Wednesday, December 30, 2015

State of the Blog III

Jim Bachor's mosaic "Thrive," installed at the Thorndale 'L' station in 2014.

    When I mentioned to my wife that I was sorting through the numbers for my third year end State of the Blog report, she replied, quickly and, I thought, rather emphatically, that I shouldn't. That nobody cares about the stats but me, and my doing so is unseemly, a personal flaw, and I should resist the urge. 
     To which my unspoken answer was: Yeah, and a pony for the children.
     Meaning, in some ideal world, it wouldn't matter if a piece of writing influenced one person or a million. Emily Dickinson's poems were just as good, written on sheets of paper and bound with thread into little booklets and jammed into a drawer at her home in Amherst as they'd be splashed across the cover the Ladies Home Journal. 
     But at some point somebody had to read them.
     And in the 24-hour-a-day roar, the howling free-fire zone that the Internet is, numbers seem to count for something. Anyway, the machine keeps track of them, and I do try to pay attention.  On days when I get 2,000 hits, such as today (assuming you're reading this on the day it's posted, Dec. 30, 2015) I feel as if I've accomplished something. If that is sin, then it is my sin, and I own it.
    Onward, as Rick Kogan would say. 
    The news is good, well, goodish. Last year I suggested that 50,000 hits a month would be some kind of success. I hit that mark for January-- 51,780--and surpassed it two more times, topping out at nearly 60,000--59,986--in August, almost 40 percent higher than the 2014 high of 43,000.
     In 2013, the daily average was 918. In 2014 it was 1200. This year it was 1539 a day.
     Not Kim Kardashian's ass breaking the Internet. But steady progress.
     The blog reached a million hits this year, averaging 47,718 hits a month. And while I estimate that 10 percent of those are Spambots, still a milestone of some sort. I held an on-line party the day we passed a million, with music and mingling, and several hundred readers showed up. That was fun. 
     Not the skyrocketing success that some blogs find. But not bad either, I'm told. We're going for the long term here. The blog is part life raft, part archive, part hobby, part unpaid job. 
    I can't pretend that stopping is an option at this point, for a variety of reasons. First, I get more control over the blog. Last May's post on performance artist/singer Amanda Palmer sticks in mind. I thought it an interesting encounter, and had pictures, and asked the paper for a page, which I'd thought I'd get. Then late in the day, pressing news intruded and I had my usual 750 words, and I had to cut the column in half, clumsily, at the last minute. Which would have really irked me, but it remained the same on the blog, and that is what would be available the next day. Palmer's husband, fantasy writer Neil Gaiman, retweeted it to his 2 million followers, meaning it reached far more people through Twitter than through the paper. The print edition is becoming an increasingly mooted, momentary paper interlude, and that trend will only continue.
    Which is the second reason the blog is important. It's about he only way you can find archived columns of mine. The newspaper, for some unfathomable reasons, yanked its archive off line, and you can either pull them out of Nexis, or find them here. Several times I've tried to refer people to columns which, though only a few weeks old, have already vanished. So having them here is important, to the degree that my columns being available is important, and that conversation I will leave to you.
     I'm skipping the poster this year. The 2015 poster sold eight copies, and while I enjoyed making wheat paste and slapping them up in the West Loop, that isn't reason enough to commission a new one. Maybe for the book, which comes out in the fall. I'm also thinking of creating a coffee cup instead for 2016, to give out as prizes.
     What else? Marc Schulman of Eli's Cheesecake returned sponsorship of the blog for the holidays and through January, and I am grateful to him for that, and urge you to show your appreciation as well by sending the gift of cheesecake to yourself or a loved one.
    Finally, as always, thank you for reading this stuff. Without you, I would be talking to myself. 

17 comments:

  1. While I'm sure none of your readers bases their decision to swing by on your hit rate, it seems perfectly natural for you to care about it. Why shouldn't you want to know how many people are interested in your work? I get a little bit of enjoyment when one of my Facebook posts gets a lot of "likes," and believe me, I'm not talking hard-hitting stuff there. Congrats on your widening pool!

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  2. Does it cost the paper anything to keep an archive? Since everything pretty much stays on the internet you can probably find columns if you know what it is about and google it.

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    1. That's just the thing. You can't. They're not there. I have no idea why.

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  3. You should be proud of the growing readers here. At any rate, tell Mr. Schulman he'd sell even more if he remembered borderline diabetics,full diabetics or just those watching their sugar intake and make a sugar free version. Some stores sell sugar free baked goods, so should the CF.

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    1. The blog makes for good reading and food for thought-even if do not always agree.

      Also, CF should go for a lowfat cc version.

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    2. With a bit of research-found they do have lowfat and low sugar versions. If one is too far from their Chicago or Oakbrook restaurants they can order it for shipping. Jewel stores carry their products though not the lowfat/lowsugar type.

      http://shop.elicheesecake.com/category/skinny

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    3. They even have a gluten-free version.

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    4. FYI, Eli's Cheesecake and The Cheesecake Factory are two different businesses.

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    5. My mistake,thanks, had realized that later. But the rest of the info is correct.

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  4. Your writing is excellent, as are the various topics introduced. I'm not surprised your audience is growing. I also believe this format is more intimate, more appealing to readers. May continued success be with you!

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  5. The coffee cup sounds great. I'm trying to think of a contest that I'd have a better chance of winning than the name-the-place Saturday standard, but I guess it wouldn't be fun if it were too easy.

    john

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  6. The coffee cup sounds great. I'm trying to think of a contest that I'd have a better chance of winning than the name-the-place Saturday standard, but I guess it wouldn't be fun if it were too easy.

    john

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  7. How about a blog on the Bill Cosby situation?

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  8. If the paper ever does go the way of the dinosaur, I believe a second career as a photographer could be in order. As much as I enjoy your writing, I am equally impressed with each day's photo. Keep up the great work, and as someone earlier mentioned, even when I don't always agree, it is always stimulating to hear others points of view. I pity those who only surround themselves with like minded people. Like William Wrigley once said about business partners, "When two men always agree, one of them is unnecessary."

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  9. I love reading your blog every goddamn day Neal. Your writing is enjoyable, and so are your pictures.

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  10. Wow. I belong to a very exclusive club. Only 7 other people with impeccable taste and wisdom paid for a poster. Now that you've formally announced the end of the run I'm sure the value will skyrocket.
    Al.

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  11. (Your blog post on Amanda Palmer introduced me to Neil Gaiman, who is a genius; for that I'm grateful.) This blog has certainly sprouted from a seedling into a flourishing work of art, for which I'm even more grateful. I can't imagine not having it on my screen each and every morning.

    Your archived columns are indeed impossible to resurrect. I've tried Google and every other source on the Internet, to no avail. Nexis is an option, unless you choose to start posting them here, perhaps one every day (if you start from your first column, there would be enough interesting reading material to bring us into old age :)

    To all the friends and fans of EGD, Happy New Year. And to our most thoughtful host, have a wonderful 2016.

    SK

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Thanks for commenting. As soon as I vet your remarks, they'll be posted, assuming they aren't, you know, mean and crazy.