Four Things I’ve Learnt From Running A Blog For Seven Years

Woo hoo! This blog has been running for seven years 🙂 Not bad for something that was just a random idea that I had in April 2013 and didn’t expect to last for two years, let alone seven.

It has been a hell of a journey, from a blog that posted articles about writing, book reviews and daily art to… a blog that now posts articles about writing, book reviews and daily art again (with occasional detours involving art-based articles, game reviews, film reviews etc… along the way).

So, like with previous anniversaries (eg: 2014 [part one, part two], 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019), I thought that I’d share some of the lessons that I’ve learnt from running this blog for the past seven years.

1) USE your “buffer” when you need to!: Pretty much every year, I’ve stressed the importance of building up a “buffer” of pre-written articles before you start blogging and adding to it whenever you get the chance. Well, it can actually come in handy.

For the first six years or so of writing this blog, I added to my buffer diligently, gradually building up the delay between preparing and actually posting an article from a few days to about eleven months. Then, due to being busy with other things, various life stuff, occasional hot weather, various distractions etc… I suddenly realised that there was no way that I could keep up with preparing one article or book review per day without completely burning myself out. I eventually moved to a much more relaxed routine where I’d prepare a new article or review every 2-5 days, freeing up much-needed time and energy 🙂

Yet, as you have probably noticed, articles still appear here daily at the moment. This is all thanks to my article buffer (which, at the time of writing, contained nine months’ worth of pre-written articles. Hello from July 2019 🙂 Edit: In April 2020, it’s down to about six months but I’m still adding to it 🙂 ). This has really helped a lot. So, although building up a large buffer might seem like a pointless exercise, it really does come in handy. And, if you start to feel burnt out or overwhelmed, then don’t be afraid to actually use it to give yourself a break or ease your writing schedule slightly. It is there for a reason. Your sanity comes first!

2) Streamlining: Following up from my earlier point, don’t be afraid to streamline your blog if it starts to become unmanageable. There is only a certain amount of stuff that you, one person, can do. If you try to do too much, then you’ll end up burning yourself out.

For example, as many of you have probably noticed, my webcomic has gone on something of a hiatus recently (with only one filler comic being posted per month). This was mostly because I didn’t have the spare time, energy and creativity to both plan and create 4-6 comics every month on top of the reading/preparation for my book reviews, writing projects I was experimenting with at the time etc… In short, I was juggling about five different things, compared to -say- the two or three I was in 2017.

So, I had to look for what was expendable and, unfortunately, this was the webcomic. This freed up time and imagination which helped immensely with the other stuff I was doing 🙂 Of course, streamlining doesn’t always mean that you have to get rid of things entirely – for example, I’m currently still posting a quick filler comic every month [Edit: However, the comic will eventually go on a proper full hiatus later this summer. Sorry about this] and, since I want to keep up with my daily art practice, I’ve also been experimenting more with digital art (you’ll see more of it in the next couple of months), given the amount of time it frees up on days when I either can’t wait for paint to dry or don’t want the hassle of making/editing a full painting.

Like with the previous point on this list, remember that your sanity comes first. Getting burnt out by doing too much stuff for your blog helps no-one. So, don’t be afraid to streamline your blog when you need to.

3) Follow your passion, not your stats: Unless you plan to turn blogging into a career, don’t pay too much attention to the “stats” page. Although a sudden boost in viewership stats might give you a much-needed confidence boost during the earlier days of your blog, don’t rely on it too much for motivation. If you’re writing articles regularly, then the only type of motivation you can truly rely on is intrinsic motivation. This is what makes you search for ideas when you’ve got writer’s block, this is what keeps you coming back to your blog to add more to it.

In other words, you need to blog about something that matters to you, something that interests you and something that you care about. If you have these things, then people will be interested in what you write about. Yes, there might be less of them than if you’re blogging about “popular” subjects – but it is very much a “quality vs quantity” thing. Not to mention that, if you’re doing it properly, then the number on the “stats” counter shouldn’t matter to you because you’re having too much fun coming up with new stuff for your blog to care 🙂

For example, in the year or so after I got back into posting book reviews every 2-5 days – mostly as a way to motivate myself to get back into reading books again – my average daily viewing stats dropped a bit for a while. Yet, I kept writing book reviews because it is something that I really enjoy doing and it is something that kept me reading too. It was something that I had intrinsic motivation to do, which also results in higher-quality articles (since I can also learn lessons about writing from the novels I read, which I can use for my writing-based articles) than if I’d just abandoned books because they aren’t as “popular” as films, TV or videogames.

