I’ve been writing this blog for a few years now. Here are some thoughts:
I first pressed ‘publish’ on November 4th 2009. I note that I was riding a 72″ gear. Since then I’ve geared down and prefer a 68″ or even a 65″. You lose nothing on the flat and riding uphill is much more enjoyable. I can climb anything on a 65″, whereas on a 72″ there is not much margin for error.
Blogging is a narcissistic process. Maybe not always, but I think in my case it tends to be narcissistic. Maybe I’m being harsh and it’s actually just self-reflexive, rather than self-indulgent, but that’s semantics.
I think there is a vague belief that somehow some of what i write has a relevance to some of what people want to read. It’s unashamedly aimed at cyclists. I am stuck somewhere in a hinterland between being a quite good amateur racing cyclist and a very good amateur racing cyclist. Sometimes i think i’m closing the gap on the super fast people but they always remain tantalisingly out of reach.
My trajectory as a cyclist, over the past 4 years has been really unexpected, and so the direction of this blog has changed. As I’ve experienced more success on a local level (or sometimes even regional! Steady the buffs!) the blog has reflected the process behind that level of success and the feelings and emotions it generates.
I get excited by comments. It’s really nice to see that people read it and appreciate what’s being written. Readers seem to follow the blog in ‘spikes’, the readership tickles along at a set figure, then spikes for a month and suddenly lots more start reading and it never goes back down to what it was before. Regular updates are key, but not for the sake of regular updates.
By far the most popular posts I have written are reviews, especially my review of the Boardman Air TT. Writing reviews is a really easy way to generate traffic to a blog, but a blog full of reviews makes for really tedious reading. My approach to reviews is simple: if it’s something that genuinely has made a profound difference to my cycling then I’ll review it, or write about it. Coming soon: Carradice Super C: Or Why Messenger Bags Are For Sweaty-Backed Hipsters. It’s really easy to see a blog that is deliberately aimed at generating content and readers. Maybe there’s an argument that it has a purpose and benefit. I think it’s cynical and lazy. It’s taken me a long long time to build up a readership. I don’t recklessly cross-promote. Occasionally I’ll tweet a post or link it somewhere else. I save this for when I think I have something interesting to say.
For the first year I averaged about 10 views per day. 3 of those were family members. The other 7 were misguided search terms. For example, being a cyclist I like to write about the weather. A few of the posts contain the phrase ‘pissing wet’. This has made for some interesting search terms that, i daresay, might not be what the person was looking for. I now get more appropriate search terms and the readership is much larger, and growing steadily – sometimes exponentially, such is the nature of the interweb. It’s been particularly heart-warming to have so many positive comments from people at races about the blog, people saying they read it and like it. It makes it worthwhile.
Lastly, there is one danger of keeping a blog. I tend to write anecdotes or talk about races. I then see friends or local racers at various places and in discussion do what many people do, throw in a few anecdotes. The slightly bored look on their faces tells me they have already read it. I feel like i’m suddenly repeating myself everywhere I go. I have no stories left to tell because I’ve already written them all up. The side effect of having an interesting blog is you become an inexplicably dull person.