All About Blogging: The Evolution of a Blog
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.
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.
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?