5 of My Stories Flopped, But Yours Don't Have To
Learn from my mistakes so you don't have to learn from your own
In the last few weeks or so, my views on Vocal have increased significantly. The biggest reason for this is that I have learned a lot in that time and it has made me a better content creator. But learning does come with a price and for me, that price was failing... quite a few times. But just because I had to fail to become better doesn't mean that you have to. So here are some things I've learned from my least viewed stories so that you can learn without having to experience it firsthand.
"...the Poets category on this site is oversaturated."
This was a poem that I posted yesterday and I know what you're thinking: it's only been a day. But based on how well my stories have been doing recently, getting 2 views in one day is a major flop. The reason for this floppage (yes, I know that's not a word) is simple: It's a poem. Thankfully, I have read enough poetry on here to know that the Poets category on this site is oversaturated and I didn't expect a big viewing when I posted it so I wasn't disappointed.
New poems are always being added more quickly than any other category I've seen. Even though my poem was posted less than 24 hours ago (at the time of me writing this), I had to scroll through four pages of poetry to find it. That means that someone like me who clicks onto their favorite categories to see the latest posts, most likely won't search far enough to actually find it. And with poems, it is also a disadvantage because there aren't big descriptive titles usually because the poetry is supposed to be the thing that captivates people. Meaning that clicking on a poem purely for the title is not as common as with other kinds of stories.
This doesn't mean that you can't have success as a poet on Vocal; it just means that it's harder. If you do choose to post your poetry on here, it's better to do it just because you want to and not because you're hoping for a lot of views.
"Having a strong title and an interesting featured image makes a difference..."
I'll cut to the chase with this one. My title sucks and so does my featured image. I posted this story a month ago when I was still trying to figure out how to get more reads, but if I had to guess, my title and the boring picture were the hindrances with this story.
I started off strong, using a number in the title because stories that include lists and ranks tend to do well but the second word was the steep drop-off. A lot of people know that YA in literature stands for Young Adult, however, not everyone does. So the smarter thing would have been for me to actually spell out the words "Young Adult" and put the YA in parentheses so that those who know the genre both ways would be able to find it.
The rest of the title just falls very flat. It does the job of telling what the story is about but there aren't any words in it that are captivating or make it stand out. So if I could change the title, I would name it 5 Young Adult (YA) Book Series That Would Be Phenomenal Movies/TV Shows.
Having a strong title and an interesting featured image makes a difference in whether people click on your story or don't even stop to notice it.
"...audience is important"
Despite this story being one of the ones I'm most proud of, it also had one of the lowest views of all my stories. And as a writer, it always sucks when people don't appreciate your work as much as you do, but it doesn't mean that it's bad. In this case, it just meant that my audience was wrong.
The population of Vocal doesn't represent the rest of the world. While there are many Glee fans all over, on Vocal there doesn't appear to be as many. I have written three Glee related stories and they happen to be some of the only Glee related content on this site. Meaning that there just aren't enough Glee fans to garner enough attention for this kind of story.
The first Glee story I wrote, 10 Songs That Glee Would Have Covered If It Was Still on TV, was actually my most viewed story up until a few days ago, which made me believe that there was a significant audience for it. The difference, though, is that while not everyone loves Glee, there are those who love to hate it. All over the internet, there are stories similar to mine with titles like "Songs that Glee Would Have Butchered in 2020" because even though a lot of people don't like it, Glee covers have had a major cultural impact that causes people on both sides of the spectrum to talk about it.
With this particular story, not enough people care enough about the show on here to actually be interested in why they had an aversion to Black male characters. And their aversion specifically to Black men is not a popular enough opinion for it to show up on people's Google searches, the way that my first Glee story did. So audience is important when it comes to getting views.
"...there is such a thing as waiting too long."
This story was written for the Solo Trip challenge and it was my first time entering in a Vocal challenge. I read How I've Earned Over $4,000 from Vocal Challenges by Kathryn Milewski and one of her tips was to wait until closer to the deadline to enter so that you can read some of the other submissions and ensure that yours is as unique as possible. While that is good advice, I figured out that there is such a thing as waiting too long.
With this challenge, I waited until an hour before the deadline to submit my story. I had read multiple stories and tried to make sure that mine was the best it could be before submitting. While I got the advantage of checking out the competition by waiting, I was at a disadvantage of having other people read my story.
Most people who are interested in the challenges, at least read some of the other submissions but when you submit too close to the deadline, there's a good chance that most people won't see it because they will no longer be interested in reading the submissions until the winners are announced. And this isn't just based on speculation; it's based on experience.
I recently entered into the Gift Guide challenge with my story The Perfect Gift Guide Based On Your Loved Ones' Favorite Netflix Original Shows, as well as the 2020 Rewind Playlist challenge with my story 2020: The Tracks of My Year and the Holiday Outtakes Card challenge with The Spirit of Christmas, Friendship, and Messing Up. The latter two stories have become two of my most viewed stories on here and my story for the Gift Guide challenge has received a substantial number of views in the last 24 hours since it was posted. All of these stories were submitted to their respective challenges at least a full day before the deadline, giving me enough time to read other submissions and other Vocal users enough time to read mine.
"...timing is everything."
This was the most surprising flop of mine honestly. I thought for sure that a story combining one of the most popular shows of all time and Christmas music would be a hit. Unfortunately, I was wrong and the views didn't even hit the double digits. Looking back now, this story isn't as well written as some of my more recent ones, but I thought people would still be interested in it at least. With this flop, I learned that timing is everything.
Certain times of the day circulate more stories in and out faster than others. From what I've seen, the morning (based on Central Standard Time in the U.S.) tends to be at the top of that list because this is the time when moderators are approving stories that were submitted the previous night. So you have to time it just right. If you submit a story too early in the day or too late at night when the moderators aren't checking them, several other stories are going to be posted at roughly the same time as yours when the moderators are able to go through them all. But if you wait for later in the afternoon, the number of stories that the moderators have to approve have largely thinned out and you have a better chance of your story actually being able to remain on the first page for latest posts in that category for a longer time. This means more people have a chance of seeing it than those that get lost in the shuffle on the fifth page.
There is no one size fits all formula for success on Vocal and I still have a long way to go, but any improvement is cause for celebration. I'm okay with talking about my failures because it's led to some successes. And although sometimes we need to lose in order to win, it feels a lot better to just win.
If this story helped you in anyway, feel free to leave a like and/or a tip and check out some of my other stories.