Friday, January 02, 2009

2008 blogging post-mortem

So this is where I do a little post-mortem on the blog and how it did in 2008 and where I should take it in 2009.

First, I managed to post 335 times, which is up slightly from last year, but still down from 2006. I have no earthly idea how I managed to post 398 times in 2006, but I won't be hitting that number again unless someone starts paying me vast sums of money to write this thing on a regular basis. Given the current economy, I suspect that's highly unlikely.

I didn't post every day. Hell, I didn't post 335 days either; there were plenty of days when I double posted. If I had to guess, I managed to put something up around 300 days last year. I'm pretty happy with that. There are bloggers who manage to get up several posts a day and, again, I have no idea where you find the time to do that. I managed to end the year much stronger than I started in terms of blog posting. If I can keep up this pace this year I will be happy.

As for blog statistics, I'm pretty happy with that also. The number of people reading the blog grew at a nice steady pace, as this graph shows.

The year was actually puttering along to be much the same as 2007, but then the blog experienced a massive traffic spike, starting at the end of August and carrying right on through to the end of the year. Not really much of mystery why that happened. There was the US presidential election, plus a federal election and, to a lesser extent, the Nunavut election. One post in particular - Levi Johnston's 2008 so far - drew a lot of traffic. How much? Well, take a look at the traffic stats for the month of September. It's by far the biggest month the blog has ever had.

But I think the surprising thing is that I had this massive traffic spike and a lot of people stuck around. Normally when you get linked to things (and this post was linked to and sent around by email) you get a lot of one-time readers and that's it. They read that post and disappear. But that didn't happen. Even after the elections were over and I went back to my usual rambles, my readership is noticeably higher now than what it was before. Which is kind of cool.

So what are the plans for 2009? I plan on keeping the number of blog posts about the same. I'll try and do a better job of editing the posts, as I often have the bad habit of writing them, doing a quick scan and then posting them. Yes, I'm not writing for a newspaper, but this is still writing being read by the public, so something a touch more professional is in order.

No idea what to do with the layout, really. I'm not happy with it, but I have no idea really what else to do. None of the other layouts that Blogger has is all that appealing to me, so unless something jumps out, I'll likely stick with this one. Although I should try and change the top image more often. I like what Jen does with hers, changing it each month with a new saying. I'm not going to rob that completely from her, but I will try and change the top image more, so I don't have a picture of ice fields on top when it's the middle of July.

I'm going to keep trying to improve the writing, but I'm not going to narrow the focus to any one topic. I'll get bored in a hurry and I think people will leave. Politics isn't everyone's thing, but some like it and those who don't tend to stick around for my comments about living in the north or on popular culture. And for all those who mock curling, well, every time The Curling News linked to me (as they did several times this year, thanks guys) my stats would spike.

So I think the diversity works and I plan to keep at it for now.

I just need to remember that while I want to try and post every day, it's not enough to just throw up garbage or post a bunch of links (random link posts are something I have to kill in 2009. They're lazy and no one comments on them). The challenge of trying to post every day is that it gets you in the habit of writing every day. The next challenge is to post something well written every day.

And while I'm happy with my stats, I still have no plans to put advertising on the blog. I would literally make pennies given my current stats. They're ugly, so I'm not going to bother. Although I hope to grow the readership more, obviously. My goal for 2009 is 85,000 page loads, 69,000 unique visitors and 35,000 returning visitors. This makes Townie Bastard a very modest blog in the great big blogosphere.

I could certainly grow it more if I wanted to. Sign it up to more lists. Throw lots more time and effort into it. But I'm happy with the way it is now.

Of course, this is just me rambling about improvements I think need to be made. You guys are the ones reading it. Where do you see areas of improvement? Are there things you would like to see more of or less of (the curling posts are going to keep happening. Build that bridge, guys)? Design suggestions? Should I look at doing what Megan did and spin away from Blogger? Suggestions are welcome.

Last Five
1. Emotional weather report (live) - Tom Waits*
2. Steam Engenius - Modest Mouse
3. Code red - Tori Amos
4. The big fight - Stars
5. Don't leave home - Dido


Megan said...

OK, since you asked for design suggestions:

I think your sidebar is cluttered. Can you pull some of those sections into separate pages? Maybe you could set up a poll to find out which links your readers use, and keep those.

I like your idea to switch the header up, especially since your site is no-frills. Jen does it really well.

Blogger's fine, I think. I decided to move because the URL didn't make sense for my blog name (I picked it with zero thought in 2006) and I decided that I wanted a new look. I have no design talent, so I switched over to Wordpress and hired someone who knew what she was doing. Blogger makes a lot of things easy, though. If I knew more about design, I might have stayed there. You can even buy and keep using Blogger: you just mess with the settings and it all flips over for you automatically.

nocurling said...


do your statistics include folks like me who read via an rss feed? i USED to visit the site to see what was up, but found it easier to just let the site come to me. (plus then i didn't have to visually avoid the mastcot...).

loved the canadian mixed curling posts - wish i'd been there - and great pix.

olympia, wa

John Andrews said...

i agree with megan... sidebar is a bit cluttered. my inclination would be to reduce the amount of stuff over there and, additionally, reduce the amount of attention to it by making the headers a bit smaller. i like the top header though.

towniebastard said...

I don't check my Feedburner stats as often as Statcounter, but I do seem to be keeping track of a few people visiting via that route. I think I have about 9 regular readers coming to the blog via different feeds.

As for the sidebar being too clutter, I can see that. Although honestly I was thinking of adding a section for webcomics I read.

Still, a few could probably go. I'll take a closer look, although a poll isn't a bad idea either.

SBB said...

Keep on being yourself, if you're pretending to be someone else, then keep pretending. Let other people worry about the other stuff, I read because I am interested in you and your personality. Although curling is really asking me to stretch, you don't over do it. Don't change just to change,(remember new coke) do what you want.