On October 10, 2010, The Writings Of Dennis Earl officially moved from Windows Live Spaces to WordPress. After more than four and a half years on the former, the site relocated to the latter. (Yes, I actually made the switch on the 9th but I count the 10th as the official new beginning because that’s when I first started posting at the new digs. So there!) Microsoft was shutting down the Spaces program through a six-month phase out period. Those who wished to continue blogging wisely transferred all their existing entries and comments to the new location within that time frame. All the remaining Spaces sites that stayed put by mid-March 2011 were automatically deleted.
It wasn’t a particularly productive period for me. Postings had become maddeningly infrequent. Enthusiasm had dropped off considerably. The internal hope was that a change of scenery would be reinvigorating and inspire more entries.
Sure enough, in those first three weeks I posted ten new pieces, the highest amount of monthly entries since February 2010. At first, that number could not be repeated or surpassed during the early days of The WordPress Era. But over time, I regained my literary footing and found myself much more engaged with blogging, even though I’ve not been able to consistently maintain the entry levels of the first two years of the Spaces era. (To be fair, a good number of those early entries were old pieces written before the site’s existence.)
In the near two years I’ve been here, the site has grown faster than expected. Exact numbers are not available for the Spaces era but based on Microsoft’s flawed Statistics feature I would conservatively estimate that The Writings Of Dennis Earl achieved between 40000 and 50000 hits between February 2006 and October 2010. Not great but not bad, either.
So far on WordPress, which thankfully keeps far more accurate statistics, this site has generated more than 46000 hits in just two years. To put this into perspective, it’s taken me less than half the time to reach this modest milestone here than during the entirety of the Spaces era. A very encouraging sign.
Also encouraging has been the occasional breakout piece, a particular bit of writing that generated far more interest than usual. To help celebrate this site’s second anniversary on WordPress this week, I want to count down the five most popular entries in the new era. Here we go:
5. Unanswered Questions About Gene Simmons Family Jewels (1100 hits)
Originally posted on October 23rd last year, this was the sixth piece I wrote about the sixth season of the now-cancelled A&E reality series. Following the much ballyhooed wedding episodes of Kiss frontman Gene Simmons and his long suffering Playboy centerfold girlfriend Shannon Tweed, as evident by the title alone, I had a lot of unresolved inquiries about the show and the state of the Tweed-Simmons clan. (What can I say? This damned thing sucked me in.)
A week later, I posted an update that acknowledged Simmons’ announcement on Twitter that Family Jewels was coming back for a seventh season (which turned out to be its last). That answered question 36. The third and final update pointed to an Entertainment Weekly item about the show’s return this past May. The program was officially cancelled in August.
Unanswered Questions received almost a hundred hits during its first day of public viewing and would receive 400 more by the end of 2011. So far this year, its generated about 600 more hits, bringing the total to about 1100. Now if only someone would satisfactorily answer those 35 remaining questions I posed.
4. Why Shannon Tweed’s Desire To Adopt Is Foolhardy (almost 1200 hits)
During the seventh season premiere of Family Jewels, a new storyline was introduced. Shannon wanted to adopt a baby. A terrible idea, said her remarkably well-adjusted kids, Nick and Sophie. No kidding, thought the audience.
Too bad Gene was too much of a pussy to publicly side with all of us as the season continued. Instead, he refused to make an open stand (he was always against it privately) hoping his new wife would grow tired of the idea. (He clearly doesn’t know Shannon very well after all these years.) Because of his constant hedging (he didn’t want to hurt her feelings), this nonsense was needlessly dragged out for several episodes until finally, after regaining her sense of reason, Shannon decided everyone was right and ultimately backed down.
Honestly, what was she thinking? That was the premise behind Why Shannon Tweed’s Desire To Adopt Is Foolhardy which was written and posted on May 28 of this year, the same night the seventh season premiere aired. Unlike last season, it was the only Family Jewels piece I wrote for this final season. An update about Shannon’s change of heart was added in July.
Foolhardy earned over 100 hits on its first day. By the end of July, it had been accessed a little over 800 times. As of right now, it’s been seen more than 1160 times.
Noticing a pattern? This was first seen on July 20, 2011. It was a follow-up to an earlier entry about the sixth season premiere of Family Jewels (see number one). It generated more than 280 hits on that day, 910 for the month of July. Viewings would drop off dramatically in August and September, just 160 hits combined. But when the second half of the season resumed in October, it picked up an additional 646 hits.
By the end of the year, this piece was seen a little more than 1800 times. So far this year, it’s generated 1500 more hits. Despite another sluggish period between January and April, upon the return of the last season of Family Jewels in May, monthly hit counts averaged between 300 and 400 right up to the end of September.
One side note: my comment about Shannon and Gene splitting up, of course, turned out to be wrong. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was fooled at the time. Who would’ve expected these two to ever get married in the first place?
2. 29 Things I Love About Storage Wars (4100 hits)
I was on my way home one afternoon late last year trying to figure out what to write next for the site when it hit me. Why not do a piece on Storage Wars? (My Dad had watched the first season on A&E but I got into the show through reruns on OLN.) Originally, it was going to be a memorable moments-type entry but it ultimately got reworked into this things-I-love-about-the-show posting.
When it debuted on November 17th, 2011, it generated a measly 6 hits. You can imagine my immediate disappointment. But over time 29 Things I Love About Storage Wars became a surprisingly enduring piece in spite of its slow start. At the end of the year, it was seen a little over 300 times. But in 2012 thus far, it’s been accessed an additional 3700-plus times. (The best month was July: nearly 500 hits.)
Like the Family Jewels pieces, whenever A&E airs new episodes or runs those frequent marathons, 29 Things gets a nice boost in hits. Now that Storage Wars has concluded its third season, however, viewings have fallen back down to earth. But when it returns, there’s a very good chance hits will go right back up again. Yup!
1. What’s Really Going On With Shannon Tweed & Gene Simmons? (almost 16000 hits)
After watching the sixth season premiere of Gene Simmons Family Jewels in June 2011, something bothered me. I couldn’t understand why Shannon left Gene over a photograph. Also, she had mentioned to their on-camera therapist that she had been continuously weeping for three straight years. What made her cry in the first place? Then, I remembered: the sex tape.
For some inexplicable reason, Gene’s videotaped dalliance with another woman was never mentioned in that episode or any other that followed that season. (There was no mention of it in season seven, either.) I found this very strange and proceeded to write about it. Little did I know how big the finished posting would turn out to be in comparison to everything else I’ve ever written.
At the end of last year, I recapped what happened in the six months after its debut in Part One of Remembering My Sixth Year Of Blogging. Essentially, What’s Really Going On With Shannon Tweed & Gene Simmons? was viewed 10003 times between June 18 and December 31 in 2011. Since then, it’s been seen an additional 5700 times.
Let’s put this in perspective. Of the 46000-plus hits this website has generated in two years on WordPress, a third of that total can be attributed to this one posting alone. Nothing I’ve ever written in the six and a half years I’ve been doing this has inspired more thoughtful comments and more page views.
Now if I can only top it. Repeatedly.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, October 9, 2012