It’s hard to believe, but today marks one year since I first started this blog. One year to the day. I was really hesitant about starting a blog, and I had no idea if it was something that I would stick with, or what it would turn into.
Looking back, I think I did okay. In the first year there were a total of 209 posts (this post if #210). When I started the blog the first week I wanted to write as much as possible, like almost every day. But I quickly realized that A) I can’t blog THAT much and have a life, B) I can’t think of that many things to write about that are “post-worthy” and C) If people started following me via email and I posted that much I would probably be considered spam. So, I didn’t. But I did want to challenge myself to produce quality writing on almost a daily basis, and to put it out there, partly as a way to get used to the idea of submitting my work and eventually getting published. So at some point after one or two months, it wasn’t that long I think, I decided on four posts per week. Sometimes with holidays I have missed a post, and other times with a single topic spread out over five posts, some weeks had a little extra. But it all averaged out, so I was posting a little more than every other day.
I am happy about the diversity of blogs posts I have, even if that may be one of my blog’s biggest weaknesses. I’m like the undeclared major of blogs or something. And that’s okay. I know that finding your niche or having your blog mainly focus on one thing is what is recommended. I have known it all along. But I hate being boxed in to anything, any label, any sort of rule or expectation. So, I made a very conscious decision NOT to do that. I don’t see this blog as unfocused, as much as I see it as free. The minute I would deem this a “book blog,” or a “writing blog,” or a “current events blog,” or an “inspirational blog,” or just some sort of personal blog that is more like an online diary, I knew I would feel trapped. I would feel limited. And being trapped or limited are things I am not good at. When I’m trapped, I fight like hell until I’m not, and I am quite scrappy. And when I’m limited I intentionally go against the rules or the expectations in hopes of redefining them. And I know myself well enough to know better than to label my blog anything. It would be a disaster.
This year I have blogged about issues writers face, publishing tips and how to make it as a professional writer, book reviews on new, popular and underappreciated literary works, as well as book reviews on my guilty pleasure reading (the Fear Street Series, and the Sweet Valley High series). I have discussed current events and controversial topics (Michael Brown, white privilege, gay rights, Cosby, religion, and the execution of zoo animals) as well as personal blogs either detailing medical stuff (my many brain surgeries, dying on my 25th birthday, chemo, my bone marrow disorder, autoimmune diseases, dialysis, being deaf etc. what can I say, my body gets around in the medical community) or my relationships, usually with my husband, our pets or others. (Who can forget that “sexy” blog 😛 ?) And I have the day-to-day blogs commenting on something that happened or what I think of this or that. I have blogs focusing on places I have visited in the last year (the Winchester Mystery House, Alcatraz, the Stanley Hotel, Dinosaur Ridge, and Estes Park to name a few). And of course my most personal blog was probably the one where I discussed my experiences growing up, child abuse, domestic violence, assault and living with and managing PTSD. I think that post was the most terrifying one that I have written all year. I was even more scared when it came to posting it. But I’m a “Rip off the band-aid” kind of person, and what happened once I did post it, was nothing more than taking a deeper breath. And in some ways I felt lighter. I am happy that I have been able to post about all of these things without worrying about how they would define my blog. Because I want it to be able to be a little something of everything. Whatever moves me at the time, there it is.
I have no idea how to rate a blog as a success or how much of a success it is based on followers, comments or likes. I mean obviously a high number is good, but what is high and what is okay and what is below average? I have no idea. And I have no idea how to figure that out. I’m not blogging just to gain followers or pacing around, trying to figure out why I don’t get more likes or comments, but I am a competitive perfectionist and the person I like competing the most with is myself. And I mean, if I was only writing for me, why post anything at all? I could just have a diary in Word or something. So, while I don’t blog for the purpose of being followed, I still keep followers or prospective followers in mind when I post. For example, the days I post are strategic – they’re the days I seem to be getting the most views in the past eight weeks. And I try to write in advance and then I place a blog on a day based on how popular I think it will be, or at least could be. Thursdays are usually my primetime blogs haha. And I censor myself a little bit, because when I write I am uncensored, and I can have a bit of a potty mouth, whether it is used as a sentence enhancer (it really does amp up emotions in my opinion, so long as it isn’t gratuitous) or used for humor. And there are some things I want to write that I think are hysterical that I just can’t bring myself to put out there because perhaps it is “too much.” But I don’t see that as catering, I simply see it as being aware. Because while this blog was not started and is not maintained for the sake of being “successful,” of course I want lots of followers, comments, likes – all of it. Who wouldn’t?
Going into the second year of my blog, I’m not sure where I stand, or what I want to do with it. I think doing four posts per week has worked for me, and doesn’t seem to be so often that it is driving people away, and it isn’t making me crazy (usually) but is also a challenge. That is a lot of writing, and when it comes to book review posts, a lot of reading. I still don’t think I am going to try to “focus” this blog on any one thing, even if it would mean my blog could be “more successful.” If anything I am trying to be better about not letting a single topic dominate the blog, such as book reviews. I think in the past year they have become half of my posts, and I don’t want to be a “book blog with a little something extra/miscellaneous” but for the sake of coming up with ideas, I may have to settle on keeping them as the dominant thing I post (though the new goal is no more than two posts per week, since that is half). If I tried to have a goal in terms of followers, comments and likes I would go nuts. They’re out of my control and not something I should focus on, at least in terms of trying to give myself a grade. I’m going to keep being strategic in terms of what I post, and when, but beyond that I’m putting all of these ideas that can rate a blog’s success out of my head.
I’m really happy with what I have done so far, and I hope that this next year is even better than the first! Happy First Blogiversary to me! 🙂