The recent update to the EA Forum prompted me to look at the value of having my own separate blog.
In this post I'll provide basic metrics from my site and talk about whether I think having a separate blog makes sense or if it's redundant with the new EA Forum.
I started Veg-EA in early 2016 to combine my interests in animal welfare, veganism, and effective altruism.
The first posts looked at the value of donating to your local animal sanctuary or wearing more durable leather shoes. As I learned more I shifted into environmental ethics, consideration of insects, and wild animal suffering.
Metrics and Popular Content
From the start of my blog in February 2016 to the current date (November 24, 2018), the Veg-EA blog received 8,788 page views with 5,450 unique visitors. The bulk of my visitors were from the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. (32%, 20%, and 11%, respectively).
Social media made up the bulk of trackable traffic sources, accounting for 40% of visits. Of that, Facebook was the top referral source with reddit playing a substantial but more minor role. (46% of traffic was classified as 'direct').
Popular content connected to veganism, with the top performing post titled "Four arguments against veganism that are actually worth considering" receiving ~2,000 page views.
Other popular content was a post examining vegan advertisements in Times Square (~1k page views) as well as a post exploring how Antinatalism and Negative-learning Utilitarianism are relevant to both veganism and wild animal suffering (~675 page views).
The most recent blog post was in June 2017. This is mostly due to pivoting to more creative projects and local engagement (I had recently moved to a new city).
I am not able to make a strong value judgement of having my own blog. I used a higher priced website/hosting service (Squarespace) which pushes the annual dollar cost of the blog higher. Though there definitely are other ways to have a similar quality blog with standalone domain (Wordpress, etc).
The more expensive blog option (around $110/year), and the relatively low number of page views means that I was paying around four cents per page view. That seems very high to me, though the cost would likely be a lot lower if regular posting was maintained as opposed to leaving the blog inactive since summer 2017.
I did successfully secure a spring communications internship at Animal Charity Evaluators. My blog was mentioned in the interview process and ACE's Facebook Page had previously shared two of my blog posts. Those two points seem like strong evidence that my blog was a relevant factor in obtaining the internship opportunity.
Is there a value in having a .com domain for a blog? This is more at the root of the question and I do not have strong beliefs or evidence either way. The 'personal branding' aspect of your own site, domain, imagery, design seems very positive.
For my audience (mostly vegans), "Veg-EA" sounds inherently appealing, even if they do not know what the "EA" stands for.
I am strongly considering deactivating my blog and moving the content to the EA Forum. This is largely driven by the blog's inactive state and that the current traffic is not enough to justify the service and hosting expense.
I do believe that depending on the nature of your writing or audience (more broad, outreach oriented or more niche, inwards oriented) a blog with its own domain and branding could have advantages one would not get from the EA Forum.
I would also make sure not to discount the career benefit of having a separate blog. The .com domain combined with professional looking design and branding may be helpful when applying for certain roles and in certain areas.
I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on this topic as I suspect many of you have your own blogs. What do you use to manage and host your sites? Do you feel good about your site metrics? Has your blog helped you out in your career or in any other way? Are you considering exporting your posts to the EA-Forum, why or why not?