Hundreds day

My daughter’s elementary school used to have “Hundreds Day” — a day when there would be a slew of number activities based around 100. The kids would count out 100 m&ms, jump rope a hundred times, sort 100 plastic shapes, and so on. Of course it was always the hundredth day of school.

This is my 100th blog post! I started in early November 2009, and have slightly exceeded my goal of doing one post per week.

Here’s what I’ve learned in my first century of posts:

  • Well, I can do it! Before starting, I wondered if I would have enough stuff to say to maintain a steady stream of posts. At this relatively mellow rate, the answer appears to be yes. I haven’t even had to resort to posting YouTube videos of stupid cat tricks.
  • I also enjoy the style. When I wrote Where Girls Come First, I was surprised how hard it was to break out of the just-the-facts newspaper style that had been drummed into me over the years. Write with tone of voice? with adjectives? With more words than are strictly necessary? That was all a struggle. So part of what I wanted to do with this blog was  work on writing informally, with personality and voice. I think I’ve managed to do that pretty well.
  • Humility. Considering I did absolutely no promotion or marketing, I was pleased that the blog was getting a steady stream of visitors. Then at a certain point I realized that lots of my visitors were coming to the site for…. an image I had posted of the Chutes & Ladders board game.

Yes, apparently hundreds of people every week feel compelled to look for pictures of Chutes & Ladders. They do a Google Image search for “chutes and ladders,” or sometimes “shoots and ladders.” (Kudos to our educational system.) And up pops yours truly’s blog post in which she compared fiction writing to that old board game. Try it — Google Images and “chutes and ladders”.  You’ll see. And my visitor count will go up.

More seriously, I wonder after a hundred posts if there is a way to gain just a few more readers.

Social media experts suggest expanding your audience by hunting for other blogs on related topics, posting comments on those blogs, and being witty/interesting enough that people are then drawn to your blog. I am sure that makes sense for some people, but it seems like an awful lot of work to put in for something that is a spare-time hobby.

I also wonder if this blog is too diffuse to draw readers who don’t know me personally. It’s not laser-focused on a particular hot topic like College Admissions  Confidential, Everything Apple, or Foreshadowings of Sarah Palin in the Book of Revelation. Sometimes it’s about Jewish stuff, sometimes it’s about writing, sometimes it’s about who-knows-what. Would that be of interest to folks beyond my circle of friends and friends-of-friends?

Here’s an experiment to celebrate post # 100.

IF you feel like it — and only if — tell one friend about Midlife Bat Mitzvah and send them the link. Maybe we can double the readership for the next hundred posts?

And if not, at least your friend will know where to find a really good picture of the Chutes and Ladders board.

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5 Responses to “Hundreds day”

  1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof Says:

    Congratulations on your accomplishment! I can’t remember how I found your blog (maybe through WordPress tags??) but I read it because it’s a great blog. You’re a wonderful writer. And I’m learning quite a bit about the Jewish faith.

    It’s funny how people come by one’s blog. Although I write on the topic of twins (healthy pregnancy, relationships, etc) sometimes I get readers who have searched for X-rated twin sites. It’s a bit creepy. And while it’s true that commenting on other blogs that are related to yours is VERY time consuming, it does help tremendously. The problem is finding a quality blog as most blog out there simply are not. (Yours is the exception so blog on!)

    • Ilana DeBare Says:

      Hi Christina. People’s x-rated searches *are* truly creepy. I went back and forth when choosing a title for my book on the history of girls’ schools, “Where Girls Come First: The Rise, Fall etc.” because I envisioned all sorts of creepy people being attracted to that phrase and the web site. Ultimately it was the best title, and I chose to trust in people’s better spirits. (It was also the pre-blog era so there were not a lot of opportunities for creepy people to comment on the site!)

  2. Ilana DeBare Says:

    FYI — along the lines of what I was describing, Nathan Bransford just put up a post on how to drive traffic to your blog by commenting on other people’s blogs.

  3. Elliot Says:

    Congrats! Until the end of your post, I was thinking I’d reply/comment by suggesting that word of mouth is the best way to draw traffic. And now I see that’s what you’re thinking too.

    Actually, a lack of laser focus is a strong asset in this department, IDB. I frequently forward your blog to people I know and respect because I think a particular posting will intrigue them. Whether or not they then ‘subscribe’ (if that’s the right word), perhaps only the blogmeister (or her hairdresser?) knows for sure.

    Who receives these emailed links? Some are Jews, some Christians, some Muslims, some liberals, some feminists, some patriots, some journalists, some novelists, some not any of the above . . . . the fact that you think creatively, write well and write honestly on many wide-ranging topics is a testament to you. If you had a laser focus, I’d likely not read your posts so often and surely wouldn’t be sending links to so many people. Long may you blog – Elliot

  4. notdeaddinosaur Says:

    >>…[E]xpand… your audience by hunting for other blogs on related topics, posting comments on those blogs, and being witty/interesting enough that people are then drawn to your blog. …[I]t seems like an awful lot of work to put in for something that is a spare-time hobby.

    If it’s really just a “spare-time hobby” then readership shouldn’t matter to you all that much. That it does implies that the blog has become somewhat more important to you, which is fine. Like everything else in life, you have to work at things to get something out of it. Reading and commenting on other blogs — “participating in the community”, so to speak — is indeed time-consuming. My efforts have waxed and waned over the years (began blogging 8/06), as has my readership. Makes no difference to me either way.

    It’s no different from being involved in any other kind of community. Being active in my synagogue was very time-consuming, but rewarding while I was doing it. When it became less so, I scaled back the time put in. Blogging is very much the same.

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