According to the blog stats, I’ve recently topped two million all-time blog views, with over 1.2 million visitors (some of whom have viewed more than one post, obviously):
Here are some things I’ve learned about blogging as a result of this experience:
Keep on blogging
I know so many people who have started blogs, only to abandon them because they got too busy, got frustrated when they didn’t get a massive following instantly or just got bored.
Here’s a high-level graph that shows a steady increase in blog views and visitors over the years:
Of course, the stats for 2018 are lower because year isn’t half over yet. But if you look at 2010 through 2017, you can see that the number of individual views, as well as the number of visitors, has increased steadily over time.
The graph below breaks it down a bit more. It shows how many views my blog has had over the months and years since I started it in February, 2010. Darker colours represent more views.
In 2018, my monthly average has been about 39.9 thousand views per month, from January through May. (Given that I’m writing this post in early June, 2018, the numbers for this month don’t look very impressive, but that block will be dark blue by the end of the month.)
The number of views has increased consistently over time. The average number of views per month in 2010 was under 1400. What I had as a monthly average number of views in my first year of blogging is now almost my daily average!
When I tell people that my blog now gets over 1000 views per day, they look at me in disbelief, but here are the stats:
Again, the numbers for June 2018 look low because that’s a monthly total and we’re still at the beginning of the month and that number is the average for the entire month. That number will increase throughout the month.
Look at all the light grey in the first two years of my blog. The real increases started to show in year 3 (2012). If I had given up blogging, I would never have seen those increases. My lesson learned here is: Keep on blogging, even when you think no one is reading. More readers will stop by as your blog gets populated with content.
Your progress is relative
There are some superstar bloggers out there who get millions of views every week. Some bloggers make money from their blogs, and others even blog for a living. But that was never my intention. My goal with my blog has been consistent: to share and archive content, document my own professional and learning experiences and offer tips to students and educators. The number of views and visitors is relative to the industry you work in, your purpose for blogging and how much content you share.
Sometimes you don’t know the reason for the stats
My best day for blog views was April 7, 2014:
What happened that day? Nothing special, as far as I can tell. I didn’t even post that day. It was a complete fluke. I have no idea why that day in 2014 was my all-time daily maximum for blog views.
My learning from this is to not get too hung up on trying to achieve every day. Progress happens over time. Blips and flukes happen, too. The important thing is to not give up and stick with it.
Try different things
I have tried all kinds of different things over the years. I’ve written features about educators who inspired me (like this post about Deaf educator, Brent Novodvorski, for example). In 2012, I did a weekly series where I posted my favourite resources of the week. I have also used my blog as a space to archive material that I wanted to share online with readers, like this APA Checklist for Term Papers.
I have tried all kinds of different things over the years. My learning from this is that experimenting helped me to figure out what works. It also helped me to figure out what kind of blogger I want to be.
Develop your blogging identity
I have worked as an educator since 1994. It’s no secret that I love teaching! I love interacting with students, whether they are in a classroom or online. While I may have been experimental with my posts at times, I’ve been consistent that my blog has always been focused on learning in one way or another. I don’t post recipes or tips to improve your health or fitness. I post about education. My followers have come to expect posts about learning, teaching, leadership or a related topic.
My learning from this is to develop an identity as a blogger. I have grown and developed as both an educator and a blogger since I started my blog. I engage in regular reflection about what I have learned and what I still want to learn. For me, my professional growth and my development as a blogger have gone hand-in-hand over the past eight years.
Followers come from different places
Apparently, my blog has over 5000 followers:
Some folks follow along on WordPress, others get an e-mail every time a post is published and still others follow along on social media. WordPress doesn’t give me much information about who these followers are, but all I can say is, “Thank you!” I appreciate that you have read, liked and commented (or even just lurked) over the years. It makes me feel that my blog with worthwhile to you. What better reward could there be?
Approach comments with caution
Regular followers will know that I shut down the comments section on my blog a few years ago. For a long time, I was really excited to get comments on my blog. But then, things took a dark turn once the blog started to really gain views. The nature of some of the comments sometimes became rude, aggressive or abusive.
I expect that anyone who has spent a lot of time blogging has encountered something similar. I understand there are different thoughts on how to approach this. Some people believe that there’s no such thing as bad publicity and the more flaming comments, the better. Me, not so much. Ultimately, I decided to shut down the comments function. I still really appreciate it when people hit the “Like” button at the end of a post, but I’m not sure I’ll ever re-open the comments again.
Your blog can be an incubator for ideas
One highlight about developing my identity as a blogger and as a professional is that in 2010, the first year of my blog I wrote a post called, “Are your students plagiarizing? Here’s how you find out”. I wrote a few other posts about plagiarism over the next year. Several years later, academic integrity has developed into a major research area for me. In 2017, I published my first peer-reviewed research article on plagiarism.
My learning from this is that your blog can be a place where your ideas germinate and incubate. I think those early posts in plagiarism in 2010 planted a seed that grew over the years.
People sometimes steal your content
I am sorry to say that some of my best content has been replicated on other people’s blogs or sites without attribution to me. Of course this makes me sad and angry. I sometimes wonder if that experience was part of the reason my interest in plagiarism as a research interest developed? Not sure.
I have learned the hard way that there are some people who feel entitled to lift whatever they want off the Internet and claim it as their own.
At one point, I was so upset this by this, I took a long hiatus from blogging. I almost abandoned my blog altogether. Instead, I learned a few tips and tricks. I’ll share these in a future post. (Wink, wink!)
My advice for bloggers
My key piece of advice for bloggers is: Stick with it. Your blog is an expression of you and your ideas over time. Share whatever you want. Some people will love it and others won’t. That’s OK.
If people leave you hurtful comments, turn off the comments. Your blog is about you and those who appreciate the effort you put into it. Experiment. Try different things. No blog is perfect, so don’t aim for perfection. Aim to be yourself and share whatever inspires you. Over time, I bet you’ll be surprised to see how you grow as a result.
Blog on, my friends!
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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.
Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the Werklund School of Education or the University of Calgary.