A Year of Blogging

WP Anniversary 1.JPG

Somehow, I made it. I survived my first year.

I don’t have any idea how long a typical active WordPress blog survives. Judging by the number of promising blogs I’ve followed that have apparently disappeared, I suspect the average age is shockingly low. Perhaps this rate is skewed by folks who thought, “hey, social media is the in thing, I’ll do a blog.”  Then, reinforced by the simplicity of generating a site they create one, with good intentions. Or maybe they just took a class on social media and had to create a site as an assignment.

But then it comes time to create posts.

Maybe they have a half dozen ideas, or a vague theme in mind. Or maybe they figure it’s a get rich scheme; they have what they think is a cool idea, and people are poised in Black Friday crowds waiting to eat it up. They make a few posts, and … crickets. Now what?

“If you build it, they will come.” The 1989 movie “Field of Dreams” introduced the meme, the idea that simply creating something is enough. That meme, like the movie, is a fantasy. Maybe if you’re a youngster who cut their teeth on social media and built up networks of “friends” in your school days you might have an instant crowd of followers, curious to see what you’ve wrought. But the chances are they’re the instant gratification sort; if you don’t impress them early and often, say goodbye. Oh fickle youth. If you have less built in “popularity”, you’ll soon find it takes work to build up a readership. Is it still worth it?

I suspect this causes a lot of folks wash out early.

Others will have done their research on all the things you’re supposed to do to have a successful blog, and chances are they will have good numbers, at least for a while. Some will *SPAM Like and *SPAM Follow until the cows come home, and after Bossy’s been milked they’ll SPAM some more. To these SPAMers I say [Bronx cheer].

Sure, I’ll admit it, I’ve trolled for new readers. I’ll randomly check out sites by topic, or check out blogs liked by folks I follow, but I’ll only Like a post if I actually have read it and enjoyed it. I’ll only Follow if I’ve read several posts on a site and find it consistently interesting. It’s kind of an ethical thing. Guess that’s why I never went into advertising.

But what was my motivation, and why have I stuck with it?

It all started when I thought I should do a better job of keeping the memories of some of the amazing places I’ve been to. Historically I’ve used a camera and that helps, but it’s static and leaves out a lot of context. A picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes they’re not the right words to invoke the moment.

But writing, or even basic communicating is not something that comes naturally to me. I’m the quiet, introverted type. And after a career of the discipline of writing software, I was not inclined to do a sloppy, half-assed job. So I took a travel journaling class.

While this was useful, it didn’t teach much about story telling, and I found I wanted more. So I took a follow-up class on travel writing. This did cover more nuts and bolts (yeah, I know I’m not supposed to use cliches), but it also introduced the idea of writing a blog, or even for magazines.

This appealed – not the magazine bit – I don’t write that well and prefer to leave paying copy to those who need it, but a blog would be a way to record the memories. The initial thought was it’d be a way to share those memories with family and friends, but it’s evolved in a different direction. It was also a way to develop a new retirement hobby: writing creative non-fiction. Or, how to go from a so-so writer to a slightly better than so-so writer.

Then there’s the photography aspect. I’ve dabbled with that since I was a kid, and like to think I have some skills. Now instead of just boring the relatives with slide shows I can bore you too! 😉

So, I’ve survived a year of blogging. I primed the pump with some dive stories, then jumped into the Germany/Switzerland/Austria trip that was the initial motivation for writing down memories. After that, well, where has the time gone? I’ve talked of a few more trips, thrown in an adventure or three, and somehow managed to come up with 64 posts.

How long can I keep it up? I haven’t a clue. It’s not like I tick off bucket list adventures every day. I suspect I may start writing more blather pieces like this one, unless the sloppy tomatoes and rotten cabbage hurled in from the virtual audience suggest a different course. Or, since the WordPress gang seems to be a civil lot, the sudden sound of crickets would be the indicator.

