3 Lessons From 8 Years Of Blogging

It’s celebration time here at BookerTalk headquarters as we mark another anniversary for the blog.

James Orr @unsplash.com

Eight years ago I came up with the idea of starting a book blog. To be frank, I had only a very sketchy idea of why I wanted to do this. The ‘plan’ , such as it was, came down to this: I would read all the books that won the Booker Prize and would write about them.

It didn’t take very long before I got a big dose of reality.

  • Blogging was more time consuming than I expected and
  • I couldn’t read fast enough to create new content more than once a week. Even with my limited knowledge of blogging, I knew that wasn’t how it was supposed to work! and
  • I’d been overly optimistic about the level of interest my blog would generate. The world, it was clear, was not waiting for my thoughts on book XYZ.

This was a project that looked like it wouldn’t even last six months. Fortunately there were plenty of people around who did know how to run a book blog. They were more than generous; sharing their advice and insights and giving me confidence.

So just over 1,100 posts later and amazingly I’m still here. Of course things have changed over the eight years.

The site has gone through more than one design update. I’ve moved away from the initial focus on the Booker Prize in favour of broader topics. And I’ve tried (though not always succeeded) to write in a more personal tone.

I’m still making tweaks however; adding more sub titles to posts for example to improve their readability or looking for more interesting graphics.

I know a lot more about blogging now than I did eight years ago, most of it learned the hard way through trial and error.

Lessons From The Front Line Of Book Blogging

Lesson 1: Blogging Takes Energy

I wasn’t completely naive when I started BookerTalk. I knew I’d have to put effort in to creating content, formatting pages and posts etc. But I never appreciated just how hard it is to come up with something to say every few days.

I also hadn’t figured in the amount of time required to respond to comments from readers and to read other people’s blogs.

Doing all this while working full time and having to travel for my job was exhausting. I’m not surprised that 90% of bloggers quit after a few months. Or that many bloggers that were very active when I started out, suffered burn out and lost their enthusiasm.

Two things have helped me keep going.

One has been to keep a note of possible blog topics.

I learned very early on that just posting reviews wasn’t going to work – I take too long to write them (the curse of perfection!) and I don’t read enough to do more than one review each week. Clearly that wasn’t enough to sustain a blog.

I knew I needed other material. But there’s nothing worse than just looking at a blank screen trying desperately to think of something to write. Now, when I’m struggling for inspiration I take a look at my blog topics list. Some topics are reminders of books I need to review. Some are ideas for list posts and discussion topics. Others might just prompts like “My favourite XXX”. You can find loads of ideas for blog topics online; most are not relevant but others you can easily adapt.

The other thing that’s helped in recent years is to be more disciplined with content creation. Most blogging experts I came across, advised me to have a blogging schedule. where I wrote a new post every day, or once a week or three times a week.

No way can I post every day. I try to have a new piece of content every couple of days. It doesn’t always work out that way because, as we all know, unexpected events in life can throw the best of plans out of the window. No way do I ever want to tell a friend “Sorry, I can’t meet you for lunch, got to write my blog post.”

You have to choose what works for you – only you know how much time you have available and how much you have to say. And – more crucially – how important blogging is to you. If it’s important, then you’ll put the effort into it, just like you would any other hobby or interest.

I don’t claim to have nailed this – but I’m working on it!

Lesson 2: Try, Fail, Try Again

I wish I’d kept a record of all the changes I’ve made to the blog since I started. It’s been a laboratory for experimentation. A place where I tried different approaches, some of which failed miserably, others that I maybe kept going longer than I should have.

But that’s the beauty of blogging. You can use it to test out an idea. It’s not like the traditional media world where everything you have ever written is captured for posterity. If you try something new and it doesn’t work on the blog, you can just delete it or make some upgrades.

Don’t like your post heading? Easy – just change it. Several times if you want to (just be careful not to change the slug or it will create a problem for search engine traffic).

Don’t like the navigation of your site? Easy again – create a new menu or move pages around within the existing menus.

I know my early attempts at reviews were pathetic. So I’ve deleted a lot of them. Others I have re-written so I don’t feel quite so embarrassed when I read them now. At one time I did a weekly post based on literary news/author news but I abandoned it because it was taking me far too long to do the research and I simply wasn’t enjoying it.

