2 Years of Blogging

by Benjamin Studebaker

Once a year, I permit myself to write a self-indulgent piece about the state of the blog near the date that marks the anniversary of my first post. I began this project on August 4, 2012, so that time has arrived. To date, I have maintained my promise to only do this once annually. I have no intention of regularly subjecting my readers to my banal self-reflections.

This post serves two purposes:

  1. Record Keeping–it allows me to record precisely how much the blog has progressed to this point, what posts did well or poorly this year, and so on.
  2. Sharing–it allows me to share a few of the best (and worst) posts of the last year with regular readers, in the hope that some of them might see renewed interest.

In sum, it is principally for me, but I hope the reader enjoys it as well. If you are particularly interested in the history of this blog, you can find the previous iteration of this post here.

Let’s start with statistics:

Year over Year Changes:

  • The blog gained 892 followers, up from 446 followers in the first year, an increase of 100%.
  • The blog  received 49,753 views this year, up from 26,865 in the first year, an increase of 85%.
  • The blog received  1,094 non-spam comments this year, down from 1,321 in the first year, a decrease of 17%.
  • The blog presently averages around 132 hits per day, up from 73 in the first year.
  • I have written 150 blog posts in the last year, down from 290, a decrease of 48%.

All-Time Totals:

  • The blog has 1,338 followers.
  • The blog has 76,618 views.
  • The blog has 2,415 non-spam comments.
  • The most popular day for blogging was September 25, 2013, on which the blog received 1,699 views.
  • Given that nearly all my pieces exceed 1,000 words, I’ve likely written at least 450,000 words on this blog and probably more.

The five most popular blog posts written in the last year (between Aug 4, 2013 and Aug 4, 2014) were:

  1. Why Are Young People Unhappy? (Sept 18, 2013, 8,035 hits, featured on Freshly Pressed)
  2. Developing Countries Shouldn’t Host the Olympics (Feb 8, 2014, 2,670 hits)
  3. A Critique of Buddhism (Aug 23, 2013, 1,468 hits)
  4. The Incredible Statistical Difference between Democrats and Republicans (Dec 28, 2013, 1,101 hits)
  5. In Defense of Summer Vacation (Aug 10, 2013, 915 hits)

Of the five most popular pieces written in the last year, I am most proud of the freshly pressed piece, because it has brought so many new people to the blog and helped so many other pieces (many of which I like better) get read.

The five most popular blog posts of all time (written by me at any point, with cumulative views) are:

  1. Why Are Young People Unhappy? (Sept 18, 2013, 8,035 hits, featured on Freshly Pressed)
  2. Developing Countries Shouldn’t Host the Olympics (Feb 8, 2014, 2,670 hits)
  3. Stagflation: What Really Happened in the 70’s (Dec 30, 2012, 2,600 hits)
  4. A Critique of Existentialism (September 5, 2012, 2,100 hits)
  5. A Critique of Buddhism (Aug 23, 2013, 1,468 hits)

Interestingly, though the existentialism piece was one of my earliest pieces, it received vastly more hits this past year than it did the year it came out. It received only 15% of its hits in its first year, and a full 85% of hits hits in the second. Most of my pieces peak in their first couple days.

My most popular posts tend not to be my personal favorites. My favorites are usually the ones I feel are most original or intellectually interesting. Here, in no particular order, are five of my favorite pieces from the past year:

As is traditional, I also like to share the 5 least read posts from the last year, pieces that just never really got any traction–maybe the reader will find a hidden gem?

  1. Robot Doctors and Internet Professors (Jan 23, 2014, 17 hits)
  2. The Tea Party Remains Potent (Jan 22, 2014, 18 hits)
  3. How Obamacare is Great for Entrepreneurship (Dec 11, 2013, 23 hits)
  4. A Critique of Isaiah Berlin (Jan 10, 2014, 24 hits)
  5. Education Ex Machina (Oct 29, 2013, 24 hits)

If those aren’t obscure enough for you, here are the long-forgotten five biggest duds of all-time:

  1. Population Pays (June 19, 2013, 11 hits)
  2. Republican Party Platform Part III: Miscellaneous and Social Policy (Sept 4, 2012, 12 hits)
  3. How to Fix the Voting Rights Act (July 25, 2013, 12 hits)
  4. The Immense Obstinacy of Ed DeMarco (Aug 13, 2012, 12 hits)
  5. Dragging Behind the Horse: Making States Bigger (Oct 9, 2012, 12 hits)

Many of my “dud” pieces got a number of blog likes, indicating that while they were not widely shared or located by search engines, those who did find them nonetheless enjoyed them (“Education Ex Machina” and “Dragging Behind the Horse” in particular). I still cannot really predict which of my pieces will do well and which will not.

This coming year is a bit of an in between year for me–I finished my MA at the University of Chicago this past June, and will be applying for PhD programs to start in fall of 2015. I expect to continue blogging this year. I’m hoping my rate of posting will recover (I wrote nearly twice as often the first year as I did the second), though it’s hard to say if it will–I’ve commented on a lot of issues over the 440 pieces I’ve written, and I try to avoid repeating myself too regularly. I only write a piece if I can answer two key questions in the affirmative:

  1. Do I have something worthwhile to say today?
  2. Do I have enough time and energy to say it right?

For this year, at least, my schedule will be less busy, so when I have worthwhile things to say, it’s very likely I will have the time and energy to say them. I try to maintain a level of quality here, both with respect to the writing and with respect to the ideas presented.  If I’m not posting, it’s because I’m not convinced I have anything to say that’s worth reading, or because I cannot find the time or energy to do my existing ideas justice.

To regular readers who are reading this (and if you’ve read this far into a post this self-indulgent, you are surely quite committed), you have my thanks and appreciation. It is always an honor to be thought worth-reading. These pieces are not short, and I have tremendous respect for the time and effort people choose to invest in my work. I hope my future pieces live up to or exceed the standard set by my previous work, and that you continue to feel that your investment in my work is worth your while.