So, follow your passion, not your stats.

4) Experiment, but know yourself: Between preparing last year’s anniversary article and the time of writing this article, I got a new (well, refurbished) computer. After about twelve years of using computers that would probably be considered slightly “low end” back in 2004-6, I found myself with a second-hand computer that was probably low-mid range back in 2013 🙂 Suddenly, all of my many complaints about the “sky-high” system requirements of modern indie games or the slow, creeping planned obsolescence of Windows XP didn’t matter any more. I was finally living in the future. Or, at least, the relatively recent past.

Of course, with a new computer, my first thought was gaming. And, for a while, game reviews started appearing here relatively regularly again. Although, as you’ve probably noticed, not that many of them have appeared over the past month or two. Because I always thought that reviews of modern games were something that “cool people” wrote, I was initially really overjoyed at the prospect of reviewing games that were less than a decade old.

Then, due to a combination of things, such as gaming starting to distract me from my reading, waiting ages for various games to go on sale and the fact that it usually takes longer to complete a game than to read a book, I eventually started to drift away from game reviews slightly.

Edit: Initially, my move away from posting game reviews quite as regularly was because I was more interested in reading books. But, in the time between preparing the first draft of this article and eventually posting it, I’ve found myself going through phases where I preferred reviewing films instead of books, phases where I reviewed slightly more “Doom II” levels than usual, phases when I’ve reviewed a few games, phases when I returned to reviewing books and phases when I didn’t really feel like reviewing stuff at all.

So, the lesson here is to experiment with new things if they interest you, but also to know yourself. There are more important things than being “cool” or “modern”.


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂 Thanks for reading 🙂 I still can’t believe that this blog is seven 🙂

Six Things I’ve Learnt From Running A Blog For Six Years

Woo hoo! This blog is six years old 🙂 I know that I say this every year, but back when I started this blog in 2013, I had no idea that this random, impulsive project would keep going for so long 🙂 Seriously, I’m surprised that it has only been six years since I started this blog since it feels like it’s been a part of my life for longer than this.

Anyway, like I do on each of these anniversaries (eg: 2014 [part one, part two], 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 ) , I thought that I’d share some of the things that I’ve learnt from running a blog, in case it is useful to you too.

So, let’s get started:

1) Good rules have multiple uses: Although I’ve set myself various rules about this blog over the years, I’ve noticed something about the rules that I’ve actually kept following. If a rule is good, then it will often quickly turn out to be useful for other reasons too.

For example, a few months ago, I got back into reading books regularly and I also started posting novel reviews here every 2-5 days. However, after the first eight book reviews, I set myself a rule that I wouldn’t read two books by the same author directly after each other. But, why?

Simply put, the only way I could get back into reading was to start by binge-reading eight thriller novels by the same author (Clive Cussler). But, by the end of the eighth review, I didn’t even want to look at another Clive Cussler novel. I was completely and utterly bored with them. Which was a shame, because they were so much fun to read. So, I initially set myself this rule so that I wouldn’t end up ruining the works of my other favourite authors for myself.

But, after following it for a while, it turned out to have a lot of other benefits that I hadn’t expected. It pushed me to look for authors I hadn’t read before (and I discovered some really brilliant ones, like Jocelynn Drake, Jack O’Connell, Jodi Taylor and Neal Stephenson). It also meant that I read books in all of my favourite genres, rather than just focusing on just one or two of them. I could go on for a while, but it’s a really useful rule 🙂

So, yes, one test of a good rule is that it will often usually have more than one benefit.

2) Keep a link directory: If you’re writing blog posts/reviews quite far in advance of publication, then it’s usually a good idea to keep a directory of links to some of your upcoming articles in case you have to link to them in future articles.

Most blogging sites will often include a “permalink” description for scheduled and drafted articles. For upcoming articles that you might link to in other future articles, just copy these permalinks into a text file – like this:

This is a screenshot of my link directory, containing permalinks to all of the book reviews I’ve posted since 2018/19. At the time of preparing this article, all of these reviews hadn’t been posted yet (and were draft articles).

