Thoughts on the journey

Why I don’t trust Likes from the Reader.

So part of the reason I decided to use the WordPress format is because of engagement. My goal with this website is to reignite my creative side. (you can read about that here) I use WordPress to read about writing and photography and creativity, and I do find some very useful. I try to leave comments and give constructive perspective. In return, I hope that people will come and check out my page and give me some feedback (good or bad) so that I can gain insight as well.

You can create art for yourself, but art without an audience is just creative masturbation.

I know that people have a lot of media to consume these days, and that if I can’t get someone to slow down and leave a comment, then a simple Like will have to do. My thinking was that even though I wouldn’t know why someone likes one of my photos or my style of writing, I could at least see which subject maters or styles get the most attention and judge for myself. I knew that this was somewhat flawed thinking, but you take what you can get and make the most of it.

And at first it was going well. I was getting a few comments but mostly, Likes. As I anticipated. And I tried to gain as much info from this as I could.

Then I decided to buy my own host and domain. That changed everything and the way I looked at WordPress Likes. I realized I couldn’t trust them.

I bought the host and domain myself instead of going through because it gave me more control for a lot less money. For less then the premium package, I could get almost all of the benefits of the professional package. It seemed like a no brainier to me and I’m glad that I did it. But what I hadn’t taken into account was that doesn’t include self hosted WordPress websites in the Reader section of WordPress. This was a dilemma for me. I wanted that engagement. That’s when I came up with the idea to post a preview on my and have it link to My hopes were that an extra click wouldn’t deter people from viewing the content.

That’s when I started to pay attention to the stats. How many people were clicking over to Would this work? The answer surprised me.

Half the people would like a preview image where I posted a copy of the original image with a black bar going across it. Like this..


Why would someone like this image? Were they clicking back from to give it a like on their Reader? I went back to the stats and compared the two sites. It seemed that only half the people who viewed the preview, clicked through to the main site. Then I started to pay closer attention to who was liking my stuff on and Certain “people” were showing up over and over liking my previews but never clicking over to When I went to look at their blogs I found mostly people trying to sell their work. It became clear that the only reason they were liking the previews was to get me to view their website.

In other words, the only Likes I could trust, were the ones on And I never would have realized this if I hadn’t hosted my site away from

Now I look at other sites differently when I see how many Likes a post has. How much of that is authentic? I question posts that have only a few comments and 100 Likes. If so many people like that post, why aren’t more commenting? All of this inevitably has lead me to start focusing on other avenues to gain engagement.

What do you use besides to get people to engage with your work? I use Twitter, and I hate Facebook with a passion so I won’t be going that direction. I’d love to read your thoughts. (if you have the time)




  1. I don’t trust the Likes so much, either.
    My blog automatically posts on Twitter, but that’s it. I’m not a Facebook fan, either, and deleted my account years ago. I pretty much view my blog as a record of my life and don’t stress about getting more readers/viewers.

    I wanted to tell you, though, that I tried to click on the post you’re referencing above whenn it first posted, and received an error message. I wonder if that’s skewing your stats?

    1. Thanks for the comment. 🙂

      I’m not stressing. I find it interesting and in the end it just serves to help shine a light on my path.

      An error you say? Thanks for letting me know. Anyone else reading this have that issue as well?

  2. Most of my readers/commenters are friends/family/blogging pals. I haven’t spent much time working on increasing engagement/traffic because so much of it seems inauthentic. People “like” away, hoping they will redirect traffic back to their own page. I have an Instagram, but it appears people stop at “liking” the image without actually going to the site. However, I use my site as Tracy^^ does, so it’s all gravy. By the way, thanks for stopping by my site earlier. I do appreciate folks reaching with positive comments! 🙂

    1. I really REALLY hate inauthenticity. It’s the cancer of creativity. Life has taught me to avoid inauthentic people at all costs. This is why I don’t really care how many views or likes I get. I just want some level of engagement to see how people feel, good or bad, about my work so that I can see it more objectively.

  3. I completely agree. I was chatting with a fellow photographer friend and she said after taking all sorts of classes and workshops last year with conflicting viewpoints on how to build her brand, she was so confused until she decided to post whatever SHE wanted to post, regardless of how marketable it may or may not be. So here’s to more organic engagement in 2018!

  4. Shameless self-promotion is the mantra nowadays in any social media platform. I too stopped using FB ages ago. Twitter was never my cup of tea as I had nothing to tell the world via my “tweets”. And Instagram became very difficult to tolerate with the amount of selfies floating around. Finally I decided to come back to WordPress in 2018 just to do a Project 365 – a photo a day for the whole year. Compared to most of the other social media sites, I am finding it a bit better in here. Of course, there are fake likes and fake comments, all in the name of driving traffic back to their site, but I am not really bothered by that. I do visit the site of each person leaving a like or comment in my blog. If I like what I see, I follow that blog. I hardly ever leave comments though because I just don’t have the time for that. But there are times a post or a photo might make me want to write something. And that’s when I write a comment and I try to be as genuine as possible. 🙂

    (Btw, I didn’t get an error message when I opened the link. So I guess you must have fixed it.)

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