It’s been a year since I started this blog (Happy Anniversary, MD!), so this seems like a good time to reflect on the past and get some feedback on this blog.
I started this WordPress blog in May 2014 as a service to everyone in the microbiome field who spend too much time scanning the latest literature, or (like me) not enough time. “If I have to spend hours every day reading all my eTOC alerts and Google Scholar findings, I might as well post all the relevant papers on a blog and save other people some time, ” I thought, and several of my coworkers agreed. So I bought the domain name and hosted the blog on my hubbie’s server, with the intention to make this a completely free blog. For always.
After a slow start in May 2014, the number of views steadily went up. I tried to advertise on Twitter and by sending emails to other labs in our field. Jonathan Eisen from UC Davis has been incredibly helpful in getting the word out as well. So far, March 2015 has been the best month for MicrobiomeDigest, with 3,355 visitors and 8,184 views (spammers and my own visits are not counted by WordPress). On a busy day, I get about 200 visitors and 400 views.
The average visitor will click on 2 links, with links from Nature, Wiley, and ScienceDirect being the most popular. Please note that I cannot see the identity of the viewers (that would be creepy), just the number of clicks and the country of origin.
The vast majority of the MD visitors are from the US, followed by Canada, the UK, Germany, Denmark, and Australia. In the map from March 2015 (the busiest month so far, see graph above), you can see that MD has been viewed from pretty much every corner of the world.
However, after a good start, it appears as if the blog’s readership has reached a plateau, and might even been going down. This makes me wonder if there is room for improvement. I’m sure there is! There have to be more than 200 people in the world who are interested in microbiome papers, so I was hoping to get some feedback on how to improve my blog and increase the readership. It takes me about 3-4 hours a day to scan all the latest literature and news articles and compile the results into this daily blog and I can only justify this big effort if the readership is large enough.
So here we go, dear reader: I’d like some feedback, please. Here are some questions that I hope you all can think about. Please post your comments below this post or email them to eliesbik at stanford dot edu. You don’t have to answer all of them, but I’l love to get some feedback. Thanks a lot!
- Is the frequency of the blog (once a day on each work day) good?
- Is the length of each blog post good, or too long? Should I split the up into different parts, as I did in the beginning?
- Do you like the breadth of the topics, or should I focus more on e.g. human microbiome (no more soil/water/air microbiome), top journals only, scientific papers only (no more popular press articles), microbiome only (no more general science, publishing/career/Bik’s Picks)? Or should I even include more microbiology papers?
- How can I improve the number of visitors, especially from non-US countries?
- For Tweeps who follow me on @MicrobiomDigest on Twitter: is the number of tweets good, too many, too few? Too much overlap with this blog?
- Any other suggestions, also about more automated ways of posting here, would be more than welcome.
Thanks all! And please do tell others about MicrobiomeDigest if you like it. If the readership keeps on going down, I will have to consider stopping this service and focus on my (real!) job.