The Future Of This Blog

I think it is fair to say that the quantity, quality and direction of the posts on the blog have declined in recent months. That is evidenced by the reduced number of comments, but funnily enough not by any significant reduction in readers or revenues.

It is something that I need to sort out, and in reality I have two choices;

  • Call It A Day
  • Improve The Quality Of The Blog

If I look back on my original reasons for setting up the blog (then called MyAppleStuff) it was primarily as a means of getting me to use my new Mac, a G4 17″ PowerBook, which was my first Mac and is still doing a grand job for my father! I wanted to set up a blog to learn about blogging. I wanted to review applications so I could learn about the Mac. I wanted to create some structure and focus during a period when I wasn’t working and was deciding what I wanted to do next. In fact I had hopes (or maybe just desires) of earning some money through blogging.

Looking back it is fair to say that I achieved all those objectives:

  • I am now the ‘proud’ owner of 3 Macs (and Sands has 2)
  • I use a Mac pretty much all day and every day
  • I have found and settled on some great applications that serve my means really well
  • Through blogging I have gained contracts to write reviews for other blogs, got a contract to write posts for other blogs, got a contract to set up and manage a corporate blog, and established Almerimar Life which is making a reasonable amount of money and has great potential
  • I have also got a sponsored segment on The MacReviewCast with Tim that has just been ‘extended’ for a further 12 months
  • The various product offers on the site more than cover the cost of maintaining the blog

I list these not to boast, but to demonstrate that as far as objectives go I think the blog has dome very well, and if you believe in the philosophy of ‘quitting while you are ahead’ then surely now would be as good a time as any to call it a day?

But the blog has achieved more, much more than any of the above feats. I have met, both in person and ‘virtually’ some great people. I have set up a business with Tom and done a lot of work with him (and even got round to meeting him last time I was in the UK). I have met up with Danny (twice) and Dunks once. I have established a project for one of my clients (Miglia) with Dunks, and arranged for Don McAllister to do some screen cast work for them. I have had numerous tips, advice and guidance on purchases, and help (from Wayne and Mac in particular) in getting stuff shipped from the US, and I am excited at the fact that Mac is coming over from Canada in October to spend a week with us.

To be honest if you asked me when I set out blogging if I would achieve the initial objectives I would have said yes. Call it arrogance, self-belief, or a successful track record but I usually succeed at what I set out to do. As for the ‘other’ benefits, I would have looked at you as if you were from Mars if you had predicted they would happen.

So stopping the blog isn’t attractive.

To be honest writing reviews isn’t the way forward either. They are very time consuming in terms of getting hold of the applications, installing, using, communicating with the developers, writing and then more often than not removing them. The end result? A couple of comments if you are lucky. On the other hand I can put up a 5 line post on a book that I read and get 20+ comments, some great banter with ‘friends’ and a suggestion or three for other books to read. Bizarre? In a way yes, but that is the way that it is!

Personally I just don’t have time to do the reviews anymore and if I did why wouldn’t I do them for the sites that are willing to pay me? So no more reviews – but never say never, as I will still do the odd ‘special’ for Tim, and I will always share with you anything that I pick up and use personally (am using a few new apps now that I will write about soon). Another reason why I got a got disheartened with reviews is that I got blacklisted by a company some time ago!!!

No names (but you will probably be able to guess), but it appears that this company didn’t like the fact that I was less than complimentary about a product I was sent to review. They never contacted me, nor did they take the opportunity to challenge what I said on the blog. In fact the PR agency didn’t get involved in the thread either (which was pretty big), but did email to ‘explain’ a few reasons behind the events. I didn’t hear about my blacklisting for 4 months though, during which time I actually alluded to the fact the PR agency in question weren’t sending me stuff that they had promised to send me. Eventually someone plucked up courage to tell me that their client had banned me from getting any more of their products to review! I actually don’t care about this, BUT it sucks!!! That a company would be so churlish and immature to take its ball home just because it got a bad review rather than embrace the issues and engage in a debate ……..

The end result? I would rather do no reviews than feel that I had to do a positive review in order to ensure future products came my way! I wonder how many other reviews are compromising their integrity to get their hands on some new swag every now and again?

Another issue I have to address or ‘overcome’ is that fact that I am pretty compulsive about things. If I read a book I want to blog about it straight away, ditto a film or picture that I have taken (yes I still do take photographs!), and to be honest that isn’t doing me any favours as I am now incredibly busy with a wide range of commercial projects.

So what does all this mean? I wish I knew *kidding*!

First up I need to ensure that the blog becomes maintenance free – no more tinkering, or worrying that things are out of date, not updated quickly enough, or that the blog hasn’t been updated for a while. That means a bot of tinkering is required (see the way it works!) to strip out some stuff that is fueling my compulsive tendencies, both in terms of the structure of the blog, and the type of content. I will give you an example ….