Not only will a directory like this make it easier to link within your site, but it can also be useful for your own reference too. For example, by keeping links to all of my book reviews, I’m able to work out how many books I’ve reviewed since I got back into reading regularly. This helps to keep me motivated to read and review more.

3) Know your limits (and work around them): In addition to writing regular book reviews, another thing I got back into was writing fiction. Although most of it hasn’t appeared on this site – all of this extra reading and writing meant that I had less time than I’d had a year or two ago.

And, well, something had to give. But, I didn’t want to reduce my posting schedule or anything like that. So, I had to be a little bit sneaky. It took me a little while, but I realised that one of the largest time-drains was trying to think of ideas for paintings. And, since I’d recently got a second-hand digital camera and had practiced making photo-based paintings in the past, the solution to this problem was a little bit of a no-brainer. Most of my art over the past few months has been photo-based paintings, like this one:

“Fareham Creek – Window” by C. A. Brown

This is a photo I took of Fareham Creek last May (and, yes, I make these photo-based paintings quite far in advance).

Yes, these are a bit different to my traditional sci-fi, gothic horror, 1990s etc.. paintings, and I really miss making these kinds of art [EDIT: These types of art will return more regularly from mid-June onwards 🙂 ], but it’s allowed me to keep painting when I’ve had less time. Likewise, my monthly comics have become a bit shorter and visually simpler for time reasons.

Plus, in order to fit in the reading time for the book reviews, I’ve been watching far less TV and playing fewer computer games (which is why there are fewer TV show-based articles/reviews, no film reviews, no game reviews other than the usual “Doom II” level reviews etc… [EDIT: Game reviews will also return more regularly in November 🙂 ]) over the past few months.

So, yes, know your limits – and find ways to work around them.

4) Experiment: Over the past few months, I’ve been messing around a lot with an open-source graphics program called “GIMP” (GNU Image Manipulation Program).

Not only has this given me numerous ways to improve my usual digitally-edited watercolour paintings, but it’s also meant that I’ve been able to make things like dramatic digitally-edited line drawings and even the occasional 100% digital piece of art:

“Westbrook – Sleeping Sun” By C. A. Brown

“Low Light – Silent Hall” By C. A. Brown

So, why have I mentioned this? Simply put, it’s to remind you that it can be a good idea to experiment with different things occasionally. If you want to keep up your interest in the things that you’re blogging about, then don’t be afraid to experiment with different stuff every now and then.

5) Review notes: Although this isn’t exactly something new that I’ve learnt, it’s something I’ve been reminded of over the past few months. Basically, if you’re reviewing something, then take notes. Even if you don’t use literally everything in your notes in your review, then take notes regardless.

There are lots of ways to do this. For example, when reading a novel, I’ll use a small square of note paper as both a bookmark and a space to note down what is happening. Having small handwriting helps here (and, yes, ballpoint pens are annoying for tiny writing – but the ink doesn’t soak through the paper like with rollerball pens).

Here’s an example (which contains SPOILERS for Jodi Taylor’s “A Symphony Of Echoes):

This is one side of my bookmark plot notes for Jodi Taylor’s “A Symphony Of Echoes”. Hooray for micro-writing!

After each reading session, I’ll also make more extensive “impressions so far” notes in a notebook. Instead of focusing on writing down plot details (I’ve got the bookmark for this, after all), these notes tend to focus on things like themes, techniques and my general impressions of what I’ve read.

Yes, stopping to take notes can get in the way of enjoying the thing you’re reviewing, but it’s important because it not only helps you to remember more stuff about the thing you’re reviewing, but it also means that you can look back at your notes and see how your views about the thing you’re reviewing have changed whilst you’ve been reading, watching, playing etc.. it.

So, even if you don’t end up using literally every detail in your notes, then taking notes will still result in better reviews.

6) Always have a buffer!: When I was writing some of the daily short stories (like these) that were posted here early last year, I forgot one of the earliest lessons that I’d learnt when I started this blog back in 2013.

