Well I can’t believe it. Today (actually yesterday) marks one whole year since I published my very first blog post in December 2017.
In that time I have learned a great deal, and below you will find a list of what I feel are the most important lessons of my first year.
So I haven’t made squillions. I looked at my WordPress statistics today and in my first year I made a grand total of 59 cents (46p!).
I haven’t even learned enough from Wordads to be physically paid.
However, that’s 59 cents earned from sitting down and writing. And I know it’s not much, but it’s the first time I’ve been paid for writing and that is a good thing as far as I am concerned.
When I first started, I had to produce an ‘all about me’ kind of intro as I noticed every blogger I read had one. This is what I wrote…
For the last ten years I have been so caught up in my children I haven’t drawn breath. I feel exhausted and now I’m nearly 50. Time to take stock and time to start doing the things that I’ve always meant to do. I have wanted to set up a blog for years. I have spent my life writing all sorts of things: books, poems, articles and stories. Not once have I managed to get anything published. So I’ve created this blog as a record of what I’ve learned. I want to share the experiences that shaped me in the hope they may offer some comfort to those who have gone through the same thing. I want to document my journey into getting my mojo back.
I have a number of things I hope to post over the coming months. It is an odd feeling casting these word into cyberspace with, currently, not one follower on here or on Twitter. But it doesn’t really matter. I am doing it for me – a vanity project, if you like. I haven’t got the skin or the make-up skills to indulge in the narcissism of youth, so call this a middle-age selfie. Opening up my insides which don’t match my outsides. I already feel quite liberated. The best possible outcome would be to make contact with women like me who feel invisible. Ones who used to rock out to Nirvana and Soundgarden; or Take That and Abba – it doesn’t matter- and now feel diminished with age. Let’s all find our mojos together. Let’s roar. My first drum lesson is on Monday – anyone want to join a middle-aged-frizzy-haired-slightly-overweight live band, give me a call.
So that’s why I wanted to set up the ‘Middle Aged Warrior’ Blog. And here I am, a year later. First and most importantly, did I get my mojo back?
Well, I’m certainly on the way!
I’ve jumped on boxes in the gym like a warrior. I’ve started to learn the drums. I’ve written about cheating first husbands, losing my first child, being a mother and nearly going blind when young. I am also one act away from finishing my novel, I think it’s the tenth one I’ve written, but maybe this one is the best yet. Committing to writing a post or two every month on this blog has really helped with my writing discipline, I’d recommend it if you want to improve as a writer.
But the absolutely best thing is the AMAZING people I have met on here. I feel like I have made friends who I didn’t know existed when I started a year ago. It was something I hoped for but never believed it would really happen. And these are people from all over the world as well as in the UK. It was worth starting as a blogger just for that – becoming part of a crazy, human, funny, strong, passionate community of people who couldn’t be more varied, often having very different interests, but finding something to connect with on the internet.
It’s been very interesting looking back over the year’s statistics.
Since I started I have now got 335 followers on the blog (although I think I am at least two of those) and 121 on Twitter.
I know it’s not masses, but I’m happy with it, I can’t wait to see where I am next year.
One great feature of the statistics is seeing what your most read articles are. I was surprised by the results.
My number one, most read post over the past year is…
Yes! My post about the bloody dog! All of those heart felt, wise, and thoughtful posts on being middle-aged, coping with life and motherhood, and this is the one that gets the most reads. Good old Dog.
In second place…
Ah… where it all began. My inappropriate crush on a TV star which helped me realise I needed to do something with my life.
In third place, and I found this very surprising, is this post…
This post was about how I conquered (mostly) my health anxiety and has had way more views that I would have expected.
However, I was particularly proud of the Pinterest image I created for this article and I would say pretty much most of the views of this post have been generated by Pinterest – so it goes to show the power of a good Pinterest image.
Finally, I ran my eye down to the bottom to see which, of all my posts, was the runt of the litter, the loser of the pack. And here it is, with only 9 views…
Poor unloved post! A shame as I thought it was quite nice, a bit of Christmas cheer and a story about an exploding radiator. Maybe as Christmas looms it will get another chance.
Do you want to know what my favourite post is of all of them? I had a good think about it, and my personal favourite is this one.
I know. An odd one I know. The reason why it’s my favourite is that I found the research fascinating. Also, the conversation I had with an old friend, generated by this article, where we discussed ‘wicking’ I found so funny it still makes me snort involuntarily with laughter whenever I remember it.
The post also contains a hidden secret where I wrote a description of a particualr photo for a blind reader of mine. The captain is very silly, but again makes me laugh whenever I look at it and I love that only a very few people will know it’s there.
So if you would like to read what I would pass on to would be bloggers, have a look below. I would also love to hear what you have learned in your early blogging years.
In the meantime can I just say a huge THANK YOU to all of you gorgeous people who have read my posts, commented, and become my friend. I’ve had such a lovely, lovely year getting to know you all and I hope I’ll still be here to see whether Dog is still top of my most read articles in December 2019.
