|The new Far Side mascot|
In the past three years, we've gone from flat zero readers to a steady 300/day. That pencils out to roughly 9,000/month, with around 40% being return visits. We figure that means about half of the folks who come here either like what they are getting, or are like race fans watching to see the next big wreck. Interestingly, our audience seems to be evenly split between Eastern and Western hemispheres. That's pretty cool, in our humble estimation.
At any rate, as the site grows in popularity, we try to gauge what readers want by looking at the things they click on. Certain topics, for instance, seem to draw a healthy response, so we put a little extra focus on those things.
Also, Radio Far Side is starting to catch on. We've posted 5 interviews, with number 6 coming up shortly, and the clicks are climbing slowly but surely. We assume this is because our programs aren't just random. We select the individuals with a specific purpose, kind of like multi-media footnotes and references for things we write about here.
Based on the numbers, we assume also that about 4,000 folks per month come here because we DON"T amalgamate headlines. Lord knows there's plenty of that out there. Instead, we try to context things with a long historical view, tracing ideas and events through the maelstrom of history to see how we got here, and what that implies for our future. In other words, we prefer thinking, pondering and navel-staring to random samples of pop culture.
Through it all, we take feedback from readers very seriously. We get lots of links and thoughts and criticism that go toward improving what we do here, and it is steadily attracting eyeballs. We find that exciting and frightening at the same time.
In any event, our Alexa rating has climbed from 13,000,000 to 500,000, and that is entirely due to fine folks like you sitting there reading this. To you, we say, "Many thanks!"
As our little corner of the net attracts more attention, we look for ways to expand and improve things. To that end, we've added a couple of features that are visible in the side bar under "SHAMELESS PROMOTION".
First, we have the Vimeo and YouTube channels. The Vimeo channel is where we host Radio Far Side, though we encouage folks to use the RFS link at the top of the page, since the program pages have background info, guest bios and links to additional information. The YouTube channel is a work in progress. We haven't really decided what to do with that, but we're considering creating regular 'blip-verts', as they used to say in Max Headroom. These would be short 5-7 minute video chats on whatever topics won't get out of our collective head.
Next, we broke down and created a Twitter account called @RadioFarSide. Here we are putting out links to interesting stories and videos, accompanied by our customary brief sarcastic remarks. We promise not to abuse this outlet with useless crap like what we ate for breakfast or the latest in hobo fashion trends. Hopefully, you will get information that spurs thought, which is what this internet stuff should be all about.
Finally, in the process of our complete break-down, we set up a Farcebook page called Radio Far Side. If you are on Farcebook, look up the page and 'Like' it to keep up with developments there. We really haven't decided what to do with it, but something will leap into our collective head at any moment now.
On top of all this, we are converting everything over to use our new mascot, the kerbow or ox. We figure this has multiple layers of meaning, like being the Boss Man's (me) Chinese zodiac sign, as well as evoking a bit of Texas flavor in a Southeast Asian way. At any rate, we figure this iconographic image will tie all our efforts together under a brand image.
And really, that's what all this about. As we grow and expand, we are trying to create a marketable image that will hopefully allow us to earn a buck or two, even with failing eyesight and relentlessly advancing age. Of course, the blog will always remain ad-free and without membership fees, because we think good information has no price. But we also want to tie in our commercial efforts like a store and peddling our services with the overall Far Side brand.
As George Ure likes to say, "Everything's a business model."
For our long-time readers, this might make a good B-school case study in online business models. On the other hand, it may be a train wreck in slow motion and a colossal waste of time. Won't know till we try, and at least it's something we enjoy doing...and it may occasionally be entertaining.
In the end, we are happy that so many folks are enjoying our efforts. It's truly gratifying to receive email from readers who enjoy the things we put up here. We encourage folks to send along comments and suggestions, which we take very seriously. We especially love it when you send a link to friends and family.
Thanks for your support, and remember, the Far Side is not just a place, it's a perspective.