I've been blogging for a long time, you would have thought that I'd have understood why I do it by now. But if you don't keep testing and probing you never learn.
So, I blogged every day throughout July. Some days it was an effort. In fact on one of the days I just uploaded a holding post saying how hot and fed up I was. Life's like that, isn't it?
But I did it to see if I got people's attention, which topics got the most traction, and to make this purely a numbers game, which were the most popular posts. Once I'd done that, what steer that would give me about what works on here and what kind of blog this might be in the future.
I did two blogs about faith. Why I'm still a Catholic and what that means on a daily basis. They didn't get much traction. I think partly it was because I didn't pump them much on social media as a result of my own lack confidence in expressing and defending my own faith position. Sad I know, but in a very crowded market of good quality Catholic bloggers, I know I'm miles behind and have very little to offer.
Blogging about national politics is similar, but I get good stats. I still think it's a crowded market and I enjoy the traction and debate that I get from it, but it's not going to break through. Plus, it's a little close to what I do at work. I've also said, this blog is for the other stuff.
The one topic I nearly always get good reach with is Blackburn Rovers. Given this was July and I only actually went to two friendly matches, I knew there was a bit of a season build up that might have dampened enthusiasm and reader interest, but two of them made it into the top 10. One angsty piece of confected outrage about the away kit made it into the top 5, but all that proved to me was the harder you try to be controversial the bigger the impact.
The other high fliers were a bit random to be honest, a long awaited lament about Mark Hollis (music), a piece about Stockport town centre and a return to a previously popular theme about post-50 male fitness and goal setting.
In second spot was our account of two years of dealing with the Criminal Justice System, which was highly political, as we anonymised some of the detail, but of direct personal interest too.
But the most read by some distance, and the one that was shared widely on social media was the one about Tony Wilson quotes and Manchester's tendency towards faux nostalgia.
It tells me two things, if I may say so. 1. I care deeply about this kind of stuff and that I have a voice in this debate about our city's identity. And 2. If I blend those two facts, and think about what's current, then I have a right to carry on.
As you were.