In posting articles to my blog once or twice per week, I cannot help but peek at my WordPress statistics from time to time. And I will even admit that every once in a while, I check them out a little obsessively, even though I know I shouldn’t. But when I do, I think to myself that I shouldn’t worry too much about the stats because I am blogging for the fun of it.
On the other hand, I cannot deny that paying attention to the stats and the multiple ways that they can be sliced and diced does provide valuable information with respect to social media and my target audience.
The reality is that watching blog stats is a little like watching the stock market. Once a blog post is in the public domain and its links are posted on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Flipboard, you never really know what will be a hit or when.
As I suggested in previous posts, there are some blogs I threw together in an hour that surpass my previous “personal bests” in page views, likes, comments or retweets. And then there are other posts for which I toiled by the sweat of my brow for days or weeks that barely register a blip.
But I am very proud of all of my posts, whether anyone saw them or not. I love them all equally!… OK, that’s not quite right. I admit, I have favourites too!
And stranger yet, sometimes a blog that is one year or older, that I haven’t recently promoted anywhere suddenly rises from the ashes, someone reads it, retweets it and it finds new readership and followers. The joy and mystery of social media!
Also, some posts perform better among people who know me well, such as on Facebook, while other times, a post might do much better on Twitter among fellow writers and bloggers. More recently, some posts have been getting serious attention on Flipboard.
Frankly, I’m fine with that. My creative work is circulating and each new post contributes to a larger body of work for which I am very proud. People are getting to know me as a writer, while I get better as a writer. That is all that really matters.
I like to think that the slow and steady increase in page views, year over year, is the result of consistent effort as well as the great advice I have been reading on the web for strategies to promote the blog though social media.
Just the same I know I am still just discovering what works better and what doesn’t and the stats help me understand how to keep the attention of existing and new readers. But I will admit, I still think there is a drop of luck involved there too!
For new bloggers who are also doing it for the fun of it, I offer this advice when looking at their stats:
The stats are there, use them, but not as validation.
Over time, the stats can offer some common denominators to figure out optimal times to post your work, and what topics resonate best for the audience for whom you are writing. The stats can be fantastic information, but your desire to write and post must be strong enough to weather the ups and downs of page views.
But at the same time, do not lose sight of what you are bringing to the blogging world. The fact that you took the plunge and started a blog, you are already ahead of the game, and have done what some others always talk about but never get around to doing. Bravo!
Be true to your writer’s voice.
With 178 blog posts, I have tried different things, to varying degrees of success, and learned from those experiments, in terms of what comes most naturally to me as a writer. If I pigeon holed myself very early on and stayed in a very narrow niche, I don’t think I would have grown as a writer, finding my voice and developing my style in the way that I have been able to, but that’s just my experience. Do what is right for you.
You never know what post will offer a reader the right words at the right time
Social media is a funny thing and you never know when a thought bubble you are channeling today strikes a collective chord days, months or years later.
Everyone needs to start somewhere. Sometimes it takes years to become an “overnight success”. Allow yourself to be free as an artist. Give it time. Don’t let a string of low stats crush your love for writing or your ambition. The stats will pick up.
Practice and have fun
Especially in the beginning, allow yourself to make a few mistakes (…and then correct them). In the early days, when you are blogging to a very limited audience, that is the time to practice, refine your writing process, establish a regular posting schedule and to make adjustments until the recipe is just right.
At the end of the day, if you are a new blogger, doing it for the fun of it, I invite you to enjoy the journey. Who you are and what you do as a blogger is what counts, not the number of page views or likes.
Much like the stock market, knee-jerk reactions to the ups and downs of page stats is not the best strategy. Just continue down the path of consistent investment in your writing and social media skills, in posting regularly and in being kind and encouraging to your fellow writers online. The stats will take care of themselves.
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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,