Twelve years ago today…

The first post of this blog went online (HERE).

Twelve years later, I’m amazed how prescient I was . . . I’m still my number-one fan, and I still enjoy reading my old stuff (someone has to).

My second post is an opinion piece . . . yup! I set the tone early (HERE). Now, since it was the second post in a new blog, I had no expectations for much traffic . . . and my low expectations proved correct. What I didn’t realize at the time, is that all my opinion pieces would enjoy near anonymity.

Of course, it wasn’t just my opinion pieces . . .

The third post was a piece of fan-fic (HERE). Anyone who knows anything about me can guess what show would prompt me to write about it. I still go back and read that piece every so often . . .

. . . I mean, I did mention I like my writing, yes?

Where are the photos?” you ask . . .

Frozen water and Pikes Peak
Frozen watershed and Pikes Peak

That was the first photo (aside from the header) that appeared on this blog. It was on THIS POST, a brief review of the 2009 photos I’d shared on other platforms and by other means.

If you look at the actual post, you’ll notice two things. One, the formatting is a bit off. Two, the photos are small. You see, at the time, I knew that WP was NOT a photo-sharing site. I assumed most of the people who actually cared about photos would prefer to see them presented in the best possible light . . . meaning, they would go to the linked SmugMug galleries and see photos like these . . .

It would be a while before I realized only 0.002157% of readers would ever go to the SmugMug Galleries.

The fifth post (HERE) swung back to an opinion/personal-musings piece which — you guessed it — few people read.

Ah, but the sixth post! . . . the sixth post (HERE) offered up a short and (in my opinion) fun piece about pirates and ninjas. This piece hasn’t done too bad . . . in 12 years, it has accumulated twenty (20) views, or better than one per year . . . but half of those were probably me.

The seventh post (HERE) dove into the subject of religion (one of many, many posts covering the subject). Needless to say, given the supposed pious nature of people, it didn’t fare well.

The eighth post (HERE) got a LOT of views . . . when it appeared on Slice of SciFi (I wrote for them for a number of years). Not so much here. Still, it was the first of many reviews that appeared on this blog, and they usually do better than either my fiction or my opinion pieces.

The ninth post (HERE) and the tenth post (HERE) were also pieces originally written for Slice of SciFi.

The thing is (or was), most of what I wrote for my previous two blogs (before this one) were opinion pieces. I used to generate lots of good discussions, something that rarely happens here . . . different times, and different audience. Anyway, in the early days of the blog, I wasn’t sure what I should write about, so I initially continued what I had been doing in the previous blogs.

Plus, at that time, I was still sharing a lot of my photos via emails to friends and family. It took me a while to transition to using the blog as the conduit for sharing what I do.

The eleventh post (HERE) was meant to be the seed for a “universe” of fiction . . . or, a seed for future fiction. In the end, it stood alone as an exercise in free-writing.

No, I won’t rehash all 3,200+ posts.

And, no, I don’t expect readers to click on any of them links (a few might, and that’s OK).

The purpose for those is to show an early pattern that persisted for a long time: namely, lots of opinion pieces, fiction offerings, and general writing with just a smattering of photos.

Again, that’s because I initially saw the blog as a written medium, especially given the way WP treats photos. And I saw SmugMug as the best way of sharing photos. Essentially, I was wrong all the way around . . . few people read my stuff, and even fewer people visited SmugMug.

I should note that SmugMug wasn’t my first choice. That was Google’s Picasa (sample gallery). That particular gallery used to be on Picasa, then transferred to what is now Google Photos when Google killed Picasa. That rendered every link to a Picasa gallery useless. I rebuilt a few, but eventually gave up, especially since I couldn’t go back and update emails I had sent out. Still, if you ever peruse old posts, you might hit some dead links; some are probably Picasa links, and many are links that WP killed whenever it changed stuff.

And, let’s face it . . . Google Photos is no better than WordPress at showcasing photos because they too compressed the originals (although at least Google gave you the option of keeping the original version).

Anyway, so it went . . . until, after a number of years, I transitioned to posts that were primarily photo-centric. Also, because the suggested practice was for short, focused posts, I opted to go the complete opposite way with posts that sometimes required 30 minutes or more to read (most people just skim through those, or stop after a few minutes).

And, yes, the trend of written posts getting no love continued, and became even more pronounced. Basically, few people want to read words, or, at least, my words, and that’s where we are today.

Before we continue, here’s a photo as a reward for the few who stuck with this post.

None of the above should be taken as me complaining, crying about injustice toward my blog, or asking for sympathy. I know how I could make this blog more popular and drive more traffic here . . . or rather, I know what people suggest, but my contention is that I have to enjoy doing whatever I do . . . and I do.

So, let’s wrap this up with a few numbers (people really like numbers!) about the blog. Let’s begin with my productivity . . .

