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2018: They Think It’s All Over…..

January 3, 2019 19 comments

Englishmen of a certain age will recognise the source of my title!

A number of bloggers have recently posted reviews of their blogging year, and how 2018 was for them. I wasn’t sure if I should do the same, as I’m far from being the most prolific blogger, and I certainly don’t have a massive following or readership. And anyway, I did a kind of ‘part way through the year review’ when I wrote On Further Reflection so there isn’t much point in repeating myself. What those posts have encouraged me to do is to look back behind the headlines of my post statistics and try to analyse what this tells me about my readers and what they prefer – and this does give me the opportunity to give another plug to some of my own favourites from my 2018 ramblings. I’ve already covered some of the ground in New Beginnings? which I posted on Sunday with a reblog of my review of 2015, so I’ll try not to repeat myself more than I already have!

I posted 51 times in 2018, but there was no regular pattern to those: they weren’t synchronised weekly offerings with a week off for good behaviour. Both April and August saw just one post each, whilst there were twelve in November and nine in December. So much for giving your readers a regular expectation of when they can see something from you! But, as I’ve often said (probably to justify this to myself) I don’t think of myself as being a significant blogger: I’m not seeking huge numbers, nor am I looking to monetise my blog. Some do, and I don’t have a problem with that. But it wouldn’t be for me – I wouldn’t expect anyone to pay me for what I produce from the deepest recesses of my mind!

I rarely reblog someone else’s post: I did that just once in 2018, and that was this one, to assist a fellow blogger in raising money for charity. Call me narrow-minded if you like, but I regard this as my space and want people to come here because they enjoy reading my words. There are plenty of blogs that exist solely to reblog others: there is nothing wrong with that, but are they clear on their motivation? Are they doing it out of the goodness of their hearts and the desire to help others? Or are they doing it so they can bask in the reflected glory of having a blog with loads of page views when they rarely, if ever, write anything themselves? And, if the latter, are they using this to make money for their site? That, to me, is dishonest and not what I regard as true blogging. For me, a blog is where we share something of ourselves, not where we push products at people – and especially not by using others’ work as the vehicle.

Having said all of that, I am much more likely to reblog my own posts, or rework older ones into newer versions. My logic in doing that is simple: many of these were written at a time when my follower numbers were smaller, and I doubt that many current followers will have seen these before. I do it because they said something I felt worth sharing again and, in all honesty, because I liked them. I make no excuses for doing this, but I do recognise that there are only so many times that you can mine through your back catalogue without putting people off!

I did produce some new stuff in 2018, though, and it is gratifying to see that five of my top ten most ‘liked’ posts of all time are from last year, with another one actually equal on ‘likes’ for 10th place but not showing in the list. I guess I must be doing something right! I realise that hitting the ‘like’ button is a facility only available to those who, as I do, use WordPress as their blogging platform, so I know that there is not necessarily a link between ‘likes’ and the actual number of times a post has been read. But it suffices as a reasonably good proxy most of the time, though not always: the post of mine which has actually been read most times – by a distance – dates back to 2017. This was written in support of a friend whose ex-wife’s ex-boyfriend (still with me?) had just received a criminal conviction for the most horrible of crimes. My friend is the focus of a group on Twitter and my post was widely shared and read as a result. If you haven’t seen He Fought The Law before by all means take a look: it is a little different from anything I’ve written before, or since.

But let’s get back to 2018! I think my favourite post of the year was that one in equal 10th place on the all time list. My 15 Nanoseconds was one I greatly enjoyed writing – it is one of my lighter pieces and I got a laugh out of it. Having said that, it only needs one person to follow that link and hit the ‘like’ button to move it into 10th place all by itself – which would be something of a pity as the post it currently shares that placing with is one that I regard as among my most important. Maybe I should make that list the top 11 – do you think anyone would notice?

What pleases me most about the popular posts from 2018 is that two of the top five are themed around Mental Health, whilst two others are very personal to me. There are links to all from the list on the right, but to save you having to work it out these posts are I Hope You Dance and For Mother’s Day (the two personal ones),  World Mental Health Day 2018  and Mental Health Awareness Week 2018, plus the outlier A Man Blogs, Aged 64 And A Half, which was written in a fit of pique when I felt that the blogging world was becoming sexist and ageist. I probably proved the blogosphere right in believing it should be for females and younger people when I wrote that!

So, what does this tell me about what people expect from my posts, and does it give me any clues for what I should be writing about this coming year? Whilst they may not have garnered the most ‘likes,’ my musically themed posts are important to me, so you can expect to see more of them. If I can get my act together there may even be some more #SaturdaySongs posts at some point! But let’s take this back to the very beginning: as I’ve often said (though newer readers may not be aware of this) I originally began blogging to share my experience of depression, in the hope that this would help others. It seems to have done that, and I still get the occasional email from people who have read those early posts: they are under ‘My Story’ in the menu at the top of the page, if you want to see them. Six years on, there is still so much that needs to be done to raise awareness of mental health issues and to help fight the stigmatisation which still, sadly, attaches itself to those of us who suffer. I am acutely aware that my own mental health is precarious and I could find myself in relapse at any time, and I think it is very important that as many people as possible are writing about these issues. Whilst that was my starting point I’ve never made this a blog solely on mental health: there are many others who do that far better than I. But it is a subject to which I have returned at intervals, and I will continue to do so. Only yesterday there was a piece in the paper about young people’s mental health and the problems involved in supporting them, so I believe there is an agenda already there for new posts. I’d like to think my small voice will help in some way, so expect more from me on this.

