Happy First Birthday, Profound Journey. Now What?

I started Profound Journey one year and 107 posts ago. The very best thing I did before launching was to record my three intentions for the site. They were, in no particular order:

  1. Make my art–combine words and images in ways that bring more beauty into the world and inspire people.
  2. Synthesize and understand what I am learning on my profound journey.
  3. Find my tribe of women who want to live vibrant, creative, purpose-filled, passionate lives.

A written record of intentions helped in the early days when I was in danger of being overwhelmed by the myriad of blogging ‘experts’ out there, all wanting to take my money in exchange for courses that would apparently make tens of thousands of subscribers beat a path to my website door. I was able to ignore their siren calls only when I reminded myself that a huge subscriber count and getting rich weren’t among my goals. (Not that I’d turn either down!)

Today, I’ll assess the first year of Profound Journey using those intentions, and will talk about plans for year two. I’ll also be asking questions of you, Profound Journey tribe members. Your thoughts, as always, are greatly appreciated.

Make My Art

This intention embarrasses me. Talk of beauty and inspiration seems awfully overblown for a simple website. Hopefully a bit of context will make me look less full of myself.

Design has always been hugely important to me. I believe that people are unconsciously inspired by the beauty of a good design, and that we all need more beauty in our lives. All of my professional books were designed in double page spreads to make the reading experience better for the reader. When on the road giving keynotes and workshops, every PowerPoint presentation consisted of full screen images with very few words. The images were carefully chosen to elicit certain emotional responses to the content I was providing.

When I started Profound Journey, I spent a lot of time and money looking for the perfect WordPress theme and then, when I found it, getting my wonderful designer, Shiraz Khan, to customize it for me. I personally love the montage/collage look of the home page. However, if you are viewing Profound Journey on a phone or tablet, or if you are clicking the Thursday email link and going straight to the latest post, you may not even be aware of the home page. So that’s my first question – Does the site design work for you? What do you like? What would make it better or more user friendly?

Shiraz also designed my logo, the forward-moving, determined little sea turtle. I love that little guy! (If you’re wondering why a sea turtle,  I explain in this post.)

There’s another aspect of “make my art” that I was hoping for and haven’t even begun to achieve. More on that another time.

Synthesize and Understand What I am Learning on my Profound Journey

I’ve always referred to Profound Journey as a blog site, but I don’t think it actually is one.

Definitions of ‘blog’ vary, but common references are to online diaries recounting personal experiences, written in a conversational style. Postings in the Tribe Stories category  fit the bill, as do more personal posts such as Be Willing to Leave Your Baggage Behind and The Man Who Showed Me How to Beat the Devil.

However, many of my posts are heavily researched, more essay than anecdote. For example, everything in the Wow Notes category and much of the Creativity category, most notably the six-part series on writing memoir.

I suspect that Profound Journey is more online magazine than it is blog site, and I also suspect that many tribe members wish it was otherwise. Certainly I’ve had several people tell me in person that they much prefer my more personal, blog-like entries.

My intention is achieved regardless of which form of writing I do. When I write the research-based articles, I’m learning something new and finding a way to share that new learning with you. That interests and challenges me. The downside is that research-based articles require a lot of time – often a full day to write plus at least a couple of evenings to research.

When I write the more personal blog posts, I understand myself better than I did before I wrote.  The downside is that if I can’t encapsulate a big idea or life lesson in the post, I truly can’t imagine why anyone would care about the minutiae of my life.

What do you enjoy reading on Profound Journey? What do you find a bit blah?

Find My Tribe of Women Who Want to Live Vibrant, Creative…Lives

It’s a good thing I’m not driven by the statistics because the statistics aren’t pretty. Over the year 97 people subscribed to Profound Journey, meaning they received an email every Thursday telling them of the latest posts. Of the 97, only 85 are still subscribed. Twelve dropped out giving “no longer interested” as the reason. It’s a bit (no, a lot) depressing.

Of the people who subscribe to the site, between 50%-72% open the weekly emails and 20%-50% click on the link to read the post. The open rate is pretty darn good if I ignore the 30% of people who subscribed but haven’t opened a single email. As for the click-throughs, I’m hopeful that many people come back when they have time to read.

Comments are a good indicator of reader involvement, but I completely understand that not everyone wants to write comments. I appreciate all readers whether you loyally comment on every post, write to me via email, or simply click on each week’s link and read what I’ve written.

