There Is A Difference Between Best & Most Popular

I never suffer from writer’s block but I sometimes struggle with finding the appropriate words to use in the posts you read here.

That is because this joint is a cross between a personal and business blog so the readership isn’t always prepared to find some of my more colorful language on display.

During the Jurassic period of my blogging adventure I never worried one whit about what expressions I used because I was writing solely for me, but things have changed a bit and so has my approach.

So when I say some of you need to invest in remedial reading courses to work on your comprehension it is my attempt to be more polite because in the old days I would have quoted Robin Williams in Good Morning Vietnam and said “You are in more dire need of a blowjob than any white man in history.”

My good friend Inigo Montoya does an excellent job in The Princess Bride of expressing some of the consternation and disdain I feel for some of you, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Words Have Power and Significance

This really isn’t supposed to be a rant so we’ll stop talking about people who will read those words and smirk because they aren’t smart enough to realize who they are really directed at and will move on to the power of words.

More specifically let’s address the plethora of “Top Ten Post” lists that are being pumped out around the blogosphere now.

Since we are days away from 2013 it is not unusual to see many bloggers adopt a more reflective stance in which they talk about what they wish they had accomplished or what they hope to do in 2013.

Nor is it unusual to see bloggers review their ‘Top Ten Posts” of the year.

Whenever I see these posts I think about the difference between Best and Most Popular.

What Is The Difference?

The method that many bloggers use for determining what their top ten posts are is usually predicated upon which posts received the most traffic and or comments. That doesn’t always translate as to “best” because in many ways it is most similar to “popular.”

I don’t know that there is any real significance or substance to the distinction other than sometimes I look at my “top ten” and see posts that I don’t think were my best. Sometimes they are very good posts but they aren’t always what I consider to be my best.

I wrestle with this sometimes because I am not always certain what I consider to be my best. In some ways it is a bit like being asked to choose favorite child.

There Is Nothing Wrong With The List

There is nothing wrong with having a top ten list. The reality is that it is useful information that you can leverage to help build your blog. And with that I am pleased to share you with a list of what Google Analytics says were among the most popular posts here between January 1 and December 26, 2012.

FWIW, that may include posts that were written prior to 2012. Sometimes they get picked up by StumbleUpon or linked to from other sources that drive buckets of traffic.

  1. A Letter To My Children-2012
  2. What Happens To Your Facebook Account When You Die
  3. Jesus Hates Tim Tebow & 17 Other Reasons Why Your Blog is a Failure
  4. There Are No Coincidences
  5. Two Things That Are Killing Twitter
  6. The Pinterest Predicament & The Rule Of Four
  7. The Etiquette of Unfriending
  8. She Doesnโ€™t Want To Break His Heart
  9. The 100 Year Old Penny
  10. Sometimes Fathers Fail
  11. An Uncertain Certainty
  12. 1 Foolproof Way To Become a Better Writer

A List of 12

Yep, there are 12 items in that list and not ten. That is what happens when you hang out with the big rebel of the blogopshere. ๐Ÿ˜‰

On a serious note I am thinking about going through all of the posts I wrote this year to see which ones I really think were my best. It kind of sucks when they don’t get the same “play” as some of the others.

There are much bigger problems to have, but I figure it can’t hurt to spend a little time there.

19 Comments

  1. Aaron Brinker February 20, 2013 at 2:07 am

    Jack,

    The funny thing is if I only went by Google Analytic “most” of popular post would all be about blogging. I am not saying all of them would but I find it funny that I am actually a parenting blog and I gain the most traffic when I publish a piece on blogging. It tells me that people are either really hungry for fresh information on blogging or desperate. (No…I am not knocking my post they were well received and well written).

    In fact, I have one post last year that I loved and I didn’t receive one comment. I still wonder what I did wrong. I realize they can’t all be winners and I continue to blog forth in the blogosphere (someday I hope to grow up to be just like you Jack….lol)

    There are times I question writing a “dad” blog but I remember I actually do enjoy it most of the time. Thanks for keeping it real and in perspective for us newer bloggers.

    Aaron Brinker aka DadBlunders

    • Jack February 21, 2013 at 8:22 pm

      Hi Aaron,

      Bloggers love to talk and read about blogging. It is the one guarantee I have to make about blogging- blog about it and you’ll get consistent traffic.

  2. Jens P. Berget December 30, 2012 at 1:28 am

    I have been thinking of doing something similar. But, by looking at Google Analytics I’ll get the same posts over and over again. I have some really old posts that are receiving a lot of traffic. It’s not that they’re any good, they’re old and they are solving problems that a lot of people are having.

    My top posts would be posts either based on comments (the easy way) or the posts I am most satisfied with.

  3. Pingback: Most Read Posts on Sword and the Script 2012

  4. Gina December 28, 2012 at 8:23 am

    That’s right. You never do suffer from writer’s block and that has me green sometimes. But I do agree that mostly, for me, is finding the “right” words and not the ideas for posts. I wrote 337 this year, which is a bunch more than the 52 weeks X 6 days I had planned.

    LOVE the PB quote. Care if I tweet it?

