100 days of blogging. And what 100 days those have been. A small milestone to conquer, yet a great opportunity to compile a post touching upon several aspects of this new adventure of mine. The motives, the aspirations, the feelings, the practical issues and the everyday tasks.
The early days
I wouldn’t like to start the story-telling from Day 1, I’d rather start unravelling supersizeme’s story just a little bit before it’s actual birth.
It was early October of 2015 when the desire to create my own little thing, my own drive into life if you will, started burning me inside more and more intensely. But as always I just couldn’t figure out the way. I didn’t know where to start. I mean, I didn’t even know if it was a question of where, what or how.
So one random day I started browsing the web looking for a kind of fast-track 2- or 3-day entrepreneurial course to help me navigate into the world of business. But I found nothing promising apart from some courses that would only take place in spring and summer of 2016 that was feeling too far into the future at that point. And they were a bit pricy for my finances as well.
After the infertile search on google I jumped into amazon and started looking for relevant books. Now, the truth is that I don’t remember exactly how I came across The 7 Day Startup book by Dan Norris but luckily I did and even more luckily I decided that it would be a good place to start. The title of the book is quite self-explanatory. Dan suggests a way to start a business from scratch to launch in 7 days guiding you through a task on every day. It was so eye-opening for me. I loved it so much that right after finishing it, I started the other book of Dan’s, Content Machine.
At the same time, following references from those books, I found other valuable resources, mainly podcasts which I started listening to during my work. And while listening to a podcast my mind snapped and I decided to start this blog. I described that moment with more detail in my very first post if you are curious enough. That was October. And I felt that I had already started getting a basic entrepreneurial understanding and even more importantly my mindset had started shifting significantly.
The pre-launch month
So I decided to start a blog about entrepreneurship. What’s a better way to learn something than jumping straight into it? It would give me the chance to tackle practical issues associated with setting up and running a website. It would force me to research and read more about the subject in order to write about it. And it would put some pressure on me to chase my dreams more actively since, in the end of the day, it’s a blog that is meant to record precisely that exact process.
During November I started preparing the website. It didn’t take me a week as Dan’s template, it took me a month, partly because I have a full-time job and partly because I was doing everything pretty much for the first time – but I stayed in the do-not-procrastinate spirit. I set the goal to be online on the 1st of December – which I eventually did.
I started by looking for a name with an available domain. That one is tough. It is one of those things that if you don’t define a specific timeframe to complete, you can end up thinking and searching forever. I liked names like Start Me Up or Lift Off but of course they weren’t available. Nothing was available, as I guess you can imagine. So I took some quick decisions. I preferred a short name over a fairly long one. I wanted something that would be very easy for everyone to pronounce, write correctly and memorize and I wouldn’t spend days after days overthinking it. When I came across susime as the acronym of supersizeme I felt satisfied, even though it wasn’t ideal that the domain name and the website name were not identical. And I actually ended up messing up a lot with that fact later on…
Then I did some research regarding the hosting. It was easy to find the 3-4 most prominent and suitable providers but in order to pick one of them I dug a bit deeper. Eventually I made up my mind and I purchased a plan that cost me £52 for one year and I moved my domain on the new servers.
I had decided that I would run my site on WordPress, so I installed it and then looked out for a theme. My only criteria was to be responsive so that it would display nicely on mobile devices – and obviously I had to like it. I found Monstroid on a very good deal, from $79 down to only $19 which is something like £13 and I bought it and installed it. Then I had to understand how WordPress and the particular theme work – not that this is rocket science but first timers always need their time. I created an about page and I spent quite some time to decide if I want a kind of landing page and how that should be. I ended up taking the completely wrong decision which I didn’t manage to make it work exactly as I wanted anyway.
I created an image for that home page on which I spent a lot of time. I wasn’t sure that I really liked it, I was concerned about the colours and the fonts and the overall design of it but it was the second image I did, I had already spent a lot of hours on that task and I stayed firm to my goal of launching on the 1st of December. So I kept it. I registered my website on Google so that I could get the analytics once it would be up and running and then I wrote my first post managing to meet my deadline.
100 Days of Blogging
Launch: The day of
1st of December 2015. All set. Last edits on the first post before pressing the button. Publish.
