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.