Blog Post #300

🎉 🎉 🎉 As I hit “Publish” on this post, I have written 300 posts on this blog! To mark the occasion, I want to review a few more stats and reflect on everything that went into those 300 posts.

Growing a Business and a Blog

My first post, “Welcome to the MRWWeb.com Blog”, went live October 7, 2011. At that point, I had lived in Seattle for about 1.25 years, during which I was getting my full-time web design business started.

Through the years, I have documented things I learned, events I attended, and milestones for my business on this blog. I’ve also used it as a means of documenting my ideas, clarifying my thinking, and creating a repository of knowledge I can share freely and reuse. I frequently find myself sending links to my blog posts to others, since many still represent my most complete thoughts on something like how to use headings.

Over time, I think it’s helped me develop a tone and way of thinking that is simultaneously more confident and more friendly, much like many of my other favorite blogs. What hasn’t changed is that I still revise and proofread almost every post that goes up, and I generally don’t throw anything out on a whim other than short posts with a paragraph, quote, and a link. (And even then, I still publish plenty of typos. Thanks for catching those, Mom!)

I set out to write a blog of “Thoughtful posts for thoughtful people,” and I think I’ve done that.

By The Numbers

Let’s start with the hard numbers:

  • There are now 300 posts at MRWweb.com.
  • Those posts were published over 7 years, 9 months, and 1 day.
  • 3 of those posts aren’t mine, as I briefly experimented with guest posts.
  • 1 previously published post is not included in the count because I deleted it.
  • All posts, including this one, add up to about 159,600 words.
  • That’s an average of about 532 words per post.
  • There are currently 343 comments from readers. I wrote 117 comments in response.
  • That is a lot of words.

Posting Rate Trends

For the first 4.5 years of the blog (2011-2015), I averaged nearly 1 post per week. For much of that time, I held a regimented schedule of a post every Tuesday.

A bar chart showing number of posts per year on mrwweb.com blog
Year201120122013201420152016201720182019
Posts17585354473417145

While I still have plenty to say, increased business and a more general lack of urgency to blog led to a falloff of posting starting in 2017. I said as much in my Chronicle VI post in November 2016, so this was somewhat planned.

Extra-blogular Posts

This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning blog posts I’ve written elsewhere. Many of these posts have been written since January 2016 when Nonprofit WP launched. So my blogging hasn’t declined as precipitously as it appears!

Including those in the count gets me to 348 posts.

Frequent Topics & Post Series

Throughout my time blogging here, I’ve had a variety of recurring post series and topics.

There were a few formats that I reused, particularly my Twitter roundups (published once a month for about 2 years) and my Chronicle series catching people up on what I’ve been doing.

My Categories are a mess and need to be cleaned up, but my Tags offer a pretty good overview of the subjects I spent the most time writing about. Here is every tag used more than 10 times on the site:

Tag# of Posts
WordPress57
Accessibility50
Writing for the Web28
Fake Follow21
WordCamp18
Project Management17
Plugins17
Usability12
Alternative Text11
Headings11
Open Source11
WordPress Seattle11
501 Commons11

Note: Posts can receive multiple tags (often many!), so the sum of used tags is much greater than the number of posts.

🏆 Superlatives

Let’s have some fun and highlight a few notable posts.

Most Lucrative Post

It’s an understatement to say I’m not in blogging for the money, but I’ve gotten a little coffee money out of it over the years.

My review of SiteGround hosting for nonprofits is probably my actual most lucrative post, despite it not getting much traffic. It contains an affiliate link that has been used a few times at $50/referral.

That said, these are my rewards, so I’m giving this one to “Solving array_merge Argument #2 on load.php line 63 on SiteGround”. After running into that error during a project, I documented what was a rather surprising fix. Since then, I know that blog post has helped dozens (hundreds? see below) of people and more than a few have taken me up on the request at the end of the post to buy me a beer if I saved them an hour. Thanks, everyone!

