30 months of blogging – a summary

Yesterday I realised it’s been some time since I’ve started blogging. Actually, it’s been over 30 months! I’ve decided it’s a good opportunity to share some numbers and my thoughts on blogging in general. I hope fellow IT bloggers will find my story useful.

If you’re not interested in the details but just want to get inspired, feel free to jump to the last part of the article!

Numbers

Let’s start with some statistics!

  • Total number of published posts: 57
  • All time views: 90,065
  • Best ever views in a day: 3,865
  • Newsletter subscribers: 195
  • Total number of comments: 133
  • YouTube channel subscribers: 119

These stats are not 100% complete because after a few months of blogging I changed the platform from Google to WordPress. Interestingly, the best day in term of views happened in the second month of blogging resulting in over 10,000 views (this post made it to Hacker News front page). I’ve never managed to do this again.

Total number of posts

The number divided by 30 gives a not-so-bad average of almost 2 posts a month. It’s far less than many experienced bloggers recommend (at least once a week or even daily). I’ve tried posting weekly but couldn’t keep up at all. Writing a post takes me at least several hours as it often requires researching a topic and writing some code. A possible solution to this is to introduce shorter, less thorough posts. Do you think it makes sense?

All time views

The number of monthly views is increasing steadily which I think is good as it indicates some progress.

However, I’m not so much interested in quantity as in quality of visits. Google Analytics says over 87% bounce rate and only 52-second average session duration which is not satisfactory to me. I need to think about ways to increase engagement and make readers want to read stay on the blog. Do you have any ideas?

What’s more, most of the traffic comes from Google search and does not hit posts related to functional programming. I decided to make it the main theme of the blog some time ago. Readers hitting posts about Firebase will not likely be interested in exploring the blog any further as the main theme doesn’t correspond with what they were looking for.

I’m not sure how to address it. The most viewed posts happen to be rather old so they had time to build a good rank in Google search. Maybe the functional programming stuff will also be reached this way in the future.

Newsletter subscribers

I think it’s a good number. When I imagine 200 people in a room, it’s quite a lot 😀

I have to admit that over 95% of subscribers were incentivized by the free ebook about functional programming in JavaScript.

I’ve tried a pop-up once and it was working pretty well. However, I’ve decided it’s too annoying and disabled it.

The open rate on the last newsletter was 43.8% while click rate was 7.3%.

Total number of comments

This number is the one I’m the most dissatisfied with. Bear in mind that half of the comments are mine (I reply to almost every comment) and some of them are self-pingbacks.

I would gladly trade most of the views for bigger engagement on the blog. There are many smaller blogs where you see heated discussions in comments. It never happens on my blog.

I’ve tried directly asking questions in posts in order to increase engagement but it doesn’t seem to work. I’m thinking about writing more opinion-based posts so that at least I can get ranted about in the comments section 😀

Any other advice from you?

Important events in blog history

The blog has undergone some changes in the course of these 30 months. I’m learning all the time and try to make it better and better. Here are some most important events from the blog’s history.

  • February 2016: Hacker News front page and 10K views in a day – this happened in the early days of the blog because of this post; at first it was very motivating but some disappointment came in the following days – almost none of the visitors on that day became a returning visitor; a lesson to learn
  • September 2017: Free e-book about FP in JavaScript – after completing a series of posts about FP in JavaScript I’ve decided to turn it into a free e-book and start building a newsletter list at the same time. The strategy worked quite well and I use the e-book as a freebie until this day.
  • January 2018: Specialization in functional programming and web apps – in the beginning, the blog covered a rather broad spectrum of topics; I’ve decided it’s not a good thing and that it doesn’t help in terms of creating a community of returning readers; after much thought I’ve decided to make functional programming on web the main topic of the blog; I’m not sure it was a good idea as it seems that it’s harder to make people read about FP then about e.g. Firebase; however, I’d like to stick to this approach for a bit longer and see how it works out in the long run
  • March 2018: Start of the YouTube channel – given some success as a public speaker and trainer, I’ve decided that it would be nice to try myself on YouTube. I absolutely loved it and also received some good feedback. However, the channel doesn’t work very well as a source of traffic for the blog

Benefits of running the blog

I’d like to finish on a positive note so let me share how the blog influenced my life in a positive way. And hell, it did!

  • I became a public-speaker because of this blog – more than a year ago I had a chance to give a talk at a meetup. I’ve decided to do this because I had the contents of the talk almost ready – all I had to do is to take a blog post and make it into a talk.
  • I’ve received numerous job offers because of the blog – I’ve received many offers referring to my blog; some of them directly as a result of a particular blog post. What’s more, I’m currently switching jobs to one that I was offered at least in part because of I run a programming blog.
  • The blog helped me succeed at work – running a programming blog makes you seem a better developer in the eyes of your co-workers. There are many ways one can benefit from this, including a promotion.
  • The blog helped me develop communication skills – it’s hard to measure but after writing so much text, most of it focused on explaining difficult technical topics, there is no way I didn’t become better at communicating. I can feel it when doing tech talks and training.

There is probably more. As you can see, there are many ways you can benefit from a blog apart from making it a source of passive income. So, if you are undecided then stop thinking about it and start writing!