A Year Of Blogging By The Numbers

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

May 2010-2011

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.

May 2011-2012

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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…

  1. A decrease from the nearly no-one who visited it when the analytics appeared to be working correctly.  

  2. You’ll notice the one tiny jump in 2010-11 numbers, that was due to this post.  

15 Responses to A Year Of Blogging By The Numbers

  1. Thank you for the insight. I’m one of the 1006 for a few weeks now and it’s mainly for one reason: I enjoy reading your posts.

    Please keep it up :)

  2. This is fabulous. For one, thank you for being so transparent about how it has been going. For some reason, I just don’t see many people (or any people) talking about this kind of stuff in concrete terms. So thank you for that. But also, I think you totally nailed it with your take on the three most important contributors. 

    As you already know way too well, I only post every nine days or so and it is very hard to see growth with that kind of infrequency (though it is going much better than my previous once a month frequency!)… Anyway, I think it is fabulous how you’ve openly self-reflected here, showing the good and the bad, which is one of the reasons that I think we subscribers dig your blog!

    • I was definitely reluctant to share, mostly as I didn’t want it to seems as if I were bragging (not that there is a ton to brag about here).

      On your end, do you think you’re seeing a bump from a frequency increase or from big bits of awesome such as MPU?

      • Well I do think it is brag-worthy, but you’re not bragging, you’re simply laying it out for us to see. It is just happens to be nice that the news is good.

        I definitely saw a bump in visits after MoM + MPU. But let’s see how quickly I scare them away again… :)

        • I’m assuming it will be quickly, especially if you take your pants off again (and it’s about that time). I’m betting the bump is more MPU than MOM :)

  3. WOW…very impressive analysis, thank you!  Even though I took my website down after the passing of Ricky, I guess I am well known enough to explain the recent reach from several industry folks reaching out for my support/expertise and here is the reason I am sharing: A potential client is interested in contracting me to create, write ,use my face lol and maintain a BLOG for them.  So what are your 3 BEST Points of ADVICE? 

    • At first, try things. Come up with a few assumptions of what kind of content 1) you’d like to write and 2) that that audience would like and test them.

      Then, as you see what works, focus your efforts. Try to help people within a certain range rather than offering broad expertise.

      Lastly, be you. You have a killer personality and it’s why people come to you, don’t let it get buried in “how you’re supposed to sound” when you write.

      Those would be my three biggies! And I’m sorry about Ricky.

      • Great biggies from the BiggieBlogger…THANKS  MERCI  GRACIAS  GRATZIE  Hoping to catch you in Viva Las Vegas ; )

  4. Ok, you have achieved what you set out to do. My question(s) to you are, what does this mean and what are you going to do with it? Also with this type of commitment, does that mean you are out and about less with your community and trying to drive them here instead? 

    Inquiring minds want to know……..

    • Very funny you should ask that (and you’re not the first this week). Already working through a lot of that in my own head (and will be sure to share as I figure it out), because I agree… there’s a big difference between just making words and making things. It encouraging me to step up my game, but I’m not exactly sure where and how just yet. To be continued… As for the community… yes and no, I still manage to goof off plenty on Twitter, I just find myself doing it with a smaller and smaller group of people. I’ve been finding my people rather than just finding people. The time I spend connecting is far more enjoyable for it.

  5. Thanks for sharing Michael. It’s great to see how the commttment you’ve made has helped you to achieve the goals you set for yourself.

    Two things:

    1. Having the read more buttons on the homepage isn’t a bad thing (IMO). I recently did that on my blog so that I could have more posts on the front page. I did this not for pageviews (a false success metric for any business blog) but because the home page of the blog is one of the most viewed pages and it serves as a type of navigation for the site.

    2. Calls-to-action (CTA). I subscribed to your blog using the Feedburner emails rather than RSS. I do this for the blogs I really want to hear from. However I do typically get the posts sometime after they’re actually published. On my blog I don’t have a “traditional” email list however my main CTA is to subscribe to the blog using email. I use the AWeber blog broadcast feature for this. Also turning your “related posts” section into an “Additional recommended reading” section with a change of wording can make it a very simple CTA.

    Thanks again for bringing the awesome. Keep at it and I’ll keep reading it. You are appreciated.

    P.S. I wonder how much of an influence your networking has had on your numbers…

    • Thanks Robert! Let me go one by one

      1) I don’t think it’s a bad thing, just something I don’t particularly like and decided to omit from my own site. I also haven’t spent enough time on the navigation and pages on my site. As they develop, my thoughts on the subject may very well change.

      2) Like the recommended reading idea, already made the change. I’ve also been thinking of making the change to Awebber, just need to find some time and a good bit more motivation :)

      As for the networking, it’s hard to say, but I will tell you that a good link seems to consistently beat better content. As I mentioned to Bill above, I’ve really been focusing who I spend my time with. I’m enjoying more quality than a greater quantity of relationships. Not sure how that is or isn’t impacting the traffic just yet.

  6. Gives me hope. Fickle place blogging.

    Your methodology seems sound but I also have to ask what is the endgame? Why did you want 1,000 subscribers at the end of a year? Just to say you could? Congrats,really.

    I work at another business and blog, officially, on the side. Lone blogger. Knowing that that there are people actually interested in reading my brand of cheese is a good feeling but the drive to build subscribers always seems like a chinese finger trap.

    Anyway, good CTA, consistency (huge to me) and a solid voice and it will keep growing for sure. It took me almost a year to get to 50 subscribers but I spent the first 6 month tooling around without a clue as to what my message was. The closer I get the more it seems to grow.

    Thanks for sharing the numeros. BTW, your RSS button doesn’t work for me so I guess I need to subscribe now…… 

    • The endgame is something I’ve been struggling with myself, so forgive that this won’t be as fully formed an answer. It’s more than just bragging rights. I wanted to see if I could grow find a reasonable sized audience by writing about the things I care about. I had read so much about the “right way” found it wasn’t quite right for me and wanted to see if “my way” could yield results.

      I completely agree with you and it’s a slippery slope and I don’t have a larger subscriber goal beyond my initial. I was just an experiment and I find some experiments warrant targets.

      I think I fixed the issue with the RSS button. Thanks for pointing that out.

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