Times have gotten bad enough in the newspaper biz to force me to re-evaluate what I do with my non-newspaper time. I’ve had great fun combining hiking and blogging over the past three years … I even added some Google ads to my pages in hopes of picking up a few bucks. Well, the bucks are very, very few. It’s possible to make money blogging, but you’ll starve on daily hit counts in the hundreds. You don’t need millions, but you do need thousands, so you need a topic where thousands of eyeballs might reside.

Finding this audience vexed me to no end till last week, when just for the heck of it I decided to see if there’s a blog devoted to Caterpillar Inc., the tractor maker based in my hometown. Cat is a Dow 30 component with $46 billion in revenue and 100,000 employees worldwide. It’s the Microsoft of heavy equipment, so you’d think there’d be a blog or two covering the company. I looked: Nada.

Back when I lived in Peoria, the question “how’s Cat’s stock doing?” was pretty much on everybody’s mind. So this is my theory: Cat has 100k employees, all with an abiding interest in how the company’s doing. If I can get just a fifth of those people, I’ve got the 20k audience that’ll turn my $2 a day into $200 — a living wage even in the Bay Area.

I’ve started something at catstockblog.com. If nothing else, it’ll be interesting to the folks back home.