Back then, I didn’t have a buffer of pre-made/ pre-scheduled articles, so the early days of my blog were a chaotic, stressful, rushed and panicked time. Over time, I thankfully built up a fairly large buffer of articles – meaning that I didn’t feel anywhere near as much time pressure or deadline stress.

Since these daily short stories were a spontaneous idea, I foolishly forgot this. As such, I was constantly panicking about finishing and posting a story at the end of every day. Eventually, I was able to build up a small 5-7 day story buffer but, because of all of the time stress before this, I ended up abandoning the idea of daily short stories after a month or two. In retrospect, I should have built up a buffer before posting any stories here.

So, yes, always build up a buffer before you start posting regular features on your blog! And, yes, it can be easy to forget this when you’re eager to start a new project. But, it’s very important!


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Five Things I’ve Learnt From Running A Blog For Five Years

Woo hoo! It’s been five years since I started this blog. I’m still amazed that something which started as a somewhat random and impulsive decision has become such a major part of my life for so long 🙂

So, in accordance with the ancient traditions of this blog (like I’ve done here, here, here, here and here), I thought that I’d share a few lessons that I’ve learnt during my years of blogging experience, in case they are useful to you.

1) Screenshots: One of the major changes here during the past year is that I’ve started adding screenshots to things like film/TV reviews (such as this one), critic-style articles (where I make general comparisons, look at creative works in depth to see what techniques they use etc..) etc..

Whilst I’ve been adding gameplay screenshots to game reviews since late 2013, I only really learnt how to take screenshots of other things within the past year or two (mostly since just using the “Print Screen” button for screenshots doesn’t work for DVDs etc…).

The simplest way to do this with DVDs and PVR/DVR TV footage is to do some research into the media player/DVD player program that you use when watching these things on your computer. Many programs designed for this will include a “take screenshot” option of some kind or another, although it isn’t always immediately obvious where this option is.

However, from what I’ve read, the use of some open-source media player programs (such as VLC Media Player) is potentially unlawful if you live in the United States due to American laws such as software patents, the US Digital Milennium Copyright Act etc…

Likewise, when including screenshots in your reviews and/or blog articles, it is important to be mindful of copyright law. Although I’m not a lawyer (and this is not legal advice), some basic research will show you that most copyright laws across the world explicitly allow for the use of screenshots, quotations, short clips etc… in reviews. So, if you’re writing a review, you don’t usually have to worry about copyright.

Many copyright laws across the world contain “fair dealing” or “fair use” provisions which allow small excerpts from copyrighted works (eg: a few screenshots from a film etc..) to be used for purposes like education, criticism, reviews, comparisons, commentary and/or parody without the need to seek permission or pay royalties. But, the laws vary somewhat from country to country, so do your research.

So, if you’re going to include screenshots in your articles, make sure that there’s a good reason to do so. Still, adding screenshots can be a good way to illustrate the points you’re making (about, say, similarities between works in the same genre, techniques used in various creative works etc..) or to make reviews more informative.

2) Be on the lookout: I’ve probably mentioned this before, but it is always good to be on the lookout for techniques and tricks that you can use in your own blog.

For example, the use of list-based articles (like this one) is a common thing on the internet these days (mostly inspired by a website called “Cracked”). This style of article is very readable and the titles of list-based articles are instantly intriguing too. So, it’s an easy way to make your articles more interesting.

But, one of the latest techniques that I’ve learnt (from this “making of” page by Winston Rowntree, the creator of my favourite webcomic) is the idea of adding colour to ink drawings using digital image editing programs (instead of paints, pencils etc..). Although I don’t use this technique that often during my daily art posts, it is incredibly useful for making good looking title graphics for these articles much more quickly and efficiently than I used to.

So, if you’re starting a blog, take a look at what other people on the internet are doing and see if you can use any of the basic techniques that they use in order to make your blog more interesting and/or quicker to make.

3) Be selective about topical content: If you’re making a blog that is updated regularly, then you’re probably going to have to prepare your articles as far in advance as possible (eg: the first draft of this article was prepared in July 2017!). However, there are some things that cannot be prepared in advance.

But, try to be selective about “topical” stuff on your blog. Since you’ll be preparing this in addition to your “ordinary” content, it can be very easy to get overwhelmed by it.

