Essential Keystrokes is…

where I share my favorite tips, tools, reviews and commentary on web design, marketing, blogging, new media and related topics. For more about this site and the voice behind it, check out my About page.


SubscribeFollow me on TwitterLinked In Stumble Upon What I Digg Email me

The Evolution of a Blog

By Char

As part of my blogging birthday celebration I thought I would share with you where this blog started and how it got to be what it is today! If nothing else, I hope this can serve as inspiration for bloggers who are starting out or more experienced bloggers who want to take their blogs to the next level.

Evolution of a blog

Essential Keystrokes, Version 1.0 – the Blogger Days

We all have to start somewhere! Google’s Blogger platform was initially my choice because it was FREE, easy to get started, and it sounded like a good idea at the time. It was also a fairly good way to get comfortable with tweaking themes, and trying out different monetization options.

Essential Keystrokes Version 1

During that first version, I logged 50 posts between June 22 and September 29. Other stats include a whopping 31 comments, 11 inbound links and less than 200 uniques per month.

As I got my blogging bearing, it was evident that Blogger was not the way for me. I was limited by its constraints and no one even had a chance of remembering my URL. Around this time I had also started reading blogs like Easton’s Business Blogwire and Liz Strauss’ Successful Blog. The more blogs I read, the more I realized it was time to get my own domain name and try the WordPress platform.

Essential Keystrokes, Version 2.0 – Learning WordPress on the Fly

In September I purchased two new domain names – and (realizing I needed an outlet for non-web design topics) and jumped into WordPress head first. I posted my first distress call less than a week later! Lorelle of Lorelle on WordPress came to my rescue – how is that for help???

Essential Keystrokes version 2

Not one to go with the crowd, I searched high and low for a WordPress theme that was different from all the others I had seen. I found BoxyBlue from Geeks Make Me Hot and knew it was the one. I went to work tweaking the theme to make it my very own. Within the first month on my own domain my traffic more than TRIPLED, I learned how to get out there and be social, and Brian Clark of Copyblogger chose one of my headlines to remix (I still say WOW).

I also joined the MomGadget forum where I met Gayla and the rest of the crew. This is an inspiring group of bloggers and I can honestly say that their enthusiasm and willingness to share ideas, tips, and secrets for success really helped me gain a new insight into blogging.

In December I had a phone conversation with Liz at Successful Blog that became the inspiration for a very popular weekly series called Essential Tools, which has now had 27 installments. WOW!

By March my average monthly uniques was around 3,000 with page views above 45,000 and I broke the top 50,000 for Technorati (that’s a huge improvement from the bottom of the barrel.)

And then I started feeling “boxed” in.

Essential Keystrokes, Version 3.0 – I’m Starting to Hit My Stride

By late March I was beginning to feel boxed in by the two-column design of my theme and was on a hunt for something new. I looked high and low, and suddenly it hit me! My design was right in front of me. Since Essential Keystrokes is my “business” blog – an extension of my web design business, Keystrokes Design & Marketing, shouldn’t the two look something alike?


The three column layout of dkret was a good fit for the design. I designed the new look “live” and got some really awesome reader feedback in the process – something I would have totally missed had I not invited participation (thanks Kevin). Three cheers for collaboration!

I added some great plugins to help my blog with SEO, highlight popular posts, and encourage reader participation. As a result, May was fabulous! My uniques are now above 4,000, page views are topping 56,000 and Technorati has me at 17,000 now. I’d like to thank my 200 RSS subscribers, too. This blog has a LONG way to go, but it is clearly making progress.

There you have it! All you ever wanted to know about this blog – whether you wanted to know or not! Seriously, I really hope that this can help give some perspective on the evolution of an average blog. It’s not easy (but it’s not rocket science either), it takes a lot of patience, and you have to be willing to enter each day ready to learn.

It will be a lot of fun to look back on this post a year from now and see where the blogging world has taken Essential Keystrokes.

PS – Don’t forget about the great giveaways this week!



