It’s been pretty quiet around here, I know. It’s for a good reason–I’ve been pressing my nose firmly to the grindstone trying to finish revising a novel. Having just done that (at least for this draft) I should be back more often. In fact, I spent a few hours tonight updating my Comics Archive page, so you can easily access every single comic I’ve ever uploaded.
The whole site theme is new, you might notice, including a spiffy new portfolio where I can centralize all my creative output: Fiction, comics, essays, and even photography, a hobby I’ve been pursuing more recently.
I’ll be back again soon, but for now feel free to poke around, and let me know if you find anything that isn’t working properly.
(The comic below isn’t new, it’s a personal favorite from 2014.)
This post is some wonky navel-gazing, so feel free to click away if that kind of thing doesn’t interest you. Might I recommend my personal favorite post of the year?
This was an odd year at Nomencreature, as it was everywhere else. It likely would have been the biggest year this little blog has ever seen, if not for my host screwing me. More on that in a minute.
I started the year vowing to dedicate myself to blogging, but then in January suffered some personal trauma and wound up taking a 6-month break until July. As a tip for fellow bloggers: Six month breaks are not great for readership. I didn’t write much of anything in those six months, other than tweets and private journal entries. Also not great for aspiring novelists.
The Saga of My Top Post of the Year
When I finally got back in the saddle, I found some readers. My most popular post of the year–by far–was Dear White People, Your Safety Pins are Embarrassing, which followed the Trump election. This was certainly my most-read essay ever, but most people didn’t read it here. That’s because my host at the time, Site5, decided to turn off my site as soon as my traffic grew. It remained offline for about a week until I found a new host (Inmotion).
Site5 was great when I first signed up with them, but then they were purchased by a larger hosting company and everything went downhill. To illustrate: Once before, a post went viral and crashed my site. That was a February 2015 piece about Caitlyn Jenner (at the time identifying by her male name and pronouns) which crashed my site after 350,000 views. The Safety Pin article did so at around a tenth of that.
That’s why, when the Huffington Post asked if they could reprint the piece, I made an exception to my usual rule that says I don’t allow others to profit from my work without paying me. I lost track of how many reads the piece got at HuffPo–their counter doesn’t seem to be accurate, but it was shared more than 250,000 times on Facebook alone. I also cross-posted the piece at Medium, where it got more than 130,000 views.
It feels safe to believe more than one million people might have read that piece, but here at Nomencreature it got 38,186 (as of this writing). Thanks, Site5.
The Big Picture, and the Money
By the end of 2016, this site will have received just over 75,000 views, making 2016 my third-biggest year, after 2013 (85K) and the monster, 2015, at 423,000 views.
For that traffic, I earned just under forty dollars through AdSense, the only way I monetize this blog. I make a little less than some bloggers because I don’t allow ads for supplements, plastic surgery, gambling, get-rich-quick schemes, astrology, or phone apps. Those are the highest-paying advertisers, and Google keeps recommending I change my policy, but I don’t want my readers getting scammed, triggered, or told that their bodies aren’t good enough.
By my math, I spent just over $250 this year on various costs directly associated with this site (hosting, templates, domain transfer) which puts me in the red for the tenth consecutive year.
Incidentally, it is possible to make money doing this. That Caitlyn Jenner article in 2015 made around $750 before my site crashed. It’s just hard when your web host, to whom you pay a not-insignificant-monthly-sum, turns off your site before it even earns back the money it cost that day.
Other Top Posts
While 2016 was not much for traffic here at Nomencreature, it’s safe to say I found more readers as an author than ever before. Not only did that Safety Pin piece take off, but its companion piece, How to Easily be a White Ally to Marginalized Communities, did similarly. Here, it got only 7,000 views, and at HuffPo only about 2,500 views (though Facebook says it got 2,500 shares, so something is definitely screwy with HuffPo’s stats) but at Medium it got more than 614,000. Also, it was reprinted at GOOD (who paid me for it, bless them) and while I have no idea how many times it was read there, it got about 1,600 Facebook shares.
My third-place post, oddly enough, is It’s About Time Somebody Called Out Blue Bloods, an essay from two years ago calling out the CBS series for its questionable treatment of race. All of this traffic comes from Google searches. I don’t know, I guess a lot of people agree that Blue Bloods is kind of racist. It got 4,700 views.
My Personal Favorites
My favorite essay of the year was It’s Time for Republican Party to Abandon its Racist Base, and I’ll tell you why: I wrote this a couple of weeks before the election, when I was so assured that Trump was going to get trounced that I felt confident telling the GOP–in advance–what it had to do if it ever wanted to win another Presidential election.
Nonetheless, it remains a clear and concise (in my opinion) summary of how the Republican Party came to embrace White Supremacy, and why they must move away from it if they want to be viable in the future. Maybe it will actually be relevant again someday.
I’d also like to plug The Electoral College Must Go, without dispute the essay I worked longest and hardest on. It originally ran as a five-part series, laying out a comprehensive and non-partisan argument against the electoral college…that nobody read. I even made charts and graphs. Oh well.
What’s in Store for 2017?
I’ll be honest, I don’t really have a comprehensive plan. I use this site to pretty much write about whatever strikes me–whatever engages my interest enough to generate a cogent essay–and to keep my writing skills sharp. Oh, and when I have something to say on Twitter that takes WAY more than 140 characters.
As my readership grows, I may consider options for monetizing this work. It does take up a significant amount of my time, and though I’d do it anyway, I would like to earn something back. I currently have no intention to become a full-time essayist because (and here I’ll be quite blunt) my day job already pays a lot more than most essayists, even very popular ones, make. So whatever small amount I might earn from this would be great. I don’t know. I may look into Patreon, but something tells me the time investment there might not pay for itself.
