When I started my first blog, I had no idea what to do. Trial and error got me to a basic state of confidence, and everything I’ve done since then has been based on exploring other blogs, learning what I like as a reader, and tinkering.
But one thing I didn’t do was keep what walkers call “track notes”. So as this is a brand new blog, I thought I’d start by documenting and reflecting on the steps it takes to create and nurture a new blog, and I’ll add to this as I go along. This part is mostly for new writers: I think we all learn by following fairly closely another learner.
If you’re a writer passing by, please do add your thoughts on how you got started. Did your blog help? Did it survive?
Month 1: The blog has readers, followers, and as I expected, I found it difficult to know what to say once this happened, so a gap opened up between posts. A new blog is a fairly delicate thing; it’s like starting a small fire or planting a sapling. Something has begun but the wrong amount of attention (too much, too little) can slow it down. The most important thing is just to come back to it. Today I realised that I need to set a calendar for writing. Life is always too full otherwise, and writing is the last thing you get to.
Week 1: At the end of the first week, I’ve learned a few new things (adding comments to posts collected from other blogs so that it’s clear I didn’t write them myself), and remembered others (how to set up Zemanta so that WP will recommend relevant things to link to at the end of a post — it’s in the user settings) but the constant is that I keep messing with the theme, driving myself slightly crazy. Why?
Day 3: Followers and comments. One of the most mysterious things to me about writing in public online, as opposed to in print, is the sense of others who are rustling about in the same space. You don’t know what they’re thinking or why they came, but overnight someone visited. Practical note: when I first started reading blogs, I always read the comments, and I discovered that sometimes my favourite blogs were small communities of regulars. I also love bumping into the same people in different places. Also, I want to change the theme again.
August 2 2013: Created saladofherbs.wordpress.com. Dithered about the name, which helped develop the intended focus. Setting up took about 15 minutes of fussing. Chose a basic WordPress theme, wrote up the About page, and the first post (30 minutes). Mentioned the blog on Twitter and was astonished to see readers pop up right away. Got stagefright. Messed with free themes (hours passed, maybe eons). Done for the day.
November 2013: An unexpected year away from work due to illness meant that I only maintained my two main blogs in 2014, so this blog was closed up like a summer cabin. That happens. People came by from time to time to see where it was, and I kept it in my mind.
December 2014: The year has passed, summer is back, and I’ve come back with a group of students to visit and think together about what writing in public has to do with values-centred professionalism.