3 Months of Blogging (with Screenshots!)

 

A Call to Action celebrated its 3 month anniversary a few days ago, so I figured I’d throw up another update. My last update was around the 6 week mark and this little blog has come pretty far since then.

 

Though I still have no freakin’ idea what I’m doing, I’m not quite as clueless as I was 6 weeks ago. I still know nothing about HTML or CSS, but I’ve managed to figure out a few things that have helped me on the backend.

 

My problem is that I have little interest in the technical side of things. I like writing and connecting with people, but the actual day to day maintenance and improvement of the website is something that still escapes me.

 

I’m working on it.

 

Some Improvements I Need to Make

 

  • User friendly web design – I like the all black and red theme as far looks go, but it’s not the easiest on the eyes (unless you often work by candlelight like I do). I’m thinking maybe a steel gray or something. I dunno. I’ve been putting this one off for awhile because I suck at design. I’ve considered purchasing a professional theme, but I’m afraid I’m still just going to make something bland and be out $60-$100.

 

  • Better Subscription Service – The sign up widget needs to be a bit more prominent (not obnoxious though) and it would be courteous to at least have some sort of “Thank You” landing page or something after someone signs up. Right now it just returns you to the homepage. It took me about 8 frustrating hours just to figure out how to set up Aweber, and my head was spinning by the time I was finally done. I wanted it over with and so I dropped the ball when it came time to close the show.

 

  • Create a Newsletter – Right now the subscription service just gives email updates whenever I publish a new post. I would like to start sending out a newsletter on occasion for those who have subscribed. I know I can do that through Aweber, but I still have to figure it out. After the frustrating day I spent setting up Aweber, I haven’t returned to my account since. I just need to man the fuck up and get to it.

 

  • Revamp my “Start Here” Page – Instead of just the one post, I want to include my most popular and personal favorites here too. Now that I actually have an archive with enough content worth highlighting, I have no more excuses to keep putting this off. This one is happening soon. (Update 2/12/13: I put up my new “Best Of” page last Thursday. Check it out!)

 

Still, considering the amateurish state of my website, things have really improved since my last update. My unique visitors per day has roughly doubled. Usually around the mid-teens to mid-twenties per day. I’m currently showing a bit over 400 unique visitors per month.

 

 

I know that ain’t much, but I’m pleased considering the only active promotion I do is commenting on some of my favorite websites. I also link to posts on my meager facebook page, and I’ll tweet them a few times. But that’s about it. I haven’t tried writing any guest posts yet, and my understanding is that’s the way to increase traffic.

 

It’s all good though, I probably couldn’t handle a lot of traffic at this point anyway. I’m just a newb and have a ton to learn before I’m going to be any good at this.

 

Here’s the Good News

 

Reader participation has increased dramatically! When I made my first update 6 weeks ago, I was barely receiving any comments at all. In my first month, the only person that was regularly commenting on my posts was my little brother. Now I’m getting a lot more comments and some pretty good discussion going.

 

I love it! Thank you everybody!

 

Plus, I receive a lot of feedback from people through other methods like the contact form, facebook, twitter, etc. Considering how unknown this site is, I’d say this crew’s pretty engaged. Especially since I’m not one to make calls to action at the end of my posts (the irony here does not escape me). But they say that’s what you have to do to get comments.

 

Recent Highlights

 

  • Joe Barnes over at Screw the System profiled me in his newsletter, and I contributed an article to it as well.

 

  • Not really a highlight, but I discovered Alexa rankings. When I first checked it I was listed somewhere in the 22,000,000+ range. Currently I’m at 2,254,430. Better, but I still have a long way to go before global domination.

 

  • I finally got listed in Technorati. It only took 2 freakin’ months!

 

  • Listed in Alltop as well.

 

Most Popular Recent Posts

 

I thought I’d highlight some of the more compelling articles I’ve written since my last update. I chose these based on the number of comments, facebook likes, personal feedback, and page views.