For example, whenever a new series of “Doctor Who” has appeared on TV during the past 3-4 years, I’ve been eager to write weekly reviews of each episode. At first, this is always really fun to do. But, as the series progresses, it always becomes more and more of a stress (eg: during the later episodes of series 10, I fell behind on my buffer of pre-prepared articles slightly due to writing long weekly episode reviews).

This is why, for example, I didn’t review episodes of other TV shows when “Doctor Who” was running and why I added a caveat to the beginning of each review which stated that I may or may not review the entire series (just in case it got too much and I had to scale back).

It is also why I’m unlikely to review this year’s series of the show – since, in addition to being slightly busier than I was last year, one of the regular features (eg: a novel review every 2-4 days or so) that will appear here late this year/early next year, is a bit time-intensive too.

Likewise, time-based reasons are also one reason why I’m taking an extended break from writing the daily short stories (which were written about 1-6 days before being posted here) that appeared here in February and March this year.

Plus, during some of the worse parts of 2017, I stopped writing topical “editorial” articles about shocking events in the news (after writing about 2-3 of them within the space of as many months). Not only did I start to worry that these articles weren’t in keeping with the general theme/tone of this blog, but I also realised that writing editorials about even a fraction of the terrible things in the news would quickly become overwhelming in both practical and emotional terms.

So, be careful about topical content on your blog. Moderation is key. Your sanity comes first.

4) I still haven’t run out of ideas: When I started this daily blog in 2013, I worried that I’d eventually run out of things to write about. Surprisingly, several years later, this still hasn’t happened. Yes, I occasionally have uninspired days and sometimes end up repeating myself. But, I can still come up with new and interesting ideas for blog articles regularly.

One thing that has helped is making subtle changes to the topics that I write about. Whilst this blog is primarily about how to make art, how to make webcomics and/or how to write fiction, I’ve found that I’ve also started to include more “critic”-style articles where I’ll discuss a general trend in the media, or dissect a creative work in order to see what it can teach us about creating things.

These articles allow me to find article ideas by looking at (and thinking about) other things. Yet, they aren’t too far away from the general subject matter of this blog (eg: creativity and creative works) either. By widening the definition of what I include on this blog from “instructional articles” to “articles about creativity”, I’ve been able to keep writing articles 🙂

Likewise, when I first started adding reviews to this site, it was as an “easier” way to write articles. After all, I just had to give my opinion about a pre-existing thing, rather than think of a new article idea.

Yet, as this blog has progressed, I’ve found that my occasional reviews are actually a central part of this blog – since they show the things that have inspired me, since thinking about the things I watch/play/read can give me ideas for other articles etc.. Not only that, reviews still fit into the general rubric of “articles about creativity” too.

So, if you’re worried about running out of ideas, then try to look for other subjects that are at least tangentially related to the main topic of your blog.

5) Index Pages: If your blog has been running for a while, then you need ways for new readers to find your best content quickly and easily. So, within the past year or two, I’ve been creating pages like the comics index and the short stories index and linking to them whenever it seems appropriate to do so.

Likewise, one of the long-running features on this blog is the “Top Ten Articles”/”Best Of The Blog” posts at the end of each month. Although this was originally a way for me to add an extra filler post every month, it has become an important part of the blog. By linking to the ten best articles I’d written each month, it makes it easier for new readers to find interesting content. Not only that, I’m also able to add these links to a much larger index page (albeit a non-alphabetised one) which helps new readers to find interesting articles.

So, yes, if you’ve been blogging for a while, don’t assume that your readers know their way around your blog as well as you do. Although it might take a bit of time to add and/or maintain index pages, they can be useful to new readers.


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂 Here’s to the next five years 🙂

Four Things I’ve Learnt From Running A Blog For Four Years

2017 Artwork Blog fourth anniversary article

Wow! This blog is four today 🙂 I’m still amazed that it just started with a random “Hmm… Why don’t I make a blog?” idea all that time ago.

So, like I’ve done in 2014 (part one, part two), in 2015 and in 2016, I thought that I’d share some of the things that I’ve learnt from making a blog for this length of time, in case they’re useful to you too 🙂 Hopefully, I won’t repeat anything that I’ve already mentioned, but it might happen.

