Exactly two years ago I sat down and wrote my very first blog post for this site, which I had decided to name God and Politics in the UK (you can read more about the reason I started here). I had very little idea what I was doing. I had only read a couple of blogs before and I didn’t know much about how a good blog worked, but it seemed like a good idea to open up a conversation and see if anyone was interested in listening and taking part. I posted a link on Facebook and 33 of my friends kindly took a look at it.
Two years later and things have moved on considerably. I’ve averaged almost exactly a post every two days and have now written approximately half a million words. This blog is not far off reaching 5,000 followers and subscribers on Twitter, Facebook and WordPress. Last month it received over 50,000 views and is currently ranked as the most influential religion and belief blog in the UK according to eBuzzing*. It also was the runner-up in the Best Blog category at the recent Christian New Media Awards.
This year has been a bit of a rollercoaster. On the good side it’s had more ups than downs. I’ve been able to get to know some wonderful people online and have met quite a few in real life. I was invited to Lambeth Palace back in March to meet Justin Welby and have also been on the BBC’s Question Time where I managed to give the IF Campaign a plug. My Wedding Angels piece in the summer was picked up by the BBC and gave the founders an opportunity to tell their story across the country on local radio. I’ve had some outstanding guest posts and I’ve also heard stories from a number of people of the site being a great help to them in different ways.
Blogging is often mentally, physically and emotionally draining. It’s always on my mind and quite regularly there is a strong urge to pack it in. I still don’t see myself as a natural writer and I can go through phases when I’m not convinced I’m adding anything of value. Trying to balance blogging alongside work, family and other commitments is a challenge and I need to thank my wife and family for being very patient with me and forgiving when I get things wrong.
Even though I’ve been going for a while, I still feel as though I’m just beginning to get the hang of it. There are a handful of more experienced bloggers and writers I look up to and try to learn from. There are two in particular I’d like to mention. The first is Archbishop Cranmer. When it comes to considering the relationship between religion and Politics, Cranmer is a long way ahead of me. He is incredibly intelligent, well read and knowledgeable. His writing oozes quality, humour (not always easy when discussing the Church or politics) and a cutting edge. He is opinionated and not to everyone’s taste, but all the better for it. He is undoubtedly brave though and not afraid to speak his mind. That is something I am still learning to do more. Worrying about your reputation and trying to avoid upsetting people for the sake of it is never the sign of a great writer.
The second is Sister Catherine Wybourne (aka Digital Nun). Occasionally, when you meet someone, you sense God’s presence, just by being in their company. Sister Wybourne is one of those people. She is wise and prayerful and her regular blog posts are full of Godly insight. She is a great advert for the Catholic faith and her orders. She also beat me this year to the Best Blogger award, which she thoroughly deserved.
Thank you once again to all of my regular readers, those who share my posts on Facebook and Twitter and especially those who take the time to comment. I’m sorry I don’t always reply, but I do read each one. I’m looking forward to what the next year has in store. I hope and pray that I can write articles that are worth reading and honour God. I hope too that you will want to share some of that journey with me.
*eBuzzing rankings do appear to be a law unto themselves and don’t tell the whole picture, but as far as I know they are the best indicator available for bloggers in the UK.
Happy 2nd birthday! Now you’re getting the hang of walking and talking, the only way is up! It was great to meet you, I do enjoy reading your posts and I can feel the passion you have for your subject matter in what you write. I pray you will have a prosperous and favourable third year.
Thank you Bill. It was a pleasure to meet you the other day too. Hopefully it won’t be the last time either.
happy birthday, and thanks for pointing me towards two more blogs- though how i’ll keep up with them all, plus posting on my own and balancing digital/non-digital commitments will be interesting!
Thank you! Trying to keep up with so much is a big challenge. Wisdom needed!
Congrats – you are doing a fantastic job – I don’t know how you keep up with it all, but I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog each time 🙂
Thanks for your support too Claire.
Thanks so much. Really look forward to your posts … like the way that you also invite guests in to post. I also have bookmarked the 2 blogs you recommend …
I also agree it is sadly rare indeed to meet someone who oozes God’s presence.
Thanks too for sharing so many of them. I really appreciate it!
Keep on Blogging Gillan.
I enjoy your posts and have found your inclusion of links to other sites very worthwhile.
I is hard to keep writing and believing that ones opinion is worthy to share. Yours and others like you are well worthy and needed in theses times.
You have been a great support since the early days and your comments are always valuable. You don’t let me get away with sloppy thinking, which I appreciate a lot! Thank you.
Is it really only 2 years? Happy anniversary and many congratulations on the way you have kept up and developed your excellent blog. On days when I haven’t much time I don’t read all the new posts of blogs I follow, but reading yours has become a priority. Thank you.
Thanks Nancy. You have been a great support since the early days. Yours is a wonderful blog too.
Well done, Gillan and please stick at it. Having been blogging myself for about eighteen months now, I know how hard it is – and I’m lucky enough to have a co-blogger, David Pocklington, to share the load.
I still think blogging is worthwhile, though, and (it seems to me) it’s becoming another branch of academic publishing. Obviously, you get more considered and detailed analysis in the journals – and journal articles are normally peer-reviewed – but what you gain in depth you lose in immediacy because by the time stuff appears in academic journals the immediacy is often past. And, as to peer-review, you’ve just got to learn whom to trust.
Anyway, do keep up the good work.
There is great value in the art of blogging. As you say the best value is the immediacy which far outweighs the downside of lack of depth and consideration that more traditional forms of publishing take. To be honest the quality of some blogs such as yours is so high that I can only see them becoming increasingly important.
Having a co-writer is something I would love. When everything falls on one individual to keep things going it creates a lot of pressure if posts are to be frequent. Please keep going with David. Your blog is a wonderful resource that keeps me informed and explains legal cases that would otherwise be difficult for me to get my head round.
Thankyou for all that you do
Thank you Graham. You’ve been a fantastic supporter and guest writer too!
Congratulations on your well-deserved success in bringing this important, yet oft-overlooked, aspect of living and walking as one of the Lord’s disciples. I appreciate your well-researched and deeply considered work and believe it’s a great asset to the Christian and secular communities.
Thanks Richard for all your comments and input – and all the reblogs too. Thank you for the great job that you do with your blog too.