Written gratitude | Thoughts on four years of blogging

Gratitude is hard to express through words. Sure, I could say thank you 100 times and throw in the odd exclamation mark here and there, but this wouldn’t show just how much having a blog and a strong readership has meant to me over the past four years since I set up The Life of a Thinker on the 12th August 2012.

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Nevertheless, thank you. My fourth year of blogging has brought about an identity change. I look back at my first post and cringe at a lot of things: the naive idea that I would be the next big thing, the god-awful photos and the notion that people would find a post about funny pub signs in Cornwall interesting – don’t ask.

Only until recently did I realise that this just wasn’t right. I created this blog to help me improve my journalism and open up opportunities for work experience in the industry. Potential employers – and my readers too, for that matter – did not want to see posts about blog awards or NaNoWriMo. These were just rushed posts at a time when I didn’t bother to proofread, and didn’t think about content which people actually wanted to read.

Now, before anyone says that I should write for myself (which is, by the way, true), journalism is all about creating the content which is easy to share, readable and prompts interaction. It’s why I replaced my self-centred Friday Articles with opinion pieces and no longer accept guest posts – as mentioned in this post.

In Wavelengths and Automation, I talked about how The Life of a Thinker has shifted towards a more journalistic style, which has led to my blogging personality being restrained in some sense. However, I’ve come to realise that this style – almost treating my blog as a business – is the perfect way to demonstrate my writing to others. But, at the same time, I did worry that my readership would be affected. Did people come to my blog for my personality?

Even if I did, my new content attracted a fresh readership. I was having fellow bloggers tweeting me saying they found my posts interesting, and they began to share my posts. In the past, I never had this level of engagement. Now, I’ve had up and coming bands ask me to feature their music, brands have asked for sponsored posts and I have regular readers. Thank you all.

In 2012, I called this blog The Life of a Thinker as a pretentious way of saying my views mattered. Since then, I’ve constantly joked about how self-centred I was back then, and I’ve called this blog name into question. I wasn’t really talking about my life that often, and my posts didn’t really tie into the connotations of The Life of a Thinker. A blogging identity crisis ensued, but now I finally know what it all means.

The Life of a Thinker is a blog where I share my thoughts through reviews and opinion pieces in an attempt to practise my journalism and get other people thinking.

Thank you all so much for your support over the four years, and I hope you continue enjoying my posts in the future.

What have been your favourite posts on The Life of a Thinker? How long have you been reading my blog? What do you want to see on this site in the future? Comment below!

Liam

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A possible change in my blog schedule

It’s something I’ve pondered for a while. With most artists releasing new music on a Friday, I’ve been tempted to move my Musical Discovery series from Mondays to the end of the week so I can release tracks on the day they are released. However, this would of course cause problems for my weekly opinion pieces known as The Friday Article, which would need a name change at least. By having my news-based posts on a Friday, I could review the week’s stories and write something that way, as opposed to having it in the middle of the week, when an opinion piece could quickly become out of date.

Photo: Dafne Cholet on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode.
Photo: Dafne Cholet on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode.

Meanwhile, Wednesday posts remain undefined. I recently touched upon this in my post, The Wednesday Problem, but whilst ideally, I would want to post weekly reviews on this day, with university and other things getting in the way, it would be impossible to finish and review a new book every week. Whilst I like Wednesday’s to post an additional Musical Discovery post or talk about blogging, I quite like the multiple series I have going on my blog at the moment.

This brings me on to something I’ve always wanted to return to on The Life of a Thinker. For those who don’t know, I’m mildly deaf/hard of hearing. Therefore, deafness and the deaf culture are both big interests of mine and essentially, part of ‘the life of a thinker’, so why aren’t I talking about them on the blog?

Well, a few months ago, I wrote about my experiences as a deaf person in a series called Deafinitely Challenging. These six posts – created for an assignment in my first year as a journalism student – summed up my main concerns, frustrations and tips as a deaf person. Now, as I think about returning to talk about deafness, I worry that all I’ve wanted to say has been summed up in this series already. Poetry is another thing I’ve considered, but that didn’t work out well last time.

Lastly, I’ve contemplated moving the time my posts are published from 12pm to something a bit later on.  Of course, it’s always hard to predict when everyone will see your post around the world, but in the UK, posts in the evening seem to do better than those in the middle of the day. However, I am also getting back into scheduling tweets, which is doing great things for getting all of my recent posts read. Should I just continue using Buffer, or should I move the time my posts go live?

What do you think? Would you want to read more posts about deafness on my blog? Should I move posts and times around? What shall I write about on Wednesdays? Comment below!

Liam

A casual mention on Wikipedia

This post was initially meant to be a reflection on how far this blog has come over almost four years, but as I stared at a blank screen on my computer, I browsed my stats only to see a different site in my ‘referer’ section. It was Wikipedia, and after a quick search for The Life of a ThinkerI saw why.

Yes, I’m on Wikipedia. I made it.

Photo: Wikipedia.org. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Licence
Photo: Wikipedia.org. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Licence – – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode.

