Thursday, June 30, 2005

Site update: Slouching toward summertime

For those who care, a few updates about the Grits site:

First, the new look. No, it's not the result of some long-anticipated re-design conceived by high-level marketing consultants. Instead, I'd finally, utterly corrupted the HTML in the old format until the template simply came up last Friday completely blank. Shifting to a new blogger template turned out to be the shortest distance between two points to clean up the mess, so here we are.

Also, I've taken the opportunity to re-organize the links a bit and to add a few names to the blogroll that are long overdue. I'll be fiddling a little more with them as summer goes on and I get back into the habit of reading more widely. The legislative session, regular readers know well, took up a great deal of my focus.

Traffic has declined some since session ended, from a high average of more than 600 per day in April and May to around 400 unique visitors, give or take, these days. Not bad for a state-level, issue-specific blog, but Atrios I ain't. I still find that a lot of people who should be interested in
Grits' content just don't read it because they're not used to reading blogs, don't trust them yet, etc. There's nothing but word of mouth and time to overcome that. So tell all your friends to start reading, and maybe one of these days I'll have enough traffic to justify accepting advertising.

has received several nice references recently from other bloggers, especially folks complimenting my notes and comments from the Campaigns and Elections seminar on campaign blogs, and pointing to my adumbrations of Gov. Perry's vetoes. I appreciate a lot everybody who has linked to my stuff, especially Kuff, Libby, Pink Dome, Doc Berman, Catonya, and Mike Cable, all of whom have been especially generous highlighting Grits' fare. In addition, in an article featuring Nate from the blog Common Sense, Texas Monthly editor Evan Smith gave Grits a nice shout out in the July issue, announcing himself a reader and calling Grits "A protein-laden dose of big thinking on criminal justice reform." That one-liner may get stuck permanently in the sidebar, before it's done.

As much or more than the links and praise, I appreciate the bloggers I read regularly, the folks who keep me informed about lots of stuff I'd otherwise miss, and who collectively help create, for me, the sense of possibility the blogosphere embodies -- the grassroots media who make me think, and who on their best days make me think there's hope. In addition to those mentioned above, at the risk of leaving out tons of folks, I've especially appreciated writing by bloggers at
CrimProf blog, Injustice Anywhere, GregsOpinion, Burnt Orange Report (welcome to the new crew!), A Capitol Blog, Rick Perry vs. The World, Drug War Rant, and of course Governing Magazine cover girl, Eileen at In The Pink Texas, on whom I've got a bit of a bloggerly crush. (Don't tell Kathy; she doesn't read my blog, so that last bit's just between us ...)

A lot of folks at the capitol became regular readers during the session, and several staffers emailed afterward to express sympathy about Governor Perry's ignominious vetoes. It means a lot to me that folks working day-to-day on Texas legislation considered this blog a reliable information source this spring. Thanks to them, and to all
Grits' readers for stopping by.

Keep coming back. I ain't done yet.


Anonymous said...

Has your blog been hanging out with those Queer Eye guys again? Seriously though -- it looks cool. Reads better. --

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Yeah, it turns out all it needed was some new threads and a pedicure, plus some different hair product.

Dick said...

The blog looks great, but more importantly I find it informative. Keep up the good work.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Nate, you, me, BOR and PD were all slighted in Governing mag, too, plus lots of others. But Grits gets cited pretty frequently, and we've all more or less gotten our 15 minutes of fame out of it, I'd say. Blogs do pretty good PR-wise, don't they, considering we collectively have a zero publicity budget?

As for leaving Blogger, I have to say most of the foul-ups have been from me fiddling with the HTML and screwing it up. I don't know the systems, but I'm not sure I wouldn't do the same thing on the Typepad, leaving out a slash or > that causes everything to foul up, then not being able to find the offending code in the mishmash.

A couple of times early this spring, Blogger was simply too busy to post, and once I lost a significant piece of unsaved writing that way. If that'd continued much longer I'd definitely have switched. But since then it's worked well, been pretty user friendly, and of course, since no one's paying me for this, the price is right!

And Dick, thanks for stopping by, and for the kind words. I'm trying.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Nate - I'd think some of that real journalist stuff would die down after the editor of Texas Monthly said he looks forward to reading you as much as Paul Burka. Of course, from my perspective, that comment seemed like he might be damning with faint praise. ;-) Still, I'll bet Evan can't name many other writers at the Waco Herald Tribune. Other than Dan Genz, who I happen to remember because he covered ACLU's Hearne lawsuit, I can't, and I actually read the Herald-Trib pretty regular.

I haven't given much thought to how to monetize blogging because I'm a writer by nature and have always generated a lot of prose. One doesn't write for the money because it likely will never come, and workaday journalists' pay sucks. To me, one writes because one can't not write -- it's a compulsion, an unbreakably addictive habit you can't get away from. Otherwise, it's not a particularly smart life choice. ;-)