At the start of last year I set myself some new year goals for the blog so I thought I would begin 2019 by reflecting on those and setting myself some new resolutions. These will be quite personal and specific which may be completely dull to some (you may prefer to read my general overview on the state of music blogging).
So did I actually manage to achieve any of my 2018 goals? Here’s what my resolutions were and some reflections:
1. Aim for 100 reviews
Okay so this was missed by a long way, as I finished on about 75 reviews. I actually ended up reviewing less in 2018 than 2017 for a number of reasons. Firstly in 2017 I was just starting out, so I had the enthusiasm and energy to cover everything! I was also told to aim for a certain number of posts in order for my blog to appear on search engines and gain a readership, which worked. This year I just decided to review what I really loved or if I had something I really wanted to write about. I also started another writing project which meant I decided to reduce my posts to around a three a week, which was a number that was achievable for me. In the end I’ve written more than 100,000 words for the blog which is more than enough. So if I can find 75 interesting artists to write about again this year I will be very happy indeed.
2. Attempt Some New Features
My main target for this was to start reviewing an entire discography of one artist, which was Dolly Parton. Now I love writing these posts and found it fascinating to delve deep into her discography. The only problem I found was that these posts take a lot longer to write than my usual album reviews and therefore I haven’t been able to get through as many of her albums as I hoped. So I am excited to continue this project in 2019 and look out for some other Dolly themed posts on her birthday later this month.
My other main features this year have been recommending a book a month about music written by a woman. I want to continue this but I plan to change the layout of the posts and go back to the more popular style I used for books before (more of a loose discussion like you see on brainpickings, rather than a review) as these posts don’t seem to get much traffic compared to the rest of my blog. While part of me just likes writing for the fun of it, I do set myself small targets for page views, as it would be nice to share my recommendations with as many people as possible.
3. Interview Someone
Almost immediately after I posted my 2018 resolutions I decided against including interviews on the blog. This is mainly because of time constraints and the hassle of setting these things up. I also like to keep some distance between myself and the artists I cover on the blog, as this makes things stress free for me. Plus I’ve only ever done one interview in my life so I know I would have a lot to learn.
However I did have an idea that I would really like to have a feature on the blog where artists discuss the women who inspired their music. So if that does sound like something you would be interested in reading then let me know and I may consider actually trying to interview people this year!
4 & 5 Cover A Wider Range of Artists/ More British Artists
I mainly review Americana music on the blog and that’s certainly a problem when trying to include a wide range of artists. I don’t think I did as well on covering British artists as I wanted to and certainly including diverse artists was also a challenge at times. Our prejudices are unfortunately ingrained and often subconscious. For example on Twitter last month I asked for people to recommend me albums I might have missed in 2018 and almost every single one was by a white American woman. I started the blog partly to balance out the lack of coverage women face in the industry but my feminist education taught me that just advancing the cause for white women isn’t good enough – we have to be more inclusive and intersectional. I know I need to do better on this and I hope to continue to cover more diverse artists in 2019.
6 Include More Original Photography
I think my photography skills improved this year but visual arts have never been my strength. Also as I don’t have expensive camera equipment I now realise that what I can do is somewhat limited.
I am pleased to have worked with two proper photographers this year – Kendall Wilson and Mike Ozmond, who have been kind enough to allow me to use their live music photography on the blog. These partnerships have been invaluable in making my live reviews look professional and I can’t thank them enough.
7. Commission Original Art
I have not had a chance to include any art in the blog in 2018 but this is a real priority for me this year. I have actually seen a graphic designer whose work looks like it might be suitable and I really want a new logo and header so watch this space!
8. Get 1000 Twitter followers
I actually achieved this one pretty easily and now have 1800+ followers. For a while I was actively seeking out music fans and liking relevant tweets in order to gain followers, which continues to be an easy and rewarding strategy. I am happy with my follower count and engagement right now so I haven’t been trying to grow much more.
9. Get 100 Followers on Facebook and Instagram
Firstly Facebook is a nightmare but I did manage to get up to 140 followers this year despite not having a clue how anyone ever achieves growth on that platform. It is frustrating because Facebook continues to be a brilliant way to bring traffic to the blog. My two biggest posts of the year both came from Facebook shares – firstly Lucinda Williams’ management shared my Bobbie Gentry post and encouraged her followers to read it and then a Pistol Annies fan shared my post about them on one of their updates and I got hundreds of clicks from that alone. Even sharing posts on my own page usually brings in a good amount of traffic. So I won’t be abandoning Facebook this year as it is so useful for bloggers but I would love to know how to grow my page better.
In comparison I have gained over 500 Instagram followers in the same period. I love Instagram and have been sharing my record collection over the year as well as other random music related things like classic pics, gig photos, setlists, books and magazines. I have some great followers who engage with my posts and they have just arrived pretty naturally without much effort. I’m not a good photographer and I have definitely got a lot to learn on Instagram (especially using stories) but I enjoy it. The key problem I have is that so few people actually click the blog links from Instagram. You can’t add links to posts or stories and therefore it will always be a limited platform for getting people to read my writing. It is great for promoting artists and sharing recommendations though, so I hope I am able to keep growing on that platform.
10. Keep Having Fun
I am happy to report that I did have fun this year! Any time when I felt a little uninspired or whatever I just took some time off and relaxed which really helped. I have a demanding full time job and a busy gig schedule so I can’t write everyday. I do what I can and this flexibility is key to keeping the blog going. I have also enjoyed including live reviews which is something I always thought would be a burden so that’s another positive thing to happen this year.
So now I’ve reflected on last year, here are my 2019 resolutions:
1. Aim for 75 new album/EP reviews
2. Continue reviewing Dolly Parton’s discography
3. Continue recommending music books by women each month
4. Consider interviewing artists about the women who’ve inspired their music
5. Cover a range of diverse artists
6. Keep working on improving my photography skills
7. Get a new logo/ blog art commissioned
8. Get 2000 Twitter followers
9. Aim for 200 Facebook followers
10. Aim to grow my Instagram to 800 followers and try to make my feed have a more cohesive look/theme
11. Make more regularly updated playlists and get more followers on Spotify/Apple Music
12. Try and understand Pinterest
13. Write more live reviews
14. Write more personal essays on music
15. Keep having fun!
Let me know what you think and feel free to share your blogging resolutions in the comments or on social media!