Wow, how time flies! Today marks two years to the day that we published our first blog entry. We wanted to take this opportunity to take a look back and reflect upon what has been an eminently enjoyable 24 months of serving up your daily dose of EcoVelo.
We posted 1,781 articles over the past two years, with 14,412 comments on those posts submitted by our readers — that’s an average of over 8 comments per post. Our post “More Sam H. Pics” from September, 2009 received the most traffic. It still receives quite a few visits every day, with some coming from the Rivendell website, and others from various forums and photo sites from around the globe. Right behind in the number of visits was “Gallery: Alan’s Surly Long Haul Trucker” from June, 2008. Like the Sam H. post, this one also receives a lot of incoming traffic from bike forums and photo sites. Apparently, people like to look at photos of pretty bikes! The top Op-Ed piece was on helmets (an always controversial topic), and the number one off-topic post was about bike cameras; not surprising considering what appears to be our unusually high percentage of readers/riders who are also photographers.
Speaking of photographs, our two photo contests were successful beyond all expectations, with somewhere around 700 photos submitted (my wrist was sore for weeks after processing those photos… LOL). With the help of our generous sponsors, we were able to award nearly 50 prizes to the winners in our “Endless Summer” contest. Look for another photo contest later this year.
Our overall site visits have been on an upward arc from the beginning, growing by 843% in 24 months and 39% in just the past two months. This is the most powerful affirmation possible that we’re headed in the right direction. Thank you!
As the site has grown, spammers and trolls have become quite a challenge. The number of what we call “drive-by” trolls has increased exponentially (drive-by trolls are people who visit the site for the first time, leave a snarky comment to pick a fight, then leave as suddenly as they arrived). While we like the concept of open forums, history and experience have shown that it takes fairly aggressive moderation to maintain a safe and friendly discussion environment on the internet. This is a top priority for us, so to get a handle on the situation we implemented full comment moderation earlier this year. Moderation slows down the discussions a bit, and a small number of legitimate comments end up getting filtered, but we think the unusually positive discussion environment we’ve created speaks to the fact that it was a good decision.
We switched webhosts this past year. After traversing a very rocky road with a highly-regarded, boutique web host who grew way too fast and suffered for it, we switched to a smaller, but lean-and-mean web host, and in the process cut our latency and load times by 50% while reducing our monthly expenditures. Moving an active website is never a pleasant process, but it was well worth the effort.
We’re still amazed by the number of comments we receive from readers who were inspired to give bike commuting a try after reading our blog. This simple fact is what we’re all about and it explains why we maintain a strict focus on our core mission. Many, many thanks to all of you who have written us personally to share your stories. Keep riding and writing!
We feel extremely fortunate that we were given the opportunity to shoot the lifestyle photos for the 2010 Breezer catalog and website. Our trip back to Pennsylvania for the photo shoot was a crazy adventure that will remain in our memories forever. Many thanks to our friends at Breezer!
We also mustered up the courage to enter a few photo contests this past year and were pleasantly surprised (shocked was more like it) when we took first place in both Princeton Tec’s “Got Lights on Bikes” photo contest and Wend Magazine’s “Friday Photo” contest (twice). We are sincerely grateful that we had these opportunities to stretch a little; the positive feedback provided much needed encouragement to keep moving in this direction and step through those doors when they open up.
We’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of our faithful readers. Without you the site would have no reason for being. Your participation in our community is a major reason why we keep plugging away at the rate of 3-4 posts per day despite busy careers and family obligations.
We’d also like to extend a sincere thank you to all of our sponsors, without whom it would be very difficult to justify the amount of time and effort we put into the site. Our sponsors provide many of the bikes and accessories featured in our product reviews, so please support us by supporting them!
And, of course, we’d like to thank our family and friends for their unending support and encouragement, both of which are vital in making it possible to do what we do.
Even though we’ve made good progress, we feel as if we’re just now getting our feet under us. We have a seemingly endless list of ideas and new features we plan to implement in the coming years; we hope you stick around to see what we have in store for you!
All the best,
Alan & Michael