Interesting writeup I’m considering a redesign of my blog


Thanks for this interesting birds-eye view of the last year. It’s always helpful for beginning bloggers to remember that EVERYONE starts out with no readers or subscribers.


Jason – thanks for stopping in! If you are interested in a blog redesign, check out my post called Thirteen Steps to a Blog Redesign.


Randa – you are absolutely right – we all started at 0! Granted, some of us grew faster than others, I am very happy with the slow and steady growth of my site.

The absolute best result of this site is giving me the opportunity to connect with other designers, like yourself, and no longer feeling like I am working in a vacuum.


Char, thanks for sharing your evolution. I think it’s important for new bloggers to see that while this blog thing can be quite powerful, it does take effort and patience. I’m going to make your post required reading for the blog consulting clients I work with from now on.


This is an interesting look into your progress, Char, so thanks. I think most people who have been persistent with their blogs can do something similar.

I’ve mentioned your post in my latest article on speed linking.


Interesting to see the evolution of this blog and to learn how the tweaks affected the performance. I´m with Dawud if he considers this blog a must read for everyone involved with business blogs. Congratulations, Char.


Wow… You actually recording your evolution, Char? I have change my theme several time. But never thought about recording the history of my blog…
This is a fresh idea for me! :)


This post gives a great look into a blog’s evolution. Since I’ve only been blogging for 4 months, this post has definitely opened my eyes to the different phases that a blog and blogger go through. Thanks for sharing Char, that was a great read.


Totally inspiring! I don’t feel like I am beating my head against a brick wall quite so much…thanks!


Dawud – I am flattered to be considered required reading. Thanks so much.

David – persistence is key! I much prefer the slow and steady approach – I can get to know my readers better that way.

Ingo – I am glad you have joined the blogging ranks and I am always here to help and educate.

Ken – I think it is very important to capture your site’s history – if nothing else, just for grins. It’s kind of like taking pictures of your children.

Brown Baron – Four months is definitely a good start! My number one recommendation is to keep learning from and conversing with the bloggers that inspire you.

April – patience is a virtue! You are also off to a good start. Keep it up.


Wow Char, I don’t remember you all the way back to version 1, but I remember the others. LOVE the new design by the way.

And this is VERY encouraging for all of us who start somewhere. I’m in the middle of a re-design (OK, I barely started, but that’s middle because once I hit 51%, I’m going all the way) so your 13 steps to a blog redesign is well timed. Can’t believe I missed that before.

Thanks for sharing so much.


Phil – you probably don’t remember version 1 because no one was really reading it (lol). I’m glad you found the 13 steps and hope they are helpful. I can’t wait to see your new design!


Thanks for charting your blog’s evolution for us, Char. You’re one of the great ones!


Easton – thanks to your monthly Blogtipping activity – it was a catalyst for a lot of learning!


I think that if you put a glossy effect in version 1, it would look really nice.


it’s nice to hear success stories and learn that many start from scratch too. Congrats on the growth of your blog thus far, and i’ll be checking back more often to see how it continues to grow. Still on my FIRST version of my blog, but I do see how it will continue to change & evolve as time passes.

btw, how old is this blog?


Hope you continue your success and growth into the next year and beyond, it’s always cool to see someone stick with their blog and readership and enjoy doing it :)


Thanks for sharing Char! Having just moved to WP from Blogger myself, this was a great read!


I always find it great looking at the past seeing the things that I accomplished through out the entire life of a website. I have had so many so its amazing when I loggedi nto my old computer and saw layouts from years ago.. and said omg.. i cant believe i did that fad! haha!


What a great post. I love seeing the evolution of this blog. It is so inspiring to see. Thanks for sharing!


This is really interesting Char. I enjoyed seeing the development of this template, but seeing the whole evolution gives a broader perpective.

It must be very rewarding for you too. It’s sort of like the pics of the kids at 3 months, 6 months, 1 year. You can see the changes and how your blog has grown. :)

Leave a Comment


Team Training NE Celiac Family