The Classical Girl was a concept I’d created on the eve of 2013, a New Year’s resolution of sorts. My ballet novels were long completed, out being shopped, and I missed researching and living inside the dance world far more than I’d anticipated. Further, I knew, as a writer, that it was good to enforce some assignment-like work into my writer’s life. Nonfiction assignment-like work. And yet, it was daunting to consider. I knew what blogging would require: commitment, perseverance, patience, long term vision. And with a blog, you’re all out there, baby. Whatever you write, the world sees. As a writer, this would become my calling card. If I lost steam, let the quality of my writing drop, the world would see that, too.
Starting a blog on a self-hosted site was both easy (thank you, Mr. Classical Girl, my indispensable IT man) and not. Following the euphoria of setting up the first few posts, the electric “I just published something!” thrill, things got quiet. There were some lonely, “is anyone out there?” spells those first months. One day in mid-March, I called up one of my sisters and asked her to go read some of my blog entries. And maybe leave a little comment. She did. I watched the numbers for that day shoot up, which, while encouraging, was also depressing. She alone had been my audience that day. A new blogger on a self-hosted site is merely a drop of water in a very big lake, particularly if your subject is as obscure as ballet and classical music musings by an amateur enthusiast. But I’d made a goal before starting, to give it my all for twelve months, regardless of response. Most personal blogs, I’d learned, fail within six months for this very reason. What feels effortless and fun those first few weeks becomes a trudge through a social media desert as friends and family lose interest in returning yet again, and those other future readers out there have not yet found you. But, If you blog it, they will come, as the saying goes (not really). And “they” finally did.
Here’s what the year looked like:
- 27,152 views (and thank you 81,335 spammers, for pushing me past that 100,000 mark).
- 93 posts
- 350 comments
- Best day: 264 visits on “10,000 views for my Birthday” which was the best birthday gift I’ve ever gotten. Cyber kisses flung in the direction of all who participated. (http://www.theclassicalgirl.com/10000-views-for-my-birthday/)
- First big hit: “Bombs or Ballet?” in April with 190 views in the first day and something close to 500 views within a week. An astonishing, exhilarating feeling, in spite of the sadness of the subject. (http://www.theclassicalgirl.com/bombs-or-ballet/)
- Averages: currently 100 views a day. Back in April, pre-Bombs, it was 20. By June it was 50, and September brought me up to 80. Some days are inexplicably good (over 125), some inexplicably bad (under 80). There are lots and lots of ballet readers from around the world. “Popping into Palais Garnier” continues to garner a large number of hits every day. Readers love learning more about their favorite ballerina: Ulyana Lopatkina, Yuan Yuan Tan, Alina Cojocaru. A more recent blog getting lots of hits is “What do ballet dancers eat?” (http://www.theclassicalgirl.com/ballet-dancers-eat/) And “John Cage’s As Slow As Possible,” in the classical music department, has been very popular too. http://www.theclassicalgirl.com/john-cages-as-slow-as-possible/
I’ve learned not to judge my blog by others’ standards, those who get 1000 views a day and 20-30 comments to each post. Mine’s humble and I’m okay with that; I’m writing about what I love, not what I’m trying to market. A blog can be as specialized and/or commercial as the blogger desires. And if reading all this is giving you the “hey, I could do that too” feeling, I’d urge you to consider going for it. There’s a nifty feeling to starting a blog, like getting your first apartment, and looking at the empty space, feeling the excitement build in you as you imagine how you’re going to decorate it. A blog is one big giant room of possibility, powered by your imagination and creativity. And spending time researching and writing about this hobby you love so much—well, how’s that for a satisfying afternoon of work?
There are hundreds of articles circulating on how to start blogging, which platform or host to choose, what the difference between WordPress.com (all inclusive) and WordPress.org (self-hosted) For the record, this is a WordPress self-hosted site. Here are a few links if you’re interested in learning more. http://michaelhyatt.com/ez-wordpress-setup.html and http://www.jeffbullas.com/2013/07/17/the-art-and-science-of-creating-a-successful-blog-post/
Lastly, I’d like to shout out a big “THANK YOU” to the online friends and fellow dance bloggers whom I’ve met this past year. Their sites have inspired me; their support has helped me get through those first out-at-sea months; and many have included a link to my site on their blog roll. Which every blogger LOVES. So, here’s sending out a thank you (and of course a blog link) to the following:
- Dance Advantage http://www.danceadvantage.net
- Pointe till You Drop http://pointetilyoudrop.blogspot.com
- Adult Ballerina Project http://adultballerinaproject.com
- Adult Beginner http://adultbeginner.wordpress.com
- Back to First Position http://backtofirstposition.wordpress.com
- LoveBallet89 http://loveballet89.wordpress.com
Thank YOU, as well, dear readers, for coming to my site, reading my musings, commenting, subscribing, bookmarking my site, posting a link to a favorite article on Facebook or Pinterest or Twitter. It is no exaggeration to say that your presence here, your support, has made this all worthwhile for me. So, from the bottom of my Classical Girl heart, I thank you.