Immediately after publishing I shared the link on my Facebook account. And I instantly felt sick. Literally. For the next couple of hours I had this kind of nausea that was conquering my body, my heart and my soul. The post was quite personal. Intimate. And I started thinking that the only people that would see it would be my friends, since I keep my Facebook account fairly private with only a bunch of people that I don’t know personally. And that they would judge me hard. They would start laughing or wondering what’s wrong with me or whatever else equally unpleasant. I felt I had exposed myself too much and I shouldn’t and a whole lot of thoughts on the same tune.
Then I checked the google analytics. Disaster. Almost all of the very few people to follow the link bounced. I realised how bad was my homepage. I did a very quick adjustment to save the day. And by that time it was late on a Sunday night and I dragged my shattered self on bed.
There is still pulse
Next morning while arriving at the office trying to compose myself I received a text from a best friend. She had read the post and sent me a nice and positive comment and some feedback. I went overjoyed. This is how it was those very first weeks – extreme psychological highs and lows alternating in high frequency intervals.
I kept going with a few personal but also experimental posts. The latter refer to the two short podcasts I created. That involved some practical/technical issues as well. I bought a basic microphone and a filter and had to spend a bit of time to understand how recording and editing was working in my audio software – which is Adobe’s Audition CS6 for anyone interested.
An audio clip of a couple of minutes took me about 6 hours to produce! Recording over and over again. Initially trying to feel comfortable speaking on a microphone with no one around. Then it took me a while to conclude that it was quite impossible to produce the clip if I didn’t write down and read what I wanted to say. Eventually it was done. At that point I was exhausted. That process drained all the energy out of me! And all that for a two-minute podcast with my terrible speaking. Seriously. Terrible! You may listen to it if you haven’t.
The rainbow after the storm
With personal posts and processes that I was trying for first time, so they were time-consuming as well, we reached Christmas. I was burnt out with all that both physically and psychologically. I went on holidays for 10 days. And when I touched base again I was lacking the motivation to re-enter my previous mode. I also realised that what I was doing the month before wasn’t sustainable. I was getting too tired, I wasn’t sleeping enough and so I needed to pace things differently if I wanted to be able to keep this whole initiative alive.
Although I was lacking the motivation to restart, I was feeling that I had a responsibility to myself. I had promised myself to give it a try and experiment with that blog for a while. I couldn’t stand letting myself down. But I didn’t rush it. I took my time and I let it come out by itself. Which it did around mid-January.
I started working on non-personal posts. And I decided that even though I would like to publish one post every week I wouldn’t put any pressure on myself to meet that goal. I needed to make this process fun and joyful and not messy and stressful. And posts take time to write. Some of them take really a lot of time.
Post after post, even though there are still only a few, I was gradually getting into the writing gymnastics. And I started feeling more confident with the content I was creating. I actually felt very proud for my post on Innovation and I still am.
At the same I was trying to improve the blog’s aesthetics as well as the functionality of the website. Things like what kind of images I would use and where I would source them from, updating the opt-in and contact forms, re-shuffling their location on the pages, adding a plugin that would enhance a certain aspect, like Search Engines Optimization for example, and dealing with all sorts of spam from spam comments on posts to false traffic on my Google analytics.
Now everything works much better, though not perfect yet, and I hope that everything looks better as well, though not perfect yet. And anyway, it definitely feels better! Last weeks I enjoy this whole thing so much! I have re-programmed my habits to maximize efficiency and eliminate non-productive activities, like watching a movie, replacing them with productive ones instead.
But is this going anywhere really?
Well, I don’t know yet. But I believe it can and so it has to as long as I stay on track. I am a believer and I think that if you put in the work sooner or later it will pay off.
I definitely have to do a lot of things for that to happen. And the number one problem for every new blog is how to drive traffic on it. And, at least for me, the first place to look at for a solution was social media. Let’s take them one by one since this is the task where I currently locate most of my time.
The only social networking platform that I used to be relatively active was Facebook. Which, as I said earlier, I was keeping fairly personal. Another fact is that my friends were never engaging too much with my posts on Facebook. You know, I was never getting hundreds of likes on my profile pictures or whatever else I was posting. Also a great amount of my Facebook friends are Greek, thus not keen on reading in English, and on top of that it’s almost only my Greek friends that used to engage with my posts.
