I went a little crazy experimenting with a lot of different channels in 2014, and it ended up being the quietest year around here since 2010. I suspect these two things may be related. I’m not going to lie: a 67% drop in traffic incites a little panic in me, but I have to remind myself that I blog for my own enjoyment, and not for commercial gain.
My Top 5 Posts
- Breaking Bad Outside the US
- The Myth of the Brown Recluse Spider Bite
- True Detective Finale / Will the Yellow King Return?
- The demons within the walls
- In case you’d like to debate about yesterday’s cartoon
Of my top five posts in 2014, only two were written in 2014. Two are tied in with the Breaking Bad cartoon that went viral last September, and one (the fourth) is my perennial traffic-driver. This is the first year it’s been overtaken by anything other than the Breaking Bad cartoon, which is interesting (to me, at least).
I had a little over 28,000 visitors in 2014, or about 77 folks a day who stopped by this site. Last year, that number was closer to 234 visitors per day, or about 85,000 visitors in total.
In truth, my blog traffic has generally been dropping over the last seven years. I think this is a general trend across blogs as an “industry,” as online communication moves more toward centralized services like Tumblr, Facebook, etc. I’ve also made decisions in the last few years that have cost me traffic–removing my early attempts to mimic Gawker and Perez with photos of half-naked celebrities (which were great for traffic, incidentally) and then purging my site of photos whose copyrights were questionable.
2013 was my biggest year, thanks to that Breaking Bad comic that went viral. Before that, my biggest year was 2009, before I moved from WordPress.com to a self-hosted blog, and before I decided to commit myself to quality content and a sense of basic decency. Last year, 77% of my traffic came in September, the month I published that cartoon. Take out the top month of each year (September 2013 and March 2014) and 2014 was actually a bigger by almost 20 percent.
Is there a bottom line here, or any kind of theme? Not really. As I said, this blog is something I keep because I want to, not because I’m looking for traffic. Ultimately, my hope is this becomes a place to connect with people who are interested in my writing. We made some progress on that front in 2014… but that’s for another post.
If you’re a long-time reader [ie, my mom or my girlfriend] you may have noticed some changes around the site recently. The site has a new overall look, owing partly to the advance of technology, partly to the desire to look good on mobile devices (on which nearly half of my visitors see the site) and partly to a periodic desire to freshen things up. I spent a little money and a lot of time on the new look, and I hope you like it.
You may also notice there are ads on this site for the first time. This is a change I’m not sure about, and your comments are welcome. Continue Reading
I haven’t posted anything on YouTube in a while, and I’m blogging sporadically. This is not because I don’t love you any more, Internet. It’s because I’m working on a new novel and trying to pour my creative energies into that first. No, I’m not doing #NaNoWriMo, but if I can finish this first draft before the end of the year I’ll be elated.
YouTube suffers most because of any of the social media stuff I do, YouTube videos are by far the most time-consuming. I do have a few videos in mind and I’d like to get something up this week, so keep watching.
[Credit to David Byrne for the post title]
Way back in November of 2007 I posted about the sordid saga of Ethan Reynolds, formerly of the model blog / community Brat Boy School (since shut down; internet wayback machine link here – caution, it loads slowly). I’m seeing echoes of that experience in the recent downfall of “Hockey Kid Mikey,” an alleged gay high school hockey player promoted by gay web site OutSports who, after building a small empire on the web, turned out to probably be a 40-year-old gay hockey fan.
Both appear to be cases where some blogger used the magical power of the internet to pretend to be someone else. In both cases the bloggers built an enormous base of enamored fans, and in both cases their success began to open doors outside the internet shortly before their fictitious persona fell apart. In neither case were any actual crimes (apparently) committed, and yet in both cases the fans, once betrayed, called for blood.
As I was in 2007, I am fascinated by the response from fans. It’s not as if this technique is old. I’ve compared Ethan to nudie centerfolds, who always seem to find titillating answers to the same questionnaire, but the creation of a fictional persona is not limited to the vaguely pornographic. Think of Dear Abby, or Poor Richard, or for that matter any talk-show host. None of these people is really the person they present to the world. Granted, that fact is disclosed to varying degrees, but I’d imagine there are many Letterman fans who would be outraged to discover the real person behind the television character he portrays. This is, I would hazard to say, at least partly to blame for the outrage behind the most recent “Late Night Wars,” and why Jay Leno emerged as the villain while Conan’s popularity grew: cutthroat businessman is pretty far removed from the brand Jay has been selling his viewers, while Conan’s brand is apparently not as far from his actual personality. Continue Reading
If you’re new to this blog, it shouldn’t take long to learn that I’m currently trying to find a literary agent. I’ve completed a fantasy novel, Volve, and I’m working on a second (unrelated) novel now. I’ve got four to six more novels simmering in my mind, some of which have been there for quite some time.
