That Was The Year That Was

Around this time of year we find ourselves looking back at last year’s experiences and looking ahead to how we hope the new year will be. Do we ever really know? As I’m agnostic, with atheist tendencies, I don’t rely on that kind of life guidance, nor do I claim any supernatural powers of my own: I’m not Nostradamus, or even Old Moore (the Almanack guy). So I tend to rely on looking back at what happened to me to inform my way ahead – I’m a great believer in learning from our experiences. In my case, that means learning what NOT to do! I don’t keep a diary, so I tend to rely on my blog posting history to remind me of the past year, and that review is always accompanied by a look back at my blog’s statistics.

Last year was an odd one, in blog terms. I posted 53 times, which is similar to recent years, but not to any regular schedule: there were some gaps in there! Total views increased by over 40% from 2018, but likes and comments only saw small improvements. What am I supposed to make of that? Should I be pleased that so many more people read my posts, or concerned that the levels of ‘approval’ shown by likes and comments didn’t increase in proportion? Or should I ignore the statistics and just carry on regardless? Guess what – regardless continuation is the order of the day. I don’t blog for anything other than as a hobby, so it’s not as though I have commercial sponsors or advertisers to worry about. To be honest, I wouldn’t want that kind of pressure anyway: I suspect I could probably generate a better income from putting my non-existent predictive talents to work on the lottery and the football pools than I could derive from selling my blog (and my soul) for money.

I was actually approached a couple of months ago (via my Contact Me page) by a company wanting to use my blog as a vehicle to promote their product, but as that product was an expensive set of tablets with (in my view) over-generous claims for their general, sexual and mental health benefits, I made the decision to spare you from that, dear reader, and declined their kind offer. I trust that you are duly grateful. But if you are interested in that kind of thing, a quick internet search will furnish you with many companies who would be only too happy to separate you from your cash, with no help from me!

But I digress (as usual). I’m really looking back at what did happen last year with my blog, not at what didn’t. Using the number of likes as my criterion, I was pleased to see that four of my top five posts last year were mental health-related. Despite appearances to the contrary (e.g. all those music posts) the reason why I began doing this was to share my experience of depression in the hope that my small voice might make a tiny difference in the great scheme of things. So, whilst I have at times been indulging my blogging self with the more enjoyable aspects of life, it is heartening to see that people still take notice when I share the message that we need to be supporting those who suffer from a mental illness. Learning the lesson from that, I could make it a New Year Resolution to post more on mental health matters in the coming year. But, as I said yesterday to a fellow blogger, the only New Year’s resolution I ever make is not to make any other resolutions. That leaves me feeling that I achieve something every year! But even without a resolution you can expect more from me on mental health issues.

When I reviewed what you guys had deemed to be my top posts of 2019, it was very pleasing that my annual post for World Mental Health Day was the most liked, by a distance: so much so, in fact, that it is one of just two 2019 posts to feature in the all time top ten. If you haven’t seen it, or want another look, it can be found under the imaginative title of World Mental Health Day 2019 – I worked hard at that!

The second most liked post of last year was one for which I spent a little more time coming up with a title: 2018: They Think It’s All Over. Given that I’m sharing that with you in a post reviewing last year, I’m aware of the slight irony of that being the equivalent post to this one. But, like this one, it is a quick way for newer readers to pick up on what they may have missed before signing up for this drivel – and that one gives you a whole new set of links to follow. Sometimes, my generosity surprises even me!

The rest of my top five posts of 2019 were all mental health posts and, perhaps through no coincidence, they were all reworkings of posts I had originally written in 2016. As I said earlier, that is the primary reason I started blogging, and there is clearly an audience for posts on this theme. Those three posts were:

Time To Worry – An Update

I’m Still Me and

Reprise: My Top Ten Depression Tips

In its original version, the last of those is still my fourth most popular post in the seven years I’ve been doing this: as I said, there is an audience interested in mental health issues and I will never forget that. Even if I do stray off into other areas I will always return at some point.

