Sunday, April 4, 2010

State of the Blog, Q1 2010

I did this last at the end of January, but quarterly feels like steering the right course between the Scylla of out-and-out self-involvement, and the Charybdis of complete lack of public self-reflection.  (I am quite self-involved, but prefer to make at least token efforts at public obfuscation of this fact).  So I'm doing it again now to align with normal quarter boundaries.

The story of February and March was that the very rapid growth in readership in November-December, slowed down, but growth did still continue at what is, on an annual basis, a very healthy rate.  I imagine that going forward growth will continue for a while, gradually becoming slower and more uneven, until I saturate my niche, and then thereafter fluctuate as the kinds of things that I am interested in become more or less current in the larger Internet conversation.

I have to confess to a little disappointment with February's numbers.  I worked on a couple of things that required a lot of effort, and seemed important to me, but only attracted modest attention - most particularly, the Biofuels: biggest supply response to the 2005-2008 oil shock, struck me as quite interesting and important, and something that hadn't really been well quantified previously.  However, the Internet gods were only very mildly impressed with my efforts and did not reward me with more than a modest spike in traffic numbers for it.

In March, I didn't work on as many bigger pieces, but nonetheless got higher traffic.  By far the largest factor here was that I agreed with Bart Anderson at Energy Bulletin that he could repost any Early Warning pieces he chose (with link and attribution) there.   This he did several times, either after my prodding or on his own account, resulting in a traffic spike each time.  Of course, my total readership as measured by the numbers at my own blog misses this cross-post readership (and earlier cross-posts at The Oil Drum and elsewhere), but in the interests of consistent measurement, I will stick to that.

In general, it's clear that building a blog audience is a matter of consistency and persistence.  No one piece has a predictable impact, but, over time, doing the best one is capable of builds an audience. On the whole, I am enjoying working in this form - I have eclectic interests, a short attention span, and a very quick mind coupled with severe difficulty motivating myself to do things that aren't engaging my passion. Thus the daily blog form, which allows me to circle around amongst my various interests and worries, potentially writing about quite diferent things from day-to-day, fits me well. The one caveat is there are times that I would like to engage some subject that would really require a deeper exploration, and there just isn't the time to do it while also writing something every weekday.

Comment discussions have continued to be on-again, off-again, but when they have occurred have been very worthwhile - it's clear that a number of very thoughtful and knowledgeable individuals are sometimes drawn to respond here and I'm very grateful for that.  In particular, I've gotten some great book recommendations that are really helping my understanding (I'm in the middle of Datamunger-suggested Understanding Early Civilizations, by Bruce Trigger, which is really fascinating me so far)

Discussions have generally been civil, and the minor lapses from that standard have been at least as much my fault as anyone else's (I can be prone to sarcasm if I respond too much in the heat of the moment, even though it's a habit I'd like to kick).  Comparing the situation to some other blogs, I'm very grateful for my commenters.


brett said...

Is this a coincidence?:

A 2006 blog by a Stuart S. of the Bay Area about collapse and peak oil titled "Early Warning"

Datamunger said...

Glad you are enjoying Trigger! Review? (he asks hopefully :-)

Stuart Staniford said...

Not before I finish it - I'm only managing about 20 mins a day at bedtime on it at the moment :-)

Stuart Staniford said...

brett - yeah, it's a coincidence. Guess I didn't do very good due diligence on the name.

jewishfarmer said...

Stuart, my observation is that just when you've sat down and done your most important (you think) and serious and thoughtful work is when people ignore you. When you toss off a quickie, then they are all taken by it ;-).

Congrats on the rising attention - you deserve it.