A Little State-Of-The-Hayride-Union Message

Since we passed a milestone of some importance earlier today, I thought I’d take a few minutes and share a little news about how The Hayride is doing and what’s going on with the site. I’m a big fan of entrepreneurs and honestly-won success, and I love to pass along legitimately good news when it exists to pass on.

And as it happens, we have lots of good news about how this site is developing.

Those of our readers who’ve been with us since the beginning will know that this site as it’s currently constituted made its debut in December of 2009. We did 29,000 page views that month, according to the stats program we use on our back end, and we were really fired up about that number.

We are now routinely getting very close to that number every day.

We did just under 26,000 page views yesterday. It’s now been eight consecutive weekdays where we’ve been above 21,000 page views. And it’s also been eight straight weekdays in which we’ve had over 12,000 unique visitors.

And we’re now sitting on 325,000 page views and change for the month of January, with 12 days left to go in the month. Prior to this month our busiest month was April of last year when we rode our coverage of the Allee Bautsch attack and the links from national sites it brought in to just over 225,000 page views.

Today we passed the three-million page view mark since inception. It happened around 3:00 central time this afternoon. By Friday we’ll top a million unique visitors. This in less than 13 months of existence.

Corresponding to this rise has been a skyrocketing of our ad revenues through Google. For the first eight months publishing this site, Google AdSense was a complete waste of ad space for us. But beginning in October, we started to see a fast rise in revenue, and since then we’re duplicating Al Gore’s hockey-stick graph. I wish I knew more about how AdSense works; we’re doing more traffic now than we did before, but the revenue increase is exponential. It’s fun to watch.

Compete.com is using December numbers from the site, in which we did just over 200,000 page views, to measure our unique visitors at 17,889. Our internal stats program says we have more, but that’s neither here nor there. At that figure, here’s how we stack up with some of the more heavily-trafficked web sites of Louisiana’s newspapers.

  1. New Orleans Times-Picayune (nola.com): 927,622 unique visitors
  2. Baton Rouge Advocate (2theadvocate.com): 194,786 unique visitors
  3. Shreveport Times (shreveporttimes.com): 125,356 unique visitors
  4. Lafayette Advertiser (theadvertiser.com): 120,538 unique visitors
  5. Houma Courier (houmatoday.com): 98,482 unique visitors
  6. Monroe News-Star (thenewsstar.com): 82,787 unique visitors
  7. Alexandria Daily Town Talk (thetowntalk.com): 72,977 unique visitors
  8. Thibodaux Daily Comet (dailycomet.com): 52,145 unique visitors
  9. New Orleans Gambit (bestofneworleans.com): 32,162 unique visitors
  10. Opelousas Daily World (dailyworld.com): 28,691 unique visitors
  11. New Iberia Daily Iberian (iberianet.com): 28,209 unique visitors
  12. Lake Charles American Press (americanpress.com): 24,934 unique visitors
  13. Leesville Daily Leader (leesvilledailyleader.com): 19,922 unique visitors
  14. The Hayride (thehayride.com): 17,889 unique visitors
  15. LSU Reveille (lsureveille.com): 17,630 unique visitors
  16. Hammond Daily Star (hammondstar.com): 17,528 unique visitors
  17. Ruston Daily Leader (rustonleader.com): 15,632 unique visitors
  18. Bastrop Daily Enterprise (bastropenterprise.com): 11,404 unique visitors
  19. Slidell Sentry News (slidellsentry.com): 8,016 unique visitors
  20. Franklin Banner-Tribune (banner-tribune.com): 5,998 unique visitors
  21. New Orleans CityBusiness (neworleanscitybusiness.com): 5,324 unique visitors
  22. Crowley Post-Signal (crowleypostsignal.com): 5,146 unique visitors
  23. Morgan City Daily Review (daily-review.com): 3,552 unique visitors
  24. Livingston Parish News (livingstonparishnews.com): 2,942 unique visitors

The way January is going, when Compete.com puts in this month’s numbers we could well crack the
top 10 on this list
. We’re on a pace to hit 532,000 page views for the month; from that figure we can extrapolate we’ll be somewhere between 45,000 and 50,000 in unique visitors Compete.com will credit us with.

It’s really hard to believe. We started with virtually no capital and we still have virtually no staff; just a few folks with something to say. And yet we seem to be gaining some traction on some pretty well-heeled media enterprises who have been around for a good while.

If there’s something to be learned from this for those among our readership who don’t care one way or the other, it’s two things – (1) there’s a market for a quality conservative site in Louisiana doing original content, and (2) the traditional media outlets, particularly the newspapers, seem to be sliding. Very few of the newspaper sites we looked at in preparing the list above showed positive growth over the last year.

The news talk radio stations in the state don’t appear to be doing all that well, either. The three stations people pay the most attention to are WWL and WRNO in New Orleans and WJBO in Baton Rouge. WWL shows up with 41,536 unique visitors for December according to Compete.com, while WRNO has 6,068 and WJBO has 2,471. Considering that those guys are all owned by large companies (WRNO and WJBO are ClearChannel stations, no less!) and devote a pretty good chunk of their airtime pushing people to their web sites, I was floored looking at those numbers.

Armed with this info, we’re marching forward with a spring in our step. The long-awaited 2.0 version of the Hayride is mere days away from launching; if we hadn’t run into a snag in recategorizing our archives, we’d have already gone live with it. The new site is a lot more attractive than this one is and it has a lot more room for expansion and new wrinkles. We’re going to put somebody on as a Capitol correspondent to do some hard news and break stories this spring when the legislative session begins; I really like what we’re doing as a commentary site, but I want a more journalistic side to us as well. And there will be other manifestations of our expansion popping up over the next few months.

But before those things come to pass, I think we’ve already shown we’re a viable advertising medium with some attractive – and growing – audience numbers. There aren’t a lot of options for statewide advertisers in Louisiana; we’re becoming a good one. I think we’ll get better as the year goes by.

But I can’t take much credit for what’s happened over the past 13 months. It’s really been you guys, our readers, who have e-mailed links to your friends, re-tweeted our stuff and spread us around via word of mouth. I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done, and I look forward to this site becoming more and more worthy of your support, readership and free marketing in the coming days, weeks, months and years.

(E-mail author)

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