I’ve made a number of changes to the blog recently.
Less than two weeks ago, I added a calendar for live music: 912 Music Calendar. That has its own page and is accessible through the menus like the one at the top. I posted the rationale behind it here, and there’s some additional info below the calendar itself. Essentially, I’m frustrated by how frequently really great touring acts have meager audiences when they play in Savannah. In part, that’s due to basic Savannah problems: widespread apathy, late or unpredictable start times, demographics, etc. But it’s also due in large measure to the simple fact that lovers of live music don’t get good, timely information about bands that might especially merit support (sometimes that information is available, btw, especially in Connect Savannah, but the info doesn’t get dispersed well). The main problem is inconsistent promotion by the various venues, but I think there’s also a need for key gigs to be posted earlier and in one place. I do a lot of things around town spontaneously, but I’d prefer to know about good shows several weeks in advance.
I also joined the Google Affiliate Network. Some of the GAN advertisers are now in the sidebar under the heading “Advertising Affiliates.” This is different than Google Adsense, which places the ads you see above, within, and below the content. Adsense generally works on a cost per click basis, and places ads based on users’ browsing history and on the content of posts. Other than being able to block certain controversial categories, I have very little control over the Google Adsense ads. There’s a limit of three large Google Adsense ads per page, by the way, although three “link units” can be added to that. The conversion rate on link units is very small, however, and I’ve pretty much decided to get rid of them. The ads in the Google Affiliate Network, on the other hand, involve specific advertisers approving websites on a case-by-case basis. I’ll get paid a commission (often around 5%) of sales that can be tracked back to my page. I’m allowed to promote the products and sites in the Affiliate Network, but I don’t really plan to do so (other than this mention). We’ll see if it works out. While my traffic has increased, I’m not sure I have enough to generate more than occasional clicks on specific advertisers in the Google Affiliate Network, and it takes many such clicks to generate sales.
Re website traffic: the blog spiked to almost 10,000 page views in May because of the heavy searching for info on Westboro Baptist Church and on Cold War Kids’ performance in Forsyth. This month is on pace for about 6,500 page views. Back in January, I had about 4,200 page views, fueled in large part because of the novelty I think. February through April saw just over 3,000 page views per month.
I continue to mess around with the layout. I’m back to using two sidebars — one on each side — on the homepage and other pages that list multiple posts. On individual post pages, one sidebar vanishes and the one on the left of the homepage moves to the right. Although wider ad sizes tend to perform better and I can’t run any wide ads in these narrower sidebars, this new layout seems more effective for the content.
Specifically, the added width of the main text area allows larger photos, videos, graphs, maps, etc. The additional sidebar on pages with multiple posts also gives me a place to put a blogroll with the most recent posts from those blogs that I routinely follow. There’s some tough reading in a couple of those economics blogs, but all are recommended.
To the primary sidebar I’ve also in recent weeks added some info about upcoming gigs as well as my Twitter stream. I’m still extremely ambivalent about Twitter’s utility, but some interesting things show up every now and then. If I had as many Twitter followers as I have friends on Facebook, I’d probably get almost as much blog traffic from Twitter as I currently get from Facebook. The Facebook referrals vary widely from day to day; in the last 7 days, I’ve gotten as few as 9 hits via Facebook and as many as 75. At this point, I’m averaging well over 30 hits per day from searches of all sorts of terms.
I still hope to add some other contributors at some point, as I mentioned in my last update like this, but that hasn’t come together yet.