Well, it’s that time again. I’ve officially been running this blog for two years, which is way more than I imagined I would when I started it. When I first started writing, I had no idea how to grow a blog, and would mostly just use Facebook groups, Reddit, Stumbleupon and other types of social media. I still do that, of course. But after one year of blogging, where I got a little bit too emotionally invested in the size of my readership, I took my second year of blogging to step back and actually enjoy learning how to grow a blog.
In my first year, I wrote around 60 posts, and got approximately 26.5k readers. That’s a lot of readers for a personal blog where I write about whatever I feel like, but it was also a lot of work to maintain. That’s an average of 5 posts a month, which is a little more than my schedule (or inclination) allows for now. This year, I took a step back and optimized my blog for search a bit more. Given that I work as an SEO manager, this wasn’t fundamentally difficult, and I did some link building as well as some keyword research and historical optimizations on posts in order for them to get better traffic.
With those efforts, I’m happy to report that my blog traffic this year was 22.1k readers, but on the basis of 38 posts, an average of 2-3 posts a month and significantly less than I wrote last year. That’s ok though, because those posts, on average, bring in more traffic than a lot of my posts did last year. In essence, it’s less effort on my part for a comparatively similar results, and allows me to pursue other things with my writing outside of this blog.
It’s kind of a cool feeling to see tangible results when running a blog for two years, though. While my goal is not to be a full time blogger, or anything resembling it, it’s really great to see that people are actually reading what I’m writing, if for no other reason that they find it interesting. But when learning growing a blog, being interesting is just not enough. You need to make your blog discoverable, and as a nascent blog, organic search is one of the best ways to do it.
I flirted for a while with branding my blog, but ultimately decided that blogging is just a fun hobby for me. I enjoy keeping it up, and the volume of readers are much less important to me than they used to be. Emotionally, I’m not tied to the success of my blog at all, but rather see it as a way to creatively communicate my thoughts and ideas on topics that interest me.
In learning how to grow a blog, I feel like I’ve learned how to grow as a writer. After two years of running this blog, I’ve learned a lot about myself as a writer and have been able to share that with everyone reading. I’m still working on my book — it will be out this October, but writing for my blog gives me a different kind of satisfaction.
In running this blog, I’ve learned how to better promote myself, and how to maintain a regular writing schedule at least a couple of times a month, I’ve also learned to redefine my life from a struggling aspiring journalist to someone who has a day job in a related field and writes. Keeping up a blog for the last two years has really helped me do that, and allowed me to use my skills in SEO to help draw readers to my work.
When I publish more and bigger things, that skill set will be really important. But in learning how to grow a blog, I’ve been able to just take things less seriously, and really enjoy the journey.
After all, isn’t that the point of blogging?