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On Further Reflection

A reflection of the blogger?

Two years ago today I published a post called Reflections, in which I mused on why we blog, and what it means to us. Having been reminded of this post I re-read it and it seemed time to revisit and update it. For those who won’t have seen it before I’ll share it again now and then update at the end of this post. This is Reflections (Mark 1):

“It’s a funny old game, this blogging lark, isn’t itWe sit at home (other locations are available) in a kind of self-imposed solitude, thumping away at the keyboard while we spill out the contents of our mind. Then we hit that magic button marked ‘Publish’ and those thoughts can be seen by anyone in the world with access to the interweb. Doesn’t that strike you as a little strange? It does to me. Why do we do it? Are we all self-obsessed narcissists? Or exhibitionists?

It’s a given that we all had a reason for starting our blogs, and those can be many and varied. I won’t bore you by repeating yet again why I started – if you don’t know, but want to, just take a look at my ‘About Me’ page and all will be revealed (there’s a link to it in the top menu, just for you). Many of the blogs I follow have started for a similar reason to mine, but then again many haven’t. And therein lies the beauty and magic of it all, for me anyway: the sheer variety of the blogs I follow keeps me entertained, amused and in some cases instructed on a daily basis. I follow many of these because that blogger has also chosen to follow me and I deem it a courtesy to return that compliment – the likelihood is that we have interests in common and I will enjoy their blog too. There are two main reasons why I don’t follow back. The first of these is where I deem the following of my blog a blatant attempt – usually, but not always, by commercial concerns – to widen their own ‘fanbase’ by indiscriminate following of blogs they clearly have no interest in reading. Sorry guys, but you are very easy to spot! The second is…I’ll come back to that later (I’m such a tease!).

Something prompted me the other day to take a look at my blog’s statistics year by year since I first started this, back in late 2012. I was particularly taken by the stats for this year to date and how they differed from previous years. You’ll notice the link on the right to BlogSurfer – I added this not long after I started at the suggestion of the remarkable Cyd (see Thank You for more on her) and it resulted in some great stats in terms of page views up to 2015, when its influence waned dramatically. The total viewing figures for this year are only about a quarter of those for the peak years of 2013-4, but I don’t care in the slightest. Why? Because I can be pretty sure that the great majority of this year’s views have been from people who actually wanted to read my words, rather than by those who just dropped by in passing from another site. BlogSurfer has prompted just 18% of views this year – in 2013 it was over 90%. The other really revealing stats are that the total number of ‘likes’ this year is around 50% more than the combined total for all previous years, while the number of comments is 250% more!

Isn’t that why we do it? That apparently solo activity is actually helping us to communicate in a way that modern technology allows, and in a way that just hadn’t been imagined when I was younger. I don’t know about you, but I thrive on the interactions my blog generates, and these become a kind of addiction. The more I get, the more I crave. If you look at my blog posting habits, you’ll see that, apart from #NaBloPoMo in 2014 and 2015, my previous activity has been much less frequent than of late. This has also encouraged me to become much more active in commenting on others’ blogs – as some of you can attest! For me, 2016 has been the first year that blogging has really felt like being part of a community. I used to interact with some in the earlier days, but most of them no longer blog much, if at all. Several of you are now Facebook friends – people can deride that, but I see it as a mark of trust and friendship and I value it. If you look at my Facebook friends (my proper name is Clive Pilcher) you’ll see some familiar faces – including Cyd, whose daughter has left her page open for us to drop by and remember her. And if we aren’t already friends on Facebook, I’m open to offers….

I said I’d go back to the second reason why I wouldn’t follow a blog back. It’s a fairly simple one. I’m very fortunate to have English as my native tongue: it is probably the most widespread language worldwide, albeit with localised variations. I enjoyed learning languages at school and studied French and German to our A level standard. But that was more than 40 years ago and whilst I still recognise many of the words I can’t claim sufficient skills to read the languages now. I’m ashamed to admit it, but if your blog isn’t written in English I wouldn’t understand it. Until now, that is. WordPress has recently been promoting a widget for Google Translate, which is claimed to work in over 100 languages. I’ve added the widget – you can see it on the right. Isn’t this wonderful? If every blogger using WordPress added this to their site we could access so many more blogs than we can at present, and those of you that I haven’t followed back could open up your blogs to those, like me, who can only deal in English! Blogging is a global activity, so it seems a no-brainer to do this. My blog has been read by people in around 200 countries – I’d like to read yours too, then this community can truly become a global one! The support of the full worldwide blogging community can mean so much to so many, and I hope this little widget is widely adopted.

