Blogging 2009 – stats and analysis
First the dull bit. Despite a long period of blogging really inconsistently, I am amazed that I had 26,773 views. This compares pretty well with the 28,978 in 2008 and the 13,767 in 2007. It just goes to show that even if you don’t blog regularly, once you’ve been doing it for a bit then you still get people who read your blog regularly or perhaps always read a post when you do one, even if that’s not very often. As I’ve said before, I don’t write this blog for popularity, but it does feel good when you find that people are interested enough to read it.
Yet again, the top posts on my blog have turned out to be apolitical. Of the top 10 shown below, only three are specifically political. This is consistent with previous years. What appears to happen is that political posts tend to get the most hits by far on the day they are posted and for a day or two afterwards, but over a longer period of time such as year, it is the apolitical posts that have the longevity. In fact some of the top 10 below (including the top post) weren’t even written in 2009.
- Roisin Murphy at Plug
- Will we ever forgive Andy Murray for his anyone but England comment
- The magical disappearance of Park Hill flats
- Wicker Riverside (or should that be 3 North Bank)
- 25 random things about me
- Barclays invent road name for their new Sheffield branch
- Forcing interns to be paid will just end their chance of being an intern
- Shock News: Russell Howard had become funny
- An open letter to Diane Park
- Vote Green… our policies are ‘moronic’
So to see if my theory stands up, the next logical thing to look at is search terms, as presumably that is how the non-political people find my blog, and here’s the results (I’ve grouped very similar search terms together):
- Roisin Murphy
- Stanley Spencer
- Pixie Lott
- Anders Hanson
- 25 random things about me
- Neil Trafford
- Patrick Caulfield
- Andy Murray England football
- Cody Keenan
- Park Hill flats
What I did like though was the search term that came in at number 11, which was “Agadoo 2009″. This ranking of search terms does has some overlap with the most popular posts but it doesn’t fit exactly. However, again it is still less political than the majority of my blog’s content. What the ranking hides though, is that the number one search term – Roisin Murphy – achieves nearly twice the number of searches as all the rest of the top 10 put together. I’ve mentioned before about how strange this, what I now refer to as the “Roisin Murphy Factor“, is. Perhaps it is unsurprising that number 4 is my own name. Whilst this gives me mixed feelings – are these people Googling me for good or bad reasons – the real reason is probably that it’s friends who regularly use my blog just Googling my name instead of bookmarking the site.
So how do people find my blog? Well this doesn’t fit the apolitical thing as much, but includes an interesting selection of personal blogs:
- Liberal Democrat Blogs
- Liberal Democrat Voice
- Iain Dale
- Google (including all variations, e.g. Google.com, Google.co.uk or people using Google Reader)
- British Blogs
- Norfolk Blogger
- The Witanagemot Club
- West Ham ‘Till I Die (Iain Dale’s Hammers Diary)
I understand why the Norfolk Blogger gets in at number 6 as Nich Starling’s blog is one of the best read Lib Dem Blogs, but the last two are more odd as they both come down to one specific post each, (neither of which appear in my top 10 for the year). Place number 9 comes from this post on my own blog on an English Parliament, (a post which despite being full of caveats, seems to have led some supporters of an English Parliament to recruit me to their cause), and place 10 comes purely from links from this post on Sheffield Wednesday doing the double over Sheffield United. Those people who know me well will be astonished that anything to do with football has appeared on my blog, never mind being actually read by people.
Overall, it’s actually quite interesting. I haven’t seen the statistics for other personal blogs and of course there are many different ways of working out blogging statistics. But, I imagine my blog is well down the list in terms of readership amongst political blogs. What I’d be interested to know though is how it rates compared to the personal blogs of people who aren’t involved in politics or who have any other specific interest that means they are essentially part of a network of similar blogs. Whilst the most read posts come about through non-politicos using Google, if my understanding of how search engines work is correct, I imagine the only reason the posts appear high up on Google is because a lot of Lib Dems link to my blog from theirs.
