Reflections on Blogging

I’m in a reflective mood today. I get like this sometimes. Well, at least once a year, usually on my birthday. A perpetual worrier, and prone to bouts of irresistible melancholia, I often come around to the ‘what is it all about?’ point, sometimes aided by a little liquid encouragement, but not always.

I teach, I design, I print, I make stuff. I try to make a good job of these things, just as I try to be a good husband, father and generally decent bloke. I’m not conceited enough to think that I am actually good at these things, and I am all too aware of my many shortcomings in all of them, but I do try. It is not always successful and I can be a bit of a t**t at times. Ok, a lot.

Life is an odd affair. You can either allow it to happen, and take it as it comes, or try to shape it to fit some ideal or aspiration. Some people have a strong faith to draw upon in times of trouble, and to praise when all is well, others tend to view things with an ‘everything was fine until…’ approach, and look for a cause to focus their frustrations, whilst others can muster up a ‘there are others worse off than me’ even under the most trying of circumstances. There are many other philosophies, doctrines and ideas, and there are many others that I haven’t included, considered or even heard of. It doesn’t matter. It is about what gets you through, what holds you up and what grounds you as well. Glass half full/glass half empty?

I tend to err on the half empty side most of the time. I can’t help it. Irresistable melancholia. But today I as look at my WordPress dashboard, at my stats – views, clicks, links and such are listed clinically in tables, with a super-duper map showing where all these people are who have passed by, whether it was deliberately, by accident, following someone else’s links or a general theme. For pleasure; a hobby, professional interest, visual interest, random surfing. Research; students looking for inspiration or information, fellow creatives, looking for alternative approaches and similar interests, academics needing specific information and looking for the esoteric stuff that doesn’t show up on the Google radar. And the rest.

Anyone who has blogged regularly on any platform (especially WordPress who have an excellent dashboard!) will have gone through that obsessive stage of ‘checking your stats’ especially as you begin to attract a wider audience, and I can confirm the buzz that can be had when your view stats improve, even by a small margin! It’s even better when you notice that the graph scale changes:

But what does it mean?  I don’t know, but I feel honoured by the amount of daily ‘traffic’ (I hate to think of you like that) and very much humbled by the attention that I get by sharing my interests and output with the world at large. Let me share with you what I know.

I have been blogging here since December 2008. Well, it was way into 2009 before I blogged anything original worth reading. That’s just under three and a half years. I began blogging as an aid to motivation; I needed some other influence to spur me into action, and ‘going public’ seemed a good way to go about it. I had tried blogging before and failed miserably, but learned from the experience. What I learned was this: have something to blog about and consider what you would like to read about. That’s it. I have been reading other blogs for some time, sometimes commenting and sometimes lurking, and the largest folder in my favourites is reserved for blogs. I read about stuff I am interested in, and read blogs by those who share something more than what they have looked at on the internet. Who share more than what they have produced – more than just the end result – the pretty pictures. I like to read about stuff in progress, the trials and tribulations of people across the globe, trying to do their thing a little better each time, and allowing us all to share it with them. I am of an age that can reminisce of those days as a student, when research meant hours in a library poring through out of date books looking for clues, and can value the information that is so readily available to me now in the comfort of my own home. Not just the big stuff, but some of those small things that probably only matter to me and a few others today, tomorrow or next week. I know it is a cliché to say that the internet has made the world smaller, but it has.

From the time I began blogging I have racked up just under one hundred and ten thousand views. Others may whistle in admiration at this number, whilst other might snort a derisive ‘pshaw’ at such a paltry figure. Me, I think of it astonishing. No, really; we have become almost immune to big numbers and are regularly presented with millions and billions in debts and deficit on the daily news, and the simplest of Google searches presents us with the first ten out of astonishing numbers of references

We are presented with these extraordinary numbers so frequently that they have become meaningless. Let me illustrate.

There are 86,400 seconds in a day. If you were to count out loud, constantly saying one number every second, not eating, sleeping or going to the loo, for twenty-four hours solid you would reach that number. Doesn’t sound much, but just try counting to 1,000 right now. Go on. I’ll still be here when you give up, or been bloody minded enough to make a point, after all, it would only take you about 17 minutes. That’s 17 minutes of continuous counting. Go on – try it!

 When it is considered in these simplistic human terms, even 1,000 is a HUGE number. 

Todays stats show that I am averaging 187 views per day – a 47% increase on last year and 195% on 2010! On this information I could conclude that I am gaining some popularity. Not exactly ‘trending,’ but then I don’t particularly wish to be ‘on-trend,’ especially when you consider the stuff that actually ‘trends!’ Ultimately I am exceptionally pleased with my statistical growth in this matter.

I have 106 blog followers; people who have enjoyed what they have found here and activated the tool that informs them every time I post something. I can’t actually name 100 people off the top of my head without going ” ooh, and what’s his name who I met at that thing I went to?” 106 is a HUGE number.

This is my also my 400th post. Yay!

Those 400 posts have generated just under 900 comments too!

This week alone visitors from all over the globe have had a nosey at my stuff. I am surprised to see so different countries – USA, Canada and Australia in particular (and not forgetting all you homegrown visitors) and especially the non-english language countries such as Thailand, Venezuela, Chile and Israel. I’d like to say a big hello to those of you who show up on my stats as a single visitor from a far away place – your visits are very welcome – say ‘Hi’ next time you drop by – I’ll put the virtual kettle on!

I am truly humbled by the attention this blog generates. I post things I think others will be interested in, and always consider what I would like to see in a blog before I post. I don’t always get it right, and always think that I can do better, but your continued interest indicates that I’m not doing too bad. I will still try though.

As I said at the beginning, I get like this sometimes, usually on my birthday. I’m 44 today.

Once again, thanks for stopping by. Really.


7 thoughts on “Reflections on Blogging

  1. Happy Birthday Boi. What a great age to be. I will be thinking of you today in the swelter box while I enjoy the sunshine stewarding at the Houghton International Horse Trials. Tee Hee. Cheers, here’s to YOU and the HORSE.

  2. Happy birthday. Next time you are in the ‘big smoke’ let us have a proper drink.
    A well written piece, reflecting a lot of the thoughts I have as well.
    Good Blogs have got to have content and personality. It’s too easy to post what you like that others have done. That’s why your missives are worth putting out there; they are always full of content and full of you. The reader can tell how enthusiastic you are about the process.


  3. Happy Birthday! This is my first time here and was struck by a)your artistic talent and b)your writing. Stunning work, friend!

    Thank you for creating such a lovely space and inspiring my Thursday. Will be here often.

    Many happy returns.
    Melissa (from Toronto, Canada)

  4. I held on to this post so that I could give it a bit more thought than a drive-by reading. It is well written, thought-provoking and comforting to know that we all have the ‘what’s it for’ blues at times. With time, some significant relationships and a few half-empty glasses, I’m thinking some of that just is. So we rock it in what ever way works for us. That said, I think your work is inspiring and your blog important! I’m an independent learner and have gained so much from your posts. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Keep doing what you’re doing and by the way, at 44, your life is just beginning! Happy day!

  5. Thanks Holly! I have just re-read the post and have cringed a little – I really must learn to be terribly British about these things and keep them bottled up! Stiff upper lip and all that, eh?

    Seriously, it is always good to get such direct feedback, especially the positive stuff, so thanks again!

    PS, I have quite a few projects on the go, one of which I am waiting to get access to a bigger press, and some screen printing I hope to do in June or July! Meanwhile, more lino and letterpress work is underway…

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