Quality vs. success—illustrated by the preceding post
I have often made the observation that highly talented people, high-quality products, excellent ideas, whatnot, are not necessarily successful—while less talented people, lower-quality products, …, can be so to a high degree.
The explanations are many, some “worthy” (e.g. that hard work can make a considerable difference), many “unworthy” (e.g. better marketing, luck with timing, knowing the right people).
My Friday post provides an excellent example: I read an article series in a newspaper that I found offensive, threw together a counter-post without deliberation and planning, and probably spent less than half the time on the actual writing than I do on the average text of that size. In fact, the day after publishing, I spotted no less than five very obvious typos that I felt forced to correct after the fact. I often make errors even in published texts, but in this case my proof-reading cannot have deserved the name.
Still, my post took less than 24 hours to become the most visited on my two-months old blog. (Whether the most read is another question: Other articles may have accumulated a larger number of reads while on the home page.) Further, Saturday broke my daily-hits record by a full 50 %—two thirds of the hits landing on that one post.
How did this success (relative to earlier posts) come about? Simple: A link to my post showed up on one of the articles discussed (possibly through a trackback)—and a small portion of the newspaper’s visitors proceeded to visit me.
In effect, I did not see this traffic because I wrote a post that was more valuable or better written than my other posts—but because I accidentally rode on the “popularity coattails” of the newspaper.
(Similar stories are not unusual on WordPress. I have heard of a few cases where a blog got a months worth of traffic in a day, after a high-traffic site linked to it.)