Classically Educated: Greatest Hits Volume I

Classical Columns

One of the nice things about being able to see the numbers on a blog as eclectic as this one is that you never really know what is going to resonate with readers.  Sometimes, a post goes up which looks like it will immediately become popular… and it disappears without a trace.  Others look less likely to attract a wide audience, and they work well.  And then there are the ones that don’t attract much immediate readership but keep getting visited, time and time again by people in the most unlikely locations.

When the blog started, most of our traffic came from direct referrals and our Fan Page, but more and more, we’re seeing most of the traffic arriving from search engines and simply people who stumbled on us, read the manifesto, liked what they saw, and pop back occasionally.

Guest posts are always popular… but then, so are posts by the CE team, so no clue there!

So, without further ado, we are proud to present the most popular posts from our first half-year of life:

10: (Tie) Aerobics for my Brain and What the Reading of Blake’s Poetry Awoke in Me.  These two epitomize what Classically Educated stands for.  The first is about the mental gymnastics of traveling to a new place… while the second delves into literature, and the sensations it inspires.

9: On words, as they relate to worldview.  A bit of a rant, a bit of philosophy, and a post which asks questions about differing types of human nature.  Of course, the answers probably lie within us!

8: Tango: The Forgotten Argentine Passion. The first in a series of Tango articles that made the list, and which gives one view of how the dance is seen in more modern days.


7: PC Runs Amok in Science Fiction Community.  Yes, we know that, depending on your worldview, political correctness is either running amok everywhere, or there isn’t really enough of it to protect the disenfranchised.  But even the most die-hard believer will have a giggle at the silliness that is PC insanity in the tiny Science Fiction Community. It is much harder to take earnest, holier-than-thou, PC preaching seriously when the person doing it writes about goblins…

6: A New Model For the Publishing Business?  More literature in CE…  A lot of the posts on this list have to do with the letters, despite this kind of post not being all that frequent.  Probably says something about our readers!

5: A Trip To New York on Hydrogen Wings.  It Was Just One of Those Things.  Admit it.  Everyone is fascinated by airships and especially the transatlantic Zeppelins of the thirties.  OK, don’t admit it, but this guest post is eternally popular, which is proof enough for us!


4: Tango For Export.  The second half of the Tango series deals with the dance outside the borders of Argentina, and gives a good overview of what to expect if you ever come into contact with it.  The fact that it remains popular will likely mean many new dances in the short term!

3: Bad Management Fads – A Classically Educated List.  Well, Scott Adams sells a ton of Dilbert material, so it’s not really surprising that this one makes the list.  The corporate world has done a LOT of stupid in its history, and that is reflected here.  Plus, people love lists.

2: 10 Reasons why it Sucks to Be Single, Female and Smart.  This masterpiece of reality and rueful laughter hits the nail on the head better than anything that Bridget Jones may have said or done. Guest poster Scarlett just knows her stuff. Plus, people love lists, as we have mentioned.  They also seem to love romance columns.


Driving home after the party

1: Party Like it’s 1925.  We like to think that this one is on top because it epitomizes everything good about Classically Educated’s readership: they are smart, well-educated, interested in history, and have a bit of a dark and twisted sense of humor.  Also, they are irreverent, and likely to march to their own drummers.  Plus, of course, people love lists.


Looking over the list now, it’s clear that the initial objectives – eclecticism, interesting articles, and use of the Harvard comma – have been achieved.  But, as always, opinions to the contrary are welcome!


Creating a Successful Blog From Scratch


So, today’s blog is about… blogging!  Specifically, it’s about blogging here, but it can be applied to any blog you might want to know about.  We did warn you that this blog would be eclectic, didn’t we?

When we began, a couple of months ago, we had a bunch of questions, ranging from “Would anyone be interested in this?” to “Will running the same topic in more than one post in the same week help or hinder readership?”  We’e answered those two (yes and help, in case you were wondering), but we know that we still have a lot of stuff that will catch us by surprise.

Nevertheless, I would call the first two months an unqualified success.  We kept to the publication schedule, had a bunch of guest bloggers sharing their wisdom on topics ranging from Romance to Awesome High Schools, and we have some interesting stuff in the pipeline as well (for example, if you ever wondered what life was really like in Syria before the civil war, stay tuned).

But what did we actually learn?

Well, the first thing we found out was that having a nice-looking blog interface really engages people.  I’ve had guest bloggers tell me that the reason they accepted the invitation was that the blog looks really good – and was even more of a motivating factor than the content which had gone before.

Facebook Logo

The second thing we learned was that having a Facebook fan page is important, as FB seems to be the place where most people go about sharing links and clicking through – a majority of the traffic we’ve seen has come through FB links.  Also, if you haven’t already done so, go ahead and like our FB Fan Page, and you’ll get updates automatically whenever we update the content.  LinkedIn, LiveJournal and Twitter feeds have also had some readership, but FB seems to be where it’s at right now.

Third thing – and this one was a bit painful – was that a nicely emotional, personal article will always attract more readers than the most interesting mega-punditry.  Unexpected, but true, and probably explained the need to write this post.

These are just some of the learnings – I could also mention the fact that readership grows slowly, in spurts, that no matter how many readers you have, people will be too shy to comment.  Or that unexpected topics wake people’s passions – such as last week’s tango extravaganza, which proved unexpectedly popular.

Not so positive things?  There were some.  If we had to do it all again, we would have launched the FB fan page the same day as the blog itself, so that even the readers who came aboard very early could have signed up for the updates.

Classically educated map

And the final thing?  The analytics are addictive, especially the map which tells you where people are reading your posts.  We’ve been delighted to entertain visitors from every continent other than Antartica…  But are now a bit obsessed by the fact that we’ve had none from Senegal or Nepal (in fact, Africa and Asia are both conspicuously blank).  Why not?  Where are you guys?

We know you’re out there…  and we will find and engage you!