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At the age of ten life seems simple, it's all about running jumping and climbing trees. By eighteen you have discovered the opposite sex, alcohol and nightclubs. By twenty five you are your own person, confident and full of life. Suddenly you hit thirty. You find yourself questioning your choices from the years that have past, feeling slightly left on the shelf, wondering where your life is heading, juggling family and friends and faced with ever aging parents. You are not alone, welcome to 30 years and countinga sideways look at life in your thirties.

Who reads this stuff and why

Do you actually read 30 years and counting on a regular basis and hang on our every word? Perhaps you check it every once in a while and only read the odd post which catches your eye. Maybe you have never been here before and have come looking for photos of busty redheads (yes I know who you are and you can find them here by the way). My point is when you are writing a personal blog it is all too easy to get caught up in the world of visitor numbers and page views. The big question is though does it matter?

When I set out to create this site I wasn’t interested in getting big visitor numbers. I wanted instead to reach out and try and find other people in their thirties who could relate to what was happening in my life. For anyone who has been around from the start of the blog will know the site has seen a number of redesigns since it started. For a while things got rather messy as I tried to make the blog all singing and dancing. I flooded it with clever features and loads of pictures. Sure enough my viewing figures shot up but to what end? When I actually took the time to look and see what brought people here most of the time it was because they were surfing for a particular image. This of course was not what I wanted. The idea was for people to actually read the stuff I took the time to write rather than just copypasta my images for their wankbanks. It was time for a rethink. 

I decided to strip back the site. Make things more simple and use more words and less images. The result was that my visitor numbers dropped which was no real surprise but as a result I now get a better quality of reader. For some people running a website is all about making money and to be honest it is pretty easy to do. You simply load your page full of keywords for search engines to find, fill it with pictures of naked women and spam the hell out of it for adverts and pay per click links. This is not what I wanted to do though. As such there are no adverts on this site and it doesn’t generate any money at all. I run it purely as a form of self expression.

This doesn’t mean that I am not interested in the site’s statistics though. Naturally anyone who writes something wants it to be read and I am no different. I put a lot of time and thought into what gets posted and it is nice when people actually read it and even better when they leave a comment. Plenty of my friends read what I write but when a stranger halfway across the world does too and leaves a comment saying that they have an opinion on what I wrote then that for me is very satisfying.

The question then is how well does this blog do in the statistics department? Well first I should probably mention how the site runs. There is obviously the blog itself which is hosted on Blogger. It is linked to a Facebook fan page which if you haven’t joined yet you can do by hitting the Like button at the very top of the page (go on you know you want too). Like just about every site these days there is also a Twitter stream for the blog (found to your right) which double as my personal Twitter address. All videos are uploaded and shared via Youtube and finally there is RSS feed which is generated by Feedburner. That is pretty much it. I don’t advertise the site at all or spam for readership and all my readers either arrive through one of the social media platforms listed above or through search engines. The result is 46,576 views since I started the blog which works out at several thousand every month or so.

Now of course several thousand hits does not mean thousands of regular readers and in fact I would estimate our loyal readership figure to be pretty low. So what do people come here looking for? Well if I take last weeks site figures for example I got a number of search hits from people looking for “karen gillan underwear” and “hot redheads” which is no surprise really. However I also got a large number from people searching for “turning 30 and women”, “men on marriage” and “life in your thirties”. Now of course you are always  going to get sex related hits especially image searches regardless of what you write and these can be considered background noise in truth. It is however these second range of hits which demonstrates that I am actually getting readers from what I write who can relate to my life which is what I set out to do in the first place.

Also of interest is how my blog readers break down. Nearly all of my regular readers are between 25-45 with a peak in the 30-35 age group which is great news because that is my target audience. It also seems that I am a big hit with the ladies (yeah right) since 56% of my readers are female.

So what am I saying here? Well my point is that if you just want a load of hits then that is pretty easy to do. Lots of sexy pictures and rude words and the search engines will do the rest. If however you want to grow a proper readership and reach a target audience then I suggest you stop worrying about page views and instead look to develop a small loyal fan base and the rest will follow. Trust me a few hundred people who actually read what you write is much more satisfying than several thousand who have simply come to look at an image you posted and never reader a word. Having been doing this for over a year now I have learn a few things and here are my top five bits of advice which I found work. Hope they help.
  • Keep it simple. When running a personal blog it is far too easy to think that you must have loads of clever features and a slick presentation just like the big boys do. In reality they pay web designers a lot of money to create their sites so unless you have deep pockets you will be doing it yourself. Make sure your site is clean and simple. It can look nice by all means but you will not generate visitor because of how your site looks. They come because of what you write, namely your contents.
  • This bring me on to my second point, make sure you do write. This doesn’t mean you have to post something every hour or even ever day though. A few good posts a week is better than lots of bad ones. Write about something you are interested in. Don’t worry about what is hot or the latest trend and instead write from the heart about things that mean something to you. For example I write about life in your thirties and the challenges and surprises that brings. Your readership will remain loyal if you remain loyal to the topic what brought them to you in the first place.
  • Don’t be too pushy. Readers and search engines alike like longer and detailed posts as apposed to a single picture or link. This doesn’t mean you have to write pages and pages. A handful of paragraphs will do. Flooding you site with loads of media might generate more hits but doesn’t mean that people care what you are writing about. Keep your media such as images and videos to a minimum. Likewise don’t go spamming for hits by constantly pushing your site on forums, social media or other people’s websites. Chances are you will get a bad name and be banned.
  • Be sociable. Social networks are everywhere these days. Setting up a Twitter feed or Facebook Fan page is quick and easy and if you share your posts through such sites this can help grow your fan base. If you do set them up make sure you have clear links to them on your site. That said don’t just use them to constantly post links to your site. Your readers will soon get fed up and block you. Use them to engage with your readers and answer any feedback you get. In a similar vein make sure you responded to any comments you get on your site. People like to know that if they comment on something that you are going respond. It is also well worth adding share buttons to your site so people can share your posts with their friends. Most blogging platforms offer such features built in or there are a wealth of third party plugins available.
  • Finally go out and find likeminded people. Start with your friends and let it grow out organically from there. If you post something good chances are they will share it with others who you don’t know and in turn they will share it further. Have a search around on Google to find bloggers who write about the same thing as you. Read their posts, comment on them, engage with them. If you share an interest or theme offer to exchange links on each others sites or guest post from time to time. To use a real world example, kicking a ball against a wall is fun but it is more rewarding to play as a team. The web is a big place but it is surprisingly easy to meet new people and form friendships and nothing brings people together better than a shared interest.

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