I’m going to make some confessions here about my shortcomings as a blogger – especially when it comes to the comparison game … the desire for some sort of “blogger status” and the desire for more. I try not to focus on those things, but I have to admit that they’re there – in the back of my mind.
Anyway, as I’ve told you guys before, I’m a disorganized blogger. One aspect of my blogging that proves this is my complete lack of ability to use data to figure out how to grow my blog. I’ve found lots of great information on using reports to figure out, for instance, which social media site is the best for growing your blog (the link will bring you to a fantastically informative blog post from Ashley at Nose Graze) or how to determine what days of the week or hours are best to post on, or how to determine if a particular promotion is really working. All of this advice seems amazingly useful … until I try to follow it.
See, I think I have the same problem with this sort of thing as I do with self help non-fiction – I like the idea of using all of this data, but when I actually look at all the reports and such, it all sort of becomes a blur in my mind and I find myself staring blankly at it, wondering what the heck I should actually do. (This is why my non-fiction vs. fiction infographic is all completely made-up nonsensical data – I prefer it to the real thing.) Reports and charts and graphs and all that just don’t register in my brain. They look something like this to me …
Why can’t Google Analytics put my info into pretty, self-explanatory pictures?
Then there are stats. I have lots of followers and an active following, so I’m very happy with that … until I start to analyze my stats. There’s always this drive to get more visitors, more engagement, more. I see other people who talk about getting hundreds more visitors per post than me, and I have to confess that it makes me twitchy … I try not to play the comparison game, but it’s so hard sometimes. Especially since I haven’t really gotten any publishers to pay attention to me, which I can only assume is because my stats aren’t good enough … And, once again, publisher attention shouldn’t be an important measure of the worth of my blog, but it’s hard not to want it anyway. I wish I could just turn that desire off, but it’s never completely gone.
So, my solution? I pretty much avoid looking at my stats as much as possible. I prefer to be blissfully ignorant and just enjoy my blog. I LOVE the people that I’ve met through this blog, and I have an active following of people that I’ve gotten to know, so why should I even want more “clicks”? What’s the point of that? If I just don’t sit and stare at my stats, I can ignore them and enjoy the ride … most of the time.
Do you analyze your stats? Do you use reports to figure out how to grow your blog? Any advice on how to pay attention without driving myself crazy? I want to know!
Eh… I don’t analyze my stats… I keep track of them, so that if there’s suddenly less visitors, I can try to figure out why, and if there’s something I can try to do about it. Apart from that, my stats are just nice graphs to look at, really.
Great post, Nicole!
In three days, we’ll be in Chicago, I’m so excited 🙂
I’m incredibly excited too! Are you going to the blogger dinner on Friday night? Or the Blogger Conference? I have to make sure we meet up at some point!
Oh, wait – I just remembered that you’re doing one of the tables at Blogger Con, so I’ll definitely see you! 🙂
These days I’m right there with you. I removed all the stat tracking from my blog so that it’s hard for me to check by going over to google analytics. It used to be fun to obsess and sometimes I still like to check, but I don’t want to stress. Life is getting busy and I know my stats are dropping, but I just want to enjoy the parts of book blogging I love and not worry about the rest.
I keep track of my stats through WordPress jetpack, which probably isn’t the most accurate, but I just get too baffled by Google Analytics! I do fret a lot about my stats and worry that they aren’t as good as other people’s etc, and I think that’s quite natural. I have been trying to focus on it less recently, but sometimes I can’t help but compare, and I’m not really where I want to be.
Great topic though! People wanting better stats seems to be kind of a taboo in blogging, with everyone denying that that they care, when a lot of people probably do, so it’s nice to see someone talking about this!
I’ve never been able to figure out Google Analytics. If they make them more comprehensible I may go there, but for now I don’t. I liked the stats on Blogger where it showed how many views a particular post got. Now that I’ve switched to WordPress I find the JetPack stats fit my needs pretty well — informative but not too much.
I’m OK overall with my stats, though that’s not to say I wouldn’t be delighted to have more readers. I’m proud of how my blog has grown from its meager beginnings, but it’s been pretty stable in terms of traffic for quite a while and I don’t quite know what to do to change that. At least it’s not going down.
