So I did Blogmas this year, the twenty-four-day countdown (or run-up, whichever way you look at it) to Christmas, which entails blogging daily from 1st to 24th December.
The primary motive was to ‘cure’ myself of an involuntary three-month hiatus I had fallen into – and, I guess, to check whether I actually wanted to resume blogging.
Did it get my back into writing my blog? Well, I kept it up, produced a daily post, put out some 18 thousand words, and found the process pretty comfortable. I kept the concept simple (and probably somewhat cliched, but still…) with each day an advent calendar image – as if opening a daily door, an item or concept would appear behind it. Each day also began with a literary or relevant quotation (so at least some of the content would be worthwhile!) then musings on the day’s item, a bell, snow, seasonal feast, etc.
As my blog is primarily about writing, reading, and books, plus a few ramblings about psychology and mental wellbeing thrown in, most of the posts, accordingly, had a literary slant – the use of symbolism, for example, lists of ghosts in famous novels, and so on. This structure was loose, but it is important, I found, to have a co-ordinated approach, to links each post together.
So, primary goal achieved. Blogmas got me writing again – and enjoying it. Below, however, are a few more reasons commonly given for doing Blogmas, and the conclusions I came to.
To boost the number of views of your site. Hmn, not so much for me. My blog is a small, modest affair. I’m okay with that, but it’s a low base from which to increase SEO. There were a lot of views across 24 days, but fewer per posts than I normally get within a day or week. What I did observe, though, was that I gained more views based on searches through search engines rather than via WordPress Reader – so, a bit of a result there. That’s the short-term outcome; whether there will be significant views of the content next year, time will tell. But no matter, I appreciate all who took the time to read and to comment.
To get you committed. Once you start off on Blogmas, it’s hard to stop. You’re pledged to daily content, you stated that goal upfront, so that’s what you have to do. Organisation was key. I mapped out a table of what the topic and approach would be for each day, and chose quotations in advance along with finding some of the photos and sources I used. I also noted any ‘red letter’ days, such as St Nicholas or Lucy’s Days, or the solstice, so that content could relate to these. At weekends, I drafted several posts ahead of time.
To prove to yourself that you can. I am not a prolific blogger at the best of times, so in my case, it meant moving from a (roughly) weekly to a daily blog. Could I maintain quantity and quality? It’s hard to be objective. The posts did vary in length, several being under 500 words, but I didn’t want to force it. For the most part, I did give as much time and attention to each post content as I do with a weekly post. On the negative side, there were more typos (and missing words) as I didn’t have enough time for proof-reading – cringe!
To explore a theme more thoroughly. Loosely, and almost inevitably, the theme was ‘Christmas’. In theory, this gives the opportunity to open the subject matter out into the winter season (at least for half the planet) or to celebrations in general. And, accordingly, I tried to take a broad brush. Yet some of the posts did get a little repetitive – in exploring the background or history of an object, for instance, I kept landing back in Medieval or Victorian times with slightly tedious predictability. All my posts took a largely secular angle, and a couple, such as ‘fire’ did not mention the ‘C word’ at all. Whilst you will always appeal to a limited audience in blogging, though, I still wish the overall topic had been less exclusive and more inclusive in focus.
Which brings me to… The main downside. One of the best aspects blogging for me is enjoying other bloggers’ content, interacting through the exchange of comments, and feeling part of a community. So the main downside of Blogmas, I found, was that my ‘blogging time’ was taken up producing posts (I also work full time, have kids, and write as a hobby – plus, yes, it’s a busy time of year), meaning I had little time to look at other peoples’ writing.
With my main goal achieved, I am glad I undertook Blogmas. I don’t think I’ll be doing it next year – it will be good to get the balance back or reading as well as writing blogs. I would, however, consider similar challenges if ever I need a productivity boost.