If you don’t want to comment on posts but would like to feel more involved, please consider writing a tribe story.  Fran F., Fran K., Susan, Donna and Liesbet have contributed stories or answers to questions so that we could all get to know them a little better. If you’re interested, just let me know. I’d be happy to help.

My summary for this intention is that I’m grateful to be finding my tribe and hope that it continues to grow. Any thoughts about how to achieve this that don’t involve social media? I’m allergic to Facebook!

So, What’s Next?

I’m adding a new category of posts to Profound Journey.

‘Journal’ will be a place where I will write posts that are more truly representative of a typical blogging site. In Journal, I won’t worry about search engine optimization, keywords, post length, or any of the other concerns that come with having a self-hosted WordPress site. That will save me a truckload of time!

Journal will help me achieve my intentions for year two, which are:

  1. Continue to use Profound Journey as a place to synthesize and understand my own journey. Add in a new component of accountability. If I am committed to writing to you about what I’m doing, I’m more likely to take action!
  2. Get better at writing personal posts that allow readers to know me better. More important, a good personal post should, I think, help you to know yourself better and to feel understood, supported, and inspired. I’d really like to learn how to do that.

You’ll notice that I haven’t included an intention related to growing our tribe. That’s because I believe in the philosophy of “build it and they will come.” If working on intention #1 doesn’t satisfy me, and if working on intention #2 doesn’t satisfy you, Profound Journey isn’t meant to be and won’t enjoy a second birthday. But I doubt that’s the case. I know lots of women, working or retired, who are searching for meaning, balance and ease in their lives, and who would enjoy reading of others involved in the same pursuit. I’d really like to refine Profound Journey to better meet those needs.

Top of mind thoughts, responses to post questions, criticisms, and suggestions are welcome, either in the comments section below or, if you prefer, by sending an email to karen@profoundjourney.com. Thanks so much. 

28 comments

  1. Hi Karen. My website statistics are similar to yours. I have around 153 subscribers with an open rate between 50 and 70 percent, and with fewer subscribers clicking through to read. I don’t really have any advice except to say keep it up! I enjoy reading what you have to say!

    1. Thanks, Debbie. I certainly will. And speaking of your site, I haven’t received a new post alert in quite some time. How are you doing with your writing? I’d love to read something new again soon!

  2. Congratulations Karen on reaching the one year mark! I am new to your blog, so may not be in the best position to answer your questions, but here are my thoughts as a newbie. First I love that you set your intentions from the very beginning and I especially loved that you are looking for your tribe–women living vibrant, creative lives. I’d love to be part of that tribe. Okay as to the specific questions:
    1. The site design does work for me. I love the seeing the patchwork of photos and the ability to see several recent posts at once without scrolling down. By the way, I adore your turtle logo.
    2. I haven’t explored the entire site, but I really enjoyed reading your story on “Start Here.”
    3. I am still trying to grow my tribe as well. One thing I have recently learned to appreciate is the closeness and support of the small tribe I do have and not to worry so much about the numbers. The growth I am experiencing has come mostly from link parties and guest post or interview series.

    Again, congratulations and good luck on your future endeavors!

    ~Christie

    1. Thank you, Christie. I’m very glad to have found you through Donna’s blog – she really is an extraordinary connector! I’m enjoying reading through the archives of your blog site, and am delighted that you are joining the Profound Journey tribe. Welcome!
      P.S. – I agree completely with your third point. I just need to keep remembering

  3. I’m quite impressed you have written intentions for your site! I’ve expressed similar ideas, especially finding others on the journey to share experiences with, but never got specifics written down.

    I guess I never realized the extent of your site…different sections for different type of content! I just read your posts (a more recent follower, so that could be why), and comment if it touches something in my heart. I personally like hearing about others journeys, to see if I can reapply anything to my own. I like when folks support their insights with research facts….something I always think I should do more of! Personally, I’m not that interested in just research summaries, unless there is a link to the personal. But that’s me!

    Congrats on 1 year. I know how hard it is to keep generating content week on week. My personal goal is weekly, but I don’t beat myself up if I miss a week or 2.

    BTW – I link my post to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Some folks only comment through FB, some only connect to me through LinkedIn. I’m clueless about Twitter, but I do have an account. Per WordPress, I have about 300 followers, but many folks read without being a follower because of these links. You might want to reconsider social media. I’m not huge with it, but it has helped me reach out to readers.

