Two years in agate type
Today was the second anniversary of BatesLine.
In April 2003, we had just connected to broadband. I had been thinking about getting a domain name so our e-mail addresses could be independent of our ISP. I had also started reading blogs, beginning with National Review's The Corner, then Instapundit and Little Green Footballs. As long as I was finding a host for our domain, I may as well find one that would set up a blog for me. What I had in mind was a place to make note of and comment on news and other interesting things I found on the web, and to make those comments and notes available to friends and family. I did not begin with grand ambitions.
It's instructive to look back over two years' worth of stats. According to awstats, BatesLine had 142 visits from 80 unique IP addresses for the entire month of May 2003. I received absolutely no referrals from other websites in that month.
There's some good stuff in that first month worth of posts, including one of the most frequently accessed BatesLine entries, "Cute Baby Pictures." It's on the first page of Google results for that phrase, although I doubt the many visitors who hit it are looking for images of a half-inch long baby toad or a baby armadillo -- even though they are very cute. Since 99% of you didn't read any of it at the time, it's all new to you, and maybe I'll start rerunning it.
In July and August, BatesLine became the de facto website for the opposition to Vision 2025, and traffic began to climb as radio stations and even the Tulsa Whirled linked to the site. (Do you think I should sue?) I received 2298 visits in August and peaked at 3496 in September -- 833 on September 9 alone, the day of the Vision 2025 vote. It was in the course of this election that BatesLine was first noticed and linked by A-list Oklahoma blogs like Dustbury, OkieDoke, and Reflections in d minor.
It was also in August that I got the world's smallest Instalanche for this article on using WiFi to spur development in downtown Tulsa. (I linked to this Instapundit item, and Glenn updated later with a link back to me.) How small was it? So small that I only just now noticed it -- 24 hits. Compare that to the 10,488 hits from Instapundit in February 2005, linking to my items about the threat letter from the Tulsa Whirled.
The Vision 2025 campaign transformed BatesLine into a blog mainly about local politics. It also began the partnership between BatesLine and KFAQ. Michael DelGiorno, Gwen Freeman, and I had lunch shortly after the vote, and Michael suggested having me on regularly as a Vision 2025 watchdog. As other local issues cropped up -- the 71st and Harvard case in October 2003, city elections at the beginning of 2004 -- that role broadened to include all of city politics. I think I've only missed one Monday morning since we began way back then. Month after month, KFAQ's website is the single biggest referrer to BatesLine.
Traffic climbed steadily over 2004, as BatesLine covered the new City Council majority and offered some first-hand reporting from the Republican National Convention. I also got to know a number of official convention bloggers and New York City-based conservative bloggers -- connections that would come in handy earlier this year. Traffic peaked in October at 15,015 visits, with October 22 the biggest day to date at 3,389 visits, thanks to a link from National Review's The Corner to this item reporting Chris Matthews' claim that George W. Bush is not pro-life.
The threat letter from the Tulsa World dominated February 2005, which has been BatesLine's biggest month to date -- 40,082 visitors, nearly 28,000 in a two-day period. For much of that traffic, I have to thank Ace of Spades (to whom Karol Sheinin introduced me at a New Criterion "Tuesday at Fitz's" in New York City back in late November) for responding to the mass e-mail I sent to nearly every blogger I'd ever met. Ace's entry was picked up by Michelle Malkin, who wrote about it (and hit my tip jar!), and Michelle's entry caught Instapundit's attention. Many others were kind enough to write about the issue, but Ace was the vector by which the story gained international attention.
Kevin McCullough interviewed me on his New York City radio show. CNN's "Inside Politics" mentioned the story three times. Bob Cox of The National Debate and founder of the Media Bloggers Association contacted me, expedited my membership in that organization, and put me in touch with the MBA's General Counsel, Ron Coleman. Ron sent a reply to the Whirled that has yet to receive an answer.
While Instalanches don't last forever, they do allow prospective regular readers to discover a blog for the first time, and I'm sure with each of those bumps in traffic, some Tulsa-area readers found BatesLine for the first time. Traffic has tailed off to about 1300-1500 visits per day -- half-again more than before the Whirled's threats. It had been a bit higher, but I noticed traffic flagged a bit just before Tax Day and hasn't completely recovered.
Everyone of those numbers is a real live human being (except for the search engine bots and the referral spam bots), and I thank you for taking the time to visit, to read, and to tell your friends. Many of you have been kind enough to send encouraging comments by e-mail or to stop me at events to express your appreciation. I'm grateful to those who have dropped a few bucks in the tip jar (the "donate" button on the home page) and to those intelligent advertisers who have chosen BatesLine to deliver your message to an intelligent readership. I've been especially gratified to see several of my readers start blogs of their own. Although this is still a hobby, I do feel an obligation to fill you in on local politics and provide you with some food for thought, and it's nice to know that it matters to you.
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