A Bumpy Path is a year old!
I've learned a lot this past year; a lot about blogging, and in the process, a lot about myself. Tonight's sunset is a good representation of this past year too. How fitting that nature supplied me with an illustration to my birthday post! Anyway, here's my trip down Memory Lane...
Finding the Focus
When I started this blog, my mind had been pretty unused for several years. It was difficult to come up with a focus, a point, a book cover, so to speak, for writing about. Life circumstances supplied the time to truly invest in writing, so I pulled out all my psychology books that I had from my student years and the ones I used to teach from and reread them all. All you have to do is teach a few courses and book publishers send you complimentary copies of new books that they'd like you to use, so I have quite a collection.
You'd be surprised how much a lot of that material felt brand new. It's like practicing it, working in the field knocked a lot of the theory and knowledge right down the drain. Writing about it, about all the things I relearned, was the way to transform all that information into something useful and helpful and relevant all over again.
The focus of A Bumpy Path became making that useful, helpful, relevant stuff useful, helpful and relevant to you, my reader, more than just to myself. At first, it took a lot of imagination because there weren't many of you readers or commentors, and I could only hope that what I wrote touched home somewhere along the way.
Spreading the Word
I've always believed in the power of writing. The pen is mightier than the sword sort of thing. To write, you have to process, think things through, really get it in your head to get it into written form, and that's what makes it valuable. It certainly has done wonders for kicking my brain back in gear. In turn, that applies to everyone that chooses to put the effort into writing. If it's written, it's powerful and valuable.
My second task was to evaluate what I was writing. It may have been great for me, but was it good for you too? I took the chance and set out to increase the number of you reading what I wrote.
It was one of those very personal, sort of spiritual push-me-pull-you dilemmas. Knowledge is free, and build it and they will come. But, that wasn't really working. How can I help, be of help, if no one knows I'm here?
Social Networking to the Rescue
I signed up for Technorati and couldn't make heads or tails of it. I signed up for StumbleUpon with the same result. And then I found Entrecard on a site I randomly ran into and signed up. By it's design, I doubled my readership, then tripled and then quadrupled and ....
It took awhile of reading all the blogs within the Entrecard network to produce content that appealed enough for comments. It has taken me a long time, but hopefully, I've found the 'right track.' I have met and become friends with some very wonderful, delightful people in the process.
No Choice But to Monetize
That same life circumstance that gave me the time to grow this blog has become too much time of not making a living, and I had no choice but to look into alternate income streams. It became another personal, ethical dilemma for me to have to turn to my blog as an income source, but it is something I love to do and I put a lot of time and energy into it. Knowledge and true helping is free! No problem there, my knowledge is always shared with no strings attached. Always.
Marketer, I am not. Obviously. I bent my ethics a bit and went ahead and signed up for AdSense, Amazon, dabbled in Widget Bucks a little (and scrapped it pretty quickly) and I still wasn't making much more than pennies. Sorry Charlie, but that's not enough to change my "no income" status.
Then, I found PepperJam. PepperJam is an affiliate network, and the advertisers are those with high quality and appealing products, and there are quite a few of them within the network. You earn for clicks and leads and commissions. Click on my ad in the sidebar and see for yourself what PepperJam is all about. And no, this isn't a paid endorsement. Shoot, for a review, it's not very well written! I'm not paying any bills yet, but I have made more than a few pennies.
The Down Side
The bad thing about getting into the social networking and building up an income stream is that it is too easy to get lost in it all and forget about writing the content that is the value of the whole purpose of blogging. I've seen this talked about in many, many places, knew I had to be aware and careful, and still fell into that trap.
To pull myself back to the value I can actually contribute to the "blogosphere," I took a leap of faith and signed up as a contributing writer at BlogCritics This is an online magazine with a very large number of contributing writers, and it's a popular, high-traffic site. It is formal, you have to submit samples to be accepted, and when you do submit an article, it is edited per formal guidelines. I was accepted and my first article was published Thursday.
The purpose of writing for other venues besides your own blog is to get your name out there, establish your credibility and by proxy, increase the readers of your blog. It works. It works well, as a matter of fact.
Content is King. I taught that to my Web design students. Actually, I harped on it. A design is only a good one if it stays out of the way of the content. Anything that gets in the way of the content has to be invited to leave, don't let the screen door hit on the way out, and that's all there is to it. A reminder to you, and a reminder to myself is...
Write! Write! Write!
Well, that's my story of blogging. I'm certainly no expert! I sure do hope you can get something out of all my trials and struggles. Is any of this of value to you? Are there other things to do to become successful in blogging?
Thank you for reading!