Speaking of the WordPress gang, this has been a revelation. I think it’s a truism you will not get many readers unless you go forth and read other blogs, and interact with them from time to time. In pursuit of this goal I’ve met lots of new people and made new friends. While I haven’t set the blogging world on its ear, I haven’t been “Discovered”, and I still don’t have a lot of followers, I like to think the followers I have picked up are higher on the quality spectrum. If the ratio of likes and comments to followers means anything, I’ve been successful. I’d like to take this moment to express my gratitude – you folks have taken a little side hobby for recording memories and pictures and turned it into something much richer, and have given me the motivation to continue.

And so year two begins. I have another trip in the queue, and a few more adventures I can think of, but it’ll be a challenge to come up with another 50 stories. I hope you stick around for the action, and new friends will join us too.


 

*SPAM Liker/Follower – someone who takes advantage of the Reader to Like posts or Follow blogs without bothering to read them. These folks will not have gotten this far, so I feel pretty safe having given them the Bronx cheer.

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65 thoughts on “A Year of Blogging

  1. Wow, congrtas on your one year of blogging. I can relate to this article on some points. I totally agree with you that some people didn’t even bother to read, they just hit like, follow or comment. On the positive note, there are also good people who read blogs. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you. I’d say the majority of the blogging community, or at least the WordPress segment of it, are interested in the community aspect rather than just raw numbers. That’s what makes it a worthwhile place to hang out.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations 🙂 Well, no blog (or blogger) is going to last forever, but I’m glad you’re keeping on keeping on. You’ve managed a lot in a year, and I love the style and content of your posts.

    I got off to a very slow start. I decided I’d try blogging way back in October 2014, and a friend recommended WordPress. I’m not the most tech savvy person around – it took me ages to set up my blog, and though I did my first post in January 2015 I didn’t feel confident enough to make my blog public until June!

    Then I signed up for Blogging 101, and next 102, which were a huge help. Plus I discovered just how supportive the WordPress community is. So while I feel like I’ve only been blogging properly for just over a year, I think my second anniversary is due around November.

    A number of people I’ve met along the way seem to stalled – temporarily or permanently, who knows? One or two have said that they’ve done what they set out to do, and stopped. Others have taken a break, and come back with new ideas or a new approach.

    Cheers to us all, regardless.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Denise. It’s quite possible I discovered you on Blogging 102, I took a couple of those courses as well, and am considering another. Those are good classes for both learning things and growing your community.

      I sometimes forget that it was easier for me to deal with the technical aspects – having done some web development (from scratch) during parts of my career, the concepts weren’t that new to me. But I should; I gave a demo on how to set up a WordPress site to my bro in law and sister while in Wisconsin on that recent trip, and while bro got it, for sis it was deer in the headlights time. I’m glad you powered through it, I always look forward to your posts and the adventures of Gib. I hope he has a long life, or maybe descendants in the wings. I wouldn’t put it past him…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations on your first year here! I started blogging and follow others for very similar reasons as you. And like you, I also find the WordPress community to be incredibly interesting, supportive, and positive. I wish I had more time to discover new blogs and know that would raise my own readership, too, but for now I am content with what I have after several years. I didn’t know what you meant by SPAM Liker/Follower, but now that you mention it, I do have some of those! I make a point of checking out every blogger who likes or follows me, but sometimes I just shrug my shoulders and raise my eyebrows, like Whaaaat? – why does this person like my blog? I enjoy your posts and wish you many more years of fruitful blogging!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I find I’m spending less time for new blogs to follow as well. Even without traveling there’s a life beyond blogging and the blogs/followers I already have keep me fairly busy. That’s one way I guess at who SPAMers might be; you see Likes from them in so many places there’s no way they could actually have time to read them all, and you never see comments from them. I too check out every blogger who Likes/Follows so their strategy is effective, but not nearly as appreciated as the interaction from bloggers like you.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been blogging here since 2009, and in general since 2001. Guess you could say I’m in it for the long haul. I am amazed by how many blogs I’ve followed over the years that have dropped off the face of the earth for whatever reason. Looking back on my early comments, 80% of those bloggers are gone from WP now. Hope you keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, that’s impressive, I didn’t know blogging was even a thing back in 2001. I suppose it makes sense, I first encountered the Internet before the World Wide Web, and shortly after that saw HTML and the first browser in the mid 90’s. As fast as things move and considering blogging’s predecessors 2001 shouldn’t be surprising, although I’d guess you’re one of the pioneers. And a real Writer too, rather than a dabbler like me. That’s one of the cool things about this community, you get folks from so many demographics.

