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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

2015 Artwork Blog Second Anniversary article sketch

Woo Hoo! As of today, this blog celebrates it’s second birthday (if you don’t believe me, here’s my very first post from 2013). I’m still absolutely amazed that it’s been going this long and I wonder what amazing things will appear on here during the next year 🙂

Anyway, on this blog’s first birthday, I made a two-part post (which can be read here and here) about ten things that I’d learnt from running a blog for an entire year. But, looking back, I don’t think that I really quite managed to fit everything I wanted to say about blogging in it.

So, for today, I thought that I’d break my “don’t blog about blogging” rule yet again and tell you more about what I’ve learnt from running a blog for more than two years.

Most of the stuff in this article will be about how to increase your viewing figures – so, if you want more practical advice, then be sure to check out the two articles I wrote last year.

Anyway, let’s get started 🙂

1)You get out what you put in: This is more of a weird observation than a piece of practical advice, but one thing I’ve noticed with this site is that – regardless of what I have scheduled in advance for a particular day- the amount of traffic I get will often roughly reflect the enthusiasm I have for blogging on that particular day.

I’ve had days when my scheduled article was a filler piece that I wrote weeks earlier (when I was uninspired) and, even though I’ve just finished preparing an excellent article for a few weeks later, I’ve still got a decent amount of views on that day.

But, I’ve had other days when an absolutely great article has been automatically posted on here – but, because I’ve been in a dismal mood about blogging that day, I got a fairly low number of views.

This might just be me, but I’ve found that blog views can often reflect how you’re feeling about your blog on any given day.

Of course, another reason for this might have something to do with the fact that….

2) Blogs are non-linear: If you haven’t been feeling inspired and you end up posting a fairly mediocre blog article on a particular day, then it isn’t the end of the world. People won’t desert your blog in droves or anything like that. In fact, it’s perfectly possible to get more views on that day than you might expect.

Why? Because blogs are non-linear. Most people don’t read every entry in a blog and they don’t usually read them in chronological order either. Most of the time people will find one article from your blog by accident when looking for things using a search engine.

If they like what they read, then they might read more of your blog, but they either might not have time to do this or your blog might not be what they are looking for. Even so, you’ve still got one extra pageview.

What this all means is that, even if you haven’t been feeling inspired and you’ve only managed to post a rather mediocre article on your blog, then you can still get fairly decent viewing figures for that day – because most of your new readers will just skip straight to the best parts of your blog.

So, as long as at least part of your blog is well-written and interesting, then writing the occasional mediocre article isn’t as bad as you might think.

3) Block paragraphs: This is a fairly obvious thing, but reading text on a computer screen is a slightly different experience to reading it it in a book or a magazine.

Typically, you can only fit 200-300 words on a page of a paperback book. You may be able to fit more text onto a magazine page, but it is often split up into columns in order to make it more easily readable.

You probably won’t have this luxury with your blog. Every article you write on a blog will just be one long continuous scroll of text (possibly broken up by the occasional picture). People can’t bookmark their place in it if they need to stop reading for a while and do something else. Likewise, the idea of reading through a dense block of text might be off-putting to quite a few readers.

So, what can you do? Simple, just keep your paragraphs fairly short and leave a space between each one. Not only will this make your blog articles appear more spread-out and easily-readable, but it also means that it’s easier for your readers to find their place again if they get distracted halfway through reading one of your articles.

4) Reviews: Although writing reviews can be an excellent way to make a fairly quick filler post when you haven’t got any ideas for “proper” blog articles, they can also be a great way to temporarily boost your viewing figures for a couple of days. But, there’s something of a caveat here.

You need to review new mainstream things. Yes, it sucks, I know.

Although it’s a lot easier to review old things or fairly random and obscure things, you need to occasionally review “new” and “mainstream” things if you want a traffic boost. Of course, if you’re anything like me, you probably don’t have the budget to go out and buy new computer games on release day (or the hardware needed to run them) or you don’t have the budget to see every new movie that comes out in the cinema. But, don’t worry, there are still plenty of other new things you can review if you’re clever.

For example, if you live in the UK, you can review some of your favourite TV shows. Famous UK TV shows (eg: “Doctor Who”, “Sherlock”, “Downton Abbey” etc…) are especially good in this regard, for the simple reason that they have a large international fanbase and they’re often shown in the UK before they’re shown in the US.

What this means is that you’ll have a fairly large international audience who is eager to learn about their favourite programs before they’re shown on TV. And you’ll be in the perfect position to tell them about it. Don’t feel too bad about this if you live in the US though, you guys get about ten times more TV shows earlier than we do…

Likewise, there are plenty of other low-cost and/or free new things that have a large audience that you can review if you’re willing to think outside the box (eg: popular Youtube channels, “free-to-play” games [although these can be something of a con], bestselling novels, open-source software, household products etc…).

