I didn’t really decide one fine day to start a blog.
I created my first personal website in 1999. I was looking for a job in web design then so it was a requisite to have your own website. The site showcased my design work, contained a little introduction about myself and included my resume.
When I got a job, the function of the website slowly evolved to that of an online diary (now called “blogging”), with a few of my pictures thrown in for no reason whatsoever (the early seeds of “camwhoring”).
I didn’t update the site regularly because if I had something to say to the world, I had to stop and think whether it justified the 50-minute process involved in publishing a file to the Internet.
For the uninitiated, in the pre-push-button-publishing era, updating a page involved editing HTML codes in a local application, saving the file and then FTPing the updated file to the server via a SLOW DIAL UP CONNECTION. The annoying part was, only after doing all that do you notice you had coded/formatted/written a paragraph wrongly. So you had to repeat the whole process all over again. Uploading photos? Before doing all the steps above, you had to go through the trouble of developing AND scanning photos (remember, those were the days of film camera). Phew!
Online publishing today is much simpler. It involves merely clicking the button called “publish” or “post” in your blog publishing application. I started using Blogger in 2005 and then WordPress in 2008.
How long have you been blogging?
The gifts are sorted and the packing almost done. I’m going out of town for a wedding. Will be back next week!
I’ll leave you with some of the blog posts I’ve enjoyed recently:
Chris invites you to consider today, the first day of your life ;
Damien examines the beauty of this temporary life;
Karen inspires me to grow my own lettuce (it’s that simple?)
and I so want to try a cup of Vietnamese iced coffee NOW, Diane and Todd!
Ok, I’m out!
I started this blog, in the middle of January 2008 and currently have a readership of more than 3000 a month, a decent number for a blog that just turned 4 months last week. I thought, I’d share how I got here:
My goal was to have 3000 readers a month by 15th April 2008.
I had a very strong believe that it was an attainable goal. At that time, I didn’t look into actively promoting my website. I just I thought if my writing and drawings were good enough, my blog traffic would come naturally. I was a naive blogger! :P
In mid-Feb, Growing Happiness turned 1 month old with 3 visitors a day. It felt kinda lonely writing for myself but consoled myself with that fact that the blog is only a month old.
I had a shift in mindset at the end of month. I used to think no one would really care about what I had to say on their blogs but then I thought, “if I wanna hear people’s opinion on my blog, surely these people would want to know what I had to say too”.
I started commenting on other people’s blog regularly (about 5-10 blogs a day). I didn’t consciously pick blogs within my niche, just blogs that I was reading at any given time. If I had something to say that would add value to the blog I’m reading, I’d leave a comment.
By the end of my second month of blogging, I had about 360 readers or about 12 readers a day. At this rate, my goal of 100 a day readership by the next month looked like an arduously uphill task. I decided to be more active in the blogging community in order to make my presence felt.
I joined NaBloPoMo, a community in support of daily blog posting. It was a good way to kick start a daily writing habit. Although I didn’t get a lot of web traffic from there, I did get quite a few visitors coming for my free HTML badges and the WordPress and Blogger tutorials that came with it.
I also became more active in StumbleUpon. I did a lot of stumbling, wrote reviews of sites I enjoyed and made a couple of friends.
I joined BlogCatalog a social blog directory and was moderately active in the discussion forums. I made a number of good friends there and, despite my initial resistance, started to enjoy this community thing greatly! The friends I made from BlogCatalog are fantastic. They are probably my most loyal readers and active commentors. Thank you guys! :)
As regular comments started coming in, I became a confident blogger. People reacted to what I wrote and I enjoyed the interaction. My blog traffic improved to about 25 visitors a day in the first week of April. Despite this very modest number, I still held strongly to the believe that I could achieve a 100 a day average readership by my third month (ending 15th April).
On 14th April, the eve of Growing Happiness third month, I had… 18 visitors. It seemed nearly impossible that my traffic would increase to 3000 the next day. However, I chose to be a positive blogger.
On 15th April, my eyes nearly popped out of their sockets when I checked my stats — I got nearly 7500 unique visitors through StumbleUpon overnight for my post “The Best Cure for Hiccups“!. That was about a 400 times increase in visitors to my blog within a single day! However, the traffic died down quickly. Within four days, it went from thousands to about 30 visitors, proving the volatile, unpredictable and non-committal nature of web traffic driven from social bookmarking sites such as StumbleUpon, Digg and Technorati.
