Half A Decade

Up until a couple of days ago, I had completely forgotten that August 12, 2017 marks five years of blogging on The Life of a Thinker. Whilst I remember being shocked and annoyed at myself when I realised that there was an upcoming milestone, now I’m unsure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. Good because it is such a big achievement, bad because you should never be so obsessed with statistics and numbers as a blogger.

Gone are the days of my blog logo being a weird rock. The Life of a Thinker has become more professional and I’ve never been happier with the direction in which it’s headed. Photo: Frances Batchelar.

As I write this, I’m inclined to think it’s the former. To say I’ve come a long way since August 2012 would be both blatantly obvious as well as horrendously cliché. Yet, when you consider the fact that a piece on ‘funny pub signs’ was my first proper blog post on this site, you can understand why I’m glad I’m no longer an incompetent and pretentious 15 year old.

I don’t know the exact date I made this decision, but there came a point when I decided to abandon the lifestyle aspects of my blog in favour of a journalistic style of writing. Cue opinion pieces and more reviews and the abandonment of guest blogs. However selfish it may sound, I decided that I wanted all content on my ‘online portfolio’ to be written by me. I took time to change The Life of a Thinker‘s style, which saw me leave the blogging community for a little while. Whether I’m now back as an active member of the community again is a different story for another day.

I’ll be honest: casting my mind back over what has happened blog-wise since August 2016 is hard. It’s only when I quickly search through my archives that I notice that I was Highly Commended in the Midlands Student Media Awards in October 2016 (which doesn’t feel like a year ago – it feels longer). The entry was my blog post on the first series of Channel 4’s Humans – a 1,000 word article which demonstrated the more formal writing style I mentioned previously. It was certainly a benchmark for what followed.

I was still getting advanced readers’ copies (ARCs) of unpublished books from publishers, my Friday Article opinion pieces grew from strength to strength, and I received my first review copy of an upcoming album (that being Frances’ Things I’ve Never Said). More recently, my feature on the Italian singer Ginny Vee saw me adopt a more professional interview style when compared to the Liam Interviews series I had on the blog post many years ago.

It’s these types of improvements which I’ve certainly noticed over the past few months. My music reviews are no longer focussing on the technical aspects of songs, more on the emotional, lyrical elements in a more informal tone. I’m continuing to develop my own voice in my opinion pieces and as for features, I’m looking forward to doing more of them on The Life of a Thinker when I can.

Looking ahead to the future of this blog, I’ve certainly got a strong sense of pride in it. Amazing PR opportunities have come my way through what I share here and occasionally, the odd blog post does really well on social media. After researching and hearing talks about ‘the exposure debate’ and paid freelance work, I’m now more inclined to ask for payment for PR posts on here now, as opposed to a younger version of me who would probably take it just because of the exposure. Now, it depends.

Nevertheless, it’s been half a decade since an excitable teenager created The Life of a Thinker on a beach in Cornwall and I remain thankful to anyone who has stopped by this little corner of the internet during this time. Here’s to the next milestone!

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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