My blogging journey thus far has been a fascinating experience with many surprises and an elusive next step. Along the way I have recognized a number of phases.
Initially I had this crazy idea to share my photos and slowly that dream morphed into a decision to blog. It reminded me of a time when I asked a photographer my age at a photography course if he had a website. “Oh no,” he replied, I only show them to my mom.”
My research lead me to using WordPress. What they offered for free was amazing but there were still some frustrations in figuring out how everything worked and putting it all together. I wanted to make a good first impression in case anyone besides my mom wandered by!
With my first post finished, there was nothing left to do but hit the publish button and wince. I think the latter was mostly about the fact I was making a big commitment!
After that, I settled in to nothing but the sound of crickets. Whenever someone stopped by, it was an unusual gift. I would check the stats hourly just to see if there were any more.
I decided to post twice a week until I could get a good audience. The funny thing is that 181 posts and 20 months later I’m still doing it. My initial thot was that it was too difficult to maintain quality posts with greater frequency and I still believe few successfully maintain that standard.
I chuckled to myself when I finally removed the requirement that I review all comments before they went live. It turned out there wasn’t exactly a stampede!
I got into the routine of posting and even started to enjoy hitting the publish button. Along the way I connected with some amazing bloggers on my posts and theirs. There were also friends and connections from Facebook who stopped by to say hello.
A few people told me I had a great blog and I wondered if it could be true.
The traffic steadily increased and there were some inspiring comments.
I reached new milestones and WordPress featured my blog a couple of times sending my stats soaring. This was starting to get easy! I even entertained thots of getting enough readers to get a few dollars from advertising. And to think I have occasionally been viewed as less than optimistic!
Roller coaster phase
Unfortunately my stats nose dived when most of the visitors from WordPress features disappeared after their initial visits. Hmm maybe this wasn’t so easy. I would make photos I really liked and then spent a lot of time writing corresponding posts. I was surprised when they didn’t seem to get much response. Then I would write a tide-me-over post and it would get much more reaction. Confusing!
I learned quite a few other things along the way. It’s not easy continually growing the number of readers and perhaps that was an unrealistic expectation. August is a slow month, WordPress users can like posts without opening them, people taking the time to comment is special and regular commenters regularly disappear. I still miss them. I figured out months later that some of them had left the blogosphere. Then a new set of bloggers signed up. I duly noted that when others decided to take a blogging break, they usually didn’t start again.
Somewhere along the way I began to question why I was doing the blog – usually on days when ideas for new posts seemed elusive.
Over time I had changed my measures of success for the blog from the number of daily views, to the number of likes, to the quality of the comments, to quality connections with people, to deciding this was just a writing outlet for me and then back through the list again. By now making money was nowhere close to this list!
At the same time I was often reminded of all the wonderful people I had met and the good interaction with folks from many places in the world. They seemed to enjoy my photos, perspective and occasionally even my quirky sense of humour.
At the beginning of a new year, I am in a reflective mood. I’m not sure about where I’m going with the blog, if anywhere. I still have photos and stories I want to share, but after that? Do I need a better measure of success? More focus?
Perhaps you have some suggestions or advice? Or perhaps some of you have been blogging longer and know of other phases?