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Five Years, 200 Posts, and the Power of Pens

Yay!  I’ve finally made it to 200 posts in a little over five years, so it’s time for a little reflection and commentary:

  1. Automation is a niche area.  My most popular post is about furniture (the Ikea stand-up desk), with mechanical and electrical CAD posts coming next.  My busiest days have all come from pen posts, courtesy of referrals from the Pen Addict (thanks!).
  2. This makes intuitive sense: almost every one uses pens, so there are going to be a large number of blog-reading pen fanatics, while many fewer people do automation.  I think I get higher number for MCAD and ECAD posts because they are bigger fields, and there are a lot more hobbyists in those fields.
  3. However, the distribution differences are interesting.  The pen posts tend to have high, sharp spikes with a very short tail, while the more technical posts (MCAD, Eagle PCB, and some automation posts such as free PLC simulators and Best Stuff for the Garage) have a long, consistent tail.
  4. I think these points show the challenges of automation blogging: there is less reward, in viewership, in comments and feedback, and in money, than blogging about pens, cooking, or even MCAD software.   On the other hand, there’s less competition!
  5. These market dynamics also apply to other areas: for example, there are many great mainstream software development books, but there aren’t any great books on programming PLCs, programming industrial robots, etc.  Why?  The much bigger development communities and standardized languages (e.g. C++ or Java versus  all the PLC and robot dialects) makes writing books for mainstream programmers much more rewarding than writing books for PLC programmers.

As always, I’ve had a tough time making time for blogging (since family and work come first); I spend a lot more time writing a blog post than it takes to read it.  I’ve also  been spending (and will continue to spend) a fair amount of time on my Trac site, adding more motor information.

I am a slowly preparing a new series I hope to start running by the end of the year.  I haven’t forgotten about my XY table tutorial series, but it will  be a while  before I get back to it.


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