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New Beginnings?

At this time of year everyone takes stock in some way. We look back at the past year and ask ourselves how it was for us, what we liked and didn’t like about it, what we could have done better, and what we have learned to take forward into next year and beyond. In doing so we have plenty of help from the media: those news reviews of the year on TV, the various end of year ‘awards’ pieces so beloved of newspaper and magazine columnists, and the (not) really uplifting montages of those public figures who have died in the past year. I blog with WordPress (other blogging hosts are available) and each year they contribute to this by providing their authors with a brief report on our blogging year. I have now had four of these and have opted to repost them here each year as a kind of record, as much for my own amusement as for yours, but they are building into a little catalogue now. I posted the latest earlier today: here, if you missed it (how could you? where were you!).

Previously I have posted these without really thinking much about what they have meant for my blog but there has been a big change this year, which encouraged me to look more deeply. In both 2013 and 2014 I received over 20,000 page views, whereas in 2015 this reduced to around 11,000. I know I’m not the most regular or consistent of bloggers but I didn’t think I deserved that! But the big numbers hide some important pieces of information for me. Since the early days I have linked my blog to the US site Blogsurfer, which has given me a major part of my traffic: in 2013 and 2014 it accounted for around 17,000 page views each year. But 2015 has seen a massive decline in these numbers, and it has only produced around 4,000 views. Turning that around gives me a large increase – from 3,000 to 7,000 – in non-Blogsurfer traffic. I have no idea why Blogsurfer has dropped off, although there have been several occasions when the site has been down, but these wouldn’t account for that much difference. I can only assume that the user numbers for the site as a whole have fallen, or that its users are fed up with me! The other piece of data that is very important to me is the actual number of blog followers. The figure shown here includes all of the ways in which I link my posts, including Twitter, which is the biggest by a distance. This masks the actual number of followers who have chosen to read what I write. As of today these reached 200, so thank you everyone. Looking back, 34 of those have joined since I started this year’s #NaBloPoMo, which makes my stated decision not to take part in this again in 2016 possibly short-sighted!

How to draw attention to yourself!

How to draw attention to yourself!

I have enjoyed much more interaction around my posts recently, which is hugely encouraging. There is nothing better for a blogger than to know that someone has read a piece, been interested by it and has felt something in it to prompt a comment. If we’re honest, writing a blog would be pretty pointless if we only had family and pets as readers, wouldn’t it! I’ve said before that I am planning some changes for my blog, and I intend to post more on mental health and retirement issues. But the past two months have shown me that I mustn’t do that at the expense of the occasional ramblings which seem to strike a chord with you. So you will still be entertained (?) by my odd thoughts on aspects of life, and by my selections of music and videos.

A fellow blogger made the point to me that her WordPress review told her that people were still reading her older posts and that she should do something about this. My reply was that the same thing happens to me and I am happy to see it. I have a number of posts that I still enjoy seeing again when I look through my back catalogue – some of which I have updated and recycled when the mood took me. In 2013 I posted No Sex Please, We’re British in response to one of WordPress’ daily prompts, and that is one of my most read posts of 2015. Tagging a post with ‘sex’ is a good way of drawing attention from search engines – and of instantly disappointing people!

My Facebook post - click to enlarge

My Facebook post – click to enlarge

The post from this year which meant most to me was Don’t Give Up, which marked my coming off anti-depressants after four years. This attracted a lot of likes and comments, both here and on Facebook, some of those from people who have been with me for the journey since I was first diagnosed with depression and then, a year on, from when I started this blog. I may post all sorts of other things but at the heart of what I’m doing here is my passion for supporting those who have mental illness, in the hope that in my own small way I can offer them some support and help remove the stigma that still, sadly, attach to those of us who have ever been diagnosed with such an illness. I suffered this again this year, from a now ex-friend who should have known better than to judge me. Wrongly, as it turned out. Her loss though, not mine. This is why I have called this post New Beginnings? – that question mark is very important, as recent followers may not be aware of this, and what I will be doing in 2016 may seem new to them. But for me it is a continuation of what I set out to do.

