To blog or not to blog …?

 

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I don’t do resolutions anymore – life has taught me, they are invariably broken very quickly. But having said that, I do think that the closing of one year and the approaching new one, is an appropriate time to take stock and review. When I did my  Review of the Year post it was fun to look back but it also made me think about my blog.

When I started in November 2015, it was ostensibly to bring all my disparate reviews together in one place. I never intended to be a ‘blogger’ and I was surprised, not to mention delighted when I was seen and ‘accepted’ as one by the blogging community. That relationship is one, that has gone from strength to strength. I now count many of those people as friends and have had the pleasure of  meeting a number of them in real life. That relationship is one, that extended to include authors and other readers, was one that sustained me over the previous 18 months, and indeed sustained the blog.

So here’s the rub, my blog. My annual review pulled out the best bits and I was happy to celebrate those, but it also pointed out to me the other side. Essentially, aside from Five on Friday, (which I love as a feature and have been proud to see grow) my blog largely comprises of lists of books I’ve bought that I don’t stand an earthly chance of reading. Due to my enforced lack of reading, and poor concentration, my reviewing has been sporadic. In addition, what my ‘review’ also showed me, was that my reviews are the least popular posts on the blog. People have been more engaged by what I’ve done, where I’ve been and what I have to say on whatever Twitter storm has hit my radar. That is not to say that no-one looks at the reviews, but I think we are all aware that with so many other bloggers, those books are likely to have been highlighted in other places. While our individual reviews might be unique, the book may well have been featured elsewhere and doesn’t always have the same ‘pull’ as something more original.

This got me thinking again about why I blog and what I want to do going forward. I will admit that briefly (and I do mean briefly) the thought crossed my mind that if I was thinking this way, was it a sign of something more radically wrong. I’m happy to say that I think the answer is no. Being diagnosed with cancer makes you sit back  (literally – the treatment means you don’t have the energy for anything else!) and think about life. I think this natural re-assessment of life in general and what I want to do with it was just finally being extended to include the blog.

The thing is, I love my little blog. It might not be the biggest, the blingiest, the go-to, the most mentioned etc. etc. But that doesn’t matter, because I didn’t start it for that reason, and blogging isn’t a competition. We all run our blogs in different ways, we concentrate on different things, we take part in different things and we shout out about different things. That is all as it should be, because they are our own little (or big creations) designed to do whatever we set them up to do. While I set mine up for reviews, it has moved on from that and I need to think about the way forward. Before my illness I did have some ideas of things I’d like to introduce and they fell by the wayside. I think now is the time to look again at some of those ideas and how they might work.

Consequently the answer to the question to blog or not to blog is a resounding yes.  It’s just I’ll be shaking things up a bit. I’ll still have my book hauls, and there will (as long as I can persuade authors to take part) be Five on Friday and when I actually read a book, hopefully a review. But I want to broaden the scope. I love travel and I love history (I’m the proud possessor of two history degrees, it would be nice to put some of those research skills to good use). I was also a cataloguer and librarian so I want to start introducing some features that draw on those interests and skills while still shouting out about books. One of my original ideas was to do features on properties and places with literary links – title yet to be decided but I’m sorely tempted by ‘Piles of Literature’ or ‘Literary Piles’. I’d love to write about some of my travels and favourite places to be accompanied by an appropriate reading list. I think generally I’d like the blog to be a bit more individual, and personal, but still in a bookish way. That would seem to play to the strengths of the features that appeared to be popular, while giving me more scope to expand and explore areas I’m interested in.

I’ve got some other one off features in the pipe-line too, so watch this space and wish me luck. I just hope you’re all still here at the end of the year to let me know whether it actually worked.

74 comments

  1. Your blog was one of the reasons I started up my own, as you know. I don’t get as much chance to interact as I’d like but I always look forward to your posts so I’m glad you’re not going anywhere. I shall look forward to seeing what you come up with over the next year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Nicola, you hit the ground running with your blog and it’s delightful to see. I’m happy to be staying around, I think I just needed to have a bit of a refocus to make things a bit more interesting. I’m as interested as everyone else to see what I manage to come up with!

