Out With The Old, In With The New: Trading A Peach For A Pony

KY License Plate

After reading this title, the first question that pops into your mind is probably: “What on earth is this post about?”

We must admit a mea culpa for using a mysterious title to lasso you, but there is a tie-in between the title and the subject of the post which is: the vagaries and mysteries of blog post popularity.

Some of you may recognize a part of title of this post. When we moved to Georgia after returning from an RTW, we wrote a post entitled “Out with the Old, In with the New.” This post was intended to be a short, humorous piece about our trip to the DMV to get new drivers’ licenses and plates for the car. For our non-American readers DMV stands for Department of Motor Vehicles, or as we like to call it – the Department of More Vexation.


Our recent trip to the Kentucky DMV got us to thinking about this old post, and we were reminded of what, for us, is one of the biggest mysteries in our blogging lives. This post was surprisingly popular and in our 3+ years of blogging, it’s still in our top 5 list for number of views – and the big riddle is why?

Lots of bloggers, us included, do year-end wrap-ups of their top 10 for the year, and while they’re an interesting summary, most people seem to be surprised by some of the posts on these popularity lists.


We’ve found in our blog that in some cases, a spike in popularity is easily explained. For instance: the recent disastrous earthquakes in Kathmandu created an uptick in the views of our Nepal posts.


The interest in downsizing and smaller houses has made our Savannah’s Tiny-Cottages post one of our workhorses.

James Gets Dengue Fever

And the 400 million people infected each year with dengue fever churns up a big audience for our series on James’ experience with the fever.


And then there are the inexplicable entries in the popularity contest. In addition to the DMV post, another of our top posts is about a trip to the Baltic states. The post, entitled “Monopoly: Gotta Love Baltic Avenue,” tied together the trip as well as some history and trivia of the popular board game Monopoly. This post keeps plugging away, week after week, month after month, to stay near the top of our list.

Like most bloggers, we do our best to make our posts appealing, so looking at past successes provides some useful indicators. We’re happy when our efforts are rewarded with lots of views for our posts, but admittedly, these head-scratcher posts don’t do much to improve the process.

Do you have a dark-horse post that’s perplexing? We’d love to hear about it.


Oh – and in case you missed the title tie-in: we moved from Georgia (the “Peach State” plate) …

KT Tag

… to Kentucky (the “Horse Capital of the World” and its “Unbridled Spirit” plate).

And that, friends, is how we traded a peach for a pony.

Happy Trails,
James & Terri

Author: gallivance.net

We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at gallivance.net.

58 thoughts

  1. A subject that intrigues me. I wrote a post about Vikings and it amassed 25,000 hits and then just stopped dead and nothing I can do can reboot it. Currently my most popular is about Gaudi. It gets about 1,000 a month but no one ever tells me where they came from or why. Spiking at the moment is my post about the Royal Garden Party but I understand that one because lots of people want to know how to get an invite and what to wear if they do.
    I hope you are happy in your new home?

    1. You have some very impressive numbers there Andrew. 25K hits is amazing, and 1000/month = 33/day, which is also impressive. Like you, we have a few posts that became popular long after being published, had a spike, and then totally dropped off the radar. I’ve written a few geeky science posts that have a couple if spikes, and I’m convinced that some teacher is using it in a classroom – but as with all these posts, the real answer will remain a mystery. ~James

  2. This has puzzled me too. A top post for views this year was titled Homelessness. Doesn’t say much for my travel content does it? Another post that got a lot of hits was Blogging Date Virgin. Should I be considering innuendo for all my titles?
    And, gotta love the DMV. They are still pursuing Mr. Chevy a year after we let them know he’d gone on his travels.

    1. Carol, did you get any racy comments on Blogging Date Virgin? I’m sure that some folks that visited your post may have visited the one we wrote with gorilla and panties in the title. As you can probably tell, I have no problem with a bit of innueudo. In both cases, I’m sure that some of the visitors said: “Well that’s not what I expected this post to be about.” 😉 ~James

  3. I think I became a regular fan when I read your post about “Savannah’s Tiny Cottages” since we’d just gone through a massive downsize and we love living with much less. Whenever we mention minimalism we see our numbers increase. P.S. I got the tie in with peaches and ponies but it will be fun to see what your popularity polls say!

