I Can Do This: what writing has done for me

I started this blog in September 2019, as a way to sharpen my writing and thinking skills, and to cultivate discipline in being able to pull my thoughts and memories together. The writing journey is not smooth sailing all the time. There were days when I don’t generate any output. There were days I would write a non-stop, sometimes till past midnight.

Now that it has been 4 months down the road, it is a good time to tap on the WordPress statistics to gather an idea of the reader profile of my posts, and find out what posts have attracted views and comments. This reflection on my writing journey can also help me craft writing goals for 2020.

If you are interested to know what posts I have put up for 2019, I have included them as a list below. I have put up 29 posts between September and December 2019.

Quick Overview

  • 2,092 views from 1,323 visitors in 50 countries, an average of 1.58 posts per visitor
  • All continents are represented in the visitor profile, including South America and Africa
  • The most popular post is about my father’s dementia condition, which also gained traction on its own about one month after I published it
  • Facebook and LinkedIn are important sources of traffic to my blog, a result of active publicising on these two platforms

What I Learnt From Looking At Statistics

This map shows the distribution of my blog viewership across the world. The map is not very accurate, as some of the countries are not clearly marked here. They are just too small. The list below shows the top 10 countries where my viewers reside.

  1. Singapore (1471 views)
  2. United States (155 views)
  3. India (84 views)
  4. United Kingdom (65 views)
  5. Canada (55 views)
  6. Malaysia (47 views)
  7. Japan (39 views)
  8. Hong Kong SAR (28 views)
  9. Australia (18 views)
  10. Philippines (15 views)

Not surprisingly, the bulk of viewers come from Singapore, where I live. I am surprised by the rest of the data though. In 2019, readers come from 50 countries representing all the continents (yes, including South America and Africa!). Over 50 percent of total views come from Singapore. Each visitor to my blog reads 1.58 posts on average.

52 people have decided to follow me on WordPress, which means when I publish a post, these followers would receive my post as part of their feed. I am very happy to have followers, because it means there are people who are interested in the content I put up.

What are the most popular posts for 2019? The list below shows the top 6 posts by viewership. Surprisingly, the top post is about discovering my father’s dementia condition, followed by two posts about my running journey. If I were to look at these posts, should I conclude that readers like to read stories with intriguing plots?

  1. Three Tips On Living With Dementia (298 views)
  2. How I Started Running (261 views)
  3. Five Tips To Prepare For A Longer Run (124 views)
  4. Three Things I Learnt From Writing Weekly Bulletins (115 views)
  5. How I Failed … (111 views)
  6. When You Are New … (110 views)

There is one thing I cannot understand from examining viewership data. I published the story about my father’s health condition on 16 October 2019. It did not gain much viewership during the first two weeks, but viewership shot up after 31 October 2019 without my publicising on the post in any social media platform. The story continued to attract viewers in November, before viewership tapers off in December.

A similar pattern happened to my second post on how I started running. It was my first article that I published, and gained traction only in November. I am clearer about how the post gained viewership in November, since I put up a link to the post on my Facebook page then. Till this day, I am still mystified why my post about dementia attracted a lot of attention in November.

How do readers come to know of my blog posts? Again, WordPress gave me an idea where the traffic comes from. There are six key sources, with the remaining leads coming in from blogs where I left links to specific articles. Looking at these six sources, it is very clear publicising my blog posts on Facebook and LinkedIn remains a very important source of traffic. If I have relied only on WordPress reader I would not have attracted a lot of readers. Traffic from Twitter and Instagram is low because I don’t actively publicise in these two platforms.

  1. Facebook (464 views)
  2. LinkedIn (302 views)
  3. WordPress (293 views)
  4. Twitter (14 views)
  5. Search Engines (9 views)
  6. Instagram (5 views)

What Are My Takeaways From The 2019 Writing Experience?

The first thing I learnt from the writing experience is that the writing journey can be non-sequential! This is because ideas for posts can be extremely hard to come by, or they can come non-stop! It all depends also on what you would like to write about at the point in time. I find it useful to keep a list of ideas I can refer and tap on to develop into posts. You don’t need to feel compelled to finish writing a post from start to end. I have around 20 articles I am developing at any one time. Some will stay in the burner for a long time, while some will come and go within a week or so.

The second thing I learnt is that good writing is not judged by the writer. Neither is good writing judged by the reader. Good writing is recognised as such when people are prompted to think, act or comment in response to your writing. Hence viewership is not necessarily a good indicator of your writing quality. I rely on comments from readers (whether in WordPress, LinkedIn or Facebook) to determine if the articles resonate with readers, and if I should continue writing in that style or topic in the future. Of course, if readers don’t leave comments, I wouldn’t know if they have been impacted by my posts.

The third thing I learnt is that you will never be pleased with your writing, whether published or at the draft stage. I will always find something to be unhappy with, be it my expressions, the writing style, structure or even formatting. I have moved towards customising posts so that they are not too lengthy and are focused. You got to cut out the editing and refining at some point and publish them though.

The last thing I learnt? Regular scheduling of posts keeps me disciplined in producing content, and in the process produce discipline in looking out for ideas or thoughts. I schedule posts for twice a week, which means I produce 8 posts per month on average. This schedule keeps me disciplined even though I don’t write for a few days at times. I try to make sure I have about a month’s worth of posts scheduled so that I will also not go into panic mode too. It is interesting that I have been fairly disciplined in a hobby where I don’t have a boss to report to on my progress!