So, that’s why I do this and why it is a valuable part of my life. How is it for you? Do tell, I’d love the interaction ;-)”

Whilst revisiting that post I thought it only right that I should take a new look at my stats. Broadly speaking, 2016, 2017 and this year to date have been fairly similar in the numbers of total views, actual visitors, and likes. But there has been a fall in comments. Is that something others have experienced, or is it just me? Maybe it is because (like this post) I have reworked quite a few older pieces that current viewers won’t have seen, but there aren’t enough new viewers who are active commenters? Or, looking at the pattern of new followers, perhaps I’m attracting more of those who are looking for a follow back to boost their own numbers? With a few treasured exceptions, I can’t recall any comments from a fairly large percentage of those who have followed in the past year. But then again, I haven’t commented on many of theirs either: that works both ways, folks! Or, to take the obvious answer, maybe I’m not writing the sort of pieces that would encourage people to comment on as well as like a post. An interesting thought for discussion, perhaps? And it comes with an invitation to add your comment to the discussion: as I said in the previous post I, and I suspect most of us, thrive on the interaction with our readers.

I also mentioned in that previous post that I would welcome the addition of the Translate widget on blogs that don’t publish in English. I can understand your wish to use your native language but English (and the American version of it) is very much the universal blogging language and making the translation available would widen your readership. Many of the blogs I follow are posting in English even though it clearly isn’t their first language. I admire and applaud their efforts but there are still a few following me who don’t publish in English: they are better educated than I, sorry! Please, please add the Translate widget if you don’t publish in English: I’m sure it would be of benefit to others as well as me.

Another change from two years ago is that some who were regular bloggers back then seem to have dropped out. I know of some who have gone through some big life changes which have meant that blogging became far less important to them, and have every sympathy with them. But others just seem to have wandered off into the ether. I don’t know about you, but there is something comforting to me in seeing a new post from a favourite writer, and it’s always a little sad not to see them any more. But there is no shortage of new (or new to me, at least) blogs out there, and hopefully over time I’ll build the same relationship of mutual support with them that I had with those who have gone AWOL. That is, after all, the sustenance on which bloggers depend.

A new development for me is that I started a Facebook page as a companion to this blog: my reasons for doing it are explained here. This is quite possibly just a vanity project, and it currently only stands at 32 ‘likes’ anyway, but it gives me a space to post things that I wouldn’t otherwise write about. There’s a #SongOfTheDay, which from tomorrow will become a #ChristmasSongOfTheDay – I’ve done this for several years now on my Twitter account and on Facebook, and have written catch up posts here: but if you want to see the daily posts then the Facebook page is the place to go – just follow the link to the right. And I also do a kind of Advent Calendar – not the usual sort! – on my Instagram account. If I can, I link these to the Facebook page but the technology is a little erratic so do follow the link to the right for Instagram if you’d like to see my more irreverent (or just downright smutty) side.

Do you ever take time out to reflect on why you blog, on what it means for you and your readers? I can recommend it: it can be an enlightening experience. Then again, as a great philosopher (well, Johnny Nash, actually) once said: ‘There are more questions than answers,’ and it does feel a bit like that inside my head at the moment! What do you think?

 

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  1. December 5, 2018 at 7:30 pm

    Important post, Clive. Thanks. It’s a good question and I think something I must remind myself of from time to time: Why do I keep doing this? And I seem to be spending more time on each post. I stopped focusing on my book some time ago and the blog became something of a classroom, or a newspaper. Am I a journalist or an educator? Or a challenger? I love the idea of giving us all something to chew on, something we hadn’t thought of before, or not in a particular way. That is fun for me. I guess I’m starting to look at this as something of a mission, a calling, a legacy? Oh my! I’m very glad you’re a part of my blogging tribe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 5, 2018 at 8:30 pm

      Thank you Janet, for these kind words. Your posts are so meticulously researched that I can understand how they take up so much of your time. I think you’re all of those things, and I enjoy being challenged, educated and informed by your posts. I think you may have the beginnings of a book from your posts – a thought worth pursuing, perhaps? That could be your legacy 😊

      Like

  2. December 5, 2018 at 3:48 pm

    I think blogging helps me clarify my thinking. I like your site.

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 5, 2018 at 3:51 pm

      It helps me to do that too. Thanks for following and your kind words 😊

      Like

  3. December 3, 2018 at 8:14 pm

    Blogging is incredibly addictive! Like you I write and thrive on the interaction and I love the comments and conversation on my posts. Sometimes I feel as though we’re all sitting in a cafe together. Many of my earlier readers seem to have dropped off and disappeared but a lot more are still here which I love. A lot of new followers tend to hit that follow button without ever leaving a comment which is a shame. I unashamedly admit that I’m a bit addicted to the interactions. It’s expanded my world tenfold! Like you I have a FB page and group Clive. I’ll have to check you out next time I’m online. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 3, 2018 at 8:38 pm

      It is rather habit forming, isn’t it! I tend to dip in and out, but it’s the interaction that keeps me coming back. The cafe analogy is a good one, it does feel like that, especially when we form a loose grouping of mutual followers and commenters. But you have to wonder about some: my most recent follower was around midnight last night, our time. It has two followers and a very unlikely name for a blog! I don’t think I’ve found your FB page – I’ll take a look 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • December 3, 2018 at 8:53 pm

        I’ve sent you a friend request. And yeah, I know what you mean about some of those followers. Peculiar to say the least.

