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?