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.
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