Over at Chris Guillebeau’s website, The Art of Non-Conformity, he challenges his readers to do an annual review. You can read about it here. The biggest questions to ask are:
What Went Well In 2011?
-This is the inaugural year of life unrestricted. I sent emails to close friends of mine before officially launching to get their opinions on the functionality, design, content, etc. of this website. That was quite helpful and I enjoyed the honest feedback. I am learning the age old adage of never underestimate the power of asking nicely.
-If anyone is wondering, I’m using wordpress.org for the site and Bluehost for the domain name/hosting/email. (None of these are affiliate links.) Bluehost is a wonderful hosting co. and when I had an issue early on, it was promptly taken care of with great customer service.
It was a lot of fun learning the ends and outs of wordpress and my first dip into the sea of HTML. Here is a tip: if you decide to delve into your HTML code or stylesheets, please make a copy of what you want to change first. For real.
-I created a Twitter account, and by far, it is one of the best decisions I made this year. The remarkable people I’ve met and communicated with on the Twitter is outstanding. I’m a little…slow on the uptake when it comes to tech. But it’s been so nice finally coming into the 21st century. If you are on Twitter, hit me up @jermainelane.
-Writing about hope, health/kidney disease, relationships, and my own personal stories seemed to resonate the most with people over the year. Perhaps stories are more relatable than a how-to. Or maybe a mash-up of the two? It is an art, which I am enjoying figuring out.
-Connecting with other writers and bloggers was another huge blessing of the year. Getting to know people via writing comments on their blog, email, and twitter is rewarding and also inspiring. People are quite nice, and again, be kind an courteous.
-Poemvember was one of the best things to happen here. I received a great deal of feedback, online and offline. If you are new here, Poemvember was a 30 day poetry project I started last month. 30 days, 30 poems. To check it out, click here. It was an exercise in shipping my poetry out into the world, opening myself up to criticism, and sharing my art with you, all of which are quite scary to me. Yet I moved beyond fear and I’m proud of how it turned out.
What Did Not Go Well In 2011?
-An interesting thing I discovered is the more I researched and read about how to blog the “right way” and how I’m supposed to blog, the less I felt it was me writing. I felt like I was following a formula by someone else vs. writing from my heart. The posts where I wrote how I felt or told a story from my heart were better received. There is nothing wrong with research, and yes, there are some things that are tremendously helpful to know. But I had to learn to use the research and incorporate it into me, vs. following a formula or imitate someone else.
-Another thing I learned was to get over myself and write regardless of if people commented or not. Sure, we all want acknowledgement and a response, but I was letting it get to me and not in a healthy, helpful way. Some writers/bloggers shut down their comment section completely. I probably w0n’t go there, and I’ll still struggle with it, but hopefully in a better way.
-I’ve experimented with different things here on the site over the year (videos of the month, email sign-in forms, etc.) to see what would resonate and what wouldn’t. Yet I feel I’ve overlooked the most important thing, connecting further with you the reader.
Updating the life unrestricted facebook page, gmail, etc. I feel went to the wayside in favor of fiddling with the design. It’s like ignoring the family because you are so busy figuring out which color to paint the house and whether you need a deck or a hot tub in the back. You are the most important here, without you, this would just be an online journal. Taking the time to connect with you is well worth it.
Next Thursday I’ll write about Part II and moving forward into next year. If you did an annual review, what went well this year, what did not go so well this year. Thanks so much for reading and take care. May hope be with you, may hope be multiplied!
[Image by Xavier Donat via Flickr and a Creative Commons License.]