An honorable mention goes to “I ♥ WorkFlowy”. This post ranked very highly in search engines for a year or so, and from that I referred 24 people to my favorite task list manager. That earned me 6000 free bullet points per month for managing my work tasks! That has saved me $50/year for quite a few years.

Most Popular Post: Search Engine Edition

Counting from the day my first blog post went live, the #1 page on my entire site—more than the home page!—is “How to Write a Good Review with Three Examples”. In fact, the 11,050 views of that article account for 45% of ALL pageviews on my site in that time. This appears due to ranking quite highly for the search term “how to write a review example”. While it’s gratifying to get post views, the lack of comments (literally zero!) suggests that it’s not particularly useful to folks. I should probably rewrite it and include some better examples. Oh well!

What this can teach you is that when you blog a lot, you will happen across surprisingly unmet needs for articles on the internet that your blog post now fills. (In industry parlance, this is called a “long tail keyword”.)

There are three other posts that also have more views than my home page.

The numbers after each title are the total number of pageviews and average time on my site for people who read each article. I take them as a sign that people are actually reading these articles, and hopefully being helped by them! Notably, two of the four top posts are hyper-specific tutorials. I wrote both after not finding answers to the issues for myself, so I knew that others would benefit. I just had no idea how many people would end up reading them!

Most Popular Post: Social Media Edition

Coming in as the 6th-most popular page on my site is “WordPress 5.0 is Not Ready” with 2213 views and 7:05 average time on site. Unlike the top 4 posts (and my home page), these views were highly concentrated in time, and about 90% of that traffic came from social media sites and other peoples’ email newsletters:

Area line graph of page views for "WordPress 5.0 is Not Ready Article". Peak of about 400 views with one other daily spike of 200. Almost all views are immediately after posting in late November 2019. Almost no views occur after February 2019.
This is what the only “viral” (in quotes!) post on my website looks like.

Looking back at that post now, I stand by almost all of what I wrote, and it clearly didn’t make a difference in the release of WordPress 5.0 or the new block editor. (I didn’t expect it to.)

Best Post

I’ll close with the award for “Best Post” which goes to…

I have no idea.

I’m proud of so much of what I’ve written, and the subjects on this blog have ended up being quite diverse. Here are four of my favorites:

  • WordCamp Speaker Diversity, Blind Reviews, & Selection Criteria
    I put a huge amount of work into organizing the speakers for WordCamp 2017. This post clearly laid out a lot of the work we did, and I’m pretty sure it has helped influence other conference organizers since. This post built on the writing of many previous conference organizers, and I think it shows the need to write about topics even if they’ve been covered before.
  • Website Projects Are Like Pizza
    Not all my favorite posts have to be long. This was a short little metaphor that I think is really useful. I still like it and use it in conversation on occasion.
  • 8 Reasons Not to Use a Slideshow for Your Nonprofit Website
    After years of fighting off requests for website slideshows, this blog post synthesized my strongest arguments against them. Since then, I’ve used it to help educate many people about why not to use a slideshow!
  • Trust is a Must: Thoughts on Successful Project Collaboration
    This was one of my very first posts, but it documented a professional ah-ha! moment. What I wrote in that post has continued to influence my work ever since. tl;dr – Everyone is an expert at something. Make sure everyone knows that, respects each other, and uses that for successful collaboration.

I’m Bad at Predicting the Future

When I look back at the topics and posts in general, I notice that I’m pretty bad at predicting what I’ll write about. In both my first blog post and the post announcing the blog slowdown, I wrote about what I would be writing in the future. My guesses were about 50% right at best.

Whatever my intentions, I end up writing about the topics I’m most passionate about and think people need to hear most immediately. That’s what I’ve always done, and that, I think, is what I still plan to do right here in the future.

Thank You

To the folks who have regularly read this blog, thank you! You know who you are. It’s extremely rewarding to know that I’m not just yelling out into the void. Here’s to sharing ideas and learning from others.

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