Ton up

After just short of 20 months of work on this site I’ve reached post #100, prompting me to check on how I compare with the average blogger in terms of prolificness and longevity.

My posting rate of 5 per month is pretty poor, judging by Technorati‚Äôs State of the Blogosphere 2008 report, which says that the mean for active bloggers is 10 posts per month. I have got up to speed recently, managing 31 posts in the last three months, after a particularly fallow period in the summer. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a drop in my productivity over January though; I’m never particularly motivated about anything in the middle of the winter.

The same report gives the figure of 3 years for the average blogging tenure, though 51% of bloggers are onto at least their second blog, so the lifespan of individual blogs must be a bit less. I’d guess that the average is made up of a few long-standing examples, and many more brief experiments, so I feel I’ve done quite well to last this long.

Googling all this stuff has opened my eyes to the whole industry that exists just to write about blogging, producing articles in mainstream publications like Businessweek and Forbes, dedicated sites like The Blog Herald, and countless individual blogs on the subject, not to mention the blog indexing services like Technorati and Icerocket. It gives the impression that the business of blogging is thriving, but, much like the economic picture in Second Life, when you look at the actual figures it doesn’t appear so rosy. The Technorati report reveals that even the top 10% (by revenue) of blogs bring in an average of only $19000 a year, and even that figure is skewed by a few high earning sites.

Not that my traffic is anything like heavy enough to sustain any dreams I might have about becoming a professional blogger. It is up a lot since I started tagging my posts, but I’ve more or less accepted that Second Life Shrink will forever be a niche product.

Re-tagged

A few weeks ago I started tagging my posts, and added a tag cloud to the left-hand column. This initially gave a rather misleading impression of what this blog is about, since only a minority of the total posts were indexed; for a while it looked as if I was completely obsessed with Sarah Palin.

So over the last week or so I’ve been back through 19 months’ worth of posts, adding tags to each one, and now you can see which are the topics that really interest me. “US Presidential Election” is still big right now, but will fade away with time, “Politics” will probably persist in an attenuated state, and hopefully “Psychology” and “Culture” will begin to grow in stature. I’m guessing that “Blogging” and “Second Life” will remain the top tags though.

Superstition aint the way

I started attaching tags to my posts a couple of weeks ago in the hope that my pitifully low traffic would pick up a bit. I’m not sure how successful this has been; the graph of my visitor numbers has been as erratic as the Dow:

I did get a comment yesterday, for the first time in a while, from Ann’s New Friend. It was a bit snarky, but any attention is good I guess. I felt it was unfair of him/her to imply that I wasn’t interested in reading opinions that conflicted with my own; I look at right-wing journals and blogs all the time. I was just worried that readers might interpret the fact that I had linked to Real Clear Politics without any comment as meaning that I had some sympathy with the views expressed therein.

Hats off to ANF’s work rate though; I had been feeling pleased that I had managed six posts in a week, but he/she is a true stakanovite who produces fifteen in a day. It’s interesting that the biggest item in his/her tag cloud is “Obama” (as indeed mine is “Palin”); it’s always easier to talk about your opponen’s failings rather than your candidate’s qualities.

It did make me think about why I bother commenting on the US election; hardly anyone reads these posts, and those few who do are unlikely to be swayed by a few links to stuff they’ve probably seen before anyway. I have previously expressed the opinion that blogs are vastly overrated as a medium of political discourse, but I am finding myself more and more drawn into the cross-linked world of the political blogosphere.

I made a light-hearted reference to voodoo the other week, but the more I think about it, the more it seems that blogging has a lot in common with primitive religious rituals. (No offence to adherents of voodoo; I’m using “primitive” in the sense of “uncontaminated by civilisation”).

Faced with a process that is likely to affect my life in many fundamental ways, yet which is completely outwith my control – like a volcano, or winter, or the US Presidential race – I am reverting to simple superstition, offering tribute to the secular gods of liberal elitism, and bowing before the mighty deity that is Tina Fey.

Tag this

After about a year of blogging, I finally got round to reading the instructions, and discovered the difference between “categories” and “tags”. So from now on I’m going to tag all my posts. We’ll see if that increases my traffic much.