happybirthday

Happy 1st birthday, The Daily Chrenk

My my, how the time flies. One year old today. How has it been?

It has been many things. It’s been long overdue. In September 2005, after a year and a half of running an unexpectedly reasonably successful Chrenkoff blog, I had to close it down, as I had accepted a job in politics where I could no longer write anything under my own name (lest I embarrass the government and momentarily distract from its own innate tendency to embarrass itself). That job finished in late 2007, and I could have returned to blogging then – and certainly since January 2015 when I left politics altogether – but I didn’t quite feel I could commit myself to the rigours of trying to produce (though not necessarily successfully) a steady, quality output on a daily basis. This is otherwise known as laziness. To all those who throughout my blogging hiatus kept pestering me when I’m going to get back into it, you’ve had The Daily Chrenk for a whole year now. I hope you’re happy. Perhaps like marriage, the second blog is a triumph of hope over experience.

It’s been hard. The online landscape has changed much between the drinks. There are far fewer blogs now and a lot more “proper” online magazines with multiple contributors. Virtually all the remaining big blog players are now also group blogs. Combined with the social media, there is such an abundance of content out there, catering to all political persuasions and all interests, and not simply in writing but in all sorts of multimedia formats, that it’s almost impossible for a one-person operation to compete effectively for the eyeballs, even if it were a full-time job, which it’s not, since it unfortunately doesn’t pay.

It’s been different. Not just because the way people write online and the way people consume writing online has much changed, but also because the very political metapicture has changed too. The 2000s, the heyday and the golden age of blogging, was the era of the war on terror, of Iraq and Afghanistan. The very global and universal nature these interests and concerns is what helped me originally appeal not just to my friends in Australia but overwhelmingly to readers overseas, in particularly in the United States. The current decade is much more disjointed, much more domestically focused, much more chaotic politically and ideologically. In some ways, this tends to promote more polarised, partisan and angry writing – or ranting; something I am certainly capable (and sometimes guilty) of doing, but it goes against my temperament and brings me little joy and satisfaction.

It’s been rewarding. Everyone who writes and shares their writing with others, from a lowly blogger to a bestselling novelist, will tell you it’s a buzz and an ego stroke when readers respond and react to your work; it would be silly to pretend otherwise. I have definitely enjoyed the times when my posts connected with people in various ways. It is, however, a mysterious process; I can never predict whether a particular blog I’m writing will generate interest or sink without a trace – it’s always that elusive confluence of the right topic, as well as the right tone and the right argument, and all at the right time. For better or worse, not being a professional journalist, I write about what interests, outrages and amuses me. This means I’m probably staying away from many popular topics, which could potentially bring me more readers, but on the flip side I always enjoy what I write. The Daily Chrenk is not a job and it’s not a business; it’s a self-indulgence.

So thank you to all those who liked, commented, shared or otherwise responded to my stories. Most of us bloggers do it for love, not money (not because we don’t like money, but because it’s very difficult to monetise online writing). That makes your feedback and support are even more important, since they give us reason to go on. But they also help us expand. Unlike when I first blogged 12 years ago, there is no extensive blog ecosystem any more where writers support each other by linking and directing traffic. Now every blogger has to be one’s own grassroots marketer: you slowly build up readership not because of the support by a few big guns but because your followers like and share your writings with their friends through social media. So thank you to all those who have enjoyed TDC writings enough to share, and an invitation to others not to be shy in the future!

When I started The Daily Chrenk back in May 2016 I’ve given myself a year to see what I can do with it, and to see where it goes, if anywhere. A year on, I confess I still don’t know. But be assured – I will let you know if and when I finally figure it out. In the meantime, thank you for sticking around for the past few months. Here’s to the unknown and exciting future ahead!

P.S. If you haven’t already, please make sure you like The Daily Chrenk page on Facebook. We’re (OK, perhaps I should not speak about myself in plural) just short 500 followers.

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