This summer is a milestone for me. Not only do I turn the big three-oh, but it also marks exactly one year since I started this blog. Milestones, like New Year’s Eve, are a good time to reflect back and plan forward - minus the excessive drinking and crying, of course.
Why Did I Start Blogging?
Much as I like this nifty little cushion, my lack of singing talent (though very real) had nothing to do with my decision to start blogging. Neither did the usual arguments such as “I wanted to make money” or “I wanted free stuff” which, although rarely admitted out loud, are definitely more common than you’d think.
Lesson 1: You will not make money blogging unless you have a time machine and go back to 1999!
No, I started blogging because I wanted to improve my WordPress and SEO skills for the work I do for clients who increasingly want corporate blogs and also because I wanted an outlet for my writing. An online portfolio of sorts. So much of what I write in press releases, on websites and social media accounts is never actually attributed to me and so this was one channel that I could claim ownership of.
The decision to choose the topic of PR and Communications was easy. I read a lot of UK and American blogs on the subjects but no one in Northern Ireland was doing it, or doing it consistently and well. So there was the niche topic and the target audience, limited as it may be, I felt like I had something to add to the conversation. There was also the small matter of the complete loathing I have for shopping, my lack of fashion sense and the fact that make-up is practical, not joyful, to exchange my hard-earned money for. PR was definitely a safer option.
Lesson 2: Pick a topic you know lots about, you are super interested in and you enjoy reading about yourself!
What I Didn’t Expect When I Started Blogging
There have been a few surprises over the past year. Not least the fact that people are actually reading what I write, in not-too-insignificant numbers I might add! The blog has achieved over 6,000 views in 12 months which I know from research is pretty good for a niche subject blog in a small geographic area. On average now, each time I post, I get about 150-200 views over the few days that I’m promoting the post.
More surprisingly though, very few of these views are coming in from the associated social media channels. And even less are coming from subscriptions, although 556 people follow the blog on Reader. Most views, in fact, are not even N. Ireland based. They’re coming through Google search results from as far away as Australia (G’day readers!) So I’m pleased with the fact that one of my initial aims - to improve my SEO work - is coming to fruition.
Lesson 3: Don’t forget that real people will actually read what you publish!
Another surprise came in the form of the networking that I’ve benefitted from in the last year. I expected (to my stereotyping-shame) to find most local industry people stand off-ish or with little time for me. I’m pleased to say that the reality has been the complete opposite. I’ve met some of the nicest people, whose work I really respect, and I’ve received positive encouragement and feedback as well as coming across various opportunities professionally that I might have otherwise missed. I’ve even started to be known as “aCupOfLee” instead of my real name!
Lesson 4: Pick a good name when you start in case it sticks! Make sure it’s not 2 letters short of a feminine hygiene product…
Will I Continue Blogging?
I will absolutely continue blogging and I would encourage everyone else in this field of work to have a go at it. In fairness, the frequency with which I blog has gradually reduced as I have amassed a basic readership and have gained some trust with the Google-bots. I still suffer with writer’s block sometimes, especially because the local industry doesn’t always have content generating fodder outside the basic “Belfast City Hall photo call with Miss Northern Ireland.” And I have a day job and a son, so finding the time to properly write and research informative articles isn’t easy. But it’s been worth it and I hope it’s a hobby that continues to bear fruit.
I hope readers continue to enjoy it as much as I do. Although even if they don’t, I can still keep writing, that’s the joy of the internet - you can talk to everyone or no-one!
Realistically, I should be writing that book I keep putting off, but at least when I do eventually start it, I (should) be a better writer…