Strap on a hat…
Grab a balloon…
And settle in for some cake…
It’s Time for a Birthday Party!
On September 30, the Zebra Pit turns 4! I’m so excited to have arrived at another blogversary and that we can tick off one more year of success. And quite the successful year it has been, filled with tremendous growth and a few firsts.
Honoring the Good Ole Days
It hasn’t always been called the Zebra Pit. When I first started, I didn’t even know what a medical zebra was, let alone that I would soon be counted in their numbers with a diagnosis of hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Once I received that most coveted diagnosis, I knew I had to change it from Disability Depot (a name that was problematic for many reasons) to The Zebra Pit we know and love today.
The discovery of EDS a year before my diagnosis set me on the path toward significant symptom improvement and a life dedicated to achieving my best life possible. The subject matter of the Disability Depot began to morph with me and our mission became about patient education and providing practical solutions to the many symptoms so many chronic conditions have in common. It was in this spirit that I began transitioning from the Disability Depot to the Zebra Pit, officially changing the name in late September of 2017, almost two years after I’d begun.
I didn’t take it seriously starting out, which isn’t surprising given the shape I was in. I had a free account and I lost most of my viewers because I didn’t do it right. I put myself in the position of starting over again. In the long run it turned out to be a good thing, but having no understanding of how to find interested readers would hold me back for a while longer. It’s only been in this past year that I’ve had more energy and fewer cognitive issues, allowing me to do the necessary work to get us to grow.
Grow we have. The Zebra Pit has experienced significant growth and thanks to the contributions of many people who believe strongly in the Zebra Pit’s mission of providing practical solutions to some of our toughest spoonie problems, we finally had the funds to go out and find the people we want to help.
I’m thrilled to announce the Zebra Pit has finally earned enough in 2019 to pay for itself and continue with our growth efforts. Every penny earned for the remainder of the year will go toward its growth and covering next year’s fees, ensuring we keep “the lights on” for another year so we can keep serving the community.
The Zebra Pit continues to grow and grow. We may have started small…
but we’re begin to show our might, receiving visitors from 135 countries so far this year. Of course spread doesn’t come close to telling the whole story.
We’ve seen amazing growth, especially in the last few months, more than tripling our visits from 2018. We experienced our first viral post in July, which reached 10,000 views in 4 days. It shattered our fairly steady 5k per month average, seeing over 17,000 visitors in a single month, 10k of which was from a single post! Since then our monthly averages are growing like wildfire!
With almost 500% growth by the end of the month and having our first 1.3k days almost as a matter of course, it’s not unreasonable to anticipate total year end growth to be 500% or more. Our numbers from last year? A minuscule 13.6k that I was quite proud of at the end of last year is now something we can achieve in 10 days. Right now, I’m feeling kind of silly about that (what can I say? I love to write and didn’t want to spend spoons on strategy), but at least I’m finally getting it figured out and if numbers keep up, we could be seeing another 80-90k this year, based on conservative estimates of 890-1000 views per day. If we manage to pull that off, we’ll see more than 1000% growth in 2019! 🥳 We’re looking forward to making it happen and then shattering those records again next year!
What’s the Big Deal?
These numbers not only mean that we’re finally reaching the right audiences, they also mean more advertising revenue and affiliate opportunities. Getting in a steady stream of revenue means I can evaluate more potentially useful products in our posts, attract more sponsors, affiliates and readers and spend on continuing to grow our knowledge pool and staff.
We’re earning by partnering with affiliates with similar missions who are willing to pay for the valuable service of promoting their products, which is a win-win for us and our readers. My hope is that those gadgets will get better and better. Getting complimentary products to try means I get to do so without breaking the bank while still providing a valuable service to our readers by writing great content, spreading knowledge and awareness alike.
We still have a bit of a ways to go, but with freelance opportunities coming along more and more frequently, I feel a little more confident about both the future of the Zebra Pit and my family!
New Faces at ZP
It’s not only our readership that’s growing, either. I get inquiries from people interested in working with the Zebra Pit or asking for advice on how to make their passion project more successful. We also get more and more recognition from our fellow chronic illness bloggers, whose support we couldn’t do without.
We’ve had some great guest posts, like this one from Tracy Hagler and brought on Pamela Jessen as a regular contributing author whose writing and wisdom has added a great deal of value to the Pit. More recently, my husband David has also begun contributing posts regularly, providing a male perspective on living with chronic illness and offering some comic relief with his quirky titles and sometimes tongue-in-cheek writing. While David has contributed for years behind the scenes, I’m thrilled to see him taking a more active, public role. We’re not sure what the future holds for him, though and I may have to do without him if we find a workable solution for him to return to work.
As a disabled person wearing many hats as the founder and managing editor of ZP, my growing freelance career and the start up of a second blog focused on my literary writing, it’s not always easy to keep all the balls going. My health often interferes with my progress and my confidence in my ability to succeed, just as my work interferes with the needs of my body. Lately, more of my time ends up going to administrative functions than actual writing and that’s sometimes enervating. Big dreams sometimes come with costs we simply can’t account for when embarking on something new, especially with brain fog! Every time I come close to giving up, someone in the community finds a way to reach through the fog and anxiety to gently infuse me with new hope and purpose. I need my readers as much, if not more, than they need me.
As much as I love this website and would give it my last pint of blood to keep it going, I can’t maintain positive mental health if my head is always focused on chronic illness and I let chasing success drive my stress levels up too high. I’m a creative by nature. For that reason, I began working late last year on reviving my creative writing career, which I had no choice but to set aside when my brain fog became too severe to write and edit creative work.
I returned to two poetry series I’ve been working on for some time (one I have every intention of publishing once it’s complete) and opened a second blog, where I can showcase my creative work, talk about the writing process and blogging techniques. If you want to know how I’m increasing my numbers so fast, I’ll be talking about it there, at Mykie Writes It. I also offer information about my freelancing services, something motivated by a need for funds and desire to enrich my own situation.
While companies I’ve applied to work for continue to turn their nose up at the gaps in my employment and health status, I’m making my own way in this world. It’s one more ball to juggle and it feels pretty surreal to be working on someone else’s deadlines, but it’s been a great boost to my confidence and I’m already looking forward to my next project. Of course the pay isn’t bad either, and for now, most of what I make is going to continue to go toward Zebra Pit growth.
Whew! That was a lot. Thanks for hanging in there with me! Let’s Celebrate with another cupcake. 😋