Note: This is one big, tooting my own horn blog entry. If you just can’t stomach it, move to another page now. Seriously, switch pages. I could even suggest some other things to read instead: Some of my favorite books; or check out some of my favorite blogs that I read regularly: Dig This Chick* (I really, really dig her! Big time successful blogger too), Rita’s Reflections (short, hilarious and local), Me 2.0* (Another big Blog success story. She is sharp, witty and funny, recreating herself post divorce; love it!) Further note: I am not in the arena with Mikalee Byerman or Nici Holt Cline, the cool women who write the blogs mentioned*; but one can dream, which is what this post is really about anyway! If you stay, you are bound to hear me go on and on about how great I feel about my blog and why I feel so excited to hit 10,00o reads. That in itself might turn out to be entertaining, a reason to keep reading. So, while I generally tend to be fairly self-depricating; buckle up for a rant of Kanye West proportions.
This is big, really big! I have just hit the 10,000 reads mark!! This means that my blog has been read 10,000 times in the past three months! (cue Kool and the Gang) Woot woot! Hip hip! Booyah! Happy, happy, joy, joy! Dance around the kitchen and greet each family member with this detail as they come sleepily up for breakfast. Call Principessa and Middle Man and skip right to my big news. Yeah, yeah, glad college is going well, but guess what I did? I am celebrating today! It’s all about my blog today and that really big number. I’ve had my eye on the 10,000 mark for a while now, counting down and watching the number tick upward, so to wake up and see 10,024 this morning, is huge! If only I could actually have The Count chime in on this one! One read, ha ha ha; Two read, ha ha ah; Three reads ha ha ha…. thunder clap!
I will now cease with the exclamation points (momentarily), self-aggrandizement and add a little perspective. When I posted my first entry on June 28th 2011 (that’s right, only three months and 4 days ago! Oops, ego slip), my goal was to commit to writing entries regularly and to eventually have some readers. I had no aspiration for 10,000, I was just hoping to maybe hit 100 readers for a post one day. Mind you, not in one day, but 100 reads for a post, over however many days that took. I got started with my blog with virtually no experience in blogging, no idea how to make my blog site appealing, or how to do all the super cool things I started finding on the other blog sites I began viewing. If you check out the blogs* I’ve posted above, you will see what I mean. Those ladies really have it going on! For me, writing a blog was something I’d thought a lot about, but had done pretty much nothing to prepare for. I knew what blogs were, but hadn’t read others to see how they worked. I asked a few people if they had a recommendation for how to “do a blog” and I heard WordPress (the site that you are reading this blog on, for those of you who are not bloggers too, or don’t know how this works) mentioned a few times, so I went to their website and checked out how to get started. Then, one morning, I impulsively logged on and started setting up my blog site. I should own up to the fact that even the super clear tutorial on WordPress was Russian to me at first; I didn’t get it. I had a blog name in mind, had some thoughts and just wanted to start writing. At that point, I only hoped that my blog would find a following.
At first, I wasn’t really sure how to accomplish that, so I contacted the uber helpful Support staff on WordPress pretty regularly. Actually, almost every day. Patiently, their staff would respond to my queries as I tottered along, and often they threw in cute, little notes of encouragement. Some of them answered more than one question and I sometimes hoped that certain staff would get my questions, as I started to have favorites. No names, I’m not burning bridges here. I will need help again, that I’m sure of! They really push the self-promotion and getting technical with your blog (making it visually appealing), both of which I was struggling with. After a few weeks of playing around with the settings however, I actually found myself learning a little bit about the techie side of this stuff, through trial and error. I learned how to use “widgets” which included: “share,” “archive,” “subscribe,” and other cool buttons/links/whatever they technically called. It was a big day when I finally figured out how to add photos to my posts as well. I had moments, in the beginning, when I felt like a total idiot for my unbearable lack of tech knowledge and days when I wanted to high five myself because I’d figured those things out, without calling in Middle Man or Hubby. Of note, my blog page is till relatively simple, compared to some of the super slick posts I check out sometimes, but that too will evolve.
So, back to 10,000 reads and the unmitigated ego trip that this post honors. I was plugging along for a several weeks and getting very few hits (readers) on most of my posts. It was a pretty depressing thing really. In whiny moments, I practically said aloud: I could write in my journal if I wanted my writing to go unread. I admit it: I wanted readers, I really did. I started putting a couple of toes in the self-promotion waters by telling my close friends, sending the link to them and then asking if they’d “had a chance to check it out.” I posted the link on my Facebook page early on, and hoped a few people might check it out there. The day I figured out the widget for Facebook was golden. Now my blog entries are automatically posted to my Facebook page and my FB friends can see when I post. Those who weren’t interested, probably blocked me from their newsfeed, but there are losses in any enterprise worth building, I reasoned. It’s mutually agreeable, as I now don’t see their Farmville updates. (If you click this link, and find yourself drawn in to this apparently addictive game, please do us all a favor and do not post every single vegetable you buy or each time you feed your chickens.)
