Much to Bitter’s dread, I’ve been thinking about updating the look and feel of the blog to a more minimalist theme, with a white background instead of the parchment look I was going for when we first made the name change last year. Bitter does all my graphics work and is the one who finds the right theme, and I’m very picky. I narrowly avoided being strangled when we went from “Snowflakes in Hell” to “Shall not Be Questioned” last year, so I have to balance my desire for a look and feel overhaul with the desire not to have things thrown at me, or have to sleep with one eye opened. I would not be changing the name of the blog, just changing the look and feel.
I had a few goals when we switched names last year. One goal was to stop having to explain the name of the blog to the uninitiated. The other was to help with bounce rate, figuring the name did not immediately lead to an understanding about the topic of the blog, and made people more likely to leave. A third goal was to take ads and make some money.
One can see from my bounce rate monthly average over the past two years, the goal of improving bounce rate has pretty much gone unmet. It was about 68-70%, and so it remains. Bounce rate is basically the percentage of people who come in, hit one page, and then leave (bounce). My understanding is that my current rate is about par for the course for blogs. There is trickery one can use to improve bounce rate, but I’d like to improve it through visitors legitimately sticking around, rather than through sleight of hand.
For the goal of having a more understandable name, that relates to the topic of the blog, I think that has largely worked. I don’t get blank stares as much when I hand out the blog’s business card, and I don’t have to spend time in the “elevator pitch” explaining the name of the blog. I don’t market directly to advertisers, but when I’m attending NRA, or other gun-related events as a blogger, I do like people to understand what it is I do. This year haven’t spent as much time meeting people in gun related settings as in previous years, so there hasn’t been a very large sample pool. But my experience so far is that it’s easier to convey “Shall not Be Questioned” than “Snowflakes in Hell,” at least to people who are familiar with the Pennsylvania Constitution’s right to bear arms guarantee.
The revenue goals I had for the change have largely panned out. We’re self-sufficient, in that the blog pays for itself. Given that I self-host, my costs are higher than most. Through agreement, Bitter actually gets the revenue from the blog, in exchange for helping me run it.
Overall the name change didn’t do everything I wanted, but I don’t think it was a huge mistake. Search traffic took a hit initially, because of the loss of Google love, but that has since recovered. My traffic otherwise has remained constant, and I’m pretty sure my pool of regular readers has remained about the same. Much like the gun business, I get my biggest traffic spikes when Barry opens his mouth about guns, or when the media start treating us like second class citizens. People, I think, flee to where they feel more welcome when the world turns against them. I think that’s a good thing. But I’m tired of the parchment look, and I’m wanting something fresher looking. I may not even get around to it this year, with all that is going on, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about, now that I have more time to think, over the slower pace of the holidays.
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