        Liked by 1 person

      • December 3, 2018 at 8:58 pm

        And I’ve just liked your page, which has a rather larger following than mine! Thank you for that, I’ll find it and accept (of course!). I do worry about some of my followers 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      • December 3, 2018 at 9:00 pm

        I saw that, thanks Clive. Must admit I don’t post as often as I could on my page. I’m a tad more active on my personal page. Nice to connect. (I noticed your birthday is a week before mine!) 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • December 3, 2018 at 9:07 pm

        I link my posts to mine, and post a music video every day as well as a few other odds and sods. It keeps me alert! And page viewers are at present being subjected to my Instagram Advent Calendar – which is likely to keep me off Santa’s Nice list. I think that may be a week and a substantial number of years!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. December 3, 2018 at 1:26 pm

    Blogging can become such an end in itself. This is a good time to sit back and ponder the reasons why we do what we do. Thanks for going first.

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 3, 2018 at 1:32 pm

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m looking forward to the avalanche of ‘why do I do this’ posts that I may have started 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. December 3, 2018 at 11:43 am

    I love this post Clive. I honestly blog for myself, A way to express myself, write (because I love to, not because I am good at it), a way to preserve memories, and a way to reach out to others. I love it when someone takes the time to read and comment, and to know that person is half way around the world or just across town blows my mind! I really enjoy the interaction with others. It reinforces what I have always believed to be true…. as quoted by Anne Frank,
    “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.

    Liked by 2 people

    • December 3, 2018 at 11:57 am

      Thank you, I’m glad it struck a chord with you. I enjoy your posts, and like you I marvel at how technology can bring people together through their blogs: one of its better uses, I would venture to say! I love that Anne Frank quotation too – she was wise beyond her years.

      Like

  6. December 2, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    I started my blog to promote my memoir, but discovered that blogging was highly addictive and a tremendous support group. I cannot imagine life without my blog friends, and feel sad when they stop blogging.

    Liked by 2 people

    • December 2, 2018 at 6:04 pm

      It is all of that, isn’t it? The other side of people giving up is when someone returns after a hiatus: it’s like a reunion with old friends 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  7. December 2, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    You’ve been at this game longer than I have, Clive, (I started in 2015) but our objectives are fairly similar. I love being a part of the blogging community, and like your idea of translating pages to make it even more universal. I’m impressed that you include Instagram in your social media menu—something I haven’t done, but hope to do so soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 2, 2018 at 2:46 pm

      Thanks Diane, it’s a good community to be a part of. The Translate widget offers over 100 languages and I’d have thought it a no-brainer for anyone using WordPress who doesn’t blog in English. More fool them if they don’t offer it! I use Instagram mainly for non-serious stuff, which may not be to everyone’s taste, but I’d be interested to see what you’d do with it 😊

      Like

  8. November 30, 2018 at 1:01 pm

    Like Stevie my original – and still my primary – objective is about selling my books. But an almost equally important objective for me was always to share my opinions on current affairs in the (vain) hope of making people think about things that I believe should matter to us all.
    I do seem to have acquired a small coterie of followers who I also follow because we share some things in common. The same people crop up with comments on your blog as well as mine!

    Liked by 1 person

    • November 30, 2018 at 1:24 pm

      As I’ve just said to Stevie, I have no problem with authors using a blog to promote their books, as long as they aren’t too blatant and single track about it. I always enjoy reading your posts and this is probably helped by the fact that we generally think alike! I’ve noticed that about mutual commenters too: it’s what I was trying to say in this post, that community is important 😊

      Like

  9. November 30, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    Great post, Clive. I originally joined to promote my books, but since learned that it’s not really the done thing to blog about your books and ask people to check them out. However, I’m now as addicted to blogging as you are, and enjoy thinking up subjects to write about.

    Liked by 2 people

    • November 30, 2018 at 1:20 pm

      Many thanks, Stevie. I don’t have a problem with authors promoting their books via a blog, it’s how it’s done that matters to me – I prefer it not to be too blatant! You cover such a wide range of subjects and this keeps your blog interesting and a pleasure to read.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. November 30, 2018 at 10:38 am

    I too enjoy the interaction with others in this blogging game Clive. It was interesting to read your post and I have similar thoughts. I love seeing the stats every year but it’s not why I blog. I would prefer comments over likes any day!

    Liked by 2 people

    • November 30, 2018 at 10:50 am

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, Debbie – we are of like mind on this! I enjoy the comments but I must admit to liking ‘likes’ too, and they help in ranking posts for the widget in my sidebar 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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