Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Blog Identity

These days, I consider myself to be one of this strange new mutation of human critter, the common blogger.

It's not a rare sub-species, and is often hard to tell apart from the rest of humanity, other than wider pupils, jerky movements and extended periods of unintentional nudity. And the enormous blogger's cape we tend to wear.


Recently I saw a great T-shirt with the slogan "More people have read this shirt than your blog" on it, and it got me thinking. Hmm, more people have read that T-shirt than my blog. I tend to think in italics. I wondered if I should try and put myself out there a bit, like a blog-whore advertising my wares. Hello sir, hello madam, take a peek under my skirts. Like what you see? There's more of that in here. No obvious rash either, and they're not warts, they're beauty spots. Big, crusty, slightly oozing beauty spots, oh yeah . . .

So,in which metaphorical corner of the internet super-cul-de-sac should I ply my trade then?

The Gravel Farm isn't very technically advanced. It hasn't got flashy links and gifs, and the avatar/logo/identifying image is a picture of some gravel, which I took myself. It's not what you'd refer to as a sophisticated blog set up, so I can't rely on flashy visuals to tempt in the curious. I'll have to rely on content. It would be nice to have someone make a much more fancy blog for me, popping in every now and then to empty the bins and pick the soiled underwear up before making me a nice cup of tea, but until I get an IT savvy assistant who's willing to be paid in compliments and whatever I can find in my garden, I'll have to manage on my own. Still, it doesn't hurt to advertise, does it. Unless you're a burglar.

I sent off a query into the bowels of the web, and the search imps skittered back with a few suggestions for registering your blog and thus increasing your punterage. One of them was Technorati, which I subsequently logged onto.

Initially, I thought I'd let them off for the unsavoury use of the word "claim" rather than "register", as if The Gravel Farm doesn't have an owner unless they say it does. A bit like those people who have certificates telling them they own a bit of the moon (I think you'll find folks, that the Clangers have got Lunar real estate sewn up pretty tightly thank you very much, and you don't want to cross those buggers; they've got a dragon). In the past, it has been seen as an influential site in generating blog traffic, so I set up an account and put myself down as a member of the blogerazzi.

I then spent the best part of five days (on and off, not constantly, because that would be silly) battling with the ethereal mysteries of and it's less-than-crystal-clear instructions for "claiming" my own blog , all to no avail. Apparently, the URL is invalid (that's right, the one at the top of your screen there, the one that your computer is using right now to let you read this. Utterly invalid that is), and any queries via email are met with an automatic reply informing you that they probably won't be able to reply. Thanks for the help there.

The instructive instructions instructed me to post a single piece of code so they could recognise my blog, which I duly did (and got eleven quality comments!), but still no luck. Utter refusal to acknowledge this blog.

My mind switched back to italics, and I thought sod it.

The daft single word post was deleted (apologies for the comments lost) as I'm not far off the lovely hundredth post, and I don't want my tally to be sullied by such lack of verbosity.

Following this very unproductive episode, I now feel the need to post something more constructive.

So, onto my post.

As some light relief, I was quite taken with a recent blogging exercise I read about where you post the sixth picture from a file on your computer and blog about it. Sounds reasonable I thought, with the mental addendum that anything that would get me flagged with an Adult Content Warning sign would be deleted.

Unfortunately Luckily, I don't have that many rude pictures on my computer, so I thought I would go with the sixth image I found on my Desktop, which was this:

I didn't actually take this. My ladder isn't long enough. It's from the Hubble space telescope and it's an amazing image of the Shuttle Atlantis crossing in front of the sun. I've actually got this as my current desktop wallpaper.

That wouldn't do though. I think the spirit of the exercise lies in using a photo that you have taken yourself. The space shuttle isn't really blogworthy for me as I've been up in it less than half a dozen times.*

I'll try again. This time, I uploaded the sixth picture from the first file under the cryptically entitled document 'pictures' which, beguilingly, contains quite a large number of pictures, most of which I've taken myself. The exciting result was this:

Hmm. A picture of a set of (artfully laid out on my sofa) magazines from the 1930s and 40s entitled 'Illustrated Carpenter and Builder', which I have been asked to sell on a popular auction site on behalf of a friend who eyes the internet with the suspicion usually afforded a very still snake. Possibly wisely.

Well, that won't do either. A bunch of elderly magazines, and not a single Sudoku in any of them. Hardly riveting blog material.

