“how sad and bad and mad it was – but then, how it was sweet” – Robert Browning
Today marks one year exactly since I clicked “publish” for the first time. What a year it has been! Even though I would like to say something cliche, about how I never thought I’d end up where I am now…the truth is, this is exactly where I hoped to be! And I’d like to say that I thought this blogging journey was impossible (well, some days definitely felt like it), but the truth is, I knew becoming a blogger was completely possible. I just needed to pour some passion, commitment, and love into this little corner. I also said many prayers while sorting through the mechanics of design, if we are being completely honest here! haha My husband’s support is the clincher on what made this all possible, or anything really.
I contemplated what I could do to celebrate this hallmark blogiversary post. I thought about doing a 7-day streak of posts, in honor of my first 30 days of blogging, which were 30 consecutive posts. But that was really really tough and I never intend to streak-post again. haha So instead I think it would be better for me to make this post and “gloat and goals” post. I would like to celebrate the journey this blog has taken over the year, and also set out some goals for the future year.
Just as a disclaimer, I get pretty in-detail about my thought-process behind the blog. I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to go raw here, but I decided for the sake of brutal honesty, the more transparent I am the better. Besides, how will I be able to chart my progress next year if I am vague about what went on this past year?
The First Half of 2016
I will just get this small (slightly embarrassing) detail out of the way and say you can read my first post ever here. To recap on that post, I tried to start a blog in January of 2015…but I jumped in way to over my head. I purchased a domain before I even had heard of the word SEO. I didn’t understand that in order to have a domain you had to have a website host, or even a writing platform like WordPress or Joomla. And I certainly had never touched coding in my life. Like I said, way over my head. So after about a month of trying, I cancelled my domain subscription and service. It was just to much for me, and I decided to write a novel instead. Which I did, and I have no regrets over that decision.
However, the blogging bug never died. And in December of the same year, I decided to give blogging a try again. This time though, I wanted to ease myself into by starting with a free blog. Where the emphasis was on content and not on design. Where I wasn’t spending over $100 on a hobby that made me pull my hair out. And where the blog was practically ready-to-go upon sign-up, with minimal room for customization (read: error). I wanted to test myself to see if I really liked blogging for what it was–as simple relationship of write and read. Well, turns out I loved it. I blogged pretty consistently, about two posts per week, and really enjoyed it. I joined a very welcoming community of free-bloggers and we supported each other’s fledgling efforts. It was a good time.
The Second Half of 2016
But now May comes along and I realize that this blogging thing is very enjoyable and easy. Granted, it was a free blog with little customization. But it was just enough to dip my toes in the water and tell me that this was something I definitely wanted. I purchased a domain (the same one I had bought back in January of 2015!) and began the lonnnnng (traumatizing) process of transferring content from one blog to the next. It’s a little too fresh in my mind, in a painful way, to recount all the steps, but I will just say one thing: Jetpack is my friend. And the website host of choice does matter, a lot. I became extremely familiar with the customer service line of my hosting company, and let me tell you–the customer service is a deal breaker for which host to choose. Luckily, mine are really good!
Life in my new blog was wonderful in many ways, once I got the kinks out! You can read my first “new” blog post here (and it’s only slightly less embarrassing than my first post ever). I started to develop a new personality for it as time went on. In the past, I had tried to focus on beauty-related topics because that is what drew readership for me in the free-blog community. Most of my free-blog friends were beauty bloggers. It just seemed a good fit for me. When I moved to a new blog, I tried to add in some fashion posts as well. And I began to dabble in Army-related posts. Well–that is when I struck gold. I finally found a topic that I could ramble about for HOURS without running out of steam (or mascara). The best part is, it created a niche for my blog to sink into, and began drawing a consistent readership.
Where my Blog Currently Stands
Right now, my blog is still comes across as a hodgepodge of topics. I wish it was more streamlined, but I didn’t discover my niche until a month or two ago. But, I’m okay with that because for the first time ever, I have consistent readership. To be real, it isn’t a high number of hits daily. But it is the daily part that matters so much to me. Before, I would only get hits on my blog the days that I published, because the new posts would trickle into my reader’s news feeds and they would click on my latest post. Now, however, I have daily readership of my archived posts–meaning visitors come to read something that I published previously. I’m not getting hits because my content happened to pop up on their newsfeed. I’m finally getting readers who are seeking out the information in my posts.
What I Learned this Year
I learned (the hard way) that my hopes of a lifestyle blog weren’t going to be able to come true automatically. I had to have “information” worth seeking before I could draw an audience to want to read about my life. Nobody wants to read about a random stranger’s military life! I found that real and helpful information draws up an audience. So I plan to use real, informative posts to gather an audience and help me get to know what they are looking for. Hopefully along the way, they will get to know me too. And that will eventually open a doorway for the “lifestyle” blog that I would ultimately like to have. And, as previously mentioned, I learned that some “information” is easier to provide than others. Basically, I ran out of ideas and energy when it came to blogging about beauty and fashion. The photos and creativity aspects of it were draining. But when it comes to anything Army-related, I can’t stop talking about it! Apparently that is what a niche is…and thus my blog theme was born.
What I Hope for Next Year
In a year’s time, I would like to triple my daily readership numbers. But even more than that, I would like to have consistent readers who are repeat readers. It is 100% amazing to have a consistent number of hits everyday. But it would be even better if those were readers who were gaining a consistent amount of information from me monthly. I want my blog to be a place they could regularly return to receive (and share) information, and get to know me better. Social media has helped me gain the daily hits, but over the next year I would like to collect repeat readers.
Another change I would like to see take place (though it slowly is coming into effect) is better niching. As I said, I recently found my niche. Subsequently, I still have straggling posts here and there that deal with non-military topics. While I don’t plant to be extremely regimented about my blog content, it’s really important to me in the early stages of my blog to have a cohesive corner dedicated to what makes my blog special (AKA its niche)! I think now that I have finally found my niche, I would like for my blog to mirror that over the course of the next year. This is not to say I won’t add new agendas to my blog (in fact, I already have ideas for one major project), but I would like to add those in slowly, and in an organized manner. I think time will tell when and how I should introduce topics. Hopefully! haha
Lastly, I would like to re-design my blog. Right now, I use a free template, but I would like to purchase one and design my own blog face. I don’t think there is anything wrong with the free templates available–in fact some of them are absolutely stunning! But since I self-host now, I would like to take advantage of that freedom and design my blog’s visual aspects. There are some personal touches I would like to do that just aren’t possible with this free template. I think redesigning my blog could be a lot of fun, and could help me in all the niche-defining that I was talking about.
My Blogiversary Statement of 2016
This was an incredible year of blogging. I can’t thank each and every reader enough for spending even half-a-second of their busy days reading my content. Your time and support are crucial to this blog! I also have a great appreciation for my free-blog community. That community really gave me the encouragement I needed to get comfortable and confident with blogging. Most importantly, I want to give a special shout-out to my family for helping me do what I love, in big and small matters. It is the reason I can finally do this. I really am happy to be actually blogging now, after so many years of daydreaming about it. I hope to make you proud! In conclusion, I feel so blest to have been blogging for a full year. I hope to blog for many years to come! Though this is probably doesn’t make sense–dear little blog, thank you for being you! Happy one-year birthday! This blogiversary is a milestone for both of us for sure, and I look forward to all the creative years of the future. Merry Christmas!
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13