6 April 2011

Kovács & Kováts at 10,000 - we're learning to fly (but we ain't got wings...)

Today, we have reached 10,000 pageviews since the start of this blog in early February. In two months this is not a big achievement in comparison to certain fashion blogs raking in so much in one day, but not bad if you consider that we’re both wet behind the ear with a full time presidency job and we are blogging on EU issues, which most find rather naff. (We find it sexy, but we accept that this is far from the mainstream view.)
So, first of all, we would like to thank all of our faithful and occasional visitors, and share a few mid-term observations. We promised at the beginning to be transparent, so we share information and personal thoughts that most bloggers normally don’t. In exchange we only ask for strong words and harsh criticism.
  1. Challenge/Workload: Blogging is a lot of fun. We write our articles in the early morning hours, as we start in the office around 07:00 and finish close to midnight. (The support from our families during the Presidency, should be the subject of another post – which will be difficult because they wish to remain anonymous.) We have no time to write during the day, still the blogging has helped us develop a kind of “situational awareness” not to let pass by the events of a day/week but consciously make a story out of them. This helps us to see the Hungarian Presidency from a reporter’s point of view, which helps us to keep journalists better informed. We wonder how do “professional” bloggers pick their subjects and how do they work?
  2. Feedback / added-value: we receive a lot of feedback mostly from journalists and diplomats in Brussels that they read us on a regular basis. What is interesting is that these positive feedbacks we receive informally usually concern our least popular articles, while the most popular articles are rarely mentioned in personal discussions. A few examples: the Sunday Music post on ‘Dalida and Egypt’, the ‘Book that everyone should read before the European Council’ and the ‘Visual messages at summit meetings’ have been commended repeatedly at meetings/receptions, while their readership has been relatively low. At the same time, the Brussels Pidgin English series (especially the opening post and the last one, on a ‘Lingua franca for Europe’) has received some of the most hits.
  3. Two posts appear as exceptions, where both the pageviews and the personal feedback are very positive: obviously our April foolery, the ‘Hungarian Presidency extended’ and the ‘Tweet that moved the Euro’. These give us hope that we can find the right EU subjects and the right angle that are both popular and interesting from a professional point of view. The ultimate aim, as many have stated before, is to help connecting the Brussels blogging bubble with the national blogospheres and thus bring the EU closer to the Member States.
  4. Presenting everyday life in the Presidency: We are convinced that the rotating presidency is the last link that connects the Brussels Ivory Tower to the reality in the Member States. In this regard the Lisbon Treaty has made communication with the citizens more difficult by creating even more institutional players, who are all based in Brussels (while admitting all the diplomatic and practical arguments for creating the new bodies). We are doing our best to strengthen the cooperation between the rotating presidencies by meeting regularly the Polish and Danish colleagues to have joint projects and to share with them the our experiences and ideas.
  5. Copyright: What we knew „in theory” became painfully evident - copyright sucks (in its current form). It is a pain to try to locate media that’s completely safe to use. Even though we are not making any money on this, and you could argue we are bringing a tiny amount of extra public interest to the works we use, we must be careful with copyright. Sad. Any suggestions?
  6. Traffic 1: We have recieved traffic from very suprising locations (if google stats are anything to go by): we advertised it to our circle of friends around the world, but didnt expect to have thousands of visitors for example from the US. We are wondering who our readers are. Anyone willing to share how you ended up reading us?*
  7. Traffic 2: a lot of traffic seems to come from directly forwarded links, at least we dont see a match between all traffic and referral sites. In general, it would be nice to know more in depth our traffic stats than what google provides. Can anyone suggest something?
  8. Comments: we havent been able to get you to comment. We expected that part of our „payout” would be to engage with people in discussions. Maybe we are not provocative enough? But even our „stellar posts” (Pidgin English series and April’s foolery) didn’t attract much comment. We would have loved to read arguments for or against French, or people saying that it is a Hungarian trait not to be able to let go of a presidency, but it didnt happen. (It did happen in email to a limited extent, but that keeps them hidden from the wider public.) What’s the secret to get you to comment?
* a few statistics


  1. Bravo! I do think the statistics are impressive. Mine are nowhere near! Then again, I am not attempting to preside over the EU : )

    Hope this blog will see a continuation, in one form or another, even after the Presidency officially expires. Unless, of course, it is "extended" : ) Great job!

