Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Life of an Econ Student Celebrates 1 Year

Here we are. Never did I thought I could fruitfully run a blog for an entire year. I was surprised that after 6 months I still had fresh ideas to blog about and commitment to actually write about them. Imagine my surprise now, having writting a hundred posts of varying quality, with another 35 unfinished ideas waiting in my beautiful Google Keep; material for good posts, like my reading lists, is growing faster than I can write them.

A year ago, I started this blog for mainly three reasons: 1) a distraction from doing things I should be doing (studying, working, cleaning the flat...), 2) in a personal style, keep in touch with people that felt extremely far away from me at the time, and 3) develop a platform to write, practice discipline and writing. I quickly stopped doing (2) since that purpose was better served in other ways. To this day, I often use Life of an Econ Student as therapy, ranting over senseless lectures, great books or impressive journal articles.

Very seldom have I cared about the number of readers that I have  I sometimes use it as a feedback mechanism, considering what level of snarkyness and what kind of topics are appreciated by my little circle of followers. This is what I said about readers and pageviews back in May:
I never really put much emphasis on readership or view counts before I started blogging. That wasn't my purpose: I wanted a platform to tell a story. To practice my voice. To establish a writing-routine etc. If people read that, I'm flattered - if not, no biggie. I quickly realized, however, that it's a great feedback mechanism. If I'm writing exciting, challenging or relevant things, the view count gives me a rough estimate of how interesting my words are.
Still true.

But words alone won't suffice; talking is cheap, and telling stories only goes so far. An economics blog requires numbers, averages and preferably some regressions, although today I'll spare you the latter.
  • I am slowly closing in on my "3 posts/week" target, hitting it quite well for the last 4 weeks. Over the last six months I have averaged 2.11 posts/week, which is a fair improvement over the 1.75 posts/week I managed during my first six months of blogging, but there's still some way to go. The problem is that I sometimes underperform quite a bit; for the last six months I had 4 weeks with only one post each, and another 2 weeks without a post at all. Since I hardly ever manage 4 posts in a week to compensate, hitting that "3 posts/week" target is a challenge.
  • A lesson a learned fairly quickly is that people rather read my academic arguments or political rants than the details of my non-economic life – most of my content for the last six months academic or political in nature, albeit with a personal touch. I have kept the ratio fairly stable at 1:4 and I'm not planning on changing it from there. 
The top-reads from the last six months is as follows:
  1. The Impossibility of a Gender Wage Gap: unfortunately, the incentive structure of the blogosphere is sometimes rather messed up. The most balanced and academically sound posts very seldom receive much traction, but controversial rants, where I attack some profound misbelief drives my politically-correct friends crazy, with the result that this post had the most readers over the last six months. Don't get me wrong, the Gender Pay Gap is a statistical fallacy unworthy of anyone beyond middle school, but it's so typical that out of all posts this one gets people going.
  2. University of Glasgow vs University of Sydney: shortly before leaving wonderful Australia, I described and compared some differences between my two Universities. I am not entirely sure how it spread to this many people, but I guess friends sent it to others they knew were interested in going abroad. And obviously both my USYD crowd and my UoG crowd were curious, so perhaps not that strange after all.
  3. From Euphoria to Despair in Less Than an Hour: During MisesU this year, I described my experiences of having the brightest people I know firing intricate questions about Austrian Economics at me. Seriously scary, and Mises.org picked it up, so obviously I had some readers coming from there. 
Ultimately, is it worth it?

Yes, I think so. Despite the time, the effort and the overhanging feeling in the back of my head constantly urging me to produce more (and better) material, the reward is quite amazing. Not only in terms of people reading my stuff, but in terms of the benefit Gary North once described (Mises University 2014); in your daily life, some topic will inevitably come up, and running a blog makes it likely that you once before have written something relevant on that. The resource and "mini-database" it provided me with is quite remarkable, not to mention the collection of links to this or that data source or article.

Also, my ego gets a boost everytime I bump into someone I haven't seen in a while  and they compliment me on my writing! Great feeling, indeed. All in all: happy anniversary, Life of an Econ Student!

No comments:

Post a Comment