Actually, it’s been about a year and a half.
I set up this site with a free wordpress.org theme in May of 2012, and it was terrible. My first post, ironically titled ‘So, you want to work in advertising?’, was embarrassingly terrible. So terrible that it took me over a year to follow my own advice.
But I’m glad I started somewhere, because in the end, it’s been a learning experience – plus it helped me land a job.
The Journey So Far
The site has had over 7,000 unique visitors.
While my traffic has some pretty big variations due to social media, direct and search traffic have grown steadily. Although, over 2,000 of my visitors are from a single day. Reddit’s a hell of a drug.
More importantly, the average visitor time has grown from around a minute to two-and-a-half minutes. A big increase, meaning my writing is improving.
As well as this, my bounce rate has dropped from consistently over 80% to consistently below 70%. Meaning people are not leaving straight away, or reading more than one thing.
Finally, and awesomely, last month I had 90 returning visitors. And apart from a weird peak around AWARD School, this has grown relatively consistently too. Meaning people are coming back to my site after an initial visit. Very Cool.
What I’ve learnt along the way
Headlines are everything
Headlines are important, and you can use one of two styles: SEO or human. As much as I like an intriguing ‘human’ headline, SEO headlines are superior in every way. Pages with a headline optimised for search, for example ‘AWARD School 2013 Portfolio’, get more traffic and have a longer viewing time than those with ambiguous headlines such as ‘Turd Polishing’. Despite how much more interesting ‘Turd Polishing’ may seem.
Remove the inessential
Use Google Analytics to figure out what people are clicking on. If it’s not being clicked, remove it. I’ve systematically gone through everything on my site, and if it’s not of use, removed it. This started with a ‘cover’ image on my main page. Then menu options. Then sidebar options. Right now I’m contemplating removing my twitter feed on the right, because as far as I can tell, it’s of no use. This improves loading time, bounce rate and visit time.
Backup. Backup. Backup.
Having your website backed up is like owning a plunger. You don’t think you need one. Then all of a sudden you urgently need one. And then if you don’t have one, you’re fucked. There are so many backup options, but I use WordPress Backup To Dropbox and it has worked well.
Try and be consistent
I’ve aimed to post something around twice a week, and there is a definite correlation between posting and engagement. Unfortunately though, most people have a life outside the internet and it’s nearly impossible to post regularly. Saying that, this will be my 79th post – around one a week since I started. So at least I am consistent in my inconsistency.
Tell people who you are
Write for yourself, not others
In many conventional terms, this blog has not been a success. It doesn’t make any money from advertising. I don’t get that many visitors. I haven’t made that many contacts. But my writing and understanding of web-based media has improved immensely. I don’t write for others. I do this for myself, almost like a public journal. If it where otherwise, I think I would have given up quite some time ago.
Here’s to another year.