A week later the same post got featured on Tipnut which saw my blog traffic jump to the hundreds range. But my winning streak didn’t end there. The week after that, the “how to stop hiccup” article got featured in LifeHacker, seeing my blog traffic jump to the thousands again.
While I enjoyed BlogCatalog, it took a huge chunk of my time. I decide to limit my participation there to a few times a week to concentrate on writing articles for my blog (and of course, work!)
I joined Doodle Week because doodling is something I enjoy greatly. It was a really fun exercise and I even made a couple of new friends from there.
I am on the look out for other ways to expanding my readership so here are some other blog traffic generation methods I may experiment with in the coming months:
Damien Riley of Postcard from the Funny Farm (and a friend from BlogCatalog!) suggested, against convention, that posting frequently can result in increased traffic to your blogs.
At the moment, I post about 3 times a week. One of these weeks, when I’m not too busy, I might try posting a few times a day and let you guys know the result. :)
Since I will be embarking on an exciting project that would require me to be away from the computer for long periods of time, I’m very keen to explore other ways to keep my readers updated and Twitter seems to be the answer.
What conclusions about blog traffic generation can I draw from my blogging experience so far?
It takes work – Promote yourself and accept that you need the community.
Being part of a community or network such as BlogCatalog is a great way to make new friends and expand your readership. I’m thankful to have so many friends from the web!
Always be grateful.
Only 3 readers? Those 3 readers are your best friends and cheerleaders. There are millions of blogs out there and they choose to read YOUR blog! That’s a great honour!
A post that addresses a need or attempts to solve a common problem appeals to the masses. The popularity of my “how to stop hiccups” post was due to its timeless, universal appeal — everyone has hiccups now and then and would like to know the easiest, fastest way to stop it. The more timeless, useful posts you have, the more blog traffic you will get. Which is why so many professional bloggers promote the writing of “pillar posts” (See “What are Pillar Articles?” below for explanation).
You need to have patience.
Unless you have a large marketing budget or count a blogging celebrity as your drinking buddy, you have to start from scratch. And it takes time to build something from scratch.
Never underestimate the importance of having goals and the power of positive thinking.
As my experience outlined here show, it is important to have clear goals and remain positive. You’d never know what can happen overnight!
All the best!
Pillar articles are not your average blog post. They are comprehensive posts which offer great value to readers and are timeless in nature. The posts are usually longer with well-researched and original content.
I have quite a number of food-related websites for you to feast on for “Wednesday Websites”. Bon Appetit!
Let me set the record straight — I don’t really cook. If you consider boiling spaghetti and then serving it with premade sauce from a jar cooking then, then I do “cook”, but that’s about it. But that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the art of cooking. I love watching cooking shows. Every night before I sleep I tune in to the food channel. It’s my way of relaxing. I love eating too but I prefer desserts and snacks; the main meal, not as much. I derive great pleasure from looking at gorgeous pictures of food (evident from the amount of food books and magazines I buy) and boy do I love food blogs!
Blogs I Visit Every Day Without Fail
Blogs I Visit Regularly
Long Service Award
101 Cookbooks by Heidi – A blog I’ve been following since the beginning of time. Ok, since 2003, nevertheless, a very long time in blog-years. Still inspiring as ever.
Oswego Tea by Michele – Personal ramblings and a side of food
White On Rice Couple by Diane and Todd- An entertaining and informative food blog
Rasa Malaysia – Blog with a focus on Malaysian and Singaporean cuisine
Other Food-Related Communities and Websites
All-Time Favourite Website
Martha Stewart Food
I know a lot of you are closet Martha Stewart fans but I’m by far the worst. I’ve only recently contained my addiction to Martha Stewart magazines- Living, Kids AND Food (Please note again, I don’t have kids nor do I cook – I buy the magazines just to look at the pictures!). I am now limiting my MS addiction online.
As I’ve mentioned above, I have a habit of watching cooking shows in bed, right before I sleep. It’s little wonder then I always fall asleep with a rumbling tummy! Here are some of my favourite cooks.
Night Time Treats
The Hilarious Anthony Worrall Thompson (Love his voice!)
The Hypnotic Nigella Lawson
The Inspiring Jamie Oliver
The Intrepid Anthony Bourdain
The Laid-Back Rob Rainford
The Far-Flung Keith Floyd
The Fiery Gordon Ramsey
Have a delicious Wednesday!