On Friday, March 27, 2015, I made my first post on this blog. I recommend starting large tasks on a Friday. It allows you to have the weekend to consider where you are going.
I made my next post on Sunday, March 29, and I have posted every weekday since then. Since this blog is about to change in a significant way in 2022, I thought today — Friday, December 31, 2021, would be a good time to look back at where I have been. You’ll hear more about what’s coming on Monday.
Without Bullshit by the numbers
I have been posting here five days a week for the last six years and nine months. That includes 1,838 blog posts, nearly all of which covered content of substance. (I just posted pictures of Christmas trees on a couple of Christmases.) Even when I took days off, the blog didn’t — I cued up content for those days ahead of time. With one exception — a guest post by Charlene Li on the tenth anniversary of the publication of our book Groundswell — I wrote each post myself.
The blog accumulated nearly 4 million views — 3,872,780, to be exact — over that seven-year span, for an average of 2,118 views per post. But some posts gathered far more traffic than others. A typical post of mine gets about 700 views total.
I have to take a moment here to thank you, my readers. Without an audience, I am nothing. I am humbled by the number of views and how they continue to come in every day. Thanks for reading — it means a lot to me.
My posts generated nearly 10,000 comments. This means that the average post received five comments. I read every comment and value your feedback. Most of is intelligent, some of it is quite interesting, and some of it is insulting and stupid (I delete those, of course). My spam blocker, Akismet, has blocked more than 800,000 spam comments.
I wrote 1.7 million words in those seven years. Even considering that some of those words are quoted from other sites, that is a lot. A typical nonfiction book is 65,000 words; this blog is 26 books worth of content.
Popular posts and topics
Although I write about writing, I could not write every day on that same topic. So instead, I have allowed my intellect to roam free over the constellation of things I am interested in. I write about writing, books, politics, marketing, market research, customer experience, and tech industry analysis. I assume that if it interests me, it will interest you, and the traffic to each post shows me what you’re most interested in.
I looked at the tags I used to get an idea of the topics I hit most often. Here are my top topics (click on a link to see all the posts on that topic).
- Donald Trump (228 posts). During his candidacy and presidency, Trump said and did so many things worthy of analysis that it would have been impossible not to write about him. Even so, I’m chagrined to look back and see that he was the topic of one-eighth of my total posts.
- Books (138). I help authors. This means I need to write about books — how to conceive them, how to write them, and how to market them.
- Writing tips (100). I started by writing about writing, and it’s still a top topic for me.
- Passive voice (83). I admit I have a real problem with passives — they pervade so much of modern writing, making it hard for readers to understand what is going on and hiding what’s really happening. When I see an egregious example, I feel a need to explain how it happened, why it is causing problems, and what the author is really saying.
- Facebook (83). As a close observer of social media, I’ve got a lot of concerns about the rise of Facebook/Meta and the negative effects is has on so many people.
- Editing (80). Editors help writers to be as effective as possible. I do a lot of editing, and I have quite a lot of views on how editors can work best — and how writers can understand their work.
- Weasel words (75). Along with passive voice, a common writing problem.
- Apologies (57). Public apologies are among the most revealingly flawed pieces of writing you’ll ever encounter. I analyzed apologies from Western Digital, Andrew Cuomo, Jerry Falwell Jr., Ted Yoho, CrossFit, Felicity Huffman, and Hubspot.
Looking back on seven years of posts, the ones that garnered the most traffic were those that people shared widely, and that ended up ranking on web searches. Here’s a short list:
- 10 top writing tips and the psychology behind them (863,000 views). This is as close as I got to putting all my insights into one post, and it clearly resonated with people seeking writing advice. It accounted for 22% of all views of my blog.
- Systemic vs. systematic (for example, systemic racism) (112,000). The word “systemic” is unusual — I think it confused people. My sober explanation — which I tried to make as flat and unbiased as possible — became popular because it made sense out of a challenging topic. This post generated 33 comments.
- Donald Trump, memes, and the dangers of post-factual politics (110,000). I felt it was important to call out a fake meme that claimed that Donald Trump stated in a 1998 interview that he’d run as a Republican because Republicans are stupid. It cites Fox News, which was in its infancy at the time. Snopes has debunked it. But even so, many people imagine that they’ve seen this interview, because the false meme continues to circulate. There were an amazing 66 comments from people, many of whom wanted to believe it whether it was true or not.
- Scrabble has now become “Scrabble GO” . . . which will lead America to its doom (83,000). The horror that is “Scrabble GO” offended me — as it did many other people who had to give up the previous, far less whizzy version of online Scrabble. Their searches drove this post high in the search rankings, and eventually led to me getting a quote and a photo in the Wall Street Journal.
- Why the “Amazon Token” advertised on Facebook sure looks like a scam (80,000). Facebook not only permits ads for this scam, but continues to allow new versions to pop up. Every time they do, more people find my post. People liked the way I pointed out the signs that the site was a fake. Some of the comments were from people who actually lost their money.
- The Scrabble GO experience, and how to avoid it (including a review of Word Master Pro) (80,000). I think a lot of people who read the original Scrabble post clicked on this in the related posts at the end of the first post. I sent 3,400 people to the site for Word Master Pro, an online Scrabble alternative.
- A second Bitcoin blackmail scam, based on hacked passwords (61,000). Scams drive traffic. People who got an email saying that a scammer would reveal their porn habit searched for the text of the email and found my blog.
- Apple’s Tim Cook shows how to communicate in a crisis (42,000). When Apple refused to break its own encryption to get into a mass shooter’s iPhone, people wanted to understand why. My analysis of Cook’s explanation showed how effective a calm and clear justification can be, especially when the topic is fraught and technical.
- “What’s wrong with millennials?” asks Simon Sinek (41,000). When a video of Sinek and his glib explanation for millennials’ problems started circulating, people searched and found my rebuttal. I especially loved the people who insisted that as a millennial myself, I was blind to the problem. (I was born in 1958, not 1998).
Was it worth it?
You may as well ask me if breathing and eating was worth it. I think; I write. It’s a natural thing for me, and I can’t imagine not doing it.
I find it revealing that so many of my most popular posts were sober, analytical takes on controversial issues. It tells me there is a real appetite for unbiased analysis.
While my blog has generated a lot of traffic and a fair number of leads for my writing workshops and editing business, it’s second to word-of-mouth as a lead generator. It probably sold a few books, but from a pure business perspective, investing this much effort in blogging is probably not worth it.
But daily blogging is how I structure my day and stay connected. Writing helps me think. Blogging connects me with the world. That is irreplaceable.
So it was worth it — perhaps not economically, but psychologically.
Drop me a comment if my blog has meant anything to you. I’d love to hear from you.