Here’s a short post inspired by a question from a reader, who asked, “You seem open to ‘ask me anything’ types of questions, and I wonder if you could give us some statistics about your blog. How much traffic does it get? How many people are on your e-mail list? Do you make any money directly from the blog? How many posts have you written, and are you thinking about doing anything different with it in the future?” As this reader observed, I’m pretty open to AMA questions, so here goes, for those who are thinking of starting a blog, or who like to geek out on these things.
I published Thoughts on Translation’s first post on February 2, 2008 (that’s officially 100 years ago in Internet time). The first post was called how to succeed as a freelance translator, and two people commented on it: my friend and blogging mentor Beth Hayden, (who taught me how to start the blog in the first place), and my friend and colleague Judy Jenner. The blog now includes 702 posts, and 6,482 comments. So, back of the envelope, that’s about two posts per week, and about 10 comments on each post. It won the 2016 ProZ.com community choice award for the best blog about translation.
Traffic: about 20,000-25,000 views a month. On a day when I post something new (usually Mondays), traffic goes up to about 1,200 or 1,300 views, and if I haven’t posted for a while, it goes down to 600 or 700, but in general it’s about 1,000 views a day.
Subscriptions: 3,169 people subscribe to the blog directly, and I have 2,485 people on my e-mail list.
Monetization: I don’t make any money from the blog itself. I’m not a huge fan of affiliate deals in general (“my unbiased opinion” and “I got something for free in exchange for this opinion” don’t really jive in my mind), and I find ads distracting on an informational-content site. However, this blog is the primary way that I market my online classes for translators. I started them out of a feeling that if I struggled with the business aspects of being a translator, other people probably did too, and the classes really took off. After over 10 years of teaching it, every session of Getting Started as a Freelance translator still fills up, and my classes for experienced translators have done well too and are a lot of fun to teach. In reality they’re limited only by the time I have to put into creating them. So that’s a big monetization factor that has grown to about 50% of my income. There is definitely a cost to running a good blog; I pay about $25 a month for robust hosting, and I paid a bit over $2,000 for the recent redesign to update the look of the site and add an automated course registration system.
Plans for the future: Mainly I just want to keep doing what I’m doing, but I’m also planning on adding a podcast version of some posts (just me reading the post, not an interview format), and I’ll probably add sponsors to that. I guess I have semi-conflicted feelings about monetization: I find website ads kind of tacky, but I’m OK with podcast sponsorships. Call me weird.
Is a blog worth it: Absolutely! Definitely not! It depends on your perspective. For me, absolutely, because about half of my income comes from writing, teaching, and consulting for other translators. But lots of translators are disappointed when they start blogging and don’t get any translation clients from it; this seems obvious if you’re writing a blog that only other translators would be interested in reading, but it happens a lot. Blog for your clients, whoever they are. If you want to get work from international marketing companies, then blog for them, not for other translators.
So, there you have it. Any other questions, just leave them in the comments and I’ll answer if I can!