I will get back to the knives in a minute, but yesterday (Saturday) was an exciting day and worthy of mention. I check the site stats several times a day, and Saturday was shaping up fairly typically. It was slow, I hadn’t posted anything new, and weekends are typically a bit slower than weekdays. You can see this in the grey bars in the graph (Click on the photo for an enlarged view). I would have guessed we were on track for ~2250 page views. I consider 2500 our daily target, and 3000+ a good day. Finishing the day with a record-shattering 16,000+ views was certainly not what I was expecting.
David’s excellent post on NYC Gravity Knife laws earned an Instalanche on Wednesday. That article alone lead to a one-day doubling of our typical traffic which you can see in the photo above. Turns out that the good Doctor also noticed my post on the Spartan Knife Block, and must have been looking for filler for the weekend. I say this because it posted to Instapundit at exactly 2:30pm EDT in the midst of an otherwise quiet afternoon of posting (by Instapundit’s usually frenetic standards). The slower pace meant that it was near the top of the page from Saturday afternoon onward. It didn’t get buried in a slew of newsworthy posts as it might on a busy weekday.
I checked the statistics about 4ish, and I noticed an astronomical spike in traffic. More than 3,100 hits in an hour. It took me a minute to figure out what was going on. Before knew it, we were past 5,000 views on that post alone, and the counter kept spinning. To pour more gas on the fire, CRKT posted my Halfachance Review to their Facebook feed. That post alone would have tipped an ordinary day into fabulous. But it’s 400 or so views got absolutely swallowed in the larger deluge. In fact, someone even posted that TTAK was down as a comment on CRKT’s post. The traffic must have overwhelmed the server for a moment.
I was texting back and forth with Robert, Dan, Chris, David and Nathan when we crossed 7,500 views, and before we knew it we cracked our previous record of 8200 and change. Then 10,000 fell. By about 12,500 things began to slow down a bit. But the pace was still brisk. I made sure to log on just before midnight to get the screen-shot. As the clock struck midnight, we had 16,254 views. Unreal.
As you can see, our best performing posts typically fall into 3 categories. Chris’s knife-law posts are machines, earning a collective 200 or so page views a day. Massachusetts leads the way with a whopping 25,000 views (almost 10k more than 2nd place). Apparently the convoluted laws of the Commonwealth coupled with its large population leave quite a few people seeking information. Will’s “Ask a Knifemaker” posts are also daily workhorses, searches relating to “Damascus Steel” and “Tanto Blades” are commonplace. Finally, our bread-and-butter, kickass knife reviews, lead to a large number of searches as well. Opinel knives, Buck 110s, and Moras are the most common review searches leading to TTAK.
While I enjoy browsing for “Obscure Objects of Desire” and writing them up, these “reblogs” are usually short-lived, being read mostly while they are on the homepage. The same holds true for our news posts and other “one-off” style posts. I am not saying that these are fluff, they just are not as intensive in terms of research or particularly complicated to write. However, they are what give TTAK its flavor and set us apart from the other knife sites out there. We are trying to cover all aspects of knife culture, in much the same way that that TTAG does on the firearms side of things. I do try to put professional effort into these posts, and I hope it shows, but I do not take the same pride in them as I do my reviews or editorial writing. Frankly, the post of which I am most proud is the “Kraken Goes to War“, as it weaved a knife story with an editorial. When I was a “dead-tree journalist for the Jefferson Star, a local weekly in Idaho, I covered straight news. Mostly County Commission meetings and Zoning issues. I did a few outdoor/fishing columns as well, but I was definitely a junior writer for a very small paper. The population of Jefferson County was only 21,000 when I left in 2006, and our circulation was only a fraction of that.
My work with TTAK has allowed me to expand my writing tremendously. I have enjoyed having the freedom to set the direction and editorial tone of the site. I am reaching a far greater audience than I ever have, and it is both exciting and slightly intimidating. Mr. Farago has given me a tremendous opportunity, and I feel a responsibility to him, to the work that Chris, Will, David, Nathan and others have put into the site, and to my own moral sense of Journalistic integrity (something that far too many writers have sold out along the way). We call ourselves The Truth About Knives for a reason.
The Spartan post continued to drive traffic today. We topped 6,000 views, even more than our exceptionally good, Instalanche driven Wednesday. It has climbed to #7 all-time, ahead of my personal best Mora Bushcraft review, though I do not foresee organic web searches lighting that one up going forward.
I know that traffic is going to drop down to a more sustainable level in the days to come, though I hope that some of the thousands of people who visited over the last few days come back and visit again. If you are one of these folks, please drop us a note in the comments to let us know.
I would like to see page views increase, not because I want to be as big as TTAG, but rather as a tangible measure that my work is paying off. I don’t want to be TTAG, we have a more laid-back style here. I know from your comments that this is what a lot of you enjoy about TTAK. This more intimate atmosphere has allowed me to get to know many of you, and I hope to get to know others going forward. In the mean time, all of us here are going to continue to work hard to bring you The Truth About Knives. Thank you for reading.