Year in Review: 2015 Blog Stats

With each new year comes a period, however brief, of looking back and seeing where we’ve been.

I established the Collecting Postcards blog on WordPress in April 2014, and one year later I discussed blog stats in One Year in Blogging. Now that 2015 has ended, I have my first full calendar year to analyze. I’m always curious to know how readers find the blog, which posts get the most views, and from which countries do readers visit?

A Lot to Like: Between January 1 and December 31, 2015, I published 46 new posts on Collecting Postcards, an average of one post every 8.7 days. In 2015 the blog received 86 likes and 33 comments via WordPress (Facebook likes, shares and comments weren’t counted).

So Many Guests: The blog received 17,539 views from 6,124 visitors in 2015, and according to a funny email WordPress sent me, that number of views would fill seven sold-out performances at the Sydney Opera House! Since I used to live in Sydney ten years ago, I found that comparison particularly charming.

From Where? Blog readers in 2015 hailed from 121 different countries. One caveat: it isn’t always possible to ascertain the location of someone online. Anyone using a VPN router may appear to be in the U.S., for example, while actually being in China, Namibia, France or anywhere else. In any event, according to blog stats the top ten countries from which visitors reached the blog most frequently were as follows:

(1) United States - 14,462 visitors
(2) Uzbekistan - 318 visitors
(3) Germany - 306 visitors
(4) South Korea - 160 visitors
(5) Australia - 131 visitors
(6) Thailand - 122 visitors
(7) United Kingdom - 110 visitors
(8) Italy - 106 visitors
(9) Russia - 97 visitors
(10) Japan - 84 visitors

What I gather from these numbers is that, even taking into consideration that many web surfers use VPN routers to avoid government internet censorship or access pages geared towards a limited audience, the vast number of visitors to this blog still come from the United States.

Looking for Something? When I looked at the most visited blog posts and pages during 2015 (without counting home page lands), the results were as follows:

(1) Becoming an FSO Part II: The QEP - 1,793 views
(2) My Foreign Service Timeline - 747 views
(3) Becoming an FSO Part III: The FSOA - 720 views 
(4) Flag Day Recap - 685 views
(5) About the Author - 403 views
(6) My Turn at Last: A-100 Offer - 325 views
(7) Becoming an FSO: The FSOT - 312 views
(8) Congratulations to the 180th A-100 Class - 257 views
(9) Becoming an FSO Part IV: Clearances & the Register - 223 views
(10) One Year On - 177 views

Theories: I’ve drawn a few conclusions from the above.

First, it’s notable that all but two of the most-viewed posts or pages in 2015 were actually written in 2014.

Second, most of the people who visit the blog are potential Foreign Service candidates whose interest is in how to get into the Foreign Service, and how it feels to become an FSO, rather than people who know me personally. I won’t let myself be too flattered that the “about me” post made it into the top five; this is likely just because people are curious about what kind of person becomes an FSO! (Or I have a stalker…kidding.)

And third, the post I wrote about the Qualifications Evaluation Panel (otherwise known as the QEP, or the part of the FSO candidacy where the statistically greatest amount of candidates are eliminated) remains of tremendous interest, garnering far and away more hits than any other page except the blog landing page.

I would also note that the ten most all-time popular posts (and not just of a particular year) are ranked on the home page, in a column on the right hand side. Although popularity shifts over time with recently-written posts being more strongly represented, the FSO candidacy posts that I wrote in 2014 are of ongoing interest and have the most staying power.

Looking Ahead: I am looking forward to 2016 and writing many more (hopefully) entertaining and informative posts, whether readers are my friends and family or complete strangers. I also have a lot of exciting plans for this year, including travel to the Maldives and Malaysia, as well as new professional challenges. Although I will probably not post very many more thoughts related to the candidacy process (I feel like I kinda said it all long ago!), I hope those older posts will continue to be insightful. If your dream is to join the Foreign Service, keep trying! The FS is definitely a difficult but exhilarating and fantastic lifestyle. I am wishing all the blog readers in 121 countries and beyond a very joyous and healthy new year.

Thank you for your support, and remember – if there is anything you would like me to discuss in an upcoming post, please comment and let me know.

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