Monday, January 23, 2012

State of the Blog -- Year 7

Another year come and gone, another late state of the blog post.  In mid-November I passed the seven year mark.  It seems odd to me that I've been doing this that long.  I tried quitting once (in year six) but blogging is like the mafia -- you try to get out and you just get pulled back in.

I've posted less this year than in previous years.  In part this was because I've had some health issues.  In part is because for much of the year we didn't have reliable Internet service at home.  There is nothing quite so frustrating as writing up a post and then watching the modem, trying to catch one of those elusive moments when all five lights are on.  In August we switched to Comcast and have had only one insistence of downtime since then.    In part it's because my schedule this year has been a lot more hectic.  We've been short staffed at work and more has been going on, which means my 9 p.m. blogging start time was frequently delayed.  I ended up taking a leadership role in a couple of kids' organizations.  One was planned the other wasn't and that one had a steep learning curve.  There are superwomen who can juggle everything but many days it's all been a bit much for me.  Hopefully this year will ease up a bit.

On the plus side I've been having a great time with the new laptop I received for Christmas last year.  It's great to have reliable equipment.   During the year I upgraded my old phone to an Iphone.  My Ipod Touch was great but I could only use it where wireless was available.  Having constant Internet access and being able to connect any where any time is fantastic. 

Politically the main action was on the county level.  Some of these races were easy to work with, others weren't.  To be honest I'm just too old and cranky (and tired) to go chasing after campaigns.  I'll send out one or two emails asking to be put on email lists, general greetings, etc., but that's about it.  If there isn't some interest on the other end there's isn't much I can do.  One campaign was interested in doing an interview but after I did all the research for the questions they never bothered to return the answers.   Another issue that comes up at least once every year is that I'll build some rapport with campaign staff or consultants and then there is turnover and the new folks have no idea what happened before and I have to start over from scratch.  I wish the political world was better organized but over the years it has become clear that is just isn't.  Only once that I can recall in the seven years I've been doing this has someone emailed me to say they are leaving a campaign, cc'ed their replacement and provided an introduction and summary of my interaction with them to date.

Conversely, I did more in person political work this year than I have in the past.  I volunteered a couple of times,handed out flyers and, for the first time ever, had a bumper sticker on my car.  I've reflected on which role, campaign volunteer or blogger, has more impact.  Candidates should make an appearance at train stations but I don't know that more than two or three volunteers are needed at any one time.  Having a small army of people annoying commuters might be too many, though it is probably difficult to know how many people are going to show up on any given day.  Calling strangers and going door to door are not particular strengths, so my options are limited.  Maybe blogging in my basement after the family has gone to bed is the best pathway for me ....

Usage statistics continued to be a challenge.  Sitemeter gives me a lot of data but usage numbers coming in through that software are decreasing.  Google Analytics indicate similar usage, but tells me most of the users it detects are new users not returning users.  I know from experience that Google Reader usage doesn't show up in either sitemeter or Google Analytics.  In fact, Google Reader does not seem to trigger paywalls.  So if, say, your favorite newspaper political blog is now only available free for a small number of posts per month, you can still read it for free via Google Reader.  Not that I am encouraging anyone to do that, I'm just saying it is possible.  Feedburner does seem to pick up those uses.  It tells me the blog gets around 1,000 hits a day, and indicates the number of subscribers, over 200.  Feedburner is owned by Google so I'm not sure why this isn't reflected in Google Analytics.  All of this means I don't have a good idea how many people actually read the blog.

In 2012, we'll have state house and state senate races, congressional and the presidential races.  That's a lot so it could be a busy year, blog-wise.  Hopefully there will be some interesting events to attend, at times I can attend and for suggested amounts that I can affored.

To summarize, last year was not a good year, either for me or the blog.  Let's hope both do better over the coming months.

No comments: