Actually, it’s my blog’s birthday. That’s right, I’ve been blogging one full year now here at wordpress. My first post, “Are You A Coffee (Flavor) Acheiver”, was published August 10, 2008.
Time flies when you’re having fun! So 50+ posts and 7,500+ visits later, what’s my take on it all….?
I remember that when I announced my departure from blogging, under the screen name “Anarchist” (which my blogging buddies from that time still call me), at Tallahassee Democrat Online (TDO), my local newspaper’s website, one of their staff suggested that I’d lose readership. Since I never really knew what my readership there was because I had no stats screen, I interpreted the comment to mean that I’d lose a captive audience pool.
And while that was true, I looked at that aspect from this perspective: I was freeing myself from a limited audience for a much larger pool. The 2007 combined population estimate for the tri-county area served by the newspaper is 320,000. I doubt they were all reading TDO.
WordPress has over 200,000 bloggers and we can easily search all wordpress blogs for topics of mutual interest. And, after we post, wordpress automatically generates links between related blog topics. WordPress is also searched by other sites (including Google) and I’m alerted when a non-wordpress site links back to me.
So from a readership perspective, I believe I have a much larger audience now than I ever had, or could have, at TDO. I have nine subscribers who receive my posts either by e-mail or RSS feed. In the year I’ve been here, my blog has been visited over 7,500 times. That’s an average visitor count of about 145 per weekly post. And I only post once a week. Yes, some of that total is folks returning to check on comments, replies, etc. but hey… a visit is a visit is a visit. Besides, who’s counting…? 😉
It wasn’t readership that precipitated my decision to leave TDO. It was the… anarchy 😉 … there from serial posters and trolls that convinced me there had to be a better place to blog.
The fact is, what was (is?) happening at TDO is quite normal for newspaper sites. The same nastiness happens on other newspaper sites, including national sites like USAToday. That’s probably par for a “public square” website; I prefer a homey “salon” experience of genteel folks. Yes, I’m an elitist and proud of it! (Although Fakename says I’m an oligarchist, and there’s probably truth to that too…. 😉 )
Even without the trolls and serial posters, I think eventually I’d have left TDO for a “full fledged” blogging site anyway. Blogging sites have all sorts of custom options to enhance the blogging experience. From “bling” features such as my own photo header of a scenic Philippine location at the top of my blog; to surveys I can create and insert “on the fly” as I write a post; and detailed statistical information about my readers and posts, such as what search terms they used to find me, what sites they arrived from if from a link, etc. (I’ll provide an interesting update on that next week.)
The statistics confirmed what I always suspected: that the most popular posts are non-political ones. My most popular post to date is a compilation of links to my favorite 60s and 70’s music videos at YouTube, although the links often go bad as lawyers threaten copyright infringement. Followed by a post on Philippine cuisine and then two posts about coffee.
I’ve noticed how different topics bring in readers from sites that link back to me. Two posts about poker were linked to by two poker / casino sites. A post about how I had completed all my Christmas activities the first week in December was linked to by a site containing a post about Christmas stress. A post about the importance of laughter was linked to by a site which I‘m still confused about.
And then, of course, there was that coffee post which led to an influx of searchers looking for Guatemalan porn. When I wrote about those searchers, it only made my site even more attractive for those with that niche interest. Maybe when I retire, I can make some extra income with a website for those folks…. 😉
(When you finish reading this post, do a search here at wordpress for “Guatemalan porn”; my post on that is the first link you’ll see. And once this post is indexed, it will probably be the second link for that search term. Then all I need to do is link back to that website I may create and ka-ching! When I flee the country ahead of the feds, y’all can say you knew me before I became the king of Guatemalan porn …lol!)
Perhaps I’ve gained some new permanent readers from these posts. Even if not, I’m at least getting a mix of readers depending on the post. Just as in life, variety is the spice of blogging.
My biggest concern was whether I could find a topic to write about once a week, every week, month after month. To my surprise, that never became an issue. Now my concern is scheduling posts so they are still “fresh” since I often have two or three topics in development in any one week.
In reviewing my posts over the last year according to category, travel topics came in at #1 with 12 posts. Followed by “uncategorized” at 11, politics at 9 and food at 8. Usually, it’s not the topic du jour often overdramatized by the talking heads and their print brothers in the op ed portion of the newspaper that draws my attention. Most folks don’t’ really care about those topics.
No, it’s the little things that catch my interest as I surf CNN or USAToday. (Like a survey about what folks think about while taking a shower, a post I have yet to fit in.) Some posts are based on personal experiences; others on personal interests.
After I left TDO, some blogging buddies (Fakename, eehard, and, soon after that, PTFan1) from there followed me here within a few weeks. Their blogs are quite healthy, although it seems PT is so busy in his new status as a retiree that his postings are not as prolific as when he was at TDO. And, he’s posting more about baseball, jazz and tea than politics. When Nick (a/k/a/ eehard) broke his leg, PT sent him some exotic tea, which Nick, Fakename and I sampled when I invited them to my home for dinner on the occasion of Nick’s birthday.)
Later, two other TDO bloggers that I had interacted with there joined wordpress: Intimidator and FloridaCat. I’ve linked to all of them on my blogroll at the right.
And I’ve discovered some bloggers I’d otherwise not have learned about had I not come to wordpress. Such as Terri Terri Quite Contrary, who’s actually…well, I’d better not say it. She’s a bit sensitive about that… 😉 And then there’s Helen and Margaret, two old ( in both senses of that word) friends from way back who share a blog that receives hundreds of comments each post. They are unbelievable! I’ve linked to them as well.
What I did not expect when I began blogging was how much time it would involve. I thought it’d be maybe two hours a week to write a weekly post. But when I include reading and commenting on other blogs, it’s more than I want to think about. Fortunately, I don’t have many other commitments on my time, or I’d probably not be able to do it.
I’ve found a wonderful home at wordpress. I never have to wonder about the “life” of my posts. They are on my front page for seven days; at TDO, seven hours was a long life. And in the past year, I’ve not had a single – not one – nasty comment.
I have no problem with vigorous intellectual debate, which folks like PT can provide. What I will not tolerate are the ad hominem comments (e.g., “you idiot”) from folks who lack the intellect to provide intelligent repartee. But, I tend to stay away from the “controversial” topics anyway because they often involve values and those are not debatable.
So what’s in my blogging future? Y’all just have to come back each Sunday and find out!
That’s enough speech for this birthday….help yourself to some virtual celebratory cheese, Spanish fino sherry and olives.
Then help yourself to something more substantial: how about a $25 restaurant coupon for $2? Hopefully, this deal is still valid, because Ted’s Montana Grill in my area was “sold out”…