Next Starfish – Three Month Update

Next Starfish was three months old on the 5th August – woo hoo :)

Thanks to all my visitors and readers from around the globe. All your feedback and emails are very much appreciated. It’s both reassuring and inspiring to know there are so many people out there passionate about trying to make a positive difference in the world.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the things I want to do is give occasional ‘behind the scenes’ insights into the process of setting-up and running a blog. Most sites don’t seem to discuss these issues very much, and I thought it might be of interest to other social justice, environment and non-profit bloggers, writers and website managers. If anyone wants more information than I can provide in these short summaries – from the basics of putting together a website, through to using social networking, just drop me a line and I’ll try to help out as best I can (not that I’m any kind of expert).

Since going live in May, Next Starfish has had over 4,300 visits, from more than 2,750 visitors, which I’m very pleased with. I’m particularly pleased with how often people are coming back to read the latest articles. During July the site averaged 41 visits a day, and I’m very pleased that Next Starfish now has over 450 Facebook fans, and 530 Twitter followers !

Most of Next Starfish’s visitors find the site from Google (no surprise), but Facebook and Twitter are also increasingly significant. I also get perhaps 10% via social recommendation sites like Stumble Upon and Reddit, which I didn’t expect. The only advertising I’ve paid for so far is a low level Facebook campaign, which cost around $50, and actually has been quite successful in attracting visitors, particularly from around the world. I’ve been amazed with the range of countries visitors have come from, 89 different countries in total with significant numbers coming from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Mexico and India, as well as the more obvious English speaking world. I’m especially pleased with this, as many of the problems I cover on Next Starfish are global in nature, and views and opinions from around the world are particularly important.

In terms of popularity the Foto Friday posts seem to attract the most direct visitors, with Wisdom vs Intelligence, Cleaning Out My Closet, and Sixty Seconds Worth of Distance Run also having been popular. The most ‘liked’ article on Facebook was The Greatest Gift that I Possess. I’d like to say thank you again to all my guest bloggers who have written some excellent articles for me, and I’m always very happy to receive proposals or suggestions for other guest articles – having a range of voices and subjects makes things more interesting . . . and will also allow me to find a bit more time away from the keyboard :)

So what next ? I intend to continue taking it easy over the rest of the school holidays, but in September I’ll do a bit of tweaking to the site layout and look . . . nothing too major. Like all websites I get quite a few spam emails asking ‘if I want to double my blogging income’ – but as so far I haven’t made a penny, twice as much still doesn’t sound too tempting. I’ll look again at the financial side before the end of the year.

In the meantime I hope you continue to find the site interesting – and if you like what Next Starfish is about – please share your thoughts and feedback, either in the article comments or via Twitter or Facebook – and second and most importantly, be sure to let your friends know we’re here.

RELATED ARTICLESNext Starfish One Month Update

Next Starfish – One Month Update

Next Starfish was one month old on the 5th June ! Hip Hip !

I’m very pleased with how the first month went – everything on the site seems to be working, I found time to write regular posts, and (most amazingly) people seem to be visiting.

One of the things I wanted to do when I was planning Next Starfish, was to give occasional updates about how the site was performing and share some of the nuts-and-bolts details of running a blog that most bloggers don’t generally discuss. The theory being that behind-the-scenes info on site design and marketing etc. might be of particular interest to other bloggers and would-be bloggers.

During May Next Starfish had 1,170 unique visitors, which I’m pretty pleased with for a first month. I’m expecting visitor numbers to probably dip a little, for a month or two, before (hopefully) starting to rise again. My 12 month target is to achieve 10,000 unique visitors a month, which is ambitious, but should be do’able – I’ll keep you posted.

Next Starfish’s Facebook site had 73 site ‘likes’ by the end of May and 107 followers on Twitter, which is fantastic. The numbers for both have continued to grow well moving into June, and over the coming months I plan to further develop both the content on both platforms to include a wider range of material  - such as links to news items and other articles etc. A few posts received comments, and ‘likes’ in May, and I’m very pleased this seems to be improving more in June. Ultimately the site will live-or-die based on feedback from users, so please don’t be shy in sharing your thoughts and views.

