Five Million Views

Checking my website stats today revealed a surprise. Five million views to my top post. Wow. I’d been keeping an eye on this particular post, titled Why I Quit Stealing: Karma (aka Spiritual Psychology) for several years, ever since it rocketed from nothing to more than 4,850,000. For a long time, it stalled there, not moving much at all, but in recent months it had started moving upward again with occasional jumps running in the thousands. Not bad for an “aged” post, especially considering my #2 post is, at 190,165 hits, a miniscule fraction of that.

Should one consider #10 at a mere 28,391 views, the contrast is stark indeed.

Screen shot of my top ten website posts, showing the “five million hitter” as well as the stark drop-off from there.

As in almost any endeavor, the key to real success is consistency, being able to repeat time and again what you’ve successfully accomplished once. That’s definitely not happening here, at least so far. It’s like a bowler who gets a sudden, perfectly thrown strike but sends his next ball into the gutter. I’ve thought long and hard about this: What magic mix of ingredients produced a five million hitter? Aspiring writers want to know, right? At least, this writer does. After all, counting this commentary, I have 964 posts on this site and not one has ever pulled even one tenth of the views raked in by Why I Quit Stealing.

There are a few things that seem obvious, or at least provide clues:

1. Googling a search string of {steal karma psychology} keywords is enough to bring the magic post up as #1 on page #1 of Google results.

2. The post was written from the heart. Google does reward content and so do viewers.

3. There are no comments from readers previously unknown to me.

So, what thoughts do these facts engender in the author? What conclusions might be drawn, both from the success of this one post and the relatively modest action triggered by all others on the site? Why does it seem difficult to replicate, success-wise? Here are a few possibilities:

1. People in general, lots of them, do tend to be intrigued when it comes to discussing the topics of stealing (and/or the cessation thereof), karma (action and consequences), and psychology (spiritual or otherwise).

2. Taken together with the heartfelt confession of a former thief, said topics were/are sufficient to not only interest readers, but to inspire those readers to mention the article to others. (Without that “pass it on” effect, it’s doubtful the five million hits mark would ever have been reached. The post has gone at least somewhat viral. Twice.)

3. The lack of comments would seem the most understandable of all. What reader, male or female or transgender, highly placed or laboring in the most blue collar of occupations or even unemployed, sick or well, would wish to come out of the Thief Closet, so to speak? One might read the post, multiple times even, mention it to friends, give it deep thought, but to admit in writing, “Hey, I steal stuff all the time!” Or even, “I just quit stealing yesterday!” Or perhaps, “I stole from my grandmother, my church, and the food bank when I was younger, but I’m all right now!” A man may admit to having been in prison for murder before he will admit to being a sneak thief.

4. My own lack of success in producing another Internet Super Hit contains one powerful motivator for failure. While I did admit to my early life of crime, such as it was, there are other topics about which I will not write, at least not with the same passion and wide open approach. More than anything, this caution was instilled in me when Peyton Place (a novel) was first published in 1956. I’ve never read the book and likely never will, but even as a thirteen year old boy I was struck by the controversy raging around the novel at the time, claiming the book wasn’t as nearly as fictional as it should be and that too many people and places were identifiable, causing great upset and hurt for those involved. I was already a writer (sort of) at that time and swore I’d never cause pain for another person through the written word if I could possibly avoid it. Which meant that my steak stealing could be discussed because it was all about me, my problem, my flaw, and did not involve anyone else being less than perfect in the telling of it.

Example: Discussion of relationships, their trials, tribulations, and sometimes endings? No way. Stupid things I’d done? Fine. Yes. Sure. But seldom do we humans act in a vacuum. I trusted not the ripples on the pond.

An excerpt from Wikipedia’s entry about Peyton Place:

Peyton Place is a 1956 novel by Grace Metalious. The novel describes how three women are forced to come to terms with their identity, both as women and as sexual beings, in a small, conservative, gossipy New England town, with recurring themes of hypocrisy, social inequities and class privilege in a tale that includes incest, abortion, adultery, lust and murder. It sold 60 000 copies within the first ten days of its release and remained on the New York Times best seller list for 59 weeks.

In closing, one final thought: While the reluctance of readers to comment on the Stealing post is understandable, discussion of “What Makes a Hot Post” should be relatively safe territory. Do feel free to comment, especially if you’ve had a similar experience or care to offer a hint that might help me throw that second strike.