5) Efficiency: Often, one of the most important things when it comes to maintaining an audience for your blog is to stick to a regular posting schedule (eg: so that people can expect something new every day, every three days, every week, every fortnight etc…). But, actually creating content on a regular basis can sometimes be more difficult than it looks.

So, you need to be focused. There are only a certain number of hours in the day and you’ll probably also only have a certain amount of enthusiasm for blogging every day. So, you need to find a way to use both of these things as efficiently as possible.

What this often means is that “less is more”. Posting smaller amounts of content on a regular basis is both a lot more manageable for you and a lot more interesting for your audience. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, it’s actually better to post a few hundred words every day than it is to post a few thousand words every few weeks.

Likewise, try to keep the number of regular features on your blog down to a sensible level. Although, as I briefly did in late 2013/early 2014, it can be kind of cool to post four things on your blog every day – it’s unsustainable. So, keep the amount of content you post on your blog down to a level that you can realistically handle.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Two Reasons Why Regular Webcomic Updates Are Useful When You’re Uninspired

2014 Artwork Regular Updates Webcomic uninspired days sketch

Even though this is an article about webcomics, I’m probably going to have to break the “Don’t blog about blogging” rule here. This is because, at the time of writing this article, it’s been quite a few months since I last worked on something resembling a regular webcomic.

So, since the only regular thing I tend to post online these days is my art and these articles, I thought it would be better if I spoke from my more recent experiences.

But, it doesn’t matter – the principles I’m going to describe here can easily be applied to webcomics, episodic fiction, Youtube videos etc…. Basically, anything that you post online on a regular basis.

Anyway, if you’re posting your creative work online on a regular basis (and keeping to a schedule), then you’re going to produce something crappy every once in a while. Trust me, it happens to all of us. No-one can keep to a regular schedule and be at 100% of their creative capabilities literally all of the time.

So, every once in a while, you’re going to produce something mediocre, lacklustre or downright terrible and – because you’ve got a schedule to keep, you’re probably going to have to post it online (or risk falling behind).

And, as counter-intuitive as it may sound, it is always better to post something mediocre online and on time than it is to post nothing at all.

Of course, if you’re anything like I was for quite a few months after I started this site, you’ll probably be thinking something like “Oh god, everyone will hate it! I’ll lose my audience! People will desert my site in droves!

I’ve got news for you, they won’t.

Why? Well, it all comes down to the fact that you’re keeping to a regular schedule. There are two reasons for this and they each apply to different types of readers (eg: new readers and long-term readers).

1) Your Back Catalogue: First of all, if you’ve been keeping to a regular update schedule for a while, then you’re probably going to have a large “back catalogue” of material on your site that people can view.

Whilst you will hopefully have at least a few regular readers/ viewers who might be annoyed when you post something crappy on your site, not everyone who visits your site is going to see it.

Why? Because people don’t always look at websites in the “correct” order and they don’t always start by looking at the latest thing that has been posted. This is especially true with “narrative” webcomics, where most new visitors to the site usually have to start at the beginning (and not at your latest update).

Likewise, people stumble across random old pages from websites accidentally when they’re searching for things online, people visit random pages from links on other sites etc… I’m sure you get the idea.

As long as there is at least some good stuff on your website, then there’s a good chance that new visitors will see that before they see the crappy thing that you’ve just posted. So, there’s a chance that they will already love your website (and see you at your best) before they stumble across your latest update.

Of course, the best way to make sure that this happens is to ensure that your site contains a larger amount of good stuff than crappy stuff.

To use an example from this blog, I have a few really old posts from last year which pull in a modest number of views on a regular basis. It doesn’t matter if my mind has gone blank and I’ve had to scan a few random pages from my sketchbook and cobble them together into something resembling a blog article, people will still regularly look at those old articles.

So, if you have some good stuff on your site, then it will keep people interested on the days when you are unlucky enough to produce bad stuff.

2) The Future: Yes, you might not have to worry too much about new readers if you keep to a regular schedule and produce something crappy every once in a while, but what about your regulars? What about the people who look at your site everyday and absolutely love it?

Will they be disappointed if you post something crappy? Possibly.

Will they abandon your site in disgust? Probably not.

Why? Well, it all comes down to the fact that they’ve been following your site for a while and the fact that you’re sticking to a regular schedule.

First of all, your regulars are people who have seen you at your best before – so, they know that your latest low-quality update doesn’t define you as an artist and/or a writer. Yes, they might be a little bit disappointed, but they’ll probably still remember why they look at your site regularly because they’ve seen how great your work can be.

Secondly, if you stick to a regular update schedule (and any automatic scheduling features on the site you use can be invaluable here), they know that your mediocre work is only a temporary thing. After all, there’s going to be something new on your site either tomorrow, in a couple of days or possibly next week. So, it isn’t like you only get one chance to keep your long-term readers interested…..

For example, when I get uninspired – it can sometimes affect up to a week’s worth of daily blog updates (or even a month – seriously, October certainly wasn’t one of my best months on here). But, eventually, I get inspired again and start producing good stuff once again – so I know that people who read this site every day won’t usually have to wait longer than a week or so before they can start reading great stuff again.

