On March 6, 2017 I emphatically declared “I Quit” blogging. Like most of my proclamations, it didn’t last. I didn’t jump back in immediately or whole-heartedly, but much like many failed attempts to wean myself off chocolate, I eventually relented, willpower being my least potent personal attribute.
Now, nearly two years hence, I’m basking in the afterglow of a banner year at A Crock of Schmidt. It’s a dull afterglow, mind you. Like the momentary, faint radiance of an LED light turned off. By every statistical measure, 2018 was the most successful year in the history of my blog. I’m more surprised than proud but still feel motivated to share the evidence of this achievement with the masses.
That motivation stems from a desire to boast, inform and, most importantly, rectify some of the misperceptions many of you hold regarding the profitability of blogging. Like so many artistic endeavours, the wild financial success attained by the very rarest of practitioners gives the public a false sense of what everyone else in the field is accomplishing. My monumental 2018 should thoroughly put the notion to bed that personal blogging is an easy and lucrative work from home venture.
Before I delve into some statistics, I must highlight the fact that I am far from a dedicated blogger. I’m sporadic in my posting, have no real niche or focus in the topics I write about, and I make limited to no effort to promote my blog to the global internet community. I’m as lazy as it gets. There are many bloggers who go to great lengths to build a brand and treat their blog as a business. They undoubtedly succeed in drawing an audience and an income much larger than mine. But when you see how low my numbers put the bottom rung, you will better understand just how tall the blogging success ladder is. Even the breakeven rung is out of reach for the bulk of us.
Alright, let’s get to the results. As I mentioned, 2018 was my best year ever. Total views for the entire year were more than double my next best year. That is a huge leap in traffic to my blog. 26, 241 views sounds like a lot and by my humble standards it is, but in a world where meaningful traffic is measured in millions of clicks it remains modest. And that’s being generous.
That increased traffic was not due to a single post going viral or some momentary burst of activity during one part of the year. It was a yearlong phenomenon whereby my average daily views were the highest ever for each month. There is a cyclicity to my readership which I will explain later resulting in summer months being busier than winter months. Still, the fact my daily views made records each month gives me hope this embryonic momentum is sustainable.
Delving into my most popular posts of 2018 easily explains the cyclicity in my blog traffic. I am a campground blogger. Ignoring the Home Page traffic, 8 out of the top 10 viewed posts for the year were campground reviews. The only ones that weren’t discussed Pop Tarts and a pizza event in a nearby ghost town. I’m an enigma. And otherwise, not very funny or interesting.
Looking at my all time most popular posts, it is clear that campground reviews have become my bread and butter. 7 of the top 10 of my most read posts include pictures of public bathrooms. Is this what you had in mind when you said, “you should be a writer?”
So, what does all this newfound popularity mean for my wallet? Not much, I’m afraid. In the middle of 2018, I threw my principles to the wind and gave Google AdSense free reign in putting ads on my website and within blog posts. Previously I had placed the ads myself and did so discretely, refusing to include them inside blog posts. With Google set free to bombard my readers with advertisements, earnings decidedly skyrocketed.
After four years of blogging, I have now earned a whopping $58.69! That doesn’t even cover the cost of hosting and domain registration for a single year. I’m not sure if you’ve taken an Econ 101 course, but this is not the blueprint for a money-making enterprise. Furthermore, Google won’t cut a cheque until I’ve earned more than $100, so I can’t even get my hands on this money to reward myself with a block of cheese.
Equally depressing is the fact that all this newfound traffic has not translated into greater numbers of followers. On the three main social platforms I use, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, the number of followers I have has remained relatively steady or decreased. And those followers I do have are almost exclusively family/friends who follow out of loyalty (e.g. mother) or duty (e.g. friends) or guilt (e.g. friends who said I should be a writer). The few strangers that do follow me, most notably on Twitter, are almost exclusively dad bloggers whom I met years ago and engaged in a follower swap. It’s nice of them to still follow me, but don’t kid yourself, they are only doing so to get me to follow them. Quid pro quo is the mantra of social media!
More importantly, and disappointingly, my followers and readers very rarely share my work. They come, they read, they disappear. Without sharing there is no virality. Without virality there is only anonymity. I spread more by wiping my nose and shaking hands than I do by writing engaging compositions.
I do not wish to be a pathological pessimist. This was a wonderful year for my blog even if it didn’t translate into riches or fame. What is 2019 likely to bring, then? Well, more campground reviews for one. I bet that got your nether regions tingly! I’ll also be curious to see if the numbers continue to grow without additional effort on my part. I remain reluctant to whore myself out as a brand ambassador via blogging. The amount of advertisement Google already places on my website makes me uncomfortable, but dammit I want my hundred dollars! For now, I hope you keep visiting, keep reading, and maybe, just maybe, you could share some of my work on your social feeds. I really did think I was funny when writing a lot of this crap.