      Like

  6. Hi Dave! Looking forward to the next 50!

    I’m not sure I can call myself a proper blogger. I put travel stories up as I write them. And if there’s other writing I have to get done in between, then it’s a long time between posts. But today I’m going to start typing up my notes from Vietnam! So maybe I’ll have a new post by fall. 😋

    I often wonder when this joyride will end (going on year six almost). I’ve considered pulling the plug a few times, just so I could focus on writing something for publication. Maybe one of these days.

    In the meantime, I’m looking forward to reading more of your tales and admiring your photography!

    Happy Anniversary!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Monica! I didn’t realize you’d been at it that long. If you’re still hanging in there after 5 years it’d be a shame if you punted – especially for those of us who enjoy your writing. While there’s a lot of travel blogs out there, many are more journaling than well-crafted stories. Please stick around and keep the standards up. 🙂

      Are you considering a book? Magazines? Interested parties want to know.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. One of my goals is to get a travel story published in an anthology like Travelers Tales. Another goal is to write a memoir about the year we lived in the yurt. The trouble is, most publishers aren’t interested in finished pieces that have been posted on a blog. So that’s a real conundrum! I could write two versions, but I’m a little lazy for that. 😉

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Well, if you’ve already written one version, it could make writing a second one much easier (at least that works for software.) Grab snippets from the first, maybe restructure a bit, enhance. Less overall writing time, and much of what you write has already been edited. Ideal for lazy writers (as long as it’s your own stuff you’re cribbing from.)

        I guess I missed your yurt series, although your URL implies it’s there. Got some reading to do…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Not my best stuff, but “That Which Doesn’t Kill Us” will probably make you laugh. It’s disgusting! Thank you, Dave, for all your encouragement. And those are some good points about rewrites. I guess that’s what most writers do anyway: rewrite.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Congratulations on your first blogging anniversary! I’ve read that the majority of new bloggers abandon their blog within the first six months, so sticking with it for a full year is an accomplishment. Your posts are interesting, educational and entertaining, which makes them worth reading.
    As for the “stats,” I’ve learned to mostly ignore them. I have followers who I know for a fact never read my blog (spam followers, and followers who stopped blogging), and other regular readers who don’t follow me, they just wait to see my latest post on my Facebook page. The point is to enjoy the writing process, and to enjoy the other (genuine) bloggers we meet along the way.
    I’m glad I discovered your blog! And I hope you will continue for at least another year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do find I hit the stat page less often than I used to, but being an old data processing guy it’s hard to completely ignore it. And it does make you wonder, why are some posts hits and others misses? I haven’t figured that out yet, although I do seem to do better with travel stories that have a strong photography element, the writing seems secondary.

      An irony: while I originally thought to share these stories with friends and family, many of whom are in Facebook land, I don’t seem to get much response from that side when I crosspost. I suppose it’s a combination of TLDR and me not spending much time on Facebook liking their kid pictures, etc. I suspect reciprocity is the rule there too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have never figured out why some posts are more popular than others, and I can honestly say it has nothing to do with how much effort I put into them. Since I’m not a photographer, my posts rely mostly on words. But it’s hard to predict how people are going to react to what we put out there, and I think that’s okay. At least for those of us who aren’t trying to make money off of our blogs!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Congratulations on getting to one year, Dave. I think you’re right about the lifespan of the average blog. I think it may be measured in months. I recognize all the problems you mentioned with trying to get readers. I hope you continue with your blog, though. One thing I’ve learned from reading other people’s blogs is that just about anything can make an interesting topic, it seems.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Well done, Dave. Seems I’m just a couple of weeks behind you – save me a bit of that cake, if you ever track it down.

