As Kevin predicted last night, OTB has passed the 200,000 unique visitor point.* Thanks to all who visit and especially those who link and send traffic.

There are 90-odd blogs whose average daily traffic exceeds mine and a few that get more than 200,000 visits every week. And at least a couple of sites (Electric Venom and Wizbang) that started after I did that have had more visits (Wizbang has had over 100,000 visits this month alone). Still, I never expected the blog to catch on as well as it has. I’ve been in the top 50 of the TTLB Ecosytem for quite a while now, ranking along with and even ahead of some of the blogs that inspired me to finally take the plunge and start doing this thing.

Navel gazing is a fondness many of us engage in and many pixels have been killed trying to explain how to build readership for one’s blog. I’m not sure I have the answers to that. Frankly, there are quite a number of the truly “big” blogs that I find very uninteresting. On the other hand, there are many, many extremely well-written blogs that never seem to catch on for whatever reason.

I had the good fortune, so to speak, of being reasonably knowledgable about military and foreign affairs at a time when those topics are far higher on the radar screen of even the type of informed readers who frequent weblogs than normal. My traffic spiked thanks to several links from very prominent bloggers (notably Scott Ott, Stephen Green, and Glenn Reynolds) after I’d been doing this less than two months, giving me a big kick start. Indeed, it took several months to equal my peak for March.

As many others have written before, writing to chase visitors is extremely elusive and, frankly, hard to sustain. I’m seldom very good at predicting which posts will generate the most interest. I’ve written many short essays that I thought quite provocative and insightful, only to be greeted with nary a comment or TrackBack. Conversely, links to stories that virtually anyone could have found combined with a snarky comment or two sometimes generate a flood of interest. So, writing to please yourself is definitely the way to go. Hopefully, what interests you will eventually interest others.

Blogging is also a communitarian exercise. Aside from a handful of essayists like Steven Den Beste and James Lileks, most successful bloggers interact with other bloggers in some fashion, whether by linking and commenting on one another’s posts, participating in comments section discussions, or both. Virtually all the blogs on my blogroll are those that I found consistently linked from sites I was visiting a lot, who I noticed from the comments section here at OTB, or who I found because they had linked and commented on my posts on their site.

Likewise, take advantage of free publicity opportunities like the various Carnivals, Kate’s Letter of the Day and Snark Hunt, or the Beltway Traffic Jam.

And, as Kevin McGehee noted this morning, posting a lot helps.

Previous Milestones:

  • 1000 – March 4
  • 5000 – March 21
  • 10,000 – March 22
  • 25,000 – March 30
  • 50,000 – May 19
  • 100,000 – August 14
  • *As measured by SiteMeter since I installed the counter on February 4.

    FILED UNDER: OTB History, , , , , , ,
    James Joyner
    About James Joyner
    James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


    1. Congratulations, James! As I’m sure modesty would prevent you from noting, it doesn’t hurt that you also write extremely well and cover a variety of subjects with a fantastic combination of intelligence and humor. That’s one of the reasons that I keep coming back to read you.

    2. McGehee says:

      you also write extremely well and cover a variety of subjects with a fantastic combination of intelligence and humor

      Which would be yet another strike against me…

      Congrats, James.

    3. Steven says:

      Jolly good show (a little British lingo for you, plus “congrats” is overused).

    4. Paul says:

      I’ve written many short essays that I thought quite provocative and insightful, only to be greeted with nary a comment or TrackBack.

      James, I did a talk radio show for quite some time. One day we had a former POW on talking about the experience he went thru. He told what I thought was an incredible story. He was well spoken and had a good voice.

      I was sure the phone lines would melt with people wanting to ask him questions about his experience. We took like 2 calls in an hour.

      I figured I had bombed. The next day I had like 20 faxes from people that loved the show. (pre-email days) I had people call the next day to say what a great show it was. (and wanted tapes) I asked one caller why he had not called the day before and he replied “I was too busy listening.” Multiple people gave me that same answer. To this day people talk about that show.

      The moral to the story is that just cuz we don’t fill up the comments does not mean we ain’t impressed. Many of the better things you have written were “self-contained.”

      To be frank– Good writers are a dime a dozen. I come here mostly cuz I learn stuff. (That and the “HOT!” Blogroll.)

      Keep doing what you wanna do. The reward will follow.


    5. Huzzah and kudos!

    6. JC says:

      Well deserved.

    7. bryan says:

      Hard to argue with that kind of success. Great doings, man!

    8. Kate says:


      It probably didn’t hurt that I posted your nude picture to a number of (now disappointed) porn lists.

    9. OF Jay says:

      Congratulations, Doc J.