Today is the final day of 31 straight blog posts in Syracuse Wiki. This time around it’s been a bigger challenge for me than it’s been when I’ve done it on other blogs, and I decided to talk about the process and things I’ve learned overall on the journey.

1. Real life can get in the way… if you let it

January blogging challenge

Real life tried to get in the way as of the 23rd of the month when my mother fell in her house. This led to doing a lot of thinking and changing of options and, eventually, we moved Mom into our house… and she’ll be here as long as we can take care of her properly. I began on the 21st by talking about meeting a social worker who showed me the light and set me on the path just before Mom fell, then a few days later talked about situations and processes which eventually led to our deciding to move her here.

It was during this time that I could have dropped out of this writing challenge, since I was the only one doing it, but I got lucky in that I’d written some posts ahead of time and had evenings when I could find the time to write some posts when they were needed. Not every post I put together will be considered for the NY Times 100, but at least I was able to fulfill my own challenge to myself.

2. Writing a local blog is tough when you don’t get out much

One of the reasons I decided a few years ago to branch out into other topics here is because, even though I’ve lived here a long time and like going out to restaurants often, I really don’t leave the house all that much, especially in winter. I also tend to keep going back to the places I like, whether it’s restaurants or entertainment. The only entertainment I allowed myself during the month of January was when I went to see the movie La La Land, and I did a video about it instead of writing about it. In case you’re interested…

Not counting this wrap up article, 15 articles were specifically about central New York, and 3 others were personal stories of mine, all related to my time in the area. That equates to 60% being about local events and such, and I’m going to consider that a success. Still, it also tells me that I really do need to get our more… which I’ve just made a much harder chore since Mom pretty much needs 24/7 care; I’ll have to see how I can work around that.

3. Traffic increased dramatically, but…

Doing this experiment showed me a couple of different things. One, per Google Analytics, my traffic numbers jumped over 300% from the previous two months, which was pretty exciting. I promoted the posts mainly on Twitter, but many of them I also got to promote on Facebook and one of them on LinkedIn because the content fit pretty well.

At the same time, I saw my Alexa ranking drop to the point of nonexistence… which didn’t make any sense, knowing that my traffic increased. It made me do a quick audit of all my sites and I realized that all of them had been dropping in Alexa rank for about 2 months while traffic had either increased or stayed the same. Thus, I was able to conclude that, as my friend Chuck says, Alexa is worthless as a ranking tool and Google Analytics is definitely the way to go.

4. More traffic means more comments

I hadn’t gotten a comment on this blog since September, but I got quite a few, by comparison, in January. The funny thing is that only two people who commented were from the area, and only one of them I didn’t know. The other comments came from people outside central New York, and I knew one of those people (friends are valuable, aren’t they lol).

Comments aren’t necessary but they’re always nice to have. They offer their own type of validation and encourages you to keep writing. People can also be very nice, as I’ve gotten a lot of positive support for making the decision I did with my mother.

5. Niche has its place but content has its place also

As I look back on all the articles I’ve done this month, realizing that the most recent articles won’t fare well at this juncture, I can tell you that out of the top 6 articles I wrote, 3 of them were totally about central New York things, with the article getting the most traffic being the interview I did with Dr. Emad Rahim.

However, the next highest article regarding traffic was about blogging, and that one only came out 5 days ago. It might end up having more legs in the long run because blogging is a pretty intriguing topic, and if that proves to be true then it shows that overall reach is better when you’re trying to reach the masses than only people in your local area… for what that’s worth.

I’m going to stop there because one other thing I’ve learned over the past 5 days is that I’m never sure when Mom is going to show up; she tends to wander, but at least I know she’s not wandering outside of the house anymore. 🙂 This has been a fun journey, and it did inspire one other person to decide to give it a shot. I’ve always said that if I could get one person to do something positive based on something I say or do that I’m ahead of the game… and I am! :-_)

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