Looking Back…Moving Forward: Growing Pains and Pleasures

**Spoiler Alert: this post is a little lengthier than others, but still about 1000 words….I’m so sorry if you’re looking for a shorter read today. I’m catching up on a week’s worth of “assignments,” or challenges, given by The Daily Post for Blogging 201… Please, feel free to peruse through some of the Poetry or Lessons Learned categories (widgets to the right) to find a little shorter post.**

Well, here I am again trying my hand at Blogging 201… I did this back in October, but I thought, “Hey, what can it hurt to attempt it again and see how much I’ve “grown” in blogging over the past four months?” If you’re curious to read those first notes on blogging, back in October, you can catch up here. This is the weekend, and yes, I’m playing a little catch up, as I didn’t start on Monday, and the week simply got away before I realized Blogging 201 had started again; however, that’s sometimes, just what the weekends are for, right? …to catch up. So, here we go. Hope you have fun reading!

Day 1 of Blogging 201 – Goal Setting

To do a short recap..my goals back in October were:  “3 Goals to Accomplish by January 31, 2015”:  (1) Consistently post on my blog at least twice weekly. (2)Gain 100 followers by January 31, 2015. (3) Spend one hour each week visiting my followers’ blogs, reading their posts, and commenting on their work, from now until January 31, 2015.  Thankfully, I was able to be consistent to blog twice and, sometimes, more than twice a week; however, I did run into a snag here and there when I would go several days without blogging at all; so, I will probably keep this goal on my next list. Thanks to YOU, my nice followers and those who drop by from time to time, I reached the 100 followers long before January 31. That was a sweet moment in time! 🙂 I was pretty consistent with spending an hour each week visiting other bloggers; however, once Christmas time rolled around, and I had the boys home fulltime for a few weeks, I got quite distracted with other priorities. That will return to the goals list, as well, for this quarter.

2015 Goal Setting – This time, I think I’ll set 5 goals to Accomplish by May 31, 2015:

1. Consistently post on my blog three times a week.

2. Gain 20-25% more followers by May 31.

3. Spend at least one hour weekly reading other blogs and sending “encouraging notes” to as many as possible.

4. Create a new weekly feature, for reader’s pleasure and just for fun, by March 1, and post each week through June 1. (feature title to soon be announced!)

5. Create a separate blog for my husband’s posts, thoughts and musings by April 1. …We’ve been thinking about this but have yet to put it into action.

Whew! Okay, that is completed… I don’t know why goal setting, sometimes, can be so difficult for me. I can make a checklist and plan out things to accomplish today, tomorrow and all next week; however, to set long-term goals, I always have in the back of my mind, “What if I fail?” “What if I let someone down?” So, often, I will struggle to push the hesitation and fear aside and keep the determination and focus at the center. When I actually do set the long-term goals, and I set my mind to accomplish them, I always end up with incredible results: I either succeed with “flying colors,” or I realize the areas in which I need to improve, and I’m able to see that a little learning and hard work will help me to succeed again.

Day 2 of Blogging 201 – Audit Your Brand

Looking over the checklist, I think, maybe, I’ve got this one covered…theme matches blog’s intent…font and color choices are congruent with the “grist mill” theme. My title and tagline compliment one another. My post titles, about page,  username/nickname, and widgets all seem to correlate with the blog’s intent, or rather, my brand: this is a grist mill. Every word I type is a tiny grain needing to be “ground,” in order to bring forth a pure thought and a wholesome content upon which others can be encouraged and uplifted, and then, ultimately, that these simple “grains” might bring glory to my God. As far as the visual identity being consistent with the elements of this blog, they seem to support my brand…So, what do you think?? (*Please, do respond! I’d love to hear your thoughts about it! 😉 )

Day 3 of Blogging 201 – Get Read All Over

Mobile-friendly and responsive design? It seems to be…

Day 4 of Blogging 201 – Give ‘Em What They Want

I’m still getting the hang of stats and editorial calendars…Looking over the stats, aside from the home/archive page, and the About Me and Why I am Here pages, the top 3 most viewed posts for 2014 were Beautiful Praise, Life In The Little Things, and Eyes of Mercy.  The most likes seem to be on categories “Lessons Learned” and “Poetry,” while the most searches seem to be on tags of “grace” and “eternity.” So, even though, I don’t think I’m ready to tackle the editorial calendar quite yet tonight, this does give me a good idea to know where to start focusing my different blog posts, thoughts and ideas. Over this next week, as I have more time, I will look over these stats more and see what days of the week and which weeks of the year seem to have higher traffic, and this will help me with posting times and consistency.

Day 5 of Blogging 201 – Make the Most of Your Archives

Bring your archives “back to life” … I think I might have done this pretty well by linking to several in this blog, as well as, creating widgets on the right side of my blog which can direct the reader to my archives, as well as, give a running list of “Fresh Grounds” (most recent posts), and “Your Favorite Grains” (reader’s most liked posts)…So, yea, I do believe that one might be covered, too! 😉

Okay, so “Operation: Catch Up” seems to be complete…Now, maybe I can rest tomorrow and get ready for the rest of next week! If you stuck it out for the duration, I hope you enjoyed your reading!