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A Decade of Blogging

Audrey Driscoll’s Blog is ten years old this month! I published my first post on May 15th, 2010.

The only reason I started blogging was because I was about to publish my first novel. Advice from other self-published authors was that a blog would support that project. Well, maybe…

Once or twice a week, I diligently beavered up a post. I soon realized I had said enough about the just-published book, so had to find other topics I could hold forth on convincingly. Reading and writing in general were the obvious choices. My garden was another, with the added feature of photos.

It took an embarrasingly long time before my posts had any views at all. For years (years!) one or two likes were something to cheer about, and a comment was a semiannual event. Not until 2015 or 2016 did this blog attract a respectable following of regular readers, many of whom contribute comments. To all friends and visitors of the blog, many thanks for reading my posts and contributing comments.

What have I learned in this decade of blogging?

  • A blog by itself does not sell books. (I don’t know what sells books.)
  • You don’t have to blog every day, but posting at regular intervals helps to develop blogging as a habit. Otherwise, it’s like starting from scratch every time you get back to your blog.
  • The best way to attract readers is to follow other blogs, read posts, and leave comments, or at least “likes.”
  • You can’t follow every blogger who follows you. I now follow more than 100 blogs and struggle to read all the posts in my Reader each day. Confession: I skip a lot of them. Some super-bloggers publish many times a day. I read only a few of that deluge of posts. Before following yet another blog, I check how often the blogger posts and usually avoid the overly prolific.
  • It’s great when one of my posts attracts comments that develop into a discussion, with commenters responding to one another as well as to the original post. It’s like a slow-motion conversation. Asking questions at the end of a post is a good way to generate such a response.
  • Most of the people (entities?) that follow your blog won’t read, “like,” or comment on your posts. Why? No idea, but that’s how it is. If you have a couple of dozen regular followers who read and comment on most of your posts, you’re doing well.
  • Adding keywords to your posts probably attracts more views. On my statistics page I see almost equal numbers of views from the Reader and search engines. Keywords help people other than your followers to discover your blog.
  • Adding photos or other images to your blog makes them visually appealing, but involves extra work. Loading photos, resizing them if necessary, finding copyright-free or public domain images — these tasks can take longer than writing posts! Except for garden-related posts, I generally stick to one or two images, and now that I have a well-stocked Media Library, I don’t hesitate to re-use an image.
  • If you reblog someone else’s post, any images in that post are uploaded to your Media Library. If you’re concerned about copyright issues or just want to conserve space, it’s best to link to the post after the first paragraph of text, instead of hitting the “Reblog” button.
  • Upgrading from the free version of WordPress to a paid plan is worthwhile to get rid of advertising, now that it’s become intrusive and offensive. (Fungal nail cures, anyone? Or how to get rid of ear wax? Do you really want that stuff in your posts?) You also get more space for photos and other media.
  • When it comes to blog themes, I’m not adventurous. I changed themes more in my early blogging days. At that time, you could find theme titles in the footer area of other blogs, so if another blog’s theme looked good, you could easily find out what it was. That’s no longer the case. My theme (“Suits”) suits me, so I’ve stuck with it. I like having a sidebar that’s visible all the time (although not on phones or tablets).
  • One thing I appreciate when visiting other blogs is a Recent Posts list. It gives a quick impression of a blogger’s style and posting frequency and allows me to sample their freshest posts.
  • It’s helpful to have a bunch of post ideas in your Draft folder. When you get an idea, click on Add New Post, make up a title, and key in the core idea. You can always flesh it out later. When you can’t think of a post topic, one of these idea drafts might be inspiring.
  • One of the main rewards of blogging is the connections I’ve made with other bloggers. Which is why it’s helpful to visit and follow other blogs, read posts, “like” them (or not), and contribute comments.
  • The other major benefit of regular blogging is it forces me to organize thoughts and express them in words. Even when I don’t have a major work in progress, blogging keeps my writing skills alive.

