Blog Goals for March

I find running my blog incredibly fulfilling, yet extremely frustrating, all at the same time. I’m guessing I’m not alone in this. What started as an outlet for some kind of creativity and initially to explain how I was feeling at a difficult stage of my life, has more recently become a little more serious and I would really like my writing to have a bigger audience.

I started my blog after having heart surgery. Writing a blog was something I’d thought about for a while, but it took what felt like a near death experience to give me the kick up the backside that I needed to actually start writing. It wasn’t really a near death experience, but it was a heart problem that required being admitted to hospital, then followed up with actual surgery, so there were lots of times when I questioned whether I’d get through it.

Once I was well, I started a blog, using my first couple of posts to write about what had happened to me. I suppose it was cathartic, but it was also my way of letting people know that I was alright. They’re on the links below this paragraph if you fancy a read. But then once they were out of the way, I began to write about anything and everything!

When did I get so old?

Conquering my fears. What’s the worst that could happen*?

Over 100 blog posts later though and I feel like I’ve reached a bit of an impasse with it. The blog is definitely growing in popularity, but at the pace of a glacier. Am I being impatient? I’m not sure. It’s fair to say that I only started taking things even kind of seriously since this time last year, when the pandemic meant I had a lot of time on my hands with which to write. But it’s definitely been a frustrating time over the last six months or so, when apart from one brilliant month, growth has been slow. So I thought I’d start to set monthly goals, in order to organise myself a little better and perhaps get some useful advice in response.

March Goals and Targets

  1. I need to find better ways of publicising my blog. I use social media and tweet about my blog quite a bit, without it being all I ever do on there. I also post on the blogging RT/community sites in the hope that I’ll gain regular readers, but despite a small amount of growth, it doesn’t really seem to work. I feel terrible, even in a comment post, when I’m commenting on people’s blogs, because ultimately it feels a bit desperate. I might as well just be saying, ‘Look, I’ve commented on your blog, so have a look at mine’ and I don’t like feeling that way. If it’s a specific subject of blog, like a sport or an educational blog I might tweet certain more applicable sites for a RT and this can work too, but I feel like I’m just relying on other people’s popularity and good will in doing so. My blog views for a typical month average around 400-500, which feels OK, but isn’t rewarding in terms of the effort I put in. I don’t know if I’m expecting too much, but then again I’ve read ‘goal’ type posts like this from other people before, moaning that they’re only getting thousands of people visiting their site per month. Looking at your stats on WordPress and seeing that another day has brought in 14 readers becomes no fun whatsoever after a while! I genuinely feel like I post my fair share of good quality posts and I’d love it to reach a bigger audience, but must admit, I’m pretty clueless! It’s lovely reading positive comments from people, but then again, I’ve visited blogs posts that consist of an inspirational quote (so, 12 words, let’s say) that get a load of positive comments and that kind of thing makes me wonder where I’m going wrong. Alternatively, maybe what I’m posting is utter rubbish! Whatever it is, I need to find some kind of answer in March!
  2. Stop posting utter rubbish! Just kidding; I have at least some faith in what I write. But that said, I want to write at least one post in March that breaks some personal records for my blog. Why not think big, eh? Whether it’s views, or likes, or just the number of people who read it in Luxembourg, I’d like to post something that captures the interest in the next month. I’ve had some that – for my little blog – have done really well and it’s a brilliant feeling that I’d quite like to replicate.
  3. Come up with better titles for poems and blogs. I seem to have no imagination for this at all. In the past I’ve written blogs called ‘I have some questions about music’, ‘Whatever happened to the mix tape?’ and poems called ‘Teams Meeting’ (about a Teams meeting), ‘Heart’ (about my heart operation) and ‘Early Morning Run’ (I won’t ruin the surprise with that one). It seems I’m very literal when it comes to titles, so maybe some snappier titles might bring those readers in!
  4. Write more poems (with better titles, of course). It took me ages to pluck up the courage to write poems consistently and then to actually post them online. They always get a good reaction and I love the process of writing them. It’s been quite a confidence boost. They generally come in bursts and I can write two or three, pretty much straight out in one go, in one sitting, but it’s been a while since anything new came along. I had an idea this afternoon, opened my notebook to write something then got distracted. A couple of hours later I noticed the open page of my notebook! Luckily I remembered what I had wanted to write about. I must try and make time to write more poems though and it would be good to find a proper place to showcase them too, as those regular 44 people that read them could be improved upon!
  5. This one’s not a blogging goal; more a creative one. I’d like to post more videos on social media. I posted one of me reading my poem ‘An Ode to Joe Wicks’ and it went down really well (relatively speaking; we’re not talking millions of views and instant fame here). More to the point, I really enjoyed doing it. It does feel like a real ego trip though – here’s me reading my poem, so watch! I struggle finding a reason why people would want to watch! But then, videos I’ve done for friends always get a good reaction. And I know that makes me sound like the tone deaf X-Factor contestant who tells Simon Cowell all her family tell her she can sing, once he’s finished laughing. I created a character based on every bad teaching stereotype I could think of and let friends see ‘his’ first video. Their reaction told me it has legs, so I’d love to see where that could go. I have lots of video ideas, mainly involving me making myself look like a complete knobhead (I’m a natural)…I guess I just need to find a way to link them to my blog now!

