Happy Birthday Blog

Birthday Cake
Photo by dantaylor

It’s been exactly one year to the day since I re-launched my website as a BLOG and published my first blog post. So perhaps it’s an appropriate time to look back at what I’ve achieved on the blogging front in the past year, what I’ve learnt and what  plans I have for the blog .

When I launched my blog, I planned on writing a post  once a week. This didn’t seem to be a too onerous schedule and I managed to maintain it for the first few months, but of late my posting frequency has slipped a little. I now seem to average 3 posts a month.

With each of my posts, I try to aim for a post length of 1,000 words or so. Due to the technical nature of most of my posts, I don’t just hammer them out and click publish. I like to research the post, checking my facts and then spend a little time after writing to re-read and edit the post to make sure it all makes sense and flows correctly; it’s surprising how much time this takes, hence my slip in posting frequency.

Design Change

Screenshot of original blog design After the first few months of blogging, the first significant change that I made was to redesign the theme for my blog. The original theme was taken from my static website that was the predecessor of my blog. This theme was a 760 pixel wide  design, designed to work on older computer monitors that are only 800 pixels wide.

 

Screenshot of new blog design

My new blog design/theme is based on the wider design format of 980 pixels that has become more prevalent in the industry, with bigger monitors being more commonplace.

Currently, approximately 2% of the visitors to my blog have 800 pixel wide screens or less, all the rest have 1024 pixels or wider, which render the new design without any problems.

Because the text on the new blog theme is left justified within the design, even monitors with a 800 pixel resolution will be able to display the main body of the text in a readable form. This provides a graceful and controlled degradation of performance for the few visitors with lower resolution monitors.

Updates and Tweaks

Over the year there have been a few updates to the WordPress system that I use to power the blog. These updates have been included on my site to make use of new features and improve security.

I added Gravatars to post comments so that commentators can leave a thumbnail image of themselves alongside their comments and recently enabled nested comments to make it easier to follow comment threads.

I have added various plugins to my WordPress system along the way to enhance its functionality and improve security. At the time of writing, I presently use 16 plugins.

While I wouldn’t claim to be an expert at WordPress, I’ve certainly learnt a lot about it and can usually force it to succumb to my will, with the theme for the site being my own design.

Statistics

Since the conversion of my old website to its present blog format, I have seen a steady growth in traffic to my site. This is obviously due to the fact that the website has had a lot of content added to it over the last 12 months, 42 posts/articles in total:

WordPress Statistics

  • New Posts: 42
  • Visitor Comments: 81 (17 of which are my replies)
  • Spam Comments: 2,849

Spam

Unfortunately, with the steady growth in traffic to my site, there has also been a steady and corresponding growth in spam comments.

The following graph shows the spam comments that my blog has received in the last 6 months. Fortunately, all of this spam has been automatically trapped by the Askimet plugin built into the WordPress system:

Graph of spam comments trapped by Askimet in the last 6 months

Google Analytics

To monitor the traffic on my website, I use Google’s free analytics service, which provides an incredible array of in-depth statistics about the pages viewed on my site and the visitors that visit.

I am now regularly receiving over 2,000 visitors each month with over 3,000 pages being viewed. Last month’s visitor and page view statistics are:

  • Visits: 2,515
  • Pages Viewed: 3,258

Over the past year I’ve had nearly 15,000 visits to my site with over 20,000 page views. The graphs below clearly show a steady rise in visits and page views to my blog over the past 12 months:

Site visitor statistics

The huge spike in traffic on 09 September of last year corresponds to 300 visits in a single day being driven to my website from the social bookmaking site StumbleUpon, all of which were to the same post on my blog: Embedding Album Art in MP3 Files.

Traffic Sources:

The majority of my website’s traffic (76%) was brought in from search engines, with Google accounting for 97% of this search traffic!

Website traffic in the last year

countriesCountries of Visitors:

My blog has attracted visitors from all over the globe, from 134 countries/territories in total.

However, the United States and the United Kingdom account for 60% of the traffic, with 37% of visitors coming from the US and 23% from the UK.

RSS FeedBurner Statistics

The RSS feed on my blog is provided through Google’s FeedBurner service. While this may initially seem like an extra unnecessary layer of complication compared to just offering the basic RSS feed, FeedBurner actually records a lot of useful statistics about subscribers to my blog, as well as also allowing me to offer subscription to my blog via e-mail.

I currently have 25 subscribers, 13 of which subscribe by e-mail:

Graph of blog's RSS subscribers over the past year

What Next?

The most popular article on my blog by far is Embedding Album Art in MP3 Files, receiving 50% of the blog’s entire traffic.

The top 5 posts on my blog are:

  1. Embedding Album Art in MP3 Files (10,542 views)
  2. Song Capacity Calculator for MP3 Players (1,337 views)
  3. What is Joint Stereo? (1,046 views)
  4. Choosing Bit Rates for Podcasts (891 views)
  5. What are ID3 Tags in MP3 Files? (826 views)

The recurring theme amongst all of my top posts is MP3 files and podcasting.

Looking at the blog’s categories, the one that I seem to have written the most for is the podcasting category. I think this points to the general direction that I would like to take the blog over the coming year.

I’ve always been interested in audio production and recording since a young age, so I guess this also reflects my passion. Although since my accident, it has taken a while for me to find my way back into this field and to find a way to actively contribute as opposed to just sitting on the sidelines watching (or listening as the case may be).

Technological advances have also helped me in this respect. MP3 players and iPods are now common place, which in turn has given rise to the success of the podcast format.

Recording audio is thankfully no longer constrained to the analogue domain and multi-track tape machines, with virtually any home PC now being capable of running advanced music production software (Digital Audio Workstations).

With even modest home equipment, it’s possible to produce professional sounding results with a little effort and attention to detail. This is where I find the challenge and the enjoyment and can hopefully share some of my experiences with others in future posts on this blog.

If you’ve stayed along for the ride so far, thanks very much for your support. Hopefully there’ll be more of the same to follow.

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