HOW MANY PEOPLE READ THIS BLOG IN 2011? I’LL TELL YOU
Most bloggers are curious about/obsessed with their analytics. And I am no exception to this navel-gazing phenomenon. Besides a comment section, blog statistics are the primary determinant of whether a site has social value. Statistical information (such as that provided by Google Analytics) display how many times a blog is being viewed, where the visitors are from, what site referred them, which content is most popular and more.
On my yearlong journey, I did not have a specific objective or strategy to augment my blog statistics, but I was cognizant of who was tuning in and to what content was successful. I wanted to share as much as I could (i.e. photo, video, letters home), but I also wanted it to reach beyond my immediate social circles to people who were also dreaming of travel, adventure or any large scale project.
But the success of my journey had only one criteria: finish alive. I did not have specific expectations of what a statistically successful blog would look like. And, at this point, as I look back, I have a neutral relationship to the numbers. I do not feel specifically proud or ashamed of them. They are what they are. And I’m ready to share.
Going into a blogger’s analytics is like rummaging through his or her underwear drawer. It has been my intention to unveil these numbers for a while, essentially because I appreciate transparency and the spirit of sharing. Perhaps what you see in this post will provide a bit of insight or perspective for those who might want to also broadcast a journey or formative experience. Self-documentation is a great way to increase self-awareness.
Some might be asking, “Aren’t you scared of what people might think?”
And to this I reply, “I’ve already shown my bum on the Internet, what else do I have to hide?”
So without further ado, here’s some
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THE CONVERSATIONALIST STATISTICS
(Numbers are derived from the time period of my yearlong journey: 1 January 2011 – 1 January 2012)
Visits: 73 688
Unique Visitors: 49 060
Pageviews: 130 657
New Visitors: 66.24%
Top Five Countries (by visitor numbers):
3. United Kingdom
Top Five Traffic Sources:
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Total YouTube Views from videos uploaded during 2011: 68 422
Video was an integral part of my journey. The month before my departure, I made a big commitment that heavily impacted my journey: attempt to record a daily video. I succeed to upload 350 videos onto YouTube during the journey, stepping away from the camera and the computer during the final two weeks.
I am thrilled to have such an archive of videos from my journey, but the commitment did require more time behind the lens and in front of the computer screen than I would have preferred. I don’t anticipate making that decision again in the future.
Here are the five most watched videos of 2011.
#5 [Gear Review: Daniels' Day Bag]I thought it would be helpful to talk about the gear that I had chosen to take with me on the trip. This was my first attempt at a “Gear Review”, and to be honest I had no idea what I was doing, so I winged it. It’s actually not that bad considering that it’s a single shot. For future gear reviews (there are seven in total), I opted to edit and splice together a higher-octane gear review experience. There was an increased silliness as the videos (and year of travel) progressed.
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#4 [Time for a shave!] If I’ve learned anything, it’s that the internet loves a shaving video (my post-trip beard shave video continues to get massive views). After escaping from the raw vegan farm in Costa Rica, I was malnourished but my beard was not. So I took some photos as I shaved, and threw these photos together in a video. My favorite part is the smile at the end.
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#3 [I Went To Huanchaco] If I had to chose one video that I felt most proud of during the year, it would be this one. It came from a weekend trip to the ocean when I was teaching English at an elementary school in Trujillo, Peru. I had no idea how it would come together; I simply documented what I was seeing and feeling. I spent a few hours recording the voice-over and editing, and then found that lovely background music, which really brought everything together. When watching a year later, I see editorial hiccups and things I might have done differently. But the lack of perfection doesn’t really matter to me. It’s amateur, but it’s honest.
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#2 [Naked in Nature] Ha! This is pure search engine exploitation! In Costa Rica I was on a farm nestled in one of the most stunning valleys I’d ever seen. There were a series of waterfalls and streams at the bottom of the valleys, and one of my favorite things to do was steal off for a skinny dipping session. It was a setting I wanted to share. During the edit of this video I hesitated on whether or not I wanted to show my bum on the Internet. Then I punched my modesty in face.