I’ve not really done anything to highlight the Amazon backed bookstore, and unsurprisingly have yet to make a sale as a result :(  I’ll work more on this shortly. The site obviously isn’t meant to be a big money-making venture, but any income is welcome (of course). A quarter of all income will be donated directly to Oxfam and Water Aid, with the remaining 75% divided between all contributing authors.

The Next Starfish YouTube channel had over 150 visits during May, which isn’t bad, but again I probably need to improve the promotion of this section of the site.

If anyone is interested in the more techie aspects – the site is written in WordPress using the excellent Prose Theme from Studiopress, and I’m using Google Analytics to monitor traffic.

Although I run a couple of other websites, this is my first blog, and I must admit I’m currently loving the whole ‘being a blogger’ thing. Once you get over the initial nerves of writing something for the whole world to see, it’s actually quite enjoyable. I’ve no shortage of topics and issues I want to blog about, but I am finding it a challenge to find the time to write articles, manage and promote the site, along with my family life, my day job, sleep, and the zillion other things I should be doing . . . I know I’m not the only person struggling to balance competing time demands, and this is probably a topic I’ll write more about in the future. Something else I’ve noticed is that I’m too frequently thinking about the blog, or planning articles in my mind – probably not too healthy on a long term basis, so I’ll have to set some boundaries up to control that.

I hope you find these occasional updates of interest. Over time I’ll go on to talk about networking, marketing, guest-blogging and all the other aspects of running a blog.

In the meantime I hope you continue to find the site’s content interesting and inspiring – and if you’re supportive of what I’m trying to do with Next Starfish I’d like to ask two things of you – first please share your comments on the articles, or via Twitter or Facebook – all feedback is welcome, and second and most importantly, be sure to let your friends and contacts know we’re here.

The ultimate aim of Next Starfish is to challenge apathy and indifference and promote and encourage action to create positive change in the world, so the more people that wander in off the cyber street the better :)

Finally if they’re are any keen writers out there with a cracking idea for a guest post – drop me a line.

Does the World Really Need Another Blog ?

There are more than 160 million blogs on the internet. Another 50,000 new blogs begin every day.

Does the world really need another one ?

What more can there possibly be to say ?

Something to ponder when starting a new blog, but I finally decided on the ‘build it and they will come’ approach. There are over two billion people connected to the internet after all, with another quarter of a million joining daily. That’s a lot of people wanting something to read – so long as it’s relevant, interesting and different !

This is a blog about changing the world.

We live in a time of staggering contrast between the worlds’s rich and poor. According to UNICEF 22,000 children die every day due to poverty. There is sufficient wealth in the world to change this, but 75% of the world’s income goes to the 20% of the global population who are already the richest. If like me you live in the Western world then that probably includes you.

We are also living unsustainably. Our rising appetite for energy, water, food and raw materials is already causing problems and risks outstripping our current supply. If we want to lift billions of people out of poverty across the world we will need to use even more. Yet we are already struggling with environmental damage, climate change and conflict.

Is this ‘just the way things are’ ?

How much should we care about people we don’t know, who live far away ?

What changes should we make in our own life for the benefit of the wider environment ?

I am personally challenged by these questions. My motivation for this blog is to encourage a shift of our attention, away from the seemingly impossible scale of these problems, and away from what we’re all not doing, and focus instead on what we can do.

It’s not about ‘saving the world’; it’s about doing things differently.

It’s not about guilt or fear; it’s about optimism and enjoyment.

I personally think many environmental and social justice messages are more than a little ‘preachy’, and sometimes lacking perspective, or don’t seem sufficiently grounded in reality. I hope this blog will be different. That’s not to deny the significance and urgency of the issues, the 22,000 children who will die from poverty today are not faceless, nameless abstracts, but real children who will leave grieving families behind, but I don’t believe we can change things just by adopting an attitude of guilt and personal sacrifice. That’s not how we motivate ourselves, either as individuals or societies, we need something else.

I believe we need to feel positive and enthusiastic if we’re going to make permanent significant changes in our lives, and make a meaningful contribution to the issues we care about.

Hope you keep reading.

 

Photo attribution http://www.flickr.com/photos/aah-yeah/3616672468/in/photostream/