Friday, June 20, 2008

Navel Gazing

What's a blogger to do when she doesn't have her camera for a month, having lent it to her daughter who is on an island in Lake Superior, attending music camp? How about taking the time to look back at 10 months of Penelopedia? I started the blog in July 2007, but only have decent statistics from the time I signed on with Sitemeter at the end of last August. Sitemeter tells me the following:
  • Penelopedia received between 482 and 988 unique daily visits per month; the average visitor looks at 1.5 pages while on the site
  • 25-30 visitors check out the site on a typical day; currently, 28 visitors subscribe to Penelopedia through a feed reader (info supplied by Feedburner). There may be some overlap in these populations if people click through from their feed readers to the actual site.
  • Peak readership so far has been been in April and May 2008, when I was writing and posting photos often about waterfowl migration through southern Minnesota and gearing up for the gardening season; the low points were in the heart of winter, when I had little to talk about.
People who found Penelopedia through a search engine in recent months were most often looking for information on:
  1. box elder bugs
  2. apostrophe use in phrases like "farmers' market" (one of my tangentially related rants)
  3. wasps' nests
  4. local berry farms in general or Lorence's in particular
  5. the phrase "just us boys" (that'll teach me to name my posts more carefully); odd, those visitors don't seem to stick around very long
  6. locavores and the eat-local movement
  7. freegans
  8. house sparrows
  9. spirea
A few weeks ago I listed Penelopedia on Nature Blog Network, a compendium of blogs that deal with wildlife, birdwatching, botany, ecosystems and the like. Penelopedia is currently the 136th-most-visited of their roughly 350 ranked blogs (ranking changes daily based on a running count of average daily visits tracked through their icon).

The posts I am most pleased to have written include:
My favorite photo I've posted so far is probably the one of pied-billed grebes swimming through the reflection of Ames Mill in the Cannon River (I later incorporated it into my header image, though that may change next time I have a yen for a new look).

I like the fact that blogging about nature and gardening helps give me the impetus to get out and experience/do those things -- and readers have helped improve that experience. One of the high points of the year was a reader's tip (thanks, Brendon) about the presence of a loon on a pond at the southeast edge of Northfield; I would not otherwise have known we might see loons over an extended period in Northfield. I also appreciate the role the local-blog aggregator at has played in helping me "grow" a readership. (That's a jargony expression that I can't yet use outside business hours without quotes around it, but which feels suitable for a blog that's in considerable part about gardening.)

Thank you, my core of relatively faithful readers, and welcome to any who stumble upon Penelopedia in their travels around the Web. I hope you hang around for more. To quote The Blurred Birder, a British blogger whose site I found through Nature Blog Network, "Stick with it, it might get better, you never can tell."

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