I run two Pro Flickr accounts, one associated to this site and one to Almerimar Life. Why? Well originally so that this one could have Mac photos and maybe some of my ‘better’ photographs. That hasn’t worked. I hardly get time to take any photos at the moment that aren’t related to the Almerimar Life blog, which in reality is all about our life anyway. So I can close down the Flickr account associated with this site, replace with the feed from the Almerimar Life site, and give myself one less thing to be compulsive about. Ditto the Photo Gallery. I can remove that and not worry about it and just post and discuss individual photos as and when it feels appropriate.

I think that is the way forward. I still want the blog to reflect my life, but not take over my life. It needs to reflect my interests, not become my interest. I want to spend more time on the Harley, taking photographs, getting fit, watching movies, reading books and not worrying about ‘getting the blog updated’. I will still write about these things, but in more depth and less frequently. I really want the banter and comments (shouts) to continue so I intend to filter out the stuff that doesn’t generate much comment and concentrate on more depth for those that do.

It will take me a week or so as I am really busy catching up after the last Dubai trip (more work to do), optimising the Almerimar Life potential, sorting out the last issues relating to the server move (have gone to a dedicated server), getting fit, and looking after the cats (Sands is in the UK next week for a couple of weeks).

So for now, thanks for your patience and support to date – it has been great. Hopefully the future will be equally as good, if not even better!!!

In the meantime I am off to de twitter myself! I am going to un-follow (or whatever the phrase is) about 80% of the people that I currently follow!

10 thoughts on “The Future Of This Blog

  1. Mac Sokulski

    Well well, what a post. I must say that I’m not surprised, but I’m really glad that you have achieved your goals and more. I wouldn’t “call it a day”. I think you have built up a little community here, that still enjoy the blog very much, even if it hasn’t been updated in while. It doesn’t have to be. I think since like you said, you don’t want to do reviews anymore…. ask others to them for you. Also since the site went from MyAppleStuff to ChrisMarshall, you should make it Chris Marshall. Let me explain. You have been sharing with us your views on movies, books, etc. Why not go fully editorial. Little tidbits on the stuff that bugs you, makes you happy, etc. This can be anything from computer stuff, to just normal life stuff. So that’s my idea…..

  2. jeremy

    Chris, you should change your name to Tolstoy. That is quite a tome!

    I’m pleased it has worked out well for you.

    I do have one concern in general about blogs and podcasts. To me they seem to be increasingly more about promoting products than quality content. When I started listening to podcasts in 2005 it was all very different. Now I find myself wondering about the sincerity of some. This is not aimed at you Chris, more a general feeling about the way things seem to me.

    I realize that sponsors are important to defray the cost of bandwidth etc. but when a thing which is presented as a labour of love then becomes a source of income I’d like to know, as it affects the way I for one view the content.

    I really enjoy reading your blog though I don’t often have something to add to it. I’m glad you don’t want it to take over your life as that would make it far less interesting. It would be a blog about blogging and who would care about that?

    I don’t understand the whole twitter thing. It is something I’ve never tried but the podcast/blog community seem to be obsessed by it, following each other to the extent that they may end up disappearing up their own fundaments! 🙂

    In conclusion, about your blog,I agree with Mac, I like to hear real stuff, rants especially. We are after all grumpy old men and proud of it haha.

  3. Chris Marshall Post author

    Rants could be fun!!!

    Always happy to post other peoples reviews 🙂

    I tend to agree with you Jeremy. Too many blogs and podcasts blog and podcast for the sake of blogging and podcasting (what a horrible sentence that is!), and they are turning into mini cliques in many instances.

    I hardly listen to any podcasts now as they don’t really seem to have moved on. In too many cases they seem to be a vehicle for ‘make believe’ celebrities rather than good content. More about the podcaster than the podcast if you see what I mean (I like the ‘ranting’ approach to the blog!!!!)

    Twitter is a funny one. On AL I use it purely as a means of showing ‘latest news’ on the site. It is great for that.

    I tend to use it for help at times – a quick tweet for advice can work well, ands I have had some useful tips through it. I have also found though that it has become a place to ‘show off’ i.e. Yeah I got a new toy to play with.

  4. Wayne LeFevre

    It sounds like your going through what I am! I think we both came into the Mac scene at around the same time, and was excited enough and interested enough to do what we did with the reviewing and podcasting thing. It just happened to be at the very same time of the “Modern Mac Movement.” MMM. I think I’ll trademark that. 😉

    What has happened with me in the past couple of months, and you can attest to this Chris as I think I asked you about it, but after learning so much about the Mac, you finally just want to use the darned thing! So I found out that the more you use Mac for it’s intended purpose, the less you try and keep up with everything about it. Does that make sense? The only thing that I have difficulty in letting go is the reviews. I am able to receive products that I normally would not be able to, or want to, spend the money on.

