It has been just over two months since I relaunched this blog (my it feels longer). As it’s been quite a shift in terms of style, substance and method, I figure it’s a good time to take stock and assess how successful the changes have been. For reference, those changes were:
- A more professional and “official” look, and my own domain (craigwilly.info)
- More strategic use of Twitter (and posts more consciously targeting specific audiences)
- Systematic bilingual blogging, posts now being in French as well as English
- A shift to longer, hopefully more memorable posts (instant reactions and other ephemera being reserved for Twitter)
I thought about whether to write this a post. Is there anything more narcissistic than meta-blogging about a blog? But as Orwell pointed out, writers are necessarily very, very bigheaded, so I may as well just go ahead. Perhaps other bloggers will find something useful or will be prompted to share their own experiences and practices.
Where are my readers?: Marked shift to France
WordPress.com has a cool new feature which lets you know which countries your readers are from (and which generated the map above). According to my stats, craigwilly.info has received 4,000 views since it was relaunched in late May 2012, of which the top five countries are the following:
- France: 952
- Belgium: 773
- United States: 416
- Germany: 310
- United Kingdom: 215
This represents a very marked shift in readership. If you compare to my previous blog’s last 4,000 (ish) views, those from the U.S. and UK are halved (previously 869 and 430 respectively), those from Belgium have increased by over 50% (449), and those from France have more than doubled (413).
I have to say I did not expect quite such a massive increase in French readership, something not evidenced by the site’s comments (come out into the light, ye lurkers!). But I’m very happy about it as spreading among French-speakers was one of the relaunch’s stated objectives (what is the point in ranting about the eurozone in English when less than 3% of its citizens are native English-speakers?) and because it’s actually pretty damn time-consuming to get stuff into French. After around eight years of thinking, studying, writing and working almost exclusively in English, my skills in that language are excellent, while my written French has suffered from severe neglect. True, it was never very good to begin, the French mentality in teaching liberal arts not really agreeing with me, but it’s good to see my return to French is paying off.
If we break it down by region we get this:
- France: 952 (c. 24%)
- “EU bubble” (BE/LU): 867 (21%)
- Germanic (DE/NL/AT): 461 (11%)
- New World Anglosphere (US/CA/AU): 457 (11%)
- European Anglosphere (UK/IE): 251 (6%)
- GIPS (GR/IT/PT/ES): 205 (5%)
- Nordics (IC/NO/SE/DK/FI): 165 (4%)
- Balkans (RS/RO): 100 (2.5%)
- Visegrád (PL/CZ/SK/HU): 75 (2%)
We see then an utter dominance by French and “EU bubble” readers, almost half, a very respectable showing for the Germanic “core,” and a fair presence in the rest of Europe (given the language barrier). I do find the readership from the Anglosphere (both European and North American) surprisingly small (not much greater than the Germanics!), given that this blog largely takes Anglo-American media debates as its frames of reference. Although perhaps it’s not that surprising given the crushing oversaturation of commentary on the eurozone in English (and the often bad quality of Continental discussion, including in French, in which it’s often only possible to get decent analysis on Euroskeptic blogs).
There are also high relatively high views from Greece (119) and, more surprisingly, Romania (70). As with the previous blog, views outside of Europe and North America are negligible.
Happily, Google searches increasingly direct people toward the new site, even when it concerns old posts. There is no discernible rhyme or reason to the search terms that lead to the site (the most common is “boris boillon”…).
What are the most-read posts?
The existence of Twitter and the need to translate has led me to write less posts. The ones I do write are typically deeper and, I hope, will retain relevance for a longer time. The change I think has largely been a good one, but there are some pitfalls. I have to write in long bouts – the motivation for writing has to be a fresh emotion, the argument has to be an unbroken river of thought – and the need to translate sometimes leads to excessive post-draft editing. There are then the mortiferous temptations of perfectionism, the great enemy of spontaneity and verve. The Europa 2024 series, the posts being broken up from one long, shows some of the problems this causes in terms of flow and repetition.
“Who really runs the EU?” is the most-read of my new posts. It evidently answered a yearning by many to actually know who in the devil is in charge of this thing. Nosemonkey, the dean of British eurobloggers, tweeted:
— J Clive Matthews (@Nosemonkey) July 19, 2012
*Gush*. The post was then heavily retweeted and shared, and prompted some debate with my fellow eurobloggers. Interestingly, the post elicited positive response from both Europhiles (mostly Anglo-American) and Eurosceptics (mostly French). The share-ability was heightened by the fact that the (very long!) post’s argument could be summed up in a provocative list (1) Council 2) Euro-core 3) ECB 4) Euro-periphery 5) Commission 6) Parliament).
Other posts with decent reactions were my takedown of The Economist’s anti-French coverage (well-received by all tired by pandering to Anglo-American upper-middlebrow prejudices), the 5 best English-language sources on Europe (big response, not too surprisingly, among journalists), and the 5 charts on whether Europeans are “living within their means” (list!).
And that’s about it. In terms of “lessons learned” and takeaway conclusions:
- Bitches love lists.
- The French is working (there is a demand for quality EU commentary).
- Social media and audience-targeting are your friends (shocker).
- Less direct translation/summarization of others’ work (or I am picking the wrong stuff).