It does depress me when certain posts that I slaved over seem to drop into a hole and get almost no views. On the other hand, some end up way more popular than I expected. Mysterious!
I can understand certain aspects of Google Analytics, but you’re right, it can be confusing. haha I mostly just use it when people ask for unique followers, etc. That’s usually needed for certain reviews – not book related though! Otherwise, I try not to let it bother me too much either! haha
I don’t really use the stats but I do like to view them to see how many people have visited my site.
I definitely understand how challenging it is to not compare yourself to other bloggers based on your stats and it’s something I try to avoid but it’s always lingering in the back of my mind. I’ve had a look at some of the advice posts but like you putting those tips into motion is the hardest part. I think now I’m not as concerned with the stats but I still like to check them.
In my former blogging life, I stressed out over the fact that I had no followers and got no comments and all of the numbers, but now I’m more focused on having fun. Ironically, in just a few weeks, my book blog is already way more successful than my old blog ever was (and it’s still pretty tiny).
I think we would all like to feel successful, but I think the way to become successful is to write content that is authentic and true to you and to engage with your followers.
I think wanting to have many followers for your blog is pretty much in the back of everyone’s mind. I use my statistics on WordPress quite often, to be honest. Sometimes I just check them. But most of the time, I use them to see which posts “my readers” (that felt really weird to say) like the most. Reviews tend to be less popular than discussion posts, and I’ve noticed that I get quite a few comments and such on posts in my series of Series I Won’t Finish. That’s mainly what I use my stats for…
I have, um, five followers, so I absolutely do not and can not get worked up about my stats. The only thing I do like is seeing the total number of views grow–I keep thinking, wow, someone has read what I’ve written that many times! (Although it’s possible they just click over and away again without really reading anything.) I do appreciate that there are specific people who read and comment. IRL I’m the kind of person that would rather be with two good friends than a huge crowd of people, so I’m okay with having a small blogging circle where I feel comfortable, and like I ‘know” people, rather than having hundreds of strangers to interact with.
This is actually a really good point (and my planned topic for my next discussion – or at least one coming very soon!). I find that the bigger the blog gets the harder it is to sustain deeper blogging relationships because I’m spread so thin. So, then I kind of start wishing I was smaller again. But for some reason, there’s something about the act of looking at the numbers that makes me competitive with myself and I want to get them higher. So, it’s better for me to just not look at them if at all possible!!
I do fret all the time – esp when there’s a HUGE drop in visits. If there’s a time I’m on “hiatus” or something, sure I get it. But it’s just sad how fast my stats drop. But I don’t usually get hundreds of visitors per post so that’s amazing! lol
See, that’s the thing – no matter how much you grow your blog, there’s always someone out there who’s doing way “better” – I see people who say they get 400 or 500 visits on an average day, and I start to think, “How the heck do they do that?” I feel like my numbers are good, but as soon as they start to dip lower than normal, I start to stress – if I look at them. It’s just easier to ignore them!
I have StatCounter on my blog and like to take a look at the daily page views, but I’ve given up on trying to do anything with the data to try and increase my numbers. I used to stress over hitting a numbers plateau especially when other blogs that started around the same time continued to grow. It’s just something that I had to learn to accept because I also knew that I didn’t have the time to invest in actively building more of a following. I’m happy where my blog is, and I definitely like not pressuring myself numbers-wise.
See, my problem is that when I look, I just naturally want to get the numbers higher. I guess I’m competitive with myself! I think I’m better off ignoring the numbers most of the time! 🙂
Hm, this is a dilemma I have faced, too. If you checked my blog followers, you’d see I’m a pretty “small” blog – I have just passed my 150 mark on Bloglovin, for example. And I’ve been doing this for two years! Some might think this was a failure but I don’t feel like it because I’ve made genuine connections with people and that’s enough for me. I never consciously set out to grow my following and if I do check my stats, it’s mostly to see how I’m doing in comparison to previous months.
