Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

The State of the Blog


Do you remember the days when blogging was new and you’d breathlessly check your stats every half an hour to see if they’d crept up to 22 views? Or that shaky feeling when you pressed “publish” and sent your thoughts out into the world? Or the tingling joy when your new post got its first comment?


Maybe it was just me, then.

I miss the days when blogging was the most exciting thing I’d ever done, when it seemed like a radical act. I miss the effort I used to put into posts, the conversations they would start and the thrill of finding a new blogger whose ideas seemed to resonate with mine. Blogging was a form of connection that my life on an English island in the middle of Germany sometimes lacked.

My goal for my blog was to write posts of which I could be proud. My rules were:

1. Never blog about the laundry

2. Never moan about being sick

3. Don’t apologise for not posting

In other words, I didn’t want to be boring. A brief ruffle through some old posts shows that I wasn’t. Here are links to a couple of posts that, while they didn’t get the most hits, I most enjoyed writing and putting out into the world:

An anecdote about someone taking a phone-call during a yoga class: Zen and the Art of Switching off Your Phone

My guide to bores: People Who Explain too Much

Something on post-wedding depression: Bridezilla, moi?

My early incarnation was as a bit of a Mommyblogger, but I came to the decision that using my children as blog fodder before they were old enough to read what I was writing about them and tell me to shut up was a bit unfair. So I stopped mining that rich vein. Instead, I got rather a lot of leverage out of teasing the Germans.

I tried my hand at writing book reviews, but I found the effort I put into writing them well difficult to sustain. Instead, I wrote reading round-ups, which were a bit of a cop-out.

One thing this blog has done well has been to document my progress in writing a novel, from finishing the first draft to snagging an agent.

In numbers, this is where Charlotte’s Web stands today:

350, 768 views

576 views on its busiest day

565 posts


Since we’re auditing, here are my top commenters: LitloveDoctor DiDad Who WritesLilian Nattel and Kit. Thanks for your loyalty – I hope I’ve been as frequent a visitor to your blogs as you have been to mine.

And the post that get the most hits – 17,776 as we speak – is still this one: 10 Things I Find Weird About Germany. If you have five minutes to spare, go and take a look at the comments. I have archived a couple of adorable little trolls there, a small museum to the eccentrics of the Internet.

So, five-and-a-half years into blogging, I no longer get the tight-throated thrill of a new post. However, I have maintained friendships, made new ones and even met some lovely people who started as commenters here and are now real-life friends. I still enjoy crafting a good post, when I have the time, the energy and inspiration. The question is, where to now?

Obviously, I hope to one day make an exciting announcement about Balthasar’s Gift right here, but having seen so many writers’ blogs turn into overt and crass marketing tools, I want to avoid that. My question is, what would you like to see from Charlotte’s Web – more of the same, a bold new direction, the usual mix? Please let me know in the comments. And, if you don’t want to talk about me (I can cope), then let me know how your blogging journey has gone. How far down the line is your blog? How have you coped when your blogging energy flags?

I would love to feel the blogging thrill again. Over to you for ideas.

Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

14 thoughts on “The State of the Blog

  1. Great post, this. Haven’t you done well, over the years!

    I’m new to regular blogging. I did keep a blog while I was travelling, but that was simply to week in touch with people at home, let them know where I was. But that was different to the blog I have now, which seems to meander between ideas and reflections on things that are happening with my writing efforts. And yes, I still check my stats every day. And no, I’ve no idea what direction the blog will take – that is part of the excitement for me.

    I shall be interested to see where you take yours. You are obviously getting something right, given the following you have. But, as a blogging newbie, I don’t feel I can make suggestions. But I shall be cheering you on from the sidelines – and learning, too.

  2. Difficult! As you know I’ve also wrestled with it, going so far as to completely start over at one point and do a fairly substantial make-over recently.

    Not being boring has also been a bit of a goal of mine so again, I empathise – and I do remember the Zen and the mobile phone in the yoga class post!

    What do I want from Charlotte’s Web? There isn’t anything I want in particular. I read people’s blogs regularly (really regularly, over years) in the same way that I keep up with certain friends on a regular basis. The person as a whole intrigues me and pretty much anything they do interests me because of the way they do it. Or, in the case of a blog, write about it. Okay, there are some things that don’t grab my attention so much but that’s part of the deal with longer-term friendships. You have the right to tactfully tune-out during the longer posts about breadmaking…and tune back in when they unexpectedly write something (because they ‘re who they are) that makes breadmaking interesting.

    As ever, I’m no help at all if you want a bona fide answer 🙂

  3. It’s hard to even justify having a blog anymore considering how everyone’s moved to Facebook and Twitter. I keep mine going because it’s more gratifying to write something that takes a little more effort than hitting a Like button or forwarding a tinyURL.

