In terms of Plunderbund as a business, 2011 has been a big year. October marked the second anniversary of our decision to push the boundaries of political blogging in the state and take the site to new levels. In April we went live with our third major site re-design since 2005. We added several ad placements and began using a combination of Google ads and direct placements to fill out our ad inventory.
We’ve published more and better content than ever and broken more stories than any blog in Ohio has in a single year. Joseph and Modern are doing a killer month-by-month year in review series. Start here. Thanks to our great readers, we also ran away with Chris Cillizza’s quest to find the best state based political blogs.
One key reason for all this is the continued key contributions from both ModernEsquire and Joseph. They are now considered “Managing Editors” in their role here at PB. Another major contributing factor was the addition of Greg and Ben. Greg’s contributions on education were a wonderful addition and enabled us to get into this area during the SB5 fight with an energy and depth of coverage that would have been impossible without his contributions. Ben was on Josh Mandel like white on rice. It’s as simple as that. We thank them both for their great additions and are actively devising ways to keep them around. 😉
Another great addition this year was our companion site Ohio Budget Watch and PB contributor budgetwatcher. The Kasich budget process needed a keen eye placed on it and the companion site and several posts (and cross-posts) on PB were able to do that in a way that would again be impossible without the additional posts from our new contributor budgetwatcher. We hope to keep this person around as well!
This year, we made an even more concerted effort to utilize social media in ways that benefit the site. Twitter has been a great way to network and stay on top of what’s going on as well as mix it up with mainstream media types, fans, and conservative detractors alike. Facebook has been, put simply, a traffic animal. Our biggest fans live on Facebook and we’ve benefited greatly by sharing both blog content there as well as commentary, links, and media we only share on Facebook.
Speaking of traffic. 2011 was a banner year. We simply blew away many site records.
March 3rd during the SB5 protests we set the all-time daily traffic record for the site. We had 20,000 unique vistors and 40,000 pageviews on that day alone. Our early coverage of SB5 enabled us to ride this wave of interest and the period between mid-February to mid-April was by far our biggest traffic period ever and a big chunk of our traffic for the year. We were, as they say, on fire!
Overall for 2011 we served up 2.6 million pageviews and welcomed 1.5 million unique visitors. This was nearly a 300% increase over 2010. People searched for Plunderbund some 73,000 times in 2011. Driving that were several stories that we broke that were picked up by both Ohio and national outlets. We even had our first appearance on national TV, which surely had people hitting Google to find out what the heck “plunderbund” was!
Direct traffic was the majority, showing a great base of support for the site. Social media drove 250,000 visitors to the site. Facebook alone was 242,000 of that. Truly astounding. This is one reason we’ve invested in ads on that platform to drive our reach there even further. We’ve seen great success with this strategy and plan to continue it in 2012.
Our top 5 posts for 2011 were:
The top two were far and away the leaders, followed by the next three which were about the same in terms of traffic.
Advertising made serious gains in 2011. We’re still not where we’d like to be in terms of being able to regularly pay contributors or even have a managing editor “on staff”. It’s still basically a volunteer effort, but we have been able to offset any expenses related to travel to cover events and have even given back to our readership by hosting cocktail hours and special events. We have more of those planned for 2012 also. Look for us at Rootscamp! I’m hopeful that 2012 can see us move in the direction of regularly compensating contributors on some level.
Looking ahead to 2012, which will obviously be a big year with the election, we hope to surpass all these numbers and grow our advertising and other fundraising to a point where we can continue to invest in the business and grow our reach and staff. Things to look for in 2012: A new and improved store making it easier to get PB stuff, an editor to review posts for spelling/grammar, local advertising support, email newsletters, a PB insider’s subscription plan, great election coverage, and more great photoshops!
We hope you’ve enjoyed the past year. We know it’s been a pretty crazy ride for us. We also hope that our loyal readers and fans will continue to spread the word and we’ll continue to enjoy strong support from advertisers so we can do the kinds of things we have planned next year. Should be fun.
Thanks again to everyone for your support. We surely can’t do this without you and our readers are foremost in our minds in everything we do. Thanks for spreading the word among your friends, sharing our content on Facebook, commenting on the site or Facebook, picking up a PlunderTee or bumper sticker, and generally being an awesome community of readers!
As always, we are eager to hear your feedback on how you think we did and what you’d like to see us do. We are always listening and our best ideas come from our readers. Just hit us up in comments or send an email to crew @ plunderbund.com.
Wishing everyone the best for a great 2012!