My Blog Every Day Challenge was a success, I think. With the obvious exception of weekends, when I was often doing the things that I’d blog about the coming week, I put out a post (almost) every day. After taking a week off, I’ve distilled my learning below.
1. Sometimes posts explode through the mind and force my fingers to the keyboard. The sentences flow out from me as if divinely-inspired. I quickly find an awesome photo and all the formatting works perfectly. The post is released to the wild web and gains traction and syndication on other well-known sites. I smile and receive compliments from friends and strangers.
2. Sometimes the opposite of #1 happens. I start what I think will be an awesome post and either get distracted or can’t move past a title and first paragraph. The photo won’t stay put and my <H2> tags act like children. I stop believing in myself. I have two dozen draft posts waiting for my loving touch right now. I started a few of them over a year ago.
3. This is elementary, but I didn’t see it in action until the Blog Every Day Challenge: Regular content and consistent publishing schedules/media are key to building traffic and engagement. Now I know what this looks like.
4. Closely related to #3, I find that the more I write, the easier it is to write. Again, this is an elementary observation, and one that should be especially obvious to a content kid/English major like me. Some of the posts that came out in the past month really excited me and were a joy to write.
5. I’m acutely aware of how much traffic comes to In the Hand of Dante. I know where it comes from and how it sees me. Thank you Google Analytics. I think the Blog Every Day Challenge was important because, even with the increases in traffic and conversation, looking at those graphs every day helped me “ground” myself. I don’t have any pretensions about being a major player. This last point is not meant to sound sappy or self-deprecating; it’s simply the way things are.
Since this is a list, I’ll tack on an addendum which I’ll call “Criticisms/Problems to Address”.
1. General interest is generally uninteresting – In the Hand of Dante started out as a general interest blog and has never changed (unfortunately?). I tend to stick to a few main subject areas, as listed in the header: interfaith, international relations, raw food (check out the new Practical Raw), Millennials, the web, humanitarian/poverty issues, etc. So maybe that’s more than a few. General interest blogs don’t grow – I’m not Wil Wheaton. On second thought, even Wil Wheaton’s blog has clear topical foci. Hmph.
2. Shortcomings in HTML, PHP, CSS – Denvelopers handles most of the structure/design side of this business, but if they’re too busy to come in and fix my mistakes, I have to figure it out myself. I’m a quick study, sure, but there are some things in coding that I just don’t get. I’ll have to learn more about this.
3. Lack of guest bloggers – I’ve always shied away from bringing other people on board. I think this is because of my lack of traffic. Why invite a cool person to a party where they’re the only guest? At the same time, I’m out and about guest posting all over the place. I’ll need to think this part of the game over a bit.
Can anybody think of what I’ve missed, either in the learnings or the criticisms?