A solitary candle may seem just a little bit lackluster on a cake, but it still feels like quite an accomplishment. One year ago today, I posted my first review, for The Adjustment Bureau, on Morgan on Media. I started working on the site the night before, but a blog isn’t really a blog until you’ve written your first non-automated post.
I had written a few reviews before, just as little things in various internet forums I had been a member of, but I didn’t have my own place to do so. I was inspired to start my own blog by seeing the fun that one of my friends, Dan Fogarty of Fogs’ Movie Reviews, was having with his. And, not to put too fine a point on it, the success he was having at building a community around it. I’d watch movies even if I didn’t have anybody talk to about them, but it’s more fun to share. And though the forums where I had written my reviews before had some fun, active people who are still good friends, for some reason forums just don’t draw traffic. Blogs can, and WordPress has built up a pretty good network for building traffic and readership. So I launched a site — not even knowing what I would call it at first (hence why the URL currently has my name instead of “Morgan on Media”) — and began tinkering with the appearance and setup. And now, though I have no idea where the time has gone, it’s a year later, and Morgan on Media is doing quite well, if I do say so myself.
So let’s party like it’s 1991!
Morgan on Media started off getting just a trickle of page views a day — I remember some days wondering if I would even get one — and just the occasional comment. For the month of September 2011, the total was 296 views. Now if I don’t pass that in four days, it’s a slow week. I just had a record day on Wednesday, with 268 hits, and my total so far for September — with only one third of the month down — is at 1,162, more than any month out of 2011, and more than September and October of that year put together. My last full month I had 3,463 views. I know that this is still small potatoes compared to a lot of blogs out there, but it’s a nice sign of growth.
Of course, views are just a minor thing on the whole. What’s important are the people who come and read and comment. I’ve had a couple friends come in from my offline life, and several friends that I knew from other places on the internet. And I’ve made several more from blogging. It’s been a lot of fun bantering back and forth on some of these films with you all, and going to your blogs to check out what you’ve been writing about. It’s why I started doing the Weekly Weblinks posts — you guys have given me support, and I feel it’s only right to return the favor. You keep coming back and commenting on what I write, and those of you who have blogs of your own keep writing interesting things to read. Thanks for making this fun.
Writing for the blog has caused me to look at things with a fresh pair of eyes. I always did some thinking about why I did or didn’t like a movie, but now I’m a bit more aware of it. Which isn’t to say I’m being a harder judge or anything — the fact that I’ve handed out nearly as many reviews with 5 stars (or pumpkins, or presents) as reviews with 1 or 2 stars put together shows that. But I’m a bit more aware of the process, and in a way, it’s actually made me enjoy the films more. Plus, I pay more attention to developing movie news now than I used to, and I’ve been making it to the theatre for major releases just a little more often (though still not as much as I would like to.)
Life is occasionally inconvenient.
I’ve also discovered the fun of writing for similar, but slightly different purposes in my reviews. There’s the normal reviews, where I’m just saying what I think. But writing different styles of reviews has proven to be a lot of fun. The Version vs. Version reviews are difficult to arrange — a direct movie-to-movie comparison requires me to watch more than one film, which is why there are only a few so far — but I find them interesting to write, as someone who is sometimes surprised by just how many things Hollywood remakes. I only have one Devil’s Advocate post up so far, but I enjoyed it a lot and it had a very strong reception. I do plan on writing more — there are two I specifically have in mind — but there’s some prep I haven’t been able to do yet. The Morbid Curiosity Files have been as fun to write as the movies were painful to watch. I can’t imagine watching something like Cool as Ice or The Crater Lake Monster without having the ability to share exactly how awful they are.
The Favorite Films posts, of course, have been among my favorites to write. These are movies I love, and I love being able to take an in-depth look at what makes them great. They can be a lot of work, but they’re very rewarding pieces to write, and the response from all of you has been great. There are, of course, more on the way; I already have the Favorite Films selections for September and October picked out. Your only hint is that the first one is coming out on the 19th.
And, of course, I’ve enjoyed writing the Ramblings and the Top X lists, and compiling the Weekly Weblinks. It’s all fun, it all tends to generate a lot of discussion, and it helps me to maintain an even pace on the blog. Sometimes it’s not easy to watch a movie every day — and some posts, such as the Favorite Films or Version vs. Version can wind up needing more than one day’s worth of viewing — and posts that don’t require me to have spent two hours watching something before I put fingers to keyboard help me to have something up on a regular basis. When I started blogging, it was often a 50/50 guess as to whether a post would go up on a given day, and it could be at any time. While I still have occasional days where it’s coming against the wire — it’s amazing how fast a buffer can erode — missed days have become no more than a once-a-month occurrence. And the reception for these non-review posts has been good. People usually chime in on the Ramblings, and the Top X lists tend to take on a life of their own. They’re not going away, and though the new Science Fictional category can take a bit more work than the others, there will be more entries in it in the upcoming year. Feel free to chime in with ideas for that, too: if you have any questions that a movie (or other form of entertainment) has raised about how something could or would happen, leave a comment or drop me a line, and I might give it a semi-educated look.
This button is to play Pong, right?
It has also been fun doing “special event” series of posts. October’s inching it’s way around again, so that means more Halloween Haunters will be on their way. Hopefully the ratio of good to bad will improve, but I think we all know that’s unlikely. Then a quick little break and we hit a little bit of Christmas Cinema. I love the holidays, and it’s been a lot of fun tracking down appropriate movies to watch for Halloween and Christmas. Of course, that doesn’t mean I can’t show the same dedication to some other theme during other times of the year, such as July’s “Bat-Month”. I don’t know when I’ll do a themed series like that again, but it will happen sooner or later.
And looking forward, there are some other ideas taking shape in my mind as well. I would love to extend the in-depth reviews I give to the Favorite Films posts to some other types of films. They’re still germinating in my mind, but sometime this next year you can expect to see the debut of “What Went Wrong”, a series of posts about movies that didn’t turn out anywhere near as good as they should have. The Matrix sequels are already penciled in. And I may do a similar in-depth style of review for movies that, while not worthy of induction into the Favorite Films series, may still warrant a detailed examination. I’m still working on an idea for a title there (“In Depth” would work, but lacks panache), but examples would be the original animated Transformers movie, or Trading Places — films that I enjoy, and which I could write a lot about, but which I wouldn’t be able to justify giving 5 stars to (or even 4 stars necessarily) for one reason or another.
And as the blog celebrates its one year anniversary, there are already a couple small changes to be made, which have been put into action today. The first is that I’ve finally created a Facebook page. I’ve had a Twitter account (@morganonmedia) for several months now, but now if you want to follow the blog you have an additional option. The Facebook page is at Morgan on Media; I don’t know yet exactly what I’ll be putting there besides mirroring the posts, but if nothing else, I’ll probably be commenting there on anything that’s too long for Twitter and too short for the blog proper. The second thing is that I’ve added an alphabetic index of every movie I’ve reviewed. So now you can look up a film by title in addition to using the categories, or using the tag cloud to look up films by rating or decade. The A-Z list is at the top of the page, right below the banner. It isn’t automated, but I’ll be updating it consistently with every movie reviewed.
This first year of blogging has been great. I’ve reviewed 198 movies, a few TV shows, albums, and books, and written several articles as well. And I’ve gotten to meet some great bloggers, and chat with people about great and terrible films. Thank you. Here’s to year 2.