Today I read an article on Daily Blog Tips entitled What Are Your Internet Goals for 2009? Group Writing Project. The timing was perfect. Just yesterday I was thinking about the direction my site is taking and what I hope to accomplish with it in the future. I’ve been blogging for almost five years. When I first started it was to have a place to write about my experiences while studying abroad. But since then I’ve branched out and it’s become one of my favorite hobbies.
So, this post will be my entry into that writing project. But before I list out my goals I’d like to take a close look at where I believe my site is missing the mark and why that might be.
The Current State of Affairs
This was on my mind yesterday because I was drastically editing my site’s sidebar. I’ve decided to put a greater emphasis there on how visitors can network and dialogue with me rather than the previous emphasis on content I liked that was on other sites. But even though I’m happy with the changes, I started to wonder whether it would really help. I mean, if people aren’t coming to my site it doesn’t really matter what the sidebar looks like, right?
First, before we go any further, you might be wondering how I know whether anyone is visiting my site or not. My two primary references are the number of page hits according to the WordPress.com Stats plugin and the number of subscribers to my syndication feed according to FeedBurner. The number of subscribers is visible to everyone on my site’s sidebar in the little FeedBurner chicklet.
I think I can point to a few reasons why my site doesn’t attract much traffic, and it has little to do with its construction. I blame the content. Not that it’s poorly written, but it’s both infrequent and broad in its scope. I’ve gotten to the point where I only post a few times each month. This will be the forty-third post to my blog this year, but I’ve only written twenty-two since May 1. Since I tend to go long stretches without much meaningful content, why should I expect any readers? Further compounding the problem, this is a personal website, so I write about the things I like. So, while this week I’m writing about blogging, previous weeks have found me writing about campus ministry, technology, sports, music, movies, and the simple everyday happenings of my life. I don’t have a well-defined niche, which tends to discourage long-term readers, especially those who don’t know me in real life.
The other element at work here is that the vast majority of my real life friends are also my friends on Facebook, where I automatically import my posts as Notes. Nearly all the comments left on my writing is left there. That’s fine and I’m grateful. The only sad part is I can’t measure how much traffic my writing is attracting over there.
Now, I won’t completely leave my site’s design blameless. If you land on the homepage it’s probably difficult to know what my site is all about. Adding a little bit of clarification here and there wouldn’t be a bad idea.
My Goals for 2009
In spite of the obstacles inherent with my site, I do believe I can do better than I’m doing now. So, here’s my list of blogging goals for 2009:
- Two posts per week (a minimum of 104 next year)
- Forty total RSS subscribers (current total: 20)
- Add an original video at least once each month
- Ten new blogosphere Facebook friends (that I don’t know in real life, current total: 10)
- One hundred fifty followers on Twitter (current total: 44)
- Consistently attract over 100 page hits each week
- A redesigned site that better sorts the broad scope of topics I cover
- Encourage membership in my blog’s online communities (on Technorati, Facebook, MyBlogLog and Google Friend Connect)
Some of these are more difficult than others. In theory, writing two posts each week won’t be difficult. But most of next year I’ll be taking a grad class and volunteering for the Navigators on top of working a full-time job. That doesn’t leave a lot of free time. New subscribers should come as the consistency and quality of my writing improves. I’ve asked for a Flip MinoHD for Christmas, which would help in the video department. Adding new friends on Facebook is just a matter of finding other bloggers who want to network there. The Twitter goal should be easy, since I’ve been seeing about three new followers each week for a couple months now. The page hits, again, should come with more consistent writing. The redesign might begin over my Christmas holiday. I might even finish before 2009 gets here! The online communities goal is the one about which I have the least vision, but I may develop the idea further down the road.
How You Can Help Me Reach My Goals
Well, the way I see it, you could:
- Subscribe to my blog via RSS or email (What is RSS?)
- Bloggers, friend me on Facebook
- Follow me on Twitter
- Join my blog communities: Technorati, Facebook, MyBlogLog, or Google Friend Connect
- Visit my site!
And to my Tallahassee peeps: if you’ve got an idea for a video that wouldn’t be too over-the-top to put together (remember, I’m working, schooling, Navigator-ing) I’d be happy to help put it together and post it on my site.
If you have an idea for my site, ranging from ways to attract new visitors to ideas for content, please share it in the comments. I’d love to hear any constructive criticism you have and will certainly consider any advice you give.