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.