Sunday, December 13, 2009

State of the Blog -- Year 5

The annual state of the blog post is late this year; the actual blogiversary is in mid-November. Apologies for the delay.

I took a 2 month hiatus from November 2008 to January 2009; initially this was intended to be an end to the blog but retirement didn't work out so well and thus it became a hiatus. This was more fully explained in a post over Labor Day weekend. So the year got off to a late start.

Elections in Pennsylvania for 2009 were low key. Statewide and locally there were judicial races; for some reason these are hard for me to catch so it’s all outside observation. There were school board elections which are very important but out of purview of this blog. Most of what I've written about this year has been issue advocacy and the state budget. Along with a number of other bloggers I was invited to sit in on a conference call with the president on health care reform. He asked us to write about the issue and so I have; generally when the president asks you do to something you do it. I've also followed education, environmental, and veterans issues.

Quite a few posts this year have been "from the inbox" notes. Sheer longevity alone will get you on press release lists. The White House press service is very good at tailoring press releases and many of those I receive highlight a Pennsylvania angle. I'm very impressed by this. Usage stats (more on this later) tell me these items get a lot of readership so they will continue. Some regular posts were discontinued this year (see Labor Day weekend post on the blog hiatus) but things like the quarterly FEC report roundup will continue.

This is also due to some technical problems. My trusty laptop has either caught a bug or is slowly dying -- the battery doesn't hold much of a charge these days and it is almost unbearably slow even when plugged in. Since the processing speed has been gradually decreasing I tend to think it is simply aging. This means I'm either working on the home office pc, which is in the same room as the family tv, or borrowing Mr. J's netbook, and neither is very satisfactory for writing up good meaty posts. Some time in the next year I'll either have to bite the bullet and buy a new laptop or see if the current one can be repaired.

Lack of connectivity means there have been fewer rough notes of PCN call in shows and other televised or broadcast interviews, events, etc. Maybe this will pick up next year if a solution to the computer situation is found.

In the past month or so things have started gearing up for the 2010 elections; those should be interesting. The Democratic Governors Association has been having blogger conference calls and those are proving interesting. Besides the governors race some of the suburban congressional races should be lively. Everyone in the state house will be up for reelection and hopefully some of those races will be blogable. That often depends more on the candidate and campaign than on me.

As always the question in these posts is whither the blog? I have no answers. Retirement didn't work out so well. People have asked me why I do this and there isn't a good answer to that. The blog brings in a little over $100 a year in syndication fees from Newstex and that doesn't begin to cover the costs of attending inexpensive fundraisers, etc. (Over the years a few people have offered to take me as a guest or pay my way in but, being an outside cat by nature, I prefer my independence and so pay my own way, but that limits my options.) I doubt it even covers gas. I like politics and I like to write and this lets me combine the two without the interference of editors or the space restrictions of letters to the editor. Other than that I have no explanation.


As mentioned in last years state of the blog post there are three ways to gauge usage stats. One is sitemeter stats. Depending on the time of year the blog receives between 100 and 300 visits a day. Most come in via search engines. Currently feedburner tells me I have around 233 subscribers. However extended statistics give me a more data. Reach numbers are all over the place and I've never understood what that measures anyway. Views runs around 100 a day, clickthroughs are up and down with highs in the 300's per day. Hits have increased gradually over the year and for most of the last 6 months have dependably been over 1,000 per day, with a few days over 4,000. In the past few months they have run about 2,000. I have no clue what all this means.

As previously mentioned the blog is syndicated via Newstex and thus included in commercial databases like Lexis / Nexis and Access World News. They send me a monthly statement but usage tends to vary with the election cycle.

This year I did join Facebook and currently have 73 "friends" there but am not very active on the site and often don't check it for days at a time. I also signed up for twitter and keep track of that much more closely but don't tweet much myself. On election night I will tweet ongoing election results for races I've followed. From time to time I'll tweet about a new post and now and then send notes to email buddies who are also twitter friends. Currently I have around 250 followers and follow around 190 other twitterers.


My thanks to those who stop in to read on a regular or semi-regular basis, and to those in politics who are kind enough to answer my rookie questions Also a shout out to my friends and acquaintances in the press and the blogosphere who share their wisdom and experience.


Gort said...

Happy blogiversary blog buddy. You were one of my first friends when I started to do this blog thing. You taught me to always look for a local angle on a national story.

AboveAvgJane said...

Thank you, my friend, for the good wishes. You do a fantastic job keeping things in order in your region. I'm really amazed at the things you find out and write about, and read daily.