Every now and then Almost every week, I decide I’ve said everything and have no more to contribute to the blogosphere. I even have a final post in my Drafts folder, helpfully entitled “The End.” I haven’t used it yet!

Have any of you been blogging for ten or more years? Have you ever struggled to keep your blog going? Has blogging brought you any surprises, good or bad?

Back garden overview June 2019 with kale tree in bloom

128 comments

  1. Congratulations on ten years of blogging, Audrey! It will be ten years for me in June. I love blogging but I agree, once or twice a week is enough. I have sold books via my blog and made some amazing connections and friends along the way. I know I should change my theme as it is no longer supported but I like it. Keep blogging!!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I started blogging ten years ago too. I first started blogging for a closed on line group. Unlike you I have had numerous blogs that have run for a while then closed when I lost the incentive to keep blogging on that theme. I’vd lost followers and gained new ones In the process. I probably should have stuck with one blog like you.
    I like your points about widgets and tags. Thanks for those tips. I need to overhaul those aspects of my current blog. Doing challenges has been my main way of getting new followers and discovering interesting blogs.
    How do you discover blogs that Interest you? I have tried the WordPress Discover section but don’t often find much of interest that way. I also sometimes type keyboards into the WordPress search bar but usually find that brings up blogs I am already following. I must lack magination for keywords.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve discovered other blogs to follow by checking the posts recommended in the email notices when someone comments on one of my posts. If that post looks interesting, I read other posts by that blogger. That’s why the Recent Posts widget in the sidebar is so useful. I also check their About page. These days it takes a lot for me to follow another blog.
      Even if I don’t follow, I often check the most recent posts of bloggers who read my posts.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I haven’t done any of that email checking. I do read the most recent post of those who comment on my blog. I find new blogs to follow that way. Thanks for you information. I will look further into the widget issue.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations, Audrey! πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ A fantastic milestone in blogging! Here’s to the next ten years! πŸ˜€

    I like your list of what you’ve learnt along the way and found myself nodding in agreement to them all! It is impossible to comment on every post! I love the friendships made during my time here and how true that it keeps the writing skills well and truly fresh! I like the idea of a draft folder of post ideas, much better than my scribbled notes left all over the place and never quite organised! I’ll take that suggestion on board!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Congratulations on your decade of blogging! I look forward to reading it every Sunday morning. I started mine five years ago for the same reason and my first five years have been like your first five as well. Now that story ideas are scarce on the ground, I’ve decided to put more effort into writing — whatever I feel like — for the blog. I don’t think I’m very good at that type of writing, but practice makes perfect. Thanks, and keep blogging!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Chuck. Knowing that someone looks forward to my weekly posts is an incentive to keep them going. Blogging is a low-risk way to get one’s writing out into the public sphere.

      Like

  5. Happy blogiversary – and well done! My instinct is that blogging is a (nice) habit, but the longer it is between posts, the easier it would be to fall out of the habit. The biggest surprise to me has been the comments. I never anticipated them and was actually quite alarmed at first to get them. I was not sure how to reply – sometimes I am still not sure now! πŸ™‚

    I have come to see my blog as a shared space, rather than just for me, and to enjoy the life other viewpoints bring. I usually leave the comments for a day or two before replying because it gives more of a feeling of visitors talking to each other, even though they rarely do.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Ten years, woohoo! Congratulations!