Going forward, these will be my writing goals for 2020:

  1. Publish two posts every week.
  2. Increase my viewership to readers from 55 countries.
  3. Sharpen my use of hashtags so that my posts can appear in search engines more often compared to 2019.

Find The Best Way To Express Yourself

If you have read my earlier post about how I came into teaching, you would know I was not really good with writing when I was young. Going through the education ladder has helped me improve. Teaching didn’t help much; it was my stint working on policy issues that sharpened both my thinking and writing skills.

I am now back into policy work, which should help me sharpen my thinking and writing skills again. Venturing into the blogging space is part of my endeavour to sharpen my skills further. I hope to carry on with this for as long as I can.

Writing is not the only way to express yourself. Today, there are many other ways to express yourself. You can do podcasts, start a YouTube channel and produce videos, go into vlogging, or even set up websites or use Instagram to promote yourself or your strengths. Choose a mode you are comfortable with that will enhance your personal branding.

Work on it and press on even when the going is tough, when there isn’t enough feedback or responses to help you improve, or when there isn’t any viewers at all! I have my share of such moments, but I take them as signals to work on improving the way I engage with readers.

What have you learnt from your endeavours in 2019? What will you plan to do differently in an area of your life as a result of reading this post?

Do you have suggestions on how I can improve my writing? Feel free to share with me! I welcome any feedback and comments.

My list of posts published in 2019:

1. How I Started Running (22 Sep 2019) – this is about the reasons behind my running interest, which is the second post in 2019 in terms of viewership

2. 3 Tips On Working With Students With Special Educational Needs (24 Sep 2019) – this is a post distilling some principles I derive from my school work with students with special needs

3. My Views On Running Shoes (26 Sep 2019) – I spoke about my experience with running shoes, including how to choose a good pair for yourself

4. Branding Yourself By Erik Deckers And Kyle Lacy (29 Sep 2019) – my thoughts after reading this book on personal branding

5. Three Things I Learnt From Writing Weekly Bulletins (5 Oct 2019) – this is where I wrote on what I learnt from writing regular bulletins to my staff over 6 years

6. Six Tips To Improve Your Reading Speed (9 Oct 2019) – I wrote this post after finding out more on ways to improve my reading pace, since I have many books I have yet to read

7. How I Failed … (12 Oct 2019) – a post to talk about one leadership failure of mine, and what I learnt from it

8. Three Tips On Living With Dementia (16 Oct 2019) – this is the top post for 2019, chronicling my discovery of my father’s dementia condition, and what I learnt in the process

9. My Story On Running (19 Oct 2019) – this post links to an interview I did with a running website, talking about why I took up running, and some advice for aspiring runners

10. Three Lessons I Learnt From Listening (23 Oct 2019) – I wrote about another leadership failure of mine, and what I learnt from this incident

11. Where Is Your Cookie Jar? (26 Oct 2019) – I wrote about that one time when I had severe cramps during a half marathon, and how I leaned on my cookie jar to complete the race

12. Five Items You Should Have While Running (30 Oct 2019) – I wrote about the accessories I would usually bring along with my run in this post

13. Three More Lessons I Learnt From Writing Weekly Bulletins (2 Nov 2019) – I wrote this post after receiving feedback from publishing an earlier post on the same topic

14. What A Child With Special Needs Taught Me (6 Nov 2019) – this post is about my experience with one student, and what I learnt from the whole experience

15. What I Learnt About Quorn Products (9 Nov 2019) – I wrote of my experience sampling Quorn products, and what I learnt from this experience

16. When A Student Demonstrates Gratitude (13 Nov 2019) – I shared my experience being a recipient of a thank you note from a student, which was totally unexpected

17. Three Lessons Organising A Barbecue Taught Me (16 Nov 2019) – I shared a cross-cultural experience that I could not forget even till this day

18. Breathe Deeply, Think Happy Thoughts And Affirm Yourself Under Stressful Moments (20 Nov 2019) – this post was adapted from my message given to students some years ago

19. Five Tips To Prepare For A Longer Run (23 Nov 2019) – I reflected on my experience from preparing for a 32 km race, and shared in this post

20. When Students Need Guidance And Direction (27 Nov 2019) – I shared my thoughts on students who are at-risk of becoming school dropouts in this post

21. When You Are New … (30 Nov 2019) – this post is ranked third for 2019, where I shared my experience working as a new manager in school

22. Three Ways To Enhance Administrative Processes (4 Dec 2019) – I shared my experience in improving the administrative processes as a result of the finance audits on my school accounts in this post

23. Five Lessons I Learnt From Running (7 Dec 2019) – I reflected on my running journey for the year, and what I learnt from it

24. What Liquid Ginger, Food Consumption And Aircon Can Inform You About The Economy (11 Dec 2019) – this is my take on leading indicators for an economy

25. Three Tips For Moving From One Workplace To Another (14 Dec 2019) – I shared an embarrasing experience transiting from one workplace to another in this post, and what I learnt from it

26. What Do You Want To Be (Part 1) (18 Dec 2019) – my journey on how I came to become a teacher

27. What Do You Want To Be (Part 2) (21 Dec 2019) – this continues from my earlier post on how I became a teacher

28. What Christmas Means To Me (25 Dec 2019) – since this is published on Christmas, that is why I wrote about my perceptions of Christmas

29. Can You Fill In A Survey For Me? (28 Dec 2019) – this is not exactly a post, but more of soliciting comments and suggestions from readers about my blog

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