“And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.” - Abraham LincolnOne year ago Sunday, I was sitting in my office at work. It was a cold, snowy, miserable Saturday in December, ensuring that only the bravest and most motivated customers would dare visit the lot. In an attempt to stave off a level of boredom that would have resulted in me falling asleep at my desk, I started casually fooling around with Blogger to see if I could find a blog design that would catch my eye. An hour and a half later, I had the basic look that you see here now (unless you're on a feedreader) and my first post up. The rest, as they say, is history.
I've talked before about what motivated me to begin writing Battle Medic, why I chose the name and who my influences were - all really excellent topics for an anniversary post, but I'm not going to go into all that again. But I have been doing some pondering on my experiences and feelings about this whole blogging thing.
SOME VITAL STATISTICS
Because I'm sure there are people out there dying to know...
Over the past year, as of this writing Battle Medic has seen over 41,500 pageviews according to Blogspot's statistic's page. The best month I had was June with 6,136 views. As well, I have a good number of subscribers to my feed, although I don't really have an accurate way to track that. Google Reader tells me that 188 people are subscribed to the blog.
4 of my Top 5 all-time posts in terms of traffic are unsurprisingly due to being linked by the 800 pound gorilla of the WoW blogosphere, WoW Insider, which always results in a 20-fold increase in traffic for a day or two. However, the post that is hanging on in fifth place is my most controversial post, but also the one that I am most proud of writing: On Raiding Disappointment: An Open Letter to Blizzard. Although some people didn't agree with the content of the post, I think that in terms of the way in which the ideas are expressed it is my most powerful bit of writing. I'm glad that it's managing to hold on to a top spot, despite not being linked by WoW Insider.
I'd like to give a shout-out to my top referrers while I'm at it. WoW Insider is, of course, the site that has sent me the most traffic, although it's not as extreme as you might think. Blessing of Kings - the big daddy of Paladin blogs - is second, even beating Google. It appears that a lot of you use Rohan's Blog Roll to find your way here, and I credit getting listed on his site as what really got Battle Medic off the ground in terms of traffic and exposure. Thanks, Rohan! Orcish Army Knife, Bossy Pally and the Giant Spoon round out the top referrers.
I am extremely proud that Battle Medic is listed on so many Blog Rolls around the blogosphere, and I thank everyone who thinks enough of my writing that they would add me to their site. It's a thrill every time I run across a blog that I'm unfamiliar with and see my blog listed there as something that they read and recommend.
All told, I have been extremely satisfied with the amount of people that are seeing what I write.
Traffic, however, is not that important if the people visiting are not finding the content engaging, and the only way to really know what you, the reader is thinking is the comments. There are a lot of reasons why a person wouldn't write a comment, but the only thing that is going to make someone (especially someone viewing a post in a reader) to stop what they're doing and respond to a post is if it has a compelling message. Agree with me or not, I value every single comment that I have received on Battle Medic, and over the course of the past year people have commented 572 times on the blog. Now I just need to be better at responding to them.
IMPRESSIONS AFTER THE FIRST YEAR
I can honestly say that Battle Medic has not quite turned out the way I anticipated. Don't get me wrong, I am very proud of the posts that I have written, but I hoped that it would have turned into more of a Kurn-esque resource blog rather than the personal game journal that it is now. While I would like to do more analytical posts, I think one of the most important lessons that I learned is that while those how-to and resource posts bring in a lot of views from the search engines, regular readers are more interested in what a blogger thinks about something. It's the personal opinions and viewpoints that keep bringing readers back.
That idea has shaped the evolution of Battle Medic more than anything.
Well, aside from the Dwarfling. I've written about this numerous times - it's almost to the point of getting quite stale - but my life, and consequently my ability to focus on my blog, has changed remarkably since I started a year ago. There have been far too many of the "I'm tired, no time to write" posts for my liking. The last thing I want is to turn this post into another of those, but the Dwarfling certainly has had a big effect on my posting and gameplay.
Still, I have enjoyed writing this blog more than I ever would have thought possible. Before starting it, I didn't realize how much I enjoyed the process and creative release of writing. More importantly, though, I didn't realize that I had something to say. I have opinions on this game and my experiences playing it, and I had no idea that there was a burning need to express them until I started writing about them. It's made me think about the game quite differently.
Writing a blog is fun, but interacting with the readers is much more rewarding. It's that interaction that begins to build a community, and the WoW Blogging community is great. It's diverse, engaging and very supportive. I don't think there would be much point in blogging in a void.
Everyone I talk to, whether it be on Twitter, forums or through comments, has been amazing. Support, advice and sympathy have been offered whenever I've been feeling like a grumpy Dwarf, and congratulations are never in short supply when something good happens. And, of course, there is nothing that will generate conversation and comments like posting a picture of the Dwarfling; the internet certainly seems to be taken with her.
I was planning on doing a list of people who have been influential to me and the blog and thank them, but honestly, there are far too many to list. The post would either get too long (it already is... this was supposed to be a short post!), or I would end up forgetting someone important, and I would hate to do that.
However, if you are reading this blog regularly, I thank you. I appreciate how special it is that someone takes time out of their day to read the drivel that I spew onto the interwebs. I hope that what I write is informative, enlightening or at the very least entertaining.
If you have ever commented on Battle Medic, I thank you. Believe me, I know how hard it is to comment on a post. Personally, I find it much harder to write an interesting comment than I do an interesting article. Know that each and every comment, regardless of whether I get off my tuckus to respond to it or not is read and appreciated. In fact, I get a shiver of anticipation every time I see that there is a new one.
If we have ever interacted on Twitter, I thank you. I jumped on the Twitter bandwagon quite late - I still haven't had one year on that yet - but I have a really good number of followers. In my wildest dreams I didn't think that there would be that many people interested in what I have to say.
If you are a blogger and have added me to your Blog Roll, I thank you. If you've ever ReTweeted, linked or written a response to one of my posts, I thank you.
If I have influenced you in some way - to start a blog, join Twitter, think about screenshots differently, or even to ditch all the other races in favour of the clearly superior Dwarves - I thank you. I write this blog for myself, but to know that there are people out there who enjoy what I write enough that it inspired them to do something themselves is very satisfying. I'm glad I could help, and I thank you for valuing what I do here.
And if you read this blog and didn't like it, well, I thank you anyway. Honestly, I get a lot of positive feedback here (the WoW blogosphere is very supportive), and I would love to get some idea of what I'm doing wrong. So thank you for all the constructive criticism in advance.
There... I think that covers just about everyone.
THE FUTURE OF BATTLE MEDIC
Back on that blustery day last December when I pushed the Publish button for the first time, I had no idea whether I would enjoy blogging or whether I would keep up with it. So many of the projects that I take on start out so brilliantly and then fizzle into a small, grey lump of nothing, and I'm glad that I've managed to keep Battle Medic as active as I have, given the circumstances.
I will continue to write this blog as long as there are people reading it. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to increase the frequency of the posting around here, as it's been much quieter than I'd like since August. I look forward to writing another of these posts next year!