Over our last three months we posted steadily 1-3 times a week. On many evenings, it took ’til one or two a.m. to get ‘er done, but we are proud of our dedication to this project. While we’ve built a plethora of content, old posts remain relatively buried in our image heavy design. So we unearthed them and are excited to revisit them with you and share some stats and insights. Whether you’re a fellow blogger, new reader or loyal fan, thank you for being here with us!
5 Most popular posts
Starting this blog felt like running our hands along something invisible. We didn’t quite know what shape it would take. What would we post about? Would we limit our content geographically to Brant or Brantford? What proportion of posts should we dedicate to documenting our work, writing about local hot spots, or sharing our home life? We never knew what would resonate so whenever we posted something new, we learned something (about ourselves, and the audience). One thing: numbers don’t lie. Here are our five most visited posts, and why we think they made it better than the rest.
5. “Marketing Paris” – Our fifth all-time most popular post, this was a dreamer piece. We fantasized about what Paris could be if we cherished all that was good about this town. We also spent more time designing this piece than many others, cutting our first full-length Paris Lectures video that highlights the popular David Powell’s recollections of historic Paris buildings. This unique content and special effort toward storytelling made it different and special.
4. “Hometown“ – Our next most popular post was a tie with #5 with nearly 600 views. This was a more personal account of why we chose Paris as a place to raise our kids. Complete with wedding photos, we think this post appealed to the voyeuristic nature of people going through something similar.
3. “Personal Computer Museum“ – We predicted this one a bit, as we reckoned Syd Bolton, the founder of the Personal Computer Museum in Brantford, had a strong and loyal network of fans. His existing network on Facebook and Twitter meant we had a good chance of getting a decent readership on this one, but at the same time we were proud to post about something rather unlikely for our existing audience, yet a topic (computers) that innately appeals to both of us.
2. “Artefacts” – As our first runaway post, and still one that maintains a solid readership, this one surprised us. We knew of Artefacts, a St. Jacobs architectural salvage shop, but they must have a truly solid network to have the sustained traffic they have. We might put it down to their 30 years of authentic business and the fact that they link directly to the post from their homepage. This post has had 1330 views so far.
1. “Bird and Bee at the Wincey“ – As one of our most recent and most widely shared posts (34 Facebook shares and reach of 7000), with 1600 actual page views, we suspect this post was a matter of being in the right place at the right time. We were lucky our friend Francine, the property manager, invited us to visit at the opportune setting up of Bird and Bee’s lovely booth. The whole town was buzzing about the Wincey Mills prior to their opening, and the Paris Star and Brant News went on to publish articles about the market-stall venue after our post.
“More awesomeness from J&J. Great storytelling!” –Tim Srigley, on the Wincey Mills post
Interestingly, our Facebook insights revealed something different than the overall clicks we tracked through WordPress. For example our post on “The Healthy Rabbit” – a fab healthy restaurant in Brantford – was second highest in terms of our Facebook reach, but ninth on our list of popular posts. The actual article received about 350 visits, but it was widely shared on Facebook and got a reach of 5.2k. Which means a lot of people shared it on Facebook, and perhaps read the excerpt, but didn’t necessarily click on the link.
3 most meaningful posts
While we try to make every post meaningful, we certainly don’t put together every post for the clicks. (Do you see Google ads anywhere? No.) We understand not every post will mean something to everyone. So sometimes we write and take pictures just for ourselves, merely to remember a day or a certain experience, or to get something off our chests. We hope you like these ones too.
Best photography – “Choir Practice” – Not only do we share a friend’s advice about taking risks, this post has some of our favourite photos so far. “The Conservatory“, which captures a winter trip to the Butterfly Conservatory in Cambridge, is another great post with some of Mark’s best photos.
Social interests – “International Women’s Day” – Personal thoughts about what it means to be raising a girl in today’s world and how our lifestyle contributes to a community we want to belong to.
“Oh my goodness. This is so good. There is so much in here, I could teach an entire course on it!” –Kari Raymer Bishop
Truly personal – “Raising Awareness“ – An interview with Cassie’s mom about her recent Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis.
“Thank you for sharing this beautiful and personal conversation.” –Emily Erwin
Growing pool of local resources – We’ve slowly tried to improve the browsability of our content by curating our categories, which you access through the top right ‘hamburger’ menu. In our ‘local outings‘ category, we’ve already collected 16 hotspots of cool places to visit and shop and events to attend in southwestern Ontario.We’re proud of our “Antiques Haul” post, a curated list and Google map of 24 antique stops in southwestern Ontario. Our friend Kelly Seagram shared the list saying “Who wants to go on a springtime country antiques expedition? Good list of places to visit from Jane & Jury.” Thanks, Kelzor! Also, our Paris Lectures recaps offer ways to experience those events, especially for those who couldn’t get a ticket.
“I’m so sad to have missed this. I had goosebumps just reading about it! So much inspiration in the most encouraging setting. You guys have a wicked thing going!!” – Laura Elaine, on Paris Lectures’ Creative Show & Tell
What we’ve learned
Although we’ve been involved with content-making on the web for many years, the context of that content is always changing. We’ve been reminded that genuine communities are better measuring posts than social stats. While our Facebook community currently outweighs our Twitter and Instagram accounts by quite a bit (250 likes vs. 120 and 70 followers, respectively, and the interactions that accompany those metrics), that result is directly proportional to how much effort we have given to each platform. But we also know small, loyal audiences are more special than large, fickle ones, so we still feel like we are aiming ourselves toward the kind of community we hope to foster.
As we draw close to 20 thousand views, we’ve also learned a bunch about who our audience is. Most of our visitors are in the 24-44 age range and 2/3 of our visitors are women. Although 80% of our visitors are in Canada, about 12% are from the States, with the remainder from elsewhere in the world. Of our Canadian visitors, 95% are in Ontario, but we also have visitors from 10 of the 13 provinces. This makes us reconsider the definition of a “local” design blog. We try to remember to post from the perspective of someone totally new to or even unaware of Paris. But as our friend Kari tells us our blog is required reading for her AirBnb guests, we wonder if there are other opportunities to appeal to tourists, visitors and outsiders.
Some of our posts are turning into opportunities to work with people we admire. This is awesome! Although we can’t share details yet, a few upcoming projects are with folks we’ve featured on this blog, and we’re super excited to work with them on web design and videography, among other things.
As we anticipate the arrival of our newest family member (baby girl #2 due May 23rd), we reckon the next few weeks will be a bit quieter on the blog than usual. We have many open questions still and see the blog evolving with us as our lives change. We often wonder, should we be posting more, less? Should we monetize this thing? And we have a long spreadsheet of ideas for exciting content. Some of these ideas will make it, and some will die, and that’s okay. Whatever happens, we’re excited to try new things. Rest assured we’ll be back soon with new stories and more adventures as a family of four.