@Legacy is celebrating an exciting anniversary this week – two years of blogging! Over those years, Katie and I and our many guest bloggers have really enjoyed sharing tidbits about Legacy.com and memorialization with our readers. And we love seeing which stories you most want to read – we think it’s a fascinating glimpse into what interests Legacy’s users and the internet as a whole.
Our blog software gives us detailed statistics that help us see how our words affect our readers. Last year, I talked about this when I shared some of the most common – and some of the most unusual – search terms that bring readers to @Legacy. For this anniversary, I want to spotlight the most-read stories from 2012 so far, and share how identifying these stories helps us understand our readers and do a better job of writing this blog.
I was not at all surprised to see that our #5 post for this year was Rosie the Riveter. The WWII symbol of women pitching in to do crucial work is still powerful today, and still popular – I’ve got two Facebook friends whose recent profile photos have been themselves in the classic Rosie pose. But I think the impact of Katie’s story of women who were real-life Rosie the Riveters goes beyond the cool nostalgia factor of the iconic image. The story combines a pop-culture touchstone with real, powerful, beautiful women – women who could have been mom or grandma to each of us. I know Katie loves writing these pieces that let her mine our database for the fascinating stories it holds… and I am inclined to say she can keep on doing it, because I love the stories and our readers do too!
Our #4 piece for 2012 also presented a real-life story… this time, a heartbreaking one. In Sharing Spencer’s Story, Katie told us of a mother faced with an unimaginably difficult task – writing an obituary for her 22-year-old son after his suicide. I wrote about Spencer and his mother for our other blog, and there too, it was one of the most-read items of 2012. Our goal in writing these stories – and Spencer’s mother’s goal when she wrote his obituary – was to raise awareness of suicide and substance abuse, in hopes we could save even one life. Seeing that so many people learned about Spencer through us makes us feel confident that we’re doing something right with this blog.
For our #3 story, Katie turned to our database again – this time, looking for uniquely Special Remembrances. I remember the genesis of this piece, when we found an obituary via Twitter with a request that delighted us with its ingenuity: “in lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider sending a bottle of your favorite wine with a personal note attached. It is the family’s hope that over the years they can continue to toast her memory with family and friends while re-reading the kind words.” We both loved this idea so much, and it led Katie to wonder what other special “in lieu of flowers” requests might be out there on our site. She found a whole bunch – useful ones, poignant ones, funny ones. I think it might be those funny ones that brought so many people to the story… we have learned that our readers certainly love funny obituaries (our “funny obituaries” posts are the #2 and #5 most-read @Legacy stories since we started this blog). We’ll keep sharing those funny and interesting obituaries, we promise.
In Top 10 Death Euphemisms, there are a few more smiles – and as you can probably guess, I suspect that’s one of the reasons why it’s our #2 post of the year. I think this piece also helps with another really important function that our blog serves – it gives people a little guidance when they’re trying to write an obituary. Anyone who is struggling with writing “died” in a loved one’s obituary, thinking it just sounds too harsh and final, might find inspiration in the gentler, sweeter, and yes, sometimes funnier euphemisms that Katie came across in our database.
And our #1 post of 2012? I could have predicted this one even before I saw the results, and not because I was the one who wrote it (I think the fact that Katie wrote the other 4 of our top 5 suggests that she’s the better blogger!). I knew it would be #1 because I know how hard it is to write a condolence message for the Guest Book, and I know how often people turn to the internet to figure out how to get it right. I’ve written several pieces on how to sign a Guest Book, but Top 10 Things Not to Say in a Condolence Letter touches on a side of the issue that we’d never addressed before. When we struggle for the right words to comfort a grieving friend, we’re also hyper-aware of making sure we don’t use the wrong words. I am so glad thousands of people found this story when they looked to us for that extra bit of advice to make sure they were on the right track. I think it’s safe to say that the condolence messages they went on to write were kind, loving, and so very appreciated. Knowing that this piece was the most-read item on the blog this year makes it a sure bet that we will continue to offer our best advice in the years to come.