Like Watching the Odometer Roll Over

As of 9pm tonight, there have been exactly 8,990,000 unique visits to this site this year, which was an awfully round number, so I took a screenshot. It also means that unless the site fails to garner an additional 10k unique visits between now and 11:59:59pm tomorrow (which it should; it’s averaging rather more than that per day), I’ll finish 2007 with just a hair more than 9 million visits to the site, up from 6.3 million visits in 2006. It’s nice the site’s audience continues to grow.

I mentioned to a friend of mine yesterday that the site was likely to crack 9 million unique visits this year; he said “and you don’t put up ads? You’re an idiot.” Yes, well. As I’ve noted before, I’m not allergic to the concept of ads, I’m not just interested in it. However, if at some point during my new I-have-no-regular-monthly-income life, which begins with the new year, it looks like I’m short of mortgage money, I may become more interested. I’m sure you understand. Hopefully it won’t come to that. I don’t expect it will.

That said, thank you all very kindly for coming ’round in 2007; I hope you’ll keep coming ’round in ’08.

32 Comments on “Like Watching the Odometer Roll Over”

  1. Dude, don’t worry about reactions to ads. I’d still read the site, and I’m sure others would, too. Adblockers are pretty effective these days, ya dig?

    Besides, I feel certain RAH would’ve had ads on his site. :)

  2. Content is king, as they say over ‘n over. Ads will still probably not make as much money as selling books (or any other kind of merchandise) to people who visit the site.

    Many author websites are quite noticeably free of ads. And you’d think they’d all be desperate for money. *grin*

    Must be something else.

  3. I started my blog yesterday and I’m please to announce that I’ve had seven unique visits. Wooooot!

    I’ve been freelance since 1986 (read “without a regular monthly income”).
    Somehow, I suspect you’re going to do O.K. I know I’m planning to buy two things you’ve got coming out soon(ish). One more piece of gravel for the drive.

  4. Congratulations, John! After reading several of your “greatest hits” from ’07 (and the comment threads they spawned–in the case of Heinlein, a loooooooooooonnnnnnnggg comment thread), I’m going out and buying “Old Man’s War,” which, frankly, I should have done immediately after reading “On Being Poor.” Also going to buy your book on writing if I can budget it–there are a few copies floating around on amazon.
    I wanted to challenge you on one point which I hope you won’t take offense to, but if you do, flaw away–in your Heinlein post, you cited “quite a few authors persist in having popular books even when the author, their books, or both, are widely deemed politically or socially shaky in one way or another by the literary taste-making class, whomever they may be–Please see Ayn Rand, Tom Clancy, Orson Scott Card, Michael Crichton…” For the record, I like reading George Will on baseball, and I think Mark Helprin’s “Winter’s Tale” is one of the best books of the past 25 years, and I love Ender’s Game & Ender’s Shadow.
    I don’t object to Rand, Clancy, and Crichton on their political grounds–I object because they’re all, in my view, *bad writers.* “Atlas Shrugged”: I read the whole damn thing, all 1160 pages of it–you could have cut 700 pages out of that book and it would have had far more potency and been a lot more interesting. Clancy–I read Red Storm Rising when I was younger; it was all right, but i’ve never been tempted to pick up anything else. Crichton–yeah, I liked “Andromeda Strain,” but I couldn’t finish “The Lost World.” In my opinion, their work shouldn’t be dismissed just because, say, Rand thinks poor people are lazy or Crichton wants to sell books by not believing in global warming–but it’s perfectly okay to dismiss them on writing grounds. Sales don’t do it for me.
    I also can’t get through anything by John Updike, and I’m sure I’d like his politics just fine.

  5. Are you sure you mean “unique” visits?

    By the way, if you need folding money, get your publisher off his butt and get Agent to the Stars out in book form again. I read it online but there are several folks I want to send it to who are allergic to reading something novel-length online.

  6. Coyote, if you read the post two posts before this one, you’ll note that Agent to the Stars is coming out from Tor next year. In November, granted, which is not soon enough, but making deadtree books takes time.

  7. Aww, John, you know we all have a soft spot for you and your family. Just threaten to have Athena yell at us, or cry, and you could probably shake us down for our lunch money on a daily basis.

  8. Please do note that if you get to the point that you’re looking at being short, ad revenue isn’t going to help – you’re not going to see a dime out of it for at least two months in most cases.

  9. Your friend may be just a touch right. If you have had 9,000,000 visitors, my guess is that Google Adsense would have made you a bunch of money. I don’t have anywhere near your traffic and it makes me anywhere from a couple to a few hundred dollars a month. With your traffic, I would imagine you’re talking in the thousands as opposed to the hundreds.

  10. John: I don’t suppose you’d be interested in sharing how those “unique visits” are counted? Inquiring minds want to know :-)

  11. I think the people who say “why don’t you run ads?” are kind of missing the point. The website *is* an ad. The product it is selling is John Scalzi. What could be simpler? The fact that it is a well-written, entertaining ad that people keep coming back to is all to the good, but rather beside the point.

  12. I just wanted to do my part in putting you over the top…I am not sure if my rss feed counts so here I am “in person”.