    I too think you ought to keep it going. It’s makes a great meeting place. In fact, I really like all the people here. (Although *I* haven’t been sent anything… 😉 ) I still wish it was more forum like. There are often times that I would like to just write or ask advice on a product. I know, I have my own blog. For some reason it’s become a political blog! Anyway, something else you might think about is maybe authorizing everyone as “contributors.” Not necessarily “authors” as you would still want some control of what is posted. Something to think about?

    I’m beginning to not be able to stand Twitter. It’s getting in the way! I do think It’s a good place to find out when someone has a new toy. 🙂 More often than not, though, at least for me, every single time I ask for advice, I get nothing.

    And Mac, haven’t heard enough from you lately! 😉

  5. jeremy

    I agree Chris that the mac podcasts are turning into cliques. I hinted as much a while ago on one of your other threads. They definitely have not moved forward, being too busy naval gazing.

    The TWIT clique is made up of wealthy guys who have lost touch with reality and like a freebie

    The new mac roundtable crew has become a clique of wannabes who like the sound of their own voices yet have nothing worth saying. The original members should not have let them in!

    Big fish, small pond syndrome sums them all up.

    As I see it, the only way to get advice from Twitter is to have hundreds of people who follow you and are on line and have the right knowledge. What are the chances of that?

    Coming back to your blog Chris, I like Wayne’s idea of being able to make or suggest contributions, though I guess we can in a way by sending email requests to you. What do you think Chris?

  6. Chris Marshall Post author

    [quote comment=””]I like Wayne’s idea of being able to make or suggest contributions, though I guess we can in a way by sending email requests to you. What do you think Chris?[/quote]

    All for it. You remember thought that I added skribit a while back which was designed exactly for that purpose, it allowed people to post a suggestion for a subject, and others to vote on it. That way the subject with the most votes would seem to be ‘worth’ writing about 🙂

    Am not ignoring rest of your comments or Wayne’s – just wanted to respond quickly to that point.

  7. Mac Sokulski

    Gave up on Twit as mr. Leo just likes to hear himself talk, and Mr. Dvorak just likes the shock of the crap he says on the show. Still following the MacRoundTable,but if it doesn’t change soon, I will stop listening. This show went from a well thought out format to a jumble discussion and glorification of Apple. Nothing interesting there anymore. I think the only Mac related podcast I listen to on a regular basis is the MacGeekGab. Like the format, and the no nonsense style of it. With MacReviewCast…. sorry to say… I find myself skipping to the last part, very often. Getting less and less interested in the apps.
    Skribit never really worked for me. It asked for account creation and such, so I gave up. I got enough accounts all over the place. I think it would be good idea, to maybe write out our thoughts, or articles, and send them over to you. Then you can decide to post them or not. I think that would bring a bit more life to the blog. Thoughts?

  8. Wayne LeFevre

    skribit really didn’t work for me because it wasn’t enough. Say, I wanted to get a new hard drive, and I was looking at either a RAID 0 or a RAID 1, for media. I wanted to not only ask opinions about the purchase, but could also put down my thoughts and pros and cons of each. Well, I could “suggest” maybe something like “Hard Drive Discussion”, but it would wind up being just that. A quick suggestion, with everyone voting on whether they would want it or not.

    Like Mac, I’ve also cut out 80 percent of my Podcasts, simply for the fact I just don’t sit in one spot and listen anymore. MacGeekGab, MacReviewCast and SCO are my only mainstays anymore. I have a few others I like to listen to, but mostly I’ve just culled them all. We could make a whole discussion on what podcasts you listen to, why, and why you don’t listen to the ones you don’t anymore! In fact, that sounds like a good one to me. 🙂

    You are so right though, Chris, with the big podcasters being the big fish in a small pond. It’s akin to the some of the doctors and how they act around our small community. They are the big fish around here. Yet if they ever went to the city, they would find out that they are really not so hot, and would quickly become the little fish.

    See? This is the kind of forum that I like. Just open discussions with friends about whatever you have on your mind!

  9. Chris Marshall Post author

    Hmmm maybe I could add something like this to the blog that I am testing out with Miglia? It would allow you to leave a comment with a request for a post (but then again you can always email me) …..

    The downside is that the thread could get really long on that one page …….

    I really don’t want to go down the Forum route again as they are a pain to moderate (and I want to spend less time remember doing that on the blog) and they would distract from the rest of the blog.

    I have tried giving people access before and they start out all enthusiastic and then it tails off.

    I think the best thing is that I write what I want when I want, and if you want a question asking, or a subject debating either ask me to write something or send me some text that I a can work with.

    I will work on something around RSS/Podcasts/Blogs over the next week as I think we have seen the peak in many ways!

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