Ah, four years. How much have I stinkin’ changed this site in four little years? I’ve added a blog, added and changed commenting systems, tried out a forum, changed designs… all kinds of stuff. I always talk about big hopes for the coming year, but this year I feel like I actually kinda came through on some of these bigger things :).
First of all, a negative… I have no idea why (and I mean NO idea why), but the “Keep reading” tag on this site is acting very strangely right now. Unless its different for you, if you are reading this after clicking that link on the main page, you can’t scroll up above this paragraph. The info is still in the code when it gets to the browser, but for some bizarre reason, it’s cutting off the top portion of my site. I’m working on trying to figure out why.
But, on to the year’s good things :).
1. Out of the Box
I may be more happy with this than any of you, but tomorrow will be comic #50… just 2 shy of an entire year’s worth of weekly visits with that poor little stick fella. I’m proud of that, alone. Consistency on this site has never been a strength of mine, when it comes to regular content at least, but he’s been here every week since it started. Of course, he doesn’t have much choice in the matter ;).
Even over the course of the stickman’s existence, he’s changed in appearance. He first appeared on my site in October of 2008:
Remember those? If not, for a while I was employing that stickman to star in monthly/seasonal Flash animations for the top of my site. I’ve been happy to see that, while it wasn’t so in the beginning weeks of the comic, his look has stayed consistent since then :).
2. The site, itself
So, our third anniversary was a big deal: the first redesign (and in beautiful color, too!), the move to WordPress, and birth of the fan-favorite section of Random Beauty. This year, though, I’ve changed even that. Just a few weeks ago I revealed a new site design that was still colorful, but much lighter and more efficient. As with every year that I’ve had this site… I can look back at a year ago, and say that it’s improved :). Along with the new design, there have been other changes, too.
With these new additions have come some new experiences for me. Because of Random Beauty and my Google chat function, I’ve heard from a few guys who are big fans. Some of the conversations have been interesting, to say the least, but it’s still pretty cool to have that kind of communication with complete strangers… all because of this site o’mine.
Though I’ve been horribly slacking with Sunday Sketches, lately, that I finally brought a category like it, and Artsy Fartsy to this site are pretty big leaps for me, too. Though it hasn’t been as regular as Out of the Box, I’m proud and happy that I’ve been putting my art out there. I’ve never had much problem confessing up a verbal storm in my posts, but I’ve finally broken through and done the same with my drawing, and that’s something I’ve wanted on this site since the beginning.
While my daily visitor number has steadily increased over the years, after WordPress, I noticed a nice boost in numbers. After some adjustment time for indexing, though, I’ve seen an even bigger spike in the last 6 months, or so. I’m now averaging about 30 individual visitors a day. That’s not a ton, of course, but that’s also just a rough estimation. I never see less than 20 folks a day, and often I’m well above 50. There’s also been a shift in WHY people are finding my site.
After 4 years, I now get most of my visitors from search engines. My friends have officially become the minority of my traffic (though, the majority in my heart). Do a Google image search for “mark mushakian”, and by page 2 you’ll find a great deal of Random Beauties… and I get quite a bit of traffic from that. I also get traffic from searches that I know result in disappointment for the searcher, too, as you’ll probably decipher from the list below of top search terms that led to my site:
Compare that to what I had after my first year, and there’s definitely a shift and widened variety in search terms. Heck, I’m actually number one on my own site, for the first time :).
After next year, I’ll probably start writing about the site in 5-year anniversary blocks, but one never knows. Quite a bit has changed around here just THIS year, so as long as markmushakian.com keeps evolving, I’ll keep celebrating it’s progress. As for my site-goals for this coming year? I’m already on my way with new and varied content, and I’d love to finally venture out into regular video productions… so we’ll see :).