11 January 2013

What am I doing wrong? (Updated)

OK. . .what gives?

I've been noticing for the last couple of months that traffic to HA has been dropping. . .

Less traffic is a given during the holidays, but the trend has continued well beyond Christmas and New Years.

Am I doing something wrong? Do I smell bad? Is it my breath? What is it?

Blogspot has done something so that visitors from outside the US are sent to a regional or national address instead of the US address, so maybe the stats are skewed accordingly.

Anyway. . .both the Church and the Order have called upon priests/religious to use the internet to evangelize.  I started HA principally to post my homilies. . .and occasionally to vent a little crankiness (blush).

Since 2005, the number of Catholic blogs has exploded. . .for which I am exceedingly grateful and happy. Maybe it's time for a makeover or a vacation or something? I dunno. . .

So, here are my questions:

1). What am I doing that I shouldn't be doing?

2). What am I not doing that I should be doing?

HA lives to serve the Catholic blogosphere!  

NB.  Update:  Just to be clear:  my worry is NOT about a drop in traffic for the sake of the traffic. I don't link ads on HA or get $$$ from Google.  My worry is that the drop in traffic indicates that I am not doing something needful for HA readers. Thus, the questions above.
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43 comments:

  1. I think everyone's traffic is down. Mine didn't bounce back after Christmas and New Year.

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  2. I dunno Father; I usually like what you post.
    If you comment anywhere, just make sure you have your blog linked in your username as much as possible; that drives up traffic tremendously I found.

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    1. I always do this, Matthew. On occasion, a post of mine will get linked by New Advent or Mark Shea and stats shoot up. However, stats aren't the problem per se. My worry is that I'm not producing what Catholics need.

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  3. Mine's fallen by roughly a third in the past couple of weeks. Not sure what it is.

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  4. One thing my husband taught me... I read your blog posts everyday through my RSS feed reader on my phone. With the way it is set up, I can read the whole post in my reader, but I don't believe you get the hit count. Some blogs have it set up where there is a blurb in the reader and you click to finish the article so the site gets the hit. Just a thought. Otherwise, I enjoy your posts!

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    1. I think you're right about this. HA has 462 subscribers but about half that many average hits a day. This is a drop from more than 500 a day in just a month.

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  5. Fr., could it be that everyone got new tablets or phones and reads you through an RSS reader. I know I do.

    Tanya P. From UD.

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    1. Tanya, probably. . .and google is being stingy with the stats! :-(

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  6. I'm happy to spike your stats if it'll make you feel better :-)!

    I come here for the homilies, but I'm pretty easy to please (no, really! I am). I do enjoy when you add other things, like ask a friar a random question.

    Though I think asking what you "should" be doing is perhaps the wrong question. If there was anything I would add if it were up to me, it would be more in-depth looks both at the Scripture (more than is possible in a homily) and issues surrounding Catholics today. Practical topics...what are we to do with this health-ins mandate, as it relates to abortion and our resp. as Catholics to oppose it and our moral obligation in keeping vs. dropping our ins. plan? Easy questions like that! But changing to more of a topics blog would potentially radically increase the time needed to keep it up, though maybe something a couple times a month would be do-able.

    But I will say that if you stop posting your homilies, I will personally fly to NOLA and set you straight!

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    1. There's no danger of stopping the homilies. . .as long as I am preaching, there will be homily posts. What else am I going to do with them after preaching them in the pulpit???

      Back when I was in Rome, I posted several times a day throughout the day. . .eventually I just collected all these single posts into Coffee Bowl Browsing. More frequent updates tend to draw traffic. . .but my goal isn't more traffic for the sake of traffic. . .I want HA to be of service! :-)

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  7. Anonymous10:59 PM

    Are Google Reader stats included? Some feeds just give a title or short intro to persuade a click and visit - $adds and wotnot. Those actually reading may be much higher e.g. I read most of your posts but within Reader.

    P.s. You have a talent for culture warrioring/defender of the polis. Rusty Reno is in your corner. Today FT 'Future of Conservatism'.

    "Some friends are frustrated that I cast my lot with “conservatism.” Isn’t faith greater? Doesn’t faith transcend partisan differences? Yes and no. Yes, of course people of faith—and for that matter good will—can come to different policy judgments. But as I read the sign of the times, modern progressivism has become profoundly antagonistic to moral and religious authority. Whether we like it or not, men and women of faith are now on the “Right,” at least when it comes to social issues."

    Or it could just be astrological - maybe Comet 'Brighter than the moon' ISON 2013 is conjunct retrograde Mercury :)

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    1. The Culture Warrior was easier and less dangerous for my spiritual health when I was a campus minister. Now that I'm a moderately respectable parochial vicar at a very respectable parish in NOLA. . .all that warrioring is. . .uncouth. OK. Not really. But I've been told over and over again that I often come across as a Catholic Rush Limbaugh when I do the Cranky Friar stuff. I know that that sort of thing gets read and applauded but it also tends to add to the already existing white noise of the net.

