The Blogging Journey

Is it just me, or do others out there see being a blogger as like going on a journey into the unknown?

You start out tentatively, with those awkward first posts, and that hurriedly chosen theme. Your sidebars and widgets are undeveloped, and there is so much about WordPress that you just don’t get at all. The dashboard menus are confusing, and adding images doesn’t seem simple either. Then there are the Categories. What do you call them, and how many should there be, if any? Tags might seem obvious to some, but I had no idea how to tag posts. When I first started out, my posts had almost as many tags as text. Then I found out that it is best to only use five tags or less. I wondered which ones to use after that, and looked at other blogs to get some ideas.

Then came ‘Publicize’, and ‘Sharing’. I didn’t have a Twitter account, or a Google+ identity. So, off I went and created accounts with both. Many new bloggers already use Facebook, so that might give them some idea how to do all this stuff, but it was all Greek to me, as the old saying goes. It took me a long night to discover that I had to add images to my ‘Media Library’, before I could insert them into a post. Then a lot longer to realise that my allowance would soon be eaten up by adding too many photos. After a while, I decided to stick with what I had, even if it didn’t look anywhere near as good as the other blogs I was reading.

Remember that feeling of excitement, when someone viewed your post, and WordPress told you that you had a ‘Like’? You had written something, put it out there, and someone somewhere had not only read it, they had ‘Liked’ it too! Then came those first comments. What to do now? Do I reply, even if an answer doesn’t seem necessary? Then when I decided that I would, I forgot to click the ‘Reply’ box first, so my answer just appeared as another comment, with me suitably oblivious to that fact. Then someone actually ‘Followed’ my blog. I was amazed that they would even want to, and still new enough to be unaware that not all ‘Followers’ are really going to follow.

After a while, I suddenly thought that maybe I should be following some other blogs too. After all, some were kind enough to follow me, and the least I could do was to follow a few in return. Very soon, I started to be aware that we were all in a community. We followed each other’s blogs, commented on comments, and regularly posted more and more stuff. It started to all feel very ‘normal’, and routines of adding images, sharing, re-blogging, following, and commenting, all became second nature. It was like that moment when you have just started driving a car. Although you have passed your test, it feels strange to be out on your own. Then one day, you know your way around, no longer worry about what gear you are in, and feel just the same as all those other drivers.

But there is still more to learn, more tricks and tips to pick up. How to avoid Spammers and scammers, who not to follow, and who you should be following. Adapting your style to suit the blogging format, and making sure to keep your blog fresh and active by varying your posts, and keeping the flow going. Remembering to comment, to check your notifications for things you have missed, and adding replies to comments on your own blog, when appropriate. By now, you have got a long way into that journey, so what next?

For me, it was a change of Theme. After a long time with that original theme, I was becoming fed up with looking at it. And if it was getting that way for me, then what must it be like for those reading it? A change of theme, a different font, and a sort out of those categories. Adding the ‘Like’ button for comments was my next move. At least anyone who commented would know that I had read it, even if I hadn’t had time to reply. On the advice of a fellow blogger, I removed the long dull list of archive months and years from the sidebar, and replaced it with a drop-down menu instead. More advice from someone else made me move my ‘Follow’ buttons higher up, so it was easy for new readers to follow, if they so wished. My final addition was the ‘Choose language’ button. I know that the translations are far from perfect, but you are at least letting non-English speaking readers know that you value them too.

That was it for me, my journey was complete. For now, at least.

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72 thoughts on “The Blogging Journey

  1. Such a great post Pete. I felt the same way when getting that first like and then followers and then the community. I wrote the review for About Time in Nov13, the ode to Craig Ferguson in Dec14 and the ode to David Letterman in May15. Then I was at uni and my fifth post about The Martian for uni had 3 boxes down the bottom. I’ll never forget that thrill. Holy shit! Somebody is reading this stuff. How? What can I do to make it happen again? Hahahaha. This is a great reminder to feel truly blessed for my community. I’m still doing more than five tags. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aww Pete, this so sums up how I felt on my blog journey, I’m sure this resonates with a lot of people. I’m so glad I found your blog, you’re such a good supporter of other blogs and I always look forward to your comments on posts and updates about Ollie. This is a little community which is spread across the globe and I have met some lovely people here (yourself included) :0)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am certain that it is the community aspect of blogging that keeps me going. The diverse nature of the subjects covered; from serious fiction, to fondant-covered cakes, amazing photos, and people pouring out their hearts and minds.
      Nothing quite like blogging, that’s for sure.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post and I think you described me to a T. It was like a “been there, done that” testimonial for me as I read along. Just when I think I am about to understand all of this I hit a detour and by the time I get back all the scenery has changed again. So, I post what I have to post and hope there is someone with enough interest to read it. One of these days I’ll actually have time to devote myself to writing the way I would like to .Until then, I keep picking up a few reads along the way and I always do try to include you. I think there are probably a lot of others who connected to this one the way I did.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Sandy. It may be because I am approaching my fifth blogging anniversary, but I am starting to feel that this is all very much normal life for me now, and I would undoubtedly miss it.
      I suspect that many of the ‘old gang’ will find something familiar in this post.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I felt like you were describing me. I still have much to learn, but getting to the point of feeling like a community has been a testament to my blog and also my fellow bloggers. Great post, Pete!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have been surprised by the sense of connection I feel with the people I read and comment on. I miss them when they disappear for a few days. I have also started reading world history to better understand the background of some people I read. I had the typical American/English history schooling, with occasional mentions of the rest of Europe. I just finished a long course on India and have begun one on turning points in Middle Eastern history. It has been a welcome change from obsessing on the awful politics of the U.S. right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Interesting blog post. I’m still learning about blogging and have recently added a newsletter, which took me a while to work out how to do. I did look at the translate option, but backed out, as I didn’t know how well it would work. I’m glad to hear it’s worth a second look. All the best with your writing journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lizzie. The translate option is good enough with most European languages, but can struggle with Asian ones. Well done with starting the newsletter too, as that will drive traffic on your blog.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Your post is encouraging. I haven’t met some of the milestones you catalog. For example, I have no earthly idea of what to do with widgets other than putting them in a widget drawer along with batteries, twist ties, and rubber bands. Notice, everything in the drawer is useful at one point or another for something. But then I only started democratizemoney a year ago and add very little to it, and deartedandjody last August and add to it every day. I still have no clue as to how to post full sized photos even though FR gave me a description, it didn’t work on my systemβ€”bummer.
    Thanks for the continuing encouragement.
    Warmest regards, Theo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your blogs work well enough as they are, Theo. Those extra tweaks are not always necessary, even if so many bloggers use them. Full-size photos seem to be automatic on my theme, and I have to reduce the size on Photoshop, before adding them to my media library.
      Best wishes as always, Pete.

