Welcome to our newest guest blogger, Sarah Sammis, who shares her own blogging journey, and offers tips for anyone interested in joining the trip through the Blogosphere.
My blogging journey:
I’ve had my website, A Book Review since the summer of 1997 but I’ve only been using it as a blog since 2004. Those first seven years I mostly used it to highlight my artwork and to practice my web design skills. By 2004 I had let my site languish. The content except for the Digital Art Gallery was stale and the site design was out of the dark ages.
Redesigning the site and making it pretty though wasn’t enough. I needed something to motivate me to keep it updated on a regular basis. I found that motivation in a second passion of mine: books. When I first started blogging though, I tried to keep my topics a mixture of web design, books, films and news. You can go back and see just how different my Puss Reboots Blog was. I keep the old pages to see how I’ve grown as a blogger.
At the same time that I was blogging I was also becoming active in BookCrossing and the three tenets of the site are: “read, review and release.” BookCrossing does have a method for posting reviews on its site but I soon realized all the work I was doing for reviewing these books I should be putting into my own website.
So in 2006 I decided to turn my haphazard blog into a proper one. Since my site grew organically from a flat rendered HTML site and the blog was done in the same method I had to learn how to generate my own RSS feed. I still hand code the XML that I send out as my RSS feed, although I now also have Feedburner offer a version of my feed. Some readers feel more comfortable subscribing to Feedburner than to a site they’ve never heard of. One third of my subscribers opt for Feedburner.
Last January I realized my monthly blog pages were getting too unwieldy. Readers with slower connections were having trouble getting specific posts to load and I had no easy way of tracking who was looking at what. So I began to structure my blog differently and to slowly retrofit the previous years with the new and more efficient structure. It took me all of 2009 to do the retrofit. Now I am in the process of checking my links and debugging my work.
My newest project is to make the site-wide navigation more efficient and consistent. I’ve already put the changes in place in my blog (which gets the largest percentage of my traffic) and on my art gallery. I’m already seeing results via Google’s webmaster tools and in the form of higher and stickier traffic on Google analytics.
My advice to other bloggers is keep at it. Ask questions. Use the free tools that are out there. Learn the basics of HTML but mostly concentrate on your content. Find your voice. Use a spell checker. Check your grammar too. Break the rules but know that you’re breaking them.
Thanks for joining us today, Sarah, and offering us the opportunity to glimpse your blogging journey from the very beginning.