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thomascwaters.com at Two

Please all join together and sing a round of Happy Birthday, as my blog celebrates a second birthday! I probably would have totally missed it, except that I’m away on vacation, like I was two years ago when the blog really took off, and a lack of internet here at sea, brought it into stark focus. Yes, I’m experiencing blogging withdrawal, and that led me to think about the very beginning of the blog.
I’m not sure what day, I ought to call the birthday. Perhaps the day I registered the domain. On some real level that is the day, the blog was begun, but I didn’t start to really post or build a readership on that day. Or it may be October 21, the very first post to the blog. But the day I began to really build a readership would be November 4th, the day after the fateful 2008 election that saw Obama elected and Prop 8 passed in California. The mixing of these two events, and the mentalities behind them, coupled with the fact that I was away on vacation and feeling very removed from friends, and the regular routines of my life provided everything I needed to kickstart this blog, and now, here I am , 1200 blog posts older, wiser, or something. I’ve learned so much and have had an amazing journey over these 24 months, and at times it seems like I have really been doing this forever, even though that isn’t the case. On some level this writing is a continuation of my artwork, and in that regard, isn’t so new, but in another way it is quite separate from the artwork, and blogging was a whole new adventure for me. Still is. Blogging requires an entirely different vocabulary than the artwork used, and I hope I’m developing it, deepening it with every new post.
Truth be told, I was blogging before thomascwaters.com came into being. A number of years ago, Apple offered a blogging capability that published directly to what was then called .Mac, and today is MobileMe. I suppose some of that material may still be out there on the web.  Following this early personal blogging, I began a podcast, called A Queer Look at the Bible. Apple’s iWeb app provided a super simple way to blog or podcast, and I loved using it, but one of the reasons I quit working that way and began to blog using WordPress, was because it didn’t seem that .Mac sites were indexed by Google. But thomascwaters.com wasn’t simply an extension of the earlier blogging efforts. I moved to WordPress with the plans to go back to the podcast and develop it further on this new platform. But something happened as Prop 8 passed, and I felt this need to respond to a broader issue than the restricted focus of Queer Look at the Bible. The original plan was to use thomascwaters.com, simply to learn how to use WordPress, but put my real energy into the podcast. Things change.
I haven’t done much of anything with Queer Look especially over the past year. It still seems like an important project that deserves attention, but it clearly isn’t a primary focus any longer. I may simply need to rethink the format of the podcast, or I may need to admit that it just isn’t a priority, or more basic even, would be to accept that there are only so many hours in the day, and I can’t do it all.

What’s planned for the next phase of thomascwaters.com?

Over the course of these two years, I have gone through periods of struggle with my blogging. At times, I’ve known exactly what I’m doing, and at others, I seem to be flailing around trying to find my voice. But through it all, my blog has developed with a substantial reading base and a diverse following. Thank you readers!  In the past 3 months, my site traffic has almost tripled, and now I have a better awareness of who is reading my blog and what they are looking for. On the one hand, the coming election has been driving traffic, but interestingly, content other than political material itself is getting hit heavily, with more than half of my readers being within Pennsylvania, and about half of those being in the greater Pittsburgh area.
Moving ahead, I want to keep doing what I’m already doing, but my new goal is to work at improving my content even further. For some time, I tried to post every day, and then with changes at work and in my personal life (my partner and I bought a new house), I have tried to blog at least a few times a week. I’d like to get back to daily posting, but I want to make a massive change to my writing process. I seem to have a real problem with writing long posts moving forward, my plan is to try and write shorter, more meaty posts. Based on this current post, I haven’t made much progress on that yet. Progress not perfection, right?
I often write in a stream of consciousness method, with little editing, except during the writing period itself. Then, once written, I press the “publish” button and move on. My goal will be to write 300-500 word posts, and put more energy into editing them to improve the content, and provide my readers with more good information and ideas with less words overall. A second goal is to provide more “how to” information that will let my readers take action and get engaged with issue advocacy, or LGBT activism- a greater emphasis on the call to action, rather than merely laying out a map of what is right now. And a last goal is to use a picture with every blog post. I want to consider my content in new contexts, and pictures can help do that.
A significant portion of my readership has been with me for some time, with more than 3/4 of my readers having visited the blog more than 50 times. But the number of folks coming to my blog from Google and Bing is on the rise, having doubled in the past month alone. Shorter posts may prove the type and quality of content these new readers are looking for, while feeding my long time readers as well.
So, thank you to everyone who has been with me over these two years, and I hope you are looking forward to many years of posts to come.

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