Tag Archives: Weblog

Reflections on 10 Years of Blogging

Today is my 10th anniversary blogging. On March 26th, 2006 I set up a free blog in three easy steps and wrote the following simple post:

It’s sunday morning and the house is getting ready for church. Why is it that the whole household can be up, ready and out the door by 8:00 Monday thru Friday, but  on Sunday you can’t make it to church on time by 11:00? <sigh> One of life’s little mysteries.

That was the beginning of my journey. Ten years and 3,412 blog posts later, I’m still going. I am not, by most people in the blogosphere’s standards, the definition of success. I haven’t made a fortune. My number of subscribers remains very meager. I have about 240 subscribers through WordPress and a reach that extends to a couple thousand people through Facebook and Twitter. On a typical day my blog gets about 150-200 views.

On this 10th anniversary I’ve been looking back and reflecting on what I’ve learned in my blogging experience. Here are a few thoughts:

  • Know your motivation. My blog has always had a very simple motivation. I just want to write about my life journey. I want to record my thoughts and experiences on different subjects. I want to share what’s going on with family and friends. As time has gone on I realize that my blog serves as a diary and a record. It will be an accessible archive for children, grandchildren and future generations of my experiences and my heartfelt thoughts. I have come to accept that my blog will never generate tons of subscribers simply because not that many people know me or are interested in my vacation pictures.
  • Know your content focus. Your motivation determines your content. The vast majority of my posts over the past decade have been my chapter-a-day posts. If I was really trying to establish my blog as an inspirational of devotional blog I would center my blog on those posts and reserve my personal journal, theatre, and photography posts elsewhere. My motivation, however, is for my blog to be a repository of my personal thoughts and experiences. My chapter-a-day posts are simply a record of my thoughts in my own daily quiet time. I’m not trying to preach to anyone or market myself as an author. I’m just sharing my daily, personal thoughts after reading a chapter of the Bible. My blog is a wide-angle lens on my life and it includes all kinds of different posts. A blogging expert would tell me that my wide range limits my audience, but my motivation has never been to build a big audience. I just want to express myself.
  • Just write. According to a NYTimes article, 95% of blogs are abandoned. I’ve known many who have started a blog, but after a post or two they walk away from it just like the Ab Cruncher they purchased ten years ago and used twice. I would argue that most people stop blogging because they aren’t really motivated, they struggle to know what they want to say. I think many people get discouraged that the world does not beat a path to their URL. Blogging requires a certain amount of fortitude. You’re going to write a lot of crap that no one wants to read. Keep writing. Post regularly. Be content with a few followers. The first six years of my blog I averaged about 15-20 views a day. It’s only in the past few years that it’s grown ten-fold. I’ve come to accept that blogging is about the journey, not the destination.
  • You never know what’s going to resonate. I have written a lot of really great posts, at least I thought they were profound. Virtually no one reads them. They never “get legs.” Then, I’ll post a random thought hastily typed and with little consideration and it will start to generate all sorts of traffic. I’ve given up trying to judge or prognosticate.
  • The rewards are not what I thought they’d be. I will confess that I, like most aspiring bloggers, have pipe dreams of my blog becoming wildly popular. I regularly talk myself off that ledge and laugh at myself. I then remind myself of everything I’ve written in this post thus far. The rewards I’ve reaped from my blogging journey are not what I expected, but I consider them to be priceless:
    • I’ve become a better writer. When I go back and read some of my chapter-a-day posts from the early years I regularly cringe. They were so short. The thoughts are undeveloped. Ugh! The contrast, however, serves to remind me that writing 3,412 posts is going to make me a better writer. I value that.
    • I’ve met some really great people. From my early blogging mentor, Mike Sansone, to people like Terry, Samantha, Jonathan, Michael, and David. My blog has opened up opportunities at relationships and networking I might otherwise have never had.
    • I have built an online personal reference source. What year was it that we took that trip to Cooperstown? Do you remember what year we performed Much Ado About Nothing? My blog makes it much easier to find definitive answers. Trivial, perhaps, but I value it.
    • I’m leaving a legacy. Those most close to me, my family and my friends, will have a record of my life experiences and my thoughts that will live beyond me. I sometimes think of my love of family history and how much I wish I had a journal of my great-great-grandfather to learn what life was like for him, what he thought, and what he felt. Perhaps I will have a great-great grandson or granddaughter who will appreciate my little blog. Maybe I’ll have the opportunity to have a positive impact on their lives.
    • I occasionally make a difference in someone’s day. Every once in a while I’ll get a message or an e-mail saying something like, “Thanks. I needed your post today.” Rarely do I get to know how or why. It’s nice to know, though. I’m grateful when people tell me, and it helps motivate me to keep going.

