On this day two years ago, I made the very first post in the history of Da Blog. I remember it clearly. The post was written inside a bus stop shelter in cold conditions, and I shivered as I typed those first words about myself. I had a few ideas of where I was going to take Da Blog, but few of them were very clear in my head. Some jerk, probably coveting my laptop, kept needling me while I tried to work. I told myself that one day, I would be writing posts in nigh-luxourious conditions and would look back on that first, bus-stop-penned post, with laughter and chuckles.
I'm writing this post... well, the main reasons I'm not writing this in a bus stop shelter again are 1) the Storm of the Century hitting Seattle making it even worse than last time and downright treacherous for a laptop, 2) I'm writing this Sunday night after burning up my laptop battery on my last Flex Scheduling Watch of the year, and 3) as I've mentioned a few times, the public wi-fi I used two years ago has almost been abandoned.
But hey, no one's making me fearful for my safety, so that's progress!
Now, at the time, the main reason for the weird conditions was that I was on winter break. I was still living in the university dorms at the time during the regular class year. So the instant that I moved back to campus I was already writing in a hundred times more luxourious conditions than I was before (and on my desktop). But that February, I was basically kicked out of the dorms and sent home. Since then I have used various means to improvise to get any internet connection at all. I've stolen two different connections from neighbors. I made mad dashes of half a block to squeeze out a little bit of Internet time and back. I went to the library for a while. I've even taken advantage of an offer from my dad to use the Internet at the place where he works.
Since this summer, I've made at least a token effort to get a real job, and even gotten some initial interviews. But nothing has panned out, and because I haven't been able to get a real job I haven't been able to move elsewhere or get an Internet connection I don't need to steal. So it's been Improvization City for the better part of two years. No doubt the tanking economy (we wish you a merry recession-day!) has played a part in my lack of a job - certainly it would seem fatal when combined with my general lack of experience.
But there's also the fact that I've been treating Da Blog as more of a job... even though I still don't have the readers to justify it. Or any revenue streams besides advertising - but that's one more revenue stream than I had a year ago.
The past year has been one of finding my voice on Da Blog. Over the course of this year, I launched Sandsday, the Random Internet Discovery, started doing regular webcomic reviews, started forming my opinions on the state of politics today, started doing college football schedules and added pages on the web site for the college football rankings, and so, so much more. I think it's been at least June since I've failed to post on a weekday. Given that volume of postings, you may think it way overdue if you've noticed that the Blog Archive on the sidebar has switched to breaking down posts by week. It's easy to forget that a year ago, I was making twelve to twenty posts in an entire month. This is the 374th post I've posted in 2008, and already the 28th this month. I posted 155 times prior to 2008, which means I've well over doubled the output of my first year in my second.
(I was remiss in not marking my 500th post, in part because all my counts I get from Blogger include posts I've abandoned. Post #500, oddly, was this one announcing a move to CAPTCHA for all comments.)
With the move to a more regular posting schedule, and the addition of more quality content, people have started to notice. A year ago, I got excited at 25 visits in a single day. These days... well, there's still quite a few times when I get fewer than 25, but generally, especially on weekdays, at least 25 is the norm, and less than ten is a disappointment. From March through November, readership on Da Blog has increased every single month. This month is already over 1.5 times last December, and while it only has 682 visits so far through around 6 PM PT Sunday, it can still easily top last month's mark of 923 visits. The 1,000 frontier remains within reach. And last December, I was excited to get around 300 hits in a month, a mark I haven't fallen below since May. And some surprisingly heavy hitters have showed up. Okay, so when you're talking about webcomic names like David Morgan-Mar and Robert A. Howard commenting on (and linking to) Da Blog posts, you're talking maybe T-list "celebrities", but I'm a Z-lister at best, so anyone with their own site and any kind of following taking notice is going to leave me awestruck.
(My post with my predictions of SportsCenter's "Top 10 Games" proved to be surprisingly popular on searches, so look for me to potentially repeat it next year and in future years.)
Even with football season over, I've got still more plans for Da Blog, and for the web site. I'm going to be running a "mail call" feature to mark the first anniversary of Sandsday in about a month's time (I hope), so if you have any questions about the strip, leave a comment on this post, the open thread, or mwmailsea at yahoo dot com. Howard rightly pointed out that my webcomic posts have fallen into a rut of Ctrl+Alt+Del, Order of the Stick, and Irregular Webcomic! over and over again, and in something I had been planning on already, I'm going to aim to change that starting tomorrow. I still hope to complete at least my Democratic platform examination before the inauguration. As I vowed last year, I still plan to focus on my studies, but I'll only be taking two classes - although I still hope to add a job on top of that. And I still have a boatload of new projects I hope to have coming down the pike in the new year.
What of my advertising revenue, as much of a trickle as it may still be? I started adding advertising in August and I already have four dollars. Woo-hoo! But what do I do with it? As much as it sounds frivolous, given all my other problems, I'm going to start thinking of registering "morganwick.com" as a place to stow my various projects (including, potentially, Da Blog). And before my latest term with Freehostia runs out in August, I need to start thinking about potentially getting a new hosting provider to go along with the new domain. If I can afford it, I need to look for a hosting provider that provides the most bang for the buck, especially where PHP support and MySQL support is concerned. Ideally, I need more MySQL databases for the College Football Rankings and some new webcomic ideas I have percolating in my head. I also need to think about upgrading my SiteMeter account, pending what happens when they launch the new service for real - I need to start looking back more than just 100 visitors to see where they're coming from.
Year Two of Da Blog was a momentous one, for itself and for me. Let's see if Year Three takes us on just as exhilirating a ride - and if I end it posting in slightly better conditions than now.