    I had a bunch of blog ideas sketched out in a Word document THAT I LOST THIS MORNING! Yep, I had a minor computer crash, and my daily backup system stopped working a month ago unbeknownst to me. (Sigh.) Live-n-learn!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Happy decade Audrey and lots of good points there. I know I should investigate more of the technical side of WordPress; I am tidying up the email notifications at present – just keep them for my favourite bloggers who don’t blog too often. I was getting so many emails I didn’t have time to even get to the Reader!
    Also know I should upgrade, just nervous of change in case it goes wrong!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Janet. I turned off email “like” notices a while ago, but have kept the ones for comments and follows. Since the lockdowns started, there are a lot of new bloggers out there. I hesitate to change my theme because the one I’m using is no longer supported, so I won’t be able to return to it if I don’t like a new one.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. 10 years – congratulations! I’ve been blogging for 7 years and I can relate to everything you say. Although I am not an author (just a wannabe) I agree that a blog doesn’t really sell books, but there are many other benefits that you have also recognized. It helped me get a job and also take on new responsibilities at work because of my social media and blogging experience. I’ve noticed that the recent ads on my free blog are not the most attractive and I would consider upgrading – haven’t made that leap yet. I have no plans to stop blogging, so maybe I should do that!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I know – I started thinking about it more because I feel like I’m seeing ads more than ever. I still have the free plan, but the website I manage (WordPress) for my father is a paid one. I like the free part for sure, though…

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Much of what you wrote connected with me, Audrey. I’ve only been blogging for just over a year, but I’ve had many of the same experiences you’ve shared. I also started blogging because a friend suggested it when I wrote my only book. (I do hope to write others, and I’m working on one right now). I’m trying my hand at writing novels for middle grades.

    I frankly get a little bored with blogs that self-promote all the time, so I look at my blog as a place to keep practice writing and meet some cool people. That’s enough for me, and I have no illusions that I’m ever going to become rich or famous from writing. In reality, that’s never been a priority for me.

    As a young blogger (not chronologically young), I appreciated reading your thoughts. I’m smart enough to take my cues from more experienced bloggers. Even though I’m not a gardener, I enjoy your garden photos. Keep it up and write about whatever inspires you.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. When I started blogging, I thought I would stick to writing-related topics but soon realized it was a bit presumptuous to dish out advice to other writers as though I was a real expert. My garden experiences are a better option, especially because people appreciate the photos. I’ve read some of your posts and admired the way you express your thoughts about teaching and life in general. Thanks for contributing your thoughts here, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I have been blogging for 3.5 years, Audrey and have two blogs and a website. I enjoy blogging and spend a fair bit of time reading blogs, usually early in the morning and in the evening when other people are watching TV. Blogs interest me much more than TV. I enjoy your posts.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. I’ve been reading your TFOM and although I don’t normally read character driven stories, I’m enjoying this one. Your period writing is exquisite. It seems you’ve channeled Mary Shelley.

    I find blogging, at times, to be a useful venue. At others, a tiresome burden. I somehow have acquired the notion that to follow is to f-o-l-l-o-w. And like you, the more frequent the post, the heavier the burden.

    (I wrote my own blogging software back in 2003, it was the thing to do back then, if you were a programmer. WordPress makes it easy these days, though. And more social. Mine was a pure web log / diary.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember one of my colleagues at the university library I worked in until 1992 talking about “weblogs” as a new thing. At the time I never imagined having one myself. Although as you say I think those early blogs were a different sort of creature altogether.
      I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying TFOM. It and its sequels are products of an inspired obsession that lasted from 2000 to 2005 or so. I can’t seem to summon up that state any more. Sustained and focussed writing projects feel more like work now.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, unfortunately. What’s slipped is the energy level and zest for actually cranking out the words. On the other hand, I think the finished product is better now, because my self-editing skills have improved. It’s harder to visualize scenes and turn them into words, though, and that’s what creates something to edit and polish. It’s hard to believe I cranked out four hefty novels while I was working full time. I would write for 3 or 4 hours every evening.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. I suspected as much.
            Just when I’m starting to get this writing thing, the craft, the skill–the ability to visualize and translate to compelling words is waning. Damn. Should have started 20 years ago.

