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The Big 1,000

Not to be confused with the 1,000 reads I’m getting on this hard-hitting article 😉

By Stephen A. RoddewigPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 6 min read
Top Story - February 2024

Well, how did I get here?

– Talking Heads

It’s a big moment, to be sure. 1,000 reads. 1,000 times that someone else thought something I wrote on this wild site we call Vocal was worth sticking around to the end. And with all that brainpower expended, I find myself with the official $6.00 USD that was promised for every 1,000 reads that is what makes Vocal+ so exciting.

Proof for all you naysayers out there

Some of you might look at my profile, see that I joined back in June of 2021, and wonder why I’m bothering to celebrate when it took almost three years to get here. After all, divide that out and it’s something like 300 reads a year. Some of the big leaguers on here might pull that kind of stat in a single week.

And those folks might have a point if not for the fact that getting exposure was never the goal. 1,000 reads was never the goal. $6.00 USD was never the goal—though I’m not turning it down. What self-respecting Vocal Mercenary would?

So what is my goal? Quite simple:

  1. Enter challenges
  2. Win challenges
  3. Gain credibility as a writer
  4. Put any resulting prize money toward my many writing projects

Not that every piece on my profile is a challenge entry, to be clear. Sometimes I write a humorous parody of life as a Vocal creator. Sometimes I write pieces lifting up other independent authors I admire. Sometimes challenge entries take on lives of their own and become series. Whatever I’m feeling.

And that’s the thing, isn’t it? Isn’t the key to getting the most out of our V+ memberships doing what brings us joy? What feels right? For me, it’s being super serious building an entire backstory and tragic situation for a metal drum one day (thanks, Misplaced Challenge), joking around in Paul Stewart’s comment threads the next.

I realize that might mean some whiplash for my legions (😉) of subscribers each time I post: “Okay… is he being serious this time? Or is this one long piece of satire again?”

Oh well. Either you are here for it or you are not. Both valid takes.

So I’m happy to have reached 1,000 reads, timeline be damned, because I did it while being true to myself. And part of that authenticity is really not trying that hard.

To be clear, I try quite a lot when it comes to my pieces. Certainly my short stories and challenge entries. Considering I want to make my bones in fiction, everything I publish on Vocal is a reflection of my professional brand as much as everything I publish beyond Vocal.

But not trying that hard when it comes to metrics like reads and engagement.

For example, if I had wanted to reach 1,000 reads sooner, here’s a bunch of stuff I could have done:

  • Try and write to what I assume the Vocal editorial folks consider Top Story material (X)
  • Try and build my Subscriber base (X)
  • Share all my pieces to the Facebook groups (full transparency: I have shared two pieces—out of 78)
  • Share all my pieces to my personal social media (full transparency: I have shared a handful I thought my followers would like)
  • Constantly backlink to previous pieces in my articles (full transparency: I will do it selectively and only if there’s direct relevance and/or it’s a pillar post)
  • Consistently engage with those who engage with me (X—besides replying to any comments on my pieces. I always reply.)
  • Constantly seek out new creators and engage with their pieces in the hopes they return the favor (X)
  • Nominate my own pieces in the Raise Your Voice threads (X—and seriously, don’t do that)
  • Join the Vocal Discord (X—and why would I?)

I should point out: I am still human. If one of my stories/articles gets popular, I get excited. Who wouldn’t? But if something flies under the radar, I’m not crushed.

On the other hand, if I comment on someone’s post and they don’t comment on one of my pieces, I don’t feel cheated. That was never the point. I read on this site because articles interest me. I comment because the piece spoke to me or I feel I have something to add. I don’t do it because I expect equivalent exchange.

I know some authors out there who are very intentional about reciprocating. I leave a comment on something they wrote, and in 24 hours, they have left one back on something I wrote. To be clear, I don’t see anything wrong with that. I’m sure it’s a great way to build loyalty. But that’s not how I roll.

Focus on the writing, don’t overthink the rest, and have fun. That’s my mantra.

Does that mean I fully take advantage of the unique and diverse community of writers that is the Vocal universe? No. Could I realize much higher engagement and subscriber loyalty if I followed the game plan laid out above? Most likely.

But do I feel like I’m missing out? Nope.

Besides, I’d much rather spend the time all those activities would require, you know, writing. That which lies at the heart of all of this. I already don’t like how much time I spend on the auxiliary activities like submitting short stories, building podcast episodes, and learning KDP as it is, but those all feed into the larger vision of where I want to be as I transition from writer to author.

In this day and age, where there are so many opportunities to forego our values for the sake of quick and easy gains, I think it’s more important than ever to stay true to yourself and stay the course.

The other day, I came across an author on *cough* Medium *cough* that had pinned an article to the top of her profile in which she states “So stop blogging about your life and your opinions. Nobody is interested.”

Directly below that pinned post is her most recent article: “Let Me Tell You About My White Privilege”

Set aside the loaded topic and just consider the cognitive dissonance she has created.

“Don’t talk about your life and opinions. No one cares.”

Quite an assertion.

“Now let me get into my own life and opinions.”

So… which is it? Either you forgot your own advice, willfully ignored it for the sake of reads/engagement/pay, or actually meant no one cares about anyone’s life except yours?

And I don’t see how you forget the article you have pinned at the top of your profile.

Am I a fool for trying to maintain integrity? Could I be much more successful by willfully ignoring my standards when doing so promised greater returns?

