2012 in review

It’s been a big year for our family this year, a big year for me, and a big year for this little corner of the internet.

Think of this post as part Christmas Letter (where I brag about how wonderful my wife and daughter are, and you cringe), and part reflection on another year blogging).

Mostly reviews like this are an opportunity for me to think about how much I’ve got to be thankful for. Life is good. 2012 was a good year.

So in case you want to skip this post – thanks for reading, sharing, commenting, or ignoring St. Eutychus this year, and if you’ve been a part of our life in bigger and different ways in 2012, thanks for that too.

We welcomed our little girl into the world in December 2011, and I was pretty sure that parenting was going to take a toll on my blogging – my capacity and desire to write things.

This was true – my output, by post, is less than half what it was. This year’s 414 posts is a big drop from the 1,007 posts in 2011. But by any other metric this has been an exciting year to blog.

We also changed churches, moved house, saw siblings get married, and kept plowing through life at theological college. It’s been a pretty big year in the real world, and in terms of where the college/future trajectory is at – the rubber is starting to get closer to the road in terms of having to figure out what 2014 and beyond holds.

Hopefully a hoverboard.

Parenting has been an amazing joy – both watching Robyn grow as a wife and mother, and watching Soph get bigger and cuter, and more animated. I’m so blessed to have such wonderful girls in my life. I’m constantly blown away by Robyn’s gifts and love for me and others, and her patience is a big reason I’m still posting stuff here.

Robyn and Soph

Creek Road has been exciting – I really love being part of a big team of people who are passionate about Jesus, and who have been given amazing gifts that they’re willing to use to see people meet him.

College has been pretty rewarding – I’m really excited about what I’ve learned this year, the faculty and other students at QTC have been a big part of giving me a richer understanding of the Bible and the world behind the text – and hopefully that’s informed, more than most other things, some of the content here this year.

I keep reflecting, year on year, about why I blog – and who it benefits. This has been an especially big question for me to answer this year. It certainly benefits me – I love having the opportunity to get my thoughts out of my head, and also watch them develop. I hope that when things click, and my posts are appropriately free of ego, arrogance, and my own chipped shoulders – that they are useful for others, and worthy of sharing – and I especially hope that my time at college, and whatever gifts I might have will be useful for helping people think more clearly about who Jesus is. I’m also trying to find a balance between generating content that is useful to other people – but may not be all that interesting to regular readers – and stuff that excites me and hopefully entertains.

I love blogging. I love the doors it opens. The relationships it creates. The way its helped my ability to express things. And most of all when it does serve people.

It’s hard to find the right balance of writing for an audience of two (God, and me), and writing for an audience of you… but I’m trying to get there, and after 7 years of pretty concerted blogging, and 5,728 posts, I’m feeling like I’ve got a bit of a grip on my voice, the medium, and what I’m on about. Maybe I’m losing it – there’s certainly been a bit of a change in mood, content, and length in these parts this year, and in some way that must represent a change going on in my head, and heart – because I’ve always hoped that the content here in some way reflects who I am.

I’m mindful of some of the limitations of this medium – it’s black and white, it’s impersonal but personal, and the nature of the internet means some people aren’t here for the whole ride but get a hold of a post that’s been shared because it’s part of something controversial – and I’m mindful of some of my own limitations – my desire to argue, my arrogance and desire to be right, my inability to cope well with criticism, and my pride and tendency to spend too much time measuring myself by stupid standards (which is similar to arrogance, but slightly different), so this year I made my “about” page a little more robust, updated my disclaimer and added a comment policy.

So again, thanks heaps for reading, for commenting, and for sharing in 2012. Here are some numbers and stuff for people who like that sort of thing.

St. Eutychus by the Numbers

  • Posts: 414
  • Unique Visitors: 81,979
  • Visits: 111,601
  • Pageviews: 151,093

Some things people liked… (in order)

Where people came from

This table makes for some interesting viewing – special thanks to Simone, David, and Gary for sending people my way – and for all of you who like and share stuff from here on Facebook.











Blog mythbusting: is less more?

Someone gave me some advice about my blog yesterday – its advice you hear so often that its simply assumed to be true – I was told that I’d probably get more readers if I wrote shorter posts. Now, I think this person is an occasional reader, rather than regular reader, so I suspect his view on my typical content strategy is slightly skewed by the posts he’s read, and we’ll get to how that is relevant in a moment…

I’ve given this advice myself before. It seems sound. People digest information in relatively small chunks, and scan the internet relatively quickly. There are some stats that support this from my all time visit figures…

The average visit length here is just under 90 seconds. 78% of visitors “bounce” – they land on the page they come to, and click no further.