    1. Anita, the popularity of the Savannah post and our recent “extreme” downsizing has gotten us to thinking about a few more posts on downsizing and minimalism. It’s a subject we wholeheartedly endorse, and it appears to be trans-generational, so a series should generate some interesting exchanges. Watch this space. ~James

  4. Like Anita, I got the reference right away. I doubt many people outside the US, or at least people who’ve never visited here, would get it. I don’t have near as many followers as you do (yet!) but I can almost always tie my popular posts to a share on Facebook. What I have been baffled by lately is the number of people who are liking a comment I posted on Therapeutic Misadventures blog about the earthquake in Nepal. She wrote the post right after it happened and I am still getting 2 or 3 likes on my comment daily. Hmmm?

    1. Laura, anytime we have a share or reblog it helps our stats. One of our biggest Facebook-inspired spikes was a post we did on an art exhibit in Mexico by Javier Marin. He gave us a shout-out and link on his personal Facebook page and our stats went through the roof. And re: Martha’s post, did you know that she was Freshly Pressed for this post? That may explain the daily likes. ~James

  5. What a creative + fun post! No matter the subject, I enjoy reading y’all’s blog because of your photos and your writing. It feels as we are simply friends sitting down for a conversation, which is a gift, since I know that you have a large list of blog readers. So, cheers to you both, for being so grounded and authentic and real. Hope all is going well as you settle in Kentucky. xx

    1. Thanks for your kind words Liz, particularly your comment on having a conversation because that’s exactly our intent. For years we were both paid to write in corporate-speak, and it’s lots of fun and a real pleasure to be able to write less formally. And I’m happy to see that you’re busy having fun in your life. ~James

  6. No accounting for taste or interest levels. I dashed off my latest Freshly Pressed post on Nepal and it was over a week later that it was noticed and given the award. Strangely, posts I had no faith in turn up regularly. Can’t wait to hear about your Therapeutic Misadventures in Kentucky!!

    1. Martha, I’m sure that for most bloggers another mystery of the blogosphere is the whole Freshly Pressed award and who and when it’s awarded. Our most recent FP post was months old (we think about 5) before it was FP. So the person (or persons) who chose it had to really sort through our posts. Or, we’ve always wondered if they go looking for specific topics? Anyway, Congrats on your FP. The post was heartfelt and moving, and obviously, we weren’t the only ones who thought so. ~James

  7. I love the title and how you lure us in with it. I haven’t really studied the popularity of my posts as I have 16 blogs and it’s too much to keep up with them all. But it does warrant some consideration. Very interesting about the trip to the DMV being one of your most popular posts of all time. I guess we can all relate to what you call the Department of Motor Vexation!! 🙂

    1. Cathy one day you have to explain to us exactly how you manage to maintain so many blogs. We only have one, and there’s two of us, and sometimes we have a hard time keeping up. The answer to this question would probably make a great post topic BTW. ~James

      1. Right now James, I really can’t keep up at all!! I usually am focused on one blog at a time because they’re based on regions of the world and I can’t be in 2 places at once. However, I’m now trying to write about my Myanmar trip on “rice paddies and papayas” and my China travels on my China blog, and I’m way behind on both. I was hoping to have them done by the time I leave China in 6 weeks, but I don’t think I’ll be able to! Any blog post would be about the utter failure of keeping up so many blogs!!!

  8. Great round-up of top posts — and you’ve found the same thing we’ve found: sometimes there’s just no rhyme or reason what gets clicked the most. Fascinated by your move and can’t wait to hear more about living in Kentucky.

    1. I agree about catchy titles Tess. Coming up with a good title is one of the hardest things for me. Usually I write a provisional title that always gets changed after I finish the post. Are titles hard for you as well? ~James

  9. Choosing a title is interesting all by itself, and since people often are attracted by the title alone, you have the option of being tricky or direct. I think it depends on the tone of that post. But, most of the times, I’m looking for some fun, so something a bit of tricky will pull me in fast.
    Another side-comment. Don’t you find the very best writing in blogs these days? I do, and yours is one great example.

