A year ago yesterday, based on a tip from a regular reader, I posted a little biographical tidbit about former FEMA Director Mike Brown, revealing that during the decade prior to joining the agency, the man disastrously responsible for directing federal relief operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina had sharpened his emergency management skills as the “Judges and Stewards Commissioner” of the International Arabian Horse Association… a position from which he was forced to resign.
Up until that point my impact as a blogger, activist and political crackpot had largely been local, but the Arabian Horse story quickly spread through the national blogs, moved national headlines, and served to frame cronyism as a central theme in the national debate over the Bush administration’s failed response. The story also drove national attention to HA, both through hundreds of links to the original post, and through Brownie’s own Congressional testimony in which he directly blamed “HorseAss.org” by name for both his own downfall, and oddly, FEMA’s inability to respond to the crisis.
As a result of this flurry of attention, HA’s site traffic more than doubled from about 35,000 unique visits during the doldrums of August to over 75,000 visits in September of 2005, largely due to several large spikes in traffic, as many as 8000 visits in a single day. It occurred to me at the time that I could be witnessing the peak of my notoriety, and that HA might never see such traffic levels again.
Well… it’s been a pretty interesting year, a year in which I’m pleased and surprised to report that HA’s traffic has more than doubled from August to August — just shy of matching the level of last year’s extraordinary September, only this time without any one-time bumps or spikes. Sometime over the past few weeks HA recorded it’s 1 millionth visitor since joining Site Meter a little less than two years ago, and earlier this Summer HA served its 2 millionth page view.
Not bad considering I thought my original goal of eventually attracting a couple hundred regular readers was overly ambitious.
I devote an enormous amount of time and energy to HA, with virtually no financial remuneration, but the active participation of my readers makes it the most personally gratifying “job” I have ever had. It is also my steadily growing audience — the HA community — that helps make me relevant in the eyes of the traditional press, enabling me to have what impact I have on shaping local political coverage.
So while I am of course thankful to have characters like Tim Eyman, Mike Brown, David Irons and Mike?™ McGavick around to help make blogging easier, it is you, my readers, to whom I owe the biggest debt of gratitude. It’s always fun to see a big spike in traffic, but it’s much more satisfying to see readers come back for more.