It was October 17, 2011 when I started active blogging on Sandatlas. During the past 12 months I have written 223 posts. I had one crazy month when I wrote a post every single day. It was March which I ended with 31 posts. July, on the other hand, was very weak — only 5 posts. It is hard to predict which posts will become more popular but in hindsight it seems that people value more the posts which took more energy from me. This world is really tough — one needs to work hard to get attention. Nothing comes easily. If it takes 10 minutes to write a post, then perhaps some of my regular readers take a quick look after it is published but one month later no one seems to care anymore. I need to work hours and days on an article to make it worth something in the long run.
I learned that during the past summer when my motivation to go on with Sandatlas was pretty low. The reason behind that was the number of readers which was not growing. It was much worse, these numbers were steadily declining month after month since March. Then I wanted to know which articles are more popular and tried to figure out why. I discovered that longer articles are better. It was somewhat surprising because I thought that my readers are not willing to read long posts. I was proved wrong. Well, I can not say for sure what my regular readers prefer but at least Google seems to value lengthy posts more.
I also discovered that the most popular articles are the ones which took long time to write. Another thing I noticed was that people seem to value overview articles. They want someone to make a meaningful introduction into broader subjects. By far the most popular post I have written is Sand types. It was puzzling for me for some time because this page is just a collection of links. And some of the articles behind these links are actually very short and somewhat meaningless. I really should improve them, hopefully some day I will. But the lesson was learned again. I decided to focus on rock types. This page is not nearly as popular yet but hopefully it should have more potential in the long run. Posts about individual rock types are quite popular also. Maybe not initially but the good thing with them is that they have lots of staying power. Once they are written, most of them attract visitors every day.
I make no attempt to write daily anymore because I have neither time nor energy to write good content every day. Encyclopedia-like posts may be boring for some of my readers but they definitely offer more value in the long run. So the most important take-away lessons for me is to put lots of energy into writing and to focus on overview posts. The results so far are encouraging.
I wanted to take a look back and highlight some articles written in the past year that gathered more attention. Here are 12 articles and some facts extracted from them. These posts are in no particular order and they are not necessarily the top 12 but all of them have gathered some attention. For some reason my readers think that these posts are better than my average.
1. Anorthosite is a very common rock type on the Moon. However, lunar anorthosite has no iridescence which has made terrestrial anorthosite famous ornamental stone. Here is an explanation what makes these rocks different from one another: Lunar anorthosite.
2. Beach sand in arctic regions is often immature. Find out why: Sand that remembers the rock it once was.
3. Highest volcanoes tend to be in South America. I found seven reasons that might explain why this is the case: Highest volcanoes are in South America. Why?
4. Diamond is hard to spot in sand but did you know that it has several accompanying minerals that will often give it away: Heavy minerals.
5. Columnar basalt is well-known but did you know that even sandstone may be columnar: Sandstone columns in the middle of a crater.
6. Want to take macro photos? Here are some guidelines to get you started: How to take good macro photos.
7. Olivine is known to decay very rapidly in the weathering environment. However, it is still pretty common constituent of volcanic sand and even forms majority in some sand samples and not only in Hawaii: Is Papakolea the only green beach.
8. How much gold have we already extracted from the crust? Here are some calculations: Gold in numbers.
9. Sandatlas is also a travel blog. There is a funny thing with travel posts. They are fairly popular initially but disappear into oblivion soon after being published. My report of a trip to the Giant’s Causeway is one of the most popular of these posts: Giant’s Causeway.
10. I have started an ambitious project to write an illustrated overview of every major rock type. One post of this series was described the following way: “Rock porn… and every image is worthy of a centerfold”. Thanks, Ron, this is one of the best compliments I have ever received Here is the article: Pegmatite.
11. Yet another rock post. This one took really some time. There are over 50 pictures, each one of them photoshopped and described plus text. I was pretty exhausted when I was finished with this post. It took me actually several days of preparations. Blogging may be really tough sometimes. Limestone.
12. Most of my posts are read by people interested in geology, just like myself. This one, however, probably gathered much wider audience. It was Christmas card made of sand grains: Sand grain Christmas card.
If this is still not enough for you then you can take a look into the entire history of Sandatlas. Here are listed all the posts written so far: All posts.