You may wonder why I go back to those older posts and share them again. The answer to that is simple: I regard the words I wrote previously as being just as valid as they ever were, and the total number of people following my blog has more than doubled since 2016, so I would imagine that those posts were new to many. My apologies if I created a sense of déjà vu with you, but the message is important and, I think, worth reiterating.

Quite a few of my 2019 posts had nothing overtly to do with mental health. I’m thinking here of my December series of music posts – of which there were six – but, as music is regarded as one of the contributors to our mental well-being, there may be an indirect link. On a different theme, one of my favourite posts last year was Missing, Inaction – having just re-read it, even that had a passing nod towards mental health too, though its main theme was our dependence on the internet and the deprivation I felt from an enforced 15 day absence.

I’ll leave you with my own favourite post from last year. It was another of my musical ones but with a difference: its main aim was to show how talented musicians can be found on YouTube amongst all the dross on the site. I deliberately gave the post a slightly ambiguous title and, as you can see from the comments, a couple of people admitted to being drawn in by it. As I said to one of them, it was good to know that my MBA in Marketing (1980!) was still of some value, and who wouldn’t want to find out what Under The Covers was about? That was far from being the most ‘liked’ post, but is probably the one from which I derived most pleasure in writing.

Many thanks for indulging me in this little meander through my last year of blogging. I hope to see you again throughout this year though, unlike many other bloggers, I haven’t planned anything beyond this post. I’ve noticed a growing trend among bloggers to dedicate an annual theme, or a word (or several) for their blog. Having given this much thought, and in view of what I just said about my lack of advanced planning,  I’ve decided that my word for this (and probably any other) year should be: Whatever. It seems to fit me well: what you’ll get is whatever comes into my addled brain. I hope you’ll stick around for the ride – whatever it brings!

(PS New Year = new style: I decided to change the template theme for my blog, as I’d used the pre-festive period theme for several years and fancied a change. WordPress don’t offer one called ‘Whatever,’ as far as I can tell, but I hope you like the new look. It’s like me: simple.)

41 thoughts on “That Was The Year That Was

  1. Prior... January 20, 2020 / 5:31 am

    Hi Clive – enjoyed this post and I recall a few years ago when Ruth H. Talked about followed being down and likes/comments were down but her daily views were up.
    I also notice that sometimes when I have not posted at all – my views can be still be good and just makes me wonder.
    And with that said – I mostly do not look at stats – but the stats page usually opens when I need to get here and there and so I peek. But when I took a year break from my current blog and came back – it was disheartening at first. Before I left things seemed to have a nice flow and some action. Then coming back – at times felt like crickets were out – it was humbling.
    But in time – the liveliness returned and “new grooves” seem to be found.

    I agree with you about the need for mental health awareness and I can see why those posts of yours continue to get hits.
    And your humor is always so fun – not overdone and sometimes you sneak it in – other times the intention is there.

    And I think that a successful blog is one that stays fun and enjoyable for the blogger- because if they are still “into it” – and it is something they are not hating or feeling worn down by- well then the success is found in the enjoyment – 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive January 20, 2020 / 8:43 am

      Many thanks, Yvette, both for liking the post and for such a thoughtful response. Blogging can sometimes be disheartening, can’t it? Since I wrote this post my views have nosedived for no apparent reason – odd, really, and no logic to it at all!

      Thank you for your kind words – I’m no different from anyone else, and always hope that people will enjoy what I have written.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Prior... January 20, 2020 / 8:36 pm

        Your post and the comments here have been a great addition to my long weekend – and I just mentioned you on Erica/erika’s blog because she and I were chatting about blogging –
        Well actually her post was addressing a long blog pause she took and so comments unfolded from there.