I have one final and very personal thought from 2015. When I started this blog it was at the instigation of my counsellor, who wanted me to turn what I had been writing for him as part of our therapy sessions into a blog, for others to read. At around the time that I was going through this I met someone via Twitter and we became good friends. She was an amazingly creative and funny person, who had suffered much more than her fair share of the horrible things that life can throw at us, but bore it all with wit, courage, charm and determination. She was the most wonderfully supportive follower of my blog, from when it first started, and we used to chat for hours about anything and everything. Throughout this period she was ill and being occasionally hospitalised, and this took a turn for the worse when she was diagnosed with cancer. But she recovered – so typical of her! Then life played its last and most cruel trick. Within weeks of being given the all clear she began to suffer debilitating migraines, which turned out to be brain cancer. Sadly, this was one battle too many, even for her, and she was taken from us in July. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, but if I did the one for this blog would be to honour her memory and the support she gave me by doing more to support others. I am just one small cog in the great scheme of things but if I can help one person in her memory I will feel I have done a very little towards that. Cyd, I owe you that for your friendship and support.

I hope you will stay with me for the ride. Happy New Year!

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  1. December 30, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    It was so interesting to find my comment here! I had just begun blogging, and I guess you were among the first blogs I subscribed to. I enjoyed this review, and look forward to your new post next week. Happy New Year, and stay well, Clive!

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 30, 2018 at 2:55 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed revisiting this, Diane, and thank you for having done me the honour of being one of the first blogs you followed. I’m not sure if Bernadette had started the Senior Salon back then, but that seems a likely place for us to have found each other. Happy New Year to you too – more music to come and then I’ll do that review post. It has been an interesting year!

      Like

  2. December 30, 2018 at 10:12 am

    Reblogged this on Take It Easy and commented:

    I hadn’t been planning on another post until Tuesday, when I’ll be sharing the compilation of the #NewYearSongOfTheDay that I have been posting on Twitter and this blog’s Facebook page. But then this one popped up in my Timehop feed. I had been thinking about doing a review post of my blogging 2018, and will probably do that in the next week or so, but I was quite taken with this review of my 2015, and thought I’d share it with you again. Very few of my current regular readers were with me back then, so I doubt that many of you will have seen this or the posts to which it links. Some of these are quite important for me, and I hope you dip into them and can see why.

    WordPress has long since stopped providing the annual reports I mention in that post, although I have posted about blog statistics in the past year. My readership numbers have fallen since those days largely, as I mentioned, to the decline in links from BlogSurfer. I still keep it on my site, but I don’t think it does that much for me, to be honest! What is important for me is that three years ago I was remarking on the fact that I had just reached 200 followers: that figure is now well over 800 and continues to rise in a steady trickle. I’m not sure why many of you follow me, but I’m grateful that you do. And, as I said three years ago, the most satisfying aspect of this hobby of mine is the interaction it generates – it’s good to know there is someone out there!

    As I write this, I can feel myself thinking those ‘end of year’ thoughts about where I want to go with my blog. I’m not sure that it has developed in quite the way I envisaged three years ago – there has been much less overtly about retirement than I had been intending – but I have some thoughts about what I should be doing in 2019, which I’ll share with you when I do that review of 2018. In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy this little glimpse back into my blogging past, and some of the posts I was writing back then. See you again soon 😊

    Like

  3. December 31, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    A great analysis of WordPress’s report! I’m in my first year of blogging, and was pleasantly surprised when I received mine. I enjoy your blog, and have subscribed to it. I find that people are hesitant to subscribe, but don’t understand why. I guess it’s a privacy issue. It is wonderful to have a number of subscribers, and know that you are read on a regular basis. Happy New Year to you, Clive! I’ll be back in 2016.

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 31, 2015 at 3:57 pm

      Thank you for your kind words, I’ll be there to read more from you next year too.

      It’s a strange thing, the way people respond. I’ve had people who have liked some of my posts over a period of time but have never followed. Maybe they just don’t want another email! It happens on Twitter too: I have someone who likes and retweets quite a lot of what I post there but doesn’t follow me. We’re a strange creature, aren’t we!

      Like

  4. December 31, 2015 at 9:29 am

    Clive – Happy New Year.
    May Totenham finish second to Arsenal 😀😀😀😀😀
    I look forward to your posts appearing in my Reader and I look forward to them continuing to do so in 2016.
    Regards
    Browney237

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 31, 2015 at 10:31 am

      Thanks Michael, I look forward to yours as well. You’re not a bad lad, for a Gooner! Happy New Year!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. December 31, 2015 at 1:32 am

    Clive, What you writ is important and from the heart. I look forward to reading more in 2016.

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 31, 2015 at 7:06 am

      Thank you Bernadette, I really appreciate that. I look forward to reading you too, and many thanks for the invitation to the Salon. Happy New Year!

      Like

  6. December 30, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    I look forward to reading more from you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 30, 2015 at 6:09 pm

      Thank you Stevie, and I reciprocate that 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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