Another go. Go down to the sixth folder under 'Pictures', choose the sixth photo and, verwallah:

An action shot of me, suitably ensconced at the front of a stage at a local beer festival a few months ago, playing a gig with our ukulele club. I remember it well because it was a gorgeous, sunny day liberally enlivened with a few decent pints of lovely beers and ciders, combined with a spot of hardcore uke fun. The gig went well, although a lot of the audience were so well-lubricated that they would've probably been happy with a monkey banging a couple of bin-lids together whilst refraining from throwing it's poo.

Actually, that sounds quite cool. I'm going to think about that.

Monkey. Bin-lids. No poo. Cooool . . .

So there you go. A quick exercise with moderate amounts of cheating, perfect for inducing the flow of the old bloggy juices.

And to get traffic to my blog?

Well, I'll just continue my witterings as per usual, and be grateful to any and all of you who deign to spend some of your valuable time here.

I don't often say it, but thank you.

*Six less than half a dozen, in fact.


  1. all righty then, now , my blog even sounds more home spun and i love the beer. youve got it right they don't need to dictate, so many of em just sellin thid an that i don't get it. i even fell for some of it though, course i dont have the brightest beam no way, and thanks for stoppin in.

  2. I love it here. Don't change a thing.

    I have a ukulele. Also a book called, "You Can Play the Uke!!!"

    Stupid liar book.

  3. I am trying to remember how I came across your blog. It might have been the seductive melodies emanating from the uke, or I might have spotted it as a blog someone else follows, or I might have hit the "Next Blog" link at the top of a page.

    I have no idea how to advertise a blog. I wouldn't even know it's effective (the advertising, not the blog) because I'd likely end up with the same amount of followers and comments.

    Still, writing a blog is cathartic and I am just selfish enough to not care about the rest.

    Your blog, on the other hand, is entertaining. That puts it right up there in the top ten or so (ok, maybe 2000) that I have come across.

  4. I don't believe that is the shuttle. I reckon it is a periscope peering out of a deep hole in a yellow foam ball. As to who is looking through the periscope, or why they are in a foam ball, I have no idea.

  5. My dear brother,

    It matters not who follows you, it's what you say that counts.

    At least that's my reason for being here.

    If you're dead-set on increasing your presence, try reality podcasts; it seems to attract a following much like flies on crap.


  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. therealbobthought - No probs. Liked the way you reel a yarn. It's like being on a porch somewhere supping a beer.

    Steamy - Similar lying premise to A Brief History of Time. Took me ages to read!

    Douglas - Many thanks.I must admit I started writing for myself, but now I care about what you lot will think.

    Mo - If that's not the premise for a new world religion, I don't know what is. Worship the foam ball!

    U - Flies on crap you say? You are right, though, as per usual. I shall check it out. Thank you.

  8. Boy, if I only knew the answer to this.

    Your blog is one of my very favourites, I have no idea why it isn't massive. And I see blogs with hundreds of followers which are genuinely utterly pisspoor. But asking "how come your dire blog is so popular?" isn't an option. I think the blogosphere is weighted towards American women and some bloggers with no shame just carpet bomb other bloggers with empty praise and join some shitty thing like SITS and the whole thing isn't really about the writing any more.

    So don't be discouraged - I think your blog is special in the truest sense. The way special used to mean something good before it was annexed by spackers.

  9. I think you've hit on a good strategy.

    Do you smash your ukelele at the end of the gig, or set it on fire and play it with your tongue?

    Also, snaps for using one of my favorite words, "elderly". It goes well with another, which is "wizened".

  10. That's a great post!

    I've been to some of those sites that 'supposedly' will drive traffic to your blog...we'll not YOURS per se, I was trying to drive traffic to MINE, but came up with the same solution you did.

    Monkey, no poo, banging lids.

    Very cool.

  11. y'all are BRILLIANT, sugar! smart, funny, witty and kind are words that come to mind! y'all are a pleasure and it is an honor to read. and i ameternally grateful to have made y'all's acquaintance! xoxox

  12. Mr London St - Ta very much. That was a very intelligent comment with a proper facepalm un-pc moment at the end there. lol.

    Soda and Candy - Yup. Explaining the burns and tongue contusions at A&E afterwards wasn't as rock and/or roll as I'd expected though.

    f8hasit - Cheers! I think it's the right thing to do.

    savannah - You're very kind ma'am. Thank you!

