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January 8, 2010

this blog turns seven

My first blog post was on January 8, 2003. Since then, I have rather obsessively posted every single work day (except when we've been on family vacations). The archives of this blog have accumulated 1,377 posts and 969,405 words.

I try not to be self-referential, but once a year, on my "blogday," I reflect a little about this forum. In 2009, the big change was my decision to have each post automatically reprinted on Facebook (and, later, tweeted on Twitter). I've enjoyed the Facebook feed because it's an unobtrusive way to tell people about new posts; and then it's easy for them to comment or show that they "like" something I've written. I now direct people who want to comment on my blog to my Facebook page. I also waste a whole lot of my own time on Facebook ....

I don't think the content of my blog changed appreciatively during its seventh year. I wrote somewhat less about electoral politics and young voters, because there was no national election. I still tried to serve up a mix of news from the field of civic engagement, reflections on current events, some philosophy, some arts, and a bit of light verse.

In 2009, there were 83,800 visits to the main blog page. That doesn't count people who read the blog on Facebook or via RSS feeds. The number of visitors was almost exactly the same as in 2008, but there are huge seasonal variations. I know from seven full years of experience that I always get many more visitors in the spring and fall than in the winter and summer. November is typically the peak month, especially when an election draws people interested in youth voters. In November 2008, there were 13,186 visits to the main page, or 440 each day. The daily average for the year 2009 was just 230.

Would-be bloggers shouldn't seek my advice, since I've never built a large audience myself. But for what it's worth, I would advise thinking about your archive as much as your current posts. After a while, you will build up quite a store of text that search engines index. If you blog about only current events, your archive will be swamped by unimaginable quantities of other people's writing. No one finds my old posts about Bush and Kerry by Googling for those search terms. But if you blog about somewhat offbeat topics, your archive becomes a store of accessible material. I guess that 80% of visitors to my website do not look at my post of the day, but rather arrive at an old post via a web search. Of late, they have been looking for Nabokov heroines, my late friend Cole Campbell, what parents want for their children, and the Spanish Renaissance painter Juan Sánchez Cotán. I am happy to oblige such tastes.

January 8, 2010 9:01 AM | category: Internet and public issues | Comments



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