        And Clive – as noted – you ask great questions – is it views that makes something a success – the comments – the Likes?
        But what came up with Erica’s post was how I know a few folks who have said they only blog part time – and I was not sure what that means.
        In the world of work it part-time can be defined as maybe half time of 20 hrs and under 40 means no benefits – something like that.
        But in blog world is their an hourly amount?
        And if so – does it apply to creating blog posts –
        Going to make Blog visits – –
        ?
        I would blog about it but have been a little crabby lately and would not want to be negative – but a pet peeve is when someone over talks about an upcoming pause or over chats about where they have been.
        Just mention what you need to and then get back to it

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive January 20, 2020 / 10:16 pm

        Thank you again for your kind words, Yvette. That’s an intriguing question. I started my blog when I was still working full time but have since retired. I describe myself as an occasional blogger, as I ‘work’ to no set timescales and create no pressure on myself about when and what to post. I guess that makes me a part-timer, as I don’t spend every waking (or working) hour blogging. Tbh I find it an odd description: I suppose it makes some kind of sense if you make an income from your blog, but I have never been inclined to monetise mine, and I doubt I ever will. Having said that, I’m clearly not the right person to ask about the hourly rates to be paid for blogging!

        I agree with you on pauses too. There have been gaps in my blog – the longest was seven months – but they haven’t been planned so there isn’t a big fanfare announcing a break, just a bashful apology when I sneak back.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Prior... January 21, 2020 / 12:46 am

        Re: your blog patterns –
        that is why the “whatever” was a great word for you for the year
        Let it roll – let it flow and do what you do

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive January 21, 2020 / 8:26 am

        Exactly! A rare moment of self-awareness on my part 😉

        Like

  2. ellenbest24 January 12, 2020 / 9:47 am

    Well Clive what can I say. Whatever you do keep doing it. The likes mean little to me, as I want people to read. A comment even one that tells me “that post was crap.” Means someone read the way I juggled the words, enough to take time to respond. I like to talk (in case it went unnoticed) so comments are a measure. Before your first post, you would have thought … I will do this for me and if anyone likes it that will be a bonus. We all think or say simular things at the start. Now look how far we have come since post 1. On another note … Your mental health posts, I think you get more response because so many live with it. Liking and commenting is their way of acknowledging the pain, and in doing so supporting, like a friend would buy you a beer or squeeze a shoulder or spend time listenning. Whatever you do keep doing it all, a smorgasboard of song information tale and hope. Happy 2020. See you on Esme’s BOSS slot again soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive January 12, 2020 / 10:20 am

      Thanks for your kind words, Ellen. I also enjoy the interaction of comments, and I know that people can ‘like and run,’ but I still find ‘likes’ a useful comparator for assessment over time. I agree on the mental health posts: I think, for those who suffer, they are comforting, as they show that someone understands and cares. Happy 2020 to you too!

      Like

  3. parkermccoy January 12, 2020 / 3:43 am

    That’s a solid year-in-review post. It’s good to learn from our mistakes and our successes. Wishing you a successful and enlightening 2020!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive January 12, 2020 / 8:05 am

      Many thanks for your good wishes. Hopefully it will be a good year for us all.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. petespringerauthor January 12, 2020 / 1:17 am

    Hi Clive. I’ve dropped in for the first time today because I was intrigued to read about your word for your blog. Having taught thirty-one years in elementary school, I can attest to the popularity of that word, particular those approaching the middle grades. (Perhaps you’ve discovered a new target audience.) They like to say that word when they can’t think of what else to say. 🤣 Perhaps the President should consider this instead of going on Twitter rants. (Where did that come from? I never post anything political.)

    I’ve seen your name floating around on some of the blogs I follow. Your philosophy about blogging sounds a lot like me. No particular strategy, but a great place to meet some cool people.

