2018 in Review – Celebrating Successes and Lessons Learned 8

TODAY, WE STRADDLE an invisible timeline between two calendar years, one foot raised, prepared to step into the next year.

Before we do, let’s engage in a tradition — a worthy one, I think — in which take a look back at the year we’re leaving, to remind us where we came from and what we accomplished along the way.

I started WritingThroughLife on a whim in November of 2008. Ten years ago! And when blogging was in its infancy. I began with articles about creativity, authenticity, life balance and following one’s intuition. I wrote sporadically.

Somewhere around 2010, I began blogging regularly, posting at least once each week, writing about writing — specifically journaling. Why journaling is important for self-awareness and personal growth, its benefits, and techniques to get started. In 2011, I began the Week’s Worth of Journaling Prompts series, in which every week I offered 7 writing prompts on a different topic. After two years, I bundled the best of that series together, edited it, and published Week by Week: A Year’s Worth of Journaling Prompts & Meditations.

By 2012, I was beginning to feel constrained by my topic — there’s only so much a person can write about journaling without repetition, and I wanted to offer more to my readers. At the time, I was writing my first memoir, Not the Mother I Remember, so it was natural to branch out to writing about memoir and the craft of writing. I also began the Journaling for Memoir series.

And, ever since, WritingThroughLife articles have revolved around these topics.

Each year, I have offered at least one article series. In 2017, it was the Read Like a Writer series, in which I closely analyzed 4 memoirs to help writers learn more about our craft. Each of those articles took many hours of study and work, yet seemed to engage only the most serious of writers who read the blog.

In 2018, I wrote two series: Journaling through Relationships, in which I offered thoughts and writing prompts on just about every relationship you have had or can imagine having in your life; and Your Best Writing Year Yet!, a monthly series that offered ways to create intention, goals, and then to stay on task and achieve those goals throughout the year.

As a blogger, I’ve been happy overall with those series, feeling that I’ve offered something of value to my readers.

In addition to these series, I rotated through topics including journaling techniques and prompts, the craft of memoir writing, a writer’s life (issues unique to the writing life), and author interviews and guest posts.

When I take a look at the Google analytics for the year, I find that WritingThroughLife:

  • Had just under 72,000 unique visitors.
  • On average, each person viewed 1.5 pages and spent a little over a minute on the site.
  • Of these, all but 9% were new visitors. That means that just 9% of the people who come to WritingthroughLife read just one article and never come back. I view this as an opportunity: How do I engage with and develop regular readers?
  • The top 5 most read articles during the past year were
  • The top 50 topics read were primarily articles about journaling through vulnerability, loss, grief, disappointment, mistakes, pain, and (interestingly) happiness.
  • Articles on memoir writing and the craft of creative writing fell into the top 50-100 range of article topics.

I want to note here that, for me, WritingThroughLife has always been an act of love, born out of a desire to connect with and help others begin writing and tell their stories. I don’t monetize the site — though I should. I just can’t stomach the idea of putting up a bunch of advertisements and spending my time focused on affiliate marketing. That would be the wise thing to do if I want to build my business; however I’ve always wanted more to build a community of readers and writers. A tribe, perhaps.

When I look at the analytics, I feel both success and failure. It’s wonderful to know that 72,000 different people came and read. That perhaps I’ve touched a few lives in positive ways. Yet I also wonder why they never came back. With close to 500 articles on journaling and writing, including author interviews and links to other relevant sites, what’s missing?

What can I learn from the statistics? It seems that people want information about how to deal with trauma and negative experiences and emotions. They want to know how to get started writing and how to trust their inner knowingness to find answers to their life problems.

They either don’t want to know (as much) about memoir writing, or perhaps there’s just such a glut of information about writing on the Internet that my articles don’t get much attention.

I’m considering some new directions for blogging and writing in 2019. And I’ll talk more about these in the first post of the new year.

In the meantime, I would love to know your thoughts. In what ways can I add the most value to your life through writing?

And, I also want to wish you the happiest and most fulfilling new year ever!

to jump to my short (3-5 minute) 2018 Year-End Reader Survey, give me your thoughts, and be entered to win a free one-hour coaching session with yours truly!

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8 thoughts on “2018 in Review – Celebrating Successes and Lessons Learned

  • Sara Baker

    thanks for sharing your reflective thoughts, Amber. I appreciate the mission and attitude you prompt and am grateful for you and your endeavors. I’m thrilled to be a part of a long-distance tribe that provides me with much support and connectivity. I do like your phrase “straddling the invisible time line between two calendar years.” Well said. I’ve done my own reflecting upon my successes this year (of which I had many, some of which were totally unexpected) as well as some setbacks (some of which were unexpected). But in all, I was true to myself and my goal of creating authentic stories, whether published or not, for a group of readers whom I hope glean something from them. I look forward to FINALLY completing my novel this year as well as my journaling, blogging, and occasional memoir vignette writing. Another busy and purposeful year ahead. Happy New Year Amber and tribe!

    • Amber Lea Starfire Post author

      Thank you, Sara, for sharing your thoughts and your heart often here. You are part of why I continue writing and blogging and reaching out. I look forward to another year of writing and creating together. May you have an even more wonder-filled and successful 2019!

  • Tammy

    Hi Amber, I always enjoy reading your articles and your writing classes have helped me develop my writing in many ways I never knew possible. For me, writing is a challenge because I’m more analytical in my thinking than I am creative. Writing takes quite a bit of work for me, hence why it’s taking so long to get through my current online class (thank you! for not time boxing it ♥️). I’ve also noticed in my writing I’m very short and to the point. I know I need to expand on this, as it’s been in my peripheral vision for awhile. It just takes so much time! Haha. My suggestion would be to expand your articles to include crative writing, fiction, or maybe even historical fiction. Again, thank you!

  • Stacy E Holden

    I read your first few entries of Your Best Writing Year Yet! regularly over the course of the year. I want to thank you for taking time to write such a concise set of posts. They inspired me to keep on track. I share this because I am not sure how you quantify one reader returning to the same entries multiple times. In looking at your top posts and hearing you talk about your vocation, I am intrigued by the possibility of a series of posts that contribute to writing about neglect, abuse, trauma. It would be a hard road to navigate, but I bet rewarding for all.

    • Amber Lea Starfire Post author

      Thank you, Stacy. I appreciate your input. Regarding the statistics – those came from Google analytics and I didn’t drill down to find out how many times regular readers came back (not sure if that’s even part of the analytics reporting) or how many there are. That would be something to investigate, for sure. I’m still forming plans for this new year (and will probably be engaged in this for a few weeks), considering everyone’s feedback and thinking about what would offer the most value and be beneficial for the most people.

  • Hugo at Tracking Happiness

    Yes! I love these yearly review posts, I’ve just published my own personal review of 2018. I wouldn’t consider anything a failure: 72.000 visitors are great, and I’m sure your content has helped them move along. Looking forward to what you’ll do in 2019! All the best and good luck!