I do intend, again, to blog more regularly. I’d also like to post more cartoons. It’s not that I don’t have ideas, I generally don’t have the time. I’m currently working a day job, running a small side business, and working on finishing a novel–and I have several other creative projects and collaborations I’m juggling at any given time.
I’d love the opportunity to focus full-time on creative endeavors, but income-wise that feels a long way off. In the meantime, I’ll just keep doing what I have been doing. I mean hey, by my count across multiple platforms, around 2 million people (maybe more) read my essays and/or cartoons. That’s pretty freakin cool.
Also, I did make forty dollars.
I realize now that I never posted about my Yosemite trip. Hopefully late is better than never. This was one of the great experiences of my adult life, one good thing in 2016, and I absolutely recommend it to anyone.
2016 didn’t start out great for me. In early spring, I decided I needed a good hiking vacation to clear my head and recenter. After reviewing several options, I chose Yosemite National Park, in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. I booked my flight to Oakland and a rental car, figuring I’d throw my backpack in and drive four hours straight into the mountains.
Of note, you can’t really just up and travel to Yosemite, especially if you want to backpack overnight. The Park Service has instituted a permit requirement that requires advance reservations. This protects the environment, as well as a sense of wilderness in what might otherwise feel like a shopping mall. I first applied to begin at trailheads along Tioga Road, not realizing Tioga Road in late May was still buried in snow and closed. I was lucky, though; there was one spot still left at Happy Isles, the park’s most in-demand trailhead. I plotted a course, a 30-mile circuit that would take me over or past some of the park’s most famous landmarks. I also bought my first bear canister. Continue Reading
In my near-38 years on this Earth, I have never learned to appreciate one of the most popular and commercially successful agricultural products our planet has to offer. Coffee is woven into American social fabric like almost nothing else, to the point where the word is almost synonymous with conversation; and yet for the last decade or so I have begun each morning not with a hot cup of Ethiopian Coffea, but a cold can of Diet Coke. Which, frankly… people look at you funny.
So I have embarked on a quest to learn to love the roasted black bean, though it’s not the first time in my life I’ve made such an attempt. I’ve tried coffee drinks a few times in my life, usually getting them to within a half inch of my face before recoiling. In the early 2010s I went so far as to purchase a bag of blonde roast beans (having heard those were less harsh and more friendly to beginners) and brewed them up in the French press I keep at home for guests. It didn’t go well. This time, I will succeed. Continue Reading
Just a quick note that I am now a certified personal trainer (based in New York City), and posting regularly regarding health and fitness at RewriteFitness.com. I will continue posting here, too, but I would invite you to come check me out over there.
I have been away for quite a while. Sorry about that! Life has kept my attention pretty well occupied so far in 2016. The good news is I’ve rediscovered my interest in fitness (and in not permanently affixing my backside to the sofa) and shaken off about 40 pounds since the new year–nearly all of the unwelcome weight I put on in the three years preceding.
I’m back to running on a regular basis, and got my speed to the point where I’ve set a few personal records recently: A new 10K PR in Central Park (which is no small feat considering the hilly terrain) and a PR of nearly three minutes at the Broad Street Run earlier this month, which I’m especially proud of. I have other running-related announcements too, but I’m holding those for a day or two–unless you follow me on Instagram, in which case you already know.
More immediately, in one week I am loading a backpack and flying to Yosemite National Park, where I will spend three days and three nights on a solo hike through the backcountry, sleeping in a tent, bathing in ice-cold streams of fresh meltwater, and eating my food cold out of a bear canister.
More precisely, I am flying to Oakland, renting an SUV, and driving to Yosemite Valley, then hiking into the backcountry. I have planned out an ambitious route that will carry me over 30 miles in 3 days, taking me over or past the park’s most famous landmarks. I don’t plan to summit Half Dome–the cables will be down, and while I know some overachievers have made that climb, I’m a fan of being alive with bones intact–but I will pass over Clouds Rest, visit North Dome and Tenaya Lake, and (if all goes as planned) conclude my trip by descending Yosemite Falls. Continue Reading
Yesterday, my Surface Pro 3 was working great, just as it has been for the last 9 months. It’s not my primary computer, but I basically use it for two things: Drawing cartoons and taking notes in meetings.
(OneNote is a fantastic program, if you’ve never given it a chance. I want so badly to prefer Evernote, but I just can’t.)
I was taking notes in my first meeting of the day when I noticed it didn’t want to scroll. A strange sort of problem, because the pen input worked perfectly, but the touch (ie, finger) input, which one uses to scroll in the virtual notepad, was generally unresponsive, particularly in a roughly 2-inch by 3-inch section square in the center of the touchscreen. Continue Reading
This isn’t prompted by any particular inquiry, it’s something I want to post so I can refer back to it later–a little trick I learned from reading John Scalzi, who incidentally has no ads on his very successful blog.
The short answer to the question in the headline is “So I can make a tiny bit of money on something I invest a ton of time and work in making.”
Philosophically, I find ads objectionable, and for years I insisted I would never put ads on my site. I write and create to share ideas and participate in the online conversation, not to hawk some brand or product. My experiences in the last couple of years, however, persuaded me that the ads on this site are a necessary and worthwhile evil. Continue Reading
A litle self-congratulatory post here. Feel free to skip and avoid the smug.
I have a bit of a weight issue. Specifically, that issue is that I care way too much about how much I weigh.
When I moved to New York City almost three years ago, I felt pretty good about my body. After years of fighting to lose weight, I’d dropped 30 pounds in mid-2010 and kept it off for two and a half years. I was the lightest I’d been since high school, and aiming to lose another 10-20 pounds. Continue Reading