For those curious, my review of Steve Angello’s single, Children of the Wild was quoted and referenced in the Wikipedia article for that song. What surprises me is how I’m nestled in-amongst music magazines and writers who have a much larger following than me. My review feels out-of-place, and so whilst I do think it’s amazing, I’m also find it hilarious that such a casual blogger like myself is mentioned in a Wikipedia article. You can read the article in question here.

I also wanted this post to be about how great the past seven days have been for my blog, and I suppose my mention on Wikipedia was the last surprise this week has to offer.

First of all, I’ll be honest and say that I’m in a weird position when it comes to blogging on The Life of a Thinker. The name of my blog has become a running joke where I mock its pretentiousness and narcissism, but in all seriousness, I don’t even know what ‘The Life of a Thinker’ is supposed to mean anymore.

At the moment, I’ve settled for it being about what has gone on in my life, and a place for me to share my thoughts and opinions. However, as I mentioned in my post, Wavelengths and Automation, I feel as though I don’t share my views on this blog as much as I used to, which I think is because of music reviews and opinion pieces demanding a certain journalistic style. In these posts, I can’t help but feel as though my thoughts are restrained in some way, whilst still being there.

That being said, my Friday Article opinion pieces are by far my favourite series on my blog at the moment. Over the past two weeks, the amount of people who have commented, shared and read the post saying how they found it interesting has really made my week, so thank you all. At the end of this month, I’m close to reaching 10k views in this year so far. I’m only 2k views away from my end of year goal, and I’m edging ever closer to 1,000 followers in total on WordPress. That is unbelievable, thank you.

Liam

Meeting vvnightingale

It was fortunate that I had the chance to go to in London yesterday, as it meant I could finally meet a good blogger friend of mine, Victoria from vvnightingale, in real life.


Victoria wasn’t the first blogger I’ve met up with. Earlier this year, I said hello to Maeve from Thrift O’Clock when she visited Cambridge. Whilst I certainly wasn’t new to the experience of meeting someone who – for a long time – has been just text on a screen, first impressions still matter to me when it comes to saying hello to bloggers face-to-face.

Well, when it came to meeting Victoria in Waterloo station, my first impression certainly could have been better. After minutes of wandering around the station trying to find each other, we finally said hello outside the main entrance.

One of the things we had already planned to do was pop to a nearby Wagamamas for lunch. Whilst I like to think that many opportunities I’ve been involved with in London have allowed me to see many parts of the city, Victoria still became what was essentially my tour guide.


We arrived at Wagamamas a little while later and we ordered ourselves lunch. As a fan of noodles, I had the chicken ramen with homemade lemonade, which was delicious and reminded me that I need to go to Wagamas more often – especially when there’s one near my university in Lincoln.

For me, there’s always something weird about starting conversation with other bloggers. When you’ve followed their blog for months – even years – and you ask them a question about their pets, or a recent holiday, you have to remind them that they blogged about these things in the past. If not, the conversation becomes awkward – understandably.

But as I spoke to Victoria over lunch, this was completely different. Conversation flowed, and we talked about everything ranging from our shared love of languages to politics. It’s always great when you can have lengthy conversations not just online, but offline too.

Whenever I see friends in London, I always panic about what we can get up to. Not many attractions in the capital city are cheap and even if they are – or free, even – they may require bookings and it’s never quite straightforward.

Again, Victoria was my tour guide and suggested that we visit the Hoise of MinaLima – a little exhibition/museum in Soho which showcases the work of the designers behind the Harry Potter movies.


The exhibition was based inside a small house (much like the Sherlock Holmes museum, which I would also recommend) and was decorated from head-to-toe in drawings and letters taken from the films. Dotted on the walls were covers of The Daily Prophet along with handwritten letters to Harry Potter.


For any Potter fan, the exhibition is definitely somewhere to visit – especially when admission is free. But aside from all the Harry Potter designs, Victoria and I were interested in one floor, dedicated to collective nouns in art form.

For example, a group of starfish are called ‘a galacy of starfish’. How cool is that?

As I looked round the house, I was in awe at the amount of effort that the two designed put into the films. Every prop was intricately designed in MinaLima’s quirky and eccentric art style. It really is remarkable and the efforts of the duo is reflected in the exhibition. Much like how the Warner Bros. Studio Tour reveals the cinematic magic behind the Harry Potter films, the House of MinaLima perfectly captures the wonderful art in the movies which can be so easily overlooked.


Finally, we both decided to pop into the National Gallery before we had to go our separate ways. In the end it became nothing more than a search for my favourite painting in the gallery, and us getting lost plenty of times.

After walking back to Waterloo Station, we said goodbye and I went back into the Underground.

I would just like to thank Victoria for agreeing to meet me and for putting up with my craziness for the day. It was absolutely wonderful meeting you, and for those reading this, why not go and say hello to Victoria on her blog? Also, if you haven’t met up with fellow bloggers before, then I would definitely recommend it.

Have you met any other bloggers in real life? What did you get up to? Comment below!

