It’s hard to believe that Monday marked my one year blogging anniversary. This blog has really helped me develop my skill set and even find a stronger voice, which are things I never thought would come out of it. To mark my one year anniversary, I look back at my journey and the experiences I’ve had, but also some lessons I learnt along the way!
Starting a blog was a bit of a last-minute decision for me, which is not really like me. I’m much more of a planner but then I do go after what I want. I think I decided to create a blog on Thursday and published my first post on Saturday (which was horse racing tips of course). This first post was fitting as it’s the reason I started my blog in the first place. I’d been tipping personally for about 5 years and publishing my tips on Twitter since 2017. My results weren’t the best, but I was improving each year. On Twitter, a tipping website was advertising for a tipster position, so I thought why not apply. I did but unfortunately, I didn’t get the position. Then it occurred to me, why not just start my own website/blog and here we are today!
Looking back, it probably would have been easier to have just kept it a tipping website, especially as my niches (horse racing, fashion and disability) target different audiences and I just don’t have the time to run two or three blogs. However, I wanted my blog to not only be about horse racing but also my disability (and fashion/nails because I love doing that). I say this often, but I’m a big believer in those that know better do better and this platform seemed like the perfect opportunity to teach people about what it’s like to have a rare disability. It started conversations and that’s probably one of my proudest achievements of this blog.
With a new skill comes growth. When I first started, I was basically doing it for fun, however, I feel that my content in the beginning probably wasn’t my best work. It was a little lost that didn’t align with my niche. Don’t get me wrong, great things came from that, including my “5 minutes with …” series but overall, my content just wasn’t gelling, people weren’t learning something from my posts, which was something important to me. It wasn’t till about 6 months in that I decided to take it seriously, which could only happen after having that blogging experience but also learning through other bloggers in various Facebook groups. I wanted to get back to my roots of why I started this blog.
So, in late December, I switched my blog from Wix to self-hosted WordPress and I still think this is one of the best decisions I made. It gave me more control and customisation of my blog, while also giving me a great launching pad for my new branding. The process wasn’t easy, as I had to build a website from scratch but also copy and paste over 80 posts that I’d written in my first 6 months of blogging. In fact, I think it took me a good month to transfer everything across and get the site ready. My biggest achievement with my site is that I learnt some very very basic coding! It’s little skills like this which are something I never would have taught myself if it wasn’t for my blog.
Besides learning new skills, I also got to develop ones I’d learnt at university. I think the two units that have helped me the most were internet marketing and brand management. The former really helped me with my SEO and keywords on my new site (with my organic search increasing dramatically), while the latter taught me how to brand my blog and important key branding elements. Obviously, my social media marketing also improved and as did my writing skills. Putting things into words, while making sure I made sense, because I often leave out details that I think are obvious to people, and being grammatically correct were a big issue for me (haha and are somethings I still need to work on if you ask my family). However, I think with each post I’m getting better and better, with my recent posts being some of my best work in my opinion.
While my recent posts are grammatically and structurally some of my best work, some of my earlier work stands out to me the most. The first one is my first ever editorial post, “The Sexy Elephant Look”. Going into this whole experience, I was never going to hide my disability because that’s just who I am. However, it was an interesting post to write as I’d never laid my life out so publicly before, including details on how my disability affected my life. I think it was the perfect post to start with though, as I feel it really set the tone of my blog. We were going to deal with hard and sensitive topics but in a light-hearted way.
Another post that stands out to me, is my “The Made By Mum Fashion Label”. It was the first one that really got people’s attention and got them talking. This wasn’t really my plan when I first published it, though I did think people would find it interesting to read about the process I go through (and Mum) of making a dress for me. I guess it resonated with people because you mostly take finding clothes for granted. Yes, they might not fit perfectly, but everything is usually alright. For this post to say that I have trouble finding clothes that not only fit but are appropriate when sitting down all the time, people kind of took a step back and thought about the issue. It opened their eyes to how a disability can affect the simplest of things and that made it a highlight post for me (plus I had a lot of fun writing it).
Besides those two posts, I probably had the most fun writing about my horse racing journey because let’s be honest, I could talk about racing for days. Sharing not only my passion but also my knowledge about racing, from what to look for in a horse but also how to read a form guide has also been rewarding. However, the most rewarding thing and my biggest achievement has been educating people about having a disability, which is surprising because as I said, that’s not even close to why I started blogging in the first place. I feel because of this my little blog, with only me who does everything, is slowly making the world a better place and I’m proud of that!
To end this post and to celebrate I’d just like to reflect on a few statistics. In one year over 3,000 individual people (because I have a lot of repeat readers) have viewed my blog (3,021 people to be exact). In this time frame, I’ve also received 9,885 page views! There’s still heaps of improved to be made, but we have to celebrate the small victories.
So, I hope you’ve all enjoyed the past year with me, whether you’ve been a loyal reader from the start or have only just discovered my blog. As always, if you have any feedback then do reach out to me as I love hearing from my readers. I look forward to growing my blog even further in the next year and while it’s ambitious, I’d like to hit 50,000 page views by this time next year!
Happy first birthday to The Velvet Court!