Friday, 11 January 2013

State of the Blog: 2013 – the year ahead

Friday, 11 January 2013
It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new year! I'm not one to make New Year's resolutions, but I do like to make plans and assess matters. Last year saw a number of subtle changes to DMD, primarily being a reduction in output. I published 516 blog posts in 2012, down from 836 posts in 2011. That number makes last year the least productive annual period in DMD's lifetime since the year it began way back in 2006 (when I published a mere 212 posts).

Was it noticeable that I was blogging far less? That's for you to decide, dear reader, but from my perspective it didn't feel that way. I think my output just streamlined considerably, so there was less junk coming out. I didn't review a lot of shows I'd usually have covered, and there was less time to write news and features. If you're a fan of the news and features, chances are you found 2012 horrendous here, but I think DMD's reviews are valued above all else.

This new work ethic will continue into 2013 and beyond: a more ruthless approach to TV shows that are boring to write reviews for (even if I watch and enjoy them), thus freeing up time for a few added movie reviews and maybe even the occasional box-set. One of the biggest surprises to me last year, was the favourable response to my weekly double-reviews of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It helps that the readership here are all Buffy or Joss Whedon fans, many of whom have been pestering me to give BtVS a second chance for years, but I was nevertheless delighted by the page-hits and frequency of comments for a show that's been off-air a decade.

I also started work for MSN TV, which has given me a great reason to review a few shows I'd otherwise have avoided or overlooked. It also gets my writing seen by a much broader audience, even if that means a massive surge in negative remarks and trolling on MSN's comments area. (I've learned to completely avoid reading reader responses to any show where I've taken a contradictory stance on a popular or unpopular show.)

I have a few ideas in mind for 2013, too. You may have noticed I recently blogged a Storify article, for instance. I've just signed up to this social platform, which allows you to compile "elements" from Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc, and create "stories" for others to read. I'm not an expert just yet, but I've been dabbling and trying to think up ways it could be used alongside DMD. This review of Snow White & the Huntsman was my first idea, because I realised Storify could help me bridge a gap between DMD and my Twitter. I often find myself having a great deal of fun on Twitter, with a more light-hearted approach to movies and television, and occasionally "live tweet" a movie I'm watching that doesn't demand constant attention. They're usually the kind of films I'd never have the inclination or patience to write a 1000-word review about, but I'll happily tweet some wisecracks about it... and now Storify can help me bring the fruits of that labour to the Twitter-less readers of DMD.

I'm sure there are other uses for Storify in a blog, so if you use it and have a suggestion please get in touch in the comments below.

Going back to the mention of Twitter being so enjoyable because it's light-hearted, I feel myself wanting to change my approach to reviewing more and more. DMD has never been a completely serious place, but I do find that my "blogging voice" differs to my "Twitter voice"... and I'm finding my Twitter voice more enjoyable. Funny thing is, whenever I occasionally use more of the Twitter-y part of my mind when writing a review, said reviews tend to be astonishingly popular. I was even invited to appear on Radio 5 Live just the other day, purely off the back of a jokey review I'd done for ITV's celebrity diving show Splash!, so feel I can't ignore this fact.

I guess most people prefer being entertained when they read some criticism, rather than feel preached to? I don't think I'll ever shake off my "blogging voice" (nor would I want to really), but I'm going to try and find a happy medium between the two this year.

That's all from me, for now. Expect mild changes and improvements, like most years. It's nothing earth-shattering. But what's always helpful is hearing YOU, dear reader. Was there anything about 2012's DMD that annoyed you, or did you appreciate some of the changes I made? Maybe you didn't even notice them? Do you wish some aspect of DMD from yesteryear would return? What do you make of the above plans I have for the blog in 2013? Do you prefer "serious" reviews, "funny" ones, or an agreeable mix? Is there anything I occasionally do here that you wish I'd do more of? Would you appreciate more polls, lists and previews? Is the mix of UK to US content okay, or does it annoy you I'm ahead of the UK with shows like Fringe? And what's the key reason you keep coming back here?