Tag Archives: blogs

So you wanna blog?

I’ve had several folks ask me about blogging…as if I was some sort of authority on blogging! Ha. Admittedly, I have done a ton of reading on blogging, what makes them popular, successful, etc. So, I’ll take some time today and share what I’ve learned. I wish I could acknowledge the places I learned this stuff and provide you links…but I didn’t take notes and therefore can’t give proper attribution. I apologize to anyone who thinks I may have learned this stuff from you and don’t give you credits. Claim it in the comments below if you must.

First thing you have to decide is exactly what is the point of your blog? Doesn’t matter what it is, that’s up to you. IF your goal is to get millions of readers, you should decide what it is and stay on task (and don’t pick a small niche subject that doesn’t have millions of fans!). One of the first things you might say is, “but Roland, your blog is all over the board.” You are correct. Mostly because my own personal goal of blogging is to help keep me writing. I’m not blogging with the goal of getting lots of hits. Obviously, as with any writer, I want to be read, but mostly I want people to go buy my books and read that stuff! J I blog in an effort to keep exercising my writing muscles. You should blog about something you care about and something you know a little something about—so that you can share that knowledge with others (they gotta have a reason to want to read, right?). You can even blog about you process of learning about something.

So now you have your subject, you want to decide frequency. There are many opinions out there, but I feel (and having had a couple years worth of experimenting to look at the numbers) you absolutely do not want to blog too often…nor too infrequently. Ultimately, it’s up to you, but two-three times a week is probably optimal. Part of it is you don’t want to overwhelm your potential readers. If they feel like they are missing too much, they’ll simply stop visiting. And that is not what you want.

One of the most important things is to keep it short! Optimally, you want a maximum of 500 words. People just don’t have the patience—for the most part—to read long blogs. There are blogs that I visit written by friends that I feel obligated to visit. I mean, I want to visit it because they are my friends. I would assume there are folks like that who visit and read my blog. But sometimes I got there and read a paragraph or two and find it is a topic I care nothing about and then I see how long it is…if it isn’t much longer, I’ll finish. If it’s too long, I move on.

There are exceptions, but generally those are written by famous people/personalities and readers hang on their every word. I don’t read a lot of blogs as a rule, but I read Jim Shooter’s blog regardless of how long it is because it is loaded with information that I’m interested in. In fact, I often find his blog too short.

For those paying attention, you’ll see I’ve already broken that rule (I try hard not to every time) as my current word count is 580!

So, those are the basics: now, get blogging!


Filed under General

Has it really been a year?

Yesterday was December 7: Pearl Harbor Day! Yes, it has been exactly one year since I first started blogging. Wow…And didn’t I just write something about time flying? December 8 of last year was the first regular entry for my blog. I blogged sporadically and with no rhyme or reason that month, posting a total of 7 times with 366 visits. But in January, I started trying to get a regular schedule and posted 10 times with 580 visits.

In February I posted 10 times with 739 visits. February 28 remains my highest single day with 104 visits on that day. To this day, I still don’t understand exactly why? The subject for the day was my trials with fast food restaurants!

March saw a decline back to 539 visits, and I kinda expected that’s where it’d settle in for a while. I played with Mon/Thurs/Sat postings a few weeks, but was finding that the Saturday postings were very low. I guess no one reads much internet on the weekends. However, April jumped up to 810 visits when I settled in with the M/W/F schedule. May declined to 766, and June jumped back up to 878.

July (915) and August (914) were almost exactly alike, but September put me over the 1,000 mark with 1071. October went back down to 787, but November jumped up to 1008, sparked by my column about the Gays in California. That post holds the distinction of the one with the most views overall; 137. While it wasn’t intentional—I was just writing what I wanted to write—it proved something I’d heard at a conference recently. The speaker, talking about how to increase traffic to your blog, said if you really want to increase traffic, write about something controversial. Guess he was right.

To date, I’ve had a total of 9,629 views…so, almost 10,000 in the year that I’ve been blogging. I’m sure that doesn’t break any blog records, but I’m pretty pleased considering I really just started this to see what blogging was all about.

Sometimes it is a struggle to think of something to write about. Other days, I write two or three at a time. Yes, I can “save” them and then schedule them for later. I like that because if I’m going to be away, I can still write something and keep my schedule. And folks who’ve worked with me over the years know that I’m a bit of a schedule keeper.

If you’ve read this far down, I’m certainly open to suggestions about what you’d like to read. I’ve had a few requests to write more about writing, and I’m definitely trying to think in that direction as well. Someone said they wanted to see more of the old Silverline video footage! Ha. I think they just wanted to laugh at my long hair then.

Anyway, thanks to all of you who have subscribed (I’m using those numbers in support of trying to sell my novel!) and thanks to all of you who haven’t subscribed, but still pop by and read. It is much appreciated.


Filed under General

Talking ’bout my stats

I’m a stat guy. I love looking at the numbers. Granted, I’ve confessed here many times that I’m not good in math–and I’m not. I believe that’s why God created calculators! But I enjoy looking at and sometimes studying the numbers to various things.

For instance, while I was coaching Brittany in softball, I kept all sorts of stats. I can tell you how many batters she faced, how many of them she walked, struck out–even how many she hit! I can compare her with the other pitchers on her team. I even set up an Excel spreadsheet to keep all those numbers and then kept rank orders of such things as: Best strike-out percentage, Fewest walks allowed, etc. I have fun playing with those numbers.

My blog here at WordPress allows me to view stats regarding it. And, like those other numbers, I really enjoy watching and studying them. Obviously, as a writer, I want to be able to reach the biggest audience possible so I try to see if there are reasons for “low” days or “high” days–Spread the word, btw–help me get more readers! 🙂

But, let me give you some of the numbers–I can get them by the day, by the week or by the month. Monthly is easiest, so I’ll start there.

I started my blog in the waning hours of November… In December, I had 366 visits/views; in January, 580; in February, 739; in March, 539; in April, 810. The good news, imo, is that the stats are going up. The question arises–what happened in March.

So, what I do is go back and look at the postings–the dates and such. Does it make any sense? Who knows? The neat thing is that I can say that I’ve had more than 500 visits per month for all of 2008.

To look at the stats weekly is just to confuse the mess out of me. We’re talking a huge difference–ranging from 92 the week of April 7, to 237 the week of April 21. What’s the difference? In looking back, I see that I only posted twice the week of 4/7, and posted three times the week of 4/21.

To look at the stats daily is just to make my mind spin! I’ll skip that. However, and for what it’s worth, my single best day thus far is Feb. 28 with 104 visits. I have no idea what was special about Feb. 28.

However, some other cool things my stat page shows (and before you start thinking, no, I can’t tell WHO looks) are my top posts and the top referrers. The referrers basically tells WHERE the incoming viewer is coming from. For instance, I can see when someone comes from “google” (meaning they googled my name and then found the site), or even when they come from an email message–it says simply “yahoo-email.” Which tells me that the viewer is most likely one of my email subscribers (or, the email has been forwarded to someone).

Top posts are the particular post from a certain date. For instance, I’m writing this on 5/14. The top pages today are “AGING” (today’s post) with 13 views, “FAMILY REUNION REVISITED” with 4, the others that follow have 1.

Yesterday’s top posts were “Family reunion revisited” with 15, “Kissing cousins at the family reunion” with 5, “New Project” with 2, “The Gospel according to Superman” with 2. The others had one.

What does it all mean? I dunno. But I sure have fun studying it just to see if I can figure out any patterns. Plus, all I know is that since I’ve started writing this blog right after Thanksgiving, I’ve had 3,187 visits or views.

That’s cool!


Filed under General