The point really is that the blog has evolved as I’ve tried to figure out what works best for me and my readers. It will likely evolve again in the future. The world of social media changes fast. What works today on a blog won’t necessarily work in the future. So I have to keep trying new approaches, failing and trying again. As Cristian Mihai says:

Effective bloggers never stop learning

Source: Cristian Mihail, The Art of Blogging

Lesson 3: Don’t Sweat The Figures

Trung Thanh @unsplash.com

There were times early on when I posted what I thought was a great piece of content only to find it generated little reaction. Sure I got a few ‘likes’ but hardly any comments which is the kind of interaction I value most.

When that happens over and over again, it’s easy to get despondent. Why bother you think if no-one is paying any attention. I started to doubt myself, especially when I saw other bloggers get scores of comments on their posts.

The lesson I’ve learned is that it takes much longer than we expect to build up a following on a blog. You can do it more quickly if you write lots of click-bait type content but that’s not what interests me.

It’s not just a case of writing ace content. You have to engage with people on their blogs – read what they’re posting, comment on it and share it via social media. The more I did that, the more people paid attention to what I was doing and I started to get more comments.

But here’s the thing. While it’s gratifying to get loads of comments, if you put too much emphasis on the numbers, blogging can get depressing.

Like most new bloggers, I fell into that trap. I regularly checked the traffic to my site, looking at:

  • Number of visitors
  • Number of comments
  • Number of followers

If the visitor count was up, I walked around while a smile; but if it went down and stayed down, I went around with a scowl.

It took five years (I’m a slow learner!) and a health scare to put all this focus on numbers into perspective. I still look at the stats; but not every day.

I pay more attention to the level of interaction I see via comments. Why? Because ultimately what keeps me motivated to blog is the connection to people who share my love of books and reading.

Blogging is a social environment. It’s a platform for you and I to talk to each other even if we are thousands of miles and many time zones apart. We may never meet in person but we can become friends through our mutual love of reading. Without the social element, of blogging, I may as well just write journal entries into a notebook.

The Best Reward

That social interaction more than compensates for all the times I’ve struggled to write a post or had to wrestle with the technical side of WordPress.

So to everyone who has sent me a message or left a comment; given me suggestions for new authors or shared your experience ….

Thank You

You inspire me. Give me confidence. And make me feel alive.

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on February 22, 2020, in Blogging and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 92 Comments.

  1. Congratulations on completing 8 years in the world of blogging. I recently wrote a post for blogging-beginners. Would love to get your feedback on it. 🙂

  2. WHOOHOO! I agree with everyone else, you’ve pretty much nailed it. The only reason I post multiple times a week (book reviews) is because I space them out and store them up, but there are also times where I’ll go a couple of weeks without posting.

    Going back to my original, this is a book journal for me that others are more than welcome to read really helped me reset my self expectations!

  3. First of all, congratulations on your 8th blogoversary, Karen! You really are my inspiration. I, too, have been struggling to keep up with blogging, what with full time job and all, but the blogging passion is still there. Lately I have been managing to “steal” time on Saturdays to write a bit. And thanks to you, I have searched online for lists of blogging ideas, and now I have quite a handful of plans to work the whole month.

    So, yes, blogging do requires time and efforts, but in the end, it’s well worth it!

  4. I loved reading this blog post Karen. I’ve only been regularly blogging on the classics for a couple of months, but also having had photography blogs in the past, I completely relate to the struggle to have regular new content. It isn’t easy to find the time or creativity, but as always, it’s love for the subject that gets people through. We are all in this together! Congratulations for 8 years blogging here, it is a wonderful achievement.