    Peace, Pete

    Liked by 2 people

    • Clive January 12, 2020 / 8:04 am

      Hi Pete. Thanks for dropping in, liking the post and following. I’ve followed you back – always good to find a blogger of similar mind! The word suits my approach to blogging, hopefully without the teenage connotations as I’m a bit old for that now! As for a new audience, I suspect I know what they’d say if someone suggesting reading my posts…

      Liked by 2 people

  5. robertawrites235681907 January 8, 2020 / 4:41 am

    I like your new look, Clive. I find it easier to read the text now. Mental health is a most important topic in a world where more and more young people are feeling overwhelmed by the pace and changes that are taking place almost daily. It feels as if there is no place in the modern work place for people who don’t want to spend their entire day sitting in front of a computer analyzing some or other kind of data and who don’t want to be academic and spend years studying. I have a few people in my life who suffer from depression, insomnia and OCD so I find your MH posts very informative and useful.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Clive January 8, 2020 / 8:14 am

      Thanks Robbie. It is clearer, isn’t it, and much less complex than some of WordPress’ offerings. I’m glad you find the posts helpful: as you say, there is so much pressure in modern life that there is a real need for us to take good care of our mental health.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Stephanae January 7, 2020 / 12:14 pm

    Great post Clive! It’s so easy to say ignore the numbers but I have to agree with you on the selling of one’s soul to increase stats and have refused to give in. I’m going to check out your other posts on mental health.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive January 7, 2020 / 1:01 pm

      Many thanks, Steph. Glad you agree: it just wouldn’t feel right for me. Hope you like the other posts.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Jean | Delightful Repast January 6, 2020 / 6:53 pm

    Clive, I do 52 posts per year every year, because I post every Thursday. I have no idea how people can blog any more frequently than that, but many do. I suspect they’ve cloned themselves! Mine is not a WordPress blog, so I don’t have a Like button. My favorite part of blogging is reading the comments and responding to them.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Clive January 6, 2020 / 7:04 pm

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Jean. You’ve just prompted me to look again at my pattern of posts and I realise that it was actually 53 last year: a quick edit needed to this post! I posted between once and five times for each of the first 10 months, then 9 in November and 12 in December so it can be done, even for the occasional types like me. I could never be disciplined and post to a schedule, though. As far as I know I’ve not been cloned! Like you, I enjoy getting and responding to comments: I see that as an essential part of the experience.

      Like

    • parkermccoy January 12, 2020 / 3:45 am

      I wonder if they’ve cloned themselves as well. Haha. I do a post a month or maybe twice a month but while I probably could churn out more, I don’t think the quality would be very good. It takes some time for me to come up with something interesting. Who knows? Maybe they’re just harder workers. I don’t know, but I do wonder.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Clive January 12, 2020 / 8:07 am

        There are some very frequent bloggers out there, many of whom seem to do it without any loss of quality. I don’t think I could do it, though!

        Liked by 1 person

      • parkermccoy January 12, 2020 / 8:15 am

        Haha. I hear you, Clive. I know I couldn’t either!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Hugh's Views and News January 6, 2020 / 10:22 am

    I’ve also found blog posts via social media platforms such as Twitter and Flipboard, Clive. In fact, I get a lot of views from Twitter. Amongst my stats for referrals is traffic from other blogs where I’ve left comments. I guess people have seen my comment and then clicked on my Gravatar and visited my blog.

    There are probably lots of other ways of getting to a blog, but I’ve no idea how WordPress decide to group them. I’ve seen some strange referrals on my stats page and have scratched my head as to how one of my blog posts even got there. It will forever remain a mystery.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Clive January 6, 2020 / 11:12 am

      Fair point, Hugh. I get some from comment follow ups and from Twitter too, but don’t use Flipboard. There are also views from link ups like the Senior Salon. But as you say, most are and no doubt will remain a mystery!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. tidalscribe January 5, 2020 / 11:07 pm

    I couldn’t think of a word for the year so Whatever sounds perfect to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. ellenbest24 January 5, 2020 / 8:38 pm