            Liked by 1 person

      1. Join the club. I’m finding it very hard to come up with a story that is new enough to keep me wanting to write it. I find the same thing with painting. It seems like my well of creativity is not bottomless. I just ordered a kitchen scale and a cast iron dutch oven — time to get serious about cooking and baking…

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Congratulations! This was really helpful. Loved the last bit about thinking about quitting. I do that too. I seriously don’t know why I keep doing it! And the format thing? Yeah, I don’t like the one I have blah blah blah… One of these days I’ll figure it out.

    Keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, JeanMarie! There are always more features than one needs or wants. I think I’ve picked the ones that work for me. Until the folks at WordPress shake everything up, of course. And with all the good thoughts coming my way, I’d better keep writing!

      Like

  13. Congrats on 10 years!! I’ve been doing some form of blogging since the late 90’s when it was running a bulletin board via dialup modem. I created a website via writing html code in those days too and tried to keep it updated – it was essentially a blog before there was such a name for it. I wrote and posted about art; fine art, illustration, poetry and writing. At the time I was living in Oklahoma, the arse end of the Untied States (pun intended), so I enjoyed “meeting” people from other parts of the world who thought knuckles were for some use other than dragging. Then some people in Oklahoma decided that I was too weird in real life; too into books, too into university, too…. and that sort of people got ahold of my emails, tracked my online activity and were generally mean. They “trolled” before there was a term for that. So I shut everything down for awhile, moved out of Oklahoma, and restarted to a much happier effect!! And as you know I still blog about art, illustration, poetry, writing… 😊 Congrats again!! And keep it up!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, blogging has been around a lot longer than most of us realize. It’s just in the past decade or so that it’s become accessible to just about anyone with a computer. Sort of like self-publishing, actually. It’s interesting that trolls were part of the picture back then too. Thanks, Sue!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Congrats on 10 years of blogging! And here’s to another 10 years of it. I hit the 10 year mark this year, too – in March. It doesn’t seem like such a long time. I’ve not thought of stopping, but I have slowed up quite a bit in terms of frequency of posts – I simply haven’t got the time. And yeah, blogging absolutely doesn’t sell books… Nor do I know what does. Sigh…

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Happy 10th Anniversary, Audrey. πŸ™‚ I hope you put off that ‘The End’ post for another 10, at least.
    I started blogging for the same reason as you, and I’ve continued blogging for the same reason too – the people. I know writers are supposed to congregate on Goodreads, but to me, WordPress is where the writing community really lives.

    Stay well and keep writing. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Andrea. Yes, I sometimes think of all us writers on WordPress as a kind of worldwide electronic literary salon. As long as that community exists, I plan to be part of it.
      You stay well too! And write on!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Congrats, Audrey! It’s quite an accomplishment to hit the decade mark in this biz. I think I found you fairly early in my own blogging journey (7 years now), and it’s been a pleasure reading you and getting to know you.

    I don’t know if I’ll still be blogging much in three years, but it is nice to have an outlet for things you just have to get off your chest, isn’t it? But I agree, as a promotional tool, blogging probably hasn’t moved many books for me. It’s just put me in touch with many other hard-working writers.

    Many happy returns!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi Audrey. You have a very interesting blog which I always look forward to reading. Your consistency and great content has rewarded you with many faithful followers. Congrats on your tenth anniversary of blogging. Time really does slip by.
    I, too have a blog, but I’ve posted very little over the past couple of years. Like you, I started because I had a book to publish and the prevailing wisdom was that a blog was essential to sell books. That didn’t work out for me, either. I did enjoy blogging and I think posted some interesting content, but I’m not very consistent.
    Congrats again, Audrey. I hope you decide to continue blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’ve been blogging for twenty years. Used it in my classroom. I had a special class blog and posted daily assignments. I had five computers in the room from a grant and when students came in and said “What did we do yesterday, I’d point them to the computers. Save a lot of talking before class. It’s not the same now, but it’s nice having you as a blogger friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Congratulations, Audrey! 10 years is quite the milestone πŸ™‚