    1. Thanks very much for your kind words Susan. A compliment like this from a writer like you means a great deal. As to titles, as I said to someone else, I come up with a provisional title that gets changed 95% of the time. It takes me a while to get the tone and direction of the post going, and usually the idea for the title happens by itself in the text. If the post topic isn’t serious, I love word play and humor. ~James

  10. It is always a mystery why some posts are so much more popular than others. To me, not too many words and some great pictures are always appealing. Of course subject matter is important too. You have a way of making all subjects interesting!! I love the title of this post and even though I´m Canadian, I figured out the connection before reading the post. Enjoy your new home. 😀

    1. Thanks so much Darlene. Praise from a REAL writer is always welcome. I’m with you on word count and art. In these days of media overload and unlimited options, I know what I like to read, and that’s what I write. Rarely do our posts exceed 600 words, and whenever possible, we make them photo-rich. ~James

    1. As we’ve said Jolynn, after decades of absence it’s wonderful to be back in KY and closer to our families. Lexington has always been one of our favorite cities and it will be great to explore the area as adults instead of poverty stricken college students. And don’t be surprised if you see a few posts on the Bourbon Trail. I visited Maker’s Mark years ago, and it addition to a nice tour, they make darned tasty bourbon. ~James

  11. I got the title right away because I knew you’d moved. I didn’t remember the exact states but the top pic says Kentucky, and I immediately remembered there’s some state in US called the peach state 🙂
    I have no idea about blog stats really. I look at them occasionally. I can get anywhere from about 40 to over 300 hits a day. What does it all mean? I got a notice from WP 3 days ago about a spike in my stats because there were over 360 hits that day but I have no idea why. Of course the Freshly Pressed and About pages I think will always be at the top of the list. The one thing the stats clearly show me is that as the number of followers grows, the number of likes/comments/page hits grows, as you would expect.
    Have fun in Kentucky!

    1. We’ve experienced much the same Alison. I don’t obsess about stats, but I must admit that I watch them. Not so much for the pure numbers, but for what they indicate about the post topic and how it’s received. Another post that I could do would be on the surprising direction that comments take. Sometimes, our readers pick up on a minor thing that I’ve said and it takes over the comment section with lots of folks chiming in. I don’t mind this at all, in fact, I enjoy it. It’s interesting to see what our readers feel is important enough to comment on, and all comments are a entrée to a conversation. ~James

  12. I can’t say I have any big surges from titles but one that continues to pop up from a backloaded ancient post is Wildlife in Santorini. It really referred to all the cats and dogs so I am sure folks are disappointed when they arrive.
    Best wishes for continued settling in and enjoying the new chapter!

    1. Thanks much Sue. Our experience in Santorini involved a few animal encounters, but none wild. We ran into a very friendly cat who couldn’t get enough of Terri’s lap – the friendliest, ugliest dog in Christendom – and you may remember the very friendly donkey that tagged along longer than was comfortable. And it’s funny that like your wildlife post, our donkey post was popular as well. This certainly must be telling us something. ~James

      1. I do remember the donkey. Google is a mysterious thing to figure out I will admit. With its long and short tail keywords, high hits and low competition….good grief what ever happened to just writing for fun? Definitely going to aim for more of that. 🙂 Here’s to cats and dogs and donkeys!

  13. I have totally noticed the same thing. Some of the posts I was most excited about were flops and some I thought were rather benign were hits.

    I have noticed that about my photography too. Some of the photos I am most moved by are surpassed my people’s interest. It somehow connects with them differently at times.

    My most popular post was on travel fails which apparently hits home with lots of people!

