The long and winding road of CRJ: TOLT

I’m Thinking Out Loud about what I’ve learned, what I’ve gained, and some of the highlights of my first year blogging as Chocolaterunsjudy. Actually it’s 364 days . . . tomorrow is my blogoversary.

I’m going to run down a few stats from the blog, why I blog, and what I hope to do with the blog going forward.

My first post
Starting a blog had been on my mind a long time, but I don’t know what possessed me to actually push the publish button on my first post on 6/3/15: A runner is born. It was short and sweet.

Just like I don’t really know what possessed me to start running, only I don’t know the date I started.

Since that day a year ago, I’ve run 2 more halfs (and am now up to 10 states) — one was a new PR and one most decidedly was not. I also ran my first 15k. I met my first blogger aside from Darlene and have hopes of meeting quite a few more in 2016.

I have often wondered why I couldn’t have started blogging just a few months earlier — I missed meeting so many of you at ZOOMA Annapolis last year!

I also figured I’d just post a few times a week until I got my bearings. But there are so many great linkups out there, I started posting and just couldn’t stop! Linkups I participate in regularly:

Thanks for reading & commenting
This isn’t my first blog, but it’s the first blog (aside from work many years ago) where I was successful at connecting with my peeps.

If you’ve taken the time to read and comment, it means a lot to me. It’s cool if you just read, too, and if that’s the case, I hope I’ve either made you feel better, educated you, entertained you, or just made you smile.

Many thanks to my top recent commenters:

  1. My friend Natalie
  2. Darlene @ My First 5k & More
  3. Paula @ Never a Dull Bling
  4. Karen @ Fit in France
  5. Ali @ Hit the Ground Running

Say Whaaaaat?
And here are some of the wackier search terms that landed folks at the blog this year:

  • Yoga and space dogs (no clue)
  • Very long Lola pho (porn meets soup? Again, no clue, other than we have a Lola)
  • Dolly adjust the sails (the last part was one of the quotes I used for Wednesday WordI think it’s from a Dolly Parton song, but still an odd search)
  • My sprained ankle family blog (again, no clue, I didn’t sprain my ankle & this is not a family blog)


Your Favorite Posts
Here are the top ten posts from my first year of blogging:

  1. Do you save the best for last or dive right in?
  2. Traveling with food so I can enjoy food
  3. My idea of meal prep
  4. Is the Garmin Vivoactive right for you?
  5. 5 Things I do everyday
  6. The food-running cycle
  7. Taking the chocolate out of Chocolaterunsjudy
  8. 5 Favorite Postrun Snacks
  9. 5 Top Race Swag
  10. Be Your Own Coach

Apparently my food posts are popular. Hardly shocking considering how often I write about food. Small wonder a previously failed blog was about food and cookbooks.

Getting my ideas out there
One thing blogging has given me: an outlet for the crazy thoughts in my head. I like running because, unlike a lot of people, it helps me to not think so much. I spend most of my days by myself (with the furkids), so I tend to also spend a lot of time thinking odd thoughts.

Mr. Judy doesn’t always care to hear my crazy thoughts, but I can almost always find someone on the Interwebs to listen.

My running village
My SIL recently asked me why I blogged. She really just couldn’t understand why anyone would spend so much time on something that doesn’t connect you with others and pays nothing.

I hope someday to change the latter, although I’m not sure I ever will. The former — well, that is definitely one of the main reasons I’m still blogging — the awesome friendships I’ve formed with people I’ve never met and might never meet — although I’m working on it.

And suddenly everyone is asking me when I’m coming to their state. The answer is I don’t know! It’s not like there’s a big plan, even though I like to plan. We did concentrate on the states we could drive to, but we’re rapidly “running” out of those.

Yes, I like to plan, and yes, I even have some ideas of which halfs I might do in 2017, but I had ideas about 2016, too, and in the end I didn’t do a single half in 2016 I originally thought I might.

Or at least, they’re not on the plan.


A few things I’ve learned
It will take time to get to know other bloggers. For the longest time just keeping names straight was really hard for me — after all, I know a Debbie, a Deb, a Deborah.

I’m sure for months my comments may have come across as needy, too. I can be that way when I first meet someone. Pick me! Notice Me! Like Me!

