As we do every year here at Travalanche, we begin 2015 with some rough statistical and categorical analysis to try and learn what types of posts have been most successful with readers so we can better serve our passengers (I say passengers, because the MTA refers to the people who ride the subway as “customers” and the people at the chain drug stores refer to their patrons as “guests”. I imagine the people who run hotel chains call the people who stay at their hotels “lumberjacks”. It’s all up for grabs in this cockamamie world). The results are instructive and perhaps a little surprising.
So far we have published 5,314 posts. We restricted our analysis of categories to the top 100 posts.
The top categories among the top five posts were:
- Freak biography (Eko and Iko)
- Movie star (Jayne Mansfield)
- Contemporary movie review (The Muppets)
- Vaudeville biography (The Seven Little Foys)
- Painter (Magritte)
Of these, the top three are real spikes, well in advance of the next comers. #2, #3 and #5 are likely the result of image searches, but #1 is clearly from people doing research, as we can tell from search engine terms, as is #4. We like this, as it means we are doing something right!
The top ten posts represent 11% of overall pageviews
Of these 10 posts:
- 5 were about movie or tv stars, accounting for half the top ten pageviews
- 3 were biographies of sideshow freaks, accounting for a third of top 10 pageviews
- 2 were vaudeville biographies, garnering 1/7 of page hits in top 10
- 1 was a painter, receiving 1/15 of page hits in top 10
Top 100 posts represent roughly a quarter of all pageviews.
Of these 100, these were the top categories in descending order of rank (note that some overlap):
- Movie and tv stars were highest: 1/3 of the posts for ½ of the pageviews among the 100
- Vaudeville biographies: 1/4 of the posts for 1/3 of the pageviews among the 100
- Biographies of sideshow freaks: 1/10 of the posts for 1/5 of the pageviews among the 100
- Classic comedy stars: 14% of posts, for 1/8 of the pageviews among the 100
- Classic comedy films: 5% of the posts, for 3% of pageviews among 100
- Contemporary movie & tv reviews: 5% of the posts, for 1/8 of the pageviews among 100
- Painters: 3% of the posts for 4% of pageviews among 100
Besides these (within the top 100) are categories that are either below the radar or somehow anomalous. Some are vaudeville and old show biz related categories, but small. Some are obituaries, which we see as a sad facet of our purview, but there’s no way to include them in the planning process. And some are artificially inflated by the presence of sexy keywords like nude, naked, etc (though we don’t actually do sex posts).
There are some big revelations here.
The biggest is the absence of posts about specific old comedy films. As you may have noted, about a year ago that became the leading focus of new posting on Travalanche, in order to support my book Chain of Fools. But posts about any specific classic comedy film are way, way down in this hierarchy, well below the top 100. Now: the reality is that the vaudeville biography posts have been up for much longer (that content stream started in 2009). It may well be that over time the posts about films will pick up. Next month that content stream was scheduled to essentially stop anyway, with some scattered new posts (stuff that fell through the cracks) to follow throughout the balance of the year. So we’ll monitor it over the next few months, but right now it’s not seeming like a worthwhile area of effort. (Although, while the films themselves aren’t doing well – the classic comedy stars are, and one of them, Charlie Chaplin of course, is among our top ten posts of all time). If it does pick up at some point later, there are certainly many more comedy films to write about, and I’ll start a new round.
The other major takeaway is the relative success of the biographies of the sideshow freaks. That content stream began in earnest just a little over two years ago, and there are relatively few posts, somewhere around 150 biographies. In other words, they are performing extremely well, pound for pound, maybe our best category. But we aren’t about to start doing a lot more freak posts as a result. On this blog, as it is in the world, that subject is but a sideshow. So we are also heartened by the relative success of the vaudeville biographies. If we merge these categories with the common theme being “old time show biz” we find our intended area of concentration doing very well.
Also, though we might be tempted to make contemporary and movie reviews a big area of activity, the reality is that the number is grossly inflated by that one review of The Muppets, which, as we said, was the result of an image search.
At any rate, it remains to be seen what new direction this blog will take. It’s my fond hope to do a lot more personal autobiographical writing, although I may do that somewhere else. As we say we have more odds and ends to share in the field of vaudeville and old movies. We have a big backlog of writings in other genres (westerns, disaster movies etc) although our previous dabbling in another genre, classic horror has yielded little. The most promising film genre to date has been B movies and camp, and we may explore that in more depth.
As I’ve said many times, I’m a critic, not a historian. The idea of doing a lot of research in the library on vaudevillians I haven’t written about yet is about as attractive to me as having spinach shoved down my throat through a funnel, so that’s simply not in the cards, even though that may be our most solid category. It may be that in a year or two, we simply move on, this blog having done its job. The thought appeals to me, though as readership grows day by day (Travalanche grew by 50% in 2014 and we expect to pass 1 million hits sometime this year), it’s awfully hard to give up!
Thanks for reading.