1) You’ll find shortcuts (without even planning to): If you make a blog and update it regularly, you’re probably going to start finding shortcuts for some of the more labour-intensive parts of everything. These will probably suddenly appear to you when you least expect them and they will seem ridiculously obvious in retrospect.

For example, when I used to prepare the earlier versions of my “top ten articles” articles that I post at the end of each month, I used to schedule each draft article, preview it, copy the hyperlink and then return it to draft status. Then I’d type out the article’s title and turn it into a hyperlink. I’d do this 10-15 times in every monthly article. Pretty convoluted, right?

Well, after I’d spent a couple of years getting familiar with this site, I noticed that the “new post” page (on the old editor at least, the new one seems a bit too complicated) had an area below the title box that would give you the address of the article when it was published. All I had to do was copy & paste this, and do the same with the article title. Suddenly, my monthly “top ten articles” posts took between a third and half of the time that they used to make.

So, if you keep blogging regularly on the same site, you’ll probably end up either working out lots of time-saving shortcuts (without consciously trying to) and/or spotting all sorts of useful features that you didn’t even know existed.

2) Keep everything in one place (as much as possible): There’s a good reason why the interactive fiction project I made for Halloween 2015 is on a separate site, but the short story collection I wrote for Halloween 2016 is on this site.

If you’ve been blogging for a while, it can be tempting to put your spin-off projects on separate sites rather than on different parts of your main site. The thing to remember here is that it probably took you a couple of years to build up the audience for your main site. The instant you start another site, even if you link to it a few times on your main site, the whole process begins all over again.

So, if you want people to look at your spin-off projects, then keep them all on the same site. People who are reading the other stuff on your main site are more likely to notice them and people who discover them serendipitously might also end up looking at other parts of your main site too.

3) Your old articles will always be more popular (and that’s ok): Whenever I look at the viewership figures from this site, something always surprises me. My really ancient articles from 2013 and 2014 often seem to have more views (and more regular views) than any of my new stuff. If I didn’t understand why this happens, I’d probably feel discouraged.

In short, the older something is, the more time it has to accumulate views. The more time it has for people to discover it via online searches. As such, your older articles are always going to be more popular than your new ones for the simple reason that they’ve had more time to become popular.

But, don’t feel discouraged, this will eventually happen to your new articles too – you’ve just got to give it a bit of time.

4) Keep some last-minute filler material handy: Although you should always try to have a large “buffer” of pre-made articles so that you don’t have to post and publish your articles on the same day (I mean, I wrote this article quite a few months ago – hello from the past 🙂 ), it doesn’t hurt to keep some last-minute filler material on standby too.

Why? Well, if you’re anything like me, one easy source of inspiration when you’re uninspired are your own opinions. This has led to a few opinionated articles that I’ve pulled at the last minute (due to worrying that they’re too political, too introspective etc..) and had to replace with something else, like this.

So, if you keep some filler material on standby, then you can quickly replace any article that you aren’t really satisfied with at the last minute.


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂 Here to the next year 🙂

Three More Things I’ve Learnt From Running A Blog For Three Years

2016 Artwork What I've Learnt From Running A Blog For Three Years

Woo hoo! This blog is three years old today! I’m still astonished that something which I started as a random experiment three years ago is still going strong. Usually, most of my projects only last for a fraction of this time but, for some reason, updating this blog has become a regular part of my everyday life. For three years!

So, as I did on this blog’s first anniversary in 2014 (here and here) and on this blog’s second anniversary in 2015 (here), I thought that I’d list a few of the things that I’ve learnt about running a blog over the past year. Yes, I know that this goes against my “don’t blog about blogging” rule – but it’s a special occasion!

1) Some things change, some things don’t: One thing that I’ve noticed in recent weeks is that virtually all of my daily articles seem to be about making art at the moment.

Although I’d originally expected this blog to be a blog about writing (with a few reviews and articles about making art), it now slowly seems to be turning into a blog about making art (with a few reviews and articles about writing).

This is probably mostly because I’ve been practicing making art a lot more than I’ve been practicing writing fiction. Even so, it’s still surprising to see how much the focus of my articles has changed over time. And, yes, if you write a blog for long enough – then there’s a good chance that it might start to drift in a direction that you may not expect it to.

