It’s Not the Volume That Matters But the Frequency

photography of book page

In December of 2021, I penned and posted a piece on my website titled “The Crossroads at Panic Street and Heartbreak Avenue.” It was later removed and published as a part of my short essay collection, Cloud Pieces. I have no idea how I came up with that title, but it’s still there today. The state of the world has only gotten worse since then.

The reason that said article isn’t included in Life and Times and rather my more abstract essay collection, Cloud Pieces, is because of the cryptic way in which I concluded it. To wit:

“What I’ve learned, I try to share, but few ever listen. Now, as I seek a greater audience through writing proper books, I realize that it’s not the volume that matters, but the frequency.” – Me

As someone who has made it my purpose in life to provide actionable advice through my writing, this would seem to be an abject failure to communicate on my part. But, not everything I write is going to provide any answers. I wrote that line with the intent of following up on it. This is my attempt at doing just that.

When I was compiling articles for inclusion in the several books I’d planned, I deconstructed my website. I pulled down just about anything that hadn’t garnered at least 20 views since the latter half of 2020. While this seems like an arbitrary number, I had to set some sort of cutoff. My purpose in doing this was two-fold. If no one has been reading an article, it’s no longer serving me or anyone else. It needs to be repurposed. The second reason is that to make it worth publishing books for people to purchase, I can’t simply give most of it away for free. 

Also, it’s kind of a fun number because 21 is blackjack. So, ironically, if an article busts twenty-one, it most likely stays. 

In all seriousness, the first half of my closing statement for “Crossroads” is straightforward. I’ve tried to share what I’ve learned in my day-to-day existence for over a decade now, not always in an optimal, organized fashion, but the effort was there. I made it a point to be as concise and plain as I could. But along the way, my essays started reading like expanded bullet points and not proper essays exploring the nuance and complexities of life’s lessons.

The part where I mention seeking a greater audience through writing proper books is also self-explanatory. Even self-publishing makes you a proper author, long as you have an ISBN and send it to the Library of Congress for proper copywriting. The great irony of that statement is that I probably deplete my audience by taking it off of the internet for free. 

Yet, since so many of what’s included have been pulled down from public view, those book-exclusive pieces will get more eyeballs on them than ever. Granted, most of those articles are being properly expanded into proper book chapters. So, it won’t be an apples-to-apples comparison for much of what you’ll read in the books versus on the internet.

It’s the last third of that statement that I know had people scratching their heads. “I realize that it’s not the volume that matters, but the frequency.” In fact, until almost two years after the publishing of that article, I had no idea how multilayered a statement of frustration that truly was.

I never have any intention of belittling people, making them anyone stupid, or trying to lord my mastery of the writing craft over my readers. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. My entire approach to writing is to speak directly to my audience and invite you into my writing journey with me. So, you can imagine that having a small smattering of views when something is first published then absolute desertion within days after the fact is immensely deflating for one’s ego and motivation.

I tried so hard to keep up daily posting, hoping that something I wrote would connect with people. Here and there, I’ve had some success. But it’s usually the very topical stuff, derived from old high school and college essays, that retain any traction over time. If I have an actual life story to tell, even if I have lots of actionable advice included within — often denoted with bold face, in fact — it never goes anywhere.

Thus, it doesn’t matter how much I post or how loud I shout it out. The volume, it seems, no longer matters. There is no way humanly possible for me to compete with the deluge of content that exists now. Probably 98 percent of it is crap, but that two percent that’s good is so good that I have to aspire to be on that level. And I have to be consistent, and that’s really, really difficult.

So, what do I mean about the frequency? I mean that at some point after the pandemic, I simply couldn’t get on anyone else’s wavelength. This is why I began relentlessly writing about Pokemon and Magic the Gathering, my old standbys to get people to read my words. But even then, no matter how many views I got, there were no interactions. About 98 percent of my readers were random hits from search engines. People talk about building a community around their content. For whatever reason, I’ve never accomplished that. What was I doing wrong?

The answer was actually quite simple, and most people aren’t going to want to hear this. I simply could never match the frequency of anyone reading what I had to say. At least, that’s what it seems. I’m absolutely certain that there are a handful of people out there who did understand what I had to say; I do get a very rare comment saying as much, but I’m lucky to get one or two a month. 

My comments on my website automatically close after seven days or I get deluged with spam. I figure if by that time no one has had anything to say. Either, I just blew someone away and made them question all of their life decisions or they just shrugged at my high-brow philosophical commentary and never came back.

So, I came to the decision that not only would I no longer try to cater to a general online audience, but that I would write at the highest possible level that I can. Sure, I’m still trying to be as accessible and direct as possible, but having read many of my more neglected pieces, I realize that the internet simply isn’t the best place to publish my more esoteric works. 

The sad thing is that when I read them or my wife reads them, the message is extremely clear. But then, I end with something cryptic like “It’s not the volume that matters, but the frequency” and I just lose people. And yet, I literally said what needed to be said: I can’t tune into the people that read my website, no matter how loud or often I post, so I’m not going to bother trying.

Thus, going forward, I’m going to post very sparsely online. I don’t have any social media presence any more — my Instagram only exists because of my difficulty in getting rid of it — and I never plan to have any again. I figure that if people care at all, my work will find itself mentioned on there organically. Why do all that marketing effort if people are willing to do it for me, even if all of the attention is negative? 

I’d rather have people call me out as an “elitist” and “too intellectual” than be entirely ignored and waylaid. In fact, I consider myself rather a populist. I actually do care what happens to people. As hard as it is for me to do so, I still believe that 98 percent of people out there deserve a chance to succeed and live a good life. But I think that my problem is the same problem that the vast majority of people have: when will someone tune into my frequency and hear what I have to say? 

My advice: don’t worry about that. Just stay true to what you feel. Say what you mean to say. And listen to a lot of John Mayer, because he’s a fantastic lyricist.

~ Amelia <3

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.

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