Being a reflective practitioner is highly encouraged in my profession. We are always being asked to think back on an activity or our work, critique ourselves and our practice, looking for areas of strength and weakness. It, therefore, felt natural to apply this to my blogging. What were the goals at the start of the year? Did I achieve them? What did I do well? What could I improve upon? What do I want to work towards in 2019?
At the beginning of the year I set myself 3 targets: 1) write 2 blog posts a month; 2) increase traffic to my site (both month to month and overall); and 3) gain 3000 followers on Twitter. I am delighted I achieved all these goals (though I nearly failed on the first). Of course, not all the posts were of the same standard: I’m more proud of some than others. But I think it’s natural there will be some variation in the quality of my work.
I know the best way to increase traffic to your site is to post more. That’s why I was so keen to set myself a monthly quota of posts. Looking at the numbers, this has definitely panned out. My overall total for this year was roughly 7000 more than 2016 and about 8500 more than 2017. I’m really pleased with this result. For the mean and median daily viewers per month, 2018 was much better than 2017 but only slightly better than 2016. This is a little surprising and disappointing. But in 2016 I had one very popular post and most of the others weren’t read by many, so that will have skewed the distribution slightly. Regardless, I’m happy with the consistency in my post schedule and there was less variance in the average number of daily viewers per month[note]But there’s a chance most of the traffic is bots, so perhaps I shouldn’t focus on it too much (Read, 2018).[/note].
My last major goal was indirectly related to my blog: the number of Twitter followers I have. I can’t remember what I started the year on, but I set myself the goal of having 3000 followers by the beginning of September. I’m really happy I reached this total at the end of August and have maintained an encouraging growth in followers.
An unexpected honour
Something truly remarkable happened this year: someone asked if they could use my work during a graduate course they are running! They came across my notes on Paul Meehl’s lectures and asked if they could share them with the students. They are to serve as supplementary material for discussing/understanding the videos, as the lecture recordings form the core of the course. I was not expecting that at all and am very flattered and grateful. Those posts initially started as notes for myself; I had no intention of sharing them. I then wondered if others would benefit from them and decided to make them public. I’m really glad others have found them helpful, given there is so much to take in from the video lectures.
Areas for improvement
The main area I want to improve on is the quality of my posts. Some of them definitely felt like filler content. I’m not embarrassed to have them on my blog, but you can definitely tell which ones took more time and research and which ones were quickly pumped out. Going forward, I want to have greater consistency in the quality of my work. Thus, writing a shorter/less research-heavy post only if I have something really meaningful to contribute to the discussion. With the more research focused posts, I think I could have been more balanced in my approach to a topic e.g. setting in schools. I’m happy with the post, but as Dylan Wiliam pointed out on Twitter, I applied higher standards to those studies finding a positive impact compared to those which didn’t. I will counter this by being more critical of my writing and aware of my biases.
What do I hope to achieve next year?
I can see my workload greatly increasing in 2019 so I’m reducing the number of blog posts I want to publish to 1. In an ideal world, I’ll keep increasing the number of monthly readers etc. but I don’t know how realistic that is given I’m almost certainly going to halve my output. I also want to increase my number of Twitter followers to 4000, as well as attend SIPS in Rotterdam. I’ve heard so much about the conference and it sounds exactly like my sort of thing. The fact it’s in Europe means I can (hopefully) make it. I’m going to apply for the Student/Postdoc travel fund as I’m not exactly swimming in cash right now. If I don’t get it, I’ll still go[note]Humans don’t need to eat, right?[/note] as I’m really keen to meet lots of people I’ve interacted with on social media, and learn lots of cool stuff.
- Publish at least 1 blog post a month.
- At least maintain the total number of yearly visitors to my site and the average number of monthly viewers.
- Gain 4000 Twitter followers.
- Attend SIPS 2019.