And You, Dear Reader

reader
Reader – Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

At the end of the year, I look at the analytics on my blogs and websites and it makes me wonder about who is behind those numbers and graphs. That’s you, dear reader.

Some writers have a reader in mind when they write. I don’t. I least I don’t have a picture of some blended reader. I know a few of you from the offline world but the vast majority are virtual. Some of you aren’t even “readers.” The analytics often list “visitors” who drop by (probably based on a search for something) take a look and leave, never to be seen again. It’s like people who go into a store, walk around and don’t pick anything up or buy anything. Just looking. 

A few years ago, a friend said that I should publish on Medium. He mentioned that they even have a program where you can get paid for getting people to read your words. I got an account but have never gone for the payment route. Not that I’m opposed to being paid, but it seemed like more work and I wasn’t seeing lots of readers there and that was my original reason to create an account. I was curious to see if I would get more readers there than on one of the blogs. I did the same thing by posting things on LinkedIn.

Medium’s own advice includes things like:
Do not chase algorithms.
Do not read articles on how to “make it” on Medium.
Do not create headlines that scare the living daylights out of people so they click on them, searching for some elusive answer to life’s unanswerable questions.

Concerning that last item, of all the articles I have posted on Medium so far, the one that gets the most reads is “The Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything Is 137. Maybe,” which on Medium has more than a thousand “views” and about 700 “reads” (meaning they stayed on the page long enough to read it). I’m sure the title is what attracts people.

That post also appeared on this blog with the less clickbaity title of simply “The Answer is 137.” Here it has over 2000 views, but WordPress doesn’t provide a “reads” stat.

Why more viewers here? I think it is you, dear reader. This site has almost 2000 followers who opted to get an email when a new post appears. Thank you for following! On Medium, I have less than a hundred followers. True, I don’t post there very often but it’s a big pond for little fish like me.

Medium says that email subscriptions help ensure that your most devoted readers never miss a post and their “Subscribe” button is a little envelope next to the “Follow” button.

Medium may discourage clickbait-styled titles, but they gave an example in one of their newsletters of a “creator” (their label for writers) of Kyrie Gray, a humorist who runs the publication Jane Austen’s Wastebasket. She has titles such as , “Zeus Finally Fired Due to Sex Scandals” and “MasterClass Now Offers Courses Taught by Famous Dead Writers.”

Dear Reader – Hello.

Weekends in Paradelle 2021

blog post

It’s time for me to review the year here in Paradelle. I’m always curious to see which posts received the most attention during the year. I like it when new posts get a lot of reads, but usually, older posts have the biggest numbers overall.

For example, a tiny little post called “What Happiness Looks Like” was at the top of the list almost all year.  View it  Maybe it’s the title that invites the possibility of knowing what happiness really is that grabs people.

I have a little widget on the site (it’s less obvious on mobile devices) that tells you which posts have the most visits today. I think that people reading that list are likely to click on a title. It’s like getting a book because it is a bestseller. There must be something to it if it is that popular, right? Popularity breeds popularity.

That might explain why a post about a little food joint that used to be in New Jersey continues to attract readers. “Greasy Tony’s Reborn In The Desert”  (View)  can’t be popular because so many people went in there for a sandwich.

The Moon is a topic of interest to me and to my readers. Top posts this year included:
“Moon Myths: The Dark Moon”
View
and some of the monthly Full Moon posts such as:
“The Bone Moon of February”  View,
“The Hare Moon”   View,
“Native Americans and the Blue Moon” View,
“The Hunter’s Moon of October”   View

Also popular were some of the posts about holidays and calendar and astronomical observations, such as “Ceremonies for Candlemas” Eve View and “Time for the Clock and the Sundial to Sync”   View

I think my own favorite posts are ones that are standalone and probably don’t fall into any specific category (though I do put every post into at least one category!)  A few of the top ones in 2021 were:
“Follow the River”
View
“The Hundred Acre Wood”   View
“The Girl in Blue” View
“Mindfulness” View
A Persian Flaw View
“The Inelasticity of Staying Connected” View
“Going Backwards Uphill” View

Many of my posts are perennial.  It’s the time of the year when posts like “Here we come a wassailing” and “Make a Viking Toast for the Winter Solstice” get found in searches as people look for holiday and end-of-year information.

I thought at the start of the year that the counter for this blog might click over 500,000 visits in 2021 but we’re still a ways off. So, keep click and reading, and leave a comment once in a while. It’s nice to hear from all you virtual readers.

Where Is Paradelle?

island
Is Paradelle an island paradise?