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  8. The same happened to me. I think you just need to keep going.

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    1. Oh, I probably will. . .as long as I am preaching. . .

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  9. Anonymous12:39 AM

    Blogs are nearly passé now. Waste of time to read. Blah, blah, blah. I'd rather get out of the house and live life or read a book. Facebook will also decline in usage. So many blogs, so many opinions, yet how many of them really matter or make a difference?

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    1. I've heard this before too. You may be right. Wouldn't it be weird if blogs went the way of the newspaper?

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    2. I still like the paper. Papers are dead yet, I pray they never are.

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  10. For whatever it may be worth, I've started to come here regularly after becoming sick with the "professional", "A-grade" Catholic blogosphere...for one, the last thing I want is this blog becoming more like those.

    Now if you really want a suggestion, I would say to engage more our comments here if possible.

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    1. I always try to engage comments but sometimes I approve comments on the run and then forget to come back to them. Blogger used to email comment notifications. . .I always knew when I had a comment waiting. Now, I have to check.

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    2. Well, the e-mail notifications may be just a matter of checking the right box on the Blogger dashboard. recently I had a similar issue with the YouTube videos to which I'm subscribed, and it took a while for me to figure it out.

      When you ask for your readers, they come... :)

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    3. Indeed, they do! And I am grateful. . .

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  11. I think you should just carry on writing and posting things that you feel inspired to share with the wider world and stop looking at stats, hits etc! Keep on keeping on; cyberspace would be a lonelier, emptier place without you!

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    1. Well, I'm looking at stats as an indicator of whether or not I'm sharing stuff people find helpful. Maybe my assumption is wrong? Lower stats do not equal unhelpful content.

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  12. I will say that these wretched captcha thingies that prove we're not robots will be the death of me - I hardly ever get them right!!

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    1. Me either. We think about them too much, right?

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  13. I'm probably a very atypical reader. I'm not a practicing Catholic and I'm more conservative than you are, so I mostly skip the homilies and read the Cranky Friar stuff because it's such a novelty to find a priest, and an OP at that, who isn't a mush-headed "Justice and Peace" blatherer.

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    1. Ah, now you're trying to flatter me. . .

      :-)

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  14. Mon Père,

    It seems that the more frequently one blogs the more traffic one gets. It's true that many people are going mobile and Blogger may not have caught up with this change and is missing hits, but, if I may, not only have you been blogging less due to your responsibilities as a parochial vicar, but you have also been blogging about fewer subjects.

    If memory serves, you used to blog a little more often, yes, but also more extensively. Of course, you didn't have to prepare a homily every day then, but I enjoyed a lot when you'd use the Coffee-Bowl Browsing as a trampoline to write more in depth, for a blog, of course, on some subject.

    I've also appreciated your variety of topics, from Church teaching to personal stuff. Perhaps the gist of the success of blogging and of other social media is that people felt as acquaintances of someone across the ocean. With your new responsibilities the time to blog is understandably reduced, but perhaps, just like you used to blog as a friar studying in Rome, revealing a bit of this life to a bunch of faithful Catholics and people of other persuasions, you might now blog as a Southerner OP running a parish in NOLA and reveal a bit of this life too.

    It might come across as some twisted voyeuristic thirst, but, at least to devout Catholics, much like we hoot for those who live a life consecrated to the Church, we hoot for those who live a life configured to Jesus too. IOW, just like I grew in appreciation for the life of a friar, I could perhaps grow in equal appreciation for the life of a parish priest.

    God bless.

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    1. Good suggestions all. My personal life--such as it is--is beyond boring. Other than preparing homilies and reading for class and fun, I don't do much else. I need a hobby??? Actually, I have a hobby but no one would be interested in it.

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  15. Anonymous5:49 PM

    Maybe there are others like me: I cannot check you every day as I once did but when I do I catch up on everything. Too bad there's no way of knowing ow long we stay on HA.

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    1. There is a way. . .sitemeter records how long a visitor stays. I rarely look at that stat though. I will start, however.

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  16. Father Powell, there are many many blogs on the internet that provide political blather, or lampoon wacky lefties: Instapundit, The MCJ, WDTPRS. I don't really need another one. I can easily enough see the problems in the world and in the Church, and in my own parish for that matter. I see nothing but problems, sometimes for weeks at a time. What I would like to see more of is HOPE. You were a university professor. Is there any hope there? Are kids today growing up with any morals at all? Is there anyone teaching Theology at a Catholic university that believes in God?