Over time I really got to know a few bloggers, and I get to know more and more as time goes by. As I wrote above, I truly think the other bloggers are the best thing about blogging.

I think to have a successful blog (and I’m still not really sure I put myself in that category) you need three things:

  1. Passion for your subject
  2. Post from the heart
  3. Getting involved in your blogging community

I won’t do a giveaway just in the hopes of getting new likes. If I have something to share with you, I definitely will. But I’m way more interested in interacting with other people than just getting some likes that will never interact with me.

Start free. Well, I’m hoping that one won’t come back to bite me. In the past, I’ve just jumped in and done a paid site. None of them took off. This time I started with a free WordPress site.

I’ve heard that it’s hard to move to a paid site from free WordPress, and there are things I want to do that I can’t do with a free site, but after one year I’ve only used up 30% of my storage space.

Not bad for no investment.

And today I’m breaking another “rule”: posts with graphics and photos do better. Sometimes it’s a choice between getting a post up and creating a graphic. Sometimes the graphics lose. And speaking of graphics, Picmonkey and Canva are your friends.

Where will CRJ go?
Seriously, who knows?

In some ways I’d like to back away . . . just a little. Post a little less often, read and comment on other people’s blogs more, write better quality posts.

Everytime I think about posting less, though, I try to figure out which linkup I won’t participate in and quite frankly I get so much out of all the linkups I can’t decide which one I’d drop!

Will I ever post more vlogs? Yes, if I have something to say. And obviously nothing has struck me as being so important that it requires taping myself talking to you recently. Maybe the recovery post if I ever get to it. Sometimes things have to rattle around in my head a long time before they come out here.

One thing you can rest assured of: I will continue to share with you all my passions. My primary focus will always be running, but I put chocolate and my own name in my blog name, after all.

I’ll continue to share photos of Lola and Giz, my fashion finds, my food, and whatever else catches my fancy.

And maybe I could earn just a little money from the blog in the next year? Pretty please? Enough so I can consider going to paid host?

You know, if you don’t put it out there, it won’t happen. You still have to do the work, but sometimes just writing it down makes it more real. And possible.

Why did you start to blog?

What do you think is the best thing about blogging?

What are your goals for your blog?

I’m linking up with Amanda at Running with Spoons for her:

Thursdays are for thinking out loud

26 thoughts on “The long and winding road of CRJ: TOLT

  1. Hi CRJ, great post. Lots to think about in there! I started blogging when I was doing a charity run to try to raiseawreness and funds. From the fundraising view it contributed little, but it was good to get support and advice from other amateur runners. I don’t get tied up in how many followers I’ve got. Some people clearly just follow you so that you will follow them but never read your blog or in some cases never acknowledge your comments on their blog. Ultimately unless their blog is great I unfollow them. Of course some people start blogging then fade away, which can be sad if it’s someone you like. All in all its been completely different to what I thought that it would be! Good luck with your money making plans!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m not sure I’ll ever make any money, but I do have the time to devote to the blog, unlike so many!

      It boggles my mind how busy people are and still blog. I often feel like such a slacker.

      I like followers as much as the next person, but I generally will only follow blogs I’m truly interested in. And there’s already way too many of those!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations on your first anniversary! I wish you luck as you continue into the future. I hope your wish for a paid blog comes true.
    I’ve enjoyed following your exploits, adventures, yes, and food and dogs and cats in the last year.
    Looking forward to more.
    Let’s all keep on running.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congrats. That went fast. I remember you talking about maybe starting a blog.

    I basically started to blog and blog now as a running journal. It helps me keep track of my run and my races. And I barely have the time for that.

    I’ve met a lot of local bloggers when I started but they no longer blog.

    Luckily I am at the computer all day and when I have free time, I can sneak in a few blog reads and comments but I don’t have nearly enough time to comment on many blogs.

    Since I work, when I’m home, I am busy and blogging is so sedentary that I hate to spend the time.

