“Dad@Home” is now one year old! So… Happy Bloggaversary to me?

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This is a photo of me writing this very blog post. Is that too weird? It’s kinda like having a dream within a dream. Did I just blow your mind? Hey, did any of you guys see the movie “Inception”? It’s just like that. On a totally unrelated topic, I apologize for wearing sweatpants. What can I say? They’re my writing pants!

Let me start off my admitting that launching this blog wasn’t my idea. I didn’t really want to do it.

It was actually my former literary agent’s suggestion, as I happened to have a publisher from California “tentatively interested” in offering me a book deal. They wanted to see if I could increase my online platform, and show the world I could help push sales of my masterpiece of non-fiction: Dad@Home: Fully Domesticated. Well, my efforts to showcase my online presence obviously didn’t set the world on fire because a couple of months later, the book deal fell through, and all I had to show for it was this silly little blog. Now what was I supposed to do? For a brief moment in time, I considered shutting down this website, but a funny thing happened: as the weeks turned into months, I found that I actually enjoyed writing, maintaining and promoting this silly little blog. So, while I was definitely reluctant to start this “web-log”, I now finally feel like I’ve become a real-life blogger. I’m sorry folks, but now you are stuck with me.

So, after a full year of sharing my stories, what… (if anything) have I learned?

Well, right off the bat I’ve learned it’s very difficult to keep the momentum and excitement of the initial blog launch going for very long. It all started off with a very big BANG! Dad@Home was unleashed on the internet in mid-April 2016 with a post called: “If I can do it…” To date, that inaugural post has almost 500 views. To put that into perspective, my twelve least viewed posts over the past twelve months have fewer clicks than that one big debut story.

I was over the moon with my initial readership, and I cashed in on my early success by faithfully posting new stories about once a week. While they never quite grabbed the really big numbers of my launch, they were still pretty, pretty good. My next couple of posts snagged a couple hundred views a pop, and I thought that I was off to the races.

I had researched how to host a successful blog, and one of the biggest recommendations I saw over and over again was to keep diligently posting stuff every week, or watch your readership fall off a cliff. Well, I didn’t really take that advice to heart, and I took a few weeks off from updating the blog. I figured, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” I soon found out. After averaging almost 300 views of my first few posts, my next blog story petered out at just under 50 views.

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This became my new catch phrase after checking my daily readership of Dad@Home after a three-week hiatus.

I was stunned! After a three-week break, I was already yesterday’s news! While I found the steep decline in online traffic both disheartening and frustrating, I never stopped posting my stories. I figured that I had a small base of readers who were expecting new material, so I happily kept the faith.

While I never regained that early momentum, I have had a few posts that somehow broke through the slide in readership and managed to resonate with the people. The story of our family trip to Ireland was quite popular, the heartbreaking story of losing our family pet was also well received and when I finally put Dad@Home on sale through Amazon, my readers really stepped up and helped get the message out by clicking on my post and sharing it.

Because the main reason of this blog is to increase the profile of my book, I figured people wouldn’t mind if I repeatedly used it to push sales. With over 250 views, my second most popular post of all time has been “Dad@Home: Fully Domesticated is now available on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com!”  I took this as a sign that people would always click on any new info about my book and how to buy it.

I could not have been more wrong.

The following are my least popular posts, OF ALL TIME:

Dad@Home on paperback now 30% off? Insane! But hold the phone, there’s more? Kindle version now 40% off? Unbelievable!    – 16 views

Hey Goodreads users! Don’t forget to enter my book giveaway for Dad@Home!   – 14 views

Wow! So many NEW ways to purchase Dad@Home: Fully Domesticated!   – 11 views

Ouch! The tribe has definitely spoken.

On one hand, the stories that described the process of writing and publishing my book, or even the one featuring my first and only book review were actually well received, getting 90-100 views each. On the other hand, the posts that were 100% advertisements for Dad@Home were shunned like the plague, garnering only 11-16 views. All I can say to that is, “message received”. I will definitely ease off on the hard sell, and simply write more about my life and times as a stay-at-home Dad, just like I did last week with “It’s time to come clean…”

Maybe, just maybe, a better strategy to sell more books is to write engaging stories, and hope any new readers will like what they see and click on the link to purchase my book. I can accurately track my book sales down to the day, and I must tell you… those bottom three posts OF ALL TIME did jack-squat to increase orders of Dad@Home.

There are plenty of other reasons why I enjoy hosting this blog. I like having the ability to track how many hits my website is getting, find out where my readers are coming from and figure out how they are finding their way to Dad@Home.

Now right off the bat, I must stress that compared to many blogs out there, the traffic I’m generating is not overly impressive. After a year of operation, I’m at roughly 3000 hits. Is that good, bad or ugly? Reliable stats on what makes a successful blog are not easy to find on the internets, but from what I can gather, my website numbers would be on the lower end of the spectrum. So, it is what it is… but I’m still hoping I can find new readers and continue to expand my reach.

And speaking of “my reach”, what I find most fascinating is seeing where in the world people have been viewing my blog! A vast majority of clicks are coming from predominantly English speaking countries (98% to be exact) but after that, the list looks like the General Assembly of the United Nations. I’ve got representation from every continent on Earth except Antarctica. Not too shabby! Hello Luxembourg! Who the hell is reading my blog in Luxembourg?

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There are a couple of huge omissions on this list. The first one is CHINA! Any advice on how to crack that giant, panda-loving communist nut would be greatly appreciated. The other one is Russia. But, do I really care if Putin and his pals don’t really care for my comic stylings or my awesome self-published book about the best stay-at-home Dad in the world? No, I do not care.

Another stat that my wordpress blog keeps track of is referrers, specifically which websites are driving traffic to Dad@Home. Not surprisingly, almost all of it comes from social media, with 85% of it from the almighty Facebook. LinkedIn is next at 6%, followed by 3% from Twitter and a meager 1% from Instagram. On a slightly more serious note, only 4% of all traffic comes from search engines and that is something I’d like to see improve as my blog becomes more established. When people type in “stay-at-home dad” into the Google machine, I’d love “Dad@Home” to be near the top of the list! Anyhooo, the remaining one per cent of referrers is a mish-mash of websites that have contributed a grand total of 14 trips to check out Dad@Home.

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With the exception of Pinterest, I have accounts with ALL of these social media sites. But, I only make fun of my Google+ account because I’ve never fully understood what it is, and how it works. That being said, I thank god every day for Google+.  In the past year, it drove a crucial 0.1% of all visits to my website.

So, after twenty-five posts and a full year of writing this blog, all I can say is please keep reading it, please keep sharing it, and please comment if you have any feedback, questions or suggestions as to what I should tackle next.

And remember, I promise I’ll stop boring you with posts that only advertise my book. Instead, I’ll keep trying to engage and entertain those of you who have graciously chosen to follow my exploits. Thank you for your continued support.

Oh, and just one more thing. If you would please buy my book, that would also be great.

(Sorry, old habits die hard.)

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