Hey-hey, folks! Welcome to the fourth annual Midlife Crisis Crossover year-in-review! This modest site was launched on April 28, 2012, as a cathartic experiment in writing whatever came to mind without waiting for other people to start my conversations for me, and so far it’s successfully kept me busy enough to avoid 98% of all toxic social media hubs. Sometime this winter we’ll reach our 1,200th entry, look back on these hundreds of thousands of words generated to date, and thank the Lord my fingers and brain haven’t gone numb yet.
The following is written not as a woe-is-me pity party or a cry for help. The following is real talk:
In terms of site views and audience size, 2015 was a major disappointment. Total traffic declined over 39% from 2014. And it’s pretty much my own fault.
This year we broke no records, had no major breakthroughs, largely opted out of the social-justice thinkpiece zeitgeist, remained as terrible as ever at basic networking, devoted a disproportionate amount of space to a TV show I like despite its plummeting Nielsen ratings, skipped going to the movies for nearly three months, earned no new WordPress “Freshly Pressed” nitro boosts (maybe we’ll see how its successor, the “WordPress Discover” program, goes?), and cut back to posting “only” five days per week, because I’m aging and need my rest from time to time, to say nothing of my hobbies. And I refuse to settle for entries that are just a single photo and ten words. Never been my style.
Of all the times I shot myself in the foot, the bloodiest wound came from my long-deliberated decision to stop attending convention costume contests, one of MCC’s surefire breadwinners. But it had to be done for the sake of my own sanity and family harmony. I’m not summarizing the #longreads piece in that link again, but this decision meant skipping Gen Con altogether for the first time in years. No lie: that hurt. If you’re a Mad Men fan, it was the equivalent of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce giving up the Lucky Strikes account. And I don’t have a team of junior execs on payroll to line up replacement topics for me.
Lesson learned the hard way on this year-long plateau I dynamited for myself: if you’re resolved to live without clickbait, then you need to prepare to live without clicks.
…but I’m feeling much better now, I promise. This New Year’s has been a really good weekend.
Onward, then, to our annual blog-stats party! 2015 on Midlife Crisis Crossover looked like so:
MCC 2015 POSTS WITH THE MOST OVERALL CUMULATIVE HITS
1. Let Me Know When “Community” Season 6 is on DVD
2. “Jupiter Ascending”: Today’s Horoscope Says You Were Meant to Rule
3. “MAD MAX FURY ROAD” IN SUPER AWESOME DOLBY 4K DIGITAL 3-D ALL-CAPS-O-RAMA!
4. C2E2 2015 Photos, Part 4 of 9: Mighty Marvel Costumes
5. Indy Pop Con 2015 Photos, Part 2 of 3: More Costumes!
Movie reviews may not earn the most loving from other WordPress users for a long list of reasons, but they’re decent “evergreen” material that draw looks from random passersby even when no one’s digging any of my newer entries. I’m also aware and grateful that the super-shouty Mad Max: Fury Road entry received a healthy amount of social-media sharing from one or more capital-F Friends I’ve known since before WordPress. When my writing catches the eye of someone who’s actually known me for years, it’s an encouraging feeling and a lovely change of pace from blank stares, “You write on the internet? Well, isn’t that nice” patronizing, and “Sorry I keep forgetting to check out your site” candid regrets.
Usually I can also depend on rising tides whenever we post cosplay pics from our geek conventions — C2E2, Wizard World Chicago, Indiana Comic Con, Indy Pop Con, etc. (Some rise more than others.) But this year’s true surprise was in striking a nerve with other Community fans who found that Yahoo! Screen sucks and we’d much rather watch season 6 in any other format. At this point, with no physical-media release news anywhere in sight, I’d rather see every episode adapted into a half-hour .gif than smash my head on the keyboard through another all-night failure session with Yahoo! Screen.
HIGHEST SINGLE-DAY TRAFFIC SPIKES
Sadly the WordPress dashboard underwent yet another overhaul this year, so I can no longer view the last twelve months’ worth of individual, day-by-day stats for this category that’s now rendered defunct unless I start keeping tabs myself throughout the year. Fortunately there’s just enough evidence to confirm MCC’s best single-day traffic in 2015 was thanks to “The Alderaanian Glitter Bomber Strikes!“, my immediate recount of the time Anne and I met the Carrie Fisher at Indiana Comic Con in March and were rewarded with glitter in the face.
MCC BACK-CATALOG POSTS WITH THE MOST HITS IN 2015
1. Installing This Stupid Dryer Vent Cover Counts as a Victory
2. The “Wreck-It Ralph” Easter Eggs You’ll Never See
3. Yes, There’s a Message After the “Dallas Buyers Club” End Credits
4. Yes, There’s a Scene After the “Frozen” End Credits
5. Yes, There’s a Scene After the “Django Unchained” End Credits
You, uh, may notice a pattern. Apparently I wrote the definitive essay on the travails of dryer vent cover replacement that the manufacturers don’t want you to read. There’s also the one humor piece filled with retro-gaming jokes whose headline doesn’t clearly label it a joke entry. But chiefly I seem to be a go-to guy for movie fans who hate sitting through end credits. Sadly, virtually none of the 2015 movies I saw did anything special after the end credits, not even Pixar’s Inside Out. Just my luck, maybe The Good Dinosaur did, but I wouldn’t know because I never made time for it.
