One year ago, I shared the first post for this blog. The idea for writing it had been percolating for several years, and after retiring in May 2020, and being home a lot due to Covid, I started seriously working on it.
Learning the tech side of blogging was fun but there was a lot of trial and error. You need a domain name, web host, and blogging platform, in that order. Also a logo, tag line and a professional photo. I took a class from a local blogger which helped a lot, but as you know technology changes rapidly, and if the sites had changed since my class ( and most of them had), it increased the learning curve. The actual writing of the blog was the easiest part!
Speaking of writing, I started with some tales of my antics as a kid, and then on a list of ideas I had been jotting down for a year. I still have the list and haven’t posted all of the ideas. Sometimes life presented good material too, such as our recent trip to Denver where we used concert tickets on our phone and Lyft for the first time. Thank goodness I didn’t rent those scooters by mistake.
Here are some fun statistics- all from Word Press, and anonymous. In other words, no names attached, just the numbers. I have had readers from 25 countries, primarily the United States, but also England, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico and others. One of the most curious numbers is four from China. My content is so American I think it would lose something in translation, but four Chinese readers show up most weeks. Again, no names, but I think it must be the same four. Quite interesting! Regular readers can also follow the blog and automatically get posts each week. I have 77 followers, and other regular readers who find the post themselves. Facebook and Linkedin are the only social media sites where I share the posts each week, and they are very helpful.
The most read blog post was the one pictured above, about my brother, Bill Brown, and his friend Arthur Ashe. It had hundreds of readers, and was picked up by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and was also published in St. Louis, where Arthur lived when the photo was taken. He was playing in a tournament in Omaha, and my mom baked him a cake. The Omaha World Herald, which published the photo when it was taken, contacted me and ran the photo again during Black History Month in 2021. Dirk Chatelain, the reporter who wrote the updated story, is a gifted writer who captured the essence of that moment from a historical and personal perspective. I am sure my mom was smiling down from heaven at being remembered for her act of kindness so many years ago. She knew 18 year old Arthur had lost his mother at an early age, and was living far from his home in Virginia to be able to play tennis on non segregated courts. His accomplishments were many before dying in his forties. As my brother says, what a guy.
The next most read posts were about Paul Simon playing a concert in my aunt’s living room in small town Iowa, several posts I titled Adventures in Weight Loss, some technology posts about using cell phones, and memories about landlines. Those were all fun to write. Some of my high school classmates are regular readers, and they shared some great memories after my posts about our senior trip to New Orleans, and a cranky teacher named Sr. Evelyn Barbara. Law school classmates have commented on our antics during those three stressful but sometimes fun years . And my extended family have been loyal readers too.
Writing a blog puts your site on the web, so there are occasionally some fun contacts. Last spring, I received an email from a casting agency for a new NBC streaming show that will be produced by Amy Poehler. She currently has one called Making It, where contestants do craft projects and compete for prizes. I was contacted about Baking It, which will have amateur cooks making holiday baked goods. The hosts will be Maya Rudolph and Andy Samberg. Judges will be “four opinionated, real life grandmas who are excellent bakers”. I was contacted about the grandma judging, and honestly replied I wasn’t at the level of baking expertise they were looking for. But how fun to be asked to audition. And I really would have enjoyed meeting Maya and Andy. It premiers on the Peacock streaming platform on December 2, 2021.
One of the things I studied about blogging was how to cover the costs of running one. It’s not overly expensive, but there are some monthly and annual costs. Running ads on posts in a limited way is what I chose to do. It was free for me, which was nice. And since I hate having too many pop up ads when I am reading content online, I went the minimalist route with them. You can only get very basic ads unless you have thousands of readers, and the most profitable ads require a minimum of 10,000 readers a month. Yikes!
Blogs that started long ago, like Huffington Post and Mashable, have millions of readers. But start up blogs today aren’t going to reach such lofty heights, and struggle to be noticed in a crowded space. Without a lot readers sharing your posts or being noticed on search engines, growth is very hard. And with a generic topic like humor, the search engine optimization software I use can only produce so much.
Podcasting is the newest way to reach an audience, and it probably offers more revenue opportunities, but I doubt that is something I will do. WordPress offers a way to have weekly posts read on a podcast but I don’t think my blog lends itself to that format.
So it’s time to sign off, and I want to thank all of you who have been regular readers. It’s fun to hear from you when you like a post. I plan to keep the site up and running until 2022 since many of the posts still get noticed, but I don’t plan to add weekly content. If something really funny happens I may pop back up with a post, but who knows? There’s also a chance I will rebrand the site and graphics and do something new next spring or summer. Too hard to predict at the moment.
In closing, I hope the blog has brightened your day and made you laugh. Your support has been a bright spot the past year, and I appreciate every one of you!