Another ironic boost to the growth of my readership was that around the time I started this, I ran away from home. I was driving my youngest son, Little Man (to blog readers, not his real name) to camp in Yellowstone and I was having a melt down at home, dealing with my two college age kids (Pricipessa, 21 and Middle Man 19). Frankly, I wasn’t feeling all that happy with pretty much everything happening at home. Call it a mid-life crisis; call it waking up to smell the coffee (after you give up caffeine); call it college age kids home and pushing every button on this aging model of a mother… whatever you call it, I ran away, and there are few other things to call that. I packed the car with Little Man’s camp gear and then threw in pretty much anything I imagined I might need to be away for two weeks. I mentioned the idea of taking some time to myself once before doing it, but no one took me very seriously. So, I waited until I got to Jackson Hole, WY and then called the family and announced my plans. At that point, honestly, I was still thinking I might “free fall” (hit this link, to read from the start of that adventure) for two-three days and then skidaddle home, tail between my legs. Nope, I had two of the most incredible weeks of my life, seriously! I went where I wanted, when I wanted, ate by myself for all but one meal, and spent a lot of time clearing my head and getting back to my writing. And the people reading my blog, liked it. I started going on line and seeing that 30 people had read a post, that some had sent me messages. These were all people I knew I think, but I did have one early follower from New Zealand, and that was really thrilling.
However, there is no doubt that the single biggest thing that sent my blog to warp speed, the reason I’m celebrating 10,000 reads, was being Freshly Pressed on August 5th. That’s right, one month and a week into my blogging and I woke up one morning to 240 comments. I was traveling at the time, attending my 30th High School Reunion (read reunion story), and had not been on line in a day or two. Consequently, I had not seen the email from Erica, a “Story Wrangler” at WordPress, telling me that my post was chosen for Freshly Pressed. Instead, I logged on to get my emails, so I’d know where to meet friends that day, and there were hundreds of emails from WordPress.com. I was sure that someone had stolen my info and I was being spammed. I was incredibly slow on the uptake, reading the links and comments and finally realizing that I had hit “the big time!” In warp speed, I went from confused and annoyed, to amazed and then giddy.
The night before my post The Grass Is Always Greener on Someone Else’s Head was Freshly Pressed, I was with old friends from high school, at a pre-30th Reunion party (so yeah, we are OLD friends). I had shared that I had stared a blog and a few of the people there asked me what I hoped for in doing it. Not knowing what was happening with my blog, that very day, I told them that I would be thrilled if I eventually had regular readers and could feel like the blog was doing ok. I also shared that I was working on my novel and hoped that the blog might lead to some open doors for that (my ultimate life goal: getting published) and that blogging would encourage me to do more writing, which could only help the novel as well. Mostly, I shared, I hoped that more people would start reading my blog. The next day, that small expectation would blow wide open. That blog post was read by 5,000 people in three days, 7,000 over the month of August! By the time I got to the reunion that night, my head was spinning and you could not pry the grin from my face. Talk about cosmic irony and great timing; I was on a major ego cloud, sent along for me to ride, for a week, maybe ten days. It was Christmas, Hanukkah and all the birthdays that have been ignored, all wrapped in one big exciting package.
I answered every one of the (eventual) 300+ comments. I skipped around with a grin for an entire week. It was incredible! And then: it faded and I had to accept that some days I’d have only 11 readers again. My 15 seconds of fame were over. It’s a shock to that same ego when you see that cool WordPress graph go from big, huge, bold lines that represented nearly 2,000 readers a day for three days and then several hundred per day for the week following, then drop down to 15, 27, etc per day again. Blah. However, I’ve plugged along and I’ve kept track of which blogs seem to bring in more readers and which ones fall a little flat. At this point, it’s exciting to me that nearly every post gets a minimum of 100 reads, but more “popular” ones get more. Ode to Birthdays Missed had 126 reads on its first day, Call Me Gay, Call Me a Fag had 176 its first day! That’s exciting for me! And while the ones that limp along are a bit of a bummer, I also feel like they tell me something, as a writer, about what resonates with people and where my strengths lie. It’s disappointing to see some posts fall flatter, but it’s all a journey and overall that journey has been far more exciting than I could have projected on June 28th.
So I’ve grown, I’ve plugged away, I’ve stuck to my goals and written regularly and my blog is growing too. As noted at the start of this hubris ladened post, I did not have the wildest anticipation of hitting 10,000 any time soon; it wasn’t a number I had my eyes on. I truly thought 1,000 would be very exciting. However, after the big one, I started looking at my chart and hoping for more. As I started to find a groove in my writing and noticed the numbers becoming more steady, I imagined what an amazing kick it would be to hit 10,000 by my third month anniversary. That was my goal, and that date was four days ago, so I missed that target by a smidge. Four days, I’ll take it. I’m really quite proud to reach this goal and feel like things are really falling in to place for future goals. It’s all good.
This ends my 10,000 reads, trip post. I’ll just say one last time 10,000, yes that’s ten thousand, is a really effing amazing number and I may be grinning for a while! I want to point out that part of the self-promotion thing is to tell my readers that each time you hit my “Like” button on this page (the WordPress page), just under the post, not (just) my Facebook page. It helps my blogs standing. Each comment posted, helps my blog grow. So think about celebrating with me this time and hitting Like. This concludes the full blow narcissistic portion of your read. I will be back to deflecting compliments and hoping people read my work, momentarily.
Humbly, I end with thanks. A sincere and heart felt thank you to all of the friends who encouraged me to stick with this and who have read my posts regularly. Some of you were the only people checking in when I was just heading out to Montana and typing away. It has truly meant so much to me! To the readers I’ve met along the way: what a kick this has been! It was so weird in the beginning to know that strangers were reading this but I’ve loved your feedback and encouragement. There’s an honesty to the comments that come from people who aren’t as worried about my feelings, as friends are, and I’ve really appreciated your time in sharing those thoughts. Knowing that people are reading my work at all has been a journey in itself. I still write things and have that moment of panic, when I wonder who will read it and what they will think… think of me…think of my views… think of my writing… how they might judge me. But mostly these days, I sit down to write these posts and I feel inspired, excited, and proud… and that, feels very, very good indeed.
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