    You're a parish priest. Is there any hope there? Is the sacramental life of your parish growing? Are people showing up for Adoration and Confession? What do you do to encourage more devotions and reception of the Sacraments? I understand if you are circumspect about your current parish, out of respect for the innocent. But what is your parish life like? How are you implementing the Year of Faith? Any ideas for the rest of us?

    Speaking of loony lefties, what about the Dominicans? There were a lot of angst at their fawning over The One in 2012. What now, after the HHS Mandate, abortion-palooza and dancing vaginas at the DNC? Any signs of hope there? Or does "OP" still stand for "Obama Progressives"?

    That's my suggestion, FWIW

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    1. I hear you! There is a great deal of hope at St Dominic's! We're a growing parish with lots of young families and older, stalwart parishioners. Of course, this is New Orleans. . .where even the Baptists are Catholics most of the time.

      OP has never stood for "Obama Progressives"! Yikes. Sure, some Dominicans drank the kool-aid in 2008 and some of those took another drink in 2012. But you will find that 99% of the younger friars did not. Most of us (friars) do not buy the official social justice line of the Order when it leans left. There's not much of an outcry from us b/c we still have to live with our more progressive brothers. Among ourselves, however, there is no secret: BO and his agenda is poisonous to the faith, the Church, and the nation.

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  17. I'll always stop by Padre'. I've enjoyed our email exchanges in the past, and though, while no longer Catholic, I am catholic. If you take my meaning.. ;-) As to traffic, what's that? You mean people are supposed to read what you write? lol

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    1. And I appreciate your visits and your emails. I used to think that traffic numbers were important. Not anymore. Now, I'm just worried that folks aren't reading b/c I'm not writing helpful stuff.

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  18. I pretty much never read anyone's online homilies, so that's why I'm reading fewer posts. As I look through the unread posts in Google Reader, they are all homilies. While sometimes homilies can be worth a read, given the little time I try to spend browsing, I use avoiding all homilies as a shortcut to filter through my feeds. The rhetorical style of the genre makes them particular ill-suited to the way I use the Web. They are too long to be quick read and too short offer the sort of depth found in an article. Since becoming a parish priest, you've had less original content and news analysis, which is what I've always found in insightful and amusing about this blog. So I read it less, which is probably a good thing since I should be spending more time in other ways.

    I particularly enjoy Coffee Bowl (Cup) Browsing, because it means that I don't have wade through the thousands of worthless stories most online outlets put out.



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    1. Homilies, like poetry, are meant to be heard, right? I agree. . .reading them can't be all that much fun.

      Yeah, the Coffee Cup Browsing and news analysis have suffered since I left Rome. Back then I had a ton of reading to do, so there was plenty of time to procrastinate. Now, I actually have to BE places and you can't put that off.

      Also, I found--after a longish discernment--that my crankier posts were tempting me toward a lack of charity and negativity, both of which come naturally to me as a melancholic personality-type. I have to be very careful with my sarcasm/cynicism b/c it's too easy for me to start taking it seriously.

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  19. I truly enjoy reading your homilies and they have been most helpful too. Personally, I have noted how many Catholic sites I do not go too anymore because of their contents. While I do not visit daily, your site and two other are on my list to visit because of the good food I receive. Thank you.

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    1. PML, that's what I like to hear. . .the homilies are helpful! (Or not, as the case may be).

      Thanks.

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  20. Anonymous2:42 AM

    Since you asked, I am one of your former champions, now still appreciating your blog but visiting it only infrequently. I always looked to you for your "culture warrior" leadership and found your synthesis to be the best guide around. My interest slackened after you announced tour "fast" from that activity. I have not used your homilies very often, and since you ask, occasionally I have found your take on cultural Catholicism to be surprisingly weak (in this instance I am sure it's because of your background) and very occasionally, your theological input has been weak. (I remember one egregious error that you refused to acknowledge after it had been pointed out). It was your daring and your political critique that earned my loyal readership; without that I find myself turning toward others for input when I am interested in the kinds of material you have chosen to produce. Thanks for your work, Father, and for caring. DS

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    1. Anon., I appreciate your candor! I "fasted" from posting anything politically partisan b/c it was ruining my spiritual life. Politics as such is not a problem, but the constant, nasty, pointless bickering on the internet (esp. during elections) feeds the dark spirits. I am no less committed to cultural Catholicism--if I understand your meaning--than I was then. . .I'm just less mouthy about it, I guess.

      I'd be interested in which theological error I committed and refused to correct. . .generally, I have no problem admitting when I'm wrong. It happens often enough! It's likely the case that I spouted off about something and was too embarrassed to admit it. . .

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    2. I should add. . .if I revisit the alleged error, I might 'fess up to it. Things change over the years, so do people.

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