Recently, someone who is new to this website asked “Where is this Paradelle that you say you go to on weekends?”

Well, it’s nowhere. And it’s here. I suppose it’s virtual. Look out, Mark Zuckerberg, I’m already in the metaverse. On weekends.

I explained this on my second post here, but that was in 2008. Maybe you weren’t visiting, so here we are again. And Paradelle has changed some.

Originally, the paradelle was a new poetic form invented by Billy Collins. He meant it as a parody. It was funny, as long as you were in on the joke. Collins introduced the form with a poem in his collection Picnic, Lighting. His fake history was that the paradelle was invented in eleventh-century France.  It was an almost impossibly complex form. His “Paradelle for Susan” was intentionally terrible. The form defeated him and the poem erodes in its complex repetitions.

Collins launched the form in 1997 and not long after I spent a week in a writing workshop with Billy. Along with much poetry and much Guinness, he shared the origin of the paradelle.
The parody turned out to have legs and started running on its own. Other people started trying to write better ones than Billy’s original. I wrote one and I worked a long time on it. My poem and other paradelles were collected and published in 2005 in the anthology, The Paradelle, from Red Hen Press.

You can read more about the origin story – and my paradelle contribution on that 2008 post, but let me get back to Paradelle the place. 

Collins thought of the paradelle as a parody of a villanelle, which is itself a complex and repetitive form. When I was looking for a name for this website, I thought of paradelle but my etymology is that rather than a parody it is a paradise. And since -the suffix -ville is used in fictitious place names (as in one of my other online homes, Ronkville), I used -delle as my place suffix. 

My original plan was to post here only on weekends. Two posts a week. As things went along, the weekend was extended to Friday night. Americans usually start the weekend as soon as work on Friday ends. 

As time went on in Paradelle, my fascination with celestial events from meteor showers, to solstices, equinoxes, eclipses, and the monthly Full Moons became part of being in Paradelle. They don’t always occur on weekends, so there is the occasional weekday post. 

Though I love islands (there are a few posts on them) and think of them as a kind of paradise, there are a lot of posts here that let you know that my Paradelle is located more inland. In winter, it snows in Paradelle and I escape to a cabin on a mountain to write and read and explore nature. In the summer, I go down to the Atlantic shore. It’s a four-season paradise.

At year end, I will look back at posts from this year and try to figure out what visitors have been enjoying. That is something that has changed in Paradelle since 2008 – visitors. there were few that first year and that was fine. You don’t want your paradise too crowded, but you do want to share it.

Currently, Paradelle has had more than 400,300 visitors. Not all at once, thankfully. It’s a lot of people. Some are regulars who visit every weekend. Most drop by only once or twice. It is not the most visitors I have online. That honor goes to a more serious place called Serendipity35  is where I started blogging in 2006. and it still gets the highest number of readers every month and has over 100 million visits since it began. It comes from days at a university and has my thoughts about learning and technology and the places where they intersect.

Endangered New Jersey is my blog that focuses on the species and parts of New Jersey that are threatened or endangered. It currently has more than 795,00 visitors.

But I don’t write for numbers – especially since I don’t get paid to write. I write because I like to write and feel some need to write about many things.

If I could have made my livelihood by being a poet, I would have gladly done it. Instead, along with my own poetry, I blog about poetry at Poets Online monthly e-zine which is a companion blog to my Poets Online site. The site offers monthly poetry writing prompts and a chance for poets to be included in our monthly issues. The site has been online since 1998 and so it has more visitors than Paradelle.

In 2014, I did a daily poem project called Writing the Day. It has 365 poems from that year, all written in the ronka poetry form. Since then, I continue writing there, though it is more of a weekly practice. In 2021, I added a podcast element.

There is also an occasional blog I call One-Page Schoolhouse where I try to educate “one page at a time” with short posts about a wide variety of topics.

Not enough? I love the etymology of words and the origins of names and that led me to do a site called Why Name It That? which looks at the origins of the names of people, products, teams, words, phrases. The most popular category is the origin of rock band names. Yes, it has more visitors than Paradelle. This means my little weekend getaway is till my quietest spot online.

Toward A Half Million Reads

Weekends in Paradelle marks an anniversary today. It has has about 431,000 on the stats counter this weekend. It will probably hit a half million by the end of the year. That sounds significant.

My oldest blog is Serendipity35 which is about education and technology. I started that blog in 2006 as an experiment and demonstration for fellow faculty when I was working at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). I was a quite avid blogger there in those days, often posting every day. Since I left NJIT, my blogging there has slowed down and now it is only about once a week. Still, with more than 3600 posts there, it shows up in a lot of searches and therefore has “legs.” When I looked earlier this week, the hit counter there was more than 104,605,700. That 104 million makes my half million here seem a bit sad. Well, different audiences, I suppose. But Serendipity35 only has a two year jump on this site.

