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.
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
Let’s begin with the reason there’s a mentee blog hop at all: If you’re looking to enter the publishing industry, you need to have an online presence. There is some disagreement as to what exactly that presence should be (in particular, whether actively blogging is worth a writer’s time) but nearly everyone agrees you need some presence to help market yourself and your work, and that you shouldn’t wait until after you are published to start.
It seems like that message got around, because it’s been less than 48 hours since we opened the #PimpMyBio blog hop and we’ve already got over 100 listings. As I went through and stalked mentees, I got curious about how people were making use of the web, and so I thought I’d take a survey and quantify some trends. The following is based on a review of our first 107 applicants; I will update this data periodically as the list grows. Continue Reading
At left is the cover of a new book, but not just any book. It’s The Book of Speculation by my friend Erika Swyler, who I have known since we were larval writers, maybe 11 or 12 years old, attending summer nerd camp together in upstate New York.
I couldn’t be more excited for Erika, and I think everyone should buy and read this book. It’s available anywhere books are sold, and you can even read the first chapter at Medium.
The summary, from the publisher:
One day in June a mysterious old book arrives on Simon Watson’s doorstep. Filled with elaborate script, sketches, and whimsical flourishes, it tells of doomed lovers and generations of circus “mermaids” who have drowned—just like Simon’s mother, on the same day: July 24. Could there be a curse on his family?
The book has been favorably compared to Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian. Personally I haven’t read any of those, but I really like their titles, and isn’t that the most important thing?
I know an awful lot about how this book came to be, but I don’t know what parts of the story Erika would want me telling. I know she’s willing to share her experience hand-binding books as part of the publication process. As for the rest, maybe I’ll get her to sit down with me one of these days and see what she’ll share. Maybe I can even squeeze out a few stories from when we were mung-blasting [sounds way dirtier than it is] pre-teens dreaming of someday being writers.
In the meantime, run out and pick up your own copy of The Book of Speculation, or pull it down from the invisible magic air network, where all things are immediately accessible, and read it on your electronic device of choice.
As for me, I haven’t read it yet; I’ve been waiting for publication day. I’ll be at the book launch party tonight, so I expect to be digging in for Chapter Two around 10 or 11 PM.
Another housekeeping post. Feel free to skip this unless you’re really interested in my blog policies.
In April I posted about my comment policy. For years before that date, my policy was that I didn’t edit or remove anything but spam. In response to a barrage of nasty posts, and some suggestions from friendly readers, I rethought that policy and decided that, in the present environment of the Internet, with abundant resources for people to make their voices heard, there was no need for me to be so permissive on my own private blog. After a brief period of reflection, I put that new policy into effect, and it has stood for a couple of months.
However, in those couple of months I have once again reconsidered. The nasty comments have continued, particularly following Caitlyn Jenner’s public debut, and as I dutifully removed or edited them, I realized why I don’t like my new policy: Continue Reading
Forgive me, this is one of those administrative “how the sausage is made” posts.
I’m giving serious thought to revising my comment policy. When I started blogging, I wanted to show a strong respect for free speech and open dialog, and so I committed not to delete anything, no matter how offensive or worthless. I’ve only ever done so when the comment contained a threat of violence.
But that was almost 20 years ago, and the Internet was a different place then. There was no Twitter and no Facebook–ie, no central place where users could engage in conversation. My sense was that I wanted my page to be a place where people could toss out conflicting ideas and make their voices heard–but in today’s online environment, that sounds ridiculous and grandiose. Continue Reading
…I’m pretty sure this is the thing I’m proudest of having written in 2014.