    1. Hi Pat,
      I’m glad you’ve found the site categories; they will be helpful if there’s a certain kind of content that you want to go back and read from the archives.

      I’ve been really proud of not missing a single week of posting in year 1 because my earlier attempts at blogging involved hitting maybe 1 week in every six or eight and that was pretty dismal. However, I’m going to take a page from your book and not get too self-abusive if I do happen to miss a week in year 2. Hopefully, though, the new Journal category will make it easier for me to keep up my unblemished record.

  4. Since this is not a business, I think you should do what you are comfortable with at that moment. Don’t worry about numbers, but concentrate and take thought as you answer your many replies. It is great to get ideas and new thoughts for future blogs by other people’s comments. I think people get to know you better from your comments which you have already made. I think sometimes Social Media may just muddy the waters. I love your sea turtle logo, it is very peaceful.

  5. Hi Karen, congratulations on one year! I always enjoy reading your posts but like others hadn’t quite grasped the distinct categories. (I see them now on the menu on the side.) I like the layout too – nice and clean. I rarely see the home page as I land straight on a post, but it is attractive. It’s the sort of thing I need to do for mine but have never got round to. As for subscribers, people will be reading in all sorts of ways. I never subscribe to blogs by email or follow via WordPress, I use Feedly so I won’t show up in your stats as a follower even though I am.

    I do have one niggle – your comments box never remembers me. Most sites, if I comment once, the next time my details are still filled in. It’s a bit of a pain to do it every time, but as you can see I persevere!

    Here’s to another year!

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Anabel. And thank you for the reminder that there are many ways to follow a site. I’ll keep that in mind the next time I start to obsess about numbers!
      I didn’t know that the comments box doesn’t remember people. I really appreciate you telling me that. I’ll ask Shiraz what we can do to solve that problem.

  6. Congratulations on your first Blog Anniversary, Karen!
    I am delighted and honoured to be a regular reader of Profound Journey.
    I admire your intention setting and believe that you have met and surpassed your goals incredibly well.
    While reading this post, the only section that I disagreed with was your statement that personal posts ‘cannot encapsulate a big idea or life lesson’. In my opinion, great personal posts can do this much more effectively than other posts.
    Then I read further and saw that you are planning to now include a ‘Journal’ category. Hurray! Although I enjoy all of your posts, your personal posts have been by far my favourite. I greatly look forward to reading posts in this new category. I also look forward to celebrating Year Two of your blog at this same time next year!

    1. Thank you, Donna. You’ve been a huge supporter and influence for me in this first year of Profound Journey and I truly appreciate your ongoing commitment to connection and interaction.
      I need to clarify one thing. I don’t think I ever said that personal posts can’t encapsulate a big idea or life lesson. I think I said that if my personal posts don’t do that, I don’t think they’re useful to people. I agree completely that a good personal post can teach more effectively than other posts. The challenge for me, my #2 intention for this coming year, is to get good at it!

  7. Hi Karen, I think you know my thoughts after all my comments on posts…put simply I Love Profound Journey! Okay, here we go with another long comment…sitting down? Cup of tea at hand? Good…then let’s begin. 😉 LOL

    Seriously though, your personal posts are very engaging and relatable. I look forward to my Thursday mornings knowing there will be at least one new post on PJ. I am looking forward to seeing the Journal section because I believe you write better than you think you do when you speak from the heart instead of research that is impersonal and can be held at a distance. As for the possible interest in the minutiae of your life…I feel it is human nature to be inquisitive and fascinated with the lives of others. How many blogs are there out there in cyberspace that relate the minutiae of the writer – through that kind of writing we feel heard, understood and no longer alone.

    Your personal posts help us (your Tribe and casual readers too) understand you a bit better. We can relate when we have gone through some of the same stuff. Add to that the advantage of being able to make suggestions and comments if we have something to say after reading any given post. That gives us a voice and helps you get to know us a little better too.

    Don’t get me wrong, your researched posts are extremely interesting and some of the topics seem to come out of left field but I end up finding out things I didn’t know I needed to know. I am all the better for having learned about the subject of your research no matter what topic you cover.

    I, for one, am totally cool with your proposed course of Profound Journey heading into year two. Life is always in a state of flux…and it is more than okay to reinvent yourself, your website, whatever! My suggestion is to go in the direction your gut tells you to go – the gut is rarely wrong. At almost 56 years old that is what I have learned so far in this life. I let my gut be my guide and have never regretted it.