    • Some days it feels more of an uphill effort than others. But then you start ‘chatting’ to people via the comments and it makes it all feel worthwhile. Hope you keep at it Pete…

  5. Sheree @ Keeping Up With The Penguins

    Congratulations on eight wonderful years! (And I’m sure many more to come) My book blog is just a toddler in comparison, a couple years old, but I completely resonate with what you’re saying here. I feel like lessons two and three kind of inform each other. The best piece of advice I got when I first thought about starting a blog was from a long-time blogger who said “JUST START. Even if you get it wrong, it looks ugly, it’s not “optimised”, whatever, no one is listening yet anyway. But no one will ever get the chance to listen if you don’t START.” It’s always disheartening to put in the time (the time!!) and only hear crickets, but I tried to take solace in the fact that I was starting, learning, making mistakes and no one was around to see them yet. Looking forward to seeing how BookerTalk continues to grow and change, thank you so much for sharing these thoughts! ❤️

    • A very wise colleague told me that she felt we learned more from failure than we do from success. I’ve found that to be so true! Luckily in the blog world you can’t make too many catastrophic level failures so yes that advice about just plunging in and learning as you go is such good advice

  6. I loved reading this, I could relate in so many ways! Although I do mainly reviews, I seem to never run out of topics I’d LIKE to write about, I just can’t find the time to do it. I really enjoy reading your blog, so please keep going 🙂

  7. Well done on getting this far!

    People can tell when you’re not having fun and your numbers drop as a result. Therefore my advice has always been: Blog for yourself, write what you would like to read, and if other people join in, all the better.

    My posting, more specifically my reading then reviewing, has dwindled over the last few years. However, my numbers have been relatively consistent, and in fact 2019 was better than 2018 (not by much because yes We Dont Sweat The Numbers).

    What have I done differently? Social Media. I keep my pinterest boards active, I keep my twitter feeds active (yes, plural), I target specific themes to specific months. e.g.May is Comic books, so I tweet about my comic book reviews, no matter how old the review is. Feb is Romance reviews. November and December are for Christmas.

    • Its interesting to see your comment about social media. I do have a twitter account but don’t feed the bird that frequently I admit. I know I could do far more than I do but honestly I don’t know how people find the time to do this. I tried Pinterest but found it didn’t generate any interest in the blog so gave up on it. When you mention you use themes – does that mean that’s what you blog about in that month or what you feature on social media?

      • Themes: I dont necessarily BLOG about that theme, but I will Tweet (@brumnordie) about a specific theme. I tweet out links to reviews that I think fit a specific theme, no matter how old the review. So, in Feb, I could tweet a review I wrote 8 or more years ago – it’s a review of a Romance Novel, so why not? In May I tweet Comic Book reviews, no matter how old. One benefit is that it makes you review old content, and go “do I really want to share that?” It also lets people see older content that otherwise drops off the radar

        As to time, I do have scheduling software, so that allows me to target my time, schedule content well in advance, and when I’m at work, I let the software do all the heavy lifting!

  8. Congratulations on eight years! May there be many more years and books ahead!

  9. Congratulation on 8 years of blogging Karen, that’s no mean feat. I’m glad you’ve found what works for you and in the end that is what matters. You need to be blogging for you and not what you think somebody else wants. Here’s to another 8 years!!

  10. Congratulations on your anniversary! I agree with all your suggestions and sympathize with the things you’ve struggled with. I know your advice will be helpful to a lot of bloggers! You’ve been a great “blogging friend” over the years and I’m happy your blog is still going.

    I think being true to yourself and posting content that is meaningful to you is important advice for bloggers, and it’s appreciated in the long run by readers even if it doesn’t generate a lot of comments.

  11. Congratulations! Strangely enough, this is the second piece I have read this morning with tips on how to keep a blog alive. Both refer specifically to motivation, and techniques for ‘getting down to it’. You provide a great example to follow, with your regular, concise and entertaining posts.

    Here’s to the next eight years!

  12. Blogging does take energy and I think blogging about books takes more than most because you have to read the book first! Congratulations on 8 years!

  13. Congratulations on 8 years of blogging! Great post and so true what you wrote – even we often underestimate how much time it takes to get a blog running. It’s more than just writing a post – there’s planning, prepping, proofreading, thinking up ideas. And then growing your tribe and engaging with the community. Not to mention working on whatever the focus of your blog is, be it books, food, travel, or lifestyle.

  14. Interestingly, at least to me, after I saw this post yesterday, I learned that I have been with WordPress.com for 12 years. Even though I have been blogging for about 15 years altogether, I still think it’s something I need to commerate too with a post like yours. As for your post, I think the most important thing you say there is “don’t sweat the figures,” especially for those of us, most of those like you that I follow fit into this category, that do it for fun and not for a business The connections are what’s most important to me.. I’ve met so many like-minded, and sometimes not, book bloggers from all over the U.S., U.K, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to name but a handful of countries. All this said, I look forward to continuing to read your blog in the coming years.