My advice is just to go with the flow. Writing about what fascinates you at the moment (as long as other people are interested in it too) is more important than trying to maintain a consistent theme on your blog.

This is because it’s easier to write about what you’re interested in at the moment and because it’ll help you to keep feeling enthusiastic about blogging. Yes, it might alienate some of your readers slightly, but it’ll also ensure that your blog keeps going.

2) Recycling (and time/energy budgeting): When I’ve been working on an art project, a comics project or (on one occasion) a writing project, I usually need to focus more of my time and mental energy on that particular project. But, at the same time, I also want to keep posting daily articles on here.

As such, I usually have to try to write my daily articles in a more efficient way when I’m working on a project. What this usually means is that I’ll write about things that are related to the project I’m working on at the time (so that I don’t have to think too hard about what to write about). In other words, I recycle what I’ve been working on in order to make an article quickly.

It also means that many of my articles will contain recycled title artwork – since making new title artwork for each article by hand can take anything between a fifth to a third of the total time it takes me to write an article.

One fringe benefit of this is that I can often digitally add whatever artwork I’m working on at the time to my title artwork. With a little bit of creativity, this can sometimes actually result in more impressive title art than usual. Like this example from earlier this month:

2016 Artwork when should you abandon your art article sketch

Still, if you’re working on another project whilst also making your blog, then it can be useful to work out ways to “lessen the load” so that you can keep blogging.

3) When (and how) to make it about yourself: One of the early rules that I set myself when I started this blog was that it wouldn’t be all about me. In fact, this is probably why this blog is still going strong three years after I started it (compared to my previous short-lived attempts at writing diary-style blogs).

However, when I’ve been feeling uninspired or unenthusiastic, I tend to write about myself a bit more. This is for the simple reason that it’s often easier to write about yourself than it is to write about other things. But, there’s a right and a wrong way to do this.

The trick here is to make sure that you still include some kind of general advice or information that other people will still be interested in reading about. For example, if you’re writing about a painting or a drawing that you found difficult to make, then explain why you found it difficult and – more importantly – describe what you learnt by trying to make it.

If you also provide something that other people will find interesting or useful, then you can write about yourself more than you might think.


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂 Here’s to the next year 🙂

Today’s Art (17th April 2016)

Although “Damania Resurgence” will return tomorrow, it’s the 17th of April today and this means that it’s time for me to post a re-make the very first drawing I made (on the 17th April 2012) when I decided to start making at least one piece of art every day.

I’ll also include the previous versions of this picture (from 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012) for comparison too.

As usual, all of the pictures in this post are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"The Important Question (V)" By C. A. Brown

“The Important Question (V)” By C. A. Brown

And here are the older versions of this picture, in reverse chronological order:

"The Important Question (IV)" By C.A. Brown [2015]

“The Important Question (IV)” By C.A. Brown [2015]

"The Important Question (III)" By C. A. Brown [2014]

“The Important Question (III)” By C. A. Brown [2014]

"The Important Question (II)" By C. A. Brown [2013] [April 17th 2013]

“The Important Question (II)” By C. A. Brown [2013]
[April 17th 2013]

"The Important Question" By C. A. Brown [2012]

“The Important Question” By C. A. Brown [2012]

Ten Things I’ve Learnt From Running A Blog For A Year – Part Two

Yay! I've always wanted to say this!

Yay! I’ve always wanted to say this!

Welcome back 🙂 In case you haven’t read part one, this blog had it’s first birthday yesterday. I’ve decided to commemorate the occasion by giving you a list of ten things I’ve learnt about blogging over the past year, which might come in handy if you’re thinking about starting a blog of your own.

Again, I know that I’m breaking the “don’t blog about blogging” rule here. But, don’t worry, normal articles about art and writing will resume tomorrow at the usual time (plus, there will obviously be an art post this evening too).

So, without any further ado, let’s get started on the rest of the list:

6) Lists: As you’ve probably noticed, a fair number of my articles are lists. They usually have titles like “Five tips for…” or “Four ways to…”, there’s a good reason why I do this and why you should do it too.

Don’t ask me why, but people are fascinated by lists. They’re fascinated by titles which suggest that they are going to get to read a list of interesting information or ideas. I first really noticed this trick when I discovered an absolutely hilarious and addictive [but probably slightly NSFW] website called Cracked.