Perhaps, but I wouldn’t like the person I had become when I reached the mountaintop, no matter how much quicker or easier the climb.

So, I will keep doing the things I like and the things that are working. I will continue striving to meet the promises of series and stories unfinished on Vocal, be they Martin Williams, Dick Winchester, Beacon at the Abyss, or Before the Dawn.

(Though, I’ll be honest, Before the Dawn might be a long time coming. Lot of sensitivities when it comes to writing about Native American culture, so I don’t want to rush that book by any means.)

Perhaps this post makes its way to you. Perhaps our paths cross in some other way. Maybe you like me, maybe you don’t. Hey, the feeling is likely mutual. Either way, know that I will carry on in my way, and I welcome you to carry on in yours.

Unless your way happens to be putting down others. In which case, stop that.

Here’s to another 1,000 reads, whenever that might be.

Or less than another 1,000 reads. That’s fine, too. Not sure I’ll be around here forever.

So long as the final count ends on a 69. That is my only demand.


About the Creator

Stephen A. Roddewig

A Bloody Business is now live! More details.

Writing the adventures of Dick Winchester, a modern gangland comedy set just across the river from Washington, D.C.

Proud member of the Horror Writers Association 🐦‍⬛


Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

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    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

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Comments (32)

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  • marcia regina miranda de oliveira2 months ago

    So good to be able to express feelings, hopes and joys, congratulations. Inspiring!

  • Aman Amine2 months ago

    Congratulations on reaching 1000 reads!

  • Harbor Benassa2 months ago

    I love the authenticity. It’s ironic that a post about not placing value on engagement became a top story. You made some points that were very refreshing.

  • Wells Fargo2 months ago

    Informative and knowledgeable content

  • Anna 2 months ago

    Congrats on TS!🥳🥳

  • Daphsam2 months ago

    Congratulations on your top story, and to all of your goals, they’re very similar to mine!

  • olymoolla2 months ago


  • Hannah Moore2 months ago

    1000 reads, enjoy the reflective milestone. I struggle to balance the writing and reading well, I'm acutely aware that this platform kind of relies on people reading, otherwise we all become reader less, so I try, often very enjoyably, to pull my weight, but sometimes that comes at the expense of writing. I've tried to shift to a more reciprocation based model actually because it frees up time to read random new people more. But I'm trying also to give myself licence to write first, read second.

  • Krishan Mubashar2 months ago

    Yeah, I guess we all feel this "dilemma with time" between reading and building up a loyal(?) readership and writing. I am with you, first comes the writing and then everything else. (not exactly true, because first come real life, then the writing and the online life). Congratulation for the first 1.000 readers!

  • fayzak2 months ago

    The most important thing in your article is to focus on writing, don't think too much about the rest, and have fun. That's my mantra.

  • Susan Fourtané2 months ago

    Congratulations on reaching 1000 reads! That's all it matters. It's motivational.

  • Phil Flannery2 months ago

    I dig it. You can't be doing this to make other people happy, but it feels great when it does. Well done. I also started in 2021 and have only 696 reads, which is like 69, but someone rolled over and went to sleep.

  • Back to say congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • JBaz2 months ago

    You say what you want to say and if that is good enough for you , who are we to argue. I had already Subscribed to you, therefore that means I like your style. I do not subscribe just to subscribe. All the best going on your next 1000

  • Tom Baker2 months ago

    y most read article is about people who literally eat sh-t. No bullstuff. My second most-read article is about people who exhume and live with cadavers. (Among other, uh, activities.) I think my third most-read article is about Houdini. (Who, BTW, didn't advocate on behalf of ANYONE who engaged in the preceding activities. Nor did he engage in them. At least, AS FAR AS WE KNOW.)

  • sleepy drafts2 months ago

    First off, huge congratulations on 1,000 reads (and also, congratulations on this Top Story!!) Secondly, I think your approach is best in terms of just having fun with what you publish. I think when we do things organically and write about what we want/comment in earnest, it sparks natural inspiration and genuine connection. Thank you for writing and sharing this piece, Stephen! And congratulations!

  • Clyde E. Dawkins2 months ago

    Congrats on Top Story and on reaching 1000 reads! Awesome!!

  • Test2 months ago

    This is very clever and well-written. Congratulations! 🎊🍾🎈

  • Cathy holmes2 months ago

    Love your attitude in this. Congrats on the TS and hitting 1000..

  • Gabriel Huizenga2 months ago

    Thank you for carrying yourself with genuineness, integrity, and creative flair on this platform! You've got a new subscriber! ...but know that I will be DEEPLY HURT if you don't comment on one of my posts within the next 24 hours!! ...just kidding ;)

  • Test2 months ago

    You're doing amazing work—keep it up, congratulations!

  • Caroline Jane2 months ago

    I love your swagger. You diamond. ❤️

  • Judey Kalchik 2 months ago

    I'm a good acquaintance, passable friend, rotten relative. I read and comment when and where I can. I like your style.

  • Babs Iverson2 months ago

    Congratulations Stephen!!! 🥰 You did it your way!!! Happy & uncompromising!!!♥️💕

  • Jazzy 2 months ago

    Congrats on Top Story. I think the first 1000 is such a fun time for a person on Vocal. I know that I celebrated mine and it also took years! I am actually surprised you weren't at 1000 considering you're a vocal creator we are loving.

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