  2. I for one - as you well know - hope very much that July wil not see the end of the rotating Presidency's contribution to "help connecting the Brussels blogging bubble with the national blogospheres and thus bring the EU closer to the Member States".

    Anyone interested in this should make bloggingportal.eu their home page - it's the only place bringing together and categorising blog posts on EU affairs from across Europe, and not just the #bxlsbbl.

    As for getting comments, it can be widely variable - in fact, your country's media law gave me my best figures in that respect, so thanks very much! ;-)

    One reason you may get fewer is that Brussels is a political and economic environment, and people around here are still nervous about expressing views publicly in writing. Sometimes rightly.

    I suspect that a lot of people are like me, and self-censor. If I said what I think all the time, as opposed to just occasionally, I'd probably be out of work pretty fast ...

  3. PS A postscript to bring the comment count to 3.

    A quick tip I also shared with waltzing mathilda some time back: Ensure site visitors can see where the conversation is on your site from every page.

    Seeing that someone else has commented generally prompts people to add their two cents.

    In practical terms, this generally means adding a 'Recent comments' and (optionally, for the braver blogger) a 'Most Commented' widget to the sidebar.

    I'm a wordpress guy myself, so if anyone more familiar with blogspot reading this could provide more pointers? Then they'll have a fourth comment! ;-)

    PPS Thanks for the citation in your post about multilingualism. I've actually posted on this 6 times - click my name for the menu.

  4. N° 1 (Finding topics): Finding topics is usually not the problem, it's more finding time to write about them properly. Most private posts I write I triggered by information I read on the web or as an academic. Some are strategic to keep certain topics on the agenda - in these cases I try to find recent developments or report about recent events.

    N° 2 (Feedback vs. hits): Don't look for answers here. Never understood the logic. Often however some of the posts that didn't attract big readership at the beginning keep on being well-read in the future.

    N° 3 (Next presidencies): Good to keep this alive in the future. One thing each Presidency could do is to "network" with national bloggers in their own countries ahead of the presidency so that they are ready to monitor, criticise or spread the word during the six month. Like this, one might be able to get national blogospheres closer to Brussels politics presidency by presidency, country by country.

    N° 4 (Copyright): Copyright is a problem. But as a rule I use, for pictures, the advanced Flickr search and choose the option "Find content to modify, adapt, or build upon" at the bottom. For videos using the Vimeo/Youtube etc. "embed" function usually solves such problems. And for anything else it's the easiest to create one's own pictures/videos etc.

    N° 5: US traffic seems to be a general rule on English-language blogs, at least this is my experience. There are probably several reasons for this (larger social media use, bots and US-based monitoring tools etc.)

    N° 6: All the different tools seem to follow traffic have different ups and downs. Not sure whether the perfect tool exists. Some may even say such tools (at least some of them) are invading the privacy of users.

    N° 7: If you want to have a lot of comments (or at least more) you need to be overly provocative or controversial. Anything that is rather balanced only occasionally attracts comments, similar to N°2 - it's hard to predict.

  5. Matthew, thanks, as you can see we already followed the advice in your last comment. For the rest, we hope to make the presidency blogging exercise a tradition. cc @Dana_Council

  6. You could always try combining politics and fashion like me to boost your stats! (see fashpoliticos.wordpress.com)

    I think your efforts have been great. I've enjoyed your articles on the lighter side of Presidency life and can only commend you for managing to keep this blog up to date whilst running the Presidency at the same time.

  7. This reader is from Washington, DC and found your blog through the aggregator bloggingportal.eu. Keep up the good work!

    Check out: www.euramerican.blogspot.com for the latest on transatlantic politics and culture.

  8. ... Make that http://euramerican.blogspot.com