Lesson 15: I’ve Learned that sometimes you sprint for the goal line, and sometimes you fall back and punt.
If you know me at all, you are probably a little surprised that this I’ve Learned installment is starting with a sports metaphor. It’s not that I don’t like sports. Watching football with a group of friends is always a blast.
When I am at home alone, though, sports seldom get much airtime. It’s not that I don’t enjoy watching the games. Instead, I think the game loses some of the thrill without an audience to share it with.
But this is not a post about sports.
No, I’ve come to a realization this month. Lately, it seems like I am having them all the time.
April Was Dismal
To be honest, I’ve been a little depressed most of the month. It takes a lot to get me down, but seeing my low blog numbers for April as I passed my six month anniversary – it was more than a little disheartening.
I have no intention of quitting. However, May has been largely a wash. There haven’t been as many posts as I had planned, and social media has not gotten the attention it deserves.
Something clicked yesterday while I was putting some new flowers in a bare spot in one of my front flower beds. It’s an unusually dry area and the soil is poor. The best thing I could do is dig all the soil out and replace it with good soil and be more conscious of watering frequently.
I was at the garden store earlier in the day. There into my view came an Ice Plant. Perhaps I’ve seen the plant before, but the name was not familiar. Removing the plant tag, I read how the plant loves direct sun and dry, sandy soil. Instead of replacing the soil, perhaps there is a plant that will thrive in what I already have.
So, I purchased and planted the Ice Plant. In the future I will try to comment on its progress.
That silly little plant got me thinking about my blog. I do my best thinking in the yard and probably that’s why I like to be out there so much. Anyway, it dawned on me, April was a bad month, but that hardly means I should scrap anything.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no intention of stopping this blog. But, I have been neglecting it most of the month.
So, That Didn’t Work
This will probably sound very egomaniacal, but please bear with me. I started this blog for me and to share me, Wolfe Butler, with the world. I felt like I had some things to say that maybe someone else would enjoy or benefit from reading.
Then I fell into a bit of a trap. I started reading other blogger’s success stories, big income reports and “expert’s advice.” Imperceptably, I became obsessed with SEO, catchy titles and appropriate blog lengths.
I’m not saying those things are not important. They certainly are, and especially if you hope to make a real income from your blog.
I didn’t start a blog to make an income. If that happens, wonderful, but it was never my purpose.
Sprinting in the Wrong Direction?
Without realizing it, I had started sprinting for the money goal line. The end result started to blind me to everything else. I lost much of my joy in the process.
I can’t help but think that is at least part of why my traffic dropped off.
The readers I had were likely not interested in which title was the most captivating or which post had the best keywords. They were coming around because they were interested in what I had to say. They were interested in me.
With blinders on, I lost some of me – what readers were responding to in the first place.
The View Is Different Back Here
One of the best things that happens when you step back is that your view changes. Up close, I’ve been obsessing about that barren dry spot in my flower garden. However, when I walk back to the road, that spot is barely noticeable because the rest of the garden is flourishing and full of color (and too many weeds at this point.)
It’s time I do the same thing with my blog. Obsessing over SEO and page ranking, etc., it’s not good for me. It’s not good for my readers.
So, I am making a commitment. Though I still plan to share my blogging journey, I hope to never become obsessed with stats again. The numbers may go up or forever stay flat. Neither will change my purpose.
Listening to the Fans
Three people recently really helped me with this realization, even though they probably don’t realize the impact they had on me.
One, the amazing Caron Allen, author of the Dottie Manderson Mysteries, has been a perpetual cheerleader both on my blog directly and on Twitter. I’m sure I owe many of my Twitter followers to Caron’s efforts to help promote me and my blog.
Two, the incredibly sweet Kristy Jo Volchko, author of Mall Hair Maladies, which I reviewed recently, gave me the wonderful opportunity to be interviewed on her site. Even though that interview just posted, the experience did a lot to bring back my joy.
Three, someone I don’t know very well but hope to going forward, Drew J. T. Smith, author of Zodiac Awakening, made a touching comment on Twitter about something he had read recently in my current work-in-progress. He even said he had read everything in the tale so far.
Now, I didn’t ask these three people why they have helped me or why they are reading my work. I’m pretty confident, though, that if I did, none of them would say anything about SEO or page ranking. These wonderful people are reacting to me, Wolfe Butler, and the works I am most proud of sharing.
Lucy, Hold the Ball
As Charlie Brown did so many times, I am going to fall back and kick the ball. Like Charlie, I may fall flat on my back. Even so, I have found my way back to joy, and I think that will resonate with readers.
I am very open to suggestions. If there is something you really liked or really hated or even just thought was okay about my blog or writing, please share it with me. I want to connect to people. I want to connect with you.
All the blog ranking stuff will come. Or maybe it won’t. If Caron, Kristy Jo and Drew are the only people I ever touch, I am happy with that. My goal was to reach someone.
Thank you for reading!
Until next time….
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