Cognitive Daily: Was the move to ScienceBlogs worth it?

It’s been almost a year since Cognitive Daily moved from its original spot at cognitivedaily.com to its current location on ScienceBlogs. So, was it worth it? On the one hand, we do get to say we’re “professional bloggers,” and we’re making more money blogging with ScienceBlogs than we did on the old site through Google ads. But if we had stayed on our own, perhaps we’d be getting more traffic than we do now. Take a look at this chart:

January of 2006 was when we made the transition: as you can see, we suffered quite a drop in traffic due to the switch. It wasn’t until May of 2006 that our traffic matched our old levels, but even that gain was largely due to the fact that May was when we formally shut down the old site and forwarded cognitivedaily.com to the new blog. As the the links to the old site went bad, our stats went south again. It’s only in the past month that we’ve definitively surpassed the level of traffic we were getting on the old site. It’s easy to imagine that we’d have double that traffic if we’d kept our old site.

So what do we get from ScienceBlogs? First, a great community. In addition to the connections made through the blogs, there’s an excellent forum for the bloggers where we can run ideas by our friends, or just shoot the breeze. Second, external validation. The fact that an independent publisher is willing to put its considerable weight behind our work is important. Third, support. I’m not sure I would have done the Blogger SAT Challenge without the help of Seed’s technical support staff.

What do we give up? Mostly control. When I started adding “news” items to the regular Cognitive Daily posts, I would have preferred to put them on a completely separate blog. That would have been easy to do if I was controlling the site, but I had to jury-rig a solution using Categories on ScienceBlogs. I’m still not completely happy with it. We have editorial control over our ScienceBlogs posts, but not technical and design control.

So, if I had to do it over, would I still have made the move? I have to say, it would be a much tougher decision. If we had stayed with the old site, we might be getting 100,000-plus visits a month by now. On the other hand, we might have been swamped by the competition at ScienceBlogs — it’s tough to say. I enjoy the ScienceBlogs community, and I enjoy what I’m doing now, so either way it’s a good thing. I do think that if you told me back then that it would take almost a year just to build readership up to the levels we already had, it would have been much tougher to convince me to move.

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2 Responses to Cognitive Daily: Was the move to ScienceBlogs worth it?

  1. Chad Orzel says:

    My experience has been a little different (and I’ve been planning to post about it at some point), and I think the key is that you were starting from a higher traffic base than I was. I don’t have good statistics for the site before the move (Sitemeter hangs up so often for me that I don’t want to inflict it on my readers), but our best estimate is that we were getting fewer than 5,000 visits/ month to the Steelypips version of the blog. The worst week I’ve seen since the switch had more than 5,000 visits. The current baseline appears to be close to 1,000 visits/day.

    I came up just short of 100,000 visits for October, aided by the Slashdotting of the Challenge and one of last week’s Dawkins-o-rama posts getting picked up by Digg. I don’t really think that’s sustainable at the moment, but it was a kick.

  2. dave says:

    Yeah, I think CogDaily is one of the few scienceblogs that actually experienced a drop in traffic from joining. Even a bigger blogger like Orac had an increase in traffic once he came on board. Part of the reason might be that CogDaily is less blog-like and more newsy, so it’s different from most of the other scienceblogs.

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