I started blogging five years ago, it had been an awful school year and I had been out of my comfort zone the entire year. The previous summer I had lost my dad, in fact today is the sixth anniversary of his passing. That summer, the summer of ’10, lay ahead as an open wound with questions about my past, present, and future. Towards the end of the school year, I had experienced a few successes and school ended on a high point for me as an educator and human being.
6 years ago today, I watched @TheOpen with my dad for the last time – #thinkingofdad https://t.co/AwXjgIYJdY
— Clay Watkins (@makingdayscount) July 20, 2015
That school year ended on a Friday – May 28, 2010 – and I came home from school to an empty house. B and the kids had left for the weekend to visit her mom and dad in Ohio. I had stayed home because I had a cough and we didn’t want to get my in-laws sick. I had a lot of time on my hands and thoughts running through my head. The combination is never good and the blog happened somewhere between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. I bought the url – MakingtheDaysCount.com, and dot org, dot net, and dot info. I had wanted MaketheDaysCount.com, but it was taken, already in use. I bought a hosting package and jumped in the blogging water.
The goal initially was to share how I made every day count, in some way and to write about it.
I didn’t tell anyone, I just wrote.
When I started in ’10, my focus was to write and practice writing. I look back on that period and call it my summer writing – some’re good, some aren’t. That about summarizes the blog that summer. I posted from Paris in mid-June, and again from scout camp at the end of June. Several parents read and commented and it lead me to change the scout troop’s website and I blogged from camp every year I went. I haven’t been for the past three years, and I have passed the scout camp blogging duties on, but I miss going. It’s a good time.
Along my blogging journey, I’ve met some amazing bloggers – Rene, Susie, Eli, Mary, Ingrid, Don, Margret, and so many more have all had their influence on me and my writing. I have linked many of my fellow bloggers to a sidebar widget. Five years later, I write, with a bit more focus and clarity, but it’s still summer writing – some’re good, some aren’t. I still reflect on what happened and how I made the day (or days) count.
I signed up for Blogging 201, because I wanted to step up the blog and move forward with MakingtheDaysCount.org. I have many loyal followers and folks who comment and engage regularly, but I’d like to grow the blog.
Today’s challenge asks me……
Here are some questions to mull over to help you uncover/refine what’s most important to you about your blog:
- Why do you blog? For notoriety? To get a book contract? To self-publish? To establish yourself as a leader in your field? To gain followers? To connect with others? To clarify your own thoughts?
- If your blog exceeded your wildest dreams, what would that look like? Would you have a different design? How many followers would you have? How much traffic? What sort of community would participate? How often would you post?
In my rambling writing style, I answered the questions, almost. Since that first e-mail landed in my In Box last evening, I’ve been thinking. I mean I think all the time, but I’ve been thinking why? Why do I blog and is there a purpose?
My first assignment also challenged me to write a few goals. I currently have 60 followers and the blog averages about 20 hits daily, though July’s hits are significantly higher. By the end of August,
- I want to increase my followers by 25%.
- I’d like to see the average daily traffic double – from 20 hits to average 40 hits per day.
- I want to add a weekly feature – which I can commit to writing weekly.
- And, I want to encourage my readers to engage in my blog and leave meaningful comments. (added)
That’s three, err I mean four goals, they are concrete and measurable and I want to continue to grow the blog after August 31st.
Time is finite – I only get so much and I have to allocate to all of my life’s roles – parenting, being a husband, and teaching all need my attention and active engagement. During summer break, the time between one school year and the next, I have plenty of time to write and blog. However, when school starts, the demands on my time quadruple and I can’t blog as often as I can during June, July, and early August. And so, I had a fifth goal
- When school begins, I am going to commit to posting the weekly feature and bi-weekly for a total of 6 posts each month – currently my three year average is 4.22 posts per month. That is a 50% increase in activity.
Now, I have five blog goals for the coming year. But, there is more to life than blogging – like dreaming about winning the lottery and never having to work again, or the reality of organizing my desk and all of my papers, folding laundry, pulling weeds, or engaging in family life. Or maybe even dreaming about purchasing lottery tickets. So, I had better jump up, jump in, and seize the day because today is gonna be a great day. I know it and I can feel it. Making the Days Count, one day a time, one step at a time, one post at time, because that’s way it works.
What’s working for you?
