Do you check the statistics on your weblog? I strongly recommend it. WordPress makes it easy, with a link beside your dashboard to ‘blog stats.’ If the idea of ‘statistics’ makes you cringe, consider how ‘stats’ affect everyday life: TV stations decide whether to run programs based on viewer stats; retail chains decide where to open new stores based on population stats; funding for health care is often determined on regional demographic and health risk stats. (High birth rates should correlate to more natal and prenatal care–a more elderly population, more long term care, etc.)
Statistics make for poor facts by themselves. The trick is knowing how to interpret them. My own website, www.ScifiAliens.com, for example, has been averaging 2800 ‘hits’ per month. You might think that means book sales for my Martian Symbiont series are through the roof. However, a ‘hit’ merely means that somebody or something–like a spider or web robot–has located it. Of far more interest to me is the number of unique and returning visitors and how long they spent looking at my site. The more time someone spends on my site, the more likely it is they purchased a book. I’m sure if every ‘hit’ equaled a sale, my publisher would be frantically phoning me up, demanding to know the secret of my unparalleled success! But the real story shows a much more modest sales picture, which is to be expected for a new, unknown author from Canada.
(And, statistically speaking, it was far better for me to use an American publisher than a Canadian one, if only because the United States has a larger population.)
Your blog stats will show you which posts have been viewed, and when. Some people will only blog on a few topics, or only one. I can only see two reasons for limiting yourself like that: you have a business that you’re aggressively promoting (which may not be a bad thing,) or you have a specialty that pretty much defines you. As a science fiction writer, I’m interested in a wide variety of topics and always on the lookout for new ideas. Consequently, I try to blog about several different things. My experience in publishing and promotion tends to be the main focus, but I feel like I have so much more to write about. The previous blog, about my road trip to Alaska, was prompted by my realization that the tourist season is starting up now. If you’ve read it–and over a dozen people apparently did in the past two days–you can see the trip was very enjoyable.
The stats sometimes surprise you. Like my post someone found a few weeks ago, about retail saving Christmas. Magazines need from three to six months for seasonal articles, so somebody may be starting early this year. But I wouldn’t even know about that without the stats. Another surprise was how often my post on feminism gets viewed, a topic I thought was practically all wrapped up by now; that blog almost got deleted without being posted, since I felt all I could really do was a quick summary.
Maybe it’s a bit egotistical, but the stats are now the first thing I look at. For one thing, it makes you feel like you’re not just talking to yourself when you blog. The whole point of blogging should be to have others read it. They don’t have to agree, but it’s nice when they do. On the Internet, it’s easy to feel you’re all alone. You are, but at the same time, you’re not. The stats will help you see where you stand.
If you’re blogging to promote something, the stats will help you determine what kind of articles you should write in the future. If you’re becoming boring to your readers, their lack of interest will let you know, an invaluable piece of information if you’re looking to boost sales. Bored people will quickly discover your competition.
Stats also tell you where your blog traffic is coming from. Is it being fed from your own website, or from some other site? Are people linking to you from places you’ve never heard of? Are they finding you because they were looking for something else entirely?These are things you need to know.
Thanks for reading. 🙂
Phyllis K Twombly