Sunday, January 01, 2012

The Evolution of the Penny Thought

Well, it’s a new year, and therefore a time of change. The grand experiment that is the “Penny Thought” began two years ago. I had just come off a difficult year for me when I wasn’t able to get to the cinema nearly as much as I would’ve liked. My weekly reviews were sporadic at best, and several times throughout the year, I had gone two weeks or more without a post. The visitations to my site were suffering. I had to do something to increase my readership.

Up until the invention of my “Penny Thoughts”, I often fielded inquiries about movies I’d seen but for which I hadn’t written a review. This included current video releases and older films. I had been writing my impressions of movies for a Facebook app that has since gone the way of the Dodo, and I thought, why couldn’t I publish those as a sort of mini review for the movies I saw that didn’t get a full-length. So I decided to publish a weekly feature that would include mini-reviews of all the movies I watched at home during the week. “Penny Thoughts” was born. I published my first Penny Thoughts in January 2010.

The truth is the evolution of the Penny Thought goes back much further than that. One of my earliest and favorite reviews I’ve ever written for this site was for the movie “Be Cool”. It remains to this day the shortest review I’ve ever written. I didn’t think I’d ever write a review like that one again. When I’m writing a full-length review, I feel the need to give whatever film I’m critiquing full respect in considering as many of its aspects as I can in a reasonable amount of space. A review like the one I wrote for “Be Cool”, while appropriate to the quality of the movie, doesn’t do that. Penny Thoughts is a venue in which I can give just my impression of a movie rather than lavishing a fully functional review on it.

Penny Thoughts has been immensely successful in fixing the problems I was having with my critiquing output a couple of years ago, and it has been even more successful in increasing the amount of traffic to my site. By October of its first year, Penny Thoughts doubled the amount of discrete visits to A Penny in the Well, to a total of 25,000 since I began tracking visits in 2008. By the end of February 2011 that number had doubled once again. At its current rate, the number should double again and we could reach 100,000 discrete visits by April 2012. Compared to other movie sites on the web, those numbers aren’t immensely impressive, but it’s encouraging that my readership is growing at a steady rate. However, I want more.

During 2012, A Penny in the Well will become a daily site, with new posts every day. Those posts will be coming from Penny Thoughts. The expanded feature will no longer be a weekly. I will feature a new film review each day within the new Penny Thoughts format. Each film will get its own individual post. This will make it easier to search the site for movies that you, the reader, want to know about. The best way to search the site remains the Blogger search field located at the top left corner of the page. I hope to redesign the entire site to be more user friendly in the coming months. Hopefully we can make it even easier to find my opinion on the movies you want to know about.

For those on my e-mail list, don’t worry. You won’t be receiving an e-mail on my latest review every day. The e-mails on A Penny in the Well postings will now be sent out once a week and will include a link to each new posting during that week. Of course, if you no longer wish to receive e-mail notices, just reply with a message asking me to remove your e-mail address. Anyone wishing to be added to my e-mail list, go to my profile and contact me through the “E Mail” link. And hey, follow me.

The reviews I’m writing for Penny Thoughts today are much more insightful and detailed than when they first began. Some reviews are even nearing my featured full-lengths in word count. But, Penny Thoughts will still allow me the venue to write mere impressions on movies that I don’t feel need any more or that I’ve screened several times throughout the years. Needless to say, Penny Thoughts are here to stay and like the whole of A Penny in the Well will evolve to continue to give my readers the best insight on the web into the movies we watch.

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