To channel The Bard, “To blog or not to blog? That is the question.” This blog has its tenth anniversary on Thursday. Subtracting out this post, I have written 1406 posts since the first one appeared on December 13, 2002. That’s 1,569,166 words, with an average of 1116 words per post.
In short, it’s a heap of writing and a heap of my time over ten years. I’m guessing I spent on average ninety minutes per blog post. I would have to sit down for more than eighty-seven days nonstop to match the same number of words. Blogging takes a huge amount of my time, but as a financial investment I’ve been panning for fool’s gold. I’ve earned just $343.51 in Google AdSense revenue over the years.
So naturally I have been considering calling it quits. Ending after completing exactly ten years seems like a logical time. Like cartoons, a blog tends to be best when it is fresh. When I look back at ten years of blogging, clearly my best writing was during the first few years of the blog. At times I have been repetitious, which is easy enough to do when you blog, as you can’t remember every single idea you have ever conveyed (and sometimes you don’t care). This may be reflected in my declining web statistics. It’s hard to say for sure since for years my statistics were probably wildly inflated by SiteMeter, but even during the time I have been metering traffic with Google Analytics I have seen traffic diminish by roughly half, maybe even more. I peaked at 8515 visits in February 2008 and fell as low as 1461 visits in June 2012. There is no perfect mechanism for measuring human traffic, and Google Analytics has had its issues too, as I documented. In general the trend has been down, which makes it easier to throw in the towel.
And yet measuring traffic via Google Analytics alone can be deceiving. This is because while GA measures web traffic, increasingly blog content is syndicated. GA does not track most of this usage. If you are reading this via email or a newsreader, you are reading the blog as syndicated content. As of today I have 85 syndicated subscribers, as measured by Feedburner. In short the number of subscribers to this blog is now roughly equal to the number of daily visitors I get via the web, maybe more. So while fewer people are finding my blog content via search engines, or pulling up the blog in their browser, more people are reading the blog through syndication. Presumably most these readers can be considered regular readers. Crunching my raw Feedburner statistics, I see steady growth in syndicated readers, as the attached graph shows:
I have also been tracking social media usage of my blog. I am a latecomer to this, and my reach via social media is certainly in the mediocre range. Since mid March 2012 I’ve been tracking social media usage by using AddThis. You can see how content is being shared from this graph:
My readers are largely a silent lot, with a handful of readers commenting regularly, but with most readers content to read only. Over ten years, I have logged just 891 legitimate comments. (Many more were obviously spam and were removed.)
In short, the statistics offer a mixed verdict on whether I should continue blogging. A number of commenters have said to continue blogging if it makes me happy. Overall, blogging does make me happy, but it also competes for my time among my many other interests, including my job and the time consuming chores that come with living.
It used to be that I would strive to write a blog post once every other day. If I could not keep up that pace, I would feel guilty. Now I am more relaxed about blogging. My slower rate of posts may be responsible for declining traffic. It is believed that one criterion for your search index ranking is how frequently content is added. So then perhaps it is not surprising that web traffic is down, as I am probably averaging two posts a week presently. However, at this point I cannot blog at a faster rate, at least not with an acceptable level of quality. Moreover, I have less to say than I did ten years ago. I don’t feel the chronic need to write simply to improve my search page ranking. Indeed, I have largely stopped writing posts that I know will boost traffic. Based on my popular pages, I suspect I could write a blog that critiques Craigslist, and probably get thousands of page views a day. But I simply don’t care that much about writing about Craigslist, pornography, human sexuality or Walmart, despite the fact that if I did write about these things regularly I would get much more traffic.
For those few enemies I have made over the years, I expect to keep blogging as the blog turns ten. To the rest of you, most of who choose to stay silent, I hope I don’t bore you too much, and you find some wheat among the voluminous chaff that makes up this blog. I take some pride in that Occam’s Razor has kept going so long, as it is ancient in the world of blogging, and that I have consistently maintained a high standard of quality throughout ten years of writing.
That people read my blog in any amount is really a bonus. The blog remains principally my sandbox, where I get to keep my creative juices flowing. Sometimes, perhaps serendipitously, I open a mind or move someone to tears. Although I usually have no idea when these events occur, or how often, perhaps I really write for these elusive moments.