    My numbers haven’t completely stalled, but they are now rising very slowly. This probably reflects the fact that after the initial flurry of trolling lots of blogs to find interesting and like-minded bloggers, I now spend most of the time just trying to keep up with them all! On the plus side, I think that does mean that most of my followers are ones who are genuinely interested in the blather that I put up on my site. I feel pleased that I have seen many sites that seem to have around 10,000 followers, say, yet struggle to get more than about 20 likes and a comment or two, whilst I seem to get lots of both with far fewer followers. I think that’s the way i like it. And it’s good that yours seems also to work that way.

    We must be doing something right!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can relate, sort of. My numbers have always been slow growth, there was never really a flurry so I still have less than half as many readers as you do. That’s one reason I enjoy interacting with my readers, there’s still few enough I can recognize ’em when they come around. I admit I wouldn’t mind a few more, but like you, I can keep busy just trying to keep up with current folk and the quality blogs I follow.

      It’s amazing how much it helps to occasionally comment rather than only doing an impersonal Like. I suspect that’s the real difference maker between smaller sites like ours with decent activity and those big ones with tons of followers but not much activity. The big ones either aren’t making the effort to personally connect, or can only feasibly connect with a small subset.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It must just be impossible to connect properly with many more. I certainly couldn’t spend more time following blogs than I already do, so there’s not really much point in my trying to do so. For that reason I only follow ones that interest me. When I get a new follower and I go and take a look at their blog, if it is of no particular interest to me, I don’t follow it back.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. lindywhitton

    Congrats on the 1 year anniversary!! I ‘ve only made 6 months so far but I like the WordPress crew- as you say there’s some quality people out there with some quality posts and you’re one of them!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great piece to mark your anniversary and you’re spot-on in what you say. I suppose what marks out the stayers from the fly-by-nights is having a deeper reason for blogging than just self-publicity. I have issues – isn’t that what they say these days? – with the whole idea of self, which I have come to believe is a chimaera. I don’t want people to look at me but through me at the world. Something like that , anyway. I don’t really know what I want, if I’m honest, but I know it’s going to be better than what I’ve got. Honest post, keep doing them! I’ve been on a year, too, and haven’t run out of steam – I must have some political intention which I don’t know about yet …

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “I don’t want people to look at me but through me at the world.” Interesting way of putting it. You could read that in several contexts. For me, I tend to avoid the political context if possible, but it’s undeniable my posts reflect my perspective and reactions to different places and events. But hopefully it’s not coming off as “look at me, ain’t I great”, but more as “isn’t life interesting?”. I’d guess it’s that way with most bloggers, they just want to share their experiences and outlook rather than blow their own horn.

      Of course there are those who mainly do selfies…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely. As to content, it’s a bit like the officers’ mess rule my dad told me about: no sex, religion or politics. Hmm, wonder what they did talk about … the weather? I’ve just gone through the list of blogs I follow, deleting some of the more obvious self-promotion sites. I like those, like yours, who are trying to make a contribution to the collective endeavour to understand, love and survive in this wonderful world of ours …

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Happy anniversary! And thank you for finding my blog (The Peripatetic Traveler) and liking/following it – otherwise, I never would have found yours. I like your style and your topics. Don’t quit now!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Touche. I have a short list of topics, but I’ve been busy. (New life partner, new-to-me house, trips, building the JeepMonster and chronicling it at “From The Ground Up” (gonzodave001.wordpress.com)…