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#1 [How to (not) use a bidet] I still chuckle when I watch this video. My friend Chantal from Montreal had decided to visit Buenos Aires while I was there, and we had a selection of accommodation adventures (i.e. bedbugs). But one of the funniest moments was when she experimented with the hostel bidet. The video was NOT staged. She really is that funny.
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As a writer, the ‘copy’ or ‘text’ on my blog was perhaps the most important element. I attempted to maintain a regular editorial pulse in the form of a weekly “Letter Home“. The intent was to mimic the letter writing techniques of yesteryear, where a trip around the world actually meant true disconnection from family and friends back home. This format proved successful in the sense that it helped maintained discipline knowing that I had a letter “due” each Sunday. It also managed to build a bit of a regular following. I managed to write 50 letters during the year.
Whether this format was compelling would be up to you, the reader. But interestingly the posts that were most successful in terms of sheer numbers were not my cherished letters. As you can see below, they focused on bite-sized wisdom or photography.If I were to document another grand adventure, I would probably focus less on written stories and more on photography (perhaps accompanied with explanatory captions). But then again, like the video content, I’m really happy to have such an archive of letters.
Here are the five most popular blog post on The Conversationalist during 2011.
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#5 [EXCUSE ME, YOU’RE BEING A DOUCHEBAG: 6 TRAVEL NO-NO’S] This post came after the success of some of my other “list-based” posts. But rather than telling people how to travel, I wanted to flip the idea and pose some tips on how to be more respectful. The tone was sassy, but did reflect actual situations I had experienced throughout the journey, such as the over-saturation of reggae music in hostels. *kill me know*
Keep reading my travel no-no’s…
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#4 [LETTER HOME: ALLOW ME TO NARRATE MY TRAVELS THIS WEEK THROUGH A SELECTION OF FINE PHOTOGRAPHY] This post was the only “Letter Home” to crack the coveted Top Five. I think it was successful because it summed my experience as an international traveller with relatively compelling images paired with snappy text. The formula was simple, but it actually took longer to create than my average Letter Home because of the photo editing involved. I’d like to do more storytelling of this nature in the future.
Check out the most popular “Letter Home”…
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#3 [10 PHOTOS OF MODERN, SUSTAINABLE HOMES BUILT IN NEW ORLEANS’ NINTH WARD] In retrospect there are a couple of key reasons why this blogpost was successful. Firstly, because it was posted so early in the year, it had time to accumulate views. Secondly, the content was American-based, and therefore arguably more appealing to the average user of the Internet. Finally, it had a certain “virility” on Reddit, which was one of my main traffic sources. I also think that the pairing of photo and minimal text is what we love the most on the Internet.
See the other New Orleans’ homes…
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#2 [HOW TO MAKE CEVICHE: A LESSON FROM A WISE PERUVIAN WOMAN] If you google “how to make ceviche”, this blogpost might appear on the front page. And I feel proud of that. In Peru I met a wonderful woman named Estella, and she gave me a personal lesson ceviche lesson in her own kitchen. If you’re picturing a lanky, white backpacker and a short middle-aged Peruvian woman in a kitchen, then you’re on the right track. It was one of my favorite experiences throughout the entire year.
Learn how to make ceviche…
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#1 [20 THINGS I LEARNED FROM TRAVEL] On Monday, 20 June 20 2011, three days after I posted these 20 lessons, I decided to tweet the link to the folks over at Lonely Planet. I was fortunate enough to have caught the attention of their social media team, and they retweeted “20 Things I Learned From Travel”. In a matter of hours, I received 4130 pageviews, immediately had 200 new twitter followers and was inundated with new Facebook friend requests. It was the closest to “viral” that I got during my trip.
The post was a travel rendition of another successful post I had written called “20 Things I Learned in my Twenties“, and goes to show that a bit of shared self-reflection can be a valuable thing.
Discover the 20 Things I Learned From Travel…
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In the coming weeks I’m going to share a post about my travel budget: unveiling where my money went throughout the journey, and how much it costed to spend a year travelling the world.
If you have any specific questions about budget, please voice them below in the comments and I’ll incorporate them into my replies.
PS: The lead image is a sign made by my friend Erin for my arrival to Edinburgh.