So, as expected, my friends don’t engage with the posts where I share my new content. I get just a few likes and no shares. So, I had to find other ways to spread my content beyond my existing connections. I did create a Facebook Page, but to build an audience organically through a Facebook Page without paying for promotions is effectively impossible. I have heard and read of that and I have now tested it myself as well. I had to do find other marketing funnels.
In the meantime I was getting the feeling Twitter is probably the best platform for the thing that I was doing. So I started using it just a few days after launching the blog. I was that person that of course knew Twitter but had no idea how to actually use it! But I jumped into it. I got around 50+ followers in the first few days but then I hit a plateau and I was at 70+ followers after around 6 weeks of activity. But at that point I started understanding a bit better how the platform works and since then my followers grow constantly and as I write these words I have 205 followers out of which only 2 are friends of mine.
The goal here is to grow an audience – as Konstantinos, not as supersizeme, even though I do share my new content there. Now, I have reached the point that growth is constant without big plateaus but the growth rate will have to increase and I don’t know yet whether that will happen naturally like a snowball or if I will have to take further action. I just need more time in order to evaluate that.
Of course my current audience is very small to drive traffic, even though one tweet where I shared my post on Innovation got 5 retweets and 6 likes and it is one of the most successful tweets I have done to date. But disappointingly enough only two persons visited the actual post. A fact which is part of the learning process of how this social platform works and the conversion rates I have to anticipate.
Next came LinkedIn. I had never been very active on LinkedIn. I have been keeping my profile updated, I currently have almost 800 connections with the vast majority of those being from the architectural world, since I am an architect by profession. I wasn’t initially thinking to try utilizing this platform but I came across some statistics that showed that I probably should consider that again.
So, now I am publishing some of my articles, the ones that are not personal and fit the professional character of the network, as LinkedIn posts a few days after I post them on my website. So far I have published my articles on Innovation and Disruptive Innovation. The first got 27 views with 1 like from a friend and the second 23 views with 3 likes all from non-friends (2 first connections and 1 second). I also received 2-3 inbox messages but they are most likely spam – that’s still unclear to me.
Views are low as expected, since it was the first time I was publishing LinkedIn posts but engagement was a bit encouraging. Because it does concern me that my Facebook friends don’t engage with my content and I need somehow to understand if they are not interested in the subject, thus even the ones that they visit a post do not actually read it, or if my content is so bad. LinkedIn engagement gives me some hope that the former is the case.
Anyway, I don’t have much time to get deep into LinkedIn but I don’t neglect it completely because I think there might be some potential there. Probably I will give it priority over Facebook but I will keep the main focus on Twitter and Instagram.
Last but by no means least comes Instagram. Some facts first. I love Instagram. I love the simplicity, the interface, the idea, the content. I have a personal account where I mostly follow great photographers, top crossfit athletes and amazing yogis. Whenever I go to my feed I want to see high quality breathtaking photos or top crossfit athletes crashing workouts to motivate me on my way to train myself or super-flexible yogis to inspire me to keep giving a lot of pain on my soft-tissue muscles trying to become gradually more flexible myself.
The content that I post is some nice photos whenever I happen to take one that I want to share. I never intended to build an audience and I have around 90 followers in more than a year, who almost all of them are friends of mine. And since the content that I create for my blog is not visual, it never crossed my mind to utilize Instagram for supersizeme.
Up until recently when I came across some Instagram’s very interesting statistics – it is the fastest growing social network platform with a much much higher engagement rate comparing to Facebook and Twitter – and even more importantly I came across some nice strategies of growing an audience on Instagram. So I decided to try it out. It is around 10 days since I created the supersizeme account and as I write these words I have 64 followers out of which only 3 are friends of mine and 1 is my personal account.
It is too early to evaluate Instagram and even if it works in terms of building an audience there, it will be a whole different story to create a channel that will bring traffic on my website. But it is way too early to think of that now. So far it a lot of fun! Engagement is way higher than any other social platform I have used – likes, comments and even a couple of direct messages. If it continues with that pace then I can already feel some PR coming as well.