MOST “LIKED” POSTS OF 2015
Every single one of these was structured as a response to a WordPress.com “Daily Post” Weekly Photo Challenge. Each Friday the powers-that-be come up with a photo theme that WordPress users are encouraged to incorporate into a post, share with hundreds of other users, and enjoy the ensuing networking magic. It’s a fun way to meet other bloggers and see the works of real photographers who do it for a living, as opposed to amateurs like me who lack DSLR technical training. If I ever switched my Canon to manual mode, I can easily imagine myself accidentally triggering self-destruct mode.
On the other hand, if we remove that access point from the traffic equation…
MOST “LIKED” 2015 POSTS THAT WEREN’T A WORDPRESS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE
1. MCC 2015 Food Photo Marathon #6: The Thin Line Between Breakfast and Dessert
2. 2015 Road Trip Photos #23: Southern Cooking Showdown, Round 2
3. (2-way tie) 2014 Road Trip Photos #16: Nice Park, Charlie Brown
3. 2015 Road Trip Photos #12: Southern Seafood Showdown, Round 1
5. (7-way tie) All is Quiet on New Year’s Day. GOOD.
5. How Are YOU Celebrating National Donut Day?
5. 2014 Road Trip Photos #32: Outtakes, Minnesota
5. 2015 Road Trip Photos #2: Supping on the Shoulders of Giants
5. I’m a Clabber Girl in a Clabber World
5. Art ‘n’ Taters in Terre Haute
5. The Springs in Fall — 2015 Photos #2: Sunday in Estes Park
Ten of the eleven were photo galleries, which tells me 2015 was a really bad year for paragraphs.
But most days I put a great deal of effort into bolstering our galleries with personal anecdotes, fun trivia, and frivolous captioning skills honed from years of watching Mystery Science Theater 3000. I’m not the kind of guy who likes to reduce his shared experiences to “Here is photo. Here is photo. Here is photo. Here is photo. Here is also photo. Photo. Photo. Photo.” And so on. Like comics, I feel like I’m on a storytelling roll when I can combine words and pictures into something harmonious.
MOST COMMENTED POSTS OF 2015
1. Prayers and Thoughts Needed for the Rarasaur Family
2. The Sweetest Gal in the E.R.
3. (tie) 2014 Road Trip Photos #31: Outtakes on the Way
3. The Official MCC Guide to Finding Joy in Blogging All Wrong
[#5 was a zillion-way tie, so I stopped this countdown prematurely.]
The top two share the unfortunate category of Stories About Good People in Bad Times. #2 may have hit closer to home, but #1 in particular was among my all-time least favorite pieces to type in my 16+ years of internet history. The 2014 Road Trip entry also doubled as a Weekly Photo Challenge submission, but fell a few votes shy of ranking among the most-Liked listed above.
My summary of Bizarro blogging advice is one of my personal faves from 2015, and a timely reminder to myself that a lot of my low-traffic issues stem from how prone I am to ignoring the heck out of conventional internet wisdom in all its varied, problematic forms. In other words, if I gotta be me, then I gotta be prepared for these sustained eras when “me” is a low-demand commodity.
Speaking of which:
LEAST LOVED MCC POSTS OF 2015
As of this writing, seven 2015 entries have netted exactly zero (0) Likes from other WordPress bloggers. Everyone had prior reading commitments, or they were busy washing their hair those days, or their dog ate their Likes, or they were my least successful things I’ve ever done with the English language. Even bots and spammers side-eyed these seven and silently threw shade at them from the safety of their overseas nests.
Out of 272 new entries, these seven were the most unwanted misfits of all:
* “Sleepy Hollow” 2/23/2015: Yankee Doodle Abbie
* “Sleepy Hollow” 10/8/2015: The Greatest Spectacle in Wraithing
* “Sleepy Hollow” 11/5/2015: Swarm Front
* “Sleepy Hollow” 11/19/2015: Sumerian Gothic
The once-beloved sleeper hit now has more internet recappers than actual viewers. I think season 3 has improved over season 2 in a few ways, but I may be among a minority in this. My conscience tells me I ought to stick to my original commitment and recap every episode to its inevitable, inglorious end so that I can have a complete set when it’s over, but it’s coming at a bit of a cost and really, how much of a sin is it to break such a commitment if no one would hold me accountable for it anyway? (Well, almost no one — I owe special thanks to that one Facebook fan who’s been following along with me, whose weekly FB Like has meant quite a bit. Hi, Venice!)
Its overall tiny traffic bumps tells me I probably stretched the C2E2 2015 series out to too many entries. The “potpourri”-themed cosplay entry was neither better nor worse than the rest except in lacking a unifying theme, but as the middle child it nonetheless suffered unanimous rejection.
Not the first time an MCC entry devoted to a single convention guest has bombed. This one was written a few days before the Academy Award Nominee’s subsequent appearance at Indy Pop Con 2015, in which he gave a friendly yet frank Q&A about his Hollywood experiences, and we even had our photo taken with him. One Google+ user dug this mostly facetious Top 10 list; WordPress as a community, not so much.
When I finished tallying all the numbers, I had to laugh. The busiest entry of 2015 was also one of the least rewarded. I love a lot about WordPress, but it’s important to note that the WordPress audience and the general audience-at-large aren’t always on the exact same page.
…and that’s the year that was. My proudest accomplishment: devoting absolutely zero entries and zero words to Donald Trump, the fiasco that walks like a man.
Thanks for reading anyway. Join me in an all-new, all-different 2016, won’t you?