Things I’ve learned from three years of blogging.

The third anniversary is a weird one, isn’t it? First anniversary it’s like, yay! Made it! Second anniversary is, yes, definitely in this for the long haul. But the third year is just another year down. It’s kind of a nothing anniversary.
"Although, the traditional gift is leather, so it has that going for it."

Although, the traditional gift is leather, so it has that going for it.

Anyway, it seems that more and more of you are starting blogs of your own so I thought now might be as good a time as any to set down some of the things I’ve learned about this weird hobby of ours.
Have a plan
Can’t stress this one enough. This is the big one. If this list was a cartoon show it would be “Have a Plan and Friends”. Right now on my desktop I have a list of every movie I’m going to review and the date it’s due to go up until August 2016. “What am I going to write about?” is a question I have literally never had to ask myself. This means I never have to sit down in front of a blank screen and have to figure out what the next post is going to be.
Before you go live, have a backlog built up
You wouldn’t open a grocery shop with only one can of beans. Have a good few posts already written in advance so that when you go live you already have a fairly large body of work for someone to go through (say, four or five posts). When someone reads your first post you don’t want them thinking “That was cool. Wonder what else they’ve written. Nothing. Huh.” And then leaving and never coming back.
Specialise
Picture this, you’re sitting on a bus and someone sits down and asks you if you want to hear some of their “random thoughts”. How appealing does that sound? Starting out, your blog should have a single focus and be aimed at a specific target audience. A blog that tries to have too broad a remit will always struggle to find an audience because, while I might love your overview of early Tudor drama, that’s not really going to make me want to read your dog-grooming tips. It will however, make me interested to read your overview of early Jacobean drama. This will also help you get a readership with shared interests who will actually want to talk to each other. Commenters are a vital and often overlooked element of what makes a blog a success. I know part of what brings people to my blog every two weeks is wondering what swanpride thought of this movie or what terrifying eldritch Australian hell-beast with a delightfully whimsical name Paper Alchemist will teach us about today.
It latches onto your face and eats your eyes while it’s venom paralyses you and reduces your muscle tissue to soup. It’s called the Twizzlewozzer.

It latches onto your face and eats your eyes while it’s venom paralyses you and reduces your muscle tissue to soup. It’s called the Twizzlewozzer.

Use social media
Well duh
Yeah, yeah. I know. Still, it’s important enough to mention. Share on Facebook, Tumblr and whatever other social media you have. Not Twitter though, I mean, Jesus Christ.
Respond to every comment you can
I fail spectacularly at this, but do try. 1) It’s nice. 2) It makes people feel welcome and encourages them to return. 3) It doubles the number of comments on your site stats.
Use WordPress.
Best blogging platform there is. Simple as.
“Check’s in the mail.”

“Check’s in the mail.”

“Cheers.”

“Cheers.”