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  2. Wonderful post Jill. Ironically, I’m going back to reviews instead of the other aspects of my blog and like you I wondered whether it was worth continuing – briefly! I love your posts and am looking forward to your new features with interest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Linda, I think it was all starting to feel a bit samey and stale. The thought of getting to grips with the new WordPress changes was also weighing in, making me think about whether I wanted to grapple with them. That little joy is yet to come, I’m delaying as long as possible. I’m looking forward to livening it up now. Good luck with your changed too x

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  3. I love the Literary Piles idea, although I see someone has commented that it sounds like an ailment. It hadn’t occurred to me but now it has been pointed out the image of someone sitting on a book or pile of books and ‘catching’ piles will take some shifting. I like reading reviews, though don’t always comment on them. It’s interesting to read different impressions of the book doing the rounds of reviewers. I look forward to whatever you decide to do and wish you all the best with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Alison, I think it had just started to get a bit stale so I wanted to liven it up, with something that didn’t necessarily rely on reading and reviewing. That said, I’m hoping that the reviews will start to appear with a bit more regularity over time.

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  4. I love your blog so glad you’re carrying on. I’m hopeless for commenting etc as I am limited on time but I know what you mean. I get very little interaction on reviews. Shares but no comments as folk have little to say on books we’ve all read. I guess my reviews don’t really invite comment either (plus folk are probably bored by the time they get to the bottom) but there you go. Blog for you. Looking forward to seeing the new features.

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    • Thanks Jen, I appreciate that. I’m rubbish at commenting as well, I think time is a factor for all of us. I just used the stats when I was looking over the year and the reviews just got less clicks. It’s not surprising really as I don’t read all reviews. I do if it’s a book I’m interested in, or curious to see what someone else thought, but if it’s a book I’ve already bought I steer clear. I either don’t want my thoughts influenced or to read something that will spoil the story (which doesn’t need to be an actual ‘spoiler’. I’ve been thinking of new things for a while, but life rather got in the way. Now seems a good time to liven things up. I’m just not thinking about the WordPress changes (with which you’ve nobly tangled and won) they did make me think about whether I wanted to carry on. Hope you’ll enjoy the new features. Best actually make some of them happen now 🙂

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  5. Your blog is ‘your space’ (it’s what the site MySpace used to be for – you had a blog on it too, it was a wonderful site!) – of course you and it will change and develop. I used to just have a ‘me and my thoughts on general stuff’ blog. It later evolved into writer advice and The Walking Dead reviews, primarily, and then the books side of it began to need a blog of its own. Look forward to seeing what you come up with! x

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m looking forward to seeing what I come up with too!! You’re right things do evolve and I think I’d got myself into a bit of a rut. I’m happy to keep posting my current features, but it would be nice to ring the changes with a bit more breadth and personality.

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    • Thanks Lorraine, I didn’t want to suggest that I wasn’t happy with what I was doing, it was more I wasn’t actually doing it, so it was getting a bit stale and samey. Looking forward to livening it up a bit with things that don’t rely on reading/reviewing which are still hit and miss.

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  6. Such an honest post and great post. I think a lot of us have doubts about our blogs and I think it’s a very healthy thing to step back and reassess the content and how our blogs gs work. I love the literary pile idea, it sounds great as it combines two things that you have a love of. Wishing you all the best with future decisions xx

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  7. Absolutely right, Jill. Write about what you want to write about. If you look at my blog, the posts are sporadic and there is little in the way of a theme. Probably because of that, I don’t get that many views, but I don’t mind. I just write what I want to. Funnily enough, the post that seems to get the most views is one I wrote about the 1960s TV series Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). I wrote that a couple of years ago, and it still gets the odd person looking at it (and they probably are odd!).
    Hope you’re looking forward to having fun with your blog!

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    • Thanks Graeme, I think I may have been one of those ‘odd’ people that read that post. I used to love Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). Probably second to The Champions in essential telly viewing (I loved Stuart Damon – just felt obliged to Google him, not a good idea he’s now 81!). I’ve got a fair few ideas, I just need to see how they’ll work, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.

