Happy new year to all of you. It seems like a good idea to go back over the last year and look at what has happened to Frankly Curious. It would have been impossible for 2013 to have been as good a year for the website as 2012 was. During that year we went from almost nothing to a fairly widely read site. This was thanks to two other websites in particular: Crooks & Liars and then The Reaction with the other bloggers who write there. Readership went up by a factor of about five. It’s hard to beat that. But this last year, our readership has doubled. We now consistently get over 2,000 non-spam visitors per day.
What really impresses me is that the site has a loyal following. The average visitor drops by three times per month. And a shocking number come by every day. This really makes writing for the site a lot easier. I know when people first start writing a blog, the hardest thing is knowing that you don’t have an audience. But even when you do have an audience, the casual reader doesn’t mean nearly so much as the reader who is actively engaged with your work. So I’m really grateful that I have people who come back again and again. I know it doesn’t mean that these people are crazy in love with the site. But there is a lot of competition on the web and I’m touched that many of you think from time to time, “I wonder what Frank is ranting about today.” And I try not to disappoint. I try to constantly provide new ranting.
There have been a couple of changes on the site this last year too. One is that William Brown has started a blog, Will Fully. He’s still in that pre-addiction phase of blogging where he goes for long periods of time without writing anything. But I think he’s a natural. He understands the format and is always interesting. What I’d really like to see him do is write about consumer affairs. If I want to find out the best place to go to buy plastic wrap or a computer motherboard, Will is the guy I turn to. He is truly amazing. He’s also quite funny when he wants to be.
Sadly, Andrea English has gone onto better things. I helped her start her own new blog Nice Atheist Girl. We haven’t shut down Curiously Clever, but she’s reposted much of the material there and is not writing for it anymore. I do have some thoughts on how to keep her going with Curiously Clever, but I think for the time we have to assume that it is dead. On the positive side, her website is doing pretty well, and on Twitter, she’s got about ten times the number of followers I do. (In my defense, I’m not much of a 140 character kind of guy, as I think is clear.)
More experienced bloggers have cautioned me that I may burn out. I know what they mean. But I just can’t bring myself to become one of those bloggers who primarily quotes other writers. If I don’t have anything important to add to what someone has written, I’ll just tweet out the article and leave it at that. What’s more, I think people come here to hear my voice. So I think it is better to provide my own two paragraph overview of what someone else has written than to just quote them. I think it is more interesting for the reader, but I know it is more interesting for me. What’s more, in describing someone else’s thinking, I get to understand it better myself.
There is still the question of what will become of the birthday posts. I’m more and more inclined to change them into brief essays about a single person. As it is, the birthday posts are very personal. I skip people for my own reasons and even worse, I skip people because I don’t realize that it is their birthday. Two big examples of this are the theatrical director Joseph Hardy and and revolutionary Che Guevara. Both men weren’t even mentioned in last year’s birthday posts and I could easily get whole articles out of each.
Otherwise, what the future holds for Frankly Curious, I cannot say. Running the blog has been a great experience for me. It is often an ego boost. Recently, I was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle, Walk on the Water Slide: Lou Reed played Marriott’s Great America in 1986. And it’s made me a better writer—at least of the kind of stuff I write here. But if it just fades away, that’s okay too. As I noted just two days ago, everything is ephemeral. The main thing is that it is fun while it lasts. And at least for me, Frankly Curious is still fun.