Sunday, 1 May 2016

Reflections on writing a blog

It's about five months since I started this blog and having now written 10 posts it seems an appropriate time to take stock and consider how well things have gone and what I have learnt so far.


Designing and setting up the basic blog was not too problematic as Blogger provides templates and I had in the past set up a simple blog to record progress in an online course. I'm pleased with the design I have chosen and how the posts look against the background. 

Deciding on what extra facilities the blog should have, though, was hard and little has been accomplished other than to link to two other blogs. I knew I should be able to tag posts but it took me ages to find out how to do this and then I could not identify appropriate labels to use. I realised that this was probably something best left for a while and tackled after I had posted several posts. I am still getting to grips with this. 


Having set up the blog I set myself some basic rules to try to follow: 
  1. Post at least once each week.
  2. Posts should include photos and/or images.
  3. Do not include photos of my family or friends.
  4. Do not include anything that might infringe someone else's copyright. 

So far I have managed to adhere to rules 2, 3 and 4 but I have found it impossible to post something each week, especially in the first few months. Why not? I think there are various reasons for this. Initially I hadn't realised how long it would take me to write each post. Even when I knew what to write, formatting a page so that the images and text looked right was much more difficult than I anticipated. Although Blogger uses WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) type editing it doesn't always work. Often text and images fit well together on the editing page but on previewing the pages the images seem to move out of alignment, meaning extra time spent juggling with the screen elements and much moving backwards and forwards between the Edit and Preview views. I could have saved myself a great deal of time and effort if I'd been happy to have a simple format of alternate text and image rather than trying to embed the images alongside the related text. Although it does takes longer, though, I am happy that I chose to integrate the images in with the text and will continue to do so in future posts. 


I wanted my blog to look as attractive as possible and not just be pages of text so I had set myself the task of ensuring that each post contained photos or copyright free images. Knowing how long it takes to find appropriate creative commons images and having been bought a new camera, the obvious choice was to mainly use my own photos.  Although I do have thousands of photographs taken over the years, I hadn't realised how difficult and limiting rules 3 and 4 would be. An example of this is when I was trying to write a post and also design a page to record places I have visited. I started to write about a park I had spent many happy hours in as a child and which I had revisited shortly before starting my blog. However I realised I hadn't taken any photographs on my visit and I didn't have any idea about the copyright rules for including old photos that can be found on the web. Although I have completed a post, I still need to find or take some photos and the separate page is still at the construction stage! At other times, I would think of something interesting to write but then realise that I had no appropriate photos to include as the only photos I did have included family or friends.  

Formatting posts

In order to format the posts as I want I initially thought I had to write the posts on my laptop rather than on the Blogger app on my iPad. As the laptop is based upstairs in my study it takes much more effort to use it than the iPad. I have recently worked out that I can use the app to write draft text and upload photos to a post at any time and then do the editing on the laptop at a later time. This is beginning to speed up the time it takes me to put together a post as I can even be drafting a post whilst watching TV. 

So what I have learnt so far

  • To not beat up myself when it is a long time since the previous post. I need to remember I've been living life rather than writing about it. 
  • To make sure that I remember to take some photos that do not include family and friends when I'm out and about.
  • To spend time checking out other blogs to see what extra facilities are worthwhile including in mine.
  • To use the Blogger app to put together draft posts whenever I have anything interesting to say to speed up the process of writing a post and also to prevent me from forgetting what I wanted to say.
  • To remember to click on the Publish button when a post is completed, especially when going on holiday the next day!

Future plans

I am happy with how the blog's Home page is developing so will continue to post similar content. I would like to add more pages to this blog and be able to link from these to individual posts so it looks like I will be spending a fair bit of time in the near future learning how to do this and putting together the new pages. 

In November 2015, when I decided have a go at writing a blog, I wasn't sure that it would be something I would want to keep doing or that anyone would want to read what I had to say so I didn't tell anyone that I had started this blog. I have been pleasantly surprised to find, though, that people have found my blog. It is amazing to realise that strangers in several countries across the world have already been reading my posts. Perhaps it is now time to share that I have a blog with my family and friends. 

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