    Wishing you and the family a Happy New Year…

  13. Guess I’m gonna have to add this site to the “nobody goes there, its too crowded” list. I remember back in the old days of the interweb when you had to be giving away free porn to get 9M visitors a year.

    And I believe the definition of a “unique visitor” is the first time a person’s IP accesses So clicking on the pages doesn’t count (except the first one), but closing the browser and reopening it does (hint).

  14. Brett L:

    “So clicking on the pages doesn’t count (except the first one), but closing the browser and reopening it does (hint).”

    Well, no. The “Unique Visitors” metric counts individual IP addresses per day. Closing your browser won’t change your IP address unless you’re accessing through AOL or the like, which uses dynamic IP addressing. Most people, however, keep the same IP address from whenever it was they last logged into their service provider (which these days, with broadband, could have been a very long time ago).

    The Unique Visitors metric tends to undercount people coming in from work addresses (because they filter through a firewall) but overcount people using AOL and other sites using dynamic addressing. It comes out in the wash, basically.

  15. Go for the ads. There’s no reason not to, as long as they’re not obtrusive pop-ups. Use adwords or something similar – you can configure where they go and how annoying they are very easily. Make some cash, man. Go for it.

    By the way – I read the entire series from Old Man’s War on in the space of about one week, and it was ridiculously fun. I had an incredible time with your books – so thank you very much for writing them. (oh, and thanks also to Mr. Wil Wheaton, whose post about the series a month or so ago led to my purchases!)

  16. Greg –

    On Tom Clancy, I don’t know what his politics are, though I’m guessing it’s something along the lines of “have a strong military cuz the world is full of nutjobs,” but some of his books can be quite fun if you enjoy all the techno speak and/or ignore all the technospeak. His books could be cut by at least half, and the storylines would be undamaged. Some people actually dig the techno stuff (like me), and some don’t. The storylines themselves are quite fun, I think, in the Jack Ryan books, especially (to me) the latter ones. I think most people who read that kind of thing would appreciate Rainbow Six, though, where Ryan isn’t a major character – it’s from the point of view of two members of an anti-terrorism squad based in the U.K. Why this hasn’t been made into a movie, I’ve no idea; it’s the Clancy novel with by far the most movie potential of any of them. I thought Sum of All Fears (the novel) was very interesting, especially the plan for peace in the Middle East (you know, that part they left out of the horrible movie version), plus I find it interesting that he predicted that a terrorist could fly a fully-fueled airliner into a building to destroy it long before 9/11. Good stuff, but definitely not for everyone.

    As for Card, I liked Ender’s Game, and finished the second one, and couldn’t finish the third, so gave up on that, then found out about his extreme homophobia and what a general sleazeball he apparently is even aside from that, after the fact. I’m glad I’d already given up on his writing. I used to feel guilty about not reading a writer’s work after I find out they’re scummy, but then I realized that it’s just my little contribution to karma. Since there’s no such thing as a new story, it’s either been told (better), or someone else will eventually tell it (better), so no worries there, either.

  17. Ah yes. I couldn’t remember the exact definition, if it was IP/day or unique browser token. I’ve never had enough traffic to be able to tell the difference.

  18. John, I’ll happily continue to buy your books and read the Whatever even if it comes with an adbar at the top. Keep it unobtrusive, popup and hovering-window free and most visitors probably wouldn’t notice or care. I never click the things myself, but I figure the bandwidth on 9M hits can’t be insignificant. Also, if it did actually make you a bit of money that could lead to you putting even more time into your work, leading to more of your writing per year, or higher quality writing. Or, y’know, enable you to fail your saving throw vs. shiny more often. At least you’d blog about it.

  19. Here’s hoping that it won’t become like NASCAR and be:

    Pepsico Valvoline Metrex brought to you by BaconCat

  20. As an ass-backward Whatever reader (I read all your books first then found the blog,) let me say thanks for an informative and entertaining 2007. Looking forward to visiting more in ’08, and, for the record, ads wouldn’t keep me away.

  21. I won’t mind ads at all as long as you retain a Letterman-style disdain for your benefactors. Yes, right there next to the ad for the brand new I-Pod Mondo Implantable, you’d have your latest post, “Wait’ll you see what those pinheads from Apple came up with now…”

  22. To ad or not to ad? I couldn’t begrudge you the extra cash. I agree with Tim Eisele when he said this whole site is an ad. All I would ask is some taste and restraint. A banner ad or two wouldn’t kill us readers. Popups and floaters suck. Animations are pretty annoying too.

  23. Well you put me to shame. I was pretty happy about getting 6.7 million unique visitors to my site for the year. Good job.

    I’m really looking forward to the new books in 2008. Keep up the good work.

  24. Like a simple static ad would be any more obtrusive than the goofy sidebar widgets. (mutters about fixed-width formatting)

  25. Tumbleweed–thanks for the Clancy note–I may have to take another look at “Rainbow Six.” And yeah, Card’s homophobia bothers me too, which is why I bought “Shadow of the Giant” at a steep discount (it was on the bargain table.)