Sunday, December 02, 2007

State of the Blog -- Year 3

Each November I write a “state of the blog” post to reflect on the previous year’s blogging; this year it’s just a little late. The blog is now (as of Nov. 19) 3 years old, which makes it a few weeks (and a couple of decades) older than Young Philly Politics.

My sophomore slump was delayed a year. Last year the congressional and state house and senate elections kept me pretty busy and were a lot of fun to work with. This year there was less action. I wrote some posts about judicial and county commissioner candidates. However, for much of the year I’ve had the blogger blahs. Reading around the blogosphere it doesn’t sound like I was the only one. Perhaps it was just the mood of an off year. Perhaps it is a general frustration with the process.

I kept with standard features, the weekly legislative update, list of articles on Pennsylvania published in the Wall Street Journal, synopses of House and Senate Journals, rough notes from live and televised debates, interviews, and other events. There were also some email interviews with candidates and other political figures but fewer than last year.

In late January I switched over to the new blogger which allowed me to attach subject headings to blog posts, though I will admit to not using that feature as consistently or accurately as I could have. Nor have I given the necessary thought to picking good headings.

Once again, I paid to attend all fundraising events, although someone did lift a tent flap to let me into something educational. From time to time people will write and offer me a free copy of a book or other product. All these offers have been declined.

In keeping with previous years, let me provide some information on usage. There are three ways to track blog usage. A number of users either come directly to the blog or find it via search engines, looking for information on candidates, bills, and related topics, as well as those who come across it while searching for something entirely different, and are probably disappointed when they get here. Then there are those who are referred here from other sites, aggregators like, or other blogs like Capitol Ideas. I appreciate those people including this blog on their blogroll or in their blog roundups.

These users are represented in the chart below from sitemeter. I don’t know how to account for the blip in February. The blip in May was due to the primary and to the most popular post of the year, written about the Foodstamp Challenge, referenced by Rebecca’s Pocket and other bloggers. The blip in October due to people searching for information on candidates and races in the general election. As you can see the number of visitors last November is larger than for any month this year. I expected that as this year’s elections were primarily judicial and municipal or county and voter turnout, and interest, is lower.

The only income I receive from the blog comes from Newstex which markets a number of blogs to commercial databases like Lexis / Nexis. The permanence and national exposure that blog posts get in those venues have affected how I write. It makes me more cautious, less likely to post things that I cannot verify, or to include personal or short quip-y posts. They do send me a monthly email letting me know how much I earned and how many hits my blog posts received (with a 60 day lag time). However, various vendors report usage differently and at different times so any usage numbers I provide would be incomplete. Over the past year I have earned a little over $100.00 from Newstex, which, from what I hear, is about what other blogs this size earn through ad revenue; much like the numbers of hits earnings are not reported uniformly so it is possible that is not a true reflection of payment for the past year as more may come in later.

This past July I discovered how to hook the blog up to feedburner to see how much usage it received via RSS feeds. Yowza!! I never cease to be astounded by these numbers. However, I have comparatively little information on who these users are.

Date / Subscribers / Hits / Views / Clickthroughs
July 15-30 / 1449 / 8026 / 814 / 512
Aug / 2953 / 17287 / 2937 / 1106
Sept / 3395 / 26361 / 2477 / 1820
Oct / 4046 / 33633 / 2612 / 1241

So, on to year four, which will have another round of state house, state senate, and congressional elections. The presidential election will get a lot of coverage everywhere else so I plan to stay with my usual regional focus.


Anonymous said...

Love the blog, keep up the good work!

-Matt in Harrisburg

Albert said...

Congrats on 3 years! I just checked to see how long I've been around and I'm clocking in at 3.5 years so far.

AAJ is a site I never get tired of reading. Those who are politically active online in the Philly region are in debt to your work.

Thank you for all that you do.

AboveAvgJane said...

Thank you Matt and Albert, and to those who have written private emails. I do appreciate the kind thoughts and words. It is always good to look back now and then and evaluate, or at least look at usage numbers!

Greg Palmer said...

Congratulations on 3 great years Jane! We all love and rely on your blog.

--Greg at Keystone Politics

Gort said...

I'll drink a toast to you tonight Jane. Thanks for 3 great years.

AboveAvgJane said...

Thanks Greg and Gort for stopping by and the comments. We have a robust regional blogosphere here in SEPA and I'm glad to be a part of it.

Unknown said...

Congrats!!! Also congratulations on being listed as the Number One blog of political influence in PA! A very well-deserved honor. eR :)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Jane! I'm looking forward to many more years!
-Paul Lang

AboveAvgJane said...

Robin, you should be a little dubious of any list of influential blogs that has be at #1. Fact-esque covers a broader range of topics and surely has a higher readership.

Paul, I know you both are very busy these days and really appreciate you taking the time to comment. Hope all is well with one of my favorite politicos.