Know your limits
Blogging is fun, but it’s also work. When you start out and it’s going well you’ll feel a rush of enthusiasm and you’ll be tempted to post every day, or even more than that. Resist the tempatation. Keeping up at that pace will either kill you or lead to a “Regrettably, real life commitments…” post which is almost as bad. Pace yourself, and make sure you have plenty of time to write around unforseen events. This leads me to…
Pick a schedule and stick to it
You want to post weekly? Post weekly. You want to post fortnightly? Post fortnightly. You want to post monthly? Post monthly. But whatever you choose, make sure you stick to it. If people know that new content will be up on a certain date, without fail, they will be there. If they can’t be sure that it won’t be a wasted journey, you can’t be sure they’ll show up. And if you know that you can’t make a specific post date, be sure to let people know.
Make every post indispensable
For example, a lot of new characters and storylines on this blog are often introduced in the last place you might expect them. The Unscrupulous Mouse was introduced in a small post where I was plugging my brother’s album. A seemingly minor post that doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere might actually kick off an entire new storyline. This way, regular readers are encouraged to read everything I post, not just the reviews.
Be aware that going viral is not all fun
So imagine that you’re at home and every five seconds the door knocks. Everytime you open it, the person on the other side will either give you a hug or kick you in the groin. For every forty nine people who give you a hug, one will kick you in the groin. Despite the fact that your experience opening that door is overwhelmingly positive, as time goes on I gurantee you will get increasingly nervous everytime there’s a knock and ere long your groin will be of no use to man or beast. That’s kind of what it’s like to have a post go viral. It’s only happened to me one and a half times and while it’s plenty exciting I won’t pretend that I wasn’t very, very glad when it all blew over.
Fear no evil
The interent is the most amazing creation in the history of the human race. It is also goddamn crazy and when you put yourself out there with an opinion you make yourself a target for that crazy. Now, I won’t pretend that my experience with Unshaved Mouse hasn’t been almost pure unadulterated sunshine with one of the nicest commentariats you will find anywhere but anyone setting up a blog should remember that there is bad and crazy out there and you need to be prepared for it. On the subject of trolls I will say this:
  1. With WordPress, no one can post any comment on your blog that you don’t want them to. You have control. If someone is being abusive or insulting you are under no obligation to give them a platform. “Free Speech” does not give someone the right to come into your house, stand on your coffee table and start reading aloud from Mein Kampf.
  2. With WordPress, you can also edit the comments of trolls to say whatever you want, even the complete opposite of whatever point they were making, thus causing them to experience rage that can scarecely be comprehended.
  3. This is absolutely friggin’ hilarious.
  4. You should totally do that.
And that’s it. I have learned literally nothing else these last three years. Best thing is, it’s still as fun to do as when I started out. Thanks to everyone who’s followed the blog over the years, you guys are the best.
Love,
Mouse
***
Meanwhile, in the secret headquarters of the United Foes of the Unshaved Mouse.
Then it is agreed, the role of minute taker will be rotating starting from next meeting. Now, New Business. The utter destruction of our accursed rodent foe.

Then it is agreed, the role of minute taker will be rotating starting from next meeting. Now, New Business. The utter destruction of our accursed rodent foe.

"Point of order. We’ve been at this for a year and we’re still no closer to crushing the little *(*&*. I say we give up and build a spooky haunted carnival. We could travel the country harvesting souls. I’ve already drawn up bluebrints…"

“Point of order. We’ve been at this for a year and we’re still no closer to crushing the little bastard. I say we give up and build a spooky haunted carnival. We could travel the country harvesting souls. I’ve already drawn up bluebrints…”

Point of order. Shut up, Charlie.

“Point of order. Shut up, Charlie.”

"Point of order. I will make a suit out of your skin Taran."

“Point of order. I will make a suit out of your skin, Taran.”

"Point of order. Oligarch Puppet makes excellent point. We have been at this too long, with nothing to show for our labour."

“Point of order. Oligarch Puppet makes excellent point. We have been at this too long, with nothing to show for our labour.”

"Point of order. I think what’s needed here is a change of leadership."

“Point of order. I think what’s needed here is a change of leadership.”

Ahhh…and who are you, that speaks so without fear?

Ahhh…and who are you, that speaks so without fear?

"Name’s Blucatt. Perhaps you’ve heard of me?"

“Hiiiiiiii. Name’s Blucatt. Perhaps you’ve heard of me?”

…I see.

…I see.

"Scram Kitty, this meeting’s for major league villains."

“Scram Kitty, this meeting’s for major league villains.”

"Charlie, shut up."

“Charlie, shut up.”

"Huh?"

“Huh?”

"I’ve heard of this guy. Real nightmare stuff."

“I’ve heard of this guy. Real nightmare stuff.”

"Who, this chump?"

“Who, this chump?”

"This “chump” killed Mickey Mouse."

“This “chump” killed Mickey Mouse.”

"Willickers!"

“Willickers!”

Willickers indeed. And the Slayer of the Black Mouse…such power commands respect. Even from the Horned King.

Willickers indeed. And the Slayer of the Black Mouse…such power commands respect. Even from the Horned King.

"Awwwww, I like you too, buddy. Okay, see here’s the thing: You want to destroy the Unshaved Mouse keep going about this the wrong way. HK, you banished him to the Bluthverse. What happened?"

“Awwwww, I like you too, buddy. Okay, see here’s the thing: You want to destroy the Unshaved Mouse but you keep going about it the wrong way. HK, you banished him to the Bluthverse. What happened?”

He escaped. With the help of Walt Disney.

He escaped. With the help of the thrice cursed Walt Disney.

"And you, friendski. You took over his blog and were all set to have him executed. Then what happened?"

“And you, friendski. You took over his blog and were all set to have him executed. Then what happened?”

"Disney. With burning eye beams that burnt glorious revolution to ash."

“Disney. With burning eye beams that burnt glorious revolution to ash.”

"And then, HK again. Right. Then you trapped him in the Foodfight! Universe. What happened?"

“And then, all of you. You trapped him in the Foodfight! Universe. What happened?”

He escaped. With the help of…

He escaped. With the help of…

"…Walt…"

“…Walt…”

…Disney…

“…Disney…”

"Huh. He's got a point."

“Hey now…”

"Yeah. See? The solution’s easy. You want to get the Mouse, first you’ve got to kill Disney."

“Yeah. See? The solution’s easy. You want to get the Mouse, first you’ve got to kill Disney.”

Of course. To slay the student, we must first kill the master.

Of course. To slay the student, we must first kill the master.

"So how do we do it?"

“So how do we do it?”

"Simple. You make him pay for his worst sin. And boys? He's got a doozy..."

“Simple. You make him pay for his worst sin. And boys? He’s got a doozy…”

To be continued.

38 comments

  1. *squee*

    OK, normally, I see the villainous escapades of blog-life here as amusing framing devices but not much beyond that. But now, I dunno. It feels like there’s a lot more at stake, especially with the direction this blog is going.

    (But I see the villains have overlooked a crucial detail or two — UM has already vowed revenge against WD in a previous post, AND has made it very clear he and his blog will comfortably endure outside of the shadow of the Black Mouse. So. This promising to be most entertaining.)

  2. Ooh, I wonder what the doozy is?

    Anyway, congrats on 3 years on here, unshavedmouse! You were the reason why I made a WordPress account in the first place. You were the reason that gave me the final inspiration to make a blog of my own. You were the reason that encouraged/helped me to review films. I’ve gone so far in these past years and I couldn’t have done it without you, so i truly thank you, sir!

  3. Congratulations, Mouse!

    Man. You could have called this list Things Paper Alchemist Should Have Considered Before She Dived Headfirst Into Yet Another Commitment and the text would be exactly the same.

    Still, I’m glad I gave it a try, and I’m glad I quit. If I might play devil’s advocate, I’d add to any prospective bloggers that it’s also okay to stop. It’s a pity to quit – just like it’s a pity to give up the trombone, karate, stamp collecting or interpretive dance – but if your hobby is making you as nervy as a one-clawed yabby in a bucketful of barramundi (there you go, guys), something’s not right. If anyone’s wondering, I’ve been as happy as pippies in high water since I stopped posting.

    Most of all, though, I’m glad to be a part of this awesome, weird little community of ours. It’s been a brilliant, crazy, unpredictable, enlightening, thought-provoking, hilarious ride and I can’t wait to see what else you’ve got up your sleeve. Seriously, remembering your jokes and our banter makes me grin like a loon in real life – usually at work, when the customers are watching. Shine on, you excellent bastard.

    Oh, hey – and when do we get to hear what you thought of Big Hero Six?

    1. Within the next two months. Absolutely, if keeping a blog going is stressing you out and making life difficult there is no shame in taking a breather. It’s supposed to be fun after all.

      1. Yay! I miss the canon a little bit – it’s been a long time. Although I suspect the Enemies of Mouse might have something in store to change my mind…

        For you curious folks, this is a yabby. They are very common in freshwater creeks and lakes. Enjoy your swim.

  4. Thanks Crystal. With regards to lifestyle blogging I really don’t know enough for my advice to be anything other than dangerous. A good rule of thumb though is to have your posts comprise a series, something that encourages people to read the whole lot rather than cherry pick.

  5. Man, one of my biggest problems with my blog is scheduling. I do have a plan of reviews that will probably last me a good year or so, so I’m not worried in that front. But when I first started I posted like every day, but now I have a hard time posting even twice a month. And it feels as the worst now that I actually have people reading and commenting pretty regularly.

  6. I hope this doesn’t get taken the wrong way, but I normally just try my best to skip over all the ongoing storylines when trying to read an article. Which is kind of difficult when they take so much space.

