Nostalgia: A Year in Blogging

It's been a while. Berryz Kyuuden's first birthday and my first anniversary in the blogging world has come and gone. My 10,000th visit is on the horizon. Then I have the Church of Maasa blog which has also gotten it's fair share of readers in the last 9 months. These are incredible feats in and of themselves. I've really come a long way. Blogging is a difficult pastime, and generally a thankless one. But it's riddled with those little moments that make you think, "Yeah. It's great to be a blogger."

13 months ago I was just a forumer and a big fan of Hello!Project. But I wasn't at all known outside of Musume-Central. I'd made a mark there, a sizable one in fact. I'm one the longest serving active members on the forum - perhaps part of the reason seek saw fit to make a moderator. But the truth is even then only a small group of people knew me. On Hello!Online I was still a no-name poster with a dozen posts in the Sudou Maasa member thread. Now I'm a no-name poster with approaching 200 posts in that thread. But it was through the occasional visit there that I stumbled across Shirow and his blog, Wotaku Now!

After reading his blog I became a fan. I loved his writing style and I became inspired. "I'll create my own blog, and be like Shirow!"

Well, okay. I didn't quite sound like I was 7 years old, but you get the idea. Anyway, I created the blog and, luckily, I already had a name decided. I had originally tried to create my own Berryz fan site long before the blog and had named it "Berryz Palace", the English translation of Berryz Kyuuden which is, like the blog's name, taken from Berryz Koubou's 2007 Summer tour which was and still is my favourite concert to date. Well, that site and the idea to continue it was long since dead and when creating this blog I decided to go with a similar theme and gave it the same, or rather, related name. I wrote my first entry, then a second.

I decided to give the blog a bit more interest I needed a cooler theme. That's where my good friend Liamers came into it all. He's a top-notch graphics artist and I'd known him since he joined and became active on Musume-Central at the end of 2007. I can't remember if he offered or if I asked him to make the banner, but he did. And Liamers' work has adorned the top of my blog ever since as one image or another. I wonder, can you remember the first Berryz Kyuuden theme which Liam helped me create? Here is the banner which sat at the top of the page back then.

Ah, now that brings back memories. The blog looked much darker back then. Kudos to Liam as that must have been a pretty difficult image to work with that I gave him. But he still managed to create that elegant, yet magical, header I was looking for. I believe it was ripped from the back cover of the Berryz Kyuuden concert photobook and is the only theme to date that actually featured a pic from the Berryz Kyuuden concert in the header. I loved the costumes. And that spotlight on Captain.

I had that theme for quite a while. But it eventually got quite boring to look at. The whole blog was in that dark purple colour and made the blog quite dull and boring to look at. I opted for brighter colours and thought they would improve the blog. In the end this culminated into me giving Berryz Kyuuden a plain white background and the original version of the header you see at the top now. That time we decided to go with something more simple and reminiscent of a comic book. Although the header was edited by me recently. The image is still the same, but I simplified it a bit so it didn't interfere with my most recent theme change (more on that later). Anyway. I'd like to think that lightening the theme had a positive impact on the blog, but I can't really be sure.

What do you think?

For the early days however, traffic to the blog was minimal. It wasn't until that first write-up on International Wota by maiZe (CK later started covering my blog on there) that my blog got attention. Suddenly I was getting views. I was thrilled! View count may just be a number, but when you first start out blogging you watch that number every day hoping that more people are going to read what you have to say. And every little milestone you feel the need to celebrate. 100 hits? It's a miracle! Working up from a grassroots beginning is difficult but a satisfying process no matter what you are working on. And when my blog started to get acknowledged, not just by the IW community at large, but by Shirow himself - the man who had inspired me from the start... I was overjoyed! I began to feel that I had accomplished something.

Since then I began to make a name for myself. People would come up to me on various sites and IRC and say, "Hey, you're Dran from Berryz Kyuuden, right? I read your blog!" I must say that this is quite the ego boost. Nothing makes you happier than knowing that people read your blog, especially when those people can take something away from it. Really, that's the goal of any writer. Reading the occasional comments you people leave on my blog always cheers me up. My entry "An English-language guide to wotagei" sparked such an amazing response, it still gets the occasional comment today, several months after it was posted.

Anyway, the new theme? It's very much the same as it was before. But I've added in a nice little touch, namely those background pictures. So far I have 7 Berryz ones which will display at random every time the page is loaded. I hope to add more over time. There are still a few bugs I have to roll out at higher resolutions, but ultimately I'm rather proud of the whole affair. Let me know what you think. I honestly don't know why it took me a year before I thought of it.


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