Five Lessons from the Maryland Appellate Blog’s First Year
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the blog’s official launch. Here are five quick lessons I’ve learned as editor-in-chief.
- Howard Bashman is the kingmaker of appellate blogging.
The blog has featured exactly 100 posts and received just under 29,000 hits. Our two top referrers are Howard Bashman’s How Appealing blog (1,877 hits) and Twitter (1,764 hits). But looking behind the numbers, only about 9 of our posts have made it onto Howard’s blog, while almost every post was tweeted. Making SCOTUSblog’s roundup is a big deal (7 appearances, 1,038 hits), but How Appealing is, to borrow a baseball term, “The Show.”
- LinkedIn? Not so much.
Despite numerous posts, including in various appellate forums, the blog has had a mere 88 referrals from LinkedIn. Eighty-eight! We’ve had more referrals from the Fourth Circuit’s internal site. LinkedIn can be a valuable tool, particularly for alumni activities. It’s nearly useless as a driver of appellate blog traffic.
- Nomination-related news drives traffic.
Our top post, by a longshot (1,833 hits), was a scoop that Neal Katyal was among the names forwarded for the Fourth Circuit vacancy that ultimately went to Pamela Harris. A distant second, with 1,244 hits, was our post on the 18 finalists (including two current editors of this blog, plus a former editor who got the job) for three Court of Special Appeals vacancies. Third, with 1,058 hits, was our post that Fourth Circuit Judge Andre Davis was taking senior status, opening up the seat that went to Judge Harris. Nothing outside the realm of judicial nominations and vacancies even reached 800 hits.
- Good headlines matter.
Derek Stikeleather’s well-titled post, An Open Letter to Law Professors: Use This Case To Show Why Statutory Interpretation Is Not as Easy as It Sounds was our most popular substantive post, with 799 hits. Howard Bashman told me that the title grabbed his attention, and How Appealing delivered the hits. Our most blatant piece of click-bait, How Twitter Can Save Law Reviews, drew 731 hits. Rounding out our posts with 700 or more hits was Chief Justice Roberts, Civil Litigator at Heart. Good titles make for good web traffic.
- But resist the urge to dwell on the number of hits.
Notwithstanding the previous four lessons, it’s important not to get caught up in statistics. We’ve had some great Maryland-centric posts that, naturally, haven’t drawn much interest outside our borders. But that’s fine. Reaching 100 fellow Maryland lawyers is a big deal. We’re an MSBA Litigation Section publication, and I’m proud of our coverage of Maryland’s appellate courts.
Sometimes it’s a matter of reaching just one key reader. In early July, I was a little bummed when Team SCOTUS! 9 Action Hero Supreme Court Justices didn’t catch fire like I’d hoped. Three weeks later, while on vacation, I received an email from Marcia Coyle that she had loved the post. That email led to Marcia’s lovely piece (with my follow-up post) in The National Law Journal, one of the highlights of my legal career.
It’s subjective whether 29,000 hits in a year is great or puny. What I do know is that our editorial board – Jonathan Biran, Karen Federman Henry, Brad McCullough, Erin Murphy, Alan Sternstein, Derek Stikelather, Michael Wein, and blog manager Chris Mincher – has done a great job over the past year, and they have my thanks. So does the MSBA Litigation Section for giving us this opportunity.
Most importantly, we here at the blog are grateful for each of our readers. Please keep following and reading. In the words of the (possibly immortal) Stan Lee, “Excelsior!”