Thanks to those of you who follow along on this journey. Thanks to those who stop by now and then. Thanks especially to Wendy and Kevin R. who regularly discuss, respond, and encourage. Here’s to the next decade!

Top 10 Blog Posts Published in 2014

Yesterday I shared the Top 10 viewed posts in 2014, regardless of when the post was published. Today, from the home office in Pella, Iowa, I’d like to share the Top 10 blog posts I published in 2014. Perhaps you missed a few. Enjoy!

  1. You Heard Right…We’re Moving
  2. “There are No Wrong Notes”
  3. A Recap and Review of our Caribbean Cruise
  4. 10 Ways I Tried NOT to Exasperate Our Children
  5. Joy of the Dance
  6. Blind Spots
  7. The Courage to Audition
  8. “Yes, You Can.”
  9. The Prodigal’s Lesson for Parents
  10. Throwback Thursday: Before Pella’s Tulip Time

10 Most Popular Posts in 2014

source: sam churchill via Flickr
source: sam churchill via Flickr

As 2014 winds down, I’m taking time this week to look back at my blog stats to see what seemed to generate the most traffic. I’ve been blogging for over eight years, and it’s interesting to see which posts continue to generate interest over the years even though they may be ancient in terms of the world wide web.

I’ll be posting a few different lists this week. Here are the ten most popular posts from my blog in 2014, regardless of when they were published:

  1. 10 Ways Being a Theatre Major Prepared Me for Success
  2. Top 5 Things Wrong with “The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug”
  3. You Heard Right: We’re Moving
  4. Preparing for a Role: Rehearsal Process
  5. Preparing for a Role: How Do You Memorize All Those Lines?
  6. Getting Away from Crazy makers
  7. Theatre is Ultimate Fitness for Your Brain!
  8. “There are No Wrong Notes”
  9. Art Heals (continued)
  10. The Art and Progression of Sexual Intimacy

My Life: A Photo Abecedarius

W is for “Wendy.”

  • Friend
  • Confidant
  • Muse
  • Constant companion
  • Lover
  • Stage partner
  • Life partner
  • Favorite photography subject

Related Links:

My Life: A Photo Abecedarius

Crazy Family LRV is for “Vander Well.” We are slightly strange, but also fun and loving family. Seriously, I know I’ve posted it a million times, but I never get tired of this picture. It so perfectly captures the crew.

Related Links:

My Life: A Photo Abecedarius

2013 Sanna Senior Pic 002

S is for Suzanna. Wendy’s youngest sibling came to live with us last summer and has been such a blessing to us. It’s been so awesome to watch her processing life and growing into such a capable (and gorgeous!) young woman. We have been and continue to be blessed to walk along side her on this stretch of her journey.

Related Links:

Top Ten Blog Posts of All Time (So Far)

Blog HeaderI’ve been blogging since 2006. In those years I’ve published just short of 3,000 posts. My blog has basically followed three main themes:

  1. General Posts about my life, what I’ve been up to, and etc.
  2. Chapter-a-Day devotional posts. I’ve blogged through the entire Bible once and have blogged through the entire New Testament twice.
  3. Theatre posts about my experiences in the art form I love.

Below I’ve listed my top ten posts in each of these themes, ranked by the number of “hits” or “views” for each post. I found it fascinating to see what posts have received the most traffic.

Speaking of Changes in Life
Top Five Things Wrong with “The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug”
Tom’s 30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 24
Looney Tunes Boat: Lake of the Ozarks Shootout
Day 5: List Things That Irritate You About the Same/Opposite Sex
Day 2: How Have You Changed in the Past Two Years?
Three Indelible Life Lessons from the Game of Baseball
Striking a Chord: When a Blog Post Goes Viral
Tom Vander Well Meet Tom Vanderwell
Day 3: What Kind of Person Attracts You?

Getting Away from Crazymakers
Art Heals (Continued)
Chapter-a-Day Proverbs 10
Art and Progression of Sexual Intimacy
Chapter-a-Day Proverbs 11
The Curse of Being Religious
Here I Am: Did You Call Me? (My Story)
Abraham, Typology, and the Tolkien Geek
10 Ways I Tried NOT to Exasperate My Children
An Old Concept We Still Don’t Get

10 Ways Being a Theatre Major Prepared Me for Success
Ham Buns and Potato Salad
Preparing for a Role: How Do You Memorize All Those Lines?
Preparing for a Role: The Rehearsal Process
Theatre Majors Unite!
Theatre is Ultimate Fitness for Your Brain
Preparing for a Role: Digging Into Character
Keeping Focus When Siri Joins You on Stage
Preparing for a Role: The First Rehearsal
Preparing for a Role: Digging Into the Past