Who reads east of Billings and why?
People who need to catch a goat, that's who. Which, luckily, I can help you with. I've exchanged many emails with frustrated goat owners from all over the country who can't catch their goats. On the more serious side of things, when I started East of Billings, I wasn’t sure that people would read it. I did it mostly out of frustration. There was so much happening in southeast Montana that wasn’t getting covered by the newspapers and I wanted a better way to communicate with people who live there who wanted to stay informed about the proposed Otter Creek mine and Tongue River Railroad. Occasionally, I’d write about the goats because the goats are fun to write about. To my surprise people started reading it. In the beginning, I didn’t spend much time on each blog and you can tell by the number of grammatical errors in the early ones. I’ve resisted the urge to go back and rewrite them mostly because I don't have time. As more of you started to subscribe to and read the blog I felt increasing pressure to be a better writer. Thank you, I think. Now, I spend way more time making sure I don’t have grammatical mistakes which still slip by since I don’t have an editor. And sometimes I just don't give a shit if I start a sentence with "because" or "and" and I'm not supposed to. It never fails that the minute I hit the Publish button, I find some major mistake or I look at what I wrote and see all the unnecessary commas. So if you see mistakes, unless you are offering to be my editor, please be forgiving. I try, I really do. I’ve had people tell me I swear too much and people tell me that they like it. Those of you who don’t like it can go to hell. Just kidding. But, I use expletives occasionally. I am my father’s daughter. There is nothing to be done about it although I have compromised and toned it down a bit. A couple hundred of you subscribe to my blog which means every time I post something, you get an email with the blog in the text. I wonder if some of you have been completely taken off guard by the range of topics. I imagine some of you signed up because you wanted to keep up to date on the Otter Creek mine and then you got an email with the subject line Goat Pimp. Or you signed up because you like reading about the goats and end up with an email discussing some boring administrative process concerning an air quality permit. There have been stretches of time that I post nothing. I'm not very consistent. This is mostly because inspiration has left me or I’m trying to focus on the book I’m writing not because there isn’t anything to write about. There is always something to write about. During those dry spells you stop coming to my site. When I’m posting content frequently, between 400 and 600 of you visit the page per day. The most I have ever had to the site in one day was close to 8,000. I don't know if that is high or low for a blog like mine but I'm happy with it. Who are you? I know some things about you from my fairly elementary understanding of my website stats on Google Analytics, from the emails I get from you and the comments you post. Most of you live in Montana but I have readers from all over the country and the world depending on the topic. A majority of you get to my site through Facebook. Then, in ascending order, you get here from internet searches, www.milescity.com, Twitter, www.intelligentdiscontent.com, www.lastbestnews.com and www.montanacowgirl.com. The top search term that gets people to east of Billings is some variation of, “How do I catch a goat.” The amount of you that ask this question to Google is troubling to me. It makes me think that there are a lot of people with goats who maybe shouldn’t have goats. I’m working on a blog right now called, How To Catch A Goat: Redux with more detailed information on how to actually catch a goat; less humor, more direction. The most odd search term that led a person to my site was “Pimps in Billings, Montana.” I’m certain they weren’t looking for a goat buck to breed their does. There was one search term that should never, ever be repeated involving a goat. It would make you question humanity. Seventy-eight percent of you are in the United States. The top city of readers is Billings at 9% and then, in ascending order, Helena, Bozeman, Missoula, Provo (Who are you folks in Provo?), Miles City, Denver, New York, Glendive, Livingston, Forsyth, Portland, Chicago, Dallas, Ashland, Gillette, San Francisco, Sidney, Nanterre (France), Kalispell, Lame Deer, Colstrip, Butte, Great Falls, Broadus and Ashland. After that, geographical locations just devolve into smaller percentages from cities all over Montana, the rest of the country and the world. Australia is the next country with the highest percentage of readers. There is a person that reads my posts from The Hague. Whoever you are, get in touch. I want to know why east of Billings is of interest to you. Fifty percent of you are Mac users. In terms of political affiliations, as far as I can tell from the emails I've received from you, you run the gamut from politically conservative to politically liberal and everywhere in between. I'm hoping that is a reflection of the fact that I criticize both Republicans and Democrats and try not use hyperbole, talking points or political rhetoric in my blogs. Your favorite posts The all-time most read blog on the site was about the billionaire Wilks brothers buying a large ranch in southeast Montana and taking it out of block management. People continue to read it every day from all over the country. That particular piece has been read over 17,000 times since I posted it on December of 2014. The next most popular post was about the Northwestern Energy listing Colstrip as a $340 million dollar liability in their books. I find that odd since it was just a summary of a Billings Gazette article stating the same thing. The third most popular post was A Citizen’s Guide to Oil Spills: A message to the residents of Glendive, which I wrote after the January 2015 oil spill on the Yellowstone River. After that, the goats take over with How to Catch A Goat, Goat Pimp, and Goats Gone Wild. Rounding out the top 10 was the amazing video of southeast Montana put together by photographer and filmmaker Colin Ruggiero, the blog about the charlatans who wanted to build another oil refinery in Billings, my reflections about my father’s death and finally, my thoughts on why Ryan Zinke banned me from his Facebook page and Twitter. You’ll have to read it to find out. When I write about politics such as the recent blog about Duane Ankney's, I'm sorry I mean Governor Bullock's, Clean Power Plan, most of the readers are in Helena, Missoula and Bozeman. When I write about the Otter Creek mine or Tongue River Railroad, most of the readers are from southeast Montana and Helena. The two that were the hardest to write were And Yet We Have Changed, about my father and One Nation Under Dog, about my dog Maggie. After two years of writing I can say that it takes a lot of time, I’m mostly happy with what I’ve written and I have the best blog followers. You all are respectful, considerate and amazingly supportive of my efforts. I wouldn’t and couldn’t do it without you. (I also couldn't do it without Mike, who I run my ideas by and who reads almost everything I write for content and lets me know if I'm way off the mark or if I'm being too sarcastic, which I have a tendency to be.) Sometimes sarcasm is funny and sometimes it is just mean. I don't want to be mean. So, thank you. You can follow my photography on Facebook here or on Instagram by searching for alexis_bonogofsky.