While lessons are all well and good, the numbers matter. Like it or not, the results of our actions are equally as important as the insights we gleam from them. My success is meager at best, but I’m proud of it. I want to share the results with those who may be considering stepping up their frequency and wonder what the impact might be. There are many who will be far more successful in the same timeframe, there are those who obsess about the numbers far more than I ever will (and plenty who care far less as well). But for those who are interested, here’s a look at how things shifted after a year of blogging.
Blogging By The Numbers
To say things really didn’t go all that well while I was blogging inconsistently is an understatement. To say that things are gangbusters now would be an overstatement. Still, a year of consistent blogging has yielded a substantial increase in traffic. It’s hard to tell if my 2010-2011 numbers are right, but even my best day during that time pales in comparison to current readership.. There’s a dip in the middle of the year when I was on Posterous where it seemed that almost no-one visited the site1. Most likely this was a byproduct of not installing my analytics code correctly when I moved sites, but as you can see, the data I lost was not going to be all that substantial.
While several things are up significantly, you’ll also notice that others are down. My bounce rate (read: people showing up at the site, throwing up and leaving) is up, my page views are down and time on the site had dropped by nearly 25%. Much of this is byproduct of site design, as I’ve opted to keep the past seven posts up on the home page and don’t like to use things like “read more” buttons to boost page views. I also don’t have a consistent Call-to-Action for the site, so it makes sense that many would read their post and go. Time on site is the most disconcerting and I will likely work on helping bring some of the better content to the surface to encourage people to stick around going forward.
Note: That nearly flat orange line in the image above, that’s last year’s traffic vs. this years traffic in blue.
39 Subscribers to 1006 in 365
It started with a declaration in April2. I wanted to take the site seriously and see what happened. When I made that shift, I saw my first uptick. Afterwards, I came up with the plan to post five days a week for a year to see what would happen when I leaned in.
I set a goal for myself… it was actually the one and only thing I decided to try for in addition to meeting my posting schedule. I wanted to see if I could get to 1000 subscribers in a year. I also wanted to see if I could do it without going overboard and feeling as if I was constantly begging for people to stick around. It came down to the wire, but I’ve been having an on-again/off-again relationship with success for the past few days.
While there lots and lots of little things that contributed to, there are three that really contributed to the change.
- I committed to it – The instant I started taking the site seriously, was the instant a few readers showed it the same respect. The more I focused on the idea, the more I found people who wanted to continue coming back to it. Some move on, some show up, throw up and leave, but more and more the ideas seem to connect with the right audience.
- I asked for it – While it’s still an awkward thing for me, I ask people to stick around. I don’t do it every time, I don’t shove a subscribe box in people’s faces, but occasionally making the “ask” makes a big difference in getting people to subscribe. There are several things I should and probably will continue to do to improve here (like an easier way to subscribe by email for one), but just asking people if they’d like to read more has proven to be an effective tactic (or at least it is when the posts are useful).
- I improved at it – I’m far from good, but I’m farther away from the bad I was when I started. Regardless of anything you might read on improving your audience, I’d put this above all: write better crap. The better the crap you write, the more likely people are to read it.
So, there you have it, the 30,000-foot view of a year’s worth of blogging. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have. Thanks to everyone who contributed even a single page view or second of their time to these stats (especially all of you subscribers) and since we’re talking numbers and all, I encourage those of you who haven’t to subscribe for free by email or RSS.
So, there you have it. The lessons and numbers from a year’s worth of blogging. And now, back to your regular messy programming…