My blogging evolution

diagram of human evolution

Kyrnos on Pixabay

When I started blogging in October 2017, I had no idea what I was doing.  Yes, I’d written about my illness before, but I’d never blogged, either on the writing or reading side of things.  These last 6 months have been quite a learning experience.  My relationship with my blog and with the blogging community has evolved over that time and I’m sure will continue to evolve.  Here are some of the things I’ve observed and learned through my blogging life.

Followers and following

After the first few posts, followers gradually started trickling in, and I remember how excited I was when I hit 30 followers.  After a little while I clued in that a good way to get followers was to follow lots of other blogs, so I’d do searches in the WordPress reader to try to find blogs.  Then I discovered that blog awards posts were an even easier way to find blogs to follow, so that became my strategy of choice.

My number of followers increased more quickly once I started posting every day.  Once I hit around 400 my numbers started growing even more steadiy.  Now I get several new followers every day, although I’m not actually sure how they found me.

The number of blogs I followed was always higher than the number of people following me until I hit around 500-something.  When I get new followers I try to check out each of their blogs, but I generally only follow back if there’s some sort of mental health connection.  There’s a part of me that feels bad about that, because I’m missing out on some really good blogs, but I get overwhelmed pretty easily, so I need to keep my WordPress reader feed as focused as I can.  I generally spend several hours every day reading blogs.

Posting

When I first started blogging, I posted twice a week.  I was a bit worried about running out of ideas, and I wanted to get a better feel for what blogging was all about before I started doing a lot of writing.  As I got settled in and more comfortable with the blogging format and my blogging voice, I started posting a little more often, and for the last couple months I’ve been blogging pretty much every day.  The majority of my posts are scheduled about a week ahead of time.  There are some days I’m not writing at all, while others day I may write several posts.  I’m comfortable with the post a day pace for now, but I haven’t set any firm expectations of myself.  Sometimes I’ll post more than once a day, but usually only if I’m participating in a tag or another blogger’s challenge.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I have a blogging spreadsheet, and to be honest I have no idea how I’d keep track of anything without it.  Whenever I have an idea for a post it goes in my spreadsheet’s idea bank.  There are definitely times when the spontaneous well of ideas temporarily runs dry, but I can always draw from my idea bank.

Social media

I wasn’t on social media at all pre-blog.  I had used Facebook in the past, but then deleted my account because it just made me feel shitty about myself.  When I started blogging, I created accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest, and published my blog posts on all of them.  Initially I thought I should try to be somewhat active on social media, but I just wasn’t feeling it.  I do actually like Twitter because there’s some great content, but I find it pretty overwhelming, so I don’t spend a lot of time on it.  I occasionally use Pinterest, but I never did spend much time on Facebook and Google+.  I get a trickle of blog traffic from Pinterest and Facebook, but I’ve only ever gotten 2 blog views from Google+. Given the recent privacy issues with Facebook and the fact that I’m really not using Facebook or Google+, I recently decided to delete those two accounts.

WordPress stuff

I use the free version of WordPress.  At this point I don’t have a pressing need to go to a paid WordPress.com plan or self-hosted via WordPress.org, so I’m going to stick with free for now.

WordPress has its quirks.  Things will sometimes randomly stop working, there will be brief bursts of spam, and legit comments occasionally find their way into comment spam.  I find WordPress Reader gets bogged down periodically and I’ll need to clear my web cache to get things working smoothly again.  Sometimes the little orange dot will show up on my notifications icon right away when someone has liked/commented/etc, but other times it takes its sweet time.  And even though I’ve spent a lot of time on WordPress, there are still things that puzzle me.

Stats

I decided from the beginning that I wasn’t going to get into a habit of checking my stats, because I was concerned that could lead to a lot of self-doubt.  I’m glad I established that pattern early on, as I’ve been able to maintain it.  I see the stats that show up in my notifications, but I rarely look at my stats page.

Community

When I started blogging, I had no idea what the comment vibe was going to be like; I was just hoping not to deal with trolls.  I certainly wasn’t expecting such an amazing sense of community.  I had cut my friends out of my life and had minimal contact with my family, so I was very socially isolated and felt far removed from the “normal” world.  As I began to engage more with the WordPress community and “meet” more bloggers, I found a social support network that I just didn’t have in my “real” life.  A support network that was truly supportive.  I was never an emoji person and I doubt I’d ever used a single heart emoji before I started blogging, but on WordPress there are heart emojis flying around all over the place.  I would never have guessed that blogging would give me access to something like this.

