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Possums, Dilbert, & Happy Caulkers – A Building Science Blog’s Growth

Possum Drop, And The Combustion Of The Sacrificial Possum

As it turns out, I did not make it to the annual Possum Drop to ring in the new year. The photo below is one I took last year. I also did not publish any blog articles last week, the first time that’s happened since I started this blog on 7 March 2010.

So, it’s a new year now, and I’ve been debating with myself about whether or not to add another retrospective to the plethora of stories that look back at the past year and ahead to the new year. As I’ve said here before, I’m generally a contrarian, but in this case I’ve decided to jump in and blog about blogging rather than building science.

I started this blog with my first (and least read) article on Sunday, 7 March 2010. Since then I’ve been publishing an average of 2.8 articles per week. I’ve written most of the articles, but last April I hired an architect who’s written some well-received articles, too.

When I began, the traffic to the Energy Vanguard website, which had been live since late ’08, was miniscule. As a result (mainly) of all this blogging, though, our traffic has gone through the roof.

Energy Vanguard website traffic from organic search, due mainly to the blog

As you can see in the graph above, traffic to the Energy Vanguard website from organic search went from almost nothing in March to over 4000 last month. And that’s only about half our total traffic. We’re getting nearly 300 page views per day in the blog.

One of the best things about monitoring the organic search traffic is seeing some of the funny ways people get to our site. Here are some of my favorites:

  • dead squirrel – 6 visits!
  • ancient canals in south america
  • dilbert on computer – found this article 
  • charleston butterfly
  • i want some write about building scince
  • water wedding sc

And my all-time favorite so far:

happy caulkers

OK, enough with the history and statistics. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

Why do I do this?

People sometimes ask how I manage to write so much in the blog and how I keep finding new topics to write about. My answer is that I can’t NOT write this much! There are so many things I want to write about and so many ways to handle any given topic that it’s never a problem to keep it going.

Actually, I have the opposite problem – keeping myself from writing too much. If you’ve read my biography here on the EV website, you know that I’ve got a broad range of education and experience, and that’s where it all comes from. I feel that my combination of teaching, physics, construction, peak oil, and business experience gives me an opportunity to make a difference in the field of building science.

But it’s more than that. It’s not just that I have an opportunity to be useful. I feel a pressure inside to write. I often go to bed at night thinking about what I want to write about next, letting the article gestate over night so that it practically writes itself the next morning.

Sometimes I haven’t settled on a topic at night but wake up the next morning, scan my thoughts for a good topic, and just start writing. I try to choose something timely, like oversized cooling systems in June, scary things you can find in your home for Halloween, or how a heat  pump can pull heat out of cold air during a cold snap.

If you’ve read my more somber articles, like The End of Growth, you know that my view of what our future may hold is different from most. Some people find it depressing. I find it energizes me because of all the work we need to do to avoid collapse and chaos. As I wrote in October, I draw optimism from what to some is a depressing state of affairs.

And I like to laugh, too. I can’t compete with Bob Borson’s blog, Life of an Architect, for laughs (though this piece on Building Science Summer Camp got quite a few), but I try to add some levity to my articles. One of the funnest things I’ve done with the blog is to write a couple of articles for LetsBlogOff. The first was that article about optimism, and the second was on laughter.

On that note, it’s time to draw this thing to a close. I need to read over this article one more time and hit the publish button, beginning my morning blogging ritual anew for 2011.

Happy New Year, everyone!


Allison A. Bailes III, PhD is a speaker, writer, building science consultant, and the founder of Energy Vanguard in Decatur, Georgia. He has a doctorate in physics and writes the Energy Vanguard Blog. He is also writing a book on building science. You can follow him on Twitter at @EnergyVanguard.


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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Great points Allison. Your
    Great points Allison. Your thoughts are very similar to my own. It’s easy to blog once you feel passionate about a topic. Good luck in ’11!

  2. Thanks, Chris. Blogging can
    Thanks, Chris. Blogging can be addictive – it’s true! Glad we connected last year and looking forward to another year of somewhat parallel and complementary blogging this year.

  3. Well, I don’t compare you to
    Well, I don’t compare you to Bob, but I DO think you’re quite funny. It’s that dry wit, you know. And I’ve learned several important things from reading your blog, such as “get someone else to do all the house stuff” and “danger is lurking in your dryer vents.” As to the squirrels, I’d look to John Poole and Amy Good for that!

  4. Thanks, Alexandra. I can’t
    Thanks, Alexandra. I can’t wait to see what new lessons you’ll take from my articles this year. But didn’t you hear? Squirrels are SO 2010. According to Amy, 2011 is the year of ninja rabbits.

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