On September 2, I decided to not look at my google analytics stats for a month. I wanted to take the focus off trying to guess what people wanted to read and worry instead about what I wanted to write.
On September 30, I checked in to find that my visits were up 10% over August. I hit record highs for both visits and page views for the month.
This is awesome.
Do I think it’s directly related to me not looking at stats? No. Do I think it’s partially related? Not really. Instead, I can trace the increase to two specific things.
First, I posted two relatively simple but high-impact DIY projects in September that got picked up by larger blogs (including here and here). Ideas for these projects did not come out of me not worrying about stats, they just came out of having free time to play around with paint. Both of these projects were conceptualized and completed within a few hours.
Second, I posted more often which usually means more click-throughs. I’ve already gotten into the habit of daily posting. Generally, I write posts the day before they go live and set them to publish at 5am PST. As a blog reader, I appreciate consistent daily content, therefore as a blog writer, I try and deliver the same. But this month, encouraged by my idea to write for me, I published more on a whim in the afternoon. Some posts (like this or this) would have just been tweets in August. I have definitely noticed that in recent months a lot of my more personal life and raw thoughts have gone to twitter and not the blog because, let’s face it, it’s much faster to publish and share. I liked getting that personal stuff posted here though. This blog is archived so much better than twitter and at the end of the day, I prefer it as a documentation tool.
So what’s the takeaway?
First, it’s realizing that while big traffic spikes caused from shared projects are great, they are not nearly permanent. Out of all those clicks and new eyeballs, probably only 5% of people will actually be back. (That’s definitely not a substantiated fact, just a guess on my part.) I refuse to be discouraged by this. It’s good to know that there is going to be pick-up when the project is right.
But more important, it’s realizing that sustaining traffic is not necessarily about cranking out a big DIY a week. It’s not figuring out & forcing more personal stuff to share.
It’s actually much more boring and simple. It’s to keep writing.
After my experiment, I’ve decided to do just that. Write. Write. Write. Encourage project development time, but not worry about getting six blog-worthy projects a month. Share personal stuff when it’s authentic, but don’t force it. I have also decided to continue the no-stat checking plan. I am going to look in at the end of every month to see how things are going, but that’s it.
I have realized that checking statistics daily is like weighing yourself everyday when you are trying to lose weight. On the days when the scale is down, you might feel better. On the days when the scale is up, you might feel worse. Better to skip all that drama and just focus on eating healthy and moving more. Plus, your once a month weigh-ins will actually mean something and will provide more accurate feedback.
I get an email every few days from someone trying to grow their blog and increase their readership. I usually direct people here & here. But I've recently realized this is the bottom line: Do you love to write? Do you look forward to posting? Is your content original? Is your blog easy to read and simple to navigate? Are your photos good? If the answer to all of those is yes, then all you can do is continue. Readers will come (and more importantly stay) if all of those elements are there. If the answer to any of those is no, then that is the item (or items) that you need to work on.