Special Features

On Monday, I published my first feature on my blog. It was about the Italian singer Ginny Vee, and it flexed a different writing muscle I haven’t used on this site before: feature writing.

In the past, the only journalistic pieces I have published on The Life of a Thinker are music reviews and opinion posts. For a long time now, this blog has enabled me to improve my writing when it comes to these two particular types of articles. There’s no denying that running a platform to convey your opinions to the world helps you both personally and professionally.

My blog’s progression into an online journalism portfolio is going slowly, but there’s clear signs of it moving in the right direction. Incredible PR opportunities have come my way, I’ve written for a variety of other blogs and my daily stats have grown since when I first started (20-30 views a day are now 40+ views a day). Abandoning the typical lifestyle topics have clearly done my blog some favours, but this is at the expense of Wednesday and Sunday posts still lacking a particular theme.

This brings me back to features, and an idea I’ve been considering for a while. For me, the best features are ones which shine a light on an individual – one aspect of their personality shining through and being the centrepiece for the article. I’d love to do more of them, but finding the time to arrange interviews and write the feature would probably mean that they won’t be a regular theme on my blog.

Cue an idea I’ve had, which I’d love your thoughts on. The blogging community is large, and there’s no doubt that there’s a long list of potential bloggers to interview for a feature. Therefore, I thought it might be interesting to attempt to write an article on a different blogger every week. The piece will enable us to find out a little bit more about a blogger, they get to introduce their blog to my audience and I get to practice my feature writing.

At the moment, this idea remains unconfirmed, but is something which I am putting out there. If you are interested in possibly doing this, or if you’d like to see these features on my blog, then let me know by leaving a comment below.

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A Change of Community

I’m an outsider in the blogging community. Aside from being one of the few male bloggers, I made the mistake of deciding to talk about politics (amongst other things) on this site, which many people know as a topic which you shouldn’t really talk about. If that isn’t the reason why my blog isn’t doing too great at the moment, then it’s because we’re all fed up of hearing the aftermath of Brexit, Donald Trump’s controversial rallies, or the ridiculous in-fighting within the Labour Party.

Thankfully, my music posts offer light relief from heavy politics, where I recommend a new song every Monday. However, for a long time I’ve noticed that whilst I enjoy sharing music I love on The Life of a Thinker, I rarely get any comments on these posts. It’s easier to prompt a discussion about Instagram Stories than it is about Sigala’s new single.

The ‘lifestyle blog’ genre is incredibly broad – more than the beauty and fashion blog genres, in fact. With these two categories, whilst the types of posts would be relatively similar (reviews of make-up products, OOTDs and so forth), it’s the writing style of the blogger or their fashion sense which really makes them stand out. Beauty and fashion bloggers stand out through their personalities, but lifestyle bloggers have to have an interesting personality alongside talking about topics which would interest people. What do we mean by a ‘lifestyle blog’? There are no typical blog posts to expect within this blogging genre – it still remains undefined.

It wasn’t long after I started my blog that I was made aware of these Twitter chats for bloggers, and I slowly introduced myself to the community. Since then, I’ve made new blogger friends, met some of them in real life, and have witnessed my fair share of drama.

The drama isn’t why I’m taking a step back, though. Part of my reason is summed up in an old blog post entitled How Twitter both separates and unites the blogging community, but in short, I feel as though the type of community I want to involve myself in is one which revolves around my blog, rather than the wider ‘blogosphere’.

Over the past few weeks, my follow count has been increasing at a steady pace, which is exciting. As I near 1,000 combined WordPress followers and e-mail subscribers, I’ve realised that just letting people stumble upon my blog – alongside scheduling tweets – is the best way for it to grow at the moment. Of course, many Twitter chats are a great way to boost your readership and to avoid that may seem rather surprising. However, I suppose it’s a mixture of not having the time to join in as much at the moment, combined with a dislike towards where the community is at the moment.

For now, I’m going to be focussing on the community which surrounds my blog, in the hope that this will lead to a small group of readers interacting with my posts on a regular basis and sharing the content with their friends. It’s a slow method of growing your blog, however at the moment, I’m not a fan of the alternative.

I may be leaving the blogging community for a while, but you know where to find me.

Liam

Numerical Values: Statistics in Blogging | The Friday Article

It’s a new year, and with that comes bloggers reflecting on the past year and coming up with blogging resolutions for 2016. No doubt, there will be bloggers who want more page views, followers on Instagram, Bloglovin or Twitter (myself included, don’t get me wrong). But, when it comes to numbers and statistics, where does the blogging community stand in terms of its group think or values?

Over the past few days, I’ve seen numerous tweets on Twitter complaining about the whole ‘follow for a follow’ business. It’s this I wanted to address because, at this point, the values in the blogging community begin to blur.

In terms of my stance on the whole affair, I always believed that the blogosphere values interaction over numbers (‘quality, not quantity‘ as a few bloggers have said). After all, it is those few readers who actually like, comment and share who are more important than the majority – who are more likely going to be spam accounts or someone’s proud grandparents. So, quality over quantity is a key value in the community, but surely supporting others is something the community values as well?

Now we descend into the concept of following on Twitter, and the controversy. For a long time now, I used to – and still do a bit now – follow accounts in the hope that they would follow me back. But even so, it would be because I wanted approval from a ‘more successful’ blogger (yes, I still consider a person’s follow count on Twitter to be a measure of success), the interaction or simply because I liked the blog. I think the issue in today’s community (certainly on Twitter) is that different bloggers adopt different values – be it supporting others through ‘follow for a follow’, or only following because there is an interaction or connection of sorts.

I think the problem also lies in a blogging dichotomy between new bloggers and those who have been blogging for a long time. Obviously I have seen both sides of this binary opposition. I was that new blogger who saw numbers as the sole cause of success and wanted everyone to follow me back on Twitter, Bloglovin and Instagram. Now that I’ve been blogging for just over three years, I see things from the other side of the equation; I see people who run beauty and fashion blogs follow my account, interact, and I know that there’s this idea that they want me to follow back.

This is where the conflicting issues lie. I am a male lifestyle blogger and I take a minimal interest in beauty or fashion, therefore naturally, I don’t read or follow these types of blogs. However, at the same tame, I can’t help but feel guilty for not supporting these bloggers – no matter how much their content may not be my cup of tea.

So to conclude, I think a few things in the blogging community need to change or be understood. Already I think the numerous Twitter chats are a great way of reminding new bloggers that ‘follow for a follow’ or any tactical following isn’t accepted in the community. Although, we need to be clear about what message the blogosphere is communicating.

First of all, I should stress that not all new bloggers are focussed on the numbers – of course not – but those new to the community should be quick to learn its values. Meanwhile, in terms of current bloggers like me, we need to find the middle-ground between support (most likely a ‘follow’ in Twitter’s terms) and interaction (only following those who we have a genuine friendship or relationship with).

In terms of numerical values, we need to see that numbers are people. It’s how we interpret these numbers that matters, not how we view them generally.

It’s certainly a controversial topic likely to prompt discussion, so I would love to hear your thoughts. Why do you follow an account? What do you see in the numbers? Comment below.

Liam