While there are measures of success more important than popularity, gobs of people reading something indicates the author got something right. Even when I don't much care for a story, if lots of people are enjoying it there's probably something for me to learn from it. The thing about evaluating quality based on number of reads when you run your own website is that you know precisely how many people are reading what. At least you know how many times any given post has been loaded. Actually, in my case that's not quite true, either. I find it more than a little obnoxious to make people click through to read a post that's only maybe 500 words in order to maximize page views for ads that I don't sell, so I just put entire posts up on my front page. That means lots of posts are read (or not) from the front page without the page view count for that post being increased.
Still, I have a decent idea of which posts get loaded again and again--and those numbers surprise me. That's why volume of writing matters, at least at this stage of my development: I can't really predict what people are going to like, so I help my chances of connecting with people by writing enough pieces to give readers more to connect with.
I know that offers of "FREE SEX" make for eye-catching marketing, so it doesn't surprise me when titles referencing sex, even a little subtly, attract attention, while posts that actually almost-kind-of-sort-of feature written sex without being quite as obvious in the title receive less attention. Maybe people enjoy reading about my rejections because they can relate, but the enduring popularity of that particular post wasn't anything I expected when I wrote it. I've written some poetic pieces I thought were pretty good that didn't strike a cord, but then I've written (almost) poetry I thought was silly that turned out to be relatively popular.
I'm sure some of these patterns are random luck, simply a matter of me clicking "publish" at a time when a person will like it can read the post and then tweet or link or recommend it. I'm just a guy with a laptop, a hosting agreement, a WordPress installation, and a dodgy internet connection--I have no idea who is going to read this once I post it. I can only hope someone looking for a bit of encouragement to share their work widely and often takes comfort from these words. That's the point of trying to write and share often. I want to give myself as many chances to get lucky as I can.
I want to write enough to connect.