The 30 Day Blogging Challenge Review + What’s Next?

“A man who can’t bear to share his habits is a man who needs to quit them.

Stephen King, The Dark Tower

27,000 words, 30 posts, and countless hours later, the challenge is finally complete.

When I started the 30 Day Blogging Challenge, I had no idea what to expect. I had no plan (besides that I would publish something every day), no real goals, and no clear direction of what I would write about besides a few basic ideas.

I just knew I wanted to start writing again. It’s too easy to mull over ideas and creative projects for too long. It’s even easier to do absolutely nothing. Giving myself this daily, self-imposed challenge was the best way to create the habit.

And it’s been 100% worth it.

If you’ve been thinking about starting a similar creative practice, whether it’s writing, podcasts, dancing, or anything in between, I recommend building it as a daily practice.

How It Started 🤝 How It’s Going

So how did these 30 days compare to the original 5 reasons that I set on Day 1?

Let’s take a look at the 5 reasons below and grade each point on an arbitrary scale of 1-10.

Develop the system, rather than the goal:

This worked. I developed the system and the habit. It’s the number one reason I originally wanted to start this blog. When I’ve set goals in the past, I tend to miss the mark or give myself too high of standards and never get started in the first place. But with a commitment to a daily practice and a system, it’s hard to fail.

The act of “writing” can be one of three things for me: researching and outlining an article, writing the actual draft, or editing for mistakes afterwards.

I’ll admit that at times, it’s been a challenge to keep the daily habit because of (1) my indecisiveness on what I want write about and the endless ideas and options, and (2) the lack of constraints I gave myself from the beginning.

I still think there is a ton of value to writing AND publishing daily, especially when you are first getting started. It’s one of the best ways to build the habit and then you can dive deeper into topics you like the most. Like I talked about in one of my first article, shoot bullets first, then cannonballs.

Grade: 8/10

Connect with Interesting People

I’d change this to say “Connect with old friends and create new freindships.”

I’ve loved re-connecting with friends that are working on cool things or going through similar challenges.

Isaac, my good friend from college, started a travel media company called Young Expeditions (originally started as an Instagram page that he grew to over 10,000 followers), which he is revamping now to include a blog. We talked a few times this past month, and we’re going to start collaborating on each other’s blogs. Travel writing is something I’ve always wanted to do, so I’m excited to dip my toes in the water and work with him.

Bryant, my friend from Venture For America (VFA), started a daily blog too this past month. We realized quickly that our interests overlap a ton from Stoicism to the Morning Brew newsletter. Now, we want to build a community through VFA (and anyone else who wants to join) of other writers and content creators who want to explore writing and learning publicly.

However, I definitely need to improve on intentionally connecting with people that are interested in similar things. Overall, I could have been better and more organized here with actually meeting new people, but I’m still very happy with the people I’ve talked to in the past month!

Grade: 6/10

Discover my Writing Voice

I’ve never written so much about myself publicly. It’s definitely different and uncomfortable but liberating at the same time.

However, I wouldn’t say I’ve discovered my writing voice yet. Rather, I would say that I think I’ve found a good rhythm to my writing. I still want to experiment with different writing voices and styles.

With the time constraints I had, I didn’t explore as many research-based articles too. It’s another area I want to dive deeper with during the next stage.

Grade: 7/10

Create a Network of Ideas and Thoughts

In terms of taking more notes on the content I consume, I did a decent job on this. I wrote articles on podcasts, books and YouTube videos and what I learned from them based on personal experiences.

Starting this blog also helped with me not explaining myself twice. For example, when a friend asked me over text message why I started the blog, I almost started explaining to them every reason. Instead, I decided to just send my first blog and save myself the time. It’s basically like replicating yourself and creating a database of your experiences.

Still, I could be more intentional on taking notes from the content I consume to create a larger network of ideas and learnings.

Grade: 6/10

Learn New Things and Share Them With Friends

As I mentioned, I didn’t do a great job of writing research-based articles with the time constraints of daily writing. It’s something I feel like I failed on but want to improve significantly.

Again, this is why I want to choose a more narrow niche and focus on that more diligently. It’s why I want to dive deep instead of just writing widely about anything.

While I didn’t learn a TON of new information myself, I did share things I’ve learned in the past with you. So it might not be new to me, it might be new to you.

Grade: 4/10

New Insights

I never started this blog with the goal to reach a certain amount of views or visitors.

In fact, it didn’t really occur to me to look at my statistics until I saw the option to view it on the WordPress app. These numbers have been interesting to track but definitely not the main priority for me.

However, I figured if I shared these analytics publicly that you might learn a thing or two alongside me. And also because I think the data is fun to look at.

WordPress Stats

Here is a snapshot of my total stats from WordPress in the past 30 days. It’s toggled under “Years” so you can see total numbers from this month. The main takeaway here is that over 2,000 people have seen my blog, which I’m super happy about.

Below is a weekly snapshot. Notice the dip on the 4th week, which I’m assuming is largely due to the election and the lack of quality content that I produced. The red bar is the current week we’re on (so only 3 days worth of blogs).

Next, here are all of the referral clicks from the past month. Facebook is the number one, which makes sense because people are much more likely to click on links on Facebook (plus I have the best Mom who shares all of my articles and her age group is much more active on Facebook).

