Believe it or not, March marks the end of my first year in blogdom, with “The Never Empty Nest.” I’d like to say “what a difference a year makes,” but that would be a lie.   The truth is that while some things have changed—like Max graduating from college and Sparky dying—mostly everything else has stayed the same.  Is that good or bad?  The short answer (and blogs are meant to be short) is both good AND bad. 

     When I first started my blog (“The Never Empty Nest”: An Introduction, 3/1/13), I didn’t know how long I’d be able sustain my own interest, let alone find readers who shared it.  How many weeks or months could I write about the comings and goings of young adult twins—a son with ADHD and a daughter on the autistic spectrum—and their impact on our home and my psyche? Would I be able to focus on related issues in politics, the economy and the outside world with passion and humor? More importantly, would there be enough people out in cyberspace interested in reading it?  I was hoping the issues I explored would be universal enough to be meaningful to all families, not just parents of young adults with special needs. 

     The good news is I have 11,156 page views so far.  Over the last few months, the traffic on my blog has averaged from 200 to 400 visits per week, up from 100 -150 when I started.  In the beginning, I had no idea how (or where) to post on social media, and I didn’t know how to upload photos. Since then I have emerged from this isolated and illiterate state, to being a “top contributor” in two of my Linked in groups where I post a link to my blog.  The bad news is I’m nowhere near viral in terms of traffic.

     I’m also far from up to speed on technology.  Whereas most young people today toddle from  cribs to ipads, computers and cell phones, I started life with an Etch-A-Sketch and telephones with cords and dials. Instead of doing research on Google (or Bing), I consulted the World Book Encyclopedia and National Geographic. All of my essays were written on lined paper in high school, until senior year when I began typing papers on an IBM Selectric.  (Yes, I KNOW I’m ancient). Once in college, the only way to do research was at the library.   (Please, tell me there are readers who remember those days)!

     In spite of my technology limitations, I managed 51 posts during the first year of my blog, including topics both predictable and unexpected: Henry and I celebrated our 25th anniversary and he turned 65; Sarah lost 35 pounds and found a boyfriend who had bedbugs; Max turned into a hypochondriac and graduated from college.  Our dog Sparky had knee surgery in September and died from lymphoma in January.  Besides taking care of my family, I spent the year ruminating on autism issues, the challenges of parenting millennials, my daughter’s movie and my son’s documentary. There were also posts on weather, politics and what it’s like to get chicken pox in your 50s.  I also managed to publish some of my writing in a literary journal, an anthology and an on-line humor journal.  I guess I was lucky that my life was filled with enough drama to inspire me with new topics each week, but not overwhelming or time-consuming enough to gobble up my writing time.

     According to a recent Nielsen report, consumer interest in blogs keeps growing.  By the end of 2011, NM Incite tracked over 181 million blogs around the world, up from 36 million only five years earlier in 2006.  So who are my fellow bloggers?  The majority of bloggers are women and half of all bloggers are aged 18 – 34.  Clearly, I’m in the fossilized minority.  But at least bloggers are well-educated—70% have attended college, and like me—most are graduates. One out of three bloggers are Moms—yes!—with kids under 18—definitely NOT me, (though my millennials often act considerably younger).  Oh yes, and we’re very active across social media—twice as likely to post or comment on YouTube, and even more likely to post in Message Board/Forums during the past month.  Hmm… I guess there’s a lot more for me to be learning and doing.

     Maybe this is the moment to make a list of New Blog Year’s resolutions: Improve my social media and computer skills. For example, I really want to be able to post on “Top Mommy Blogs,” but I can’t figure out how to move their “flag” onto my site and complete the registration. Perhaps there are bigger and better places to be posting, and I need to find them? The Huffington Post never responded, but that’s no reason to be discouraged, right? I must tweet more often, comment on other similar blogs, and follow them in the hopes they’ll follow me. Maybe I should add hash tags too. These efforts strike me as tedious and time-consuming, but maybe if I stay at my computer long enough, they’ll seem like fun.  After all I hated vegetables as a kid, and grew up to love most of them. 

     I’d also like to add interviews: with parents, ADHD and autism specialists, and business people who employ young adults with disabilities. It would also be fun to have fellow bloggers as my guests.  Best of all would be if I could have a couple of advertisers on “The Never-Empty Nest,” to help feed my no-longer-baby birds.  Of course to attract advertisers, I’d probably have to greatly increase my page views and do everything on my resolution list.  According to a parenting blogs analytics study, to boost traffic, I should also change my content to include topics, such as holiday themed contests, shopping guides and product reviews and use clickable words like “best,” “healthy” and “easy.” My titles should start with “How to…, “Top 5 Places/Products to…,” or “What to do about….” Oops, I’m dozing off.

                Maybe I’ll start next week.

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