    • I couldn’t agree more with your comment that many bloggers “do it for fun and not for a business” . I suspect there are some bloggers who think they can make money from their blog via affiliate links for example but there’s scant evidence of that from what I can see. Maybe others go into it just so they can get free books, who knows. None of that interests me. The day the blog ceases to be fun is the day I will know its time to pack it in

  15. Congratulations on sticking it out for eight years, and finding your way to solutions that satisfy you. It takes a LOT of time and energy to read and write as thoughtfully as you do. We are the beneficiaries! Happy blogging!

  16. Happy blogging birthday!! x

  17. I really enjoyed this post, and the comments reflecting on different experiences of book blogging. I post a lot less than once a week, particularly at the moment as life is just mad for me currently. I am looking forward to spending more time reading, reviewing and blogging in a few months’ time.

    I think it’s interesting to reflect on writing about what makes you happy vs what content loads of people will be interested in. A good example of this is my Robert Louis Stevenson obsession, I love him so much and am working my way through his complete works. My posts reviewing these books are among my least viewed but I just really enjoy reflecting on his writing – so I don’t worry too much about the fact it’s pretty niche!

    Happy anniversary x

    • I’m delighted to hear that you’re going to stick with your Stevenson reviews even if they don’t generate a lot of views. I have the same situation when I review authors from Wales. But I consider when we do this that we are being authentic which I think is essential for any blogger. It would be easy to write content that is popular but isn’t really interesting you. I know for example if I were to start reading a lot of YA fiction I could easily bump up my traffic but I don’t like YA so why would I do that? It’s just following the crowd.

  18. Happy blogiversary, Karen. Here’s to many more! 🥳

  19. Congratulations on your blogiversary! I enjoyed reading about your blogging history en route – useful tips and wisdom. You were the person who got me interested in reading Booker Prize novels – thanks so much! Please keep on blogging, at whatever pace, length or format suits you.

  20. This was the post I needed to read this morning – so wise! Thanks 🙂

    • Most of what I’ve learned has come from paying attention to what other bloggers have done and then having a go myself….. Book blogging is such a wonderful community of kind people.

  21. Congratulations on your eighth blog birthday! I’m just starting out so this is really encouraging advice for a newbie. You’ve reminded me of what’s important and why I decided to do this in the first place. Thank you, Karen.

  22. I love all your reflections here! Congrats on 8 years! That’s amazing! I’m approaching 3! I’m happy we’ve connected in the blogging world and thank you for the inspiration!

  23. Congratulations Karen, and terrific post.

    I agree that people underestimate the time it takes to blog when they start out. Luckily for me, when I started I had already been doing a bit of writing for online platforms, so I had a hint at the time and effort it takes to get layout, pics etc organised.

    I have never really worried about stats, simply by reminding myself what was my original purpose (record my thoughts about particular books, like a reading diary).

    • I never imagined it would be so hard to write a review given that I was a journalist for 9 years and then spent the next 30 years in corporate communications writing speeches, press releases, etc etc. But it takes a different skill so I have developed quite an admiration for people like you Kate

  24. Great post Karen. Actually, I’ve thought you’ve always had good engagement here!

    Like you I take a long time to write reviews and usually manage 1-2 per week, but I like to post about 3 times a week. That created a challenge for me early on, but about 15 months into blogging I created my Monday Musings posts which, I can’t believe, are now nearly 10 years old. I would never have imagined that I could have kept it going but somehow I have, and it has a bit of a following.

    I really don’t like blogger memes – but eventually did commit to Six Degrees because I like that it can help me remember and re-promote books I’ve read in the past. I have a couple of occasional series – My Literary Week (but I might only do a couple of those a year), and Delicious Descriptions (but I’ve only done a few of those too).

    For my other posts, I occasionally do Australian awards, but I’m not keen on doing them all. Not all interest me, and it can feel like I’m just repeating the press releases already out there, so if I can’t put my own little stamp on them I prefer not to do them. I also do Literary events that I attend. That can be ad hoc, but they are usually interesting for people who can’t get to them.

