One-year anniversary. Looking back, looking forward

Total monthly readership for the blog has grown from 1,059 in April, 2009 to 21,450 in March, 2010.

A year ago, I wanted to do a daily blog, but didn’t really have an idea about a good subject. Honestly, my life isn’t all that interesting, so I didn’t want to focus on me. Then one day, it hit me – we live in the greatest country in the world, and there are so many things about it worth celebrating. On March 31, I created Great American Things. That first day, I had seven hits. I don’t know how I had that many.

The first subject (at first the posts were numbered, but after a while I realized it appeared that I was ranking things, which I certainly wasn’t) was McDonald’s french fries. That set the tone – small things, specific things, universal things.

Over the year, I changed the appearance of the blog a bit. I started with one photo, and now every post has at least two. Not long after starting, I began to add an appropriate YouTube video each day. I changed the header photograph for each season, and even changed the template theme for a slightly more contemporary look.

Visitor totals gradually increased as word of mouth spread. That’s the only way it has grown, because except for a daily post on Facebook and frequent Twitter posts, there has been no real promotion. In April, 2009 (the first full month) Great American Things enjoyed a total of 1,059 visits. A year later, that total for March, 2010 is 21,450. That’s nothing compared to the big national blogs, but it’s very satisfying to me to have that readership, knowing the totals are growing each month.

Uploaded by kids-birthday-party-guide.com.

What have been the most popular posts in the past year? I could never have predicted these as I was preparing them – I often think I can guess whether a topic will be popular, and I’m frequently wrong. Here are the top 10 topics since the blog began:

10. History: Appomattox
9. Film: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
8. TV Show: The Twilight Zone
7. TV Show: American Bandstand
6. Food: Philly Cheesesteak
5. Person: Dr. Jonas Salk
4. Actor: Jack Nicholson
3. Americana: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
2. TV Show: The Cosby Show
1. Kid Stuff: Sesame Street

The only thing I can learn from this is that TV shows are a good topic. There were no leaders from the Sports, Music, Singers, Songs, Travel, or The Arts categories.

My plan for 2010 is to take the blog to a Web platform where I can offer advertisers the opportunity to participate in the blog’s growth. Which is, of course, a way of saying that it would be nice to earn a little income from all the time I spend doing this.

But you must know that this isn’t about money, it’s totally a labor of love. I enjoy making the selections, I like doing the research, and I have fun putting it all together. I’m glad that many of you have expressed your compliments and appreciation, and I’m honored that you’ve recommended it to your friends. Thank you for making this so worthwhile for me. To me, you’re all Great American Things.

Robin Chalkley

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One response to “One-year anniversary. Looking back, looking forward

  1. Wow, great accomplishment! I once had the great fortune to write a newspaper column and was amazed at how seemingly “little” things really got people’s attention. Readers make connections between the little things like McDonald’s French fries and the big things like, “What a great country we live in!” We are fortunate people!

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