On July 31st, 2021, at about 8 am WAT, I pressed the Publish button for my blog to go live. To be completely honest, I didn’t know what to expect at all. I was seated by the window in a coaster bus headed from Ikeja to Badagry, Lagos for a brief weekend trip. It felt so good to begin this journey afresh and also take some time off that weekend to relax and refresh.
Let’s take it back to a few years ago…
I created my first blog, on Medium, in 2017, a few months before I turned twenty. However, I did not write any posts until my twentieth birthday, later that year. It was a very short article where I discussed who I was, what point I was in my life at that time, and my goals for my Medium page then. I maintained my Medium page for about 3 years, publishing a total of 12 articles on topics ranging from tech, data science, my personal journey, year-in-review posts, and short motivational posts.
Unfortunately, my Medium journey was cut short in December 2020, when I received a grim email from the Medium team informing me that my account had been suspended for breaking the platform policies. There was no further explanation.
I was not aware of any policies I had flouted so I immediately sent a reply appealing to the team to either give me context so I can rectify the issue or have them rescind the suspension as I had not broken any rules. I haven’t gotten any response to date. I was really sad about this because it felt like I had lost everything and I’ll never be able to write again.
However, I was lucky to be able to export my data and articles published from Medium. I kept this in my Google Drive and moved on. On the last day of the year 2020, I created a new Medium account and published my 2020 End of Year review because I felt that I wanted to share that and decided that Medium’s decision will not hold me back regardless. I put that out and never visited that Medium account anymore.
Then, 2021 began.
I had earlier toyed with the idea of self-hosting my blog way before this ugly incident. Unsurprisingly, after this incident, I felt the nudge more strongly. I decided to do it. I spent February of 2021 researching different blogging platforms, self-hosting options, and other relevant information based on my needs. The major things that were important to me were being able to have independent sections for my blog (as I did not want to be boxed into just tech), content ownership, newsletter support, and an opportunity for monetization, if necessary. I did my research, made my decision, and even chose a domain name, then I did nothing about it. For months.
In the coming months, some of my friends would check in on me and ask about my blog plans, encourage me, support me, and would even try to help me buy a domain and hosting plan, etc. But it just never really worked out.
I decided to get my domain and start setting up my blog. It was a learning journey for me, from choosing a template, customizing appearance and design, linking pages, as well as, filling up the content. I set the launch date for July 31st, 2021 even before I was ready. That was a bold move. I really wanted to launch my new blog on July 31st, because it’s quite a special day for me. I moved to Lagos fully on July 31st, 2019, and, coincidentally, since then I have had a trip on July 31st of every year. In 2020, I made a trip from Lagos to Uyo on that day, and in 2021, I traveled to Badagry.
The next few weeks had me refining my brand colors, increasing button sizes, centering text, drafting, rewriting my copies, having test runs to confirm the flow, etc, until my first post went live at 8 am on July 31st to my fifteen subscribers 💕.
365 days later, how has it been?
Amazing! Exciting, sometimes stressful, and sometimes overwhelming, but it has totally exceeded my expectations.
When I relaunched my blog, I had very simple goals, that were more personal than anything else:
I’ll go ahead to review these goals subjectively one after the other:
- Number of articles I’ve been able to publish in the different categories: This is the seventeenth article published on my blog since the relaunch. I have tried to publish at least one article every month (except in February 2022 when I couldn’t publish any). Out of those 16 articles, 3 were about majorly about tech, 3 about data, 4 about career, and 6 about life. Some articles were a combination of multiple categories though; for example, tech and career categories in one article, or an article that covers career and life.
- How much better a writer I have become: Personally, I am able to articulate my thoughts better. I start by having an outline and fleshing each section out in detail before moving on to the next. This has helped me overcome the challenge I previously faced of not being able to develop my ideas fully and conclusively. Very recently, I’ve been experimenting with different writing styles and voices, and I’m finding out what works best for my blog.
- How fast and efficient I become in writing articles: To be honest, I still take about 5-7 days to write an article. However, this is because I cannot devote bulk hours in a day to writing due to other high-priority responsibilities I also have, like school, work, research, and sometimes, I just need to rest.
- A standard writing process that I can follow and replicate: Surprisingly to most people, I don’t like writing and I struggle a lot with it. Mere thinking about it overwhelms me. However, I am still doing it regardless; and since I was not going to quit, I had to make it work for me somehow. Over the last year, I have successfully defined a writing process that works for me and makes writing less overwhelming. If this is something you’d like me to share, please let me know by dropping a comment.
