I’m a week away from the one year anniversary of StealingFaith. Boy, has it been a journey!
I’ve gone from making sure every device I had access to that could connect to the internet clicked on to the site once a day to boost numbers (and still had about 20 visits each day!) to a year later, when I’m averaging about 240 visits a day.
There’s still a long way to go before it’s a “successful” blog, but I’m pleased with the growth. Mostly because it means there are people who are possibly enjoying life a bit more each day and also because I’ve been consistent. Blogging every day is a serious commitment and I think I’ve missed only eight days in the last year.
To me, that’s reason for a pat on the back!
A friend asked me why I never blog about the process of blogging, so I’m taking her advice tonight and sharing some of the things I’ve learned along the way.
1. Use Wordpress. I started the blog on the free WordPress platform and switched to a paid WordPress platform six months later. The main reason I changed is to set myself up for paid advertising and to possibly sell ebooks from this site – the free version of WordPress won’t let you do that. My family blog is on Blogger and I like that platform as well, but when I compare them side-by-side, WordPress adds more enjoyment and professionalism to my writing life.
2. Host. Since I’m still figuring out the vocabulary of web publishing, choosing a host for the site was very traumatic! I went with Bluehost. So far I have no complaints.
3. Photos. Early on I would simply do a Google search for relevant images and paste them next to my words. A good friend who is also a SHARP social media consultant sat down with me and begged me to stop that behavior immediately. I asked if I would be incarcerated for my misdeeds. She couldn’t answer me… but made me promise to use photos with a creative commons license from that point forward. I use compfight.com for almost all of my images these days, and select the Creative Commons as a search criteria. So far no lawsuits… and I’d like to keep it that way!
4. Collateral Materials. While I selected the template for StealingFaith (wplook), my husband has designed the favicon (the image you see on the page tab along the browser) and the grab buttons. Isn’t he amazing?! And he has Photoshop, which has been really nice tool. I also used Picnik, a site recently acquired by Google+. I believe it will still offer its services for free, and it’s been awesomely easy to use!
5. Social Media. StealingFaith has a facebook page (are you a fan? No? GO NOW!!! “Like” me… it validates my life!), Twitter account (@stealingfaith), and is promoted through StumbleUpon and Pinterest. So far the most traffic I get, hands down, is from people searching Google for the phrase “I’m sorry,” but I believe the social media is useful. Occasionally I do a twitter campaign and re-release a bundle of posts via tweet. Hootsuite lets me schedule tweets – 30 minutes with Hootsuite lets me schedule the tweet campaign for a week… love that!
6. Learning. I’m a web designing dummy. Really. But I visit web pages and see things I like and want to incorporate on this site. I’ve been known to Google “what’s the name of the picture at the top of a website” and see what comes up. In 98% of all searches I’ve found what I’m looking for with a great tutorial attached. That World Wide Web thing is pretty special!
7. Learn from the Experts. I follow a few blogs religiously to figure out what I don’t know and how to improve. Not every day offers a great tip, but it’s still worth reading to improve my knowledge base. Some of my favorites? Blogging with Amy, Tent Blogger, Kikolani, Rachelle Gardner, Michael Hyatt, and Mashable.
8. Topic. I usually center the writing here around relationships, families, and the stories that tickle my funny bone. In general, blogs that don’t consistently offer content clustered around specific topics confuse readers. I’ll probably never post a tutorial about how to change engine oil. Not only because I don’t have the slightest clue, but I’m going to assume my readers who like to read about our insane kids or the reek-a-riffic dogs are probably not panting for the opportunity to hop into an oil pan.
9. Relax. There have been many, many times when I’ve had to pull myself back from assuming site stats validate me as a writer and human being. I fall into this trap often… “Why didn’t people comment on that post?!” or “Just look, the numbers dropped today… I’m going to have to be funnier tomorrow or I’ll lose readers!”-type thoughts circle my head like angry dogs. I have had to decide I’m going to write whether one reader connects or three thousand… and either of those numbers must be a personal definition of success.
10. Consistency. I am proud of about 30% of the posts I write. In fact, I only remember about four posts in the last year with genuine fondness and excitement because of my cleverness with the words. Yet I’ve discovered people respond to all sorts of different posts. So, I write. So, you read. I do my best to write every single day. That includes the days when I’m exhausted, got into a fight with my husband, am fretting about the wart on my big toe, and want to hack up a lung with sickness. (Or any of the 1,000 other excuses I have to avoid the “publish” button.) I write. I practice the craft of writing. Eventually, I hope I’ll get good at it (and, I pray!, have fewer typos!!!). In my mind, when I added the tag line “daily dose of humor” to the site I made a contract with you, the reader, to show up here every day for our conversation.
Thanks for stopping by. I love you, man!
This post was originally published March 7, 2012 and is being recycled as part of the “I’ve Been Around” summer! Hope you enjoyed it and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!