LinkedIn came in second, which is interesting because I don’t get a ton of engagement from people on LinkedIn, but I think people tend to click links on LinkedIn more often.

As far as my most-viewed posts, here are the top 5 with the number of views for each:

  1. Why I’m Starting the 30 Day Blogging Challenge – 296 views
  2. Why I Decided to Leave New Orleans (again) and Why I’ll be Back – 238 views
  3. Becoming a Man – Revisiting my Bar Mitzvah 11 Years Later – 123 views
  4. What do you want to be when you grow up? – 110 views
  5. Why I Decided to do Venture For America – 110 views

Main takeaway: the first blog naturally got the most views because I assume people were interested in seeing that I started a blog in the first place.

Then, it’s obvious that the blogs that resonated most with people (at least in terms of clicks) were the articles that were reflecting on my personal experiences and decisions. The next three highest-viewed articles were on morning routines (107 viewss), detailing my meditation practice (103 views), and Stoicism (97 views). After those three, there is a steep drop off.

Twitter Analytics

I also started tweeting more on a daily basis and interacting with people I never would have otherwise had a chance to meet. Twitter is decidedly my favorite social media because of the access you have to so many interesting people who are constantly sharing fascinating ideas (even though people don’t really click on your blogs in Twitter).

Here is the growth of my Twitter page over the last 28 days (important to note: this is compared to the minimal activity beforehand but cool to see the insanely high growth rate):

Who knows what these numbers could look like a year from now? I saw a tweet from designer and entrepreneur Jack Butcher, who showed what his numbers look like today compared to two years ago. It’s all about consistency:

Lastly, 30 people have subscribed to receive my weekly email newsletter (to be launched NEXT week). This has been something I’ve added in the bottom of every blog during these last 30 days, but I haven’t had much time to take a step back and put the systems in place. But it’s really happening. I promise.

If you don’t mind me taking up space in your inbox, you can subscribe HERE.

Again, all of these statistics are worth glancing at, but I don’t want to waste much time with them. Mainly, I want to use them as a tool to move me forward.

What’s Next?

This past month has been a ton of fun for me and super insightful (and hopefully for some of you too).

I definitely don’t want to stop it at this 30 day mark. Now that I’ve built the habit, here are my next plans:

Weekly Email Newsletter

The Baer Necessities email newsletter will finally be launched next week.

I’m going to include one deep dive article per week on a topic that I’m passionate about. Then, I’ll include podcasts and music I’m listening to, books I’m reading, or shows / movies that I’m watching.

It will be evolving over time, since this is just the start.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for it! Let me know in the email signup form what you might like to see from me or what you might want me to expand on.

I’m still deciding whether I want to do the newsletter through something like Mailchimp or if I want to start using Substack instead. Either way, it will launch into your inbox some time next week. Make sure you subscribe here.

Daily Atomic Essays – TBD

The clearest writing is said in the least amount of words. And I know I need to improve on that. I want to hone my ability to write very short articles.

When I saw this challenge on Twitter from a guy I follow named Dickie Bush, it resonated with me right away.

The idea is to pick one niche and ship one short atomic essay every day that would fit into one screenshot on Twitter (200 words or less).

The challenge starts next Monday and I’m deciding in the next day whether I want to do it or stick to just doing a weekly newsletter instead.

If I decide to do it, I’m still working out the niche that I want to write about for the month, but one idea I have is to write mini bios on change-makers throughout history (think entrepreneurs, problem solvers, civil rights leaders). This would scratch my itch to learn more about the most successful people throughout time.

The other cool part of this challenge is that you get to a join a Slack channel with everyone else doing the challenge. You are also put into a group of 4 other like-minded people who will hold you accountable during the 30 days.

The challenge would be on Twitter so follow me if you want to see these screenshot essays.

Again, I’m not 100% sure if I’ll do it yet but will keep you posted here and on the newsletter!

Establish Constraints

As I learned from Seth Godin’s book The Practice this month, you need to establish constraints if you are going to ship creative work.

That’s part of the reason I’m thinking about testing out doing a daily mini essay of 200 words or less. One of my biggest challenges this past month has been getting bogged down on writing longer essays of 1000 words or more.

It’s also why I’m considering establishing a weekly sabbath: one day per week to go completely offline. Judaism was on to something with this.

I’m also going to take a step back from posting for the next few days to work these constraints and my future strategies. This will include constraints for the newsletter, the daily atomic essays, the social media channels I will use moving forward, and much more. I want to make it easier on myself, so I can reach the “edges of the box” as Godin likes to say.

Lastly, I wanted to give a BIG thank you to anyone who has helped out, motivated me, or reached out about the blog during the past 30 days – you know who you are! I really appreciate your support more than you know.

Cheers to a helluva month and many more to come,

Jonah


Interested in hearing from me every week in your inbox?

I’d love for you to be one of the first to sign up for my weekly email newsletter HERE (okay, I promise this was the last promotion).

Published by Jonah Baer

Florida State student | Memphis, TN native

3 thoughts on “The 30 Day Blogging Challenge Review + What’s Next?

    1. Hey Emily! If you’re using WordPress, it’s a feature that’s built into your account. You should be able to see it under your dashboard in a section called Stats. Also excited to see your blog!

      Like

      1. Awesome, I’ll look into that! I sent you a LinkedIn pm with my blog link as I’m trying to keep it (somewhat) anonymous.

        Like

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