Writing a blog about village life…

Writing a blog about village life is not as straightforward as I thought it would be.

The aim was to present a one year diary about the events and villagers. It seemed to me that at 900 inhabitants (in the last census) West Ayton was the right size for such a project. It is not so small that everyone knows everyone else nor so large that people live in isolation.

I am writing this in early November and the blog has recorded 222 likes, which is disappointing. I think the quality of the articles merits a better response. If it was based on Scarborough I would have expected to be over 1,000 likes by now.

So why has the response been disappointing?

You have to take into account the village’s demographic. Mostly people are over 50 and many do not use the intenet. Of those that do, a number avoid Facebook. Quite a few folk have told me they would love to visit WAL, but they avoid Facebook because it puts their privacy at risk.

Another area of disappointment has been the unwillingness of many to participate. I tried to start a series called ‘West Ayton People’ featuring some of the village’s characters, their lives and their feelings about living in West Ayton. Perhaps I should have tried harder with younger people, but there aren’t too many of them around.

It is always a surprise to see the posts that prove most popular and those that don’t take off at all. Anything featuring the pubs can be guaranteed to get 400 plus bloggers. Anything vaguely political is a turn-off.

One lesson I learned early is that people like pictures; the better the picture, the more people respond to it. I took some good shots of a herd of cows and the reach rocketed into the 400’s whereas being at the scene of a car crash barely reached 200.

It is very easy to upset people even when they have the right of reply. I have had to apologise on a couple of occasions because people felt ‘targeted’: Simon and Jo at the pub and the chap (Mr George) who runs the burger van that operates in the layby.

I did the blog because I am a writer and all writers like to be read. I also thought it would strengthen the sense of community within the village and make people see that life in a small Yorkshire village, far from being boring and sleepy, can be exciting and dynamic if you are prepared to use your eyes and ears.

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© Alan Combes, 2017. All Rights Reserved

Alan Combes