(note: even though this is posted with a date of 26 August, it was written end June and sat as a draft as I'd forgot to Save and Publish!)
As part of running this blog, I've promised myself I'd write "check-in" posts on a regular basis. At this stage given the flurry of stuff I'm doing in the early stages, I'm thinking I'll write a check-in post at one months, three months and thereafter every six months.
Most importantly, at this early stage, I've found that I love spending time on the website. Given I'm spending a fair amount of time working on it, this is pretty important! I'm also finding that it is providing a great way to learn some new skills (website development etc). What has surprised me is that I'm also spending a lot more time in the moment and my depth of understanding of whatever I'm writing about has been enhanced. For example, when I recently travelled to Niue, knowing that I was going to write some sort of post on it, I asked a whole heap more questions than I ordinarily would've and had a notebook to record my observations. As a direct result, I feel as if I was more in the moment and my travel experience was definitely enriched. An extremely positive spin-off!
Accessing the Blog Analytics page shows I've had 118 Visits of which 87 were "Unique". Given I've been scrawling through the Activity Log, I'm taking the stats with some large grains of Salt. If I'd received 87 unique visitors, I'd be more than happy, but reckon most of those relate to me accessing my own website via different IP addresses (whilst overseas, work computer, home computer and smartphone at various places). All up I reckon I'm likely to have had less than 10 unique visitors. That's cool as I'm not too worried about number of people reaching my site at this point in time.
I've also received one "Like" on one of my posts which I find quite interesting. Did whoever left that Like not like any of the rest of my posts? Or did the only read the one post, in which case my Like success ratio is a pretty impressive 100%? Something I'll never know the answer to!
In terms of posting, I've written 9 blog posts. One each in relation to thoughts on my website and general musing, a further one on my trip to Niue and six book-review related posts. Given I read about 6 books a month, this should be about in line with how often I'll post going forward but we'll see.
One thing I have begun doing is paying a bit more attention to social media and in particular Pinterest. I've also joined up to the photo sharing site Flickr and added buttons to the webstite back to my accounts on Instagram (which I had been using previously), Pinterest and Flickr.
I'm finding Flickr particularly useful for sourcing banner heading photos for each post as I simply don't have enough of my own photos related to each post. Obviously, I'm only able to use those pictures which allow me to use them, so I filter by "Commercial use and mods allowed" to be on the safe side and provide attribution in the blog post back to the owner of the photo. Additionally, I also drop them an email thanking them for being able to use their photo along with a link to the website so that they can view the attribution in case they're not happy with how I've done it. So far I've sent about 4 emails and got one reply back.
One last thing, which is behind the scenes, is create an image map where people can click through on various regions (e.g. Africa, South America etc), which will take them to related books for each of the regions. I haven't populated these sections yet and will be something I can do in the future. As part of this I spent considerable time trying to write the code, which was an absolutely nightmare and must've taken me more than 4 hours of trial and error. The code itself isn't actually that hard (I found example on the internet) but getting it correct in Squarespace was an absolute mission.
As it turned out the reason it wasn't working was down to the file naming convention and how Squarespace approaches this. Once figured out (I had to right click the map and open image in new tab to get the URL to use in the code), things went much quicker. But with nothing to advise you what was wrong, it was incredibly frustrating. So bad, that I almost gave up thinking this was beyond my own very limited skills. However, the sense of achievement once finished was well worth it!
So there we have it. Enjoying myself immensely, learning heaps and having more enriched experiences all as a result of running this website. I'd encourage everyone to do the same.