Tag Archives: blogging

Why I Write – Love Not Money

Yesterday was an amazing day.  I published an article on Inquisitr telling the story of Harvey Hext, a little boy who was taken at just nine-years-old by childhood cancer neuroblastoma.

Harvey’s mom Sarah was kind enough to give me an interview outlining how One Direction star Louis Tomlinson and his family gave the Hext family amazing support, both whilst harvey was ill and after he passed.

I was truly honored that Sarah trusted me to tell the story.  Harvey’s passing was at the end of November and I am certain that Harvey’s parents, his big sister Olivia and more than anyone his twin brother Spencer must still be hurting fiercely.  It was my belief that Harvey’s story needed to be told and clearly One Direction fans agreed.

Tweets about the story had over One Million impressions on twitter in a few hours and unbelievably I found myself trending all over the world.  I am truly humbled by the outpouring of love for Harvey and his family and for Louis Tomlinson and his amazing family who do so much unreported work for sick kids.

One Direction fans are an investigative bunch and they have long learned never to take things at face value.  I think that is to be admired.  To be fair they have been fed so many lies and rumors over the years that it would be incredible if they didn’t question the motivation of every word that is written.

I published Harvey’s story on Inquisitr and of course I do get paid for my writing there.  Some fans suspect that my stories there are written as ‘click bait’ and I truly understand that.

Of course the truth is very different.  As most writers will agree writing isn’t something you do for money.  Millions of aspiring writers will tell you all to readily that making a living from writing is something only a very few people successfully do.  Writers write for love, not money.  We need a voice, a creative outlet and we want to be heard.  Money comes  along way down the line.

I have been writing this blog for a long time before I started to write for Inquisitr.  I also write for a couple of music magazines without receiving any kind of payment.  You can check out my writers archives on Louder Than War and Echoes And Dust if you wish.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I am thrilled to be lucky enough to get paid for writing for Inquisitr but I am not dependent on the money.  As a result of taking early retirement I have a nice pension, no mortgage and I am debt free.  If I never earned another penny from writing I would still be doing it.

There are stories that need to be told, music that needs to be heard and little boys like Harvey who need a voice.  I hope that I will be able to tell those stories for many years to come.

Incidentally I am also a mad keen photographer, something I earn virtually nothing from.  Like writing I do it for love, for a creative outlet and to share a view of my life through a lens.

Love & peace.

Saudi Arabia: It's Time To Break Links With These Barbarians

Saudi Arabia: It’s Time To Break Links With These Barbarians

News has broken today that Saudi Arabia has celebrated the new-year by publicly beheading 47 people.

According to the BBC the 47 people were executed for ‘terrorist’ offences, amongst them was a prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.  He was  a prominent and outspoken opponent of the Saudi regime who articulated the feelings of those in the country’s Shia minority who feel marginalised and discriminated against. This was a figure active on the sensitive Sunni-Shia sectarian fault line that creates tension in the Kingdom and far beyond.

Human rights group Reprieve point out that at least four of those executed were convicted of nothing more than attending protest against the regime.

One of those executed was Ali al-Ribh who was 18 when he was arrested, and sentenced to death for organizing and participating in demonstrations; vandalism; helping to organize demonstrations through the use of his BlackBerry; attending an address of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Mohammad Shioukh, 19 at the time of his arrest, was sentenced to death for a number of offences, including writing anti-Government graffiti and filming demonstrations for the purpose of documenting and publishing their content.  Both were tortured while in custody.

According to the Independent several groups that monitor the death penalty worldwide said that Saudi Arabia executed at least 157 people in 2015, with beheadings reaching their highest level in two decades.

As one would expect David Cameron our morally corrupt and spineless Prime Minister refused to intervene, even in the execution of a child who was just 14-years-old at the time of his arrest.

The interview with Jon Snow above shows that Cameron floundered to answer questions about dodgy deals done behind the scenes that allowed Saudi Arabia to become the head of the UN Human Rights Council.

You couldn’t make it up, Saudi Arabia, a nation that cheerfully lops the head off people in public displays of barbarism, that denies women the right to drive a car and which routinely tortures prisoners and then chops off their limbs for minor crimes heads the UN Human Rights Council.

What Cameron won’t say is that he will allow the Saudi’s to do as they please because he wants to continue to sell military hardware to one of the most barbaric regimes on the planet.  Cameron insists that the UK needs to trade with Saudi Arabia and the price of that trade is paid in blood.

I don’t know about you but I don’t think that the UK or any “civilised” society should have anything to do with this regime.

According to the Guardian Cameron eventually had to concede that he turned a blind eye to human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia because:

“We have a relationship with Saudi Arabia and if you want to know why I’ll tell you why.

“It’s because we receive from them important intelligence and security information that keeps us safe. The reason we have the relationship is our own national security.”

Strangely Cameron does’t mention the fact that the Al Queda terrorist group originates in Saudi Arabia.

Pause for a moment to reflect that had I l;lived in Saudi Arabia when I wrote this blog post I would very likely have been tortured and beheaded for doing so!


My 2015 Blogging Year In Review

As 2015 draws to a close the happiness engineers at WordPress have sent our end of year review winging its way to our inboxes.

As the year draws to a close it is always nice to reflect on the goals we set ourselves at the end of last year.  As I look back I am stunned as to how far my blog has advanced and I am delighted to say that I achieved most of the goals I set myself at the beginning of the year.

At the end of 2014 I set out to double my number of followers, increase engagement on my blog and to achieve an average number of 150 visitors per post.  I also undertook a post a day photo challenge.

I some ways I have enjoyed a level of success that has totally exceeded my hopes much less my expectations.