        Liked by 1 person

  13. pinklightsabre

    Really cool, how you put this out there. I am in the same camp about not Liking without Reading (feels stupid having to put capitals there). Perhaps the same camp has something to do with generational behavior, I don’t know, I don’t care. It’s cool though how you talk about success and that notion of “Discovered” and how many followers you have and so forth. We seem to be in this “more is better” mindset, that’s a natural thing. It’s also the gamefication (that doesn’t seem like I’m spelling it right) of pings and chirps that on some BF Skinner level tell us we’re feeding ourselves (a stretch but maybe that analogy comes across, I don’t know).
    On my blog, and probably on yours, you want readers. People who seem to absorb and contemplate what you’re saying. If that’s the bar you’re setting for yourself and others, I think it lifts the quality up for everyone. On my blog, I posted for the first three years with ZERO visitors. I didn’t know what I was doing, but like you, I was doing it for myself. As people started reading though, and I was lucky enough to have an advocate who really liked what I wrote and tweeted/bugged the WP editors to pay attention to me, it pushed the quality up of my writing, and I started taking more time with it. (Sorry, didn’t mean to make this about me vs. you, but that’s another thing with the writing I think: the best kind connects with people so they personalize it and react, based on what you’ve presented them with.)
    Congratulations Dave. The success thing is funny, I probably think about that every day. It’s good to know why you’re doing it, and it sounds like you do. Don’t undercut your writing ability either. I won’t get to the bottom of something if it’s not well written, and I got to the bottom here. Cheers, Bill

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Bill. Wow. Three years of posting without a visitor? That’s persistence. Did you not use Tags/Categories? Nobody can accuse you of doing it to get famous, although what with karma you still managed to get Discovered.

      I’m ambivalent about my writing ability. On the one hand people seem to enjoy it, and the structure and flow work pretty well. On the other hand, I’ll sometimes read other folks work and the descriptions, the imagery, and the emotions that get invoked make me realize there are a lot of better writers out there. (But under the covers, they’re probably ambivalent too.) As for writing fiction? Dialog? Imagining things from whole cloth? Forget it.

      But it’s my voice, and I guess that’s the important thing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. pinklightsabre

        The voice is really big I think, and yours rings true, and that takes some courage and chops. Yes, to answer your question I wasn’t using tags. There will always be better writers but never let that discourage you (sorry, unsolicited advice but I felt compelled as I relate).

        Like

  14. Your writing style is simply a joy to read and flows right into the day ~ thank you for the year, and I hope many more. You are right, there seems to be an increasingly short shelf-life for blogs and I think that means it gets more difficult as time goes on. I have adjust from my initial once a week posts to once a month, but that is just finding the cadence that fits me best 🙂 As with any artist, they produce for themselves but also want their work to be read/viewed and that too is an enticement of putting forth quality into blog posts. I remembered when I was first “Discovered” with the biggest shock was the number of new viewers/subscribers…and never fully understood why that specific post was chosen, but happy as I enjoyed writing that post.

    Kind of nice reflecting on your anniversary along with my few years of posting 🙂
    Cheers to the day ~

    Like

    1. Thanks for the compliment Randall, you’ve made my day. If I have a writing strength it might be flow. I even had folks complimenting that on the Business Intelligence book I did -normally a snoozefest. But as I mentioned to Bill above, I feel like I have a lot of gaps in my writing skills.

      It’s no surprise to me you were Discovered, I’ve yet to see a post from you that wasn’t exceptionally strong from both the Photography and Writing sides. Count me as one who’d like to see more (and more often :).)

      Like

  15. Congratulations! I started not much before you and it sounds like we have much the same mind set.
    Not that long ago I noticed a blogger who started at the same time as me (we met in 101) had way more followers than me. I know she regularly participates in meet-n-greets, “blog parties” and often reblogs others’ posts — all things we’re told build readership. After thinking it over, I decided I was just as happy doing things my slow, quiet way. I think I’d feel like a poser doing it any other way.
    Love your description of the SPAM liker! There’s one blogger who will ‘like’ several of my posts all at once, anytime I comment on one of his. The likes are within seconds of each other – that’s one heck of a speed reader!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually there’s another SPAMer variant I suspect: the comment Liker. They’ll be someone other than the blogger liking your comment, show up somewhat regularly, and frequently have a blog not remotely related to yours. I’m not certain these qualify as pseudo hams, but they’re just as effective.