    Like you my stats would bring smiles or downers to my emotions, but over the years I’ve realised that while sometimes I can tell which posts will get big hits, and I’ve learnt that some times of the year are quiet (northern summers, and Christmas), much of the time the rise and fall of the stats are a mystery, and not the main thing. I keep an eye on them out of interest, but I’m no longer emotionally invested as I once was. (That said, the out-of-the-blue big jump will always give a little thrill 🙂 !)

    • I’m not a huge fan of memes either but needed, like you, to find content to fill a vaccuum between review posts. I do three but don’t follow them rigidly.
      Your Monday Musings is such a great idea and always well researched and considered; keeping that going for 10 years is phenomenal. Can’t be easy to find a new topic every week…

  25. Congratulations, Karen, it is a great achievement:)
    Like Kim, I don’t do the bookchat type posts, though I do the occasional #6Degrees and a Book Bingo if it appeals to me. But basically I just do reviews and try to keep up with Australian book prizes.
    One thing to consider about blogging every day is that your readership crosses over with the readership of the bloggers who’ve commented here on this post. And if all of us posted every day none of us would have time to read it all. I mostly only post when I’ve finished a book, and though obviously people are more likely to comment on book chat posts than on reviews, I’m happy with that.

    • Your output is staggering Lisa – you read so much that if you just did reviews you’d still have a very rich publishing schedule.
      It does take a considerable amount of time to read other people’s blogs. If you read 30 a day and spend 10 minutes on each thats 5 hours. I follow a lot more than 30 bloggers so it gets unmanageable to read/comment on every post. Some people I make a point of reading each new post, others I might read 1 in 2 posts etc….

      • Yes, I find there’s always lots more to read at the weekend… I sit down at the computer ready to write my latest review and then the next thing I’m reading 10 blog posts or more and half the morning is gone!
        I do like it if people tag their posts to indicate the content. If I see the tag ‘crime’ for example, I know I can skip that one.
        But like you, there are some bloggers that I always read each new post, and others where I’m a bit more selective. What I really like is when people review books I read a long time ago and their thoughts remind me of the book, which is lovely.

        • That tip about looking at the tag is a great one. I know if it says YA then I can skip it – yes I might miss something interesting but that’s a small risk and one I’m willing to take.

  26. Congratulations Karen. Maintaining a blog is a big commitment. Mine is about to turn 16 (!!!) but I’m not very diligent about it. I post roughly once a week although life does get in the way and sometimes there’s a longer gap. I only do reviews. Chatty posts just take too long and I don’t feel I have anything original to say; I used to do them for years but ditched them in 2014 and it was like a weight being lifted off my shoulders.

    • Wow you were quite the pioneer then Kim. Interesting that you find chatty posts take longer than reviews – I find the opposite! A review can take me days to write, I’m constantly fiddling with it…..

  27. Your blog is wonderful! As a reader I enjoy shorter reviews or just book talk. If I want an indepth review I’ll find that elsewhere. I don’t have time to read deep analysis each day. I live the personal side. Makes it feel like a letter. I love variety. As a blogger of 9 yrs I do it for myself and if others enjoy following that’s nice. It’s my journal. I am very sporadic with postings. Slme weeks I just don’t have energy so I don’t worry. I hope you continue posting for more years. 🤠🐧

    • You make a fabulous point about not wanting in depth reviews. I’ve seen a few blog sites which go into far too much detail. Others post the blurb and add a few sentences – I don’t really see the point of that because I can read the blurb anywhere

  28. Rachel Bridgeman

    Happy 8th blogger birthday!!

  29. Firstly, congratulations! And I agree with all your points. It *is* lovely when people interact (I think I was kind of looking for a bookish community when I started mine) but I’ve stopped looking at the stats too. Basically, I’m writing about what I enjoy writing about and that’s what matters!

    • I was asked a few weeks ago why I blogged and it came down to the same thing that you look for, the bookish community. Though I have friends who read none of them really want to talk about the books or they don’t read the kinds of things I’m interested in – the blogosphere more than fills the gap for me

  30. I had a book blog that I started in 2013 (I think) called Between the Covers that did pretty well. I had posts that were featured in a couple big-name online magazines and such. But I got tired of it (not physically tired, just…it didn’t feel like me anymore), so I stopped blogging. And then that defunct blog started weighing on me. It was too formal, I’d put far too much work into it to still call it a hobby, I don’t know…I just didn’t like it being out there still. So I deleted it.