Assorted other stuff

I started off my blogging life fumbling around trying to figure out the best place to find images.  I’ve settled on Unsplash as my first choice for photos and Pixabay as my first choice for other assorted graphics.  My free WordPress plan doesn’t let me post video files, but after a little bit of flailing I figured out how to embed Youtube videos.  I’m reasonably computer competent, but this website stuff has been brand new to me.

There was more fumbling early on in terms of looking up what you “should” do to put your blog out there to the world.  This ended up in many ways being a big time-waster because it really didn’t fit with how I was wanting to approach my blog.  What was useful was identifying a number of different places that publish mental-health related guest posts (you can find my post about that here).

Creating that internal link in the last sentence reminded me of something that puzzles me on Google Search Console.  I got set up on that in the early days of my blog, but some of the things it tells me just aren’t accurate, and I’m not sure why.  The biggest thing is that tells me that only one of my posts has internal links pointing to it; it doesn’t seem to recognize any of my other internal links.  I don’t actually care that much, but it seems odd.

 

So there you have it, my blogging evolution over the last 6 months.  Have you found that your blogging experience has evolved over time?  What are some tricks you’ve learned along the way?

 

You can also check out a follow-up to this post: How to build a mental health blog.

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21 thoughts on “My blogging evolution

  1. s.e. taylor says:

    Thank you for sharing your blogging wisdom! You’ve done a great job with your blog. I’m yet to get into a writing groove so I haven’t been posting regularly. I hope that will change. I need to spend more time both writing and reading. Thanks for the tips. I’d leave you a heart emoji but I don’t know how, lol

  2. Invisibly Me says:

    This was a fascinating post to see how your journey has been, I suppose partly because I compare it to my own. I probably should try some kind of schedule or spreadsheet, and perhaps that would ease a little stress and anxiety about posting. You have done incredibly well and should be really proud of how far you’ve come and everything you’re achieving! 🙂
    Caz x

  3. Revenge of Eve says:

    I have enjoyed watching your blog flourish. It is successful, rightfully so. I need to remember that post about spreading my writing wings. I don’t know how I miss that amazing post. Keep evolving chick. You are an inspiration to many.

  4. Lawrence Illoc says:

    Thanks for sharing all this info. I am newbie in this blogging world. It’s going to be four months on May 9 that I started. I feel that I am moving too slowly on the follower category (230 to date).
    I share the feeling about your comments regarding the amazing community and support system online which helped me several times and for this I am grateful. I share your opinion as well on Facebook and the gang. So far it has been a great experience.

  5. awkward brown guy says:

    Thanks for sharing 🙂 As someone who “only” publishes twice a week… posting most days/daily is impressive! Always interesting to notice trends, too. I also *try* to avoid looking at stats too much. That said, it’ll be pretty cool when you hit the 1,000 follower milestone 😉

  6. seaofwordsx says:

    Wow this was really interesting to read! Loved it ❤👏 I also still don’t know all the things you can do on WordPress but every day we learn something new 😂 I hope you blog will continue growing. You deserve it! I also didn’t know that this blogging community would make me so happy ❤ Glad to have found you! xx

  7. seaofwordsx says:

    Oh and btw, I also got sometimes errors while I was writing a blog post and sometimes it didn’t save eveything and had to write some pieces again. I thought it was my computer

  8. sophienaylor1 says:

    It’s so interesting to read how someone with a significantly larger following than me started off their blogging journey! I love how down to earth and transparent you are. I started off posting twice a week and now post three times a week; there’s weeks where I’m worried I won’t have the time or motivation to get three up and there’s weeks where I want to post every day and have to keep myself limited to three a day, so I can schedule the extra posts for next week incase I have a brain blank the next week. It’s been great for me to have scheduled posts a week ahead as it definitely takes the pressure off.

    • ashleyleia says:

      I would be a blogging disaster if it wasn’t for scheduling. And I don’t think I’ll ever lose sight of how hard it felt to get those first 20 followers.

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