THOUGHTS ON BLOGGING IN 2009
I’ve already written a long post about blogging, and why my blogging has become so inconsistent these days. Much of what I wrote then still applies now. However, since then my blogging has picked up a bit. This is largely thanks to encouragement, (although he may not realise it), by one of my friends – John Ault. John started his blog late on this year, and has very quickly built up quite a wide following. Perhaps this is partly due to his humorous anecdotes about working in politics, which have been read not only by other Lib Dems, but have been picked up by websites such as The Huffington Post and Danny Finkelstein, but also because he had an existing reputation within the Lib Dems for being a straight talker.
One big change in my life in 2009, which has perhaps accounted for my reduction in blogging is my decision to join Twitter. I got on to Twitter back in July thanks to encouragement from others, one of whom was Charlotte Gore on my one excursion (so far) to Calderdale’s Liberal Drinks (whether Charlotte will still be attending these now she has quit the party I do not know). Although my tweets have been mocked by a few for being a continuing saga of crap train journeys, others seem to have found it amusing – the best comment being one friend who said “I really enjoy your transport-related tweets, you’re a bit like Bill Bryson or Simon Calder” – thank you Jamie Matthews for being so kind, but as they are both people who I admire and whose jobs I would love to have, that’s very unlikely. The result of being on Twitter though is that I have developed a tendency to make something that would have been turned in to a proper post a 140 character tweet instead. I suppose this is a good thing, but it means that I don’t tend to follow or respond to things as much as I would on a blog, and the same applies the other way round. One of the interest things with blogging is to see other people’s responses to what I’ve written – although that can also invoke panic too. My tweets have also tended to be even less political and more light-hearted than my blog – although it is also open to the Twitter equivalent of drunken texting, which has already caught me out once.
Another big change in 2009 was my change in job. Implausibly, my shorter working hours make me less likely to blog. The reason for this though is simple. If I’m planning to be in the office until 10pm at night or later, as I often was as a Constituency Organiser, I would have a bit of a break to blog on something that’s happened that day. Now with me usually working regular office hours, albeit that I then have a longer journey home, I don’t tend to be sat in front of a computer again outside of work unless I have something specific to do. Then once I’d done whatever casework or artworking I need to do, I don’t want to spend time writing a post on my blog as well. I just want to watch TV, eat my tea or read instead. My long-term solution is to buy a netbook, but that involves saving up, the short-term solution though is to use the app I have downloaded to my new phone more often – if anyone else has an Android phone and uses WordPress for their blog I recommend “wptogo” as a free app that allows you to post to your WordPress blog.
PLANS FOR 2010
It’s perhaps ridiculous to make plans for blogging in 2010 when so often I don’t do what I’d originally planned the previous year anyway, but here’s a few thoughts.
- Have another revamp of the look of my blog. There are always new WordPress themes appearing and increasing numbers of widgets. I want to use some of these to make this site look better, but only when I’ve decided what I want to do with it in terms of content.
- Try and do some regular posts on things that particularly interest me. There’s a whole host of topics that I would like to do more on – photography, history and architecture in Sheffield, the state of the railways, what it’s like as a council candidate/councillor, amusing anecdotes about campaigning… I intend putting time aside to write up some posts on each of these and then posting them on a regular basis. This keeps the site regularly updated, and allow me to write some more considered posts on things that I am interested in, but that don’t need to be as timely.
- Try and write less. That sounds odd, but over the last year I have written a lot of posts that were never completed, saved as a draft and never posted. That was largely because I had lots to say on a subject but not enough time to make sure my post was coherent and sensible. So despite planning to go back and finish it off, I don’t. The solution is to just write a short post on the most timely aspect, and then to keep other thoughts on hold until the issue crops up again and I can write some more. To sum up – I need to write less, more often.
- Finally, I hope to be elected as a councillor in 2010. If I do get elected, I need to think about how I integrate my MyCouncillor website with this blog. I don’t mean creating one blog, but about working out what to write on each site and how to make sure that my musing on things Sheffield don’t conflict with what the council is doing, whilst still being true to myself and writing a blog that is frank and without spin. This final point is not one I have worked out yet.