Though there have been 431,000 visits to the site, there have fewer unique visitors to the site. That means that some of the same people are returning to read more articles. For me, that is more significant than the bigger number. 

There is a widget on the site where you can enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email. There are almost 2000 “followers” and I consider them to be my regular readers. As with all websites and blogs, there are far fewer people who “like” articles (I do have my regulars on that though) and even fewer who comment. I love comments. And, also like most sites, I get more spam comments than legitimate comments.

I started posting here on July 30, 2008 with a little introduction and then a poetic explanation of why it is weekends and why it is Paradelle.

100 Million Readers

100million

I was eager to check all my blog statistics at the end of January because I had calculated that the numbers would trip my blog odometer over to a big number.

I keep a spreadsheet for the 8 blogs where I write online. I don’t keep track of stats for my Tumblr or Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any of the other social sites I use. And I don’t obsess over the numbers month to month because I don’t get any income from people just viewing a page. I am curious about which posts got the most attention because it gives me some insight into what people want to read.

Looking at the total page hits for the eight blogs over their lifetimes, the number has now crossed the 100,000,000 mark.

That’s one hundred million page hits, which doesn’t mean there were that number of “unique visitors.” It is safe to assume that many of those hits come from the same people – and that’s a great thing. Blogs get subscribers and followers who are usually notified of new content and who, hopefully, come back to read more of your posts.

That number – 100,000,000 – sounds like the population of a country – my own little country of blogs.   My blog country is a bit smaller than the 12th largest, the Philippines at 107,668,232, but we are bigger than Ethiopia (96,633,456) and Vietnam (93,421,832). Sure, we are only half the population of Brazil (202,656,784) and Pakistan (196,174,384), but everyone in Austria (8,223,062) could visit the site a dozen times each to get us to 100,000,000.

Weekends in Paradelle has a largely North American readership, but the UK, Germany, France and India account for about 25 percent of visitors to this particular blog.

paradelle-readers

My most oldest and most read blog is Serendipity35. I have been writing about technology and education there since 2006, so it has a head start on the other blogs. It pulls in about a half million hits every month (532,468 in January and 859,860 in December 2016) and accounts for 97 million of those hits.

jan17hourlystats

Serious bloggers look at when people access their blog and then try to post in that time period. For Serendipity35, which has a much wider global audience than this blog, there is no “hot” hour. People are dropping by all day and night from somewhere.

You would assume that Weekends in Paradelle gets most of its hits on the weekends since that is when I post (mostly in the morning). Wrong. The most popular day is actually Wednesday (30% of all views), and the most popular time is 4 p.m. ET. Go figure. But I’ll still be posting on Fridays – Sundays most weeks.

It’s nice to know there is a country of visitors out there. It’s even nicer when you leave a comment, so I know it’s not just Google search bots visiting!

A Year of Weekends

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for me and these are some of the crunchy numbers they came up with for Weekends in Paradelle

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 32,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 12 sold-out performances for that many people to see it. Of course, we don’t charge for admission, so the Opera House makes money at it. Then again, we don’t make you listen to opera either.

There were 131 pictures uploaded – logical since I try to post on Fridays, Saturday and Sundays most weeks and that’s about 3 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was December 21st with 779 views. The most popular post that day was Celebrating the Winter Solstice with Words.

In 2014, there were 149 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 895 posts.  Here are the top 5 posts that got the most views in 2014.  All of them were published before 2014, so you could say that my best writing is in the past, or be more optimistic and say that the posts have staying power.

  1.  Signs in Nature of the Winter to Come has been a seasonal favorite since 
  2.  The Red Thread garnered 10 comments as well as lots of readers since
  3.  Fat Wallet Syndrome I guess I am not the only one who suffered from this health issue. It’s a real thing and I still feel a lot better from having learned about it back in 
  4.  Greasy Tony’s Reborn In The Desert  I’m surprised at this one which came from my friend Steve rediscovering an old friend of ours from college days had relocated his business to the desert.
  5.  The Moon of the Falling Leaves  Most of the older Full Moon posts get another look in subsequent years when the time is right. This was my post is the most popular lunar post.

The top referring sites sending readers to the site in 2014 (not including Google) were:

Though most visitors came from the United States, the U.K. and Canada, there were 151 countries in all that accessed the site. 

Thanks to everyone who has followed the posts.