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      • You probably also read the one I wrote about The Champions, Jill, which is, I think close behind the Randall and Hopkirk post in terms of views. I clearly tapped into something about late 1960s TV.
        As for Stuart Damon, I thought he was brilliant too, though probably for slightly different reasons. I also looked him up when I was writing my post about The Champions and, like you, was somewhat disappointed. But age catches up with us all. It just gave me more incentive to live well now. Hope you are doing the same!

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      • I did read that one too, I clearly watched too much TV as a child! Age sadly, does catch up with us all, but it’s also a state of mind. In my head I’m still 30, just my body that hasn’t read that memo! ;-). I’ll certainly continue to do my best to live well and enjoy/make the most of my opportunities.

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      • Rather the opposite compared to the 100’s of channels we have today. But what we had, we all watched and talked about. I suspect that’s why we remember the programmes in a way we don’t today. I was thinking about what we used to watch and recalled Casey Jones on a Saturday morning which I was convinced was on for years yet only 32 episodes were made! We didn’t have the diversions of computer games, phones and social media so I guess we bonded at school over TV programmes and music. By comparison today for eg there are a proliferation of soaps vying to outdo each other for ratings, back in the day it was Coronation Street in all its black and white, northern glory. Happy days!

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  8. I’m so glad you’re not giving up your blog, I’m looking forward to seeing your new features, I’ll be following you whatever. I think its a good idea to reassess and try something new – I agree that reviews can get the least amount of views – there are only so many times you can read about the same book!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Karen, it was definitely more of a re-assessment than a blogging crisis. It’s just until you decide what you want to do there’s a sort of blogging no man’s land for a while. I’m looking forward myself to seeing how things go.

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  9. Twenty years down the line from cancer I still remember the lack of concentration to read – one of my biggest regrets back then. And, although -, due to various and genuine problems,, I have yet to participate in Five on Friday as invited… oh ages ago… thank you, Jill and sorry but will get there. But I do read and enjoy the posts. But, as a member of a review team – and as an individual reviewer, it does bother me that these are the lest read/ commented on, on your blog. It is something I have thought ;long and hard about recently. I spend hours on reviewing others’ books – time when I should be writing my own. This needs to be something for me to consider in 2019 As a creative writing tutor and joint organiser of our really successful Narberth Book Fair in Pembrokeshire: https://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/ (little plug here for any authors who would like to ‘show their wares’ – so to say), I have little spare time. So, again, you have made me consider how I use my time. Not a bad thing to do on a Monday morning, with three reviews to write, a class to prepare for and a WIP, 65,000 words in and screaming to be finished. Thank you, Jill, and hope you have a good week.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Don’t worry about Five on Friday, in your own time, life has a habit of getting in the way of the best laid plans. Glad you enjoy reading them though, they will still be in my future mix. I wouldn’t want to suggest that reviews are not worth the time, just that from the stats they are looked at less than other features. I don’t worry about comments as regarding reviews, I don’t get that many anyway. I think the thing with reviews, is that often we’re preaching to the converted, so they don’t attract the same interest as something original/personal. I just felt that as my reviewing is sporadic at best (though hopefully improving) I’d like to spend my time on things that were less arduous for me and more interesting. I suspect the review scenario also depends on the book being reviewed. Something less mainstream or one not already being shared around social media is of more interest. I guess it also depends on your readership. I don’t fool myself in thinking I’m a major player. Other bloggers might well have different experiences. Ultimately it does come back down to, doing what you feel is right for and what you enjoy. That said I’ve posted a review today so they will still be appearing.

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    • Your question is a really good one Judith. I was surprised to see Jill’s comment about the lower traffic for reviews. From what I see from other bloggers that’s unusual. One thing I do notice is that I get traffic to a review long after it’s been published – four years in the case of two books – whereas the meme’s get a lot of hits for one or two days but they don’t have the same longevity.

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      • I can only base my opinions on my own blog looking at the actual stats over the year to see which of their features attracts the most ‘hits’. Reviews are always less than other features. That does not mean, that the reviews are not worth doing, just that for me, it’s the other posts that attract more attention. That said, I have no intention of stopping my reviews, it just made me re-think my focus. As I’d originally started my blog as a space for reviews, in my head they have always been the most important thing and yet it appears to readers that is not necessarily the case.

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