It has been 30 days since I joined the group 30 Day Blog Challenge. I scheduled this post in my editorial calendar to remind me to check in on how I did with the challenge. Truth is I am still doing it!
I joined this challenge after connecting with a fellow educator in a #satchat about ways to post to your blog consistently. When I suggested joining a MOOC to supply the content from your coursework and he suggested blog challenges. I had not tried a blog challenge, of course intrigued, I and ended up joining this Facebook group. Prior to that I had never posted my education blog to Facebook. In the midst of this challenge I found the TeachThoughtOnlineCommunity and the January Blog Challenge – Reflect and Review in 2015. The #ReflectiveTeacher challenge supplied a prompt daily for a month.
Although I scheduled this post for 30 days after joining the challenge I am only on post 19/30 complete. But I feel I am understanding some of the ways it is changing how I blog.
I struggled with what to write more often than I was writing in the past. In this challenge I have utilized the WordPress editorial calendar and have found a forever friend! I need that calendar layout and the ability to drag and drop my posts around until I see a good progression/pattern. This helps me to think about topics and content on a continuum, so that ideas can go in one post or the next. I am also more diligent with recording ideas I have for a post by starting a draft by that title in the WordPress app immediately when I think of something, know I can drag and drop it around my calendar later.
In retrospect, I liked using a MOOC as a platform for blogging because the content was pre-identified. While I started the 30 day challenge before the #ReflectiveTeacher challenge, once I looked at the #ReflectiveTeacher challenge I felt a relief. I immediately compared the prepared #ReflectiveTeacher prompts with my editorial calendar for days I could fill with #ReflectiveTeacher prompts and reorder my editorial calendar.
The remaining challenge for me is time. Time to develop my idea in writing. Time to go back and revise my posts. This burden is lightened when some of the preliminaries are removed. When I am not trying to generate ideas or considering flow of post topics I find it easier to write. I like to automate my sharing of posts for this reason as well. I also gained some time by extensive use of the editorial calendar in WordPress.
These little things matter to someone who is not organically excited to write.
I have stepped up my efforts to comment on other people’s blogs. This seems easier, or more important now. When I am writing more frequently, I sense the time and care with which these posts were crafted, so I want to comment/offer encouragement to others like me. Since joining the 30 Day Blog Challenge and the #ReflectiveTeacher January challenge I have enjoyed 12 meaningful comments from peers. What exciting fuel to continue sharing! Considering I have 21 total comments on my blog; that is a huge jump in participation by readers. It makes me want to continue to comment on others posts after these challenges to build up a circle of encouraging, yet critical peers.
I still utilize If This Than That for automated sharing to Tumblr, Twitter. Currently, I use WordPress to share to Google+. I manually add pages to StumbleUpon if I think the post might generate interest there. I manually share to LinkedIn and Pinterest when the content is appropriate for each of those platforms as well. This challenge is the first time I’ve posted to Facebook however. In the past I have kept Facebook social while my other networks educational. After this challenge I don’t see the harm in continuing to cross-post my blog to Facebook if the content is really good.
Since starting this challenge I have only had one week with less than three posts, and that was the week of Christmas with two posts (so I am cutting myself some slack). Other than that I am posting three times a week at least. That is not daily, but it is an improvement over my sporadic posting before picking up this challenge.
One mini-goal was to see how my Teach 100 ranking would be impacted. The formula for Teach 100 rankings includes Facebook and StumbleUpon shares. I have never posted Hot Lunch Tray to either of those before, but I tried it for this challenge. I manually shared to both of these platforms as I was nervous about appearing to spam anyone and honestly, I didn’t really understand how the content would/would not be viewable. The day of my first post to the Challenge I was ranked 692 and as of this post I am ranked 627. I do not attribute posting to Facebook and StumbleUpon with the rise, as I did not see a dramatic rise in the shares which are part of the calculation, but the frequency/recency of my posts accounted for the big improvement.
Imagine. Posting frequently. I know, I know.
I also kept track, although not as tightly of my ranking in the eLearning Feeds. They don’t publish their formula and I don’t understand it. Unless they like my less technical posts lately.
|The ranking for eLearning Feeds was more volatile.I collected fewer data points on this data and it was not entirely clear why my ranking declined.It is possible more blogs were being listed on this feed. It is possible my topics were increasingly off topic to this ranking formula (not published).|
I need to compare myself to me.To do so WordPress allows me some statistics on visits to my posts. I am please to see that outside my summer months this month has been huge. The average visits per day really stands out to me.
|I do not want to rely on rankings which cause me to compare myself to those who write for a living.|
I would encourage any blogger to find an appropriate challenge and join. Things I have learned: you need to know if you require prompts or if a topic is enough, it is a good idea to get a snapshot of statistics you will use to gauge your success as close to the date of start as possible. Cultivate the mindset that you are trying something new – and you can’t be wrong when you are doing that!