So there we have it. My goals for March and the kind of post that I think I’ll make a regular early in the month kind of thing. If you have any advice or would like to let me know what you thought, then leave me a message in the comments. Thanks for reading (you now know you’re one of about 35 in a rather exclusive club!)

Lockdown Literature

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Lockdown should have been a miserable time. If you’d been told that you’d have to stay indoors almost indefinitely because there was the kind of virus that you’d only ever witnessed in the realms of Hollywood and this was the only thing that would keep you safe, you’d have been terrified. As well as looking at the people you’d be living with and wondering which one you’d end up eating first. But then, of course, this is exactly what you were told. (Answers in the comments about who you’ve eaten or are eyeing up for the garlic and herb marinade, by the way).

I’m sure though I’m not alone when I tell you that lockdown has been far from miserable. Yes, it’s painful being away from family, friends, loved-ones and simple normality, but it doesn’t half test your resolve and your sense of creativity. I have two children – a 13-year-old and a 10-year-old – and the challenge of keeping them busy, both with home-schooling and just in terms of general entertainment is tricky to say the least! The challenge of actually continuing to like them has been even trickier at times!

But there have been bright spots and one of which has been the way that people have rallied round each other. Yes, we can’t be together, but that’s not stopped people being kind and resourceful. Some have volunteered and made deliveries, picked up shopping and prescriptions for the elderly or clapped for the NHS. Me? I’ve done some of that and offered my services out even more. However, easily one of the best things I’ve done is to form a Facebook group to help everyone people stay creative.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Lockdown Literature – although it seems to have fizzled out of late – has been great. It was a group that I started in order to encourage some of my friends to stay creative during isolation and to see what people would write. It would also be another good way of staying in touch. The response across the weeks has been amazing – poems, short stories, life writing, even some literary criticism.

The whole idea came about because a friend had done similar, but with an art group. A bunch of us were attempting to post artwork regularly and as I’d been keen to start sketching again, so it served a purpose too. It was definitely fun. I must admit though, that looking at other people’s art made me feel quite inferior and this played a part in forming the Lockdown Literature group. In short, I knew that I was a better writer than an artist!

Lockdown Literature has prompted me to write some poems. This was something I had last done a few years ago and something I’d considered starting using as part of this blog. Typically for me though, I couldn’t find the notebook containing previous poems. And so, I had to start all over again.

My first idea came when I was pegging washing out on the line to dry. I was looking around the washing at my neighbour’s garden and it just occurred to me that his shed was massive. I was humbled by his shed! And a bit jealous, if I’m honest. So, I finished the hanging the washing out, dashed inside and started scribbling stuff down in my notebook. In about 20 minutes I had a poem and by the time half an hour had passed I’d posted it in the group.

I see my poetry as generally being a bit silly really. I like to try to use humour and to experiment with language, if I can. ‘My Neighbour’s Shed’ was exactly that. Silly, sarcastic and, at times, just me having fun with language. There was nothing here to change anyone’s life, nothing to move anyone to tears…or even think, really! Just an attempt to make people smile.

Since then, I’ve written poems about exercise gurus, home-schooling, nature and Prince amongst other things. And yes, that did say Prince, as in the little funky, purply adorned fella. But, inspired by others in the group, who it has to be said have written with real beauty and maturity, I’ve also written much more personal poems about family, which I’ll be posting in the blog in the coming weeks and months.

At the moment the group seems to have hit an almost terminal low. I’ve continued to contribute, but I feel like people might start to think I’m using it as some kind of showcase soon. A bit of a ‘Hey guys, this is me…’ kind of thing and that would never be my intention. So, I’m trying to come up with ways of getting people interested again, but it’s tricky without appearing to be annoyed at people, which I’m really not. I’d just love to read some more of the poems and stories that I’d read before.

So – and apart from me it seems to be an exclusively female group of contributors – here’s a little push, I guess. Laura – I’d like to see more life writing, Karen, that short story never ended, Ruth, Kath, Kylie, Emma, Hannah and anyone else in the group who I’ve missed, more of your poems, please! I’m clearly pals with a lot of very talented people! I’ve loved reading the things that my friends have written and for a month or so it felt like Lockdown Literature was a tiny force for good. And although I’m sure it’s not the most original idea anyone’s ever had, I’d definitely recommend setting up such a group with other like-minded souls. You could let me know about our own groups in the comments.

It seems appropriate to end with a poem. So, I will! This was a poem I wrote that was a little different from my other ones. I wrote it a while ago now having been forced out of bed by an idea. I knew I had to get up and get some words down on the page. I’m still unsure about this poem, but, as I said when I posted it in the group, it might be apt for the times that we’re all living through.

Happen

Don’t.
Don’t forever wait.
For the right time, the perfect place, the ideal feeling.
Make something happen.

Pick up the phone, write the letter, click send,
speak to him, speak to her, write the song, do the thing.
Make something happen.

Don’t.
Don’t sit on the fence.
Don’t leave it for tomorrow, count to ten, count to a thousand.
Make something happen.

Life will not wait. There is no perfect time.
There is no perfect. The wind won’t change and the cracks in the pavement don’t actually matter.
Before you know it time has flown, things have changed, they’ve found someone else who said or did what you should have, could have…
Make something happen.