A Successful Year of Blogging

After blogging for over a decade, and posting daily for the vast majority of that time, I have some ideas about what constitutes a successful year (or month, or day) of blogging for me. My ideas of success are probably very different from many other bloggers’, but there are certain things I look for to tell me if it’s going well.

My main goal is to have more views in the current month that I did in the previous one. Most of the time this works out pretty well, although I can guarantee you that my views in August will never, ever be greater than those in July, because July is reliably the one month of the year that I get the most visitors to my website, mostly because of this old post. There are other months I don’t meet this goal, too, but I look at general trends, and hope to see some upward movement throughout the year.

In a similar fashion, I look at my stats from year to year. Did I have more views this month than I did in the same month the previous year? Again, I like to see signs of increased blog traffic, even if it’s just by a little bit, because that tells me that people are still interested in what I have to say. And usually, I see similar trends in this category compared to the month-to-month views.

The other number I look at is total number of views per month. My (often unrealistic) goal is 2,000 or more views in a single month. This happens…sometimes. In 2018, for example, I had eight months with 2,000 or more views, which is pretty good, especially compared to 2017, where I only reached that goal half of the months. It’s just another way I can keep tabs on how many people are visiting.

So I looked at those things this year, as I usually do, and for the most part, I was happy with how the statistics played out. But for the first time, 2018 has given me a few other cues that this was a good year for my blog. I was discovered by the St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau, and asked to write an article for their new inspiration magazine for actual money, because they liked the way I write. Pinup Girl Clothing sent me a box of Mary Blair print dresses in response to my blogging about their clothes and sharing pictures on my website and other social media platforms. And maybe the biggest sign that this year has been good for my website was a recent one…Pheasant Run Resort hosted our whole family for a fun Christmas getaway, in return for my blogging about our experiences while we were there.

I’ve never been one to try to monetize my blog. I don’t have ads or sponsors or anything like that. But it is nice to have a few tangible signs (more tangible than pure numbers, I guess?) that people are reading my blog, appreciating what I say and how I say it, and want to reward me in some way!

Ten Years of Blogging

Today is my blog’s 10th “birthday.”

10 years ago, Ryan suggested I start blogging. I figured I’d give it a try, but I didn’t write very much at first. I didn’t really think I had anything to say, and I sure didn’t know who would want to read what I wrote!

But 2008 was a very big year for us. We decided to homeschool that year, and then Moose was diagnosed with autism, and he started his own school journey. And I wrote about those things. I still don’t know if I was just trying to sort out my own thoughts and feelings, or if I was hoping to connect with people having similar experiences, or if I thought maybe what I was doing and going through could help other people somehow. But I started writing more and more frequently, and in 2011, I had my first full year of daily blogging, and I never looked back. I have now blogged every day, at least once a day, and sometimes more frequently, for over seven years straight.

There have been times when I have really felt like a successful blogger. Many months, my website has had over 3,000 views, and while I know that doesn’t mean people are really reading what I have to say, it’s still a lot to me. I’ve come to recognize seasonal ebbs and flows of certain posts. I’ve had days where my blog traffic has really spiked. Several things I have written have been viewed thousands of times. I was even recognized in public once as a local homeschool blogger, and I won’t lie…I felt like a celebrity!

There have been other times, though, when I have wondered why I bother. When I can see that people just aren’t reading what I’m writing. Where I’ve put a lot of thought and effort into a post that I think is really interesting and it has fallen flat. When I can’t think of what I want to write about, or can’t find the words for what I do want to say. When we’re busy or there’s illness in the house, and it seems like I just can’t find the time for anything. And of course, worst of all, the moments when I see other bloggers who are somehow able to make money, or even just get gifts of things they like from various companies, and I wonder, what am I doing wrong that no one has even reached out to me like that?

I keep at it, though. Because in the end, it doesn’t really matter to me who is reading what I’m writing, and I’m sure not in this to get some kind of compensation. What matters is that I found my voice, that I know I have something to say, and that I’m putting myself out there, every day, sharing my thoughts and experiences, and making a tiny little corner of the internet mine.

If you’ve ever considered starting a blog, or picking up a long-abandoned blog, I challenge you to give it a shot. There is so much benefit to putting your thoughts down on “paper” and expressing yourself, and even one voice can make a difference!

Some Thoughts on Blogging

As of today, I have blogged every day, at least once a day, for six straight years. In addition, in a little over a year, my little corner of the internet will celebrate its tenth anniversary. Blogging has become a big part of my life, and a big part of who I am.

I like to think of my blog as my happy place. Sure, I occasionally blog about serious things. Sometimes, even hard things. But mostly, I blog about things that bring me joy. My family. Christmas. Architecture. Lego building. Baseball. Church things. Fashion. St. Louis, Fall. Family feasts. History. The Royal Family. Holiday and celebrations of all kinds. Quotes and hymns that comfort me, inspire me, or make me smile. Local festivals. Tea parties. Homeschooling. The Olympics.

If there is something that brings a smile to my face, I’ve probably written about it or shared a photograph of it here. To me, my blog is the equivalent of sitting in a comfy chair on a chilly day, with a warm blanket wrapped around me, while my favorite music or movie is playing. I feel comfortable here. Happy. Peaceful. It’s a place where I can be me.

People blog for all kinds of reasons. I started blogging because Ryan suggested I give it a try. I kept blogging because I love it, because it gives me a place where I can express myself, share my thoughts, and especially share what makes me happy.

Five Straight Years

My blog’s “birthday,” if you will, is coming up exactly one month from today, on January 23rd. It was on that date in 2008 that I published my first post.

Today, however, is a much more significant anniversary for this website. On December 23, 2010, I committed to blogging every day. This was supposed to be an experiment for a little over a year, as I was was gearing up for a post-a-day challenge in 2011. After that first year, however, I realized that I enjoyed looking for something to write about (or photograph), everyday, and I decided to keep going. And keep going I have, for the last five years. I’ve found something to share at least once a day, every single day, without taking a break, for five years.

Some days were easier than others. In 2014, when we decided to track down all 250+ “Cakeway to the West” installations, I had over 250 blog posts planned, without too much thinking (but lots of effort!), on my part. Other days were more difficult, and I struggled to even find a quote to share.

I’ve blogged through it all. Sickness, miscarriage, childbirth, those early sleepless days with a newborn, homeschooling from kindergarten through junior high, a road trip…nothing has stood between me and the “publish” button. I’ve written through good times and bad, laughter and tears, holidays and everydays. I’ve reviewed things, talked theology, shared some of my favorite things, complied curriculum lists, and talked about my family and my community constantly.

This is a significant day for me. I’ve mentioned before that I began blogging because Ryan really enjoyed it and asked me to try it out. I keep blogging, though, because I fell in love with it, and because I can’t imagine not writing, photographing, or sharing something everyday. I can’t promise that I’ll never miss a day in the future, but I am committed to continuing to publish something daily as long as I am able. I may just be talking to myself most of the time, but that’s ok by me, because at heart, I’m a writer, and even though “it has never┬áput a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket,” it’s still a hobby that I love, and I will continue to write for myself, even it not for anyone else!