      Like

  8. I think you have captured the feelings of starting out well Pete. I never knew all of you were out here. I am self hosted, I decided to experiment with Jetpack that would connect me to the community I discovered, and it is like having found a long lost family.
    I had my blog for about 3 years just blogging to myself mostly, wondering if anyone would ever stumble across it. As someone else said, I don’t count the likes and comments, they are nice but I love the interaction of someone saying hello or that they actually enjoyed something I have blogged about.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. And then there are all the changes that WP makes so you are back at the beginning again as nothing works as it did! I happened to look at one of my reblogged posts and discovered that it doesn’t actually have the link to the original post anymore! Completely useless! No doubt WP changed something and that has affected the posts. One day I will have to go through them and manually insert the link. Or just delete the reblog post altogether. Sigh…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You are definitely committed to beetleypete, and your followers are committed to the beetleypete community. I tend to neglect my own little blog, posting maybe two or three times a month. But, as you know, I’ve got a few other irons in the fire.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Yep, it’s a journey, Pete! As for me, the ‘likes’ are nice to have, but I much prefer comments and a bit of banter…and you are one of my best ‘commenters’. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. You captured the journey perfectly. I better go and put in the “choose language”. I have been thinking of revamping my blog. I enjoy talking about movies, but I can’t say I’m one of the those who dedicates their blogs to critiquing every film they see. I admire them for it and enjoy reading it, but I honestly don’t make a point any more to be faithful to every film out there. Yes, I have found the film bloggers are the best for commenting. Photos are easy to like and comment, but I find when the community engages in discussions, that’s my favorite part of blogging. I guess that’s why I love the Lucky 13 Film Club monthly event a lot. If I did that every day, after awhile no one would comment as it takes too much effort. Or maybe that’s me? Another think I’ve noticed (since we have been blogging about the same amount of time) that the stuff I put out there with intellectual effort gets the least feedback! I do believe you have it right, Pete, when you say a variety is the key. I also think 2 posts a week (for me) is the right balance of allowing myself time to create an interesting/satisfying post which will get me several comments for my efforts and the time necessary for people to reply. Do you find you are disappointed when only a few people reply after you push publish only to find in a week your comments garnered a healthy amount?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Cindy.
      Well I naturally enjoy the L13 FC, as I am biased. I agree that it only works occasionally though. As for being faithful to films, there are just too many to do that properly, unless you were being paid for it.
      I also enjoy your five-photo posts, and your fiction previews too. ‘Intellectual’ is a difficult area. People don’t generally like to spend too much time thinking about posts. They like to be entertained. (Reference to another of your post styles..)
      I tend to find on my blog that posts get the most views on the day, but the most comments in the days that follow.
      Two posts a week, or ten, I will always be around to enjoy your thoughts and ideas.
      Best wishes as always, Pete.

      Like

          1. BTW, I enjoyed reading your dream about Madison, Wisconsin. I’ve been there many times, it’s in my region of the U.S. growing up. I thought it fascinating that it could be a premonition or something shared somehow. I wouldn’t mind being visited by Jerry Lewis in my sleep. I thought he was a very talented man.

            Liked by 1 person

  13. I remember getting it all to cock when I started out, when my friend Kathy joined she was pulling her hair out so I made her a screenshot tutorial on how to put a pic in the post! Now it’s just second nature πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Such a timely post, Pete! Yes, it really is a journey and a continual learning process! I was notified by a ‘Memory’ from Facebook today that this is my one year anniversary of blogging. I am happy to have survived the year! I do remember the trepidation around that first post. Oh no, I thought, it’s out there! What if I don’t have anything else to say? But somehow words kept coming. And then there were issues with the technology side.. I was used to having a ‘help desk’ when I was working and could answers to questions quickly. Now I seemed to be on my own and the whole world would see my mistakes! I could go on. But the bottom line is: Blogging is addictive and I love it. I appreciate the blogging community and the friends I have made from all over the world whom I have never even met! thanks again for the post and support for my own blog!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Pete, I’ve been at a crossroad as of late I must say. I was just reading your post about the odd dream you experienced and looking at all of the many comments. I completely understand how a dream pulled seemingly out of a hat can be a tad unnerving.

        It’s always nice to know I’ve been missed from here. I’ll find my way back once I clear all of the cobwebs from this old brain of mine.. Thank you for being who you are and my friend… Take care, Laura

        Liked by 2 people

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