    Because, well, I come for the articles, and while the jokes are okay in short doses, when it’s seven or more straight pictures with their respective footnotes of an imaginary conflict that is interrupting my reading, it sort of gets in my nerves. It’s your blog and your right, I know, but I just wanted to vent it out. Sorry.

  7. *scribbles down furiously*

    Ske-doo-ol? What’s that? Is it another of those things you wacky Europeans have?

    ‘appy third anniversary, and I greatly look forward to when the Marvel reviews begin in earnest.

  8. *insert generic Congrats message here*
    …what? I can’t be arsed to come up with a whole paragraph about how much I love you and want your children… whoops, I’ve said too much.

    1. I know what you meant, Phantom, but the phrase ‘want your children’ made me think of a Rumpelstiltskin-like bargain between you and Mouse…

      *cue dreamy harp noises as we enter my brain*
      ‘And the little phantom spun straw through the wheel all night, until the entire great hall was filled with the finest threads of glittering gold. Then the phantom said to the mouse, “It is done. What shall you give me in return?”
      The mouse had already given up his razor and his keyboard. He had nothing left to give. “Hell, I dunno.”
      “Then I shall take your first-born child,” said the phantom.
      The mouse was displeased. “Fuck off.”
      “I can turn this gold into straw again in literally a second, dude,” the phantom warned. “And then the king will have your head.”
      “No deal. You take my daughter, I’m sending you straight to Bahia.”
      The phantom shivered. Once one has been to Bahia, one never returns. “Then let us make a bargain. You have three nights to guess my name. Or the child is mine.”‘

      1. I can so see why you’d be a big attraction to this blog. This made me laugh so hard.

        Though if he’s Nook, wouldn’t he spin leaves into gold and other sundry valuable items? And guessing his name would do no good, he’d just then turn more leaves into gold and demand you repay him, repeating the process every time you weaselled your way out of giving him what he wants.

  9. Thanks for this, Mouse. I’ve just been gearing up to start a blog myself, and thus your timing is impeccable. Sadly, I think I’m going to stick with my planned lack of preparation, because excuses not to write are legion! May as well get the train wreck started… 😉

      1. Well, I’ve always hated A Game of Thrones, despite never making it all the way through the book. So, naturally, I’m going to analyze the whole thing. In as much depth as my lack of focus can manage. And lack of skill using WordPress, of course.

        ….Put it like that, it seems like a really bad idea. Glad I thought of it 😀

  10. Congratulations on your third anniversary, Mouse! I read and watch many writers and artists online, but your blog is without question my favourite. Your reviews are always insightful and immensely witty, I always do a little fistpump whenever they appear! And I love reading any and all social commentary you post, you seem like a thoroughly decent, sensible and kind person. Cheers to you!

  11. I actually did start a blog about literature (as in books which I’ve read) back in the spring of 2014, But since I write it in Swedish, most of you will never be able to read it, and nobody has made a comment yet. 😦

  12. Hmm, that bit with WordPress got me worried. How many times do you have to give up artistic integrity for money before you create an evil tycoon clone of yourself? Or is Unscrupulous Mouse secretly that clone, having gained access to a time machine?

    I personally think you’re really great at the whole personable game. Most of the time I can count on a response from you, which I really like. And I’ve gotta agree, I love this blog’s peanut gallery. You and Amelia have great chemistry when you get into your little banter. However, Nit has crawled into my ear and commanded me to clarify that the picture above is in fact of a mecopteran. …Wait you haven’t ever twisted my words, have you? Now you’ve got me all paranoid. Actually, maybe not, my words come out pre-twisted.

    Also, uh-oh, looks like Walt is in for something nasty. I’m confused, didn’t you and BluthCatt make up after it turned out Disney brainwashed you into shooting him in the foot via Pinocchio? I thought you said you’d review one of his good ones as an apology, but then again, maybe BluCatt doesn’t take apologies. Wouldn’t be surprised. And in any case, I guess it would make sense for him to get himself backup in his plan against Walt.

    Though hopefully he’s not foolish enough to snap a broom in half in front of him, predictably leaving him to laser-blast him and all his company into rubble in an unstoppable rage.

  13. To someone who’s read it: Does the “continuation” mentioned in bold letters on the bottom of the post happen in the Big Hero 6 review? I’ve been debating whether or not to read it without having watched that one, and this may be an important factor in my decision.

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