One year ago today, I started this blog. It has been a crazy year, and A Blog Not Limited has been a major part of my life during that time, so I figured a bit of "reflection" is in order.
Before I dive in, I must give a huge shout-out to my buddy Chris Kenworthy who spent some time messing with my Google Analytics (and, no, that is not a euphemism) to give me some statistics about this blog's first year. Dude, you are awesome!
In the Beginning
I was late to the blogging party. For years, my boss and friend Ian Pitts hounded me about starting a blog. But I wasn't comfortable with the notion of putting myself out there. I didn't think I had anything worth writing about or that people would be interested in what I had to say.
But then my company decided to start using ExpressionEngine for our international and corporate sites. And I had to learn it. Ian cleverly tasked me with learning EE by creating a blog.
It was a slower–than–I–expected process. And there were a few bumps along the way. But in a matter of about 10 days, I had gotten comfortable enough with EE to get the basics together.
I had high hopes of coming up with an amazing visual design. I've had a vision of a particular design for years, but I've never taken the time to mock something up. Yet, in the process of learning EE and coming up with content, I just never took the time to realize that vision. I ended up settling for this simple "design" you are gazing at.
Content Is My Master
Despite my personal disappointment and frustration about not implementing said amazing design, I have discovered that content is far more important to me than anything else on this blog.
I enjoy the blog writing process. It is so much better (freer and more casual) than the writing I have to do for work and for the book. And there is absolutely nothing better than the immediacy of blogging. My work is published quickly and I get feedback right away (sometimes).
Sadly, at least from my perspective, I'm not blogging as much as I'd like. I'm just too busy right now. And I'm so far behind on blog posts.
I have three article stubs recapping the few SXSWi panels I attended (back in March!) that I must finish. I also have to post recaps for two of the presentations I did back in May. I still have a few articles to write for my So I'm Writing a Book series. And I've got about five ideas for a few experiments I'd like to do and write about, including one for microformats.
The Big Picture
But, I already feel guilty about that stuff (damn my Catholic upbringing). Let's focus on the positive and what I have been able to achieve this year.
I posted 55 full articles, 25 Useful Tweets lists, and 17 quotes. Of all these, my top 10 articles in terms of pageviews are:
- Getting Semantic With Microformats, Introduction (4,483 pageviews, 3,687 unique)
- Getting Semantic With Microformats, Part 1:
rel(2,193 pageviews, 1,861 unique)
- Getting Semantic With Microformats, Part 3: hCard (1,731 pageviews, 1,494 unique)
- Getting Semantic With Microformats, Part 4: hCalendar (1,583 pageviews, 1,382 unique)
- Getting Semantic With Microformats, Part 2: XFN (1,211 pageviews, 1,038 unique)
- Getting Semantic With Microformats, Part 5: hAtom (1,024 pageviews, 849 unique)
- WTF Is the Big Deal? Don't Use
<table>s for Layout! (920 pageviews, 562 unique)
- Getting Semantic With Microformats, Part 7: Themes & Issues (884 pageviews, 765 unique)
- Getting Semantic With Microformats, Part 6: hResume (773 pageviews, 672 unique)
- Adding Social Media Links to ExpressionEngine Templates (758 pageviews, 639 unique)
As much as I love my Getting Semantic With Microformats articles, my personal favorite is WTF Is the Big Deal? Don't Use
<table> for Layout!. Why? Because I love to bitch. And because this post, more than any others, exemplifies the beauty of blogging. In the span of two hours, I got a bee in my bonnet, threw together a bunch of words and posted. It was fast. It got some good responses. And it is on a topic I feel passionate about.
I'm also quite fond of Oomph Microformats Toolkit. Once again, I found out about Oomph and immediately started messing with it. In a matter of a few hours, I wrote up my experience with it, offered some feedback and then posted that shit.
Immediate and satisfying. I really love that aspect of blogging. Not to mention, the process of writing about something is also a learning process for me. Whenever I write, I always end up learning something new about the topic. And I do love learning.
During the year, there were a few big days for A Blog Not Limited:
- September 10, 2008
- @microformats first tweeted about my Getting Semantic series
- My first "spike" in traffic with 243 visits
- October 15, 2008
- Jan Sládek started translating my Getting Semantic series and gave me some link love
- Resulted in 269 visits
- November 26, 2008
- My Getting Semantic series was mentioned on Ajaxian
- Led to A Blog Not Limited's biggest single day with 1098 visits
- March 12, 2009
- Getting Semantic With Microformats, Introduction hit the home page of Delicious
- 220 visits
- January 28 and June 2, 2009
- My esteemed friend Andy Clarke mentioned my blog on his blog (can you feel the blog love?)
- A combined 488 visits
Is There Anybody Out There?