    It’s hard to recommend what you do with your blog, because after all the final decision is up to you. I like the mix as it is.

    Must add this: you’ve been an inspiration!

    I got into bread-baking thanks to you – a timid start with your SA beer bread recipe combined with a lucky find at a friend’s house some time later has lead to regular stints in the kitchen with yeast, thermometers, the whole nine yards.

  4. I enjoy your posts just the way they are now – a little this and that. And blogging might not be new anymore but I still enjoy following my fave blogs.

  5. i keep thinking that after nearly eight years, and almost 1400 posts, i’m done. and yet, every once in a while, i find myself writing in my head… which inspires me to write it out in the world. and i like having a place to do that. i’ve long since given up on wondering who reads it.

    i’ve drifted a lot, particularly with twitter, and not wanting to be boring. but i’m keeping my writing placeholder on the web – for now, anyway.

    what do i want? i want to read anything you find interesting enough to write about 🙂

  6. Now that your lives have shifted away from family with small children into one transitioning into a co-op of many busy individuals, maybe it would be a good idea to tell stories of mothers and daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters over the last century… England, South Africa, Germany… old school, new thinking, dreams buried, realities bared… capturing what you can before it gets lost in the day-to-day chaos.

  7. For me what makes a blog interesting is the reflection of the writer’s real life – on a food blog it’s often not the recipe I read but the story behind it.

    I like the mix of you blog as it is, as it evolves and changes with the focus of your life. So write about whatever is currently grabbing your interest, whether it is your writing or your family holiday or the trials and tribulations of living in a foreign country. We read it because it is you writing it!

    My blog has also evolved from the early days, just as you describe them, of checking for comments every hour, to the tired phases where nothing seems worth posting about. I’ve veered from mom-blog, to food blog and back again and then written about my herb garden for several posts, completely breaking all the rules of successful blogging – picking a niche and writing what your ‘peeps’ want. But then a personal blog is just that personal – for fun and friends and to have something to look back on that journals a small glimpse of your life. Looking back on some of my early posts is like picking up a photo album from when the kids were small and going all nostalgic and sentimental.

  8. I like you. And I like your blog just the way it is. Meaning, whatever inspires you to write a post is what I enjoy reading. The evolution of a blog is the evolution of its author (at least the parts the author chooses to share). That alone is fascinating. Anyway, my point is, just keep being you. The readers will continue to come.
    And, I hope you DO (SOON!) get to make that exciting announcement (on here)…a 3-book deal would be lovely. 🙂 There’s nothing crass about sharing your good news with your readers. (are you on sub?)

    I apologize for not commenting lately…I read posts of my fave blogs on my RSS-feed-reader and it makes it a chore to enter the blog to leave a comment.

    Also, where do you get such thorough stats? Does wordpress collect them for you?

    Have a lovely week, Charlotte.

  9. I’m glad to be one of your loyal followers! Write whatever you like, whatever gives you a break from the stress of writing novels, or whatever is a pleasure to do.

  10. I’ve been following your blog for a few years now and I still love when my feeder announces a new post from you! Write whatever you feel excited (or moved) about these days and that will be perfect, even if it’s not that often or regular.. or even if it’s about the laundry.

  11. Become a sex blogger.

    Ok, I’m kidding.. but congratulations on the journey you’ve taken with your blog and I can’t wait for your book already.

  12. I feel that I’m in something of a similar boat, but I’ve decided to give myself -and my blog- patience. I am in a much busier time of my life than I was when I started the blog, but I don’t think the now I am currently experiencing will be like this forever and so I blog when I can, when I am interested in something, and hope for the best! I , for one, will ALWAYS come back to charlotte’s web but if you need a little inspiration in the mean time…how is work going (what you can make public, any way?) How do you and Germany’s Top Husband find time for your marriage, with all you both have going on? And, you know, I always like your cake recipes (of course, now that you are paleo, no more cake?)

  13. Sorry I’m a bit late to the party. 🙂

    As far as I’m concerned, even if a blog becomes ‘just another avenue’ to write in, if it does something for the writer then that writer should keep doing it. My blog is very new (barely a year old, and I’m hardly calling it that because my updates have been so sporadic…) but I have fun doing it and I don’t care whether blogging on the whole is still the ‘In Thing’. Facebook and Twitter are not the sort of mediums where you can control what you produce. Facebook has privacy stigmas attached and you can’t say as much as you might want in 140 characters. (Not knocking either of them, I use both.) A blog is more intimate – it’s between you and your readers, among whom I am happy to be numbered.

    Keep on keeping on, Charlotte. We’re always ready to read.

  14. Oh GAWD, Charlotte, I am cringing as though you were pointing straight at me – I am a SHOCKING over-explainer. Awful habit. Must shake it. May I refer you to Lilian’s comment? And to that I add, “Hear, hear.”

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