    Started blogging again a couple of years ago. Vowed not to let it get that serious again. Started with an entirely new name and stuff. And I’m loving it. I have 60 blog followers as of right now, and I’m okay with that. I’ve found that I’m mostly doing it for me (I missed writing), and if others want to read my posts, too, then great! Yay! But I don’t want to take it as seriously as I did before.

    • Also, happy blog birthday! Congrats!

    • Wow, that was a brave move to delete all the content Heather. I wouldn’t have had the courage to press the delete button! I’ve just been taking a look at your blog and I can see the personality shining through. It’s made me think I should try to get more relaxed with my writing I think..

  31. Happy blogiversary, and thanks for this great post and your wonderful reviews.
    I had no idea that 90% of boo bloggers quit so quickly. I”ll be celebrating my 10th anniversary in September.
    Like you,for me the fact of sharing with others all around the world about books is THE most interesting part of book blogging.
    And to many more posts by you!

  32. Happy 8th Blogiversary! 😁

  33. Thank you so much for sharing your valuable experience of eight years. I could relate to it so much. I have also recently started blogging on my blog https://theinterestingreads.com/ and I really am obsessed with number of visitors to my blog. Your blog post has inspired me a lot and now I definitely know few things which I should do and which I shouldn’t do.

    • Don’t worry – all new bloggers get fixated on the statistics to begin with….
      I’m glad my experience has given you a few ideas. Good luck for the future

  34. Congratulations, it is an amazing achievement.

  35. Congratulations on eight years! Great advice – I’m always sorry when I see bloggers crash and burn after a few months of intense blogging. Since I don’t work I have more time than most bloggers, both to post and to read and comment on other people’s posts. But I reckon it takes me at least two or three hours a day and some days I’m simply not in the mood so end up with a backlog, so I totally don’t understand how people manage to combine it with a job or with a young family as so many do. As you point out, everyone really has to find what works for them rather than trying to meet some ideal of the being the perfect blogger. We’re all successful bloggers if we’re enjoying what we do…

    • I thought that when I stopped working I would have much more time for the blog. I do have some but its still a case of fitting it around other interests…..I also have a separate blog for my genealogy interest. So the two could easily become a full time occupation!

  36. Many congratulations on a superb achievement.

  37. Congratulations on 8 years. So much of what you say has resonated very strongly with me. We all make the same mistakes I am sure. Oh, and the time, it is time consuming. My love of books, and the community is what keeps me going. I am in my 8th year on WordPress though I had been blogging for 5 years or so before that on LiveJournal, in those days I wrote about everything, not just books. It was pretty rubbish I think. I transported it all over when I moved to WP – then deleted all the non book stuff, as my new blog became just books.
    One thing I don’t think it matters if people blog just once a week – people will still read and like posts that are well written /informative or fun. You do an excellent job anyway, so thank you l.

    • It’s reassuring Ali to hear that someone who has blogged for much longer than I have, that you’ve changed your approach over the years. Moving platforms like that was a brave move – I’d be afraid I’d lose everything.
      You are so prolific I don’t know how you manage to fit it in with working full time!

      • I was scared to death I had help, by help I mean Liz (Adventures in reading, running and working from home) who I’ve been friends with for about 15 years, did it for me. 😂

  38. Congratulations, Karen! I’m a year and a bit behind you. Like you, I hadn’t realised what a sociable bunch bloggers are, nor how much people I am highly unlikely to meet would come to mean to me, so much so that I begin to worry if they disappear from the blogosphere. I’ve also extracted myself from that stats trap. Much more enjoyable to write about what you want to than to produce a string of crowd-pleasers just for the numbers.

    • I thought you were well more advanced in blog years than that Susan – you’ve achieved a lot in a short time. Yes I’m afraid that a few of the friends I met early on have stopped blogging – one or two just keep recording their reading on Goodreads and interacting in those groups but some completely disappeared

  39. Congratulations! You have nailed the reality of blogging. I made a tweak this year to cut down the incredible amount of time it takes to keep a blog going. Yes, my numbers are down but I am much happier.

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