A Blogging Odyssey: Week 1 – Taking Inventory by Analyzing My Blog

Blogging is hard work. There’s no sense lying about it or trying to deceive you. It requires a lot of commitment, time, and energy.

However, it also pays enormous dividends when you find you are able to help make someone’s life just a little bit better. (Read a recent experience of this at Monday Motivation: Don’t Give Up.) For many bloggers, there is also the possibility of making a real living from it.

I am not one of those bloggers . . . well, not yet.

This new series will chronical my odyssey as I strive to become a truly successful and profitable blogger.

What's it really like to be a mental health blogger? Can a blog really grow and make a real income from blogging? Follow this journey as one blogger tests the waters and documents each step along the way. | #blog #blogging #blogger

Why A Blogging Odyssey?

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of ‘odyssey’ is: “a long wandering or voyage usually marked by many changes of fortune.” Nothing could describe blogging more perfectly.

The last year has definitely been a “wandering,” and so far the changes in fortune, at least monetarily, have all been negative. Hopefully 2019 will be the year when that change switches to the positive.

It’s not really my first week of blogging. Speaking Bipolar was started on February 26, 2018 with the first post being Familial Mediterranean Fever – What is it?

That first post was written in response to my diagnosis with an illness that very few people have heard of before. I had grown weary of constantly explaining what FMF is and how it affects me. So, instead, I created a blog post where I could just send people a link rather than tell my story again and again.

Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF) is an auto-inflammatory disease that causes pain, especially in the abdomen. Post from a patient living with it. | #FMF #FamilialMediterraneanFever #PatientStory

If you have a chronic illness, you know that there are days when you just can’t even go there. Hence, a blog was born.

If you look at that post, you will clearly see that I had no idea what I was doing. It’s 376 days later, today being March 9, 2019, and I still don’t know what I’m doing, but I feel like I’m finally on the right path.

Usually I don’t include dates in my posts, but I want to with this series so anyone can look back at any time and see precisely where I was at any given moment of the journey.

That and I find it extremely frustrating for bloggers to write about how amazingly successful they are but then not tell you how long it took for them to get to that point.

I want to know how long and painful the road was, how many times they thought about giving up, and what inspired them to keep going. That’s what I hope to share with you through this series.

Why Document My Progress?

Why am I willing to document my progress with developing my blog, especially since most people won’t be interested in reading it? There are two reasons.

One, it will make me accountable. I am working through a blogging course and knowing that I have to publish weekly or monthly progress reports will force me to keep moving forward.

Two, far too many bloggers don’t tell you just how hard blogging is or how long it takes to make it to success. I want to be different and show you everything, warts and all.

Note, for the record, I don’t really have warts, but I do have a double chin, and that, to me, is far worse.

Another wonderful benefit will hopefully be the encouragement and positive comments that you, my wonderful readers, will leave along the way.

What’s Been Accomplished So Far?

As was already mentioned, I had no idea what I was doing when I started a blog last year. No idea whatsoever. Instead, I had an idea and a desire to help others and just sat down and started a blog.

It was something I had thought about doing for years and decided to finally go ahead and start and figure it out along the way.

I invested in a few small blogging training courses and guides along the way, some which were helpful and some not so much. A few ebooks on blogging were utterly abysmal and packed with spelling and grammar errors, not to mention worthless information. I will share more about the useful courses in future posts.

There was a certain amount of success obtained during that time. For one, I developed a small social media following. As you can see below, it’s nothing earth-shattering, but it means something to me because just one year ago, all of those numbers were zero.

Social media stats for Speaking Bipolar chronically a blogger's journey. Facebook had 133 likes, WordPress 152 followers, PInterest 1519 followers, and Twitter 6133 followers.
Social Media stats for early March 2019.

Playing favorites…

Twitter is my favorite social media and where I spend the most time. That likely is why my followers are so much higher on that platform.

My Instagram journey just began this week, so I don’t have any numbers to report there. Click on Instagram to follow me.

For blog posts, I had written 31 up to that point, with a grand total of around 38,000 words. The last part surprises me because the thought of writing just 500 words when I first started seemed impossible.

