Saturday, March 21, 2015

100,000 and counting

Looking back....

On March 20th, 2015, the viewer count on my blog broke through the ceiling of 100,000 readers. I am not sure what this might mean on the grand scale of things - probably not much (and that’s OK). It did, however, made me curious to look back over the past four years. Sure, there are a few posts that I wish I could take back, but not many. What the heck. After all, there are more than 200 of them. In one of the early posts, I mused that: Posting a blog is a little bit like going shopping in your pyjamas. You can certainly do it, but should you?

If Virginia Woolf had lived in the 21st century, would she have posted her musings on a blog? Probably not. When it came to her approach to diary writing, she said: … the habit of writing thus for my own eye only is good practice. It loosens the ligaments. Never mind the misses and the stumbles. That is my approach to writing my blog. As William Blake said in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: “Damn braces. Bless relaxes.” I also take this as good advice for a writer. Aside from the fact that I am no Virginia Woolf, a major difference between my blog and her diary writing is that I am not doing it for my own eye. But then again, I live in a town where shopping in ones pyjamas wouldn’t even be remarkable.

Over the past four years, my regular readers may have noticed that there have been a number of times when I have posted a piece before it was cleaned up enough for public view. At the end of a long day, or after a glass of wine, I often forget to follow the advise of: Write. Edit. Post. Sometimes, it is more like: Write. Post. Edit (and then Post Again). On the plus side, some of the pieces that I have done over the past two years have morphed into chapters for my upcoming book: The Silver Bowl: The Surprisingly Irish Roots of HSBC. I doubt that I could have written these chapters with as light a touch had I not had the chance to first loosen the ligaments, as St. Virginia once put it.

The stats for the pieces posted so far are intriguing in terms of what snags people's interest. I suspect that the numbers might be even larger if I ever paid an expert to advise me on how to maximize hits (instead of doing all this as a rank amateur), but as it is, I have all the attention I can handle. After all, I still need to protect time to do my writing and research, and also time for fun with friends and family. Anyway, here is a quick flypast of the past four years.

Most popular:
A post that I did about researching in the Deeds Registry: One Good Deed Deserves topped the reader count with more than 2,000 readers.
Second most popular:
Several posts relating to Hong Kong scored high on the reader count. Both the post on Sir Robert Ho Tung (1862-1956)  and the one on The Irish Governors of Hong Kong. garnered more than 1,000 readers each. Other such posts were close runners up.

Robert Ho Tung meeting up again with George Bernard Shaw. The two men were both in their 90s.
The recipes that I post garner only a couple of hundred readers on average, but I will continue to do them. I find them to be handy when I am on the road, and the opportunity to cook presents itself.
Places to stay or eat:
I do these posts to celebrate times that I have enjoyed, and to share bits about the places and people who have made that pleasure possible. The post on Barden’s Guest House of Co. Kildare had over 800 readers, while Trashing a Hotel – Praising a Hotel. – a piece about my adventures at the Fleet Street Hotel in Dublin - also caught the notice of hundreds of readers. I am glad for that. The staff at both places were beyond lovely.

Last but not least - Research Posts.
Research posts, the core of what I do, continue to connect with readers; Knock Knock Who’s There (1040); My Web Feet – Quack Quack (711), The Red Hand of Ulster (763), The Jackson “Connexion” (791) and so on.
1898 Avast the Mast may have only garnered 525 readers, but the photo of one of my relations climbing the mast of this boat in the late 1800s remains one of my favourites.
And in the end, my friend …
It is always a thrill when readers contact me to share information that they have – especially information that is often total news to me. But then again, this is part of what doing this blog is all about. That, and loosening the ligaments.

With ligaments in mind, I must stop stretching and get back to a piece I am researching and hope to post in a few weeks. My intention in this future piece is to compare the history of banking in Ireland to the history of tractors. After all, the history of banking is the kind of topic that would make any sensible person want to put a roto-rooter up their nose as a distraction if it wasn't approached with a healthy dose of play. Stay tuned.

PS It is easiest to find posts that might interest you by using the Blogs by Topic menu, although using the search function on the home page works more than half the time.

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