This blog went live to the public approximately a year ago this week. What have I learned?
The main lesson is that blogging is good fun, as I always suspected. I was a newspaper journalist during the golden age of blogging, ca. 2005-10, and hence not really allowed to have a personal blog (I have however archived some of my favorite pieces from my Wall Street Journal days on this blog).
While these days I am no longer forbidden from blogging (thanks boss), I still edit and write thousands of words a week for my day job. So I don’t really have the capacity to do high-frequency blogging, but it’s still been great to have a venue for writing different kinds of things. A change is a good as a rest, as they say, and changing gears to do a bit of blogging in fact relaxes and clears the brain. The mainstream of this blog has still ended up being the Chinese economy, since that’s what is in my head most of the time. But I have tried to maintain some variety, since the main purpose of this blog is entertaining myself.
In fact, the two posts that got far and away the most traffic this year were probably the my least typical and most offbeat ones–which is in fact very pleasing. I had lots of fun writing those pieces; they had been bouncing around in my head for a long time looking for an outlet, which the blog finally provided. The winners were:
Some of my wonkier economic discussions about China also got decent traffic, though not the same order of magnitude as those top two:
- Why Chinese save, or the death of the precautionary savings hypothesis
- Mapping China: Which provinces are most dominated by state-owned firms?
- Finally, China starts to tackle the high cost of hiring
- The political history of China’s economic growth targets
But there was of course lots of stuff on the blog that I thought was great but which, strangely, the collective wisdom of the internet disdained. It is sad and baffling to me that Lost masterpieces of jazz-gamelan fusion resurface was not more popular. Come on people, this is important stuff! It’s what I want from the internet anyway.
On the other end of the spectrum, one of my more substantive pieces about the Chinese economy (On regional gaps, the growth slowdown and the missing middle-income trap) did not generate much in the way of traffic or comments–a disappointment as I was looking for more feedback. Maybe I should have worked harder to come up with a catchier title.
Another lesson I have learned, like many small internet publishers before me, is the importance of the aggregators. For this blog, the two most reliable drivers of traffic have been Bill Bishop and his Sinocism newsletter, and Tyler Cowen at the Marginal Revolution blog. Thanks for the links guys, I owe you both a beer.