Some thoughts on four months of blogging

I started this blog at the first of the year, so it’s been almost four months.

I’d say this post is more for other bloggers, or for those thinking of blogging — or maybe for those regular readers who actually are interested in some of the details and thoughts I’m going to share here.

I’m averaging about 110 page views per day (that doesn’t count me; I don’t keep track of how many unique visitors I have). That’s lower than I expected at this point. That’s about how many I was getting in January, when I was making a concerted effort to get a lot of content up relatively quickly of decent quality. This will be my 147th post, btw, so I’m averaging about 85 views per post. About six weeks ago, I began adding this web address to the end of my Savannah Morning News columns, and I had naively assumed that that would produce a big jump in traffic. But it didn’t at all. And that’s in keeping with a broader pattern that I’ve seen: readers very rarely click on any links in a blog post, click on any recommended links, or otherwise go off the site they’re reading. (WordPress stats track such things.) Maybe when I quote and cite other sources, my readers think I’ve done such a great job that they don’t need to go to the original source? Maybe it’s just intellectual laziness? In my own reading, I know that I relatively rarely follow through to links — and that’s generally because I trust that the writer has used those sources appropriately.

When I first started the blog, at least half of the hits generally came directly from links on Facebook. Far fewer have come directly from Twitter — maybe just one or two a day — but it’s hard to know how many Twitter users returned later once they were at a desktop computer and entered the URL directly. Why has the number of hits from Facebook declined? A couple of theories: now that the novelty has warn off, even relatively close contacts are only coming to the site occasionally; Facebook friends are actually tired of hearing what I have to say about so many things; and maybe Facebook is actually putting my links less often into others’ news feeds since so much of my posting directs people to one particular site other than Facebook. I’d love to know more about Facebook’s program for choosing what goes into news feeds and what doesn’t.

But while I’ve lost traffic from Facebook, I’ve picked it up from other places, most notably search engines. Back in January when the site was new, only a handful of visitors would arrive via internet searches. Now that number is well over 20 per day and seemingly growing steadily. Yesterday for example, there were more than 30 of 98 page views attributable to searches (presumably, most of those searches are also first-time visitors). Here’s the rather amusing list of search terms from which people found my blog (followed by the number of page views):

  • savannah music festival salf keita photo 3
  • bill dawers 3
  • savannah guitar festival 2
  • how did the conspirator do in opening weekend 2
  • conspirator reviews 2
  • nathan deal immigration 1
  • dapette starr duncan 1
  • citizen cope solo review 1
  • facts vs the conspirator 1
  • 1
  • roanoke morrill 1
  • telfair museum director 1
  • savannah harbor expansion project 1
  • who wrote conspirator movie 1
  • lemmy childhood 1
  • some thoughts for kids 1
  • what is georgia’s largest source of state revenue 1
  • pat digiovanni and savannah 1
  • nathan deal going to germany may 2011 1
  • loss of neighborhoods 1
  • percussion festival 2012 1
  • sanders bohlke 1
  • opening reiews for the conspirator 1
  • citytalk savannah ga 1
  • group dance songs in hindi for festival 1

It’s an amusing list, in part because I’ve never written about group dance songs in Hindi (though I did review an Indian dance and music show during the Savannah Music Festival), nor did I even know that Nathan Deal is headed to Germany (or not). I’d love to know the reaction of the searcher for “some thoughts for kids” when he or she landed on my review of Just Kids by Patti Smith. Oops.

I’ve also begun to get some hits from other sites, such as That’s Just Peachy, a sort of Drudge Report for Georgia news. The author of that website has begun occasionally adding Savannah Unplugged to his lists.

And I did change the name of the blog to Savannah Unplugged, and I reserved although right now that web address refers back to I don’t know how this will evolve from here, but I do sense that there’s a need in the Savannah area for more high-quality sources of online commentary and news. I have recently asked a contributor (more on that soon I hope) to write posts about the music scene, focusing on what’s upcoming. And I have a few other people in mind — who I know to be like-minded on many issues — who might make good contributors. I do not know how much my name is necessary to the website branding, but I suspect that readers will appreciate other voices as long as they are rational and clear. I’m really not interested in irrational, strident commentary — unless the facts on the ground demand such a tone in my mind.

I get relatively few comments, but lots of people respond on Facebook. That’s fine — and I’ve thought about integrating those so that Facebook comments automatically appear on the blog. But, again, that opens the door to all kinds of irrationality. Because of a recent uptick in the number of spam comments, I’ve added one of those annoying “captcha” security steps before posting comments — sorry about that!

I have thought about peeling off the music posts into a separate website. I’m thinking one day of changing the layout to a more magazine look. I tried going to a three column landing page with lots more info in the sidebars, but my already-meager Google Adsense revenue collapsed in the weeks I tried that. I continue to play around with sidebar content, however, and to experiment with different ad placements. I just got rid of a skyscraper ad in the sidebar and replaced it with a large rectangle below the content. By far the most productive ad over the last couple of months has been the header leaderboard (the banner at the top), which I have set to display only one image, primarily for aesthetic purposes. Even though Adsense recommends having ads open to both images and text for a higher return, my tentative findings are that an image ad does much better there, in addition to looking better.

I hope to continue to add photo galleries — I’m working my way back into a bit more serious photography.

The most popular posts continue to be those that have the most obvious local interest, such as a recent post about Savannah entrepreneurship. I have particularly enjoyed the chance to write reviews, something which my freelance work in the Savannah Morning News simply leaves no room for.

So I’m going to keep at it for a while and see where we end up.