2017 was a busy year for Percy Bysshe Shelley and later this week I will publish my Top Ten Shelleyan Moments of 2017 - watch for it!! It was also a busy year for my website and its associated social media platforms. The website experienced 12,000 Unique Visitors 15,000 Visits and over 21,000 Page Views. This is up almost 90% year over year in Unique Visitors.
These numbers are huge for a poetry site. The audience is world-wide. Where are the visits coming from? Perhaps not surprisingly the UK leads the pack with 5,500 visits. In second place is the United States (3,500), followed by Canada (2,300) and Italy (1,100!!!). The top five is rounded out by Ireland (900).
By far the most viewed posts were those which involved the publication of Paul Foot’s epic 1981 speech to the London Marxism Conference: "Paul Foot Speaks: The Revolutionary Percy Bysshe Shelley".
In general, the more political my posts were, the more popular they were – a fact I find very interesting. Shelley’s politics is what seems to excite modern readers the most. That said, my hugely popular photo essay about the cemetery where Shelley is buried in Rome was a close second.
I introduced video posts this summer with a visit to the beach at Viareggio where Shelley drowned. I wish I could do more of this, but I actually have a full-time job that is quite demanding.
I am sadly months behind in my Shelleyan projects – and what has suffered to most is writing time. So, my solution this fall was to hire a paid research and editorial assistant, Jonathan Kerr. Jon is a recent PhD in Romanticism from the University of Toronto. You will start to see a lot more of him!
Clearly people love Shelley and are extraordinarily passionate about him. I have had literally hundreds of comments from folks around the world who tell me Shelley changed their lives. Reconnecting people with him has been one of the most rewarding, enriching things I have ever done.
My Facebook, "The Real Percy Bysshe Shelley", page more than doubled its followers, cresting 3,000 in November. My Facebook analytics tell me that for an arts and humanities site, I have one of the most engaged audiences in the world. I have introduced several features: every Tuesday you will find a poem and some commentary – this is selected and published by Jon Kerr. Then there is Throwback Thursday which will feature older article from the website – also selected by Jon. I am also republishing Paul Stephens brilliantly curated series of quotes from Shelley’s letters – and I have added commentary. I try to schedule a link to an original article at least once a week. And, of course, I do my best to keep everyone up to date on Shelleyan news.
Over at Twitter we have over 700 real people following us. I make it a point to prune bots and advertising sites, so there the numbers are not inflated as they are in so many other feeds. I also have clear editorial guidelines. What you see in the feed is directly related in one way or another to Shelley’s ideas. Because he was such a renaissance man, this means the subject matter covered is wide indeed.
Operating “The Real Percy Bysshe Shelley” is a labour of love that requires a significant investment in time and money. Readers will have noticed that many of the Facebook posts are “sponsored”. That sponsorship investment is made by me and I have actually spent several thousand dollars to build the audience – advertising is almost the only way I can guarantee you see my posts. But I believe it is worth it.
You can help reduce these costs by taking a couple of steps. First, “Like” my page. I realize that some people worry about Facebook monitoring what you do or don’t like – but how much can it hurt to like a poetry site – and it really helps me. My guess is that I actually have thousands more followers – but I can’t tell because they have not liked the site. Secondly, when you visit my page, at the top you will see three buttons side by side. “Liked” “Following” and “Recommend”. If you hover over Recommend a drop down menu appears – select “See First”.
By doing this you have dramatically raised your chances of seeing my posts. Next, you can click the “Recommend Button”. Your recommendation will appear in your feed and help me spread the word. Finally, please rate my page. I have a sterling 4.8 (out of 5.0) rating – but more ratings boosts my sites credibility. Phew, that is a lot. But doing this helps not just me, it helps Shelley.
Thanks to everyone who has been a part of this journey. Shelley was a highly motivated political creature who dedicated his life to changing the world. At some point he realized that he would never manage build sufficient momentum to do this in his lifetime. I think this was profoundly demoralizing. However, he recovered and I believe he started to write for future generations - in otherwords us. If those of us who love him do not join him in this enterprise, then we are letting him (and ourselves) down. For my reflections on his relevance to the 21st Century, see my article, "Shelley in Our Time".
And with that I wish all of my readers a happy, restful holiday season.