- How much I’ve been able to learn: A lot has changed for me and I’ve learned so much in the last year. Sharing some of these on my blog has actually helped me understand concepts better, think about the knowledge more personally so that I could articulate it, and also stretch me to do further research.
- How much I’ve been able to share: In 21,849 words, I’ve been able to share articles from my personal experiences moving to a new country for grad school, getting a summer internship as a data scientist intern, robotics programming learned from school and my research, some knowledge on business intelligence picked up from my previous role and many others.
- New opportunities and networks it has afforded me: One of the companies I interviewed with for an internship role actually looked through my blog. I had three rounds of interviews with them, and each time, it just felt like a conversation around my blog, articles, and all I’ve been sharing. It felt so smooth and seamless. Needless to say, I received an offer from the company. Although I had to decline it because I preferred my other offer, I don’t know how those conversations would have gone and if I would have received an offer if I had not been sharing on my blog. This is just one of the many opportunities, networks, and connections that have been borne from my writing over the past year.
- My consistency: I was able to hit my publishing rate goal 11 months out of 12. This was not easy because of the other responsibilities I had at different points.
Writing this review by myself only will be very biased, so I thought it would be great to have external perspectives.
I’m so proud of you for starting and sustaining this blog, especially with every other thing you had going on at the same time. I remember after you finally bought your domain, transferring your old articles from your Drive, designing and testing the appearance and experience on the blog. The test runs we had, making sure newsletters didn’t go to spam, overcoming different difficulties one day at a time, because you wanted to give your subscribers an easy experience with the entire site.
You were very intentional about the choices that you made, even down to button placements. And I think that it’s paying off.
Look at your blog today. I’m so happy that regardless of all the struggles, you were able to pull through, stay consistent, and publish blog posts that have been helpful.
Congratulations on your blogversary.Valerie
Where do I even start from? Aniekan, your growth in one year has been nothing short of amazing albeit not surprising because you have consistently put in the work.
When you first talked to me about wanting to start writing, you were very clear and intentional about what your writing goals were.
I remember the first articles you wrote and how I would make tons of corrections while reviewing – some corrects, easy to accept, others, not so easy to accept. But you kept on doing the work needed as we worked together to help you define your writing style and structure – one that would allow you to maintain a flow in your articles from start to finish without compromising your unique voice and personality.
Now, look where you are today!
I’m super proud of your 200+ subscribers; and while that is exciting, what’s more exciting is how much you have grown, so much so that when I read your articles today, I learn a lot from them. You are a testament to the fact that a lot can happen in 365 days.
Congratulations on your blogversary, and keep up the work and consistency. You’re just getting started!Uduak
Apart from my personal goals, my subscribers have grown by 1,660%, from 15 to 264, wonderful people who receive emails whenever I publish articles on tech, career, or life (depending on what categories they subscribed to). If you aren’t a subscriber, you should sign up here to receive an email whenever a new post goes live under whatever categories you select.
Also, my blog’s reach has grown immensely; I crossed the 10k views mark in May 2022, 10 months from launch, and just crossed 20k views this month.
Most importantly, my articles have been of help to people, from my inner circle to strangers that I might never get to meet myself. My top five articles being Study Notes To Ace Your Data Science Interview, The Big Move: Beginning Grad School, Getting a Summer Internship at a Big Tech Company, Creating your first package in ROS, and My Tech Journey (Part 1).
What’s next for the coming year?
The first year was very personal to me getting back into the flow of writing. For the coming year, I hope to keep getting better at the entire process; from idea conception, writing my draft, reducing reviews, and publishing at least one article every month. I’m also looking forward to more specific collaborations and partnerships. Content-wise, I want to share more articles that answer direct questions my audience have about tech, data, career, grad school, and life generally.
In line with this, I have published a form where I’m requesting that you drop any topic ideas, questions, suggestions, or feedback that you have for me. This form will be open for the next two weeks and I will go through all the entries, look through the feedback, and try to plan articles over the next months to answer any questions or ideas suggested. I really appreciate this as it will help me become better.
I am so thankful for everyone that has ever read an article, shared it with someone, dropped a comment, or even retweeted the link on Twitter. Thank you. I am really excited for what’s to come and I look forward to Year 2! Cheers to the next 365 days!! 🥂
Thank you for reading.
P.S: Remember the trip I said I was on when I clicked Publish on my first blog post a year ago? Well, here are some postcards from that tour to Badagry. It was a history tour with the best travel buddies. I greatly cherish those memories and I’m really happy to share some with you all.