I force my wife to read the first draft of all my posts. I’ve found that this keeps me out of trouble with her and gives me some insight on how people will feel when they read it. I mention that because after reading this post she said I always seemed sad when summarizing my year. Apparently I need to practice what I wrote about in Emotional Content as a Communication Protocol.

Each year I try to review my goals in creating Opinionbypen and how well I met them. This year is very significant because my hosting expires with the end of February 2017. While Opinionbypen is not expensive to maintain, the hosting costs are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to maintaining a website.

After the artwork, the writing and the review cycle, each post I make takes about eight hours. Okay, I’m doing this in my leisure time and consider it a hobby. I don’t have any advertising so I’m not expecting to make money. Being slightly more truthful about the situation, traffic to my site is so low that advertisers would probably demand I pay them to appear on my site.

This investment of time is offset by the experience I’ve gained in writing and trying to maintain a website. Opinionbypen may have to give way to other interests but I will continue writing.

When I embarked on this quest on March 24, 2012, I had two goals, improve my writing and improve my social index by being more open about my feelings. I don’t think there’s any question that my writing has improved but I still don’t have a Facebook page, my Twitter account is more of an abandoned nest and my LinkedIn account only has links to people I personally know. In other words, I’m still an introverted engineer.

Like most engineers trying to interface with the rest of the world, when I started Opinionbypen I immediately dove into the technical aspects of my website. I’ve had fun changing the theme (the basic look of my webpage) and rearranging all the details on my home page. I was crushed when my data made it obvious that most of my visitors will never visit my home page. My typical visitor uses Google to find a specific post, read the post and then head to another website.  I can’t complain about that technique, I do the same.

This is a problem because my home page is where I have the links to my stories, my Poser gallery and the pictures at FromtheDoghouse. This could also explain why no one reads my short stories or visits FromtheDoghouse. I should make improving this situation one of my 2017 goals.

Data suggests I’ve managed to be more social. The people who read multiple posts are almost always looking for more information on how to deal with the engineers in their lives. That’s very encouraging because it shows that I’m being open enough to help other people understand engineers. Sounds like I should concentrate on more discussions of engineer psychology.

As of today, Opinionbypen has had about 40,000 page views. I have to say about because all the view counters use different methods. These views represent actual people looking at the pages. Of course, the people don’t always read my posts. In the early days, I did a satire piece titled the royal tailor, for some reason people from Thailand often find that post. I’m fairly sure they never finish reading it.

Of course Ramsay Hunt is still my most viewed post. At times, I tend to hate its success. This year I did have a surprise success with my post on short power cords. Apparently I found a hot topic there.

I did thirty six posts in 2016, three a month. Let’s look at how well I adhered to the plan I described last January.

No more political posts – Wow, what a year to make that promise. Still I managed to keep my opinion to myself. I completely avoided politics and reaffirmed my desire to avoid Twitter.

More emphasis on my stories – That was a mixed success. I haven’t published any new stories but I did publish two of my stories on Amazon’s WriteOn. It was an interesting experience but given the lack of response, I don’t intend to repeat it. I also picked up a new tool for my writing and found the Red Sneaker Writers series of books. On the plus side, these books helped me complete my first novel.

Fewer Technical posts – Once an engineer, always an engineer. I really did try but at least eight of my posts were based on Technology.

More posts on Engineering psychology – I made ten posts last year on engineering psychology, about one in four. However, when I look at the titles it’s not obvious to anyone but me that those posts are about the struggles of engineers trying to understand the world around us or vice versa. I need to make my titles much clearer in describing the content.

Product reviews – In a blatant attempt to attract more traffic to my website, I did several  product reviews in 2016. So far I would consider this a failed experiment but I’ll keep trying.

What’s on the agenda for 2017? I’ve got a new 3D printer on order. Expect to see at least one post on why I bought a new printer and how well it works.  You can also expect a few more posts on the sad state of rural Internet. I hate writing posts that are nothing but complaints but what’s the point of having an opinion blog if you can’t complain once in a while. There’s also the tractor tire incident, too bad you’ll have to wait for me to put the right spin on that one.

Even better, I’ve already received a few suggestions involving engineers for 2017. Anything else you want to see? I’m always open to suggestions.

© Copyright 2016 Byron Seastrunk, All rights Reserved. Written For: Opinion by pen