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New name, new look, new reality: Notes from Gertaly goes onabike.cc

I've left Italy, I've left academia, and I have new faces around me. It was time to move beyond Notes from Gertaly. I'm now onabike.cc. I've also learned interesting things about how my writing changed from 2017 to 2018.

If you have tried to access gertaly.wordpress.com these days, do not wonder about the new appearance and the new name: you’re at the right place. Links to the old domain will keep working, but I’ll proceed from now on with onabike.cc.

With a new name comes a new look. Golden-shining Lufthansa yellow is my personal color of choice for almost a decade. Rarely I have the occasion to use it in public display. The new theme of the blog uses it as a signature color. While that’s cosmetic, there’s also an important tweak to usability: older posts now load automatically when you scroll to the bottom of the page. I’ve made it more comfortable for you to go back into history.

There is a good reason for this change: I used to call Gertaly the place which I shared with the ex-girl. I’m German, she’s Italian, and Gertaly was the best of both. We’ve parted as a couple and joined as friends, of which I’m very proud. I went on with Notes from Gertaly for the time being: the name was sort of established, I didn’t have a ready alternative, and I still lived in Italy.

The new reality is different. There’s a pancake, I’m in Munich, and I’ve left academia. With that, the focus shifts more towards being outdoors and, mostly, cycling. Right on time then: on Christmas day, my brain gifted me a name that I find exciting. I’m someone on a bike. I ride on a bike. I relax on a bike. I think on a bike. On a bike. I’m not a lawyer for motorbike accidents, so I could not get ownership of .com. Who cares: .cc is the hipster TLD of all things cycling.

Consequently, I’ve also changed the account names on YouTube (onabike cc) and Instagram (onabike.cc). If you don’t follow me there yet: maybe go and subscribe for the multimedia part of my content. There are direct links at the top of each page. In case you visit me straight from your desktop: there is also a preview of my Instagram and YouTube content in the right column. It used to be at the bottom of the page; who ever gets there?

Looking back: less was more

When I started this blog in July 2017, I got 69 views. In August 2018, I passed 1,000 page views and reached more than 500 unique visitors for the first time. I then maintained a level slightly below that for the following months. It’s safe to say that not only my mum and the pancake read my blog. Even more than my friends (that I repeatedly invite via Facebook) read the blog.

The first uptick came when I published a review of my Instagram exercise for teaching experimental design. I had shared the link in a Facebook group of marketing educators. This alone brought almost 400 views. Aside of that, I heavily relied on Twitter to distribute posts.

The first year, I did not consistently capture interest. After the first year, improved targeting brought more views.

Just, Twitter is not a good channel for me. While the click-through rates of my posts were actually quite good, my visibility was always low and limited the traffic. I closed my Twitter account this Summer. Instead, I figured that I get better results from contributing to communities like Reddit. This is a bit more work; I don’t intend to spam, so I need to add input to the community also outside of posting my own content.

The second big step was February 2018. The best-viewed post from that month also dealt with teaching my marketing research course. However, said post was also the only new post that I added in all of February. At the end, it barely accounted for 20% of all views. The website started to show its long-term potential. For the first time, someone else added a link to one of my posts in a forum conversation.

My best month ever was August 2018, carried by a post on the YES Marketing Conference in Frankfurt and two community-boosted posts on the Transalp. In September, I wrote a long piece on how I restructured the undergrad marketing research curriculum at Bocconi. No other post got as many views in its first 30 days after publication.

Over time, old posts have taken a significant share of my incoming traffic. My December statistics include more than 170 views of a small article that I wrote on a bike lock. ABUS introduced this ahead of Eurobike 2017 and I found it interesting, but not perfect. Someone referred to this post when he commented on a recent article on Bikerumor.com, one of the biggest bike websites out there. People also seem to be more interested in FTP tests this month. I guess they are now all on Zwift, did a fresh FTP test, and want to know how good or bad they are compared with the rest.

At the same time, I write much less frequent than I used to. Instead, I go more in depth. In 12 months in 2018, I published just half of the posts that I put out over 6 months in 2017. They created much more engagement and got almost four times as many likes per post. They are also substantially longer. On average (on average!), they reach 2,000 words.

Looking ahead: topics I care about

Initially, I included some posts about Italian politics. My aim was to provide an English perspective to explain certain aspects from the inside. I figured that I create very little traffic with that. In other words: I’m not reaching the right audience. And I should acknowledge that I’m not always spot on with my predictions. Now I moved away also and I don’t have the same immediate perspective anymore. (And my predictions for German politics aren’t much better.) Likewise, this limits my posts on random anecdotes about life in Italy and with Italians.

I do enjoy the occasional post off-topic. In practice, Notes from Gertaly focused on marketing research topics and things that have some connection with my outdoor adventures. With onabike.cc, the emphasis might shift further towards outdoors. That’s only natural, as I’ve left Bocconi for good.

Consistently, I try to write posts with added value. There’s so much generic stuff already out there. Think about this year’s wrap-up of the Transalp: I could have based it entirely on anecdotes and insider jokes. I could have told you that Tom is fat and Reik took revenge for 2017 at every single climb. For the first moment, this is maybe more interesting for my immediate friends. Instead, I wrote this post as a brief all-you-need-to-know. Here, I can share massive knowledge and create value that grows rather than fades over time.

I do care about anecdotes and emotional stuff. I want you to know that Tom is fat. However, I figured that you respond better to my stories when I tell them by means of other media. Think of videos and photos. Originally, I thought I would drive readers to my blog via my videos. That’s not the case. The two audiences are very separate. Even when you think there’s lots of overlap, the chance of a click-through to the other channel is marginal. Few will click the play button on below video, even though it features Tom.

Hence, expect more of special interest on the blog and more of storytelling on YouTube and Instagram. On the blog, I’ll mix perspectives on gear and gadgets with location-based content. In both cases, I try to find the gadget, location, or viewpoint that fills a void. Be with me on this journey. Be on a bike.

One more thing: Tom isn’t fat.

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One comment

  1. Tom I think it‘s great that you are narrowing down the focus of your writings. I think you really can create a lot of value by sharing your gathered insights „onabike“. That 10,000km is sort of like that 10,000 hours of Malcolm Gladwell „outliers“ any way…
    Best of luck with the new blog man.

    Like

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