While Alyssa Lost in Space might only be a year old, the truth is that I’ve been blogging for a long time. I mentioned this when I discussed my reason for starting a blog, but I’ve been blogging on and off since 2010. That’s a loose decade of experience right there.
And yet I don’t think I learned as much in those first nine years as I did last year. I thought, as my blog’s first birthday has just passed, that it would be a good time to reflect on this past year and to consider what I’ve done, what I’ve learned, and how that might help me going forward
I’m an obsessively visual person, I’ll be honest. Despite calling myself a writer, I like to have an image either as a point of reference or to better understand a concept. As much as I love looking at stats, they don’t mean so much on their own until I plug them into a graph and see their relationship to each other.
So I figured I’d start off this learning process with a graph:
The chart pictured above shows my blog stats over all of 2019. The first half of the year is looking fairly stagnant, but starting in September there is a huge jump that continues to climb until November. Around the end of October I definitely noticed that there was more activity on my blog – more people were visiting and liking my content, and I noticed a sharp increase in the number of followers.
My first thought was that I was posting more and that was generating more views as a result, but after plotting those numbers in a graph I realized that was not the case.
Now, this graph is illustrating the number of posts per month, and while it sort of lines up with the second half of 2019, it doesn’t with the first. I published as many as 11 blog posts in a single month prior to my hiatus in August with no noticeable changes in my blog stats. It’s clear something changed in the latter half of the year which really helped my blog.
And I know posts were part of that – I actually posted 21 times in November, the most I’ve ever done and I hit a new milestone where my stats were concerned. But there was a clear build-up happening even before that. NaNoWriMo and Preptober helped because I am a writer and I talk about writing, but I wanted to dig deeper to see if there was something more – something I could replicate going into 2020.
One of the biggest differences between the first half of the year and the second half was that my blogging was way more consistent. I was getting my posts out on time and on the same set of days. Previously I’d taken on too much, and had a blog schedule I could barely keep up with and I think that did more harm than good. Posts were rushed or late. Sometimes I skipped them outright and scheduled them later down the road.
They tell you it’s better to be consistent than to post all the time, and while I understood the reasoning behind that, my blog was also new and I had a lot of ideas and too much enthusiasm which made it easy to ignore that advice. Or maybe I wasn’t sure what I wanted my content to be and that made me anxious to find out and too eager to just keep pumping out those blog posts.
Being consistent meant I was constantly and regularly uploading content. I was popping up in feeds and appearing in tags. I was proving to any interested readers that I wasn’t going to post ten times and then disappear for a month. It meant I was reliable. I created a more manageable schedule and I didn’t feel nearly as overwhelmed.
I still think I struggled, and that is something I hope to improve on this year. I think I could be more organized and even more consistent. Sometimes my posts are a day late because life happens or I get sick or I’m too exhausted to write after a long day at work. I want to continue to improve my work flow and consistently post content here.
I’ll be honest – I don’t have a niche. I don’t want a niche either. I posted a bit of everything at the beginning because I wanted to experiment. I was also immensely proud of everything I wrote. I had a loose idea of what I wanted even at the beginning of this blogging adventure, but I don’t think my content was capturing quite what was in my head.
The second half of my year was more disciplined, and I was writing more of the content that I wanted to write about. My voice was clearer than ever, too. I was finding my blogging style. And while I still think my style and content have room to grow and improve, I have a much better idea of the sorts of things I want to post.
I’ve already started an editorial calendar with this new direction in mind. There are a lot of posts I’m excited about, but at the same time, I want to keep an open mind, and be open to posting things that might be outside of my comfort zone. I’m also looking to spend more time developing a blog ‘brand’.
This is probably the biggest factor in the growth I saw towards the end of the year. I started posting a lot more on Instagram and talking to other writers and bloggers on that platform. I had my blog listed in my profile and I made mention of blog posts in the content of my Instagram pictures. I also began making images for Pinterest and attempting to promote my blog in that way as well. I really think that helped to get more eyes on my blog – a quick look at my stats shows me where people are coming from and the latter half of the year I noticed a lot of people were finding my blog through these social media websites.
Now, last year I was just dipping my toes in the water. I’ve been on Instagram and Pinterest for a while but I still consider myself a newbie at both. This year I really want to dive deep, and post on both platforms more regularly and see how that impacts my growth in 2020.
Search Engine Optimization
I’m a huge newbie at SEO. I’ve tried to learn what I can through the many, many resources online, but I still don’t think I’ve got it down yet. I also don’t think my content is easily optimized. As I mentioned already, I’m not a niche blog and I don’t really plan to be.
That being said, I spent a lot of time in the second half of the year searching for relevant keywords, changing image alt text and writing descriptions. I went back to old posts and attempted to refresh what I could. Along with the spike in referrals from my social media platforms, I saw a lot more coming from search engines in the second half of the year, so I’m doing something right!
I’d really like to up my SEO game in 2020. I want to continue to update old posts and refine the new ones. I’d like to create evergreen content – maybe a guide to blogging or writing a novel – things I have a lot of experience in and hope to share with you all. But I also don’t want to let the hype around SEO dictate the sort of content I create. I want it to support those posts that I work really hard on, and that are suited to that sort of optimization (ex. 52 Ways to Use a Notebook). It’s a tool in my arsenal to help me build my blog, but it’s not the only one.
Things I Want to Do Differently
As I’ve mentioned before, I really want to up my consistency even more. I want to hone in on my brand, and I want to promote what I write on social media and optimize for search engines.
But I also want to interact more with my fellow writers and bloggers this year. I’d love to do guest posts or collaborations. I think it could be a lot of fun and a great way to promote myself and others.
I plan on publishing my first book this year, and the role that my blog will play on my platform is also very apparent to me. I want to share more of what I’m working on in 2020 – snippets, short stories, and the like. I did a bit of that last November, but I’d like to pull back the curtain even more, and regularly create fiction for you guys to enjoy!
What have you learned since you started your blogging adventure?
Starting this blog has really forced me to learn a lot, and I think I really upped my blogging game in the last 12 months. What are some useful tips and tricks that you’ve learned in the last year? What have you learned since you first started your blog? Let’s chat in the comments!