      By rights I should actually be a fan of SPAM (the meat product that is.) It’s made in my old home state (Minnesota) and my wife picked up an affection for it growing up in the Philippines. I even created a dish it tastes pretty good in!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Julie. I still have a ways to go before I catch up with you. BTW, congrats on the new digs, somewhere where you can speak the lingo. But I wonder, do you speak French with a New Caledonian accent?

      Like

      1. I speak French with an American accent, and they love it. 🙂 I lived in New Caledonia for 7 years. My husband is French and grew up in New Caledonia, but he never picked up the local accent. French has become almost as natural to me as English, even though I still make a lot of small mistakes.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. It certainly takes staying power to keep a blog going for any length of time and, yes, a lot do give up. Life tends to get in the way or their blog focus changes and they somehow feel they’ve let themselves down or their readers, if they have any. I think a lot become disillusioned from not getting enough people by to read their posts. For me, I find my blogging focus wavers every few weeks and I just have to take myself offline for a bit to ‘get myself together’. Anyway, congratulations on the anniversary, long may your blogging continue!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Val. I suspect travel will continue be the main driver for my blog, but my shrinking well of old trips/etc topics may leave some gaps between posts at some point if there aren’t enough excursions in the queue. I don’t know that it was a goal to post weekly when I first started; it’s worked out that way for the first year, but time will tell.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Congratulations on year one, Dave! I think it’s the toughest year for any new blogger. The second year is easier. 🙂 I neglected my blog for months during my first year of blogging. For some reason, only known by subconscious brain, I thought it would become an instant success and I’d have a couple hundred followers. Honestly, I’m glad it didn’t veer towards that direction. I can still write what I feel, with honesty and I’ve come to realise that most bloggers who follow or comment appreciate it. That’s what appeals to me the most in the WordPress community. Finding ‘like’ minded people from different parts of the globe.
    The SPAM followers and likes are part of blogging. I’ve discussed this with few bloggers. As a rule, I’d follow back or like a blog or post, only if it appealed to me. Sometimes, I might break the rule for a newbie. I know it’s tough and bloggers could do with the extra push!
    I do enjoy reading your posts and enjoy your witty style of writing. One of the reasons I did follow you is because you’re one of the very few writers/bloggers to combine science, travel, nature, history and fiction together! That’s quite a diverse range of interests. 🙂
    All the best for year two!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Congratulations Dave, on the end of year one- I always enjoy your posts and the wry sense of humour that your writing holds, always makes me chuckle.
    My Blog anniversary passed just before yours and I was shocked to see it was my second! In 18 months I wrote three posts and kept them private- This deer in the headlights was frozen for a long time ! December 2015 I finally discovered Blogging courses and threw myself in, kudos to the WordPress team, these courses are such a help in overcoming the lack of confidence and understanding the interactions that help make blogging fun.
    I find keeping up with other bloggers the difficult bit (this is rather a late comment on your post), I still think I am not too organised in that respect so would like to improve on it, the interaction is very important, I like to comment if I enjoy a post and I love receiving comments, so it works both ways!
    Stats are stats, I look occasionally but I’m interested to see which posts get the best hits… same as you I tend to find photo-orientated with a short commentary work the best.
    I still have a lot more travel tales to write but I found the weekly schedule of Windows, Wordless,doors and WordPress weekly photo challenge have slowly gained me more interest and followers.
    When I do a Travel tale, I get less interest, which is slightly frustrating as those are the ones with the greatest effort…My early ones were too long, so now I’m condensing and adding more photos.
    I love doing this, it started as a vague thought, then Oh wow this is my little diary, then I pressed publish….
    Keep up the great work, all the best for Year two….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Vicky. As often as you post now it’s hard to believe you wallflowered it for the first 18 months. Amazing what a little self confidence will do for you. That’s why I took a couple writing classes beforehand, I didn’t want to come off looking like a doofus. (Of course if folks saw the spelling in my first drafts they’d know the truth… 😉 )

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Pingback: I Suppose I Should Write Something… – Plying Through Life

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