Having a designer’s background, I also enjoy that I get to create some visual content and I have to say that I hadn’t realized how much fun was hidden in the marketing process. But what is most important is that Instagram helped me perceive supersizeme as a brand. Now, what I am doing feels much bigger than before and I start feeling my vision dragging me forward with such a force I cannot resist.
What else is happening behind the scenes
I hope that those social media paragraphs weren’t too tiring! But I do want to give you the view inside of the cockpit as well as the reasons I fly the plane in the directions I do.
Everything described so far is time-consuming as you probably understand. But still I find, or better I create, some time to do a few more things in addition. Apart from looking on ways to reduce the time that every task consumes and maximize efficiency or keeping myself updated with what others are doing, I allocate time for reading books. I was always liking reading but now I do it more systematically. I am shifting towards non-fiction books with highly diverse topics and I manage to read around 500 pages per month which I would like to increase by 100 or 200 somehow. I mention books because they are really important. Self-education is the means to self-development. This is how we become better individuals and consequently how we contribute in elevating the intellectual levels of the society we belong. If we are on the same page on that, then stay tuned – I will soon create a resource page where I will start adding the books I read with reviews.
I am also working a bit on a Greek blog about fitness, nutrition and health that I had mentioned in the very early posts and I hope to launch soon. Supersizeme has taught me a lot in just 100 days. So I approach the fitness blog from a very different perspective comparing to the way I was thinking when I was starting supersizeme.
I have found the name, I have bought the domain and moved it to my hosting provider, I started writing a couple of posts and I have designed a logo. I will submit the logo for trademark soon – I hope it will be a quick process, and once this is done I am planning to do a pre-launch phase while I will be producing content.
Launching with just one post as I did for supersizeme seems like a bad idea, so I need to produce more content and launch with 3-5 posts. I also want to include visual content and there are a few things that will require significant time to organize, execute and post-produce. But I will do start an Instagram account, maybe a Facebook page as well and a landing page with an opt-in function as soon as I will have the logo trademarked. And I hope that I will get a few subscribers prior to launching – which is a long shot, I have yet to get my first subscriber here. But I am very curious to see how things will roll out in a very different market.
The ideal scenario is that I will do all those things twice to launch a similar fitness blog in English as well with the same content translated but that doesn’t seem very likely time-wise.
When I recall Day 1 and every aspect of it – how my site was looking, how I was feeling, what I knew and what I didn’t know, and then fast-forward the tape to Day 100 I sometimes cannot believe how I managed to produce so many things and how much I have learned in such a short period. And then I just cannot understand how it can be possible to fail. And then I believe more. And the more I believe the more I do. And the more I do the better I become. And that continues to infinity.
And after all, what I described in those 4000 words is nothing more than my way to do things. You may use it as a template or you may find another way, a totally different one, your way. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that there is always a way! I just wanted to show you how much it can be done no matter what are the constraints of your personal everyday life. And I want to encourage you, to beg you even, that if you feel that melody in your heart, do not silence it. Let it come into the surface. Let it play loud. Follow it. Follow it all the way. Through dark alleys and dusty roads. Through blood and pain and tears. Till it is so loud that will explode right there. In front of your eyes. Into your hands. Explode in colours. Explode in joy. Explode in love.
Tweet: Ideas do not come by thinking, they come by doing. Do More!
You don’t need an idea. You need nothing but that melody. That sweet melody. And then you just start doing something. Anything. And once you start doing ideas will start popping in your head by themselves. And soon there will be so many that you will not be able to carry them all in your head. And soon you will start carry a notebook and a pen wherever you go. Whenever you go. Because, trust me, your smartphone’s notes will not be enough!
And you will start rolling down that path. You will get lost in that dream. Your dream. Until one day you take a glance above your shoulder. And you realise how much you have walked. How real everything has been. And then you will start walking faster. And then you will start running. And then one day you will fly. Until you explode. In colours. In joy. In love.
Thank you for reading! If you have any thoughts on what you just read, either good or bad ones, I would appreciate it if you leave a comment below and let me know. Feedback is invaluable in one’s strive for progress. And if you choose to share this post it would mean the world to me! Until soon!