While many of my fellow bloggers have vastly superior readership, followers, likes and comments than I, I am deeply grateful to every last reader for the milestone that this novice blogger just reached…..100 followers.
When I say Novice, I do not mean new to blogging. I started my first blog November 17, 2014 as a way my friends and relatives could track my travel in New Zealand/Australia. In short, I had no clue about blogging. It was a private site that I opened up later. It developed a resurgence recently for total stats of 3,491 views, 420 visits, 206 likes and 158 comments.
Although I had made it searchable, I knew nothing about categories and tags and lets face it, nobody searches for “Uncategorized”. When I started getting likes and comments from other bloggers, I thought I was on my way. Wrong.
Did I mention that I was too cheap to pay for a blogspot? When my free site reached capacity, I simply started another free blog. I lost continuity and many of my friends and relatives were on to other things by then. Despite the fact that I had 117 posts, 4,216 views, 218 visitors and 87 comments, I had no likes. Did that mean nobody liked what I was doing? Not really, as they still commented. Many readers did not realize “Like” was an option and some of them may have read the post from their E-mail notice, rather than click on the headings to open up the full post. This site was open and searchable, but still Uncategorized.
Same story when this one filled up. New blog, 76 posts, 6 followers (double my last blog, but still going nowhere). My other stats really dropped to 559 views, 39 visitors, 0 likes and 8 comments. I guess I really was just writing for myself.
Repeat with next blogspot. But, I learned a way to extend my free blog life by reducing photo file size. 332 posts (53 of them were reposts), 895 views, 383 visitors, 264 likes, 42 comments. Yup, still uncategorized, until I did my repost of the 53 posts from our 2017 Europe trip. This is where I started to gain followers, likes and comments. I had obviously learned something.
Fast forward to this January, when, you guessed it, the 4th blogspot filled up. I was firing on all cylinders, or so I thought. The site was Public, contained both Categories and Tags and followers started to come. Some of them were faithful and read every post and “Liked” it. Others were possibly hoping I would also click “follow” on their site, so they could grow their readership. After I did that, many seldom visited again. But, who can blame them, they had much higher numbers of followers and were using a more sophisticated site (translation-not free).
Or, perhaps I was just not that interesting. I kept reading their posts for a while and “Liked” them. They would look in maybe once a month as a courtesy. Still others furiously liked every post over and over, providing huge view and visit numbers, but an ever-moving finite number of likes. I admit, I played this game too. 152 posts, 5330 views, 1410 visits, 1573 likes, 156 comments to date.
What I am trying to say is that I am still a novice blogger, but I am learning every day. Here is what I learned, so far.
- Make posts searchable, categorize them, tag them.
- Break posts down into bite size chunks. Too long and people will stop reading.
- If you do not have a firm theme, vary your posts, so they are not all…I went here…I did this. My theme has always been retirement, travel and photography with an emphasis on my photographs. Often, I do not know where my post or posts are going until I review the photos. Sometimes, they are a day or trip history. Other times, they are themed stories or poems, keying on a photo on series of photos. Other times, my wife (my muse) makes a suggestion that I have not thought of.
- Be vulnerable. Be human. Not everyone is superhuman. We all make mistakes and recounting these mistakes or embarrassing moments can make the story much funnier and more entertaining.
- Stats do not mean everything. I am not trying to make money or sell anything. I do not win a prize for reaching so many views, visits, likes, comments. But, they do provide encouragement and growth.
- Take time and make time to appreciate your readers. Look at their sites, Like their posts. Comment on their posts. If someone comments on your post, comment back. Likes are good, but words are better. We can all learn from each other and we all like encouragement.
- Have fun. If your blog becomes a chore, your readers will know it before you do.
And again, my deepest thanks to all who read, even if only once. I am honoured.