  13. That huge yellow thing looks like a lemon with the backside of a bee stuck on the skin. The bee is acutally inside getting high on the sour taste of the lemon because he only knows what sweet tastes like. He's having a great time :)

  14. Without a doubt one of my favourite blogs on here. You are one hell of a talent.

    I agree with MLS streets that its quite inexplicable why its not getting a lot more attention; perhaps you should post more pictures of cakes and cutesy recipes (do that and I'll personally come over there and kick yer blogging arse for ya).
    Should also thank MLS for introducing me to this, come to think of it. Thanks matey!

    Jules, do you use twitter? A lot knock it, including myself until recently, but it really is a good way of getting your blog out there and getting it read, fast.
    Think about it...

    PS. that gig looks very familiar... its not in suffolk is it?

  15. Jules - your name is sufficiently gender ambiguous. Drag up, change your blog title to "Let's Have A Ukelele! (LOL)" and go on The Secret Is In The Sauce. Wait for the comments to roll in saying "your so funny and witty, I nearly spewed mashed banana on my orthopaedic keyboard roflmaopmsl".

    By next year's BlogHer you'll be turning up there in person in a vintage dress. The year after you'll have a book deal and you'll be on Oprah's sofa while she breathily tongues your rim.


  16. Yup, not nearly enough 'LOL's...

  17. A fellow blogger at another site told me to visit lots of blogs and leave cryptic comments so readers would follow them to my blog. (thanks Grotty Yachty) Eventually there would be a few who would bookmark me and become regular readers. (yeah right!)

  18. Ladytruth - That's one big lemon! And the bee is the size of Africa.

    Judearoo - Ha! I got a bit bored with Twitter, so I might have to have another go at it. I'll try to resist the temptation to post about cake (Hmm . . . cake). I'm not big on recipes. The Mrs gets annoyed that I still refer to the oven as the very hot cupboard.

    Mr London St - You are like a blog guru and life coach combined! I'll get me frock on.

    Pash - I expect you've got a lot more followers than you know about. I tend to get quite distracted when I've read it!

  19. Douglas - Many thanks.I must admit I started writing for myself, but now I care about what you lot will think.

    See? There's the problem. Once you give up that caring, a great weight will remove itself from your shoulders. Of course, guilt will replace it but we can't have it all, can we?

  20. Is that an electric ukelele you are playing there, or acoustic?
    Are there ukelele picks? Has anyone ever used a glass slide while playing a ukelele? I'm sure I have way too many ukelele related questions after reading this.

  21. Douglas - I like to avoid guilt if I can. Mainly by not thinking about all those poor nuns.

    Eric - It's an acoustic (although I do have an electric), ukulele picks are made of felt and you can use a slide, although the note doesn't last very long. I'm ready for all your uke trivia requirements.

  22. Hmm, if only The Clangers had all the real estate oportunities sewn up here on Earth too, I'd reckon they'd be a darn sight more pleasent to deal with than estate agents are.

  23. This is my favourite current read by a country mile. I like 'verwallah'

    I then got angry about your commentor saying 'spackers'. Then laughed. Then thought about the word 'mong' for a while. I'm compplicated. My sense of humour-hole doesn't agree with my brain-hole.

    Spackers! heh heh heh.

  24. Your blog is fab. Love the action shots. Did you hear the Ukes at the Proms the other day? Wonderful.

    We are all common bloggers. I prefer it that way.

  25. I don't buy this whole "write just for yourself" malarkey. The blogosphere is full of blogs like that whose authors have never stepped back and thought why would anyone but me give a flying fuck about this?.

  26. Gadja Dilo - I'd risk the wrath of their dragon. He's got soup!

    Alex - Ta. It's annoying when you want to be a better person, but your personality lets you down, innit?

    Mdme DeF - Aw thank you. I didn't hear them, but I know a few people who joined in with Ode to Joy, so I'll try and use the Radio 3 listen again thingy.

    Mr London St - Maybe, although I do also write quite a bit of other crap I would never inflict on anyone else!

  27. Ok so this is nothing to do with your post, just thought you'd like it.

    This guy is like the Leon Redbone of the ukulele:

  28. Judearoo - Excellent. I watched the rest of his vids as well. Really good stuff. Ta.

  29. Long may your witty 'witterings' continue my friend. I'm a big fan of your blog.

  30. Don't try posting nude pics,it doesn't work to increase traffic,not that I would know.

  31. Jimmy - Nice to hear mate, and welcome back!

    Thinkinfyou - Damn. That was going to be my next ploy. That's why I've had all this work done.

  32. I'm sorry, Jules, but I forced to meme you.

    So sorry.


  33. It's a very entertaining blog, which is all that matters. And I like the tranquil shade of green - it's like reading on a lawn. I wouldn't worry about tarting it up.


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