Inspired by Floatinggold’s 2017 round up of her posts, that you can read here, I decided to share my most popular posts in terms of views and the reasons why I think they have performed better than others – and the least popular, as we all may learn something from my musings.
Now I know I’m not an expert and while I can say I’ve had my blog for around eighteen months there was a large part of that time that I did not post anything at all and all my attempts at writing remained unfinished. But at the start of October 2017 I motivated myself enough to write a post that I was not happy with, but it broke the barrier of writer’s block that had stopped me from sharing my favourite history stories.
My Most Popular posts as of 1 January 2018
1) The Man-midwife in the Eighteenth Century, 364 views
This is an abridged version of an academic paper that I wrote for my master’s degree. The original piece was marked at 75% – a distinction.
This has remained popular even when I wasn’t blogging from the late summer of 2016 right through until the autumn of 2017.
I think that its popularity lies in the subject and its title. It’s extremely niche and there’s not a huge amount out there, you have to really dig deep to find online articles about this topic. If you were searching for this subject you would actually search for the title – or so I presume – because several times a week it is read after a search engine has located it. I have tried this on friends’ laptops and it comes either first or fourth in a Google search. It can be read here.
2) The Hidden History of British Post Boxes, 232 views
This was another post that began life as an academic paper for my master’s degree. I had to write as if writing for a public history magazine. This also received 75%, a distinction.
It was posted three days before ‘man-midwife’ and again I think its title is key to its popularity. It is a niche subject but it is my second most popular post and readers are directed via a search engine. It can be read here.
3) Killed by Enemy Action: A Family Tragedy, 176 views
This was a runaway success and is only a month old, the reason? It is hugely personal and about my teenage uncle killed during World War II. I shared this on my Facebook page and it drew a lot of interest from extended family members. However, this is where it is useful to take note: I also shared it in a one-name group for Boyland family history (my maiden name) and within hours it had reached a hundred views – my most successful day. Sharing on social media really can help raise your profile and if you are a member of a group then share with them if your topic permits, if they don’t like it – start your own group and you and your members can share away! It can be read here.
4) Remember, Remember the Sixth of November: Commemorating Princess Charlotte 200 Years After her Death, 93 views
A popular royal post that is two months old. I gave this title a twist – remember, remember the fifth of November is a rhyme about the gunpowder plot in the seventeenth century. I don’t know if it was the image of Princess Charlotte that drew the readers in, or if people were enticed by the name, as we have a little Princess Charlotte in the royal family today. Her story is an important one though, if Charlotte and her baby survived we wouldn’t have had a Victorian age. It can be read here.
5) Diana: Her Fashion Story – The Kensington Palace Exhibition, 91 views
My next most popular post is only five weeks old. This has lots of photos of Diana, Princess of Wales’ dresses and appeals to fashion bloggers as well as my usual history followers. But I think as Diana’s popularity endures any post that discusses her will gain extra views. It can be read here.
6) Witchcraft, Petty Treason and Poisoner? Women on Trial at the Old Bailey, London, 84 views
This was an exciting post to write as I love using the Proceedings of the Old Bailey website in my research, but it also utilised my analytical skills gained whilst studying history. I formatted the post differently to all my others – I added a ‘HistorianRuby Comment’ at the end of each segment giving a little more insight into the subject matter. This is a format that I would love to use again in the future – so watch this space.
I think its popularity stemmed from the teasing title, who isn’t interested in witchcraft? J.K. Rowling has made her fortune from it. This post did well without having an image to break up the text and I think its theme of historic crime, with sub-headings, made the reading much easier to read than my normal longer posts. It can be read here.
My Least Popular Posts as of 1 January 2018
1) Infanticide in the Early Modern Period: Account for the Low Conviction Rate in Cases of New-born Child Murder in England, 7 views
This is an abridged version of another academic paper that I am proud of, again marked at 75% and a distinction. However, its original title began ‘account for the low conviction rate . . .’ – I added ‘Infanticide etc.’ to the title in the hope of enticing a few more readers – it hasn’t worked, yet. There are no images with this one and maybe the subject matter is a little off-putting, although as a theme in early modern women’s history I believe it is as important as the witch-crazes. It can be read here.
2) Digital v Physical Archives: A Personal Account, Part 2, 14 views
This was my third post. I had very few followers with this post, although I did engage with Community Pool. The advice I was given was ‘if I was going to have a part 2, make sure I had a part 1’ – the reviewer had missed part 1!
It began as a post about how using online records for family history led me into the physical archive and then as a family historian my interest was piqued enough to apply to university and gain a degree. I then explained how I used online and hard-copy primary sources to research various disparate themes. However, as with a lot of my posts, it grew lengthier and lengthier and needed to be chopped in half, hence parts 1 and 2. I’m still really fond of this piece, but for me I think its title does not entice . . . and sometimes that is a must. Its partner, as it has lots of family history included, has been shared on Facebook and nearly made it into the top six list! It can be read here.
3) To Find the ‘Write’ Word, 19 views
Joint third least popular. I’m going to say it now, I don’t like this post! This was the post that I struggled to complete and it remains on the blog as a testament to my stubbornness. It was my first original blog post in October 2017, my last being March 2017. By completing it I felt I had smashed my writer’s block and I had achieved something. It reflects on my use of somewhat obscure words during my academic career and is one of my shorter posts. I might not be thoroughly happy with it but five bloggers have ‘liked’ it, that’s 25% of its readers, so not too bad. I still had less than fifty followers when this was posted, but as my followers have grown readership of articles really only seems to be with current postings. It can be read here.
3) Suffragettes and the Post: Pillar Box Attacks in Edwardian Britain, 19 views
Joint third least popular. I wrote a version of this for the Letter Box Study Group’s newsletter which was published in February 2015 after the film Suffragette was released. I was asked to guest blog for a London university and write something similar but keeping mostly to Emily Wilding Davison’s exploits. However, due to sickness on their part, it wasn’t published and so after waiting over a year I edited it for my blog expecting it to have a similar impact to my previous post box essay, except it hasn’t. I used primary sources found at the Women’s Library at the London School of Economics and its research is sound, so I am glad this is on my blog and compliments my other postal history work. It can be read here.
5) The Dilemma of a Rookie Blogger, 28 views
My first blog post. I think its title is a little cheesy! However, re-reading it today, it’s okay. I discussed my rationale for starting a blog and actually would make a very good ‘About’ section, as I have been very lazy with that. I haven’t done much of what I thought I would, namely researching graves and share fascinating stories of those ‘resting in peace’, although I’ve taken many pictures of gravestones, much to my husband’s amusement. This is something I should revisit. It can be read here.
6) A Recognition Long Due, 35 views
This is another family history post and was posted when I wasn’t actively seeking new followers. I have shared it since on Community Pool and it gained some traction but not as much as I’d expected. Knowing what I know now, I would suggest that its title does not tell you what it is about and so is not clickable. I have shared it on Facebook and family members have read it. Another blogger kindly shared it on Instagram for Remembrance Day. If I re-titled it, it might read – ‘Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur: My Uncle Awarded French Honour for WWII Service’. It can be read here.
I have really enjoyed writing this review of my blog from my current perspective. I’d love to revisit this idea on 1 January 2019 and see how the views have changed and if other posts have overtaken this year’s most popular. I wonder what would change? Do any of my readers have a favourite from the above? Or from those not top or bottom six? It would be great to hear your views and thanks for reading and following.