Tomorrow, Tuesday 4th February 2014, this blog will be five years old. My first ever blog post, entitled ‘Episcopal Taxi Service‘, was published here on 4th February 2009. Five years later, this is post number two hundred & fifty eight.
In some respects, I’m a little disappointed with myself. Two years ago, I set myself the target of publishing fifty-two blog posts in the year – an average of one a week. As I explained twelve months later, I eventually only managed fifty. This year, having set myself the same target, I have again fallen short as, with this post, I have only managed to publish forty-six.
On the positive side as I look back over the past five years, I am quite pleased with what I have achieved. For example, if you scroll down and click on ‘Select Month’, under ‘Archives’ in the right-hand side bar, you will discover there isn’t a single one of the past sixty months, when I haven’t published a blog post. And in fifty-nine of those sixty months, it has always been more than one!
Without blowing my own trumpet too loudly, I do contrast this with several other blogs I’ve followed over the time that I’ve been blogging, which have gone well for a while and then have quietly died. Or those that start out very well-intentioned, and then have failed to manage more than two or three posts. If you are going to first build and then maintain interest in your blog, it is essential to add a new post at reasonably regular intervals which is what I have always tried to do, even though I haven’t done so quite as frequently as I would have liked to have done.
In some respects, my blog has become far more widely read and appreciated, than I ever could have imagined when I started writing it five years ago. As I’ve previously explained, the original aim was to update family, friends and former parishioners in the UK, about my new life in Prague and my role as the Anglican Chaplain. But I now seem to have gained a following amongst English-speaking Czechs, both those living in their country of origin and others currently residing elsewhere. Additionally, I appear to be read by other English-speaking expats living in the Czech Republic and by both current and former members of my Prague and Brno congregations.
One very satisfying result of my five years of blogging is that it has brought people to Church. Just a few weeks ago, I was standing at the door of the Church, shaking hands with members of the congregation following our Sunday Eucharist. A British couple who were visiting Prague, introduced themselves and told me that they had decided to come and worship at St. Clement’s simply because they had read my blog!
Another reason why my blog attracts as many visitors as it does, is that a small number of posts, rank highly in Google and other search engines, for the topic they cover. An enquiry as how to register a British or Irish right-hand drive car in the Czech Republic, will promptly highlight my two posts from 2009 – ‘Driving on the ‘right’ side of the road‘ and ‘Check this Czech car out!‘. Consequently, I’ve several times generated business for my friend Adrian Blank, who was so helpful to me in getting the ‘Carly’ through all the necessary hoops nearly five years ago.
I also really ought to be on commission from the Czech Tourist Board as my post from January 2011, entitled ‘Why I like living in Prague‘, remains as one of the most popular landing pages for new arrivals to my blog.
A major change in my blogging practice came at the end of May 2012 when I started using a brand new laptop computer, one on which I still work. This, together with the ever-increasing availability of wifi internet connection in restaurants and hotels, has allowed me to both write and published blog posts, without being located in the Chaplaincy Flat in Prague. Thus in June 2013, when flooding caused us to lose our internet connection for seventeen days, I was able to publish a post using the wifi provided by Bar-Restaurace U Topolu. Later that month, I both wrote and published a blog post, whilst on holiday in the Orlické hory.
This fifth birthday for my blog, has come immediately following the events I described in my previous post – the publication of an abbreviated and very poorly translated version of one of my blog posts, by the the online Czech tabloid Prásk!, both without any link to my original or seeking my consent. I have written to the Director of PR and communications of the offending media company, seeking a published apology, but have yet to receive any reply. However, without condoning the behaviour of the Nova media group, I’m increasingly taking what has happened to me as a back-handed compliment.
It has resulted in a massive increase in visitor numbers to my blog, with numerous English-speaking Czechs leaving interesting and appreciative comments. And the number of Facebook ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ for ‘How to be Czech in ten easy steps‘, yesterday went past 8,000! Twelve days after the offending article was published online, my blog which normally has around fifty or sixty visitors each day, still had well over four hundred. Clearly I had better take full advantage of my new-found fame 🙂
So as ‘Ricky Yates – an Anglican in Prague’, enters the sixth year of publication, I shall seek to continue to write and reflect upon my experience of ministering to English-speakers from around the world and living as an expat myself in this fascinating city and the wider Czech Republic. Hopefully, those who have recently discovered the blog for the first time, will continue to visit.
Whilst I have a number of plans for future blog posts, if there are any particular topics my regular readers would like me to tackle, please let me know your thoughts. In the meantime, join with me in raising your glass to celebrate the fifth birthday of ‘Ricky Yates – an Anglican in Prague’.