    To sum it all up, as long as Profound Journey is here…I will be here.
    Signed,

    a very grateful tribe member. 😀
    Susan

    1. Thanks so much, Susan. I especially appreciate your point that tribe members and casual readers may find it easier to comment on a personal post. That had never occurred to me!
      I’m feeling good about the direction of Profound Journey for year two. The encouragement and support of tribe members as evidenced all of the time, but today in response to this post – well, that just makes me even more committed to continuing, and to refining my direction so that it more accurately represents my gut. (Oops, long day and kind of gross imagery happening here, but I’m sure you know what I mean!)

  8. One year Karen – WOW! I must admit, I have learned so much from your posts and am amazed at the amount of research you do, first in finding the subject, then doing in-depth research – just to teach all of us about things in the world we didn’t know about before. The weird house with all the hidden staircases and rooms comes to mind, as do the Japanese puppets. Thank you Karen for teaching me so much over the past year.

  9. Hi Karen
    Interesting reflection on the birthday of your blog. I think though that I probably put a strain on your statistics as my practice has been to read it, think about it, write about it, check back to see what others have said, and to see if there are any responses to what I said. I also look back at some of your heavily researched articles. For example, I looked at memoirs quite a few times.

    Finally, I loved today’s post on your trees. It was totally fascinating and as usual I learned a lot. Might be inspired to plant a forest on our back acreage especially with the tax break!

    1. Hi Fran,
      Most of the time, I’m pretty happy to ignore the statistics. I’m even happier when I see that the stats are inflated because of repeat visits. I think that’s absolutely wonderful, and so appreciate the implied endorsement that the posts are useful to you.

  10. Congratulations on your anniversary! I won’t be of any help with your questions… I don’t pay any attention to my stats and I don’t use other social media platforms to direct people to my blog (too much work). The one thing that helped me grow the number of my blog followers (which isn’t large, but its nearing 1,000 and that’s OK) and find my tribe members was searching out other blogs (often by clicking on their links to their blogs when they made comments on blogs I follow). If I discovered that I like their writing and they wrote about things that were relevant to my life (or just about interesting things), I followed them. And then, I comment on their site regularly. There are a lot of bloggers (definitely not you) who write their posts then sit back and expect the world to come flocking to them. Or, they follow random blogs with the hope they will get follows back. I would much rather have a smaller “tribe” of followers who find what I write interesting enough to comment at least occasionally and add to the conversation. It takes a lot of work but I do so enjoy the community I’ve found myself in.

    I love your personal posts and agree with what you said about “a good personal post should, I think, help you to know yourself better and to feel understood, supported, and inspired.” (Oh, and I have those “Scary Questions” in a file on my desktop and hope to get my answers back to you soon.)

    Btw, I’ve noticed the same thing that Anabel mentioned, I keep having to fill out those “who am I” boxes when I comment on your site.

    1. Hi Janis,
      Almost 1000 subscribers without resorting to social media? You have reassured and re-inspired me to stay true to myself. Thanks, Janis.
      I also appreciate your thoughts about how you have built your community. I too find that commenting on other bloggers’ posts makes a positive difference.
      I’m excited about the new ‘Journal’ category, especially since so many of my favourite tribe members are saying they like my personal posts.
      No hurry on the Scary Questions. Whenever it works for you will be just perfect.
      Thanks for mentioning the same concern as Anabel. I hadn’t been aware of that, but will get on it right away.

  11. It has been one year since you launched profound journey and this is my first official reply. I recognize the selfishness of this for I have read with gratitude — especially appreciating the posts of your personal profound journey, without you knowing of my appreciation. A friend had a reminder for me this week. She again told me, “Do not let your competencies take you where your character cannot sustain you.” Karen — I read Profound Journey because your words help with the sustenance of my character. Two posts in particular from the past year have, I know, have been directly influential. First is the post in which you revealed the depth of the baggage that needed to be left behind. And second, was the post to encourage us to buy flowers. Thank you for these gifts.

    1. What a lovely, thoughtful and thought provoking comment, Carla. Thank you so much for taking the time to write it. I will refer to it often on those inevitable days when I crave making a difference and fear those days are behind me. Thank you for this gift.
      P.S. – I love the quote.

