Everything changes; even this blog

“Musings of the Great Eric” began as a livejournal blog just under a year ago. At the time, I didn’t have much of a plan for it. I liked to write, I liked to surf the web. I was simply trying out blogging to see what came of it, with no goal in mind.

Here’s what I learned from that experience:

  • Blogging is a lot more of a time-sucker than I originally expected. It takes work. Luckily, it’s mostly a labor of love, but it’s still more time and energy than most people who don’t do it would guess.
  • The best use for it was as a way to share with friends the links I found every day, replacing the need to run down my buddy list copying and pasting links (Actually that’s what “Web Logging” was originally about, before it was online diaries and news).
  • Engaging with other people is even harder work, one I never got the trick of. I enjoy debates and I’d hoped that there’d be more people challenging me as they might in a forum, both on other blogs and by commenting, but it seems most of my readers were pretty passive. Integrating yourself in the blogosphere conversation is a challenge.
  • Because I’m better at point-counterpoint arguments, I tended to respond to articles I read more than anything else. I’d have liked to offer more original content, but this was the style that was easiest for me to adapt.

I also quickly outgrew the Livejournal platform. Livejournal is great at what it does, just not at what I was doing with it. After looking at some options, I decided to move up to a more professional blogging platform – I got some web space and hosted a wordpress blog on it. My intention was to use AdSense revenue to cover the meager cost of web hosting, and I’d have a site I could play with to my heart’s content.

Eventually, I did get to a point where I was happy with the blog layout (though some persistent minor CSS issues remained that I never had the energy to fix), and it had and could do everything I wanted. In the process of setting up and operating this new blog, I learned a couple of other things. Primarily this:

  • Growing blog traffic is a difficult task.

I got some traffic from Technorati and search engines, but that’s been pretty flatline. Occasionally I’d get an inbound link from elsewhere that would send traffic my way, but it that was always a spike that would return to normal. I never attained more than the 12 subscribers I had initially. Converting inbound traffic into new subscribers never really happened.

Of course, it’s not too hard to figure out why.

  • I wasn’t providing enough quality original content to earn many inbound links from other bloggers, and I really wasn’t offering any compelling reasons for those who happened by my blog to want to subscribe.
  • The stuff I did talk about, I didn’t explain very well – I wrote as if everyone knew what I was talking about, and had the same level of understanding I have. This is especially problematic given the diversity of topics I cover.

Now, those are problems I’d love to fix on this blog right here, as there are things I do love about “Musings of the Great Eric” as it stands today. I do like the template and layout I found, with the sidebar toggles. I’m proud of a number of posts I’ve written, and I’m proud of the positive feedback I’ve gotten.

However, the core assumption I made when I started this never materialized. The amount of traffic I get, while I’m generally happy with it, is hardly enough to justify maintaining my own web space, and doesn’t translate into enough Adsense clicks to come close to covering the modest cost of running this site. Given that, it doesn’t make much sense for me to keep this as is: It’s time for a reboot.

I’ll be migrating to free blog hosting at WordPress.com. I’ll lose many of the customizations I’ve come to love, but I think it’s an acceptable trade off. The biggest downside is that it will break all the permalink URL’s that I’ve built up here; inbound links and search engines will no longer work. It’s a little sad to kill all the work I *have* done to get to that point, but at the end of the day I’ll live with it. I’ll put all the contents of this blog and my former livejournal blog into an archive, so they’ll still live on the net. But other than that, I’ll be starting fresh.

I’ll point the Feedburner URL at the new blog, so those of you who are subscribed shouldn’t even notice the difference. Eventually I’ll point thegreateric.com at the new blog, but for now I’ll keep it here until my subscription runs out and the site goes offline.

Here’s the way it’ll be from now on:

  • Linksharing will be done with the aid of Del.icio.us – the interesting stuff I read and find will get automatically posted daily with a brief description; it makes more sense than what I was doing previously, where I was using a whole post for some of these with little substantive comment. The other side-effect is it means there will probably be more links, as it’s fully automatic.
  • Posts will have less quoted areas, more links, and more writing by me. I’ll be doing less highlighting and more thoughts, commentary, and analysis centered around topics rather than particular articles. It’ll be rough at first but I believe the net result will be more interesting reading.

Maybe one day I’ll build up the traffic to justify going pro again. In the meantime, here’s the way it will be set up:

http://thegreateric.com – this site, until it goes offline, probably about a month from now. After that I’ll forward the domain to the new wordpress blog.
https://thegreatericarchive.wordpress.com – Archive of all posts from here + my old livejournal posts. Not at their original links, but at least they’ll be preserved on the web.
http://thegreateric.wordpress.com – new blog, and eventually where thegreateric.com will point to.
The Feedburner Feed   – currently points to the new blog; if you’re subscribed that way you shouldn’t even notice the change.

So update your links, and do let me know what you think of the changes.

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