Writing has been a lifelong hobby, and something I have wanted to do professionally since I was about eleven or twelve years old. It’s what I went to college for, and though I have a day job that I find quite rewarding for an organization I care passionately about, my career ambition remains to become a full-time novelist. This is not easy. It takes a lot of time and hard work, a lot of luck, and a very thick skin to break into the industry, and just getting a book published is very far from earning a living wage as a writer.
Most of the agents who express an opinion on this sort of thing seem to agree that it is important for an aspiring writer to have a web presence. I’m also savvy enough to realize that if I am lucky enough to be published, and luckier still enough to have readers who enjoy my work, the first thing they are going to do is take to the internet – and I’d better have some way of connecting with them, particularly during that window of time following publication of a first novel, when I don’t yet have anything else to sell.
Which brings me to the topic of blogging. As it happens, I’ve been blogging for almost ten years. I had a blog on WordPress called “The Hanged Man” where I expressed my thoughts about politics and pop culture and posted photos of celebrities I found attractive. I got a couple of thousand hits a day, but it wasn’t exactly the way I wanted to represent myself professionally. So when I got serious about pursuing publication, I made some changes. I migrated the blog to a personal web space, I deleted all of the more juvenile posts about half-naked celebrities, and I decided to keep my posting related to my would-be profession.
Two things changed. My traffic dropped to two visitors a day, and I stopped writing content. My internal censor seized control of my writing brain and nixed every idea I had for a new blog post. I was terrified that literary agents who received my queries would pop my name into Google, visit this site, and reject me because of some remark I made about David Beckham’s abs. Nothing seemed professional enough to fit my new guidelines, and so the blog started growing cobwebs.
Eventually I changed my mind about content. I realized that if I were going to write, I had to be myself, and that while I’m willing to work to market myself, it’s not worth giving up my personality in the interest of making money. I’m still terrified of literary agents who plug my name into Google (and I suppose this post is really written for them more than anyone) but I’m also guessing that any agent who is going to reject me outright because of what’s on my blog is probably not going to back me up artistically if we do work together. So while I’m not about to go back to writing posts about Jessica Alba’s behind (we do all mature, at least a little bit) this blog will be whatever I feel like it should be, even if there are some warts
So I guess what I’m saying to any visiting literary agents is this: If you can get me a contract, I’ll take this blog down in a heartbeat.
No, just kidding. But we can talk about it.
I’m not a believer in New Year’s resolutions; in fact, I’ve gained about 3 pounds in the past few days just to make a point. The whole “New Year” thing is just an arbitrary system for recording hitory. Woo-hoo, the Earth went around the sun again!
But I’m thinking this year I might give it a go. I have a few things I’d like to improve, so why not? If nothing else, I figure January 1, 2008 gives me a convenient starting point to know how long I was successful.
To start with, I’m going to try and post to this blog a little more often. I actually have some readers here (though I’m pretty sure every single one of them is just waiting for more photos of Jessica Alba’s ass) and I seem to post less than four times a month. So I’m not going to vow daily posts or anything, but I’ll try and keep this fresher. Most will be my thoughts etc, but I’ll try and slip in sexy photos here and there, just to keep my fans happy. I’m just not expecting much out of Ms. Alba for the next 9 months or so.
Secondly (and more importantly) I’m going to concentrate more on my writing career. For years now I’ve worked in fits and starts, and though I’ve had a promising start with some interest from a publisher in my first novel, I am working so slowly it would take me centuries to achieve any kind of success. So I’m going to focus more on what’s important, spend less time with hobbies and World of Warcraft, and make progress. I’m totally opposed to silly goals that I don’t have control of like “I’m going to get published this year,” but I think I can aspire to a 3-pages-a-day output, MOST days. That’s something I do have control over.
So in the meantime, I’m going to put up a couple of celeb-worship posts today. Enjoy.