From my first like on January 2nd, to my 1,291st (at time of writing), what a six months it’s been!
I started this blog initially as a place for people to come to who wanted to find out more about my book. I knew all along it would be more than that – I wanted to expand on what I was able to put into the book, to draw on the experiences of others, to update information and to use more of my own experiences when we moved to South Africa.
But I don’t think I had any idea how blogging would draw me in, take over my life….since then I have written 118 posts, spent hours crafting, drafting and deleting, hit that publish button while chewing my nails with nerves countless times, watched either views and likes spiralling out of control or tumbleweed blowing through my blog….as all of you know, it’s hard to anticipate what will work and what won’t, which post will be picked up and shared, which ignored. I’ve taken part in blog crawls, link-ups, and blogging parties, written guest posts, had posters guest with me, started a number of series’ of my own and never, ever run out of things I want to write about.
Six months ago, I started out by joining Blogging 101 – the WordPress course for newbies. I found this an excellent way to learn the ropes, to expand on my sketchy knowledge of blogging (and the particular idiosyncracies of WordPress). Through Blogging 101 I met some of my best and most loyal blogging buddies, many of whom have contributed to my blog or who I have collaborated with on theirs. I followed Blogging101 with Photo101 – which I thoroughly enjoyed, and met another bunch of great bloggers.
And so to some stats. I LOVE that you can see how many people have been on your blog and where they are from with WordPress. I HATE that you don’t get to see ALL the searchterms though. This is, you have to admit. one of the best bits about blogging – seeing what bizarre phrases people use to find things.
Because I have written a post about mangoes (When there’s 20 Types of Mangoes but no Bananas: How I chose a name for my book), I do get quite a few people who use the word mango in their search (they must be very disappointed to find that my blog has absolutely nothing to do with the fruit). I also get a lot of people searching for information about Mayotte and landing on my site – possibly because I have done three posts related to Mayotte, and one in particular (People Who Live in Small Places – Mayotte) which offers some very helpful information. I guess there just isn’t that many other blogs out there about Mayotte!
There are some other great search terms but I want to do a separate post on those at some point because I think they deserve a whole post to themselves. But many of the searches really do give an insight into what it is that expats. and in particular expat partners. really are looking for – the words “depression”, “relationships” and “kids”, all in conjunction with the word expat, trailing spouse or similar, are very common.
Moving on to which of my posts has been read the most, it might surprise you that the most popular article by a long way (other than my homepage) has been People Who Live in Small Places: Gibraltar – with 2,588 views – more than double the next most popular one (which also did extremely well – People Who Live in Small Places: Unst). The Gibraltar post was also shared 456 times on Facebook – which just goes to show how important social media still is to blogging visibility.
My most popular non-small places post that isn’t one of my permanent pages is the one I dashed off one morning about depression (Depression and Expat Life – Something We Don’t Talk about Enough). It was on the morning of the Time to Talk campaign’s Take 5 day, which encouraged people not to see mental health as something to hide, but something to open up to others about. I hadn’t been going to write a post that day but it just struck me how important a topic this was for expats, so I decided to put something on the blog. I’m glad I did – the post got lots of shares on Facebook and Twitter and many comments – comments that proved to me this was a topic that needed to be talked about more in the expat world. Overall, that post has had nearly 600 views – but what has struck me isn’t that it’s had lots of views but that the views keep coming. Almost every day someone reads that post. I know it’s a subject I need to follow up and explore further.
Tags and categories also gives some insight into what people are interested in – all those in my top ten relate to expat, expat life, expat partner/trailing spouse, moving abroad, travel and children.
As for countries, I have been viewed by people from an amazing 145 different nations. Unsuprisingly, the country with the most views has been my own (the United Kingdom), followed by the United States. In third place – due 100 per cent to the post about living in a small place – has been a country with one of the smallest populations in the world:Gibraltar; then Australia, France, South Africa, UAE, the Netherlands, Canada and Germany. Again, no huge suprises there – these are the countries where the expats live.
Down the bottom though, things get a little more interesting and I am fascinated to see that I have had visitors from Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, the Falklands and Burma, as well as many other fascinating places. I would love to hear more from these people and what life is like where they live. Even if they are spammers!
My top referrer has, again unsuprisingly, been Facebook (by a long, long way), followed by search engines and Twitter. But then I get into referrers from other blogs – with The New Diplomat’s Wife, Seychelles Mama and Lou Messugo all doing well at sending people my way. Other sites people have visited from on a regular basis includes Mumsnet and Expat Focus (which I write a monthly column for).
Finally – my top commenters. This is an interesting one as this is where I see who my most loyal and faithful supporters are – and to these people I really want to say a big fat thank-you. So in order (after myself, who is my own top commentator!) my Honour Roll is as follows:
In fourth place, with a splendid 18 comments, is….Quilt Musings!
In third place, with an amazing 23 comments is….Curtis, at Diary of a Blogvelist (who wrote the wonderful post about living in Mayotte)
Tying in third place, with another amazing 23 comments, is the lovely Vanessa at Petal and Mortar
In second place, with an impressive 25 comments is….Loisajay from ..on pets and prisoners!
Tying in second place, with another impressive 25 comments is….Liz at Secrets of a Trailing Spouse
And finally, in first place, with a fantastic 47 comments is….Yuliya at Tiny Expats!
So there you go! That’s been my six months. Now tell me – how has it been for you?
Afghanistan picture courtesy of Hadii Zaher