But, if I didn’t update on a regular basis or stopped updating altogether whenever the quality of my work dipped, then I wouldn’t be giving both myself and my regular readers the hope that the quality of my articles and/or art will improve in the future.

So, yes, always remember to stick to your schedule – even if it means producing low-quality work every once in a while. And remember, posting something crappy on your site isn’t the end of the world – we’re all human and no-one can be perfect all the time.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Liebster Award Post – September 2014

2014 Artwork Liebster award 2 sketch

First of all, I’d like to thank Sara from “Paint into a corner” for nominating me for a Liebster Award 🙂

The Liebster Award is an award where bloggers think of a set of questions to ask each other. I also recieved one of these in May (my answers to the questions from that Liebster Award can be found here) and it was really fun to answer.

And, since the questions for this award are about blogging, I’m looking forward to answering them – even if I end up breaking the “don’t blog about blogging” rule LOL!

[Edit: Sorry about any spelling mistakes in this post – I wrote it fairly quickly and didn’t quite have time to edit it fully. I’ll try to correct as much as I can, but I apologise for any mistakes I’ve missed]

Anyway, let’s get started…

1. What made you start blogging? I don’t know, it was just a random idea that I had last April. I felt like working on a larger project at the time and, for some reason, blogging just seemed like the obvious thing to do.

I’d tried to write a couple of blogs before, but they never lasted longer than about six months – so, I’m still astonished that this blog has been going for so long.

I guess that the difference was that this is a blog about subjects that might interest other people too, rather than just a diary-style personal blog (like my previous failed blogs were).

2. What is your blog about? It’s mostly about art, writing and creativity. I try to make sure that most of my articles are instructional and/or thought-provoking in some way too.

It’s also a good place to post my art too (although I often tend to post my art here about 1-2 weeks after I post it on DeviantART though)

I also review things occasionally too (ok, mostly “Doom” WADs, episodes of “Doctor Who” and the occasional old movie/TV show)

3. Has blogging been difficult for you? I don’t know, it was certainly a lot more difficult when I started this blog than it is now.

This is probably due to both regular practice and the fact that I’ve built up a fairly large “buffer” of articles to be scheduled in advance too (which takes a surprising amount of pressure off me – seriously, I still can’t believe that, in the early days of this blog, I actually used to write and post most things on the same day! Don’t do this – it’s stressful, hectic and it almost put me off of blogging altogether LOL!)

4. What have you learned through blogging? The importance of writing things regularly (even if virtually all of my writing is non-fiction these days) and of practicing making art regularly too.

Keeping to a daily schedule has also taught me the importance of keeping at something even when you don’t feel “inspired” too (and, also, how to make quick paintings and/or filler articles for when that happens LOL!).

In addition to this, it’s also taught me the importance of constantly looking for ideas (I’ll talk about this more in my answer to question #7)

5. Have you made any new friends through blogging? I don’t know, there are certainly a few regular readers and fans of my blog (thanks everyone 🙂 ). Although, I don’t know, I guess that I probably tend to be slightly more social on DeviantART than I am on here.

6. Where do you hope blogging will take you? I have no idea whatsoever, but I hope that it’s somewhere great 🙂

7. What inspires your posts? All sorts of things. Sometimes I’ll just get a random idea, sometimes I’ll watch an episode of a TV show and realise something about storytelling that I haven’t noticed before. Sometimes, I’ll find a way to get inspired again (after experiencing writer’s block and/or artist’s block) and decide to share it.

Sometimes I’ll randomly use a technique in one of my paintings and then decide to write about it, sometimes I’ll think about one of my favourite “weird” topics (eg: parallel universes, zombies, censorship, the 1990s, splatterpunk fiction, computer games etc..) and find a way to turn it into an article, sometimes I’ll read a thought-provoking opinion article on the internet and write a response to it.

Sometimes, I’ll write an article about something about art or writing that seems “obvious” to me but that beginners might want to learn, sometimes I’ll just look for something interesting to review. I don’t know, I find ideas in all sorts of places.

I don’t know, one of the things I’ve learnt from running a daily blog is that you always need to be on the look out for interesting ideas – otherwise you’ll run out of ideas fairly quickly.

8. What inspires you as a person? Wow, that’s a difficult question and I could probably write an entire essay about it and still not quite cover everything…

9. What is your favorite place in the world? A town in Wales called Aberystwyth, where I spent a couple of the best years of my life.

10. What would you be doing with your life if you had unlimited money? Having fun, living in a mansion and buying lots of cool stuff, I guess.

Seriously though, I’d probably want to design and publish a computer game or two (although I’d probably have to hire programmers, because my brain tends to freeze if I even so much as look at more than a few lines of computer code LOL!) and I’d probably want to make at least one TV series too.

11. Was this award fun or annoying? Surprising, but quite fun, I guess.