Can you believe it? It’s that time of year again. A new Year begins less than 24 hours from now. Time to look back at the previous 364 days and assess. So how did I do?
My goals for the blog in 2017 were to: “increase the number of posts I write and to share more.”
Here’s what my monthly post count actually looked like in 2017 as compared to 2016 (2017/2016).
- Jan: 12/7
- Feb: 7/3
- Mar: 6/4
- Apr: 3/1
- May: 6/0
- Jun: 0/4
- Jul: 1/3
- Aug: 0/5
- Sep: 2/5
- Oct: 2/5
- Nov: 0/4
- Dec: 6/9
Based on these numbers, I started off great in 2017, easily outdoing 2016 for the first five months of the year. However, I quickly lost momentum after than and did not regain it in the following months. Last year I wrote 50 posts, this year only 45. Not terrible, I know. But I had planned to write 60. So, not great either.
The Year’s Most Popular Posts
What content was most popular this year? Here are the year’s top 10 most visited posts. I’ve placed each post’s place on last year’s list in parentheses after the post title.
- 1916 Aetna Explosives Co. Explosion at Mt. Union, Pa.
- Lancaster County Deed Books Online (#8)
- Making a Deed Map from Old Metes and Bounds (#10)
- Surname Study: My Ahnentafel List
- Pennsylvania Warrant Township Maps (#6)
- 5,000 Acres—Where Did It All Go? (#5)
- Huber Immigrants (#4)
- Friday Finds: Trinity Lutheran Birth and Baptismal Records Online (#3)
- How to Use the Online Lands Records at the PA State Archives (#2)
- Pennsylvania Genealogical Map (#1)
This year’s six most popular posts were also last year’s top six; number eight and nine appeared on the 2016 list, too. I was glad to see two new posts appear on the list this year. One—My Ahnentafel List—is basically my pedigree as I know it back as far as I can go. The other post, #10, was my attempt to research a memory that my paternal grandfather shared with me of his father.
However, like last year, not one of these posts were written in 2017. However, just out of the running at number eleven was Ethnicity Estimate Comparisons, a post about my ethnicity estimates at AncestryDNA and Family Tree DNA as compared to my own estimate based on my pedigree. It has received 181 visits since it was posted in February. With the increasing popularity of DNA testing, maybe it will crack the top ten next year.
Top Ten Posts Written in 2017
If I only include those posts written this past year, what does the list look like? (# of visits in parentheses)
- How Are We Related? (May; 34)
- My Genetic Communities (Apr; 41)
- The Early Life of Rev. Frederick Wage (Jan; 43)
- Unexpected Discovery from AncestryDNA Match (May; 52)
- Henry Landis Jr. (1764-1824) (May; 53)
- Pennsylvania Deeds Online at FamilySearch (Jul; 66)
- Estimating Ethnicity Percentages (Jan; 82)
- Amazon Associates Link Builder Plugin (Jan; 116)
- 5 Reasons to Search Orphans Court Records (Jan; 120)
- Ethnicity Estimate Comparisons (Feb; 181)
Five—50%—of these posts reflect this year’s focus on my AncestryDNA results. I spent a great deal of time when I should have been writing chasing down connections to my DNA cousins and building out family trees. Much of this has been fairly random, simply trying to figure out how I’m related to the people on my match list.
However, now that I’ve got smart about it and focused on specific research objectives, I feel like I’m making some headway. I’ve been using these DNA results to identify and/or verify some of my ancestors. For instance, my work on Jacob and Catharina (Nuss?) Schneider. Using the DNA results in conjunction with my research is giving me more confidence in both.
So, What Now?
To a large extent, I’ve been struggling with a lack of motivation in my writing. I often feel that in order to be worthy of a blog post, I need to have a revelation to discuss or fully done research report to write up. Otherwise the idea just isn’t worthy enough.
But the majority of my most popular posts don’t bear this out. The most viewed post on my blog is about the Pennsylvania Genealogical County Map. It describes a tool that I’ve found useful in understanding settlement dates and changing jurisdictions while doing Pennsylvania genealogy. The top ten is made up of such posts. They detail a research tool or explain how I use an available resource.
Greater popularity is the result of topics that appeal to broader audiences. Since this is a personal research blog, counting total views is not necessarily the most appropriate metric of success. But it might be a good guide for how I write my posts.
Hopefully, this is a lesson I can take to heart in the coming year. My goal for the coming year is to simply share information that is helpful to my fellow family researchers and other genealogists—regardless of how complete or thorough it is.
Focusing on not just the what I know/learned but also on the how I know/learned it might help me to make my writing of more use to more people. And I think that’s a good goal to have.