    And others that are popular are often spurred by comments or re-posts by others who have large communities connected to them. thanks that people! 🙂

    I must admit I was particularly intrigued by the timing of your Nepal post. 🙂

    1. Reblogs and Facebook links are always a big surge producer for us as well. I love your idea about travel fails, and with the right kind of tags and categories I can see how travelers would love it, especially written with a bit of humor. With me, in a lot of cases, it seems that the easier the post is to write, the more popular it is. I find that some posts take lots of thought and a few false starts before I get the idea crystallized. But the posts that seem to write themselves are always fun. I’m not sure what gets me in the zone, but if I could figure it out I’d be golden. ~James

  14. One day we have almost 5,000 hits on our picture of a sea otter. Turned out that Bing featured sea otters that day, and our picture was one of the top ones found when you search. Sometimes we get lots of hits on our earthquakes post – we know to look up where the earthquake was that day.

  15. I should do a better job of checking those stats. You two do an amazing job with your blog. I always leave having learned something or have gotten a chuckle.

    1. Thanks LuAnn. It’s music to me ears to hear you say that you learn something or have a chuckle with each post, because that is exactly what we hope to achieve, and it’s good to hear someone say it. Thanks for continuing to follow along. ~James

      1. Wouldn’t miss it! I might be a bit delayed if we are out in the boonies without internet but you will find me here sooner or later. 🙂

  16. You two have a really interesting blog, so I’m not surprised that you get a lot of views. I’m sure a good or catchy title is a big draw. Wishing you many happy times in your new state.

    1. Thank much Sylvia. We complain about the mysteries of blog popularity, but I’m also sure that we’d complain about everything being predictable. Some days I think that it’s a bit like throwing darts at a dartboard. ~James

    1. Joanne, we don’t obsess about our stats, but they’re interesting to keep an eye on. We’re often mystified and frequently amazed at what we find. Of course, they don’t really change our behavior. When it comes to post topics we pretty much just throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks. Let me know if you find anything interesting in your stat analysis. ~James

  17. I’m not a great checker of stats but my top posts (now I’ve had a look) all seem to be about local history and the top searches are for local landmarks. Hmm…

    1. This is good news Marie. To me this says that you’re a good resource for local history. And since you’re obviously interested in history, this would make a great topic for future posts. ~ James

  18. For a long time, I checked my stats daily. I was surprised by bloggers who said they never checked, but now I rarely check. Which posts are big does still surprise me sometimes though. I have a (joke) Justin Bieber post that gets so many hits on a continuous basis, that it just depresses me… that there are that many people interested in JB. My post On My Father’s Birthday, A Letter to the Man Who Killed Him (which was a much catchier title than I intended) landed me BlogHer’15 Voices of the Year, and has been read by 7,000 people on Word Press and far more on HuffPo… but my The Grass Is Always Greener on Someone Else’s Head remains an all time views for one day winner (1,762). That still surprises me! Really fun post, James, and I’ve particularly enjoyed reading through the comments and checking out other bloggers’ dark horses. 😉

    1. Very impressive numbers Dawn. Given the caliber of your writing and your notoriety, it’s no surprise at all that your numbers are through the roof. I’m sure that the JB post surprises lots of visitors, but because it’s a joke post, maybe there’s some justice there. Of course, our Freshly Pressed posts were popular, but beyond that, some of our popular ones are still a mystery. In the meantime, we do our best to make our posts interesting, informative and when the subject allows, funny. And even though we’re a travel blog, when it comes to blog topics, frequently we just throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks. We continue to be happy bloggers and that’s the most important thing. ~James

      1. Ugh. I didn’t mean to come off arrogantly… I by NO means have any notoriety! I appreciate the kind comment about my writing, but generally your posts garner far more likes and reads, is my guess (from the likes I see!). Your posts are always interesting and fun to read, and clearly you have a huge following. I seem to mostly limp along– with a few big numbers here and there. If my comment came off otherwise, that wasn’t my intention. 🙂

      2. Not to worry Dawn. I didn’t take you comment as arrogant in any way, and I meant what I said about your writing. Thrice Freshly Press and features on Huff Post gains you lots of writing traction in my book. And I’m serious when I say that I’m flattered that you continue to follow along. ~James

    1. We laughed when we realized that we were moving back to Lexington with our few belongings in a car – just the way we did many years ago when we were arriving as Freshmen in college. So sorry for our delayed response – every once in a while we miss one. Hope you are well and enjoying a great holiday. All the best, Terri & James

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