    I popped across from Esme’s BOSS link share and what a meaty post. I measure my post success by comments because anyone can like and leave, a comment is a connection,the person afforded their time and energy. I have a word this 2020 my word is laughter/laugh. I did not laugh so much last year and I want to get my tongue in cheek back. Tickle my funnybone help my happy health. My writing leans more to dusty grey than bright happy white, so I will try and inject humour if I can. You keep blogging and maybe I can do a Spike Milligan and share a contaigeous smile with you.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Clive January 5, 2020 / 10:20 pm

      Thanks for both liking and commenting, Ellen. I agree that it is always good when someone makes a connection and comments on a post – the problem for me in using that as a measure is those long comment chats which skew the numbers! Laughter is a good word to choose, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for your posts to brighten up my days 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • ellenbest24 January 5, 2020 / 11:35 pm

        I tweeted you too. X I look forward to you coming for a bite sized read xx

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive January 5, 2020 / 11:41 pm

        Did you? Thank you. I really should pay more attention to Twitter! Look forward to it too 😊

        Like

  11. Hugh's Views and News January 5, 2020 / 2:49 pm

    I like your word for this (and every) year, Clive. I’m in the same boat as you on that one. I don’t plan my blog posts. I write them when I get an idea, (allow them to rest for a week), go back and edit, allow them to rest again and then publish them.

    I’m interested in knowing how you measure the success of a post. You mention that some were down to the number of ‘likes’ a post got but is that the case for how you measure how successful a post has been, or do you also take into account the number of views and/or comments?

    No ‘New Year’s” resolutions here, either. I’ve only ever achieved one, back in 1993, when I gave up adding sugar to my tea.

    It’s refreshing to read that you blog for enjoyment. For me, it’s the only way the ‘pressure’ is taken out of blogging.

    Wishing you continued blogging success this New Year.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Clive January 5, 2020 / 3:14 pm

      Thanks, Hugh – it seems a good fit for me. I tend to allow less time than you before publishing, usually no more than a day. Once I’ve written something I want to get it out there!

      I used ‘likes’ as a measure for this post, and last year’s version (also for my top 10 in the widgets column) but only because I haven’t yet found anything better. I could use the number of comments, which might be better, but they can often be skewed by an ongoing chat with a commenter which can quickly add bigger numbers. I’d rather go for views but WordPress dumps so many into the ‘home page and archives’ bin that I don’t get a reliable number for that either.

      Good to know we’re on the same page both with resolutions and our reasons for blogging: I couldn’t imagine doing either differently.

      Best wishes for you and your blog too – looking forward to reading more from you.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hugh's Views and News January 5, 2020 / 4:10 pm

        It’s interesting at how each of us measures the success of a post, Clive. I wrote about it in a post early last year and was amazed by the responses I got.

        I did notice that the ‘home/archives’ page of my blog gets lots of views and often wonder how those visitors got there in the first place. In fact, last year, it received the most visits. I do wonder where some of the views that go straight there may have come from. One guess is that clicking on my Gravatar (which goes everywhere with me when I’m online) could be one place they come from. It’s a mystery that may never be solved.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Clive January 5, 2020 / 4:27 pm

        I recall that post. I think the answer probably is that there is no one ‘correct’ way of doing it. ‘Home/archives’ consistently leads my viewing figures, with over 40% of the total in each of the past three years. I also wonder how WordPress assigns views to it. I’d have thought that most people will find a post in one of three ways: the WordPress Reader, the email announcing the post, or via a search engine. How many other ways of finding a post are there, and how do they anonymise them? As you say, it’s one of life’s unsolved mysteries, but it’s of no help at all to those of us interested in our stats.

        Liked by 2 people

  12. gizzylaw January 5, 2020 / 2:48 pm

    Keep up the good work, Clive. I enjoy spending time reading your ‘drivel’ ! It makes me happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive January 5, 2020 / 3:01 pm

      Thanks, Enda, you too. And the same advice back at you 😊

      Like

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