I started this blog roughly six months ago and it is time to reflect on the ride so far.
The original objective was to publish a couple of articles a week if and when I felt the need and inclination to do it. Using (and paying) for SquareSpace ensured that I had a vested interest in doing something with the investment. Well, those were my intentions in January before the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (PCR 2015) came about and it was "all change, all change" from then onwards.
I am now routinely publishing 5-8 blog posts a week, most about the PCR 2015 with a few about other topics. I suspect that once we reach the end of the procurement tennis match, the number of weekly blogposts will come down 2-4 a week, depending on my workload. Come September/October I will be back in the usual teaching treadmill and my writing resilience may suffer in face of the opportunity costs involved.
Numbers have been a lot higher than I anticipated with around 500 unique visitors a month a far cry from Albert's (different platforms, different approaches to tracking) but a good ramp for a very niche and specific blog mostly devoted to the PCR 2015. Numbers on the PPP (Public Procurement Podcast) are looking very good as well with over 200 unique visitors in the first month and over 100 subscribers.
Public Contracts Regulations 2015
We are now in the home stretch (finally!) of our running commentary on the PCR 2015. We will run it to the bitter end which should come perhaps in September. We won't be done with it straight away as we have some cool plans on the pipeline for the commentary. I cannot spill the beans on it yet, but it will be fun.
The immediate financial cost is easy to quantify: USD100 per year, SquareSpace's subscription price. The opportunity cost is more difficult to measure. I spend roughly an hour a day blogging, thus meaning one hour less for other things [and a overall 100-120 hours of blogging so far...]. I tend to write my commentary in the morning when my mind is fresh and it is possible to string a few ideas together. This means I am foreclosing the possibility of writing something else instead (ie, papers, book chapters) during that time.
That cost, however, needs to be measured against the benefits. First, forcing me to write in the morning the exercise primes me for further writing afterwards. Once the commentary to the PCR2015 is finished, let's hope the "muscle memory" stays there and I keep writing. Plus, the more one writes the better at it he gets (although my peer reviews appear to dispute this correlation...). Second, the commentary is a direct springboard for other added value activities, namely the ones that are yet to be disclosed. Third it enhances my reputation and widens my networks of contacts.* I was amazed to see the number of people in conferences which talk to me about the commentary series and appear to be reasonably regular readers of the blog. I am yet to be asked for an autograph though...
It does help as well that my new boss is fully behind any activity that enlarges our reach and/or increases our reputation/impact outside academia. Not that my previous one (yes Dermot, I am looking at you...) had nothing against this but my workload at Bangor and the 7-11 hours of weekly commuting were not conducive to this practice.
Finally, I have always been uncomfortable with the traditional publishing avenues and am more and more at ease with self-publishing and just getting stuff out there. Some times the quality is great, some times it is not, but I am further convinced that for legal academics (or academic lawyers) to make a mark, we need to interact outside our usual (stale) circles. Having said that, our circles allow for more interaction than international trade law. That is one of the reasons why Procurement Week has always been free and with a mixture of lawyers/academics/procurement professionals in speaking slots and audience.
Public procurement will remain the main focus of this blog, but it may include other legal systems rather than just the UK or the EU. I do however want to talk about other areas particularly law and startups and legal education. I have a keen interest in both areas and a bunch of crazy ideas to test or put out there.
If there are any topics you would like me to cover, drop me a line in the comments.
* As I say to my students: "All things being equal, the one with the largest network wins."