I wonder if this “myth” ultimately comes down to metrics – I think there’s probably something to it if you’re after comments and discussion – if you leave some things unsaid, people feel the need to say them for you – and that’s certainly been true of the discussions I’ve entered elsewhere. So engagement might be higher on short posts…

But if you’re interested in people reading what you have to say, and sharing it, then in my experience – it’s the longer posts where I’m attempting to provide something of value, or articulating something I think – usually on a timely issue – that traffic and sharing go through the roof…

Here’s my all time visitation in a graph… we’ll drill down in a sec…

Screen Shot 2012-10-13 at 12.22.26 PM

There are a couple of noticeable spikes there, one, around the 29th of September 2009, was a real outlier – I was Pharyngulated – visited by some of the internet’s angriest atheists after I wrote this post. That was a list. It got more traffic, and more comments than anything else I’ve written – except, now, for my guide to making Sizzler’s cheese toast. These two posts, together, account for a significant chunk of my all time traffic, 5% and 4.7%, respectively. Other popular posts have been tied to getting near the top of Google’s search rankings for planking, a fake Martin Luther King quote, a Thom Yorke shirt, Ehud, Things to do in Townsville, and Instagram web profiles.

Interestingly, thanks to the comments, the atheist post became a long form post – and people spend, on average, 5 minutes trawling through the comments. In fact, there’s an interesting trend in my top 30 posts, where people spend 3 minutes or longer on site, on average.

What gets more interesting is if we just look at 2012, so far…

Screen Shot 2012-10-13 at 12.35.12 PM

Something interesting happens around the 29th of February, the 22nd of March, the 11th of April, the 18th of April, the 16th of May, the 7th of June, the 8th of August, the 19th of August, the 1st, 5th, and 11th, and 27th of September and the 12th of October – those are the sustained 2-3 day spikes you see in the graph.

But why? Did I post a particularly funny youtube video? Share a pithy observation? A series of observations in the form of a controversial list? A fantastically popular “how to” guide?


On the 29th of February I posted a couple of things – one, a video of two jumping Eric Cantona lookalikes who couldn’t sing or keep time, two, a lengthy piece on abortion and a controversial ethics paper that advocated after birth abortions – the first was shared five times on Facebook, which is significantly better than the average number of shares, the second, was shared 54 times on Facebook.

The first was 21 words long, the second, a staggering 2,881 words long.

What about the other days?

It seems from this data that there’s a fairly direct correlation (and, based on a more in depth look at my analytics – direct causation), between long posts offering some sort of substantial content, and increased sharing and traffic. Which are, I think, the best metric for my blog. Here’s the top 15 posts, by visits, from this year – this doesn’t include page views of the home page, it’s people who’ve clicked through to particular posts…

Screen Shot 2012-10-13 at 7.03.10 PM

I don’t really go out of my way to cultivate comments or foster discussion (though I enjoy it), I’m more interested in contributing to a conversation with a more “finished” product.

By this metric, longer is better.

This isn’t true for all cases – I don’t think every long post I’ve written has been worth reading, but I think most of the stuff I’ve written that has been worth reading has been in long form. Some posts have been worth writing, and are now in the resources tabs in the menu above, though they weren’t particularly widely shared at the time… I don’t think this post is as substantial as some of the posts it links to… but the conventional wisdom doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny.

Looking at the posts that have been shared widely there’s also a bit of a common theme – which is certainly something for me to think about as a content strategy… they’re generally substantial posts about a public Christianity/PR/ethics kind of issue.

I’ve got a plugin currently crunching some numbers to tell me what the average word count of my posts is, but I’d suggest it’s somewhere around the 100-200 word mark. I’ll update this paragraph when the count finishes. If it does. – turns out, at this point, I’ve published 1.52 million words in 5,639 posts for an average of 270 words per post…

The number one rule, I’d say, is to produce content that people want to read, word limits are arbitrary. Some of the posts above were, in my opinion, longer than they needed to be, but hitting the right content, at the right time, while saying the right thing, will always trump saying something in half the words but four days too late.

I’d say the myth is busted, but there’s also a good reason I don’t only post long posts, or only post about the same thing – I’d get bored, as would the readers who’ve been here for the long term, and I do think there’s something to be said about sustaining the discipline of blogging regularly – there’s a reason I’m still going after almost six years, while most of the blogs in my blog roll (except for a few, like Simone’s, Ben’s, Anna’s, Findo’s, Andrew’s, and Arthur and Tamie’s have been either sporadic, or died).

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