All About Blogging: The Evolution of a Blog

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Behind The Door

Welcome to the new 10 posts series, All About Blogging! Each Saturday for 10 weeks, I’ll investigate an aspect of blogging. I hope you will enjoy the new series and that you will find it useful. Don’t hesitate to give me some feedback and to share your experience!

I started blogging in fall 2006. At this point, my life in Canada was pretty much sorted out, at least from a legal point of view: I was a permanent resident and I already had some work experience, thanks to my Working Holiday Visa. I would figure out the rest in the years to come.

To this day, I’m not entirely sure why I started a blog. At first, I wanted to stay in touch with my family and my friends and a blog seemed to be a good place to post pictures and news. My first few articles were naturally in French but I quickly hit a wall. First, I found it hard to describe my new Anglophone world in French. Blogging in my mother tongue didn’t match the reality of my life in Ontario. Second, who would read my stories? I didn’t want the blog to be a diary. I’ve never been big on “my-myself-and-I” posts—frankly, my life isn’t that interesting—plus most of the action (my arrival in Canada, the immigration progress) was behind me.

So I decided to blog in English around a few themes. At first, it was cultural differences between France and Canada (even though I had been in Canada for over two years at this point, I still found them fascinating) and politics.

Little by little, I added new categories. Stories from work, when I was a French teacher. Travels, when we started traveling again. Photo posts, when I really got into photography.

Today, I still blog in English and this website is still organized around a few main themes: Canadian life, immigration, travels, photo posts, the Saturday series, trends (where are most political articles) and just blogging, a miscellaneous category.

I started blogging on Blogger because it was free and easy to set up. Unfortunately, I didn’t spend much time thinking of a url so I picked the slightly awkward zhu-canada.blogspot.com. The name of the blog and the tagline were better, and I still use them today: Correr Es Mi Destino (a line from a song by Manu Chao), My new life in Canada under the snow.

Even though functions were limited at this point, I enjoyed tweaking the HTML. I picked a deep blue background (#000033) that I still use today. Posts also had a clear blue background and I made my own header. Initially, the blog had two sidebars and I fell into the newbie’s trap: I added every single widget I could think of. Few articles had pictures and when they did, they were really small.

Eventually, I started making pages for reference: I had an About Me page, as well as About this Blog page, plus a FAQ.

A year after starting my first blog on Blogger, I decided to move to a self-hosted WordPress blog for more flexibility. I had the idea the blog could grow and it wasn’t just a whim. I loved writing articles.

Starting on WordPress was a huge challenge. First, I picked a better url (correresmidestino.com) on GoDaddy, and I chose to host my website with Site5. I also picked a theme and customized it.

I went through three themes: WP Premium (which broke with an early WordPress update), Option (eventually discontinued) and Arthemia (free version). Eventually, I moved on to my fourth theme and I bought Arthemia Premium Magazine WordPress Theme, which I tweaked. This blog now has a magazine feel with a lot of pictures and themed articles, which is definitely a break from my first few versions on Blogger.

At this point, my priority is to have a very readable website. With over 700 articles and 12,000 comments, I want readers to be able to find what they are looking for, hence the cleaner design, the Archive page and the use of tags. The blog is still articulated around the same old themes (immigration, Canada, travel and photography). I simplified the graphic on the menu bar and those looking for immigration information can check out the Coming to Canada page. I’m also trying to promote the blog to advertisers through the Press Review section and to highlight my work in The Shop.

As you can see, this blog changed a lot through the years! How about you? Did your blog change? How?

First attempts on Blogger

Blogger Blog

With the WP Premium Theme

With the WP Premium Theme

Option Theme

Arthemia Free Theme

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

23 Comments

  1. Great idea for your Saturday series! As a new blogger I find these articles very informative. I found very interesting your comments about your blog evolution and the “newbie” traps 🙂
    I can say that what I like the most about your blog is your professionalism, your content is very interesting and the way you interact with your readers keep us engaged.
    Thanks for sharing your experiences with the world!

    • I must admit you inspired me. I was looking for a new series idea and I read your Tweet about starting a test page for the blog 🙂

  2. I began reading your blog not long before you began your grand tour of the southern hemisphere and have been a daily reader ever since. I began blogging in February 2006 with “Tulsa Time”. It was almost all photographs and was a way to get vacation pictures on the internet. Although some of the photographs were nice, it wasn’t much of a blog and I dropped it in October of 2007. I started again as “Tulsa Gentleman” in May of 2008 and have been at it ever since. I like your blog very much because you take great photographs and generally have something interesting to say.

  3. Heh, interesting to read about blog milestones twice this week, one from Gail and another from you. The evolution of the design is quite interesting. I remember stumbling onto your blog a while back and how much you’ve changed it subtly. So glad its come this far! 🙂

  4. Like you, I have been blogging for quite a while, since 2005 actually. My original purpose for my blog was to chronicle my life in graduate school, and also so that my parents would have a way of seeing how I was without calling me every week. At first, all I wrote about was graduate school related, you know, how classes went, how my experience was, and so on. But then, it slowly evolved into a personal portal where I write my thoughts, my rants, and so forth. Now, there’s several different threads that run in my blog: there’s the book review series, there’s also the travel blog series, and sometimes I even have nerdy series too. And in every post, I have a picture, showing the world a snapshot of where I have been.

    • Funny how blogs evolve, eh?

      Does your family read your blog? Mine doesn’t really, although I know they check it when I’m traveling. I don’t mind actually, either way.

  5. I’m very excited for this new series! You’re a great blogger and I always look forward to your posts and photos. Thanks for sharing with us!

  6. This is a very interesting post to read. I’ve never thought of the question you asked….Why blogging?…..Hmmmm I have to take some time to ponder it. (= u =)

  7. Hi Zhu,

    Change goes with blogging like it goes with life. It is normal!
    Zhu has known me since a few years back and she has seen my blog go from being a personal type expat blog. Then, I stopped that one to focus my blogging experience. I do only blog about travel photography since 2009.

    I say “Welcome change and be happy to evolve”.
    Bises à Zhu.

  8. i moved to my own domain on wordpress from blogger because i wanted to have the ‘pages’ functionality! it seems like blogger now has the function too! besides, my blog was kinda mashed-up and i wanted to have a whole new blog to restart all over.

    wow you did printscreen your old templates! mine were all lost lol! and i like mine now. like it white, grey, black, with some colours thrown in. 😀

    • I used to test the blog in several browsers because of the infamous IE6. I use Brosershot and each time, I actually kept a few screenshots. Recently, I organized them and decided to keep them just for memory.

  9. I love your blog layout!

    My blog too went from a plain old blogger template to a self-hosted WordPress one, which I’m still working on to make it better (wish I had enough time to implement some of my ideas!)

    • At one point, I have to tell myself to stop tweaking with my blog and focus on the content because like you said, I could spend hours trying to implement my ideas!

  10. I didn’t screen cap any of my incarnations, although I really should have because I’ve gone through a lot of themes. But this latest theme is my favourite and I’ve stuck with it a few years now.

    I did PDF my Geocities site from 1999, though! Now THAT is a relic!

  11. Pingback: A New Theme for Correr Es Mi Destino! | Correr Es Mi Destino

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