Six-week update at Yael on the Trail: Opinions, readers and money

I'm still here. On a real trail, writing real Midwestern opinions.

I’m still here. On a real trail, writing real Midwestern opinions.

Six weeks ago tonight, I began Yael on the Trail with crucial assistance from Emily, my software-savvy daughter. My intent at the time was to write a lot of local opinions, mostly about the 2016 elections.

So how are things going? Here’s an update with one assurance/threat: I plan to keep going down this trail a while longer as my own boss after nearly 37 years at The Kansas City Star. (And because this is not a full-time job, I also plan to keep gardening, going to movies and preparing for real retirement one of these days….)

Opinions. I’ve published 80 blogs in the last 42 days. I’m proud of the exclusive on Cerner’s bullying to get yet another tax break, and of the string of pieces on the extremely critical Kansas legislative elections this fall.

Other reporters have appreciated my coverage of Gov. Sam Brownback and his ruination of the Kansas budget. Just this week, I retweeted a Los Angeles Times article about the hard economic times in Kansas. The reporter, Nigel Duara, tweeted back: “Thanks for your work! It is immensely helpful.” Yes, I will keep scrutinizing Brownback’s record on jobs, taxes, state revenues and social policies.

Readers. Response has been beyond my expectations.  Dozens and sometimes hundreds of readers go to Facebook or Twitter ( @yaeltabouhalkah ) to like individual posts, weigh in on them and to share them. I also had a fun election contest with readers. For all of that, I am extremely grateful.

Google Analytics tells me Yael on the Trail averages almost 3,000 page views daily; readership is almost split equally by gender, and 52 percent are younger than 55. Many political posts get around 1,000 page views each. I have some dedicated readers.

The most popular post so far was on the six confusing Missouri ballot items with 7,300 page views, followed by a couple on Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, as well as a pair of blogs about the best candidates for the Kansas House and Senate.

Money. I decided two weeks into the blog to accept maximum donations of $5 at a time from those who wanted to support my research, writing and communication with readers. Have to admit, it’s a bit uplifting each day when new ones pop up with a reader’s name attached in my email. Again, I am grateful for all of this support.

Moving forward.  After writing about the 2016 elections, I’m now on to covering their consequences. Kobach, take a special bow. Hot topics can pop up any time and in unusual places, such as today’s post on the safety pin crisis at the Shawnee Mission School District (3,300 page views by late Tuesday afternoon).

I expect to write some year-end pieces in the near future. In January, the Kansas Legislature will return to grapple with the state’s financial future while politically untested Eric Greitens will take over as Missouri’s governor. And I will find other ways to connect with readers.

Thanks for coming along with me on the trail!