    I like your list of what you’ve learned over those 10 years. I first started blogging about 12 years ago, still don’t get much in the way of comments despite the stats showing that I have a good number of visitors. That used to bother me a lot – silently wailing surely there wasn’t any point – except, for me, the point is, I enjoy blogging πŸ™‚

    Wishing you many more years of blogging! By the way, I don’t know what sells books either. If ever you figure it out, please share πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Joy. As long as one enjoys something–blogging, writing, etc.–it doesn’t really matter whether if you gets lots of sales or comments. Although it’s great when those do happen. I’m not making any promises about finding the formula for book sales. πŸ˜€

      Like

  20. Happy ten year anniversary, Audrey. That’s quite an accomplishment! I agree with your tips and am still learning as I go, and I love the photos. I’m starting to do more gardening, and will do much more after retirement day. I think writing and gardening make a lovely balance in life. Keep blogging!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Debra. I’ve found that gardening and writing complement each other well. Physical vs. mental activity, for one thing. Plus ideas sort of show up when I’m doing something in the garden. The trick is to remember them and write them down.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Hello Audrey,

    Yes I can relate to all of these points. I’ve been blogging since 2008. Mainly, I thought to attract a few more readers to my (self) published novels, but it hasn’t much. I also began an Instagram account to attract others to my blog, and then to my novels, but that hasn’t worked either. I enjoy each in its own right now but for none of the reasons I started out with.

    I had to laugh. I too recently upgraded because of those unpleasant adverts. Might WordPress be smart enough to have arranged that on purpose do you think?

    I agree, it’s impossible to read every blog you follow, though you might want to – so many talented and unknown writers out there. So I tend to skip as well and am drawn most to those bloggers who comment – I find you develop a virtual affinity with them. Then there are those who follow you purely for marketing purposes, who I think of as barnacles stuck to the bottom of your boat. I read somewhere about twenty percent of those who follow are actually reading you, and the rest follow because they’re hooked on the numbers game and just want you to follow back.

    I’ve not done the thank you and goodbye blog yet. I do know bloggers who have posted them and then sneaked back later on, unable to stay away. Writing is a bit of a compulsion that’s difficult to let go of. I tend to have something to post once a week, sometimes twice. I don’t like doing more than that as it seems a bit pushy, filling up your follower’s reading box. Poets do that a lot, I’ve noticed. But I think it’s a good way to get unfollowed.

    I find the blog is a useful vehicle for my thoughts, and helps work through issues and ideas that may not end up in my stories. In another life I see myself as a professional novelist (very successful of course) and a columnist. Here I get to do it for free, but I get to write what I want, and those few readers I do pick up and who comment are always a pleasure.

    Best wishes

    Michael

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Writing is a solitary activity. Blogging creates undemanding connections among writers, just enough to dispel the unnerving feeling that one is talking to oneself. And if someone reads and reviews one of the books, that’s a bonus.

      Like

  22. Pingback: On Blogging
  23. Congratulations on your tenth anniversary, Audrey!
    We have been blogging for just eight years, but it feels like a lifetime. There is still so much we haven’t mastered yet, like keywords and search engines!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! And for the reblog too! I can’t claim mastery by any means, but I’m fairly sure my posts are picked up by search engines because I always add several tags (keywords). E.g. spring in the garden, writing rules, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Congratulations Audrey and nice to meet you πŸ™‚

    I too have been blogging for the past 10 years but under different names. While growing up, I signed up for a new blog every two years. And every time I preferred to start from scratch because “new me, new ideas and a new blog”. However, this time I’ve finally set up my dream website with long term goals. Hope it works out this time!

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Congratulations for your ten years of blogging! And whatever you said is a fact which I’m on an urge to experience. My blog is just 2 months old… But almost all of your points are relative to me as well. All you said is 100% true n unknowingly following each case. I hope working this hard will achieve me something definitely good!
    Thanks for this blog…my views got cleared!

    Like

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