    I’ve read all the posts in your list above when they came out originally.

    • Jack December 29, 2012 at 1:00 am

      Hi Gina,

      I hate half of the content I produce. It sounds funny, awkward and strange to me. But time and experience has proven that not everyone agrees with me so I keep pushing out new content because the discipline of regular writing and the struggle to find the write words is how people become better writers.

      Feel free to tweet away.

      I appreciate your time, thank you.

  5. Joe December 28, 2012 at 6:40 am

    I may put out a top ten list this year. I’ve never done it before, only because in four, five years of doing this, this may be the first one where I thought, “Hey, I wrote some good shit this year”. But then again, I may have one more solid post in me before the end of the year. The top whatever may have to wait till after the first of the year.

    The issue with you, my friend, is you could put out a Top 40 list. We could call you Casey Kasem. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Jack December 29, 2012 at 12:57 am

      Hi Joe,

      Thank you, perspective and taste are wonderful things. Some people love our work and some hate it. I usually root for the haters to lose all of their teeth except for one. Did I mention I want them to have a toothache in that one tooth. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      On a serious note, one of the reasons I sometimes put out these lists is because they provide an opportunity to market the blog and if you want to grow your readership marketing is one of those things that has to be done.

      I also see it as a good chance to take a harder look at what I have done and to give a sort of performance review. Never hurts to check.

  6. Bell December 28, 2012 at 4:48 am

    I’ve hacked together the occasional “top ten” or “top whatever” post; but I always feel the need to clarify which items are most viewed and which are my personal favorites. Sometimes the two overlap. To be honest I’m not overly fond of top-anything. Just tell me what you like, show me what you’re proud of. That’s good enough for me. Sometimes numbers mean nothing.
    This may sound immodest, but I am proud of my piece on Bob Dylan, regardless of the scant attention it got. I don’t care. Love of the subject and a love of writing, that’s what matters to me.

    As for choice of words, yeah, everybody struggles with words every now and then. Sometimes several times within the same post.

    Inigo Montoya was one savvy dude. A few blogs make me want to say, “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You butchered grammar and spelling like no-one’s done before. Prepare to die.”

    • Jack December 29, 2012 at 12:53 am

      Hi John,

      I always want to know what posts/work a writer likes best both personal and otherwise. I find it interesting to learn more about what moves them and why unless they love Jar Jar in which case I want to Taser them, but I digress.

      I am a fan of the struggle for words because it is the only way I know to become a better writer. Struggle pushes us to dig deeper.

      Love that last line, “You butchered grammar” hee hee, just makes me laugh.

  7. Stan Faryna December 28, 2012 at 3:27 am

    I have enjoyed a large number of Jack’s posts and look forward to many more. Jack is one of the few bloggers I read often.

  8. Betsy Cross December 28, 2012 at 3:01 am

    I think that the “best” post is the one that flowed out from you easily and effortlessly connected with the audience you want to write to/for. Even if there were only a few views of it, those relationships are the ones to cultivate because they connect to your style and will come back for more over time.

    In the end, doesn’t a writer continue writing for two reasons? The first is to get their soul out on paper. The second is to have it “gotten.” Playing to an audience as anyone but yourself can leave one feeling as empty as performing to an empty house after a while.

    • Jack December 29, 2012 at 12:45 am

      Hi Betsy,

      The posts that flow freely bring me more joy than I can properly express especially when you make that connection with someone or some people.

      I can’t imagine not being able to write because that would be like having my arm cut off. I suppose there is a lot of truth to being “gotten” because when it happens there is magic there.

  9. Kristen Daukas December 27, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    I am doing a top 10 on monday according to Google and then the next day, a top 10 according to Kristen. There may be some overlap but probably not much ๐Ÿ™‚ What’s most interesting is that according to Google, the top post on my site is similar to yours – A Birthday Message to My 14 Year Old Daughter. Guess there are a lot of people looking for words to share, huh?

    • Jack December 28, 2012 at 1:29 am

      Hi Kristen,

      I think you are right. When I look at the data I often wonder about what sort of balance to strike between the lighter and serious material.

      If I want to become an “authority” with a bigger platform and reach what sort balance do I have to strike content wise to make it happen.

  10. Frank Strong December 27, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    Definitely an interesting thought. Some of — what I think — are my better posts get narry a view. Those are the kind I spend a lot of time researching, fact finding and putting an effort into the details. These are hard work. Then I pump out a list of whatever is on my mind and those sail around the web. Even so, it’s interesting to look at what earned the most traffic and trying to deduce why. Perhaps that is moot too, however, because I’m coming to realize, despite all the analytics, blogging, like marketing, is more mystery than puzzle. You can bet I’m doing some research on that post for the near future!

    • Jack December 28, 2012 at 1:26 am

      Hi Frank,

      It is one of those things that always makes me scratch my head. There are posts here that are chock full of useful information and actionable content that fall into that “nary a view” category you mention above while the silly nonsense gets read to death.

      More mystery than puzzle is as good a description as I have heard. I just chalk it up to the joy of people being…people. Sometimes there aren’t logical explanations, just explanations.

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