Liam

Thoughts on Change: No More Guest Bloggers and Tags

I’ve said a while back about how I want this blog to go in a new direction. Ever since I set up The Life of a Thinker in August 2012 I wanted to use it to develop my writing, and for a long time, the content I was creating didn’t really challenge me or reflect my personality that well (at this point I should ask everyone not to look at my first blog post on here – it is truly awful).

So for a while now I’ve been trying to find a balance between personality and professionalism. Of course, I want these posts to be fun, entertaining and thought-provoking, but for a while this involved me jumping on every possible bandwagon. I’ve finally grown out of it, but for a long time, I was obsessed with ‘blog awards’ and tags, ignorant of the fact that they’re basically blogger chain mail.

It’s because of this, and the simple reason that I’m struggling to think of seven more ‘random facts about me’, that I’ll no longer be accepting blog award nominations. However, this doesn’t mean that I’m not grateful for any future mentions I receive – I really appreciate them, thank you.

Then there are guest bloggers. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful idea – collaboration is good, right? I’ve had a lot of guest posts on this blog before and I really do think that both parties benefit.

However, in keeping with the theme that I want to move my blog towards a more professional and portfolio-like style, I will no longer be accepting requests to write a guest blog for The Life of a Thinker. Since I now mention this blog during job interviews and applications, it feels bad to have guest written articles on my blog when potential employers etc. are here to read my work.

I know that guest blogs are usually a two-way thing, but I’m still happy to write a post for your blog. I appreciate this all might sound rather selfish – and I’m sorry if it does – but as I look ahead, I want to make some big changes in my writing and the content I produce. For example, I’ve absolutely loved writing my opinion pieces/political articles as they’ve probably had the biggest reactions online.

Some changes are happening to The Life of a Thinker, and I hope you stick around to see them.

Liam

Liam O’Dell gives blog a professional revamp | The Friday Article

Lifestyle blogger and aspiring journalist Liam O’Dell has announced plans today to update his blog, The Life of a Thinker.

The University of Lincoln student, who started the WordPress blog in August 2012, set up the website to improve his writing skills.

Now, the budding writer is hoping to upgrade the site to show off his previous and current experiences in radio, print and online journalism.

Liam said: “I’ve always considered my blog to be an online portfolio, but now I’ve realised that there’s other things I can do to create that image.

“I’m hoping to add a few more pages to my blog, and the idea of buying my own custom domain has been on my mind for a while.”

The changes can be expected to take place over the weekend.

Liam

Weekly Update: Thoughts and Opportunities

It’s nearing the end of March, but before that, I am off uni for Easter. As another term draws to a close, it’s always a time to reflect on not only the past week, but how the last term at university has been. So in this week’s Weekly Update, it’s time to reflect and look ahead to some exciting opportunities coming up.

First of all, I attended a Radio Symposium at the University of Lincoln on Wednesday, which was brilliant and inspiring. Throughout the day there were talks from numerous university professors, radio experts and the Head of Programmes from BBC Radio 1! Throughout the day there were opportunities to network and it’s fair to say that a few exciting opportunities have popped up since attending.

One of the things I’ve loved about being at university is how it opens doors. In the past, sending off interview requests to bands as nothing more than a ‘blogger’ could sometimes get you somewhere, but now I have my work with Siren FM under my belt – and the university resources – to help me get unique opportunities. It’s brilliant!

Another fun thing which happened this week was that I took part in a photoshoot! My good friend Frances was looking for someone to give her a hand with her assignments and I was happy to help. If you look at the blog header, that photo was taken by Frances – so she’s pretty amazing when it comes to taking photos!

Below is just one of the few photos which Frances took of me on Thursday. How awesome is this?! There’s a couple more on Frances’ Facebook page, so please do have a look and give the page a like while you’re at it.

Photo by the excellent Frances Amelia Photography.
Photo by the excellent Frances Amelia Photography.

After a busy few weeks at university, I’m now back home for two weeks. During that time I have a few things planned, but for the most of it I have time to relax and get some work done. Whilst on the train home I was able to get back into reading – which I’ve missed so much – and I am thinking about getting back into writing now that I have time. As always, I shall keep you posted.

In more miscellaneous news, I could not be any more excited to go to this year’s Glastonbury. Earlier this week, Adele was finally confirmed as the last headliner to join Coldplay and Muse at Worthy Farm – and the headliners are simply perfect.

I’ve said this in a previous post, but I never understood why people were so disappointed with Coldplay headlining Glastonbury on the Sunday. Their latest album, A Head Full of Dreams, also received its fair share of criticism. However, I really do think it’s a great album and the light at the end of Ghost Stories’ tunnel. AHFOD is such a euphoric album, so why not have Coldplay perform at one of the biggest UK festivals in the summer?

Then, when you combine Coldplay with Muse and Adele for the final lineup, there is something for everyone: you have a legendary pop group, an epic rock band and a powerful soul superstar. What more could you want?

Finally, Facebook Messenger updated its iPhone app to include a basketball mini game, and that’s not how I’ve been spending most of my weekend, honest! (My high score is 30 – can you beat it?)

Catch up on the latest episode of Brunchtime (which will return in April!)

How was your week? Comment below!

Liam