Virtually all of their article titles are things like “Ten Secretly Badass People From History”, “Five Popular Soft Drinks With A Dark History” etc… and, for some reason, it makes them irresistibly interesting. Since then, I’ve noticed this format in all sorts of blogs and I’ve used it in my own.

I still don’t have a clue why it works, but it does. So, use it.

7) Filler: If you’re posting articles every day, then you’re probably going to run out of ideas occasionally. Don’t worry, this is normal. It happens to everyone. But what separates those who are serious about blogging from those who aren’t is what they do when this happens.

If you’ve made a decision to post something daily, then post something daily. Don’t just leave your blog blank for a day. If this sounds impossibly difficult, then don’t worry – there are a few tricks you can use to get an article written fairly quickly.

I’ve written about this topic in much more detail in another article, but one of the many tricks you can use when this happens is to write a filler article.

Whilst you shouldn’t use filler articles too often, they can be absolutely invaluable when you’re short on ideas. These can include reviews of things (since a review is a lot easier to write than an original article), these can include cleverly-disguised reworkings of articles you’ve already written, these can include a compilation of links to various things (like my monthly “Best of the blog” posts) and they can include blog posts where you pose a question to the audience.

Likewise, as this article itself demonstrates, you can fill up an extra day of your blogging schedule by splitting a longer article up into two separate articles.

There are a lot of ways to write good filler content and it’s worth knowing a couple of these before you start blogging (rather than learning them as you go along, like I did), because writer’s block affects us all at one time or another. So, be prepared.

8) Post length: It’s worth working out how long you want your posts to be before you start blogging.

Some sites I’ve read recommend that you keep your blog posts ridiculously short (eg: 400 words or less), so that people can read them quickly. Other sites recommend that you just make your posts as long or short as they end up being once you’ve finished them. There’s really no agreement here.

Personally, I tend to keep my posts between about 500 and 1500 words for a number of reasons. For starters, I tend to be a little bit verbose and I find writing short things a lot more difficult than giving myself a bit more space to express myself fully. Secondly, this is the kind of article length that I personally like to read. Thirdly, I feel like I’m “cheating” my readers if I write a short post (which is why I sometimes apologise at the end of any 500-600 word posts that I write).

I can’t tell you which post length will work for you, but it’s a good idea to work this out for yourself. Try preparing a few articles before you start your blog and take a look at how long they are. If you’re better suited to writing short posts, then write short posts. If you’re better suited to writing essays, then write essays. But don’t try to squash or stretch your articles to fit someone else’s guidelines.

9) Write the kind of blog you want to read: I can’t emphasise this enough. Your blog must interest you, it must be about topics that interest you and it should be presented in a way that interests you.

Yes, your blog should be primarily for your readers rather than for you – but if you aren’t interested in it, then how can you expect them to be?

For example, I love websites that post things daily. I’ll read them almost religiously. So, when it came to working out how often I’d post things on here – it was an absolute no-brainer.

Of course, over the past year, I’ve learnt that posting daily is a bit more difficult than it looks – but it’s given me a lot more respect for the daily sites that I read.

Writing the kind of blog that you want to read also helps you to feel proud of your blog. And, if you feel proud of your blog, then you’ll have a lot more intrinsic motivation to produce more stuff for it and to make it as good as possible.

But, at the same time, remember that your blog must also be something which other people will also be interested in too.

10) Don’t blog about blogging: Finally, if you aren’t writing a blog about writing blogs, then don’t blog about blogging. I’m certainly not the first person to say this and I certainly won’t be the last.

I can probably just about get away with blogging about blogging here only because it’s a special occasion and because blogging is at least vaguely similar to writing. Either that, or I’m just being extremely hypocritical here.

But, if your blog is about a topic which is totally unrelated to blogging, then don’t start blogging about blogging. Stick to the topic that you’re writing about and the topic that people expect to read about when they find your blog.

If you spend a long time blogging about, say, tortoises and then you suddenly start blogging about blogging instead – your readers will be confused at best or seriously annoyed at worst. So, don’t do it.

Yes, if you’ve been blogging for a while, then it’s very easy to write about it. But, don’t.


Anyway, I hope this was useful 🙂 If you’re interested, you can find part one here.