Click for a larger version in new tab or window

Edited to Add: holy crap on a cracker . . . I just realized — 3.5 million words. That’s a lot of words, Bob!

A few observations . . . contrary to what it appears, there’s little correlation between the number of posts and engagement with readers. Per my experience, it has to do with topics (duh!).

I used to get the most engagement when I wrote about my interests (photography and writing) as opposed to showing examples of my interests. You know the saying “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach”? Well, those who write about what they do generate the most interest.

There’s another sad part — a hidden part — to the numbers you see . . . starting with 2017, you can see a decline in the average comments per post. That’s because starting that year, some long-time subscribers died.

Also starting that year, some long-time subscribers left the blogging scene. They still have blogs, they occasionally still drop a post, but — for various reasons, be it health, work, or just life — they mostly stopped blogging and interacting.

This brings me to new subscribers, and by “new” I mean subscribers in the last 8-9 years. On paper — as of the time I’m writing this — I have 1,797 subscribers. On any given month, I pick up about ten new subscribers. On average, twelve new subscribers per month for the past twelve years.

Notice something about those names? I mean aside from the fact I’m on there (I was doing some tests). None of those subscribers interact with the blog. I no longer check (or even get email notices) when someone subscribes because the majority are businesses. Or, if they are not businesses, they are silent subscribers. Actually, they’re likely subscribers who stop visiting and forgot to unsubscribe.

Silent subscribers are OK. I have an additional 27 email subscribers, and most of them don’t interact — at least not on the blog — but I know who they are; some are friends, some are family.

So, let me clarify . . . I don’t demand or expect interaction. If something I write moves you to comment, that’s fine, but, often, there’s nothing to say. I’m pretty sure of who reads my stuff, and it’s OK if they don’t read everything I write because I understand the diversity in my posts means very few people (if any) will be interested in every single post I put up.

And that’s the thing . . . I get more interaction when I write instructions, review software, comment on current stuff, and I do less of that now. You could say most of my current posts are fluff pieces . . . because they are. The Jokes, the Teacups, Wordless, Throwback . . . those are all look-and-forget posts. They rarely solicit interactions because, after a few, there’s nothing new to say.

And that’s fine . . . they are for me to pass the waste time instead of doing something productive.

Let’s talk about views . . .

If you are a new blogger and want to crank up a lot of views, put up galleries whenever you can. For example, if you have a post with five photos and someone looks at the post, that’s one view. BUT . . . if you put those photos in a gallery, you’ll get one view for the post, plus score five additional views as readers scroll through the gallery. More, if they accidentally loop back around to the first few photos.

Look at these statistics . . .

That October day was a few days after I posted a couple of posts with extensive galleries . . . Still, if you look at the previous graphic, October 2019 is not the month with the most views. But, all of the ‘high’ months (greater than 3K views) are months where I had posts with galleries as opposed to individual photos.

If you take the helicopter view, and look at things in the aggregate, despite the number of subscribers and regardless of the number of posts, the average number of views hasn’t changed much since 2012.

Also, looking at the above graphic, you’ll see what is actually more important than views . . . visitors. So, on average, for the past 12 years, I get about 20 visitors a day. The average is a bit off because the first few years should probably be dropped.

Currently — and for the past 5-6 years or so — I get about 30 visitors per day. There are days that it goes up to 60, but often that’s the same people coming back because of comments.

Another thing I’ve mentioned before; my writing — especially my fiction — gets very little love.

Views by post and pages

Note how none of my fiction appears in that list. Well . . . maybe. Se the Home Page/Archives stat? Some of those could be my writing, fiction or otherwise, but it gets lumped in there. But, if I go just by the post title, the first proper fiction title I see is . . .

. . . but, boy, Firefly posts sure get a lot of love.

Meaning, stats for a blog can be very misleading. Take comments, for instance. By far, I’m the one with the most comments (because I respond to nearly all comments). So, 3.7K comments means that the actual number of comments from readers is less than half that.

“Tell me, Disperser . . . is there any stat you care about?”

Why, yes . . .

It would be nice to cover the whole world, but Svalbard and parts of Africa remain tough nuts to crack. I’m also missing North Korea, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan, which would fill in Asia. Cuba and a few of the Caribbean islands also elude me.

Some continents are easy (Australia) since I only needed one view from there. Likewise for Greenland and Iceland (not continents); there are no regular viewers there, but I got at least one view from each some time or other.

Interestingly, just yesterday I had a view from St. Petersburg . . . which is odd because I thought Putin had pretty much nixed access to the outside world and possible negative coverage of his demented ‘special action’. It must have been the KGB checking up on what I was doing.

Anyway, here I am . . . twelve years into this. It would be nice to still be doing this when I’m in my 90s. We’ll see.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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