Back on the blogging horse

Hello! It’s been a while . . . 

After nearly three years of neglect, I thought I should dust off this old blog as a prelude to the workshop I’m running next month for the Emerging Professionals Network of Museums Galleries Australia.

A couple of months ago I was invited to put together this workshop on “Curating your online presence” – how to use blogging, and social media to build a professional profile and develop your career. So, the complete absence of activity on this blog was feeling a little embarrassing to say the least!

Over the course of the afternoon, I’ll be going through how I’ve used LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging as networking and professional development tools. I’ll also be talking about the difficulties of sustaining a blog over several years, speaking from my own personal experience. Blogging as a student or even as a freelancer is one thing, but doing it when you’re a senior manager is another ball game entirely (at least for me).

The past three years at South Australian Museum have sometimes been a steep learning curve – I’ve learned a lot about myself, teams, how to be a better manager and leader, and the challenges of keeping an eye on the bigger picture when you’ve got myriad day-to-day issues popping up. Some of this has been a very personal journey that I won’t share here. But maybe, just maybe, the invitation to run this workshop will be the kick I need to come back to the blog just a tad more often.

A reflection on blogging

A lot’s happened for me in 2014, although you wouldn’t necessarily know it looking at this blog. Things have been relatively quiet here of late!

Tumbleweed (Source: Wikimedia commons)
Tumbleweed (Source: Wikimedia commons)

This is reflected by site analytics for this blog, which among other things show that only two blog posts from this year were in the top 10 most-viewed pages. (FYI they were October’s piece on The Language of Objects and May’s piece on What do museum visitors think science is?). The most popular posts overall remain ones on visitor statistics and exhibition costs. Even though they are a few years old now, they are obviously topics of perennial interest.

Overall, I only posted 22 times this year compared to 33 posts in 2013. This didn’t have a dramatic effect on overall site traffic though, since most people seem to come to this blog via google searches rather than via links to new content or social media shares (Is this normal for a blog? I have no idea . . . )

Anyway, why so quiet this year?

One possible reason is content exhaustion: I started blogging in 2010, and while it took me a little while to find my voice, I probably felt like I had more to say in the early days – especially when I was first getting across the visitor studies literature in the early days of my PhD. Now, I find it harder and harder to find new things to write about (and am in awe of people like Nina Simon who has been able to punch out a post a week on Museum Two for years!). It makes me wonder whether there is a natural life cycle for most blogs, and this one may be coming to its end (I hope not, but I have to think about that possibility).

Another reason is that my writerly efforts have definitely been focused elsewhere this year: I wrote up my PhD thesis, submitted it for both internal and external examination, made changes as appropriate along the way and am now waiting for the final changes to be signed off by the Grad School, the last hurdle before they confer my degree. A lot of the time, if I wasn’t working on my thesis, I really wasn’t feeling much like doing any other writing!

Finally, just as there are only so many hours in the day, brain space is a finite quantity too. I’ve come to the (possibly late) realisation that “busyness” is not always best quantified in terms of hours worked, and might better be measured in terms of cognitive load. For instance, If I quantified my year purely in terms of hours spent at the desk, it wouldn’t seem all that bad. In fact I’ve been feeling quite guilty about how worn out I’ve been feeling given I hadn’t been working particularly long hours. But then again, other things have been going on – I’ve been making the transition from student to consultant, setting up the interactivate consultancy in June and rebuilding a client base. On the personal front, I got married in April, and even the simplest of weddings requires organisation, planning and thus brain space. We also had minor renovations happening for most of the year, and although we weren’t doing the actual work we still had to check on contractors, make design decisions, and lots of little things that also take up brain space.

I’m not 100% sure what 2015 will hold for me yet . . . but more on that in the New Year.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from fellow bloggers about how you manage the ebbs and flows of your ideas and creative capacity.