If writing long blog posts (1000-2000 words or more) scares you, don’t let it. Just start writing. The more you write, the easier it gets. If I can do it, anyone can.

What Lesson Was Learned?

Probably a lesson we all need to keep learning over and over again is not to give up. Last fall, I let discouragement and frustration get me down to the point that I walked away from my blog for over four months.

As you can see in the graphic below, things were improving. There was positive momentum and growth. In fact, I walked away around September 22, and October ended up being my best month to date.

I can’t say what my thought process was other than the fact that I was trying to do too many things and collapsed under the pressure. I talk a little about it in the post Bipolar Musings: Chronic Illness Adventures and Running Into Walls.

Page view and visitor stats for Speaking Bipolar blog. February 2019 had over 5000 page views.
Page Views and Visitors by month as of 3/9/2019.

What’s different now? Why have I decided to try to move forward again?

Simply put, it’s because I’ve learned that no matter how manic I may get, I can’t do everything. (You may have to remind me of that in the coming months.)

I was trying to run two blogs (one is now completely shut down), write a book, launch a freelance writing career, take a writing course, and make an income all at the same time.

It was too much. I knew it was too much, but didn’t know how to choose what to focus on. The best decision seemed to be to drop everything for a while and then pick things back up one by one.

Part of how I was feeling at the time is in the post, Bipolar, Chronic Illness & Spinning Plates.

And money wins…

Money won out, as it often does, and I started a new career in the bookkeeping field in November 2018. I am enjoying it very much, and the best part is that after tax season, it will be part-time work that will allow me the time needed to spend on developing a blog.

The other blog, which was not getting much traffic anyway, is now completely gone. It was too much to try to launch and grow two blogs with the limited time and energy I had.

My freelance writing career is also on the back burner for now. I have not given up completely, but I’ve placed it on hold until after tax season. Slowly I will work it back in to my schedule as a side hustle.

Quote: "Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat." by F. Scott Fitzgerald. | What's it really like to be a mental health blogger? Can a blog really grow and make a real income from blogging? Follow this journey as one blogger tests the waters and documents each step along the way. | #blog #blogging #blogger

Am I Making an Income?

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have made a little money from ad income and affiliate sales. To date that number stands at about $121 US in total. That’s after 12 full months of blogging, an average of about $10/month, and only a fraction of what I have paid out to maintain and promote my blog, not to mention all the blogging courses and books.

Any reasonably minded business person would look at that kind of loss and tell me to walk away. Maybe next year I will. However, this week I learned that my blog is actually reaching and helping people. To me, that makes all of the expense so far worth it.

Maybe in the next 12 months I can help two or three more people. Maybe more. If so, I will count this blog as a success.

Focus Is the Key

In order to be successful at anything, you need to be able to focus. Putting aside the things that weren’t working, I am now placing my focus on Speaking Bipolar.

Here’s my plan, which will likely evolve a lot (hence the “wandering” in the odyssey definition above) over the coming weeks and months as I find my way.

The goal is to publish at least three posts per week and a newsletter, but I will settle for one post and the newsletter. (The newsletter is short and usually takes less than an hour to write. Be sure to sign up if you are not already an email subscriber. The subscription form is in the sidebar or you can click here.)

So the journey, my odyssey, begins anew. I hope you will come back and share in the expedition with me.

The important thing is focus, forward movement, and a refusal to quit.

If you enjoyed this post, you will also enjoy the Monday Motivation series. Read Why You Should Take Notes next.

What's it really like to be a mental health blogger? Can a blog really grow and make a real income from blogging? Follow this journey as one blogger tests the waters and documents each step along the way. | #blog #blogging #blogger
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4 thoughts on “A Blogging Odyssey: Week 1 – Taking Inventory by Analyzing My Blog

  1. Ugh, yes. Earning from writing seems to be an oxymoron, or impossibility, or some other large word. But you, my friend, are providing a HUGE helping voice to those living with mental health struggles, and those living with those people living with mental health struggles. I admire you taking on this odyssey, and look forward to every step of the way! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Jean! You are always so positive and encouraging. I look forward to your comments.

      On making money as a writer, I see that you got a Kirkus review. I’m finishing up my first novel now. Was Kirkus worth the investment?

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