Freshly Pressed Insults My Intelligence

(365+1)/365 - One Last Bright Idea

(Photo credit: djwtwo)

Here it is!  I have finally written the post that will explain how to improve your chances of being Freshly Pressed. Having recently noticed a blog being Freshly Pressed twice in four days, I was rather curious about how something so mathematically improbable could happen.  (In case you’re wondering, it was the Quartz blog.  One post covered the definition of cancer and the other dealt with Bezos’ purchase of the Washington Post.)

I also noticed that the Quartz blog uses WordPress VIP, which means WordPress probably gets a lot of money from Quartz for various services.  I wondered to myself if VIP customers are permitted to buy a spot on Freshly Pressed.  I still wonder that.

This inspired me to perform a non-scientific study of the most recent 100 posts to be Freshly Pressed; this comes out to about 17 days’ worth.  I wanted to learn if a disproportionate number of selectees are paying for one WordPress upgrade or another.  I should warn you that there are limitations to this study: I could only count blogs that use VIP services, custom domain, custom design, or premium themes.  The other services and products WordPress sells are not immediately discernible from viewing a blog.  (I also failed to record one entry along the way, so I counted it in the “spends no money” category.  Because of how I collected data, this was almost certainly an accurate guess.)

And let me also remind everyone that WordPress is a business and therefore they would be justified in giving some extra preference to the people who keep their company afloat.  Those of us who spend no money are a financial liability to them.  Nevertheless, they advertise Freshly Pressed as something everyone can aspire to and they ought to be held to their word.


Out of 100 blogs, 47 pay to use a custom domain.  Some of these may also pay for other upgrades; I didn’t check.  (Technically, there were 99 blogs because Quartz appeared twice.  However, I counted Quartz twice because they had two posts.)

Another 2 purchased the custom design upgrade.  (Overall, there may have been more than 2.)

Another 1 uses a premium theme.  (Overall, there may have been more than 1.)

Any VIP blogs in the lot were not noted because their custom domain already counted towards “pays money.”

According to these numbers…

WordPress is currently receiving (or has received) money from at least half of the last 100 Freshly Pressed inductees.  Although my study came out with an even 50-50 split, I would remind you that there are still VideoPress, Ad-Free, Guided Transfer, Redirect, and Extra Storage services that I could not account for.  Therefore, the percentage of Freshly Pressed inductees who are paying customers may be significantly above half.

It’s impossible to say with 100% certainty that there’s disproportional representation of paying customers on Freshly Pressed because we do not know what percent of bloggers purchase upgrades.  Based on anecdotal evidence, the 47% figure for custom domains seems awfully high, though.

So if you want to be Freshly Pressed, an effective first step might be to buy a custom domain.

And finally…

The tendency towards paying customers might partly explain why so many of us are often less than impressed with the results of browsing the Freshly Pressed selections.  (“Less than impressed” does not mean “we don’t like them.”  One can be impressed with something that does not suit one’s tastes.)

20 thoughts on “Freshly Pressed Insults My Intelligence

  1. Impressive work. WordPress should definitely Freshly Press this post – if only to push most of the freeloading bloggers like you and me into paying money for their services.

  2. I tried to go on that Quartz blog and my anti-viral program blocked it, so I am wondering what the VIP upgrade is. Anyway, thanks for the post. I had no idea that there was two FP posts from the same blog.

  3. Pingback: I’m going to try being freshly pressed this week. – Smart Stunning Searching

  4. One of the blogs mentioned last Friday has been freshly pressed 4 times! The writing was interesting, but seriously, 4 times? It ‘s funny that you actually did these calculations because I’ve been wondering for quite some time if the paid domains get more action. Another thing I’m curious about, and maybe you have some thoughts here, is how some of these blogs that are 2 or 3 months old have 600+ followers and have already come across the WP radar. We’re not talking about stunning writing or breathtaking photography here, just reasonably good stuff.

    • How people get 600+ followers so quickly:

      1- I have seen bloggers who like and follow everything that appears in the WordPress reader. And then people reciprocate, but no one’s looking at each other’s blogs. The number of followers does not necessarily correlate to the number of readers a blog has.

      2- I think WP counts Facebook friends in the follower count if the two accounts are connected. (In some ways it makes sense to do this since I believe FB friends receive notifications of new posts.)

      #3 is a blog post I’ve already drafted, so you’ll have to wait. 😉

      #4: I suspect that getting on the WP radar is pure luck, although it may be bad luck. I’ve seen lots of stories of bloggers who get a 1 or 2 day surge in views from Freshly Pressed but then back to normal after that. I think people get discouraged that so many people visit but don’t decide to stick around for more.

  5. I have wondered about this for months! I go to Freshly Pressed blogs less frequently these days and the reason is simply that very little catches the eye. Certainly most FP posts are well put together, but I’ve seen many others which are, to my mind, more impressive.

    Maybe, WP should create two different sets, one for the amateurs, (freeloaders) like me and another for the pros. It’s like the Top Gear Lap Times Wall. Formula 1 drivers have their own wall.

    It’ll be interesting to see the official response.

    • I think part of the problem is that WordPress can’t admit this openly. People go to Freshly Pressed expecting to find the best of the blogosphere. I question whether people would go to something advertised as “the best of the people who pay us.”

      Realistically, I think something will have to change. I’ve seen Freshly Pressed posts with fewer likes than the average Weekly Photo Challenge submission. If few people are visiting Freshly Pressed and responding favorably because of a lack of quality, WordPress won’t be able to market Freshly Pressed as a perk to the VIP crowd (if they’re doing that).

  6. I don’t know if you still care about the subject, but I recently discovered a blog that was Freshly Pressed 13 times in last two months. Yes, thirteen times, and yes, two months (7 weeks, actually). Now that really insults my intelligence 🙂

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