    I do like connecting with other runners though.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I definitely think the other bloggers are the best thing about blogging!! Especially when you’re able to meet them, because now I can hear you while I read this and actually pick up the tone in which you wrote it (if that makes sense)! Congrats on your blogiversary! Here’s to a profitable 2nd year! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No, that definitely made sense (I’m like that too — Mr. Judy does a movie quote thing on FB — and when I know it, I can often hear it in my head in the actor’s voice).

      I didn’t get into it for the money — good thing, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I certainly can’t answer the questions about blogging as I don’t have one. I do love reading yours, though. It’s a great way to stay connected. Happy First Anniversary to CRJ!! Here’s hoping for some money coming in for your second. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wait…you have been doing this blog for only a year!! Never would have guess that!

    Love your blog and your post.

    I blog to get these thoughts our of my head and to allow my friends to not have to always listen to my thoughts-lol!!

    I need to check out those pic sites, I have heard good things about them.

    Congrats! You have had a great blogging year!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Connecting with people all over the world is definitely the best part of blogging. Even the small step back that I’ve had to take over the past little while has made me miss the community like crazy. It’s just so great to be able to talk to so many people that you have so much in common with. Congrats on your first anniversary, Judy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Happy blogversary. I didn’t realize your blog was only a year old ! Doesn’t time go by fast ?!

    I love your blog. You are so down to earth, and my favorite bloggers are women of my own age, going through the same things I do ! So keep on doing what you are doing.

    I do pay for my blog, at least the hosting. I just figured there was an associated cost.

    … and thanks for the shout out !
    Hope to meet one day !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, I’m still thinking about June. I really need to ask Darlene what she’s doing again. But we made the reservations for November!

      I’ve been burned a few times before on hosting, when I paid for it and the blog didn’t do well, so this time I just decided I’d start out for free. And this time it’s at least getting comments. 🙂


  9. Happy Blogoversary Judy!

    Let me try answering your questions:

    Why did you start to blog?
    To keep myself accountable to continue running (my run blog) and to not forget good recipes (my food blog).

    What do you think is the best thing about blogging?
    You, the people! I wasn’t aware anyone was reading and suddenly I am having all those people communicating with me lol! I am now completely addicted to all catch up with everyone I met through my blog and just hope no one disappears as Mawil said!

    What are your goals for your blog?
    I just moved my blogs together and I am playing around with that, so I can find my stuff better. Other than that is to write and therefore think more. I enjoy not having any particular goals in relation to my blog though, as I don’t want to feel pressured in “producing” something or pleasing anyone. So if I had to choose a goal, I want it to stay just how it is now 🙂 my little coffee break corner where I can geek out on running and eating plants.

    Good luck with your goals! Love the links, just need time to read ’em all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t post today because I didn’t have anything ready. 🙂 Everyone tells you not to post too much when starting out, but it’s kind of hard not to. Or at least it was for me.

      I’ll definitely have to look through your recipes!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for sharing this with us! I didn’t realize that this was your first year blogging. Kudos to you!

    Even though blogging is not a full time paying gig for us, it has opened up wonderful opportunities and we’ve met some great people, people who we actually talk to in real life and have even vacationed with. All because of a little blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I highly doubt that blogging would ever be a fulltime gig for me, just hoping for a little extra $$. Someday. Although it’s not like I’m going to stop if it never happens!

      It’s really amazing where life can lead you when you’re open to it.


    1. Hmm. People keep saying that, that they weren’t aware if was my first year blogging. I mean, how can you tell?

      It’s like people always seeming to think I’m tall from my photos — again, have you looked at photos of me & Darlene together? And Darlene’s not even all that tall, but compare to me she is!

      I think you might be the only Deborah (blogger) I know. There sure area a lot of Deborah/Debbie variations!

      And oddly enough I don’t think I know another Judy blogger. Growing up there was always another Judy . . .


  11. I didn’t realize your blog was so young! It’s funny because when I find new-to-me blogs I assume they’re pretty established if the tone feels comfortable and if there’s a set schedule for posts, etc. That makes a blog feel established! I started blogging just to keep myself accountable and follow my own training. I had no idea of the world that existed and the community of bloggers! I’m very grateful to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Since I’ve been blogging off and on for years, had my FB page a while, I did know about the community of running bloggers. Which is exactly what helped me to sound like I knew what I was doing, I guess!


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