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How-To Geek: First Year in Review

We’ve finally reached the 1 year mark here at How-To Geek, and so it’s time to take a long, slightly boring look back at what we’ve accomplished. I’m sure only about three of you will read all the way to the bottom, so I just used lorem ipsum to fill in the last couple of paragraphs.

In the Beginning was the Geekimage

I registered the domain name in September 2006 but we didn’t officially launch until October. I started off by writing some articles about Linux because I figured that nothing is more confusing to non-geeks than linux, until…

…a few months later I got my hands on a copy of Windows Vista and realized: “This is confusing, I bet people are going to need help with this”.

And so began the year of the Geek.

Our Accomplishments

We’ve managed to turn this site into one of the most popular how-to sites within a year, with 1.1 million pageviews / month and ~25,000 subscribers. There have been 658 total posts and around 4,000 comments.

Our goal here is to write articles that are easy enough for non-geeks to understand, but also interesting enough to keep the geeks interested. It’s an extremely tough thing to do, but I think I’ve finally gotten to the point where I only bore half of you half of the time.

How Did We Manage 25,000 Subscribers?

I’ve received emails recently from dozens of site owners asking me what I’m doing right, and here’s my conclusion:

I’m sure there are a number of factors that have contributed to the subscriber count, but I’ve come to believe it’s nothing more than the friendly, smiling Geek face. Just look at it and tell me you can resist subscribing.

I’ve tried to come up with a better explanation: maybe people just like the articles, maybe it’s the clean design, or maybe they just subscribed by accident… but I keep coming back to the smile.

Traffic Jams

It always comes down to the numbers… exactly how well have we done?

Since January 1st of this year we’ve had 3,011,790 visits and 5,711,710 pageviews, although the bulk of the pageviews were just in the last half of that.

image 

For comparison of how well we’re doing now, this is the total picture for the last 30 days:

image

Couple of details:

  • Top Page – The most viewed page in the entire site was the Vista Category page, with 464,285 pageviews for the year… that’s just an immense amount of visits to a single page.
  • Traffic Sources - Google sent 1,917,210 visitors to the site, there were 260,678 direct visits, and the rest were split up between a lot of other sources.
  • Browsers – 48% of our visitors are using Firefox, with 46% using Internet Explorer. The numbers have actually trended in IE’s direction now, so more recently it’s 51% Internet explorer.

Forum Stats

I only brought up the forum just two months ago, and while it’s not doing as well as I’d like, it’s an important part of the site that will grow over time.

  • New Topics – 551
  • Total Posts – 2259
  • Pageviews – ~2000 / day

We Must Give Thanks

One of the greatest accomplishments of starting this website is the great friends that I’ve made along the way. The site simply wouldn’t be where it is today without these people.

  • MysticGeek started helping write guest articles a few months back, and I couldn’t possibly thank him more. Every single morning I get an instant message from him about how excited he is that the subscriber counts jumped again. It’s hard to be friends with him and not feel positive!
  • Daniel is a good friend of mine who’s been unbelievably helpful with his honest critiquing of the projects that I work on. I pretty much run everything by him before I release it, because I know I’ll get his (often harsh) honest opinion. He’s also an extremely good programmer, so I exploit his skills by asking him programming questions all the time.
  • Scott started here by posting a bounty for Active Desktop for Vista, but he’s such a great guy that I ended up making him the official moderator for our Forums, and I’m happy that I can now call him a friend. He’s also the one person that’s bought me something off my wishlist
  • Gina Trapani & Adam Pash @ Lifehacker have featured our articles every other week or so for the last few months. While I don’t personally know either of them, I’m a huge fan of Lifehacker and it’s an honor to be featured there.

Editor Favorites

There are a ton of articles that we’re really proud of, but I’ve selected some of my favorites, some of which were popular and others that weren’t.

Our Geek Pirate Bountiesimage

The Bounty Program is something that I’m quite proud of… and while it’s on hold at the moment, you can expect huge things from this in the next couple of months as we reorganize.

Software & Scripts I Threw Together

Being a programmer in my regular day job, I tend to simply write the software that I want, so I started releasing a couple of items for everybody else to enjoy. I plan to release quite a bit more software in the future… hopefully something more useful next time.

The Future?

So what’s in store for the How-To Geek in the coming year?

  • We’re going to change things up, and let you, our great readers, contribute your tips, tricks, and how-tos. More on this in a couple of weeks.
  • I will drink approximately 182 cases of Mountain Dew.
  • I will spend 1000 more hours working on this site.
  • 50,000 subscribers!
  • The return of the Geek Comic. Oh yes.

It’s been a blast… but we must prepare for tomorrow night, pinky.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 10/1/07

Comments (7)

  1. Gustav Dahl

    Keep up the good, good work! :D

  2. Ryan Wagner

    Congrats on your first year! Oh how I love Pinky and the Brain. :)

  3. Tom

    Congratulations on your first year and all your success. This is a great site – one of my daily must-reads. Keep up the great work.

  4. Scott

    Geek, you’ve done a wonderful job building this site from scratch, it’s no wonder why HTG has been a success. Your vision and hard work has made this a frequently visited, helpful destination for ALL.

  5. Jake

    Congrationulations! I really enjoy your blog. It has been an inspiration to me in many ways- from the great orginal design to the informative posts to all of the traffic you recieve… spectacular.

  6. baker

    you inspired me man, this is my first visit here and i am going to use this friendly site forever

  7. jai bautista

    a day isn’t complete for me without dropping by the howtogeek website.

    Thanks for all the pieces of advice! Continue linking the non-geeks to geekdom! :D

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