Tomorrow my blog will be a year old. I have learned so much in that year and made such great friends. Setting up the blog was so scary and pressing publish the first time was scarier yet. I don’t know what I was expecting to happen but only good things did.
One of my friends helped me set up. When she showed up at my house I was beside myself because I hadn’t come up with a title. My friend and another friend from work bombarded me with suggestions until I came up with my title. From then on it was easy.
Other bloggers found me and showered me with “likes” and “comments.” Thank you bloggers! The energy that comes from the readers is what forges us onward. I quickly found my group of blogger friends.
Some of my original blogger friends are gone. Whenever I stop seeing someone visit or post, I get a sense of loss. Fortunately, there are new bloggers who fill the void.
WordPress is a great site for me. At times it exasperates me (just like a spouse) but it’s free and helpful and does what I need. I wish the document builder in it was more user-friendly but I have adapted.
The best thing that WP did for me was to Freshly Press one of my posts. When I read about FP, I decided it was like winning the lottery. There are many, many great writers who blog all the time. I kept my expectations low and was stunned when it happened. I was equally stunned when it was for a post that is not typical of my writing (go figure!). That broadened my exposure and I hope some of those readers have come back.
Here are some lessons I have learned in the past year.
- Posting Frequency – Despite everyone’s urging, it is not necessary to post every day. If you are composing stories and want them to be meaningful and well written, it is hard to post everyday unless you don’t have a life. Daily bloggers may be tempted to do a diary of their daily activities. These are much harder to make interesting. Some bloggers post daily pictures or inspirational sayings which are very interesting. There are no blogging police to scold you so post as it works for you.
- Readers’ quirks – I just can’t figure out readers. My favorite posts aren’t necessarily the most popular. My favs are the obituary one, the Starbucks drive-through experience and old people smell. The reader favs are the one about my Grandmother immigrating (Freshly Pressed) and new computers. In response to a blogger contest I composed “The Uninspired Chronicles” which received the most comments next to the Grandmother post.
- Adding media – Using your own photos is better than any photo site. Zemanta is easy as it is already on the WP site but the photos don’t always work for the topic. I usually had to crop, enlarge, or reduce anything I found on the internet and you are starting with a small file. If I was more talented, I would do my own illustrations. Maybe I will in the future but don’t expect too much more than stick people.
- Time of Day – Figuring out the best time to post has been impossible for me. From the stats, I could see the most commented time for my blog is 9 a.m. Does that mean a morning post is better than an evening post? When you first post, you are listed on the WP page under your category. Because of the post volume you are only at the top for minutes. You always hope that someone new wanting to read about a specific topic like humor will click on your post, like it and subscribe.
- Popular post days – Saturday posts are not particularly good. I have done well with Friday and Sunday posts but mid-week is the best. Maybe it’s just my site but the summer seems to be slower. Even regulars don’t read regularly (me too!).
- Animal lovers are among the most loyal readers. Not a surprise!
- Statistical craziness – WP gives you all kinds of statistical data on your blog activity. Some of it doesn’t really add up but you get over that. For the first six months I was mesmerized by it. Wow! People are actually reading this stuff. Then it wears off. I can go to sleep without checking my stats now.
Things that turn me off about a post:
- When the first sentence says, “Excuse my grammar/spelling but I didn’t have time to proof this.” Well, if you don’t have time neither do I.
- Useless foul language. I am no prude but what’s the point? Somehow the bad words don’t have the same impact in writing that they do spoken out loud.
- Overly long posts — although there are a few bloggers who can pull that off really well.
- Don’t tell me what you did today unless there is a good story there.
- Whiny posts unless they are funny.
What I love about posts:
- Good writing
- A post that makes me spit my coffee out my nose (I know, that’s gross but true).
- Something new to learn
- Beautiful pictures or illustrations
- I don’t follow cooking blogs but every once in a while one of my regulars posts a recipe which I will try.
- Did I mention good writing!
There are two things you can do to encourage other bloggers – hit that “like” button when you enjoy the post and comment when inspired. Those are gold!
The past year has been fun. I love my blogging buddies and my readers. I learned so much and have received encouragement to incorporate my HR Memories somehow into a book. Thank you all!
Photo credits: Gotjenks (Flicker)