My blog, TimTyson.US, has been “in business” now for 15 years. That’s sort of amazing to me. But the expression “in business” is not accurate. I make no money at all from my blog–never have. In fact, very much the opposite. Having an independent blog without any advertising costs money–increasingly, too much money. It’s also becoming increasingly complex1.
I can follow my stats (the number of hits I get when) back to 2011, when I changed my blogging platform from MovableType to WordPress. In that 8.5 years, I’ve had about 200,000 (193,547 to be exact) hits on my blog. 2013 was a record year with 37,289 hits that year.
Most of my hits come from Google searches. In 2018, I had 28,199 hits. But that figure is the result of some bizarre nonsense on the part of Google. As 2018 approached, Google changed something about their search algorithm. One post began getting thousands of hits every week. I began getting comments on the post that indicated people thought they were on a support page for a business that had nothing to do with my little blog. This went on for about 6 months.
The summer of 2018, Google fixed whatever their error was, and the number of hits my blog gets took a significant nose dive. The number of hits has been in steady decline ever since. In fact, I am on track to only have about 12,000 hits this year–a record low by far.
Who Reads My Blog
My relationship with my blog has been a curious affair. In many ways I feel like I’ve just been releasing little messages on balloons out into the world. Who knows where they land or if they ever do. Maybe they just get caught up in a tree somewhere until they fade away. In the beginning, I had a significant number of people who read my blog religiously. This was a factor of my job at the time. People wanted to know more about the mysteriously quiet person with whom they worked.
Once I left that job for another, I had a surge in readers because my work was network-centric. People were searching specifically for me online. If you did a Google search for my name, I dominated the top pages of search results. When I retired, that stopped.
Now a person is hard pressed to find my digital presence at all with a Google search of my name. I tend to be buried deep in the pages of search results. There are some interesting reasons for that: fame and scandal around another person with the same name being among them.
Is It Worth the Resources?
So, for the first time ever, after a 15 year run, I’m seriously considering bringing my blog to an end. I’ve averaged the cost of my blog in 2018 to 1.2 cents per hit. I have no idea what that really means, if anything. But in 2019 my blog is on track to cost me almost 3 cents per hit. Thank you, Google search.
I’m reading and hearing more from other online content creators that, unless you feature Google advertising in your site and/or content, your number of hits is drastically dropping. And those who make their living as online content creators, and feature advertising to pay them for their work, are finding it increasing impossible to do so. Costs are up, and their ad revenue is down.
I will not budge on this. My site has always been and always will be advertising free. The web should be, in my humble opinion, open and free. But this is what happens when you have an enormous, controlling monopoly: Google search. Google favors that which makes them the most money.
Why I Write My Blog
My blog has changed through the years because, well, life brings change, doesn’t it. The reasons I write my blog have been many and include but are certainly not limited to:
- I like writing. Writing helps me process more deeply, shows me my thinking.
- I wrote so my family could keep track of some of my day-to-day. My mother read my “blob,” as she called it, all the time when she was living. She always had a lot to say about it. Even her name for my blob was a commentary on it.
- I decided on my 60th birthday that abandoning social media and focusing more on my blog would be a much healthier thing for me personally. I could share without all of the noise, manipulation, and data aggregation and misuse at the heart of those nasty, for profit platforms.
- I have used my blog to remind me of things; to keep track of/store things for later; to document and share some of my travels; to rant and rave about the goings on in life, the arts, technology, religion, and politics; to blow off steam; to just share the random whatever…
- But all in all, my blog has been like the cologne I wear. I wear the cologne I like. It’s for me, not really for anyone else. (Besides, Steve hates cologne. Weird, I know.) My blog is the same way. It’s basically for me. I don’t much care what others think about it. Maybe I’m just getting old and cranky.
When my mother became critically ill and died, I began journaling. Processing all of that heartache was much too personal to put in my public blob, though I did share some of that. And my daily journalling2 has assumed an interesting role in my life, a very important one, actually. And, I even include many of my blog posts as journal entries.
Aside from my being able to prove to Steve that I remember something correctly and he misremembers it (He too journals.), my journaling literally everyday has diverted some of energy that compelled me to blog. I’m writing. I’m writing a lot.3 And I’m writing for just me and nobody else. As a result, I blog far, far less than I once did. That energy is going into my journaling.
So, I’m pondering: do I continue to fund my own personal web presence or not. I really don’t know what I will decide. Do I just stop blogging and leave 15 years of content online? (That will still cost the same amount of money as actually continuing to write online.) Or do I just say goodbye to the online world entirely and take everything down.
I’m even considering archiving my blog as a book. Well, I guess it would have to be a series of books like an encyclopedia. I have a whopping 3,800 blog posts and almost 100 blog pages online just at this blog. That’s actually a huge amount of content.
Hmmm. Time will tell I guess. But I’m setting a date, a deadline, for me to make the decision. I have to decide by my web hosting contract renewal date: April 27, 2020. The one year countdown begins tomorrow! I honestly don’t know what I will decide. Thoughts or suggestions are welcomed.
Maybe I’ll see more clearly in 2020.