3 Years of Blogging
by Benjamin Studebaker
August 4 is the blog’s birthday. Once a year, I permit myself to write a self-indulgent post about the state of the blog on or near the blog birthday. 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 series serves two purposes:
- 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.
- 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 you enjoy it as well. If you are particularly interested in the history of this blog, please check out the previous iterations in this series:
Let’s start with statistics.
Year over Year Changes:
The blog gained 4,058 followers in the last year, up from a gain of 892 in Year 2. This is an improvement of over 350%:
The blog received 1,127,358 views in the last year, up from 49,753 views in Year 2. This is a gain of over 2100%:
The blog received 2,713 non-spam comments in the last year, up from 1,094 in Year 2. This is a gain of almost 150%:
The blog averaged 2,844 hits per day last year, up from 132 in Year 2. The numbers are heavily skewed by May 2015, during which I averaged 32,556 hits per day. This summer I’ve been getting 500 or 600 a day most of the time.
Despite the significant increases, my production is not quite as high as it used to be. I wrote 115 posts this year, down from 150 a year ago. That’s a decrease of 23%:
I hope what I’ve lost in quantity I’ve made up for with improvements in quality.
I now have a total of 5,396 followers:
I have 1,203,876 total hits:
I have 5,128 total comments:
I have 555 total posts, excluding this one:
Over the last year, I think my average post has gotten a little bit longer. If my average is around 1,200 words per post, then I’ve written something like 666,000 words in the last three years on this blog. That’s roughly about as many words as the entire Lord of the Rings series, The Hobbit, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban all put together.
The most popular day of blogging both last year and in blog history was May 6, 2015. On that date, I racked in 455,374 views in a single 24-hour period.
The five most popular blog posts written in the last year (between Aug 4, 2014 and Aug 4, 2015) were:
- Britain: For the Love of God, Please Stop David Cameron (May 2, 2015, 879,982 hits)
- 13 Terrible Tory Counterarguments (May 6, 2015, 71,115 hits)
- Misinformation: How the Tories Won (May 8, 2015, 26,284 hits)
- Why ISIS is Beheading Americans and What We Can Do About It (September 4, 2014, 12,402 hits)
- A Serious Policy Analysis of House of Cards’ “America Works” Program (February 28, 2015, 6,550 hits)
Of the five, I am most proud of the viral post for bringing so many new readers from all over the world to my blog. It is by far the most significant thing I have written so far and dwarfs everything else. The magnitude of the audience I was able to reach with that post continues to blow my mind. I hope to write something one day that makes that post feel as small and insignificant as that post makes the rest of my current work appear.
I usually also post the five most popular posts of all-time, but there is little reason to do that this year because the top 4 are the same. I will however share the two posts with bigger cumulative totals than the “America Works” post:
- Why Are Young People Unhappy? (September 18, 2013, 8,816 hits, featured on Freshly Pressed)
- Stagflation: What Really Happened in the 70’s (December 30, 2012, 7,616 hits)
Interestingly, the Young People post received only around 800 hits in the last year while the Stag post picked up almost 5,000. The Stag post continues to perform better every year, which is quite bizarre–most posts fizzle out eventually, picking up only a handful of additional hits over very long periods.
Sometimes I really like one of my posts, but it doesn’t really catch on. Here are five posts from the last year that I think deserve more love:
- Michio Kaku is Demonstrably Wrong about Free Will (January 9, 2015, 199 hits)
- Hey, Whatever Happened to Libya (September 19, 2014, 167 hits)
- How the United States Invented a New Kind of Corruption (August 31, 2014, 125 hits)
- State of the Union: When Politicians Substitute Platitudes for Policies (January 22, 2015, 117 hits)
- Fun.gov: How to Make Art Free Without Starving the Artists (December 25, 2014, 104 hits)
I can also laugh at myself–here are the five biggest duds of the last year:
- What do the Midterms Mean? Not Much… (November 10, 2014, 62 hits)
- Misconceptions: If the West Doesn’t Intervene in Country X, it’s “Being Complicit” (August 13, 2014, 62 hits)
- Does the US/China Emissions Deal Make a Difference? (November 17, 2014, 69 hits)
- Candidate Evaluations: Jim Gilmore (July 30, 2015, 70 hits)
- Cuba: Why Obama Made the Right Call (December 20, 2014, 72 hits)
I really can’t blame you guys for ignoring Jim Gilmore, but some of those surely weren’t that bad?
Even so, none of those duds were anywhere near bad enough to make the all-time bomb list. These bombs did so badly that I have to go to a special place on WordPress to find out just how bad they still are. At this point, I’ve written so many posts that there’s no room left to show the worst performers on WordPress’s all-time hits list:
- How to Fix the Voting Rights Act (July 25, 2013, 12 hits)
- Republican Party Platform Part III: Miscellaneous and Social Policy (September 4, 2012, 14 hits)
- The Immense Obstinacy of Ed Demarco (August 13, 2012, 14 hits)
- Population Pays (June 19, 2013, 19 hits)
- What is Society? (July 17, 2013, 19 hits)
These bombs sometimes have a number of likes from other bloggers, which means a high percentage of the people who do read them like them, but for whatever reason they choose not to share these posts with their friends on social media. Shares are really valuable–even with the increases to my follower count, I can only get so many readers from my initial share. If readers do not go on to share my stuff themselves, my posts will still fizzle out rather quickly.
This year I will be starting my PhD at the University of Cambridge’s Queens’ College. This means that academic work will again begin competing directly with the blog for my time and mental energy, but I know from my first year that this does not necessarily mean that my number of posts will decrease. In Year 1, I wrote 290 posts while also writing an undergraduate thesis and a number of assessed essays, so it is entirely possible that the post count could hold steady or even increase. I will be more intellectually stimulated, so assuming I have time I will probably have more ideas for posts and my output will favor theoretical and philosophical content more. I will also be in the UK rather than the US for much of this coming year, so British current events will likely play a larger role in the output. If you’re an American who likes my work on US current events, don’t despair–when I was last in the UK, I kept myself well-informed about the goings on in the states and wrote about major US news events regularly.
To my regulars out there, both new ones and old ones, I want to thank you all so much for continuing to read what I write. I consider it an honor that you choose not only to read to the end of my lengthy posts, but that you return to read me again and again. I respect that you have only so much time and energy to invest in reading political material, and it is immensely gratifying to me that you continue to deem me worthy of that time. I hope my future output continues to be a worthy investment.