Sunday, April 7, 2013

What I've Learned in the 365 Challenge

So, a few days ago I and most of the rest of the bloggers who're doing the 365-post challenge rounded the first curve.  Out of 365 total posts (at the proposed rate of one per day), number 91 is very nearly one fourth of the way there, and 92 is past the quarter point.  It's not quite the home stretch yet, but it's solidly into the race, and much farther along than some of us (including me) feared we'd make it.

And you know what?  I didn't even notice.  I just kept plodding along, one post after another.  I only noticed yesterday, in fact, because someone else in the group mentioned the number thing.

"Oh, right.  Hey, isn't that cool?  Now let's keep writing."

So what have I accomplished in these 96, now 97 with this one, posts over a period of just over three months?  I've hit on a wide variety of topics.  I've posted about West Point, Ranger school, lasagna, accreditation, several other authors, deeply-felt emotions, and--well, lots of other stuff.  I can certainly appreciate now why someone who does a single-topic blog would drop down to just a post or two per week, merely from the pressure of building that much single-focus content.  I don't know if I could do it.

That said, I've dramatically increased the volume (and variety) of content on the blog, which in turn has dramatically increased the number of people popping on by.  If you recall my post from February 9, I was projecting that within a couple of days I'd see the 20,000th hit since the blog began in February, 2011.  The next day it happened: two years, 20,000 hits.  Now, just a little less than two months later, I'm nearing 24,000.  It's interesting to watch the pages gathering the hits, too.  My new content has a steady stream coming in, but the less-new is also apparently coming up in peoples' search engines.  Part of that is that I've changed the way I title the pieces, starting to use key words instead of esoteric stuff that only makes sense once you finish the post.  But I think much of the increase in traffic is, purely and simply, a response to the increase in quantity of stuff to look at. 

There's no question that I've become a better writer.  No, really; go back and read some of my older stuff.  There's a big difference, in spite of the fact that I used to self-edit each blog post at least twice, each time separated by at least an hour or two, before hitting the Publish button.  Now I read back over, make the inevitable changes, and go.

Topics are way easier to come by, too.  That's probably, in fact, the greatest change I've seen.  I used to sit and fret, knowing I needed to make a post and wondering what could possibly be interesting enough to write about at that moment.  Now that I've been working that Idea Muscle with all the reps, the ideas come more frequently and easily, by far.  All I usually have to do is spin down my Facebook feed once and see some of the interesting things my Friends are saying or posting, and bam!  Idea generated, post triggered.

So--to all of you reading this, thank you for putting up with me through the past 392 published posts.  It's been both a fun and educational journey so far, and I look forward to much more of both in the future.


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