Sunday, May 2, 2010

One year and one hundred posts later…

The month of May marks another milestone for this blog which is worth celebrating but festivities will be somewhat subdued. I will just confine my comments to a few reflections about the whole experience of running the blog.

I started All Things Spatial on the 10th of May 2009 and to date the blog has been visited just over 10,000 times. If I had to calculate tangible return on the time involved to date it would be less than $1 per hour (based on advertising revenue and traffic generated for aus-emaps.com). Not the kind of results to rave about to be honest but it has been an interesting experience in many respects.


Top 5 posts for the year are (by traffic):

  1. Map basics: datum, coordinate system, projection
  2. Free Address Validation tool
  3. Free GPS navigation tool for iPhone
  4. Post code maps and population statistics
  5. NearMap goes live

Patronage trended strongly in October to December 2009 with good traffic coming from search engines as well as referring sites, such as Google Maps Mania. Unfortunately, due to personal circumstances, there was not much happening on All Things Spatial at the beginning of 2010 and the momentum was lost. More recently, there is particularly warring drop in search engine traffic in the last 6 weeks that I am at a loss to understand but overall traffic holds steady. The front page of the blog as well as many individual pages have respectable Google PR 5 rating thanks to cooperation with Keir Clarke from Google Maps Mania and direct links from aus-emaps.com site. However, so far I have only 4 signed followers (thank you guys!) and still am unable to attract regular comments or to start any discussions.

The design of the blog is rather plain and leaves much to desire. I have a new concept on a drawing board which I will be implementing over the coming weeks. The coding is going slowly because I have to learn how to work with Blogger templates first.

I admit, the decision to start the blog was a bit rushed - I just wanted to tell users of my primary site aus-emaps.com how to make the most of available tools and functionality. I considered two choices - structured help pages as a part of the site or more loosely defined blog on various topics. I made the decision to go with a blog option and, to eliminate the hassles of running another website, I opted for Blogger hosted solution.

Now, wiser by 12 month experience I see things from a new perspective and would probably do it all differently. For a start, I should have registered a domain name rather than just opting for a generic URL offered by Blogger. Also, I find Blogger platform to be a bit restrictive in terms of design and customisation options so, I most likely would go with stand-alone WordPress template instead. It was easy to start and get running with Blogger but the choice I made is probably a limiting factor in the long term.

I didn't put too much thought into structuring the content of the blog properly either - I have opinion on almost everything so, it seemed a good idea to aim for the widest possible range of topics! With the hindsight, this was probably not the smartest decision as it breaks the blog into too many threads, with too many unrelated keywords for search engines to make any sense of and it is also very difficult for Google Adsense to match relevant ads. And since I am not posting frequently enough, there is also not much incentive for the followers of specific threads to visit regularly.

Keeping up with regular posting is a bit of a hassle for me. I enjoy writing the stories and I have plenty of topics to write about but finding time for it is a big problem, especially since blogging is not my only pastime activity. Juggling development work, research and learning, and still getting things done, is a challenge!

All in all, a bit more effort upfront would probably yield better overall outcomes and give me much more flexibility to adjust things in the future. Another reason to avoid quick decisions - it never turns out well for me and I end up doing twice as much work "fixing things". But would I do it again? Yes, no questions about it. It's a very liberating experience to be able to rumble about things that are of interest to me and that bring emotions I want to share. If I could only figure out how to make it interesting to others and get some discussions going!