  12. You wrote 107 posts in one year? That is incredible. Congrats on Profound Journey’s first anniversary!

    Setting goals is a good start, I think, to keep you focused. We have so much going on in our lives and so many interests that making choices on what to write and blog about can be helpful. I should do this as well, but find it easier to just write about whatever strikes my fancy. Some aspects of my life are hard enough and I don’t want my blog to be.

    I don’t think you should get hung up on statistics. Those are numbers, which brings me to quality being more important than quantity. I think you would benefit more from less followers who really care than having the numbers, but no connections with your readers. I have never checked the statistics of my Roaming About blog, or of my previous sailing blog. It would probably disappoint me if I did anyway. 🙂

    I prefer reading personal stories and will enjoy your new journal section. You have come up with interesting topics in your wow notes and other posts as well, but I think those are hit or miss with readers, depending on their interest. And, they take so much time. As long as you enjoy the research and the newly attained facts, all is good, of course.

    I read your posts – usually on my iPad – after clicking on the links in the newsletter in my inbox, so I have not checked out your home page. On the iPad, your text appears in a column to the left and the photos show up on the right with a lot of blank space in between.

    Like others, I always have to fill out the fields under my comment. The biggest improvement to me would be a check box that I can mark to read follow-up comments. Now, I have to keep your post open in a browser and refresh to see new comments or your reply to me. Blogging is a lot of work! 🙂

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Liesbet. I’m getting an overwhelming response that tribe members prefer the personal stories, so that’s definitely the direction I’ll go a lot more often in the future. Surprisingly to me, I’m actually excited about doing so… and very excited about the time I will save in not having to do research.
      I’ve got Shiraz (wonderful web guy) working on the comment problems. We may have to switch plugins which is just fine with me. I want to make commenting, and reading followup comments, as pain-free as possible because you’re right – blogging is a lot of work!
      I also agree about ignoring the numbers. I’ve been doing a good job of ignoring the stats on each post because I have to go to a specific spot to see them. The kicker has been the subscriber count because MailChimp sends me an email every time sometimes drops off the list. But you and the other tribe members are right – it’s the wonderful community/tribe that exists that matters most to me. We’re small but mighty.

  13. Hi Karen. Your site is terrific and I really enjoy it. As you know, I am a regular reader, but I don’t subscribe via email. Statistics only tell part of the story! What a great idea to ask for feedback on your first “blogiversary.”

    Blogs have come a long way since they first came into existence some 15 or 20 years ago. Back then the two main purposes of “weblogs” were to collect, annotate, and save interesting URLs, or to record one’s personal diary online. Now we have many types of blogs, from food blogs, to news sites, to personal finance blogs, to retirement blogs, just to mention a few. “Online diary” is an outdated and inadequate descriptor for the flourishing of personal expression online, now that the World Wide Web offers a variety of means for people to actively express themselves and interact with each other online, rather than merely being passive receptors of media information. I would probably put your site in the category of Lifestyle Blog or Retirement Blog.

    Similar to others, my favourite posts have been ones where you share a bit of yourself. I also have liked the ones where you engage critically with ideas. The least interesting to me usually are the ones that are primarily factual or informative in intent. Thinking back, the posts that have had the biggest impact on me or engaged me the most were: the one where you told your personal story of experiencing burnout (it resonated with my own experience); the one on meditation (it prompted me to give meditation a try); and the series on memoir (I bought some more books!).

    I have found my favourite blogs in two main ways — either by clicking on blogrolls on blogs that I regularly read, or by reading an interesting comment on a blog post, then clicking on the commenter’s link to find out more about the person who commented. Hosting guest posters can be another way to introduce one’s readership to other bloggers, and then doing a guest post in return. However, I am often already reading the blogs of those guest posters. I do think reciprocity strengthens the sense of community, and broadens one’s network, thus gradually leading to increased readership, as long as the content is well-written and interesting, as yours is. Have you considered adding a blog roll to your site?

    I too am looking forward to not having to input my info every time I comment. Keep up the great work!

    Jude

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Jude. I appreciate the titles of posts that appealed to you, including the retirement post in your comment below.

      My site theme is minimalist; the homepage doesn’t allow for a blog roll. However, it’s my intention before the end of the year to write a post where I’ll talk about the connections formed with other bloggers and I will certainly provide a list then of all of my favourite sites, yours included!

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