On a year of blogging: lessons learned on movie blogging, the internet, and its population
Thousands of hits, thousands of visitors, almost 140 countries reached, and 365 days of blogging. Life As Told By Film started out as a New Year’s resolution I thought I wouldn’t keep up with, and for a second there, it became yet another thing left undone (then again, I can’t ever finish this, can I?), but here we are.
This all started when a friend suggested turning the weekly rants we had about our favourite shows into full-blown reviews. And as much as I would have liked to review series, my heart was with movies, and I knew that if I were to ever start writing reviews, they would be of films. Thus, it began. What I thought would be an experience in movie-going and an education in discipline turned into something of greater value. A lot more goes into blogging than people think, even more so, I would venture to say, for movie bloggers. And the thing that surprised me most of all is how much blogging teaches you about yourself, people, and that which you blog about.
When I started this all, the idea I had in my head was of me sitting at a laptop or on my phone and talking about the movies I dis/liked, pretending to be something I am most definitely not: a critic. There’s a certain sense of pretentiousness that comes with blogging about a certain thing (movies, music, series, etc) as opposed to blogging about news or personal opinions on random matters. Who was I to pass judgment on the work of professionals in a field I knew less about than I led on? For the longest time, that bothered me. It bothered me to the point of dropping my writing MO and adopting a more humourous take on films, mostly ones I disliked. Admittedly, that generated some buzz on the blog, but at that point, the blog had stopped being what I would have liked for it to be. I was no longer blogging for myself as much as I was blogging for the buzz, and that is probably the biggest lesson I’ve taken away from blogging in general. My blog is my platform; it’s an extension of myself, and I should treat it as such.
The major consequence of that was a more serious approach to blogging — a more professional one (although I still don’t proofread my posts…I’m getting there?). The blog went back to being what it started as, and while it’s far from perfect, it’s a better representation of my views and the sort of person I am, and there’s nothing more I would like. There are still days when I just want to throw it all away, but they are scarce. I do what I can with what I know, and as much as I still have a long way to go, I’m still trying to figure it all out, and writing these reviews has been the ultimate learning experience. In fact, it has pushed me to consider pursuing this and learning as much as I can about it.
I’ve always believed in the value of writing. In an age where everything seems fleeting, writing has been the stationary aspect of this blogger’s life, and I can’t begin to tell you how much of an education it has been to sit down and write about a movie; to ask yourself questions about the film and truly ponder on the different elements of one to see what makes or breaks it. It sometimes goes as far as changing my initial reaction to the movie after writing about it. Understanding it better aside, the amount of appreciation you have for a film, good or bad, is something to hold on to and to respect.
As I mentioned earlier, a lot more goes into blogging than just writing. From a more analytical point of view, blogging has taught me an important lesson about understanding readership — your target audience. Things like knowing when to post a piece and where to post it can be as important to the process as the writing itself, especially if you’re resorting to social media to do so. It has a lot to do with understanding how a potential reader would think. It’s as simple as trying to figure out what they would google to find a review of a movie, and what tools you can use to make sure that what they look up will result in your post. The entire process is something of a science experiment: catalysts and reactions.
Other than that, image is quite important to consider when blogging. Often times, I find myself changing a featured image 5-6 times until I feel comfortable with one. Web design play a role here as well. Trying to find a look for the blog is of equal importance. It’s the first thing you see, and an off-putting colour might mean an uninterested reader. The entire thing becomes a delicate combination of elements that could make or break the blog, and therefore more of a challenge.
Even then, the most important thing is what you actually write: content. Quality aside, negative feedback is something that’s never easy to deal with, especially if it corroborates any criticism you have for yourself. The truth is, no matter how much you tell yourself it’s bound to happen and that there will exist people who despise your blogging, truly understanding that you can’t please everyone is difficult to cope with. Perhaps it comes from some subdued sense of egotism within the writer; perhaps it is merely a fear of failing or rejection, or even the sense of entitled righteousness that seems to be prevalent today. No matter the reason, it stings. It isn’t as discouraging as one would think, but continuing to write beyond that point is a battle between will and self-doubt, the latter having leverage over your words.
I refrain from calling myself a movie critic. I’m a fan of movies and a fan of writing, and just because those two things intersect, that doesn’t necessarily give me the privilege of that label. But I’d like to be called that in the future, and you reading this today is a testament to the possibility of that. For now, I’m just a college kid writing reviews instead of essays. I don’t know much, but I’m trying, and I’m learning. So, thank you for sticking with me while I do. I hope ours is a long and standing relationship.
To a year of fantastic cinema,