Monday, November 27, 2006

State of the Blog -- Year 2

Has another year gone by already? My goodness. I’ve been writing this blog for 2 years plus a few days. Like many long-time activities it doesn’t seem possible that it’s been that long, on the other hand it’s hard to remember when I wasn’t blogging.

As with any milestone it is good to look back and evaluate and see what I have learned. Last year at this time the blog was receiving an average of 40 hits per day. For much of this year it’s been around 150, though that number went up dramatically around the elections. Some people have told me they have an rss feed for the blog and aren’t counted by sitemeter, so actual readership could be higher.

I’m conscious of having three types of readers and try to balance my writing accordingly. The smallest group is made up of regular readers who check in every day or every few days. Most of the people who leave comments are in this group and they are usually also people I email behind the scenes. The second group, the largest from what I can see, are people who find the blog by using search engines. They are usually looking for information on candidates, legislation, political races, and the like. The last group are people who find the blog through aggregators, PoliticsPA, PhillyFuture, leftyblogs, and, don’t laugh now, LexisNexis. The blog is included full-text in L/N and entries are searchable by keyword. It is included there as part of Newstex’s Blogs on Demand product. Trying to write in a way that entertains my blogger buddies but also provides the information people might be searching for, and includes the contextual background and terms that will allow them to find it, is challenging but in a good way.

The elections, primary and general, were also challenging but also in a good way. Doing the candidate interviews was a lot of fun. “Adopting” candidates and tracking their races (because even within the Philadelphia suburbs, there are too many to keep up with all of them) was also a lot of fun, even though it meant jumping through hoops and juggling family, work, and politics to get out to events and debates and such. My thanks to Mr. J for taking on extra kid care; without his support and cooperation I couldn't have done any of this. Though a few people offered complimentary tickets I declined and paid at least the minimum to get into every fundraising event I attended. Picking a piece of legislation and watching it is also interesting, though I didn’t do as much of it as I could. Now that the Pennsylvania House and Senate Journals are online I’ve been reviewing them as well, and this too is fun. I still have a long way to go in understanding exactly how the legislature works and my admiration for those officials who can navigate the system and still keep their integrity has gone up dramatically

Not everything has gone swimmingly, though, and I have learned there are some things that I just don’t do well. Take group blogs. Twice this year I was invited, and agreed, to be part of a group blog. I posted one item to one of them and none to the other. My apologies to the people who set up those blogs. Since these two fiascos I have declined all invitations to be part of a group. Apparently I’m not a group person. This is not particularly surprising but now there is proof. Individuals acting in concert, like the Missing Monday project wherein bloggers highlight a missing person’s case on the first Monday of the month, the blogswarms (if that is the correct term) on “Faith in Politics” in January and “Our Part of the Bargain” in June, seem doable. Not sure what that dichotomy means.

Another thing I learned, and this isn’t surprising either, is that I am terrible at political fundraising. Just terrible. Another blogger suggested we set up a regional ActBlue page so we agreed on state house and senate candidates and I set it up. Over about a 4 month period we raised around $200.00 total for 3 candidates, and most of that came from one person. Hurray for those 3 people! But, overall, if I had worked it better, it might have brought in more money. I have an okay record with community fundraising so it must be the political angle or maybe the fact that it was a group effort combined with the political angle. In any event, it was bad. The ActBlue page got a lot of page views; just not a lot of contributions. A learning experience.

Since much of the year was taken up with campaigns and elections it is not surprising that a lot of my email activity has been with political reporters, including the bloggers at Capitol Ideas and Pennsyltucky Politics, and candidates, campaign staff, and volunteers, too numerous to mention. Gort showed me a great kindness earlier this fall and I appreciate it. Two relatively new bloggers told me that they had based their blogs on mine, which was a wonderful compliment. An aunt nearly brought me to tears by saying she thought my grandfather would be proud of my work here. Chris Satullo at the Inquirer did a wonderful column on the “Our Part of the Bargain” project in July and it was subsequently discussed on C-SPAN. On election day the Washington Monthly posted an entry I wrote on the Pennsylvania elections in general. Something like three times this year the main page of PoliticsPA linked to one of my posts. Pretty cool stuff for an amateur blogger.

What of next year? There will be the state legislature to watch, perhaps some county level races, and, oh yes, something interesting may be happening in Philadelphia.


Gort said...

Congrats Jane! You've are a leader for all local bloggers. I've learned a lot from you. Forget group blogs or fundraising, it's not our thing. Adopting a local candidate is. I gave up on live interviews and trying to transcibe it and found out it's better to do it by email. Like you I will be concentrating on the local races up here in the wilds of NEPA. I still can't recall the "the great kindness" but I hope you will remind me. Anyway, you're one of my first stops after I drag my tail out of bed at the crack of noon everyday. I'll I can say is Thank You.

AboveAvgJane said...

Oh, that's so nice!!! Thanks for taking the time to write. I've been really impressed with the development of the local blogging community up in your part of the state. You and your compatriots have a lot to be proud of.

LVDem said...

yeah Jane... as in our true ages, you are older than I am, which is good in this case (snickering).

Seriously, congrats on another successful year.

AboveAvgJane said...


Go to your room! And no tv till your homework is done!

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