Since it’s the time of year when one makes resolutions and commits to some level of introspection, I thought it a good opportunity to analyze The Scratching Post.
The original purpose of this blog was to make money through advertising. I thought I could write enough good political commentary and comedy to bring in lots of links and traffic and generate revenue through ads. A year in, I find that I was wrong, but the blog has been far more valuable than I had ever dreamed. I’ll return to that in a separate post. This time, I’ll focus on the things most bloggers love more than anything else, links and traffic.
Update: I just finished the follow on post. I wrote about how to grow rich blogging. You can find it here.
When I started out, I watched my place in the blog ecosystem on a daily basis. I check it about twice a month now. Dittos for the Technorati ranking. I think I peaked in Technorati at about numer 3500. I’ve dropped into the 6000s by now. It’s irrelevant. Since both of them count the links on people’s blogrolls (the list of links on the sidebars) and almost no one visits based on blogrolls, it’s not correlated to visitors. The place where most traffic comes from is when a popular blogger or website links in a post or article.
Conclusion: Don’t worry about the link count.
On my blog, there are three types of traffic. The first are my friends. They come by just to see what I’ve posted. They leave comments and send emails. The second type is the visitors who’ve never been here before and come by from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) or similar link. A small percentage leave comments, but they really click the AdSense ads. In their case, AdSense does a good job tailoring the ads to the topic of the post. The third type is those who come by for specific posts, either the WOGs or the Thursday 13s.
The majority of my traffic comes from the WOG Squad, the bloggers that link to my weekly World of Good (WOG) posts. Of secondary importance are the Wall Street Journal listing my blog as linking to one of their articles and the occasional links from Hugh Hewitt, No Pasaran or the very rare Instalanche. The smallest, yet most valued group of all is my regular readers who come by to see what’s new.
As an aside, WOG visitors are an odd breed. They come by in the hundreds and never leave a comment. If it weren’t for my hit counters, I’d never know they were there. In my last WOG I put up a poll to see what they thought. The WOG was popular and got about 300 hits. Out of 300 hits I got 10 responses on the poll and I knew three of the responders myself, which meant it was more like 1 out of every 50 people bothering to click their mice twice to vote. They never, ever click on an ad.
Shown below is a typical chart of my WOG visitors, broken down by total visitors, visitors who click more than once on the site before they leave, visitors who vote in a poll and visitors that leave comments. Click on the image for a more legible version.
Conclusion: All visitors are not created equal. My personal philosophy is preached through the WOGs, so it doesn’t bother me that they don’t comment. I like the fact that the WSJ visitors toss me a few pennies through AdSense clicks. I like my recurring visitors most of all because they’ve become my friends.
This doesn’t lead to any changes in the blog yet, but it lays out a foundation for the next post which will analyze the blog’s content and changes I’ll be making in 2007.