To end this review, I’d like to thank everyone who has read, liked or commented on any of my posts, either in 2018 or previously. Those interactions are why I and my fellow smaller bloggers do this: if we know that there is someone out there it encourages us to keep going. I don’t know how or where you found me, but I’m glad you did. If you’re a regular you have my heartfelt thanks for supporting me. If you’re new here, I hope you like what you see and will be encouraged to read, like and comment on more of my posts. And a final plug for my Facebook page: all new posts are shared there, along with a #SongOfTheDay and occasional random thoughts and funnies. It’s small, but beautifully formed, and I’d love to see you there. Who knows – you may even be encouraged to follow both this blog and the page, if you don’t already!

Thank you, as always, for reading, and here’s to a great 2019!

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2015 in review

December 30, 2015 4 comments

As they do each year, the WordPress.com stats ‘helper monkeys’ prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog. As long as they aren’t planning on taking over the writing I can live with that! This is the fourth of these I have now received, having started blogging in late 2012, and it seems right to keep the record updated. I have a number of thoughts for an end of year post, some of which have been prompted by the statistics in this report, but on balance I think it best to make that a separate post, which I will make either today or tomorrow. Watch this space!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Categories: 2015, Annual Reports Tags: ,

True Colours

July 1, 2013 24 comments

Daily Prompt: Great or Greatest?

Today’s Daily Prompt is: What makes a blog great? What makes you follow a blog or “Like” a post?

As all the best prompts do, this got me thinking and it seemed a good idea to drop a brain dump on you while I was at it. Hard luck, but here it comes! Warning: serious blog alert! (That’s serious by my standards, of course)

After a quick count up I realised to my surprise that I am now following a total of 88 across the various blog provider sites. Looking at these to see what attracted me to them should have given me some pointers for this piece but they are so diverse that this wasn’t as helpful as I’d hoped. I was going to have to get my brain in gear! Where’s the WD40 when you need it?

Quite a few of the 88 are people who have followed this blog. As I do with Twitter, if someone has taken the trouble and chosen to follow me I usually return the compliment. Not always, of course – abuse, racism, hatred and intolerance have no place on my reading list or anywhere else in my life. But I’m glad to say that I don’t have any of those following me here or on Twitter. Well, not any more, anyway. A number of those I follow are people who, like me, started blogging to share their experience of an illness and how it affects their lives. A fair proportion are fellow depression sufferers but the range of illnesses is wider than that and I am pleased I follow each and every one of them. They bring a perspective to my life that I wouldn’t otherwise have and I respect them all for their courage in sharing their experiences, thoughts, hopes and feelings.

The remainder cover a range of my interests and there isn’t really any common factor in my reasons for choosing to follow them. Of course, as they are my provider, I follow WordPress avidly! Others are just interesting people who are fun to read, who write on subjects that I like to read about. I have found that following blogs gives a much wider perspective than I can get from newspapers, magazines and the TV: blogs offer a much more tailored source of information and entertainment than mass media can achieve. So what is about them that makes them great in my eyes?

honestyFirst and foremost: honesty. I don’t mean just in the sense of being truthful in your writing, but in the much wider sense of being true to and honest with yourself. Not all of the blogs I follow are ‘non-fictional’ – some write stories or poetry, or both, and what unites them all is that their writing reveals something of themselves, whatever the medium. I will, of course, happily read novels that are purely for entertainment, but in a blog I look for something more personal. And if I’m following your blog and this is what you write, then I think that’s what you are doing! And that is great, in my eyes. Just as in real life and Twitterland, I have no time for people who are being false, hiding behind a persona of some kind. You’ve no doubt seen the sort on Twitter – usually hiding behind avatars that aren’t themselves, using a descriptive name which reveals their self-delusion, or in some cases people who think they are animals. It is difficult to take anything they say with any seriousness. They certainly aren’t being true to themselves so why should anyone else believe in them?

The second quality that defines a blog as great for me is closely related to the first. It is personality. I don’t mean that the writer has to be one of those tedious larger than life ‘characters’ who assumes that everybody finds them amusing and likeable. What I like to see is someone who isn’t afraid to reveal something of themself in their writing, who lets the real person show through – I like to see someone who, whatever may be wrong with their world, shows a strength of character in dealing with it and is using their blog to work it out and to stand up to it. I don’t read whingers!

The final element in making a blog great to me is that it is well-written and has something to say. Having something to say is a no-brainer! Blogging just for the sake of it is mere attention-seeking. As for being well-written, I am a Virgo so I have to accept that I have an innate tendency towards Grammar Nazism, and it can sometimes be difficult to read something which breaks every grammar rule going. But as I get older I’ve managed to control that trait in my character because what is being said is more important than the spelling. I have a fairly sarcastic sense of humour and the sort of error I admit to delighting in is the typo which creates a new word and changes the sense of something – like the old school exam answer about mud huts having ‘rough mating’ on the floor. I will and do pick these up, but  I do it in fun and pleasure in language, not as a negative or critical thought or as any kind of attack on the writer. By well-written I mean that the piece flows naturally, makes its points clearly and  leaves me feeling a little bit in admiration of, and inspired by, the writer. As I said earlier, if I’m following your blog I see this in you, so take a collective bow, people!

Blogs - we can't live without them!

Blogs – we can’t live without them!

So that’s it, really. I like blogs to show honesty, personality and to be well-written and have a point. And if anyone suggests that I don’t do this myself, do please remember that I can moderate your comments out! Not that I’ve had to before now but I guess there’s a first time for everything 😉

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