31DBBB: 2 Weeks Down!

So, I made it through the first two weeks of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge (see here for more explanation, I am trying not to be redundant.) without too many problems. When I decided to sign up for this thing, I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into, to be honest. All I knew is that A) It would help improve my blog and B) It would connect me to a lot of other bloggers, which is something I love to do. So I signed up and I followed along with the tasks and I posted in the forums and here I am, still just me and my blog, trying to make it through. A few of the things I have learned throughout this journey:

  • I have major Wordpress envy. Every time I see something cool on others blogs and ask "how did you do that?" The answer is always a Wordpress plug in. When I read The Pink Crab's Blogger vs. Wordpress post last week, all the comments voted Wordpress was better. I get it. Wordpress is the bomb. Now who wants to tell me how to afford it? I am just a poor college student after all!

  • Blogging is so much more than just writing down your random thoughts and publishing them for all to read, which is what I thought it was when I decided to start one. It is like a business. You have to market it, improve it, change it, and so on and so on. It's insane. I never realized how much effort blogging takes to be "successful" and how much behind the scenes stuff there is to it.

  • Apparently I'm supposed to know what my blog is about. According to the ProBlogger dude who started this 31 Days challenge "if you don't know what your blog is about, no one else will either." Great. So because I don't limit myself to blogging about one thing no one will know what my blog is about, and therefore not want to read it? Also, I am supposed to have a "niche" and there are supposed to be other bloggers out there who fit into my "niche".  I googled college bloggers, college student bloggers to see what I could find. And the answer was pretty much nothing. Still searching for my "niche". Thoughts are appreciated.

  • Blogging is kind of high school. You either have to be really smart or really funny or something to be recognized by the "cool kids".  If you want your blog post featured on the SITS weekly wrap ups, or Nirvana Mamma's blog or even just tweeted about by one of the leaders of this challenge.. well you better post something brilliant that people absolutely need to know or something so hysterical that people peed their pants. Yeah, I'm not gonna hold my breath for that one. The difference is, the homework for this challenge is way more fun than high school! The other day our assignment was to go to the mall... if that's not the best homework ever, I don't know what is!

  • Sometimes you have to go outside your comfort zone, but it's all for a good cause! A couple of these challenges have made me nervous, like early on when we were supposed to promote one our posts. This is when all my insecurities come out & I am afraid to ask people to read my stuff. But, once I stepped outside my comfort zone I got great feedback and it really paid off in the end!

  • It is pretty much impossible to keep up with all the blogs you read before the challenge, all the blogs you find through the challenge, and keep up with writing stuff on your own blog. Not to mention the daily challenges, and the forum posts. And forget about commenting. Also, if you have 15 minutes or whatever to read blogs, and you chose to peruse twitter for 31DBBB posts, be prepared for bloggy friend guilt. I always feel guilty because I am neglecting my current blog friends in hopes of making some new ones. That's the trade off I guess.

  • When you start dreaming about 31DBBB and all that you still need to accomplish because you are a few days behind, you know you have probably put a little too much pressure on yourself. It is supposed to be fun, after all. Although, it would be nice if you could accomplish things for real in your dreams. Like I had a dream that I got this post done, and voila it's done! If only...!

  • When you explain 31DBBB to one of your IRL friends that follows you on Twitter, their immediate response is "oh, is that what you've been going on and on about on Twitter?" Yes. Yes it is. Because tweeting about it is half the fun! To "outsiders" it seems that's all you tweet about, to 31DBBB people, you're normal.

  • The blogosphere is a small, small world. It is so fun to realize how many of 31DBBB friends know my other blog friends! We travel similar circles, and that is cool! Who can blame them? I know a lot of really awesome people here in the blogosphere!

  • When you get together a group of women (and one man as far as I know!) who are all talented, smart, creative and willing to help one another, great ideas are born!
Those are just a few of the things I have learned so far. I am sure I am forgetting things, and I am sure there are even more things yet to be learned in the next 15 days of the challenge!

Now, if inquiring minds want to know, I will show you my stats from the last 2 weeks. (A big thank you to Hannah at Bubbleboo who has answered all of my questions about how to make my stats look perfect!) The first week, I saw a steady incline in my numbers, but this week they were a lot lower. I'm not too worried about it, though. I was on vacation on not posting much, so why would people be coming over here?! The numbers might be down, but numbers aren't everything. I know my blog is improving and I am learning a lot! Here's my spreadsheet, color coded and everything!
So, there you have it... 14 days down, 15 to go! 31dbbb peers, what do you have to add to the list of what we've learned? Let me know!

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Melissa said...

Thanks for linking to my blog post! I too wish I could blog in my dreams, that would be awesome! lol, I also need to get a nifty stats screen shot like yours, good job! :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Patrice! I think you're doing great! I wouldn't worry too much about "direction" or "niche" per se. I've read from other successful bloggers that some blogs just flow into whatever they will be when they want to. So basically, keep writing about what you want and your blog will naturally take shape.

As for Wordpress, it's free! Ok, you do have to buy hosting and a domain name. Mine domain name off GoDaddy was $12 a year and for hosting off Hostgator is $8 a month. That's it! And here is how I set it up. Yaro has the best beginner series of videos hands down and his partner Gideon has the coolest accent ever. www.becomeablogger.com

Again, awesome job and hi from SITS!

amy said...

you have found some valuable lessons on doing the challenge - and I agree with all of your points. It is so darn much work.

stopping by from 31DBBB www.thefamilytrifecta.com

amy said...

PS - I agree with Leslie- super easy to do Wordpress and there are a number of inexpensive host companies. I use BlueHost and think they are great.

Just have fun and keep doing what you are doing - your niche is small for now and that's a great place to be.

Ofthesea said...

Hee hee hee, I dream about BlogFrog too!

And hot crap, I totally forgot the stats beyond the first week!

You're doing really well with networking, and you're a great writer. Join us at CrayonWrangler's Pit and be one of the cool kids!

(Because we ARE the cool kids. It's just that nobody else knows it yet.)

Lynda said...

Patrice! This is a wonderful wrap up. It's clear you're a great writer and are good at organizing your content.

I'm not sure how long you've been blogging? It may take some time to figure exactly what your blog is about. However being young, single and in college IS a niche. Talk about your life and any lessons you learn from it and you'll find your audience and niche. :)

There's nothing wrong with a blogger blog. Yeah, Wordpress can do some cool stuff, but Blogger's not so bad. If you want to spend money on your blog, consider getting a domain name. That's pretty easy to set up in Blogger!

I've been renewing my domain at $9.99/year and self-hosting at $10/month for over 9 years. It comes out to over $1100! It's a hobby I don't mind spending a bit of money on, but this is a hobby one can do pretty darn well for free - as you are showing.

Oh, also, my stats are down in weeks 2 and 3. The challenge IS super fun though!

Truly a great article. I tweeted it and stumbled it. Thanks!

Twin Extra Long said...

Gosh, I think I'm too irresponsible to even attempt a blog of my own :)

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