31 days later: Did I build a better blog?

I wasn’t going to do it. I wasn’t going to participate in the “31 days to build a better blog at yeah write weekly writing challenge.”

I can’t spend money on some workbook about blogging. We’ve got the car payment, the insurance is due, there’s Philip occupational therapy plus all the regular expenses. I can’t waste money on this.

Then I read this:

We’ll be posting the daily workbook exercises for you here on yeah write. If you want, you can look over our shoulder as we go along.
Okay. So I don’t have to shell out any money. Maybe I can do this.

I added my link to the blog roll and immediately panicked.

I’m not one of those real bloggers with tons of followers. My posts don’t viral or get published on other websites. I’m not going to make money off of this. What’s the point?

Hoping that no one would notice if I didn’t actually participate, I anxiously awaited the instructions in the first post. Since I didn’t have the workbook, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew every day was going to be a surprise, but I didn’t realize how right I was.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed completing the tasks. I was surprised by the support and feedback from other participants. I was surprised by the comments of readers on how they really liked a particular change or noticed that my writing was improving. But the biggest surprise is that now that the thirty-one days are over, I’m more committed to the concept of building a better blog than on Day 1.

On that first day, I had to really think about why I blog. The why affects everything: what I write about, how I write it, when I publish and for whom. Even though I began blogging for myself, as soon as I invited others to read, I could no longer be selfish. The benefit, however, of acknowledging that others do visit this blog is that I have motivation to improve the experience for both myself and for my readers.

Even though this project is billed as lasting thirty-one days, there really is no way to complete all of the tasks well in a single month. I didn’t do all of the activities because I just didn’t have the time to do them in more than a cursory way.
This post will be a place holder. I’ve listed the tasks for each day. I’ve linked to the writing assignments that I published or blog features improved. For those days that did not require the crafting of a particular type of post or page, I will instead write about what I learned by doing the tasks. As I have time, I will work on the rest of the activities and link up the posts that they inspire.

Day 1: write an elevator pitch
Day 2: create a list post
Day 3:  promote a blog post
Day 4:  analyze a successful blog in your niche
Day 5:  email a blog reader
Day 6:  make the blog mobile-friendly
Day 7:  come up with 10 post ideas
Day 8:  develop an editorial calendar for our blog
Day 9:  write a link post
Day 10:  set up alerts to monitor what’s happening in your community
Day 11:  create a sneeze page
Day 12:  join a forum and start participating
Day 13:  take a trip to the mall
Day 14:  update a key page
Day 15:  leave good comments on other blogs
Day 16:  write an opinion post
Day 17:  watch a first-time reader use your blog
Day 18:  join a blogging community
Day 19:  solve a problem (not solved, but I attracted more readers than fruit flies with this post)
Day 20:  choose a social media space to focus on
Day 21:  conduct a policy review
Day 22: pay special attention to a reader
Day 23: use a literary magazine to improve the blog
Day 24:  call to action
Day 25:  ask a question
Day 26:  improve someone else’s blog (@shyvish gave me credit for inspiring her to change the layout of her blog, Diary of a Doting Mom)
Day 27:  hunt for dead links
Day 28:  develop a plan to boost your blog’s profile and readership online
Day 29: monitor your blog stats
Day 30: write a review post
Day 31: plan the next steps

I hope my readers will indulge me over the next few months as I occasionally blog about blogging. I’ve always learned best by writing it out. My goal is that the completion of the exercises will lead to better written posts published on a site that is pleasing to the eye. I hope to make each visit to that cynking feeling one that makes you glad you stopped by, makes you want to visit again and makes you want to share with your friends.

Since we’re in this together, I’d like to hear from you. Which of my posts for #31dbbb did you enjoy the most? Why? What do you think of the new theme? What problems do you encounter trying to navigate the site? I look forward to your feedback in the comments. If you’re feeling shy, feel free to use the contact form that I added as part of #31dbbb.

Improving my blog one step at a time

Improving my blog one step at a time

Linking up with the Yeah Write Weekend Moonshine Grid. Stop by to read other stories or add your own.


23 thoughts on “31 days later: Did I build a better blog?

  1. I have to say I LOVE the new lay out. It’s a lot cleaner (for lack of a better word).

    I’m like you… still chipping away at 31dbbb but psyched about the concept of bettering my blog… so I’m looking forward to your upcoming 31dbbb posts.

    Keep it up, cynk! Love your blog!


    1. Thanks! Flood G gets so much credit for helping me make this look better.
      Glad to see that you are keeping up with the project, too. I read your post about your “about” page (ha!). I look forward to seeing what bits of biography you include in the end result.


  2. Your blog looks great! The changes you have made are really nice! You did much better than I did on this challenge. I think I only actually completed two or three of them, but July was a super busy month. Like you, I was pleasantly surprised by the interaction and support. I just wish I could have participated more. I’m gonna take a page from your book and continue to work on these things!


    1. I’ve read several bloggers’ comments beating themselves up for not finishing. I say, ‘Then finish!” Maybe not right now, but the resource is there to use when you do have the time.


  3. I also like the changes. Looks great! I enjoy reading your posts, even if I don’t always respond. I should do one of these challenges one of these days…


    1. I understand. I read your posts (and others), struggle to find an appropriate comment or just don’t have time and then forget.
      I highly recommend you visit the link to the archive for this challenge. You’ll find the instructions, see the discussions and have links to examples. Give a shout if you need some feedback or have questions. I’ll help as best I can.


  4. I love your new blog layout also, it looks spectacular. I’m also still working my way through all the 31 days. I thought I would follow daily, but then life and summer and things happened, so I’m playing catch-up.


  5. Ditto, I like the new layout! I feel the same way you do…I don’t have a massive amount of followers, don’t make money from blogging, do I really need to do this, etc. But I finally decided if I’m going to do something, I should do it as well as I possibly can. And I learned so much along the way. Still cutting through many of the tasks on the lists (hello, elevator pitch that I still haven’t finished), but I’m committed to doing it all, eventually. Glad to have found your blog as part of the process!


    1. Thanks!
      Smart move linking your review post to the Moonshine Grid. I think everyone who missed linking up during July should take advantage of the weekend grid for getting feedback.


  6. I really like your new layout, and I’ve always loved the name of your blog! Congrats on participating in the building the better blog exercise. I thought about it, but it seemed way too overwhelming. Thanks for listing all of the activities here. Maybe I’ll give some of them a try.


  7. I like the clean, distraction-free theme. There’s nothing worse than being side-tracked by flash banners and an overkill of options and icons on the sides!

    Good luck on the blog-improvement journey!


  8. Love the new look! Sadly, I have had a VERY busy spring and summer. I’ve hardly been blogging or reading blogs at all. I hope to make up for that in Sept!


  9. I’m woefully behind, which is even worse considering that I wrote a few of the #31dbbb posts. Ack! I have sworn that I will get through them…although I have little motivation to change up my own blog. Still…this post inspired me to at least consider it. So, thanks for that!


  10. Well, I’m gonna have to come back and read through your links in order to answer you. But what’s obvious, is that you changed your layout a bit and you are obviously conscious of your blog. Do you know what I mean? It’s not just there, you know?

    I did this with SITS last year. It helped me a lot too, but I think a refresher is never a bad idea.


  11. I really wish I had focused more on this. It just wasn’t in the cards for me. I have the book, I have great support (because all of you yeah writers are so wonderful) so I know I can go back as I’m ready and able. I’m about to embark on a blog makeover, so I want to put in the energy. I’m so glad that others were able to go through and take away so much from it. I look forward to (eventually) go through all the exercises.


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