Hello out there and welcome to this, the final post of 2017. It's been some kind of year, let me tell you — and I mean that personally and on a much grander scale. We aren't here to talk about my move from Ann Arbor to Grand Rapids, or my adventures with Uber over the summer, or those stressful days before I secured a full-time job as a reporter in September, though.
No, we're here to dissect, to some degree, the year that was for this blog, Logan's Run, which went through some transformations and ups and downs of its own over the past 12 months. I mean, just think: this wasn't even primarily a travel blog until about April. Before then, I was writing about all kinds of topics — most of them unrelated, which I can admit is not great for building an audience.
The audience members out there who have been following along all year — you know who you are and I thank you vigorously for your loyalty — might recall that I reviewed Batman: The Movie (1966) back in January or that I had a chat with aspiring music producer James Bialik in February. Or what about those two posts — this one and this one — on finally reading Harry Potter?
But then in April, before I'd even decided Logan's Run was a travel blog exclusively — that decision would not come until the following month — I cranked out three travel-related posts and things changed from there on out. One change, for example, was that my fingers probably fell off after writing a combined total of 15 posts in May and June. Amazing what I've been able to do with my nubs since then, am I right?
Seriously though, I discovered pretty quickly that that level of output was not easy to maintain. But I still wanted to be publishing new posts with relative consistency and frequency, and as you may have noticed, every month from July onward has had five posts, no more, no less. I'm writing something new just about every five or six days and that's been much more doable than trying to go every three or four days.
Trying to do too much, as you can imagine, has a way of burning you out, and it's not so wonderful to be stressed out about something you do largely (like 99.9 percent) for fun. Making money from the blog — and we're talking chump change here — is something I'm hoping to be able to do regularly in the future, but we're not there yet (a total of one post in the entire history of Logan's Run has been sponsored by an outside organization so far) and there are still many things I need to figure out organizationally and analytically going forward.
But hey! I just completed an entire year of consistent blogging, so I've got to give myself a pat on the back for that. That's 55 posts in 52 weeks, people! Give a guy some credit, will ya? (I know you see that little heart at the bottom of all these posts.)
Not everything I wrote was a winner in terms of views, obviously, but we aren't here to dwell on the posts that performed poorly — what a downer that would be, right? Nah, as the title of this final post of the year suggests, I'm about to share with you the five posts that proved most popular in 2017.
Now, because I was negligent when it came to keeping track of monthly views — and all other relevant statistics really — the way I did this was to look at traffic numbers by month and then dive into the months that had the most visits. From there, I deciphered which post the views could most likely be attributed to by examining the dates where those views were most heavily clustered.
By that not-so-scientific method, the five most popular posts from 2017 (click the images to open each original post):
5. Free Land in the Middle of the Pacific? Sign Me Up
— published April 9
An impossibly difficult-to-get-to island in the middle of the world's largest ocean piqued my interest from the moment I first learned of it.
Apparently this post — about free plots of land that they may or may not still be giving away on Pitcairn Island — had a lot of other people interested too, enough so that it landed among the most popular posts on the blog this year.
An excerpt: "The Pitcairn Islands, a group of four volcanic islands — Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno — that constitute the last British Overseas Territory in the Pacific Ocean, are more than 3,400 miles southeast of Hawaii's Big Island; more than 3,600 miles west of Santiago, Chile; and more than 3,300 miles east of Auckland, New Zealand."
4. Where to Eat & What to See & Do in Grand Rapids
— published Oct. 12
It has only been two months since I published this piece on Grand Rapids in October, but in that short amount of time, it feels like I've discovered enough new information about the city I've called home for half a year now that I could easily write a sequel.
As popular as this post proved to be, I may just take myself up on that.
An excerpt: "I moved in with a friend on the northeast side of the city toward the end of May, and since then, I've been slowly but surely exploring the different nooks and crannies, checking out the bar scene, finding new places to stuff my face, and generally enjoying 'big city' living (it's only the 121st largest city in the country, according to this cute little list on Wikipedia)."
3. Your Guide to Daytripping on Beaver Island
— published May 24
Though I've been there but once, Beaver Island holds a special place in my heart. As one of the many places my grandmother lived as a child and the former home of a good deal of her relatives, a certain historic magnetism will forever be at work for me.
The island also had a draw for readers of this blog, few and (hopefully) proud as they may be. Besides my personal family history there, Beaver Island has an interesting enough history all its own, what with its self-proclaimed and traitorously-assassinated Mormon king from the 19th century.
An excerpt: "St. James is the central hub of Beaver Island. That's where everything is basically, including the Beaver Island Historical Society, which tells the story of the island's self-proclaimed king and his mutinous downfall; the Beaver Island Harbor Light, ripe for an Instagram backdrop; and the nearby George & Petritz Nature Trail."
2. Stranger Things: 5 Unusual Places to Add to Your Travel Bucket List
— published June 2
Could there be a pop cultural association at work here to help explain why this post was among the most popular this year (i.e. sharing a name with an über-popular Netflix series)? Well, I sure was hoping so when I titled it that; I like to think I'm witty sometimes.
More than the title, however, perhaps people were drawn to "Stranger Things" because the unusual and uncommon are natural human curiosity enhancers. They are for me, anyway, which is why I thought to write about these five places in the first place.
An excerpt: "And now, here's the real out-there one: this insane mountainside monastery in the landlocked country of Bhutan. The Tiger's Nest is a Himalayan Buddhist temple complex built in 1692 into the cliffside of the upper Paro valley. If you thought Denver, the Mile-High City, was up there, consider this: the monastery sits 10,000 feet above sea level."
1. If You Total a Rental Car in Florida
— published March 15
Written following my extended weekend in Orlando and Miami in March, this post easily outpaced all others in 2017. It's pretty safe to say that "If You Total a Rental Car in Florida" accounted for almost all of the blog's page views in March.
It also single-handedly brought about a level of engagement not seen since my "Israeli Days/Jordanian Nights" series from May 2016, which comprised a total of 17 posts written in 17 consecutive days. The main image certainly created the initial draw, but I like to think my writing in the style of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie helped with its popularity, too.
An excerpt: "If you look at the space where the trunk of the rental car used to be and where the back window shattered into gazillions of pieces, you might go on to think that it sure was a good thing you were wearing a seat belt when traffic ahead of you slowed down but the girl in the Nissan Versa behind you didn't."
Maybe in 2018, I'll do a better job with analytics and have actual numbers to share with you when it comes time for this kind of thing again. Yeah, you can bet on it.
Happy new year!