Cycling with heels is one year old today!
If it were a child, there’d be a party with balloons and streamers, a huge birthday cake, more presents than one small person could ever play with, and a room full of proud parents and screaming babies.
But as it’s a blog, a party seems a little over the top. So instead – if you’ll allow me the indulgence – I thought I’d take this opportunity to look back over the past year.
I had no great master plan when I started Cycling with heels. I simply wanted to write.
(I do get to write at work, but not in a way that really excites me. I’m an editor for the MS Society, and my job involves producing information resources about MS. Sticking to the facts, as I must, does tend to get in the way of a good story.)
I wanted an outlet to develop my own ideas, and to write about the things that interested me. Why not a blog? And, given that I’d have to find a focus for the blog if I wanted anyone other than my friends and family to read it, why not a blog about cycling? After all, I do it every day, and can talk about it at length, if given half the chance.
I had no idea whether anyone would be interested in what I had to say, or even that I would be interested in it enough to be able to keep it going.
Things got off to a slow start. I rather naively thought all I needed to do was publish a few posts and readers would magically appear. Unsurprisingly, my stats remained stubbornly low.
182 hits in November 2012. 65 in December 2012.
Things picked up somewhat in the early part of this year, when I figured out that if I read other people’s blogs then they might return the favour. But still the stats remained pretty low – around 400 hits a month.
The turning point was in May. Having concluded that being the wallflower at the blogging party wasn’t getting me anywhere, I overcame my fear of self-promotion and got in touch with a number of cycling websites and blogs.
One of these was London Cyclist, run by Andreas.
Given the number of cycling blogs out there, and given – I’d imagine – the number of people who email him – as I did – to say, ‘Hey! Look at my blog!’ I wasn’t expecting much of a response.
I wasn’t expecting Andreas to send a Tweet out to all his followers – all 15,000 of them – with a link to my blog. And if I wasn’t expecting that, then I certainly wasn’t expecting that he would list my blog as one of the top ten cycling blogs in London, or that I would end up writing for London Cyclist.
That connection to London Cyclist gave my stats the boost they needed. And so, at the end of my first year, I now have 126 followers, and my page hits are just shy of 20,000.
Those numbers may seem quite modest compared to other blogs and websites, but for me they’re extraordinary. Frankly, I still can’t quite get my head around the idea that anyone is interested in what I have to say, never mind 126. The thought that all these people have, of their own volition, signed up to follow my blog is somewhat mind-boggling.
And then there are the people who say I’ve inspired them – to start their own blog, to start cycling, to start whatever. Little me, inspiring someone? Really?
It’s all a little overwhelming.
I still think I could do better, though. I worry that the topics I write about are too eclectic – from the perfect bike bag via Poland through to space4cycling – and that I should focus more on just one aspect of cycling in London. I worry that I’ll run out of things to write about, and I’ll end up repeating myself. I worry that I need to do more to promote myself, and to get out there and become more of a part of the London cycling community.
There is one thing I don’t worry about anymore.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but never believed I was good enough. A year’s worth of blogging has taught me that I can actually write, and that people seem to like what I write. It’s given me the confidence to believe that maybe, just maybe, I could actually give this whole writing thing a proper go.
One year down. Who knows what the next year will bring?