It wasn’t all a one way street though so I have plenty to improve upon in 2016 🙂

My post a day photo challenge was a partial success.  I didn’t quite manage a photographic post a day.  Spending so much time away from home at music festivals, often without an internet connection, meant that I couldn’t post every day.  That said I did post many thousand of photographs and the purpose was to improve my photography, something I think I have achieved.  I had hoped that others would join the challenge to help keep me motivated but sadly that didn’t happen.

Over the year I managed to make 629 posts on my blog, I am thrilled to have been so active especially as I now write for three other sites and am the live music editor at a major music site.  This has all come about as a result of blogging on wordpress.

I managed a 92 day streak of posting every day, and the number of views on my blog hit almost 292,707 times.  If the stats quoted on the WordPress e-mail are correct that means I had more views that the Louvre museum in Paris!!

That weighs in at an average of 465 views per post more than treble the target I set at the beginning of the year.  My best day saw me achieve 18,937 views, an incredible number.

Over the course of the year my number of followers has increased from just over 1200 to almost 30,000.  The vast majority of those followers are on Twitter though and whilst the social media platform does drive engagement to my site most of my visitors come via facebook.

I am slightly disappointed that visitor engagement has been less that one comment per post.  I don’t try to be controversial so that may be partly responsible for relatively low engagement.  This is something I will try to improve over the course of the next year.

I love blogging on wordpress and I am thrilled by the progress I have made over the past year.  I am setting myself a massive target for 2016.  In the 18 months since I started blogging I have had 341,970 views.  By the end of 2016 I want to push this to 1 million views.  It is a massive target but with a big effort I think it is achievable.

I currently have 29,765 followers and over the next year I hope to double that to 60K.

I wish each and every person who has visited my blog a very happy and prosperous new year and I hope that all of your blogging resolutions are successful ones.



In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Monochromatic.”

I did a photography course at Bournemouth Arts University last year and one of the things our tutor recommended whilst we were out on a location shoot was to shoot in Black and White sometimes as it gives a totally different perspective to our photography.  I took these shots on the banks of the river Clyde in Glasgow during a visit earlier this year.

Glasgow Street B & W-4 Glasgow Glasgow Street B & W-6

Reading Festival 2015

Saying Farewell To Old Friends – What I Learned About WordPress

It has been a funny few days.

Earlier this week I decided it was time to prune the number of blogs I am following on WordPress.  I didn’t want to lose any blogs that I read frequently or bloggers with whom I interact.  As a result I decided to go through every account I was following and prune the ones who don’t actually post on their accounts.

I was really surprised at the number of accounts I was following that had been dormant for years.  As a result I decided to prune any blogs that had not been used in the last six months.  It was interesting to see that the vast majority of the blogs that were dormant had very few followers and that they all followed a very clear pattern.

I suspect that many of the people I unfollowed abandoned their blogs because they didn’t have a readership and as a result they lost interest and gave up.  I believe this demonstrates a few simple truths about blogging.

We all blog for different reasons, but I think we all share something in common.  We believe we have something to say, and of course we want others to hear us.  A blog without a following is simply a public diary.  We use our blogs to express ourselves whether through our writing, photography, art, craft,  cooking or whichever medium we choose.

The thing is if you want people to buy into your blog you need to work at it.  It takes time and effort to build a following and it is a slow process, but the more you put into your blog the more readers or viewers you will attract.  It is important to post regularly, but it is even more important to interact with other bloggers, especially those with whom you share an interest.

WordPress has something like 13 million blogging accounts and you really need to be a part of the community if you want to gain followers.  With that many blogs around your relationship with your readership needs to be a personal one.  I was sad to unfollow so many accounts, but following those accounts was a pointless exercise.  My blog is important to me, but so is being part of the community.  I enjoy blogging but interacting with others is important too.

I hope to be here for a long time, my blog is a part of my day and I hope it will remain so for many years to come.

It’s My Birthday – I Have A Wish – Could You Help Me Achieve It??

Today has been a lovely day.  It is my Birthday and I have reached the ripe old age of 54.  I don’t feel like I am 54, sometimes I feel like I am only 18, sometimes I feel like I am 81.  I feel very lucky, I have my physical health and most of the time I am on top of my depression.  Life is pretty good.

By coincidence my blog also also had its birthday last week.  It is now a year old and it already has some mileage under it’s belt.  I those 12 months I have built my blog from nothing to having over 46,000 during the month of May 2015.  Truth be told it has surpassed all of my expectations.  I have built a good following, built some good friendships both online and in real life as a result of my blogging.  It has lead to networking with PR companies, bands and festivals and has lead to a huge increase in my proficiency as a photographer.

After my retirement I started the blog as a hobby and it has already grown beyond all expectations.  However I really do love what I do, so much so that I would love to continue to expand.  That’s were you come in.

It would be great to collaborate with other music bloggers to the benefit of both blogs.  My idea is this, if I could get other people guest writing on my blog then I could also write on theirs.  This would mean that the number of posts on collaborators blogs would increase and hopefully traffic would increase too.  We would all be introduced to more artists and provide even more support for the artists we love.

My interests are primarily in punk, post punk, celtic, rock, folk and folk rock music but I am willing to look beyond that.

Of course you don’t have to be a WordPress blogger, I would be happy to have best contributors from any walk of life.  If you would be interested in such a collaboration let me know on alan(at)soundofsummer.org and we can work it out.

Cheers and here’s to the next year and beyond.

PS. The little lady in the photo is Faye.  Like me she loves her music festivals.  I met her and her parents at a festival last week and she wanted to take a selfie with me 🙂