5 Years of BirchTree

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 4 min read

I have been writing online consistently for the past 5 years. A smart man would have recorded the exact date I started so that I could say “Happy 5th Birthday, BirchTree!” but you’re stuck with me.

Since I only know the year, and it really doesn’t matter that much, I’m declaring October 17, 2015 to be the official (unofficial) 5 year anniversary of the site. Woo hoo! 🎉

While BirchTree is my longest-running website, it’s not my first. If you know what to look for, you can find some truly terrible blogs out there with my name on them which have 1-2 posts. Nobody read them, and frankly nobody missed out. These go back at least as early as 2005 when I started a few Blogger accounts and had no idea what to do with them. I wrote crappy blog posts about bullshit stuff and nobody read it so I would get discouraged and stop. A few months would go by and I would get the itch to write something else and the cycle would continue.

A brief aside about the name BirchTree

Growing up, all of my fiends called me Birch. As a kid growing up in the 90s, there were never a shortage of Matts around, so the nickname was basically required. BirchTree was almost too obvious a choice.

The first use of BirchTree as a name was likely in the 2000-2002 time frame (why don’t I write these things down!?). A younger version of me was obsessed with film and I fancied myself a talented filmmaker. My friends, brother, and I all worked on these little action movies from time to time, and eventually we wanted a logo to put in front of them in iMovie when editing them together. A little time in Photoshop 6.0 and BirchTree Productions was born. I used the name all through high school and retired it when I went to college and we used different names for the short films we made. Here’s the one we made called Das Beobachter, where I was the writer, editor, and a terrible actor.

Let’s get back on track

But the world of filmmaking was not my future. My future was…

Well, I don’t really know what my future would hold, but the filmmaking bug died out as my love for technology rose. Before long, I was much more concerned with the Windows vs. Mac OS X debate than the film vs. digital debate (digital is better BTW, come at me!) and the best way deeper into that world that I saw was by writing about it.

The early days of BirchTree were pretty dire. Like before, I would write pretty crappy articles, but I liked the site name so much that I stuck with it. My output was sporadic and the quality was middling, but I was never going to start over again.

Over the years the site has changed appearance, focus, and has run on every CMS under the sun. That last bit taught me a lot about building site for different platforms, but it’s also sadly the reason that most of my older writing is simply lost to the ages. Turns out you can only export/import your site so many times before you have to start losing stuff. But the site continues to evolve over time, and that will always be the case. I am a sucker for the fresh and new, so even though I just did a major redesign last week, expect to see more fiddling in 2016.

Where does BirchTree stand today?

BirchTree is not the biggest website in the world. Nor has it taken over the Apple-centric blogging world, but that’s fine. BirchTree is my creative outlet where I can share whatever is on my mind. I think that I have a unique voice in the space; one that is positive and attempts to be fair to all sides. I’ve owned as many Android phones as iPhones, which makes me a pretty unique snowflake on its own!

Speaking of readership, I have a fantastic group of readers who keep me coming back day in and day out. The slim amount of vile feedback I get is a blessing considering what some other people get. Not only are you guys nice, but there are more and more of you all the time. I don’t want to talk exact numbers, but I will say that October 2014 was the best month the site had ever had at the time. This October it took me less than 2 days to surpass that number.

So things are going well at BirchTree, better than they ever have before, and for that I am extremely grateful. I can only credit this progress to hard work. I’ve worked harder this year than any other year by a long shot. Here’s some numbers:

439: number of posts on BirchTree in 2015

1.5: average posts per day

83%: percentage of days I have published at least 1 article

For comparison’s sake, someone with a M-F job who takes no vacation or holidays off would have worked 205 days, or 71% of the total days in the year. These numbers are pretty daunting when looking back on them, but I’m so glad I did all that work to get here today. Thanks for coming along for the ride.