I have been blogging since the beginning of 2013. It was through the discipline of taking and then blogging a photograph each day that I turned a corner in my creative work. It didn’t matter to me whether anyone actually looked at it; what mattered was that I was doing it, producing something on a regular basis. My writing was moving, but moving slowly, bogged down in ‘le grande illusion’ (or something along those lines). The initial idea of a new photo every day went a bit awry when I was in hospital and the quite long period of recuperation which followed. However the bug had got into me and I am now on nearly 500 WordPress blogs, providing a space for my new photographs and writing.
Part of my inspiration came from the blog of an old friend, Karl Hyde, with whom I used to share a flat in Cardiff. He is one of the remarkable people behind Underworld (Born Slippy and so on), and who was part of the creative forces behind the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Olympics, and has recently made an album with Brian Eno. He began a blog in January 2000 and has kept it going every day since then, with a new photograph and new writing each day, often uploaded from wherever he is performing or recording around the World. It is well worth looking at and going through past pages.
I now have almost 1,000 followers. They get an e-mail or tweet every time I blog, so hopefully my work – whether it is photography, writing, or an interview – gets an audience. I have become a regular correspondent with a few of the followers and find a great deal of inspiration from some of their work. Through the automatic links in WordPress the blog appears on Tumblr and other sites as well, which pick up even more readers/viewers.
Last year I used my blog to regularly publish chapters from my novel Underpainting and was pleased by the number of people reading it. A few weeks ago I put the epub and mobi files of the book up on my page, and there are links to ISSUU versions of my writing and poetry, which have attracted quite large numbers. Of course I get no royalties or income (though many sites do make cash), but to be honest unless I can make a proper living from my writing then I am not bothered, and I cannot see that happening unless I wrote very differently and had ambition, the urge and energy to promote myself. That is another story altogether!
Some of the blogs I follow provide very interesting ways in which a writer can use this medium. One is by the young writer Shannon Thompson (she is still in college in Kansas). She has a considerable readership and has some young adult fiction novels published. She uses her blog to correspond with her audience, sometimes reading extracts, publishing teasers, discussing characters and future books. She is of course at the very start of her career and has much to learn. I have not read anything of hers as the subject matter has little interest, but how she is going about it does interest me and it is well worth looking at. She uses nearly all the social media to promote her writing, not just selling, but interacting with readers, building an audience.
I came across her because she wrote something on my blog, I followed it up by looking at what she did and gave some minor advice on how she should list her work (placing the most recent writing first, as on a long list she had started with something she’d written at about 13 years old), and off and on we comment on what we blog. She has thousands of followers and obviously works hard on giving them what they are looking for.
Shannon came across my blog through the ‘tags’ I included, and these are something I am always urging people to add. Many blog readers will search via tags, ie, poetry, Stoke-on-Trent, wild flowers or whatever. I have noted how some people ‘like’ my blog when I have put a certain tag on it.
Most blogs will hardly have any readers or visits, and like 99% of the internet, much is utter rubbish. However, some people make their living from blogging; others seem to sell whatever it is they are trying to sell. This is what the democracy of the internet has thrown up and is now, like it or not, a major part of our lives. For me it has given me a place to share what I do and set a self-imposed discipline to create something most days of the week. Having my blog has meant that since January 2013 I have become a much more creative person and have an audience for my art in whatever form that may be, one I never had before.