NaBloPoMo: Wrapping Things Up

Well, I made it through the month of blog posts. NaBloPoMo was an interesting little experiment. I only skipped one day (the day I went to Disneyland), which was intentional that day since I knew I wouldn’t have time to do it. I’m actually kind of surprised that I made it. There were many days when I didn’t feel like doing a post, but setting this goal and having a daily externally visible benchmark for goal success was a good motivator.

Workflow

I wrote a lot of my posts in either Editorial (an iPad-only amazing text editor), Sublime Text 2 (a Mac text editor) or Evernote. A couple of posts (usually the photo-centric ones) were written directly in the WordPress “new post” page online. I wrote all of the posts in Markdown. Markdown is a markup syntax to make it easier to post things on the web. It was developed by John Gruber (who runs the tech blog Daring Fireball) with the help of Aaron Swartz. Markdown makes it really easy to put links, footnotes, emphasis, and those kind of html formatting things into text that is meant for the web. The two major advantages of it are that 1) it is easy to type and 2) it is easy to read1. WordPress added Markdown support a year ago and I highly suggest trying it out if you are writing for the web.

All of the pictures were initially sent to Flickr and then an embed link was copied from Flickr to the post draft. Since I was writing in Markdown, this was extremely easy. Did I mention how much I like writing in Markdown?

Stats

Yes, I care about stats. I would check most days to see how many people were reading, where the clicks were coming from, and what people clicked on next (if anything). As the month went on, I was getting curious about which post would end up being the most popular. At the beginning of the month I was averaging about 20 page views per day and by the last week it was closer to 40. I picked up a bunch of new followers (hello there!).

NaBloPoMo_2014stats

The most popular post was on the fun and simple Vector Graph Racer game. I’m not too surprised by this since it got retweeted a few times. The next most popular was the one on my hand Excel tips and tricks, also no surprise. There were three posts about my trip to Chile last year, but only Part 1 made it to the top of the list. This is really too bad because Part 2 is definitely the best part of the trip (hiking in Patagonia! penguins! glaciers!).

If you missed any of the posts, you can scroll them through all by clicking here.

Interesting note: a post I wrote in October of 2012 on how to export Mendeley tags to csv or xls still gets a big number of hits. I average more than one view a day for the last two years on that post from people all over the world. That puts it ahead of all but five of my recent NaBloPoMo posts just this month.

The Future

I still have a few posts that I wanted to get to this month but didn’t for one reason or another. Usually it was because the post was going to require more than a day’s worth of thinking or writing or preparation of files/photos. I’m not going to write a post a day, but I think I will try to do one every week or so. No promises, though. When I decided to do this project, I didn’t think it would take up as much time as it did. It’s not a lot of time, but it’s definitely a non-trivial amount of time. But I have remembered why I like doing it, and everyone has responded really well to the posts, so I want to make time for it going forward.

This month has gotten me past the fear of pushing the publish button. My tendency to procrastinate coupled with a bit of a perfectionist spirit was making it increasingly difficult to let things go to the void. Hitting “publish” every day for a month has been kind of freeing and although I usually want to change or add something to the post the next day after I’ve slept on it a bit, I’ve had to just move on to the next thing. I’m not saying that it has cured my procrastination or anything, but I think it helps to convince me not to be afraid to work on something and then let it go and not just keep in a folder hiding away forever.

Thanks for reading everyone!


  1. This month I spent some time editing and looking at older blog posts before Markdown was supported on WordPress and it was so hard to read them with all of the html garbage that was in them (especially w/r/t images). Never going back to that. Especially now that it’s so easy to do footnotes. :) 

Author: cynthiadangelo

I am a researcher, working on educational games, science education, and data visualization. I like photography, soccer, traveling, and teaching my dog new tricks.

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