An update on my blog so far from 2016, or ˜Crikey, this has all got rather exciting”.
I’ve been working for a friend, Daisy Foss, helping run her healing retreat centre and put together her new website and blog. I didn’t really know much about blogging, so I had been looking at the course materials for the course she was doing with a blogger called Sarah Akwisombe. I really liked the way Sarah said blogging was about putting across your own authentic voice and writing about the things that interested you most. Sarah was sweary and funny and honest.
People have been telling me I should write for years, but I’d been too intimidated at the idea of writing a book to start. I figured I could start blogging myself, experimenting with my blog to see what might work for Daisy’s. I find Glastonbury and its characters endlessly fascinating so that was obviously going to be my subject matter, plus I often found myself frustrated and annoyed by the cliched terms in which the town was presented by the mainstream press.
I launched the blog on April the 22nd with 4 posts, the main one being What’s Normal for Glastonbury? I figured I might get a couple of hundred views in the first week. I posted it up on my personal Facebook page and my Facebook friends enjoyed it enough to share it, within 24 hours I’d had 1000 viewers. This was great, but also a bit scary. I started to panic, quite a lot. This now gave me a responsibility to keep producing content. Could I keep up being funny, entertaining and produce content that celebrated Glastonbury?
I realised I was going to need lots of material if I was going to carry on producing regular posts. I set up a Facebook Group page for the blog Normal for Glastonbury to give people I didn’t know personally a chance to interact, and so I could to pick other people’s brains for their own tales, luckily they are happy to oblige. (I managed to produce Overheard in Glastonbury almost entirely using stories culled from Facebook!). The Facebook group now has over a 1000 likes.
My second post Nude, but not lewd, in Glastonbury (29th April) did OK, my mate Janetta had already warned me its reception might be not so enthusiastic “ like an unknown band who got an unexpectedly large response to their first album, I might suffer from ˜Second Albumitis”, but the feedback was still positive enough to make me think it was worth continuing, I reached 3000 viewers by May 1st.
The Raw and the Cooked – Food in Glastonbury published on 7th May seemed to tickle a few more funny bones, and I noticed I even got a share from an academic nutritionist, which was nice. I got a few more followers too and a useful troll – an angry Glastonbury local who posted my blog up on a Glastonbury town Facebook page (which I hadn’t even been aware of before) with the comment “Apparently normal for glastonbury and you say people don’t laugh at the town” (sic). I decided the most useful reply I could make was “Thanks for advertising my blog, I really appreciate it. Xx”. Although I had just promoted the post with ‘This should annoy a few vegans a Glastonbury vegan blogger became my main defender. The thread runs to hundreds of comments now, covering topics including zombies, whether people buy jeans from market stalls, immigration, Islamophobia, Henry VIII and the dissolution of the monasteries and features several pictures of poo. My only comment since has been “Blimey, I write a few words about pasties and tofu and all this kicks off. Anyone fancy a nice cup of tea and a biscuit?”
I published the Glastonbury Town Tourist Map on the 12th May and it all went a bit bonkers, over 80 people shared it on Facebook, and it’s now reached 11,000 views on the blog and has reached 12,500 people on Facebook. People messaged me saying they recognised themselves (sometimes it wasn’t them I was thinking of!) and others complained that I’d forgotten to include them. I was annoyed with myself for forgetting David, the Glastonbury Town Crier, and Declan the busker with the 3 legged dog. Another version of the map will be coming soon!
Less than a month since I published the blog, I had over 23,500 page views from over 15,500 visitors. The blog has gone global, in a small way, with over a thousand views in the USA, hundreds all over Europe, 5 in Russia and even 2 in Vietnam (though that was my brother who is over there working so I guess it doesn’t count!) It just goes to show how much interest there is in Glastonbury and the comments on my posts demonstrate how much love there is for this small Somerset town across the world.
A very nice lady from Austin, Texas commented “This is hilarious, I’d pay just to spend time with this woman”. I’ve been thanked by a Glastonbury resident for making her feel more ˜normal for Glastonbury”. Several Glastonbury teenagers have thanked me for the blog, one, messaged me saying that she’d been having trouble describing Glastonbury to her friends at Uni, but now she could just show them Normal for Glastonbury.
My favourite moment though has to be the lady in the shop asking “Excuse me, are you ˜Normal for Glastonbury?” What made me giggle was the thought that someone might get it wrong and ask an unsuspecting tourist who had absolutely no idea about the blog whether they were ˜Normal for Glastonbury!”
I’ve now moved over from a wordpress.com site to this self-hosting site you’re looking at now. It’s being hosted by Glastonbury Online Ltd, who host the rather marvellous fount of local knowledge that is www.glastonbury.co.uk. It means I’ve got to get my head around the grown-up version of WordPress, I can’t even work out how to change the fonts at the moment and all the pictures disappeared! I am hoping the blog brings me some work in, there are already some possibilities in the pipeline. Please see my Hire Me page!
All photos copyright Vicki Steward, please ask me if you would like to use them. Don’t forget to share, subscribe and comment on this post, and join the Normal for Glastonbury Facebook Group.
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Then you’ll love my books – ‘Normal For Glastonbury: Life in England’s Most Magical Town’ and my ‘Crap Views of the Tor’ Postcard Book.
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