On September 1 Barbara Irish Smith posted the following blog comment:
“Oh how I wish more people would connect here… love reading all about ESSEX! ~ Barbara Irish Smith (Essex on Lake Champlain)
Day after day, week after week Barbara’s words flickered across my radar. I’m not 100% certain why her comment persisted so indelibly, but a month later I’m ready to venture a few guesses. And what better context to address her comment than a celebration of the Essex blog’s summer-through-September surge?
2014 Summer Surge
Let’s start with a look at June, July and August which for many Essex residents roughly delineates “summer” in our coastal Adirondack neighborhood. Sure, some folks nowadays talk about the 4th of July as the start of summer, but as a native I’m sticking with the full shebang whether or not more seasonally oriented initiatives and population upticks come later than they used to.
In the diagram above you’ll see that during those three months the Essex blog ranged from just over 7.5k to just shy of 10k inquiring minds eager to learn what’s happening in our fair village. That’s a lot of people! While 9,890 visits in August may be the most exciting, the summer average across all three months of 9,028 is equally important news. Given the somewhat limited exposure we tend to receive in the mainstream media and the relatively quiet rhythm of our community even during the busiest days of summer, these numbers are outstanding. And fascinating…
In short, lots and lots of people are connecting here. Lots and lots are reading all about Essex. And for everyone who contributes posts or participates in Essex dialogue by commenting on blog posts, Facebook and Twitter, these statistics are at once validating and incredibly encouraging. After all, the Essex blog is a collaborative endeavor to explore, showcase and celebrate Essex (news, events, history, culture, arts, etc.) These numbers prove it’s working!
Sustained Surge in September
As all year-rounders know, Labor Day marks a dramatic population downtick in Essex. Sure fall foliage leaf peepers help to extend the businesses season somewhat (especially for LCT’s Essex-Charlotte ferry crossing), but by early/mid September the tempo slows and the traffic dwindles. It’s a soothingly hypnotic time when residents take advantage of the outdoors (profiting often from Indian Summer), harvest gardens, catch up on a backlog of chores that we let slide during indulgent summer months. Sure there winter’s inevitable approach compels preparation for less profligate months ahead, but it’s reasonable to characterize autumn in Essex as a period of deceleration.
The blog however tells another story.
Look at the final bar on the right of the graphic at the top of this post. That’s September. Last month the Essex blog was almost exactly as popular as August, the most popular month of the summer! Surprised?
A few years ago it was. This exciting discovery was a significant influence for the decision to prolong the blog after that first summer season. We’d accomplished our mission. But the discovery that readers continued to desire Essex news long after summer slipped into memory was an eye opener. Three years after that first realization, the pattern has affirmed that year-round and seasonal residents, tourists and other media/research outlets want to know about Essex all of the time.
In other words, circling back to Barbara’s comment, it turns out that people want to connect with and read about Essex all year long!
Six Months of Steady Growth
You may have wondered why April and May are included in the graphic above.
First of all, late spring offers a useful context to understand the summer’s trend. Second, the steady month-to-month growth of the blog becomes more apparent when half a year is reviewed. You see, I’ve taken some liberties in using the word “surge” in this article. In truth summer 2014 offered predictable, steady, month-to-month growth. Just as it did last spring. Just as it hopefully will this autumn and winter.
I’d love to take personal credit for the blog’s success. Or offer it all to Katie Shepard who certainly deserves major plaudits for the success of the Essex blog, Essex calendar and so much more. But reality offers a far broader, more diverse cast of characters.
The blog would be nothing but a logo and a web domain if it weren’t for an amazing group of contributors. Over six dozen contributors currently create content for the Essex blog! As the number of contributors increases the blog becomes more and more representative of our richly diverse community. And as the diversity, breadth and depth of content increases, the blog’s relevance and overall value improves. In other words, the more community members become involved, the more community members are interested in the content we showcase. Seems logical, right? It is!
And just as the content creators are vital to the continued success of the Essex blog, you, the reader are a similarly essential part of the equation. No readers, no blog. It’s that simple. And readers who subscribe to the daily or weekly Essex blog newsletter, join our Facebook community and/or participate in the Essex Twitter stream serve as important ambassadors for this community resource.
Essex Collaboration and Connection
When I responded to Barbara Irish Smith’s comment I gushed about how incredibly exciting this all is to me. There’s still plenty of work to be done, and we have many, many more Essex connections to encourage and facilitate, but it’s also important to appreciate and celebrate how far we’ve all come over slightly less than forty months.
We’ve grown from a lonely one-person perspective to a thriving community of storytellers, archivists and boosters. Our very own Essex community blog is becoming a beacon of “citizen journalism”, and my fingers are crossed that the voices of our contributors will continue to diversify over the coming year. Katie and I will host more workshops this autumn, winter and spring to help teach new contributors how to join in the fun. (Essex on Lake Champlain)
Please support the steady “surge” that has transformed the hyperlocal Essex blog from a short-term 2011 flooding response to a vital community information platform. Connect with your seasonal and year-round neighbors to help create an enduring digital home for the Essex area heritage, enterprises, history, people, resources, art and lifestyles that enrichen your experience. Together we will illuminate and share the magic that has distinguished our community for centuries. Thank you.
- Doodle Essex, New York Architecture: Beta Edition Launched 8/2 (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Thank You, Essex Blog Readers, Writers and Boosters (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Essex-Charlotte Canal (rosslynredux.com)