When I started this blog, I think only one or two people read it (thanks to Ian and my oldest friend, Jen Schwedler). A month or two later, I'm guessing I was at about a readership of four (thanks to my mom and sister, who still don't understand most of what I write about). Today, I don't really know how many people read this blog, but it is definitely more than four.
According to FeedBurner, I have 143 RSS subscribers. Maybe to some seasoned and far more popular bloggers, this is a low number. But, frankly, it amazes me that many folks want my content pushed to them.
Thanks to some customization of my RSS feeds, I also know that those 143 subscribers led to 956 visits to my blog. This really surprises me, since I rarely leave my feed reader to actually look at the web version (Jason Santa Maria's blog being an exception). Not to mention that there is nothing visually compelling on my blog. I'm flattered folks want to check out the content directly on the blog.
According to Google Analytics, I've had 19,986 visits (13,176 of which were unique) to A Blog Not Limited this past year. Granted, I realize a fair portion of those visits are from the fucking spammers who deserve cock (or cunt) punches. But the rest are folks who I owe the biggest debt of gratitude for taking the time to visit (and hopefully read some of) my blog.
And what are they reading (besides the articles)? My about page. With 2,194 visits (1,655 unique), it is my second-most visited page (the first is the home page with 7,118 visits; 5,657 unique). You like me! You really like me!
Lies, Damned Lies & Statistics
I'm not a fan of statistics. In fact, show me numbers and percentages, and my eyes glaze over, haunted by memories of unsuccessfully doing long division at the blackboard in grade school (one of the reasons I asked Chris to help me with my Google Analytics for this post).
But for posterity's sake, here are some more "interesting" (if you are into that sort of thing) stats about A Blog Not Limited:
- 65% of my visitors use Firefox, 13% use Safari, 9% use IE (yeah, that piece–of–shit browser can suck it), 5% use Chrome and 4% use Opera. The remaining use Camino, Konquerer and SeaMonkey.
- 55% of my visitors use Windows, 33% use Apple and 9% use Linux. The rest are a combination of various mobile operating systems like iPhone and Android.
- "emily lewis" is my #1 keyword with 232 visits (I'm famous!)
- Twitter is my #1 referrer with 1,868 visitors, mostly from my profile. Ajaxian is a close 2nd with 1,527.
- Though I'm not very popular in Africa or Antarctica, my visitors hail from all over the world. Top countries are the US (8,843), the UK (2,120), and the Czech Republic (1,428).
Hopes for the Future
From a content perspective, I hope to continue what I've been doing, but with more regularity (especially once the book is done).
I would like to add a few more articles to my Getting Semantic With Microformats series. And I would like to start a new series focusing on accessibility. Also, my "adventures" in online dating would make another great (and hysterical) series. Seriously, you would not believe some of the dates I went on, like the one with booger man.
I also hope to post more quotes. I have a huge list of favorite quotes and want to have an online respository for them.
And I'm sort of amazed that, in the course of a year, my pessimistic, complaining ass has only posted three rants. That just seems wrong. I bitch and complain non-stop. I must share this with the world.
As for functionality, there is so much left to do. I have a list of 30+ tasks for this blog, including:
- A contact form
- Getting the Solspace Tag module to actually fucking work the way I want it to, or come up with my own solution for related entries
- Creating some decent pagination on my articles archive page. What is currently there is flat-out pathetic.
- Creating some custom Google Analytics campaigns to track activity on specific links, particularly those for social media
- Dealing with outstanding CSS issues in Safari and IE
- Customizing my search messages a bit better
- Improving my 404 error page
- Making up my mind about adding trackbacks and maybe Tweetbacks
- Taking some much-needed time to explore Devot.ee and EE Insider and find cool stuff that would work on this blog (and stretch my EE skills).
And, of course, finally mocking up and implementing that design that's been rattling around in my mind for years.
I have every expectation that I will get all of this completed, I just don't know when. As much as I love this blog and truly enjoy the satisfaction of working on it (not to mention getting more advanced with EE), it is hard to justify the time investment when I have a day job, am writing a book, am co-managing Webuquerque and trying to have some semblance of a life.
Regrets? Not a One.
Despite my initial apprehension about blogging, I have absolutely no regrets. I do wish I had more time to devote to this blog. That list of 30+ items stares at me every day and fuels my guilt that I haven't finished what I want to finish. But that's about it.
I'm beyond thrilled with ExpressionEngine as the CMS. It has been challenging, fun and overwhelming satisfying to work with. I'm also ecstatic about EngineHosting. Their customer support truly is support. And fast. And friendly.
But most of all, I'm so happy for all the opportunities this blog has created for me. I've met (in person and online) folks from all over the world who have read my blog and gotten at least one thing from it. And no doubt the writing I've done on this blog contributed immensely towards my book deal.
Here's to Another Successful Year!
I'm excited about what the next 12 months will bring for this blog and myself professionally. I hope you are too.
Thanks so much for accompanying me on this ride!