Thursday, December 23, 2021

Ask Arthur 2021, Part 1: To blog, or not to blog

It’s time to begin answering this year’s “Ask Arthur” series, and I decided to start with a question from sort of the middle of the ones I’ve received so far because it’ll give me a chance to talk about some of the issues in the background to all of this year’s posts—and where I may be headed with this blog.

The question is from my pal Roger Green:

How do you see blogging these days? A lot of your recent pieces have been about health (yours, including your mental state; NZ COVID). Conversely, no run of holiday ads so far, and spotty music sharing...

There are two ways to answer that question: About blogging in general, and what I think about it for me personally. Or, in other words, the answer’s complicated.

There are plenty of people who see blogging as dead, just a relic from the Early Internet, those days of dial-up connections and no YouTube or Social Media. By the time I started this blog in 2006, all those things were going (and broadband Internet was common), as were podcasts. That means that the ways that people could express themselves had expanded enormously. While people tend to not to refer to, link to, or comment on blogs as they once did, the medium endures.

It seems to me that most blogs these days are trying to monetise the content one way or another, such as advertising (which seldom actually pays very much), sponsorships, subscriptions, or even just cross promotion of other content one either has to pay to access or that generates income in other ways. My guess is that this trend will continue, and folks who don’t try to monetise will be the orphans of the blogosphere, a tiny minority, like the people who still use a rotary landline telephones (though such a phone would actually have to produce tones, so not quite as antique-y as non-monetised blogs will become).

When I began podcasting (something else I’ve done very little of this year), I said that I saw it as an extension of this blog, though it turned out its audience was much bigger (“much”, in this case, being a term expressing relativity, not actual size; both audiences have always been small). Similarly, my YouTube Channel (not touched for five years) was something that I originally intended to be a visual component of this blog and my podcast. For example, I sometimes posted the script for my videos on this blog, but I always posted the videos themselves (and I posted the videos on my podcast site, too).

In other words, I was “maximising the reach of my content” before that was a thing. Well, it already was a thing, just not all-pervasive—or as monetised as now. I still think it’s useful to have different ways to share the stuff one creates, regardless of whether there’s any attempt to monetise it or not.

Having said all that, it could seem odd that I still believe in the usefulness of blog posts and the value of integration of content when I’m doing very little of any of that. There are, of course, reasons for that.

2021 turned out to be yet another crap year for me, and I’ve just not had the necessary “oomph” to do much. That’s true in general, actually, not just about blogging or whatever, as I’ve spoken about in a couple of posts recently [HERE and also HERE]. It’s hard to blog without the will to do it.

Even so, there are specific reasons for where things are at with this blog. Roger mentioned health as an example of something I did talk about this year. My own health is an ongoing topic, of course, one I’ve always promised to be honest about. Covid has, without any doubt whatsoever, dominated New Zealand’s news and civic affairs this year, so those topics would always loom large, too.

There’s an unusual reason why I haven’t posted any Christmas commercials this year: I was recently going through old posts to research new ones, and I noticed that the videos that were most likely to be gone were TV commercials. It annoys me whenever videos are removed (to me, it’s like dumping documents from an archive), and the result’s aesthetically ugly for this blog. As it happens, I came up with a solution, and I’ll talk about that tomorrow. So, the lack of Christmas ads actually has nothing to do with me, or the state of me, but, rather, forces entirely outside my control. Phew!

None of that’s true for music posts, since a long time ago I started only embedding “official” videos which almost never go away. Instead, the reason there have been so few of those has mostly been for the reason I mentioned before: Lack of "oomph".

There have been many times in the past when I seriously considered just giving up on blogging, podcasting, everything. Other times, I’ve plotted ways to do more of everything. I never claimed to be consistent! The truth is, I couldn’t monetise my stuff even if I wanted to: Any income would be taxed by two countries, and the tiny amount I’d have left over just wouldn’t be worth all the hassles and stress that would come from complying with tax laws in two countries. That means that the only reason I do any of this stuff is for no other reason than that I enjoy it. This year there just wasn’t enough joy “en” it.

Which leads inevitably to the question, will this be any better for me next year? Dunno. I don’t have enough information or whatever to base a prediction on, primarily because I can’t even begin to guess what state of mind/body I’ll be in next year, and that matters a lot. But it’s not the only thing.

It’s discouraging when I’m already tired and worn out, anyway, to see that most of my blog posts have had maybe a couple dozen views in the first few days after I publish a new post (it does rise over time). Much as it’s nice to be able to provide a diversion for a couple dozen folks, it does feel like a lot of work without much payoff. Among the posts that used to get the most readers were the ones in which I talked about US politics (several of which are in my “all-time highest ranking” posts). The drop off in page views accelerated when I stopped talking about that. But I still don't feel like wading into US politics. It’s just too toxic and negative, and I don’t want that in my life.

I definitely do still like blogging (whether anyone reads it or not), and recording podcasts (whether anyone listens or not), and I also still think I’d like to resume making YouTube videos (whether anyone watches or not). My goal is merely to create, but on my terms and timeline. I feel like those are all moving in the right direction, and I guess I’ll know soon enough if I’m right or not.

Thanks for the question, Roger!

It’s not too late to ask a question: Simply leave a comment on this post (anonymous comments are allowed). Or, you can email me your question (and you can even tell me to keep your name secret, although, why not pick a nom de question?). You can also ask questions on the AmeriNZ Facebook page, though keep in mind that all Facebook Pages are public, just like this blog. You can also send me a private message through the AmeriNZ Facebook Page.

All posts in this series are tagged “AAA-21”. All previous posts from every “Ask Arthur” series are tagged, appropriately enough, ”Ask Arthur”.


Yes, ask again – The first post in this year’s series.

1 comment:

Roger Owen Green said...

One of the reasons, when I link to music, that I don't use the full YouTube rectangle is that I HATE those grey boxes of the dead video.

And this was one of my complaints about the new WordPress process (well, not so new now). I'd put in a link, and it would automatically show the video format. This is why I use the Classic Editor plugin, which allows me to use links.

Too bad about the commercials. Where's their sense of history? I'd love to see some of those 2019 or 2012 ads.