Happy blogging, Warriors.
Blogging Lesson Learned: 1 – Don’t splurge all your posts at once
The first month I started my blog I went completely mad. It was as if all the articles I had ever thought about writing gushed out of me at once and I think in those three weeks I published SIXTEEN posts!
Looking back now I wish I had spread them out so much more. I don’t particularly find it difficult to find things to write about but sometimes finding the time to do it is hard. I wish I’d held back some of those 16 posts and kept them up my sleeve so I had something to put out when work was really busy.
In that first month I had 166 visitors and 453 views. I remember being astonished, amazed, and delighted that so many people had found my site and then actually read what I’d written. Not only that, sometimes they would like posts and comment on them!
Blogging Lesson Learned : 2 – Comment on other people’s posts
I think you only realise this when you start a blog. It is impossible to understate the importance and value of commenting on what people have written. Sure a ‘like’ is lovely to have, but when people take the time to write a response (a funny story of their own, a thoughtful point, or even saying, ‘this made me laugh!’) can make the poster’s heart sing with joy.
It has made me try to really make an effort to comment on people’s work when I have read and enjoyed it. Also, if I have read someone’s post I ALWAYS make sure I ‘like’ it to show that even if I haven’t had the time to comment, it has been read and appreciated.
One unexpected side effect of this was it actually gained me followers. People would come to see my site after we’d had a little chat at the bottom of someone else’s post. I have found so many lovely people that way. Don’t ignore the comments – chances are if you like the post, you will also like the people who have commented on it.
Blogging Lesson Learned: 3 – Be honest, even if it’s embarrassing.
I think this is very important for a blog. I have written about all sorts of things and I have tried to be as truthful as possible. I like honesty in other’s writing and you can always tell if people are writing just to get ‘likes’ or are being deliberately controversial.
One of the articles I am most proud of is the one about my crush on Norman Reedus. Seems silly, I know, but it was PAINFULLY difficult to write as I found it so scaldingly embarrassing. I drafted and re-drafted it wanting to get it right as I wanted to properly explore my mixed-up painful feelings about getting older, sex, the middle-aged body and so on. I have never been so honest in my life and then to send it out into the big wide world? Very hard!
But then, that is an important thing to learn when writing, you can’t let embarrassment, pride, or things like decorum hold you back. People (well I do anyway) want to read something raw and real, even if it is painful or excruciatingly shy-making to write it down.
The Norman Reedus post was the first one I wrote for the blog but I didn’t actually publish it for a good month – it finally came out at the beginning of January. I remember blushing as I pressed ‘publish’, sweat prickling at my neck at the thought of my Mum, my friends or, God Forbid, my pupils reading it.
But I did it. I sent it out there, and because of that I met loads of people as bonkers about ‘Walking Dead’ as I am and even ended up actually meeting the guy which was one of the best days of my year.
I’ve subsequently written about loads of times when I’ve been an idiot, a bad mother, a lousy wife, a poor dog owner; I’ve lost count of the times I’ve fallen off the wagon into a vat of chocolate, admitting my failures to stick to the straight and narrow. But, whatever I’ve written, time and time again I’m glad I did, because it’s then that people write, ‘oh! me too!’ and you realise you are not alone in your weakness and stupidity.
Blogging Lesson Learned: 4 – Use Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook to increase followers
It’s very interesting to look at the statistics WordPress give you on your readers, where they come from, how many posts they look at and so on. Over the last year many of my readers have found me through the WordPress reader, but not all of them.
I try to put links on Twitter and Facebook to my latest posts and I wrote a post on how I got into using Pinterest, and I was surprised how popular it was.
Over the past year I have had 5,623 visitors with 12,516 views. OK, I know that’s not a lot, and it isn’t going to be making my fortune any time soon, but it’s a slow burn and I’m not in it for the money anyway.
Of those visitors I was interested to note that outside of the wordpress/search engine referral, the next biggest one was Facebook, followed by Twitter and then Pinterest. I would certainly have lost a good number of views if I hasn’t linked in with those other social platforms.
Blogging Lesson Learned: 5 – Don’t give up!
This is hard but true. Sometimes nobody reads anything you’ve written. Everyone else you read seems to have ten thousand followers and you have four. And one of them is you. What’s the point? You may ask.
Well, you need to think about why you are blogging. For money? Well think carefully, read up on it and find your Unique Selling Point. It’s a big world out there and I would say everything that could be done has been done. All you have is your individual perspective, use it to find a different way in.
Keep writing. Don’t disappear for ages as your readers will give up on you. Save up articles when you have free time or are feeling flush with ideas. You’ll be glad you held back a couple when you are staring at a blank screen or time has disappeared.
Don’t expect ANYTHING exciting to happen for at least a year. I’ve read that in so many places and it’s true… it takes time. I have big hopes for the next year, but realistically I should be looking at five years before I am really established.
Remember, nobody said it would be easy! Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Good luck,