At 9:27 a.m. a year ago today, I made a brief announcement on Facebook that my new website was open. The result wasn’t especially promising. I had a grand total of 35 visitors from three countries that day.
Although the numbers climbed — very slowly — it wasn’t until late July that things really took off. On July 25, I had more than 30,000 visitors to the site — in one day — which created problems with the server crashing from the overload, but it was a great problem to have. Things have settled down to somewhere far lower than the peak, but far higher than the meager beginning. For instance, in the past week, the site has had 6,233 visitors.
Where are all those people coming from? Well, I’ve had visitors from all 50 U.S. states and 163 countries. I still haven’t figured out why people in some of those places come — much less come back — but I’ve watched with gratitude as it’s continued to happen.
The list of most active countries for sending visitors has been led by English-speaking countries, which seems natural, but six of the top 10 are not primarily English-speaking: In order, the most visitors have come from the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Germany, Spain, India, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden.
The top 10 U.S. states in sending visitors have been Texas, California, Alabama, New York, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, Washington and Pennsylvania. The only surprise on the list is Alabama, but that’s certainly because of people here who happen to know me.
If you’re curious what operating systems people use to get here, here’s the breakdown. I had thought Windows would dominate more strongly, but I guess it’s a sign of change in the computer world that it “only” sends 70 percent of the visitors: Windows, 70 percent; Macintosh, 16 percent; iPhone, 5 percent; iPad, 4 percent; Android, 3 percent; and other (mostly Linux, iPod, BlackBerry, Symbian) 2 percent. The biggest surprise is how strongly the Mac does with my audience, but the second biggest surprise is that slightly more than 10 percent of visits are coming from mobile devices.
When I started a year ago, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve done better than I expected in some ways, but I’m disappointed in other ways that I haven’t made more progress. When I look back at the writing from a year ago, I’m surprised at how bad some of it is. Although I’d been writing for a living for many years, I had been out of the discipline of having to write every single day for an audience. It took awhile to get back in the swing of that, and there are still days when the work isn’t up to my standards.
I badly need a copy editor. With rare exceptions, nobody reads anything before it’s published. (I’m really picky about letting anybody touch my writing anyway, so there are few people I’d even allow to copyedit it, which is a problem.) I have to admit that I frequently don’t even have time to read what I’ve written myself to make sure it’s what I meant to say. I just don’t have enough time — since the bulk of my time has to go to pursuits that bring in money.
The biggest pleasure has been building relationships with some of the readers, some just through the public comments but through email with a number of you. It’s been great to get to know you and listen to the diversity of thought and expectation out there. Readers have left 3,358 comments on articles over the year, and that engagement from you is very important to me.
I’m still trying to figure out how to do a podcast to go along with the site, but I don’t want to launch anything that I don’t think will entertain you enough to make it worth the investment of time — for both of us. It’s a lot of work to make something entertaining and worth the time to listen to, so I’m thinking and talking to others a lot about how to do this. The broadcast professionals who I’ve asked for opinions have been encouraging, so it’s something I expect to happen in time.
When I started, I promised myself I’d give it at least a year. If I could see progress toward something worth the investment of time, I’d give it another year to see what it could become. I would have never predicted a year ago today all the changes that have come about (and all the people I’ve met) because of this site. I’m eager to see what the next year brings. I have a feeling it’ll be more than I can imagine.
Thanks for being a part of this first year. The truth of the matter is that you’re the most important element. If you weren’t here reading, none of it would be worth doing. So I’m grateful to all of you. I hope you’ll keep coming back. I’ll be trying to dream up ways to make it worth your time.