8 thoughts on “Why I blog… Blogging 201”
I found this a really interesting post, and deserving of a longer reply: but this is only your comments page. I was struck with how many goals you’ve given yourself – I can recognise myself in there, and it made me pause for thought. My aim, when I started, was to keep family and friends up to speed with our new life in France. It was quite a shock when I realised that I was getting other followers. When these numbers started to increase – you were one of them – I started to look for ways of maintaining this upward curve. On my return to England, my followers immediately decreased in number: after all, many had signed up for a glimpse of life in France. I felt a sense of failure, a wish to build numbers again. But – hang on! Why? Eventually, readers would stop by who welcomed the English slant of the blog – and yes, they have. And really, in the end, does it matter? My personal aim is to have a diary and record for myself, and to enjoy developing my writing in a safe environment, though I’m not looking to become an author. If nobody wants to read my blog any more, I’ll shut up shop. You’ve given yourself some big goals: you have a busy life with a demanding career and a lively family. Might your blog become a pressure, not a pleasure? For me, I definitely don’t want to write a post because I ‘ought’ to. But you are not me. Perhaps this pressure is a good and useful one for you. I’m glad you’re continuing to write it, anyway. I hope you have a great week, even if you don’t win the lottery – again 😉
Margaret, I love your response – thank you.
I played the lottery this weekend – bought 4 plays in two lotteries – got one number on one ticket and another number on another ticket. My lottery dream will have to wait, again! As for my goals, I started with three and added another, then a fifth. I have a few ideas for the weekly feature and am trying to space it out so I can continue to post on Saturday and Sunday during the school year and add a post on Tuesday or Wednesday every other week. I believe that is attainable. I’ve been looking at the blog through fresh eyes the past week and have added five followers and my hits are up – which means more people are clicking, and maybe reading. We’ll see if it continues in September and beyond.
I never imagined I would still be blogging five years later, but I am. I’ve made some excellent digital connections and I am blessed with such loyal digital friendships. I recall sharing with my class that first year my utter disdain for assigning papers for my students to write, but that no one else would read. The day of the turn in, a couple of my students were shocked when I asked them to share and had a comments form for each student to leave comments. It worked well and I continue to use a similar forum.
My mom got her letter and hadn’t seen it on the blog, I was wondering if she’d see it and the surprise of a letter in the mail would’ve been spoiled. Thursday I got a letter in the mail from her and I thought it was her response, but our letters crossed paths and she received her letter after she wrote hers. I’ll be writing her a letter this coming week and post it – I am looking forward to sitting down writing a letter in ink and affixing a stamp to it and sending it on it’s way.
I think that’s it. I am thankful for your friendship and always enjoy reading your posts even if I sometimes a day late. It’s gonna be a great day. Have a great week!
Happy five-year anniversary. I’m always re-thinking blogging, too, trying new things, changing focus. This week I’m reading “The Blogger Abides” by Chris Higgins of Mental Floss.
Glad times are happier for you five years on. Here’s to many count-worthy days to come. Cheers —
Thank you – happiness is relative and definitely related to who you are. Five years later I am much more tuned in to who I am and where I’ve been than ever before. Blogging has been ‘cheap therapy’ and a healthy distraction at times. I have felt like the blog has been drifting the past year and I took Blogging 201 to help me refine what the purpose behind MtDC is. There are plenty of wonderful days ahead and I am aim to make them all count. Have a great week and I hope you had fun swimming!
I’m sure today brings back a lot of memories of your dad. We all have our reasons for starting a blog and sticking with it. Just keep at it. We’ve all come a long way.
Thanks Phil! I have grown to enjoy writing and enjoy the challenge of writing each post. When I’ve gone back in time and re-read old posts I realize how far I’ve come. I am grateful for the blogger friends I’ve made along the journey who have been a part of helping me grow as a writer. Thanks.
Great blog Clay! Could I copy and paste it on mine? (kidding!) It’s exactly what I want mine to look like. I lost my own father 20 years ago but started blogging for a similar reason. My daughter died in a car accident last year and I’m writing a book about her life called ” Not My a Story ago Tell”. I’ve been blogging to express how I’m felling and to keep my family and friends up to date with the progress of the book. I’m looking forward to taking WordPress U 201.
Cathy, I am sorry to hear of your losses. It must be incredibly difficult to go back and relive the experience, but at the same time a great opportunity to reflect of life with your daughter as you remember the time you spent together – learning and growing. I am looking forward following your adventure. Thank you for stopping in and have a great day.