 

 

  • Steak and Eggs Diet Challenge IntroThe kickoff to the series chronicling the ups and downs I’m going through with this insanely stupid diet. Honestly, I’m not sure why this is so popular, but according to Google Analytics its currently number one (topped only in total page views by the resolution post). Maybe it’s the ridiculously low-cropped-barely-PG13 pictures of my naked hairy ass. Who wouldn’t want to see that? Yeah, that must be it.

 

 

 

 

 

And Now For Something Completely Different

 

I’m going to throw in some random shit here. Just because.

 

  • My post “Grab Life By The Balls!” is the first post that’s ever made Google’s front page in search results. It briefly held the number 9 spot for a week or so. I wish I had taken a screenshot. It’s since moved back to the second page. But for a short glorious time, all the 5 or 6 people in the world who searched the term “grab life by the balls” got to see my post listed – assuming they scrolled down to the bottom of the page, that is.

 

  • Other than that, you still won’t find me on Google. At least, not within the first 50 pages. Yeah, my SEO sucks. (Update 2/10/13: in less than a week I’ve somehow managed to land on page 22 in Google’s search results. Fuck yeah!)

 

  • Maybe that’s why I get such strange-ass search terms that pull my website. Here’s a screenshot from Webmaster Tools showing some of the weird shit people search for. I’m a little afraid that these are the terms that pull up my website. Not “health” or “exercise” or “motivation”. I get shit like “nut fucking.” I don’t even know what that is, but it sounds horribly painful.

 

 

Until Next Time

 

As much as I’m still very much an amateur, I LOVE this blogging business. I may not have the technical know-how. I may suck at self-promotion (every time I post my latest article on facebook and twitter I die a little inside). But it’s totally worth it in order to speak my mind, share my thoughts, beliefs, and feelings, and to connect with all the cool cats (that’s you) of the blogosphere. I didn’t even know blogosphere was a word a couple months back.

 

So a heartfelt thanks to all you who’ve been reading, commenting, and connecting with me. Your encouragement has turned this little experiment into a true calling. I had no idea something as simple as a little blog could open so many doors and put me in touch with such interesting people. And the best part . . .

 

This is only the beginning.

 

Cheers!

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Comments

  1. You’re doing okay, Trevor. My numbers are similar to yours, but I’ve been doing it for nearly two years, but only about nine months seriously. I have some of the same needs as you do: mailing lists, gain more sign-ups, work on the technical side, etc. But like you, those are not my interests, and I only have so much time. I’m hoping to make some updates soon, about the time I publish my second book in April.

    • It always comes down to time doesn’t it? If only there were 30 hours in a day — we’d get so much more done (or so I’d like to think). Technical stuff is just a drag. Blogging is such a great medium for communication, but it’s so damn technical. Gotta take the good with the bad I suppose. I’ll be keeping my eye on your blog for those updates come publishing time. It’ll be easier to get to ‘em knowing I’m not the only one with the same troubles. Thanks for chiming in Dan.

      Cheers!

  2. Trevor, this is great progress. I also found that commenting was what generated the most traffic for me. I’ve not been as active with it the last month since I’m swamped with other stuff and I’ve noticed my traffic dip substantially but those month old links are still driving some residual traffic. I’ve not yet done any guest posting yet but have considered it since it’s claimed to be the top traffic driver.

    All-in-all nice work. It’s great to see another newbie blogger talking about the struggle to make a mark. Best of luck.

    • Thanks Aaron, I appreciate it. I’d say 90% of my traffic is due to commenting. I think, in terms of traffic, commenting has a fairly poor time-to-traffic generation ratio. It takes a lot of time to thoroughly read a post and write up a relevent thoughtful comment. And you don’t pick up many, if any, readers from just one comment. You’ve gotta drop comment bombs all over the place and do it consistently.

      BUT, in terms of connecting with people, it’s been absolutely fantastic. I’ve met so many cool bloggers through commenting. It allows me to learn from them and discover new perspectives (like I often do on your blog). And it’s allowed some great people to find me as well. Blogging is all about communication, so in that regard, commenting is where it’s at.

      And I’ll confess, I enjoy being a newb. People are more willing to dish out some free advice for us. And I enjoy the process of building something worthwhile. I want it to be hard work. I want it to take time. I want it to be difficult. If it wasn’t a challenge it wouldn’t be worth pursuing.

      And there would be no accomplishment in success.

      Cheers!

      • Nice work Trevor!

        Keep it up… I love seeing these kind of posts.

        It’s great to see nearly half your visitors are returning visitotrs.. this is good engagement and people coming back for more.

        Agree with all your points. Especially this black background :)

        Brendan

        • Ha! Thanks Bendan. You were the first to confirm what I was suspecting all along. Change is on its way.

          As for returning visitors, I’m glad to hear that’s a good sign. I don’t know what’s a good level or not. Actually, I don’t really understand much of what I’m seeing in Google Analytics. I mostly just go by unique vistors. I know there is a ton of useful info I’m missing out on. I just haven’t made it a priority to sit down and educate myself on this stuff. That’s in the works as well.

          Thanks for stopping by Brendan. It’s always good to see you here.

          Cheers!

  3. Congratulations! You seem to really care about making blogging work for you, be warned it becomes addictive the longer you do it. All your ideas make sense. My one piece of advice is create interesting quality content about things you are passionate about. Your alexa ranking, google positioning will all improve over time. It took me 2 years to get into the top 90,000 of alexa, but be warned 2 months of less consistency to tumble back to 300,000.

    • Hi there Larry, I appreciate the words of wisdom. I hear you about the addictive thing — I’m only 3 months in and I’m feeling it already. I can only imagine how wrapped up in this blogging business I’ll be in a couple years.

      The thought is both scary and exciting.

      But before I ever published my first post, I made the commitment to go wherever it takes me. We’ll see where it leads.

      Thanks for taking the time to provide some good insight.

      Cheers!

  4. Hi, Trevor!! Congrats on your blog, and on the progress you have made in short 3 months-))
    I am very new to the blogging world as well, and share your pain about figuring out the technology stuff…argh! I am embarrassed to say but I am not even sure where you can get the information that you show on your screenshot:)
    Thank you for sharing your progress, it is really motivating to see such cool progress-)

    • Thanks Alena! Welcome to the blogosphere! Even though that post wasn’t long ago, progress has really begun to ramp up since then. But I’ll save that for my next update.

      The screenshots were from Google Analytics. A quick google search should show you how to sign up for an account. You’ll also want to sign up for Google Webmaster Tools. It took me a long frustrating morning to get those two accounts set up — lots of web searching for “How to set up Google Analytics” and “How to install Webmaster Tools” etc. And I promptly forgot how I did it afterwards. But you’ll need them if you want to track how many visitors you get . . . along with a million other bits of info I don’t know how to use.

      Good Luck!

  5. It is interesting what you say about posting on Facebook, I get a similar feeling but I decide to suck it up because I am getting positive feedback from a few people. Surprisingly from those of my friends that I wouldn’t have thought would have been interested in what I am saying.

    I am just trawling through your updates following your most reent post and am loving it, thanks for the openness and honesty it is greatly appreciated :)

    • You’re welcome Scott. I’m glad you’re enjoying them.

      Three months later and I still hate posting those damn facebook updates (and twitter and G+ too these days). It just feels too much like self-glorification.

      But it’s gotta be done.

      And it seems like it could be very beneficial for those with a large facebook following. I’m not very active there, and my number of facebook friends is exceedingly low. I’m sure I could get better results if I put more effort into it, but I just don’t have the time. Well, I just don’t make the time, to be more accurate.

      Perhaps someday . . .

      Cheers!

  6. Hello, I check your blogs regularly. Your writing style is witty, keep it up!

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