That said, if I was blogging as a part of my business, like if I started a writing career or a freelance business or whatever, I’d go and study things like stats and social media reach more thoroughly. I saw a really cool blog, xosarah.com, which focuses on other things as well but has a really good section on helping bloggers grow their reach and blog in general. I mean, if it was a business, not a hobby, my blog would probably be bigger and I’d feel more motivated to do things other than answer comments and tweet half-heartedly every other day. 🙂
MOST of the time, I’m right there with you, Kaja. I’ve made fantastic connections through my blog and have met so many amazing people – that’s way more important than numbers. I only stress when I actually LOOK at the numbers or see someone talking about their outrageous stats. Then I can’t help but let those little comparison thoughts creep in, even when I really don’t want to. Honestly, in some ways my connections were deeper when the blog was smaller, and I miss that! (That’s a topic for a whole other post, though!)
Oh god, this is a hard one for me too and I’m not a book blogger! But still, because I’ve been a blogger for over 12 years and I want to use my blog to help grow my fiction audience, it’s hard to not let the stats get to me. I do do a few things. I have alerts set up in Google Analytics so that I know when a page on my site is getting a surge of traffic. This helps me understand what’s working and what’s not. It’s helped me understand which posts on my blog are popular and helps me change things up. I’ve also started sharing blog posts to LinkedIn and StumbleUpon which I didn’t used to do. All in an effort to gain more readers. That’s about it!
For you, I think the fact that you comment on other blogs helps a lot. That’s how I found you! That’s how I’ve found most blogs I read, comment on, and share. I go through the comments here, find people I agree with, and look at their blog. I found you on Lola’s blog that way. So I really think just being out there and visible helps too.
LinkedIn and StumbleUpon are two that I almost never use that I know I should. One of my posts got on StumbleUpon, and it got a HUGE number of views.
When it comes down to it, though, I really just want to be happy with what I’ve got. I have a really active blog with lots of followers and a good number of hits (at least I’m fairly certain it’s a decent number based on what I know from some other bloggers I talk with). So why do I drive myself crazy with wanting “more” all the time? Already, my blog has grown to the point where replying and commenting back and such can sometimes be unmanageable – I’m MUCH better off if I just let it all go and forget about it! 🙂
As a new blogger, I am just trying to get something, anything, posted. The mere idea of having to calculate which days and hours to post it makes me want to run and hide.
That said, it did make me very sad when I was clicking around on Google Analytics and came across a page that told me only 3 people had opened my last review. So, until I am a little more established, I will be skipping the Analytics to avoid becoming discouraged enough to stop.
Yes, when you’re first getting yourself established, stats can make you especially batty. It takes a while for people to find you, even when you’re doing all the “right” things. The best thing you can do is just what you’re doing – go out and read other people’s posts and comment. Get yourself on people’s radar! 🙂
I am with you. I rarely look at my stats anymore. I don’t blog so that people read my blog. I blog because I enjoy it. My blog started out for me and I don’t want to change that too much. I just try to ignore my stats as much as possible.
Thanks for sharing!
I’m much happier when I just ignore them. Stats can drive you crazy if you let them because there’s never any absolute “good enough” – there’s always someone out there doing better to compare yourself to. Much nicer to just forget about it and enjoy the ride!
During my first few months in the blogging community, I definitely checked my stats every single day. I would always feel happy when at least ten people would visit my blog. However, when I’ve reached around my third or fourth month, staring at my stats makes me feel a bit anxious. I always felt like I wanted more, but had no idea how. And thinking about how other bloggers have so many followers while I don’t makes me feel a bit down too.
I basically had the same experience as you – checking out posts about stats and advice and stuff – but when I finally follow them myself, I feel lost and confused. Eventually I just thought, “Heck, why even bother” and just keep on posting. In the end, I learned to appreciate the fact that people comment on my posts more than the fact that people visit my blog. Comments make me really happy more than page views, so now I don’t bother looking at my stats much than I did before. 🙂
Yes – this is the best thing you can do! Just enjoy the interaction with other bloggers/readers and forget about the numbers. They’ll just make you crazy!
As a new to the game book blogger, I do look at stats but really only to figure out most trafficked times so that I can release my fav reviews at that time.
I am a mom to two wonderful kiddos so I am content to slowly grow my blog because being a part of their life is my priority. We all know how time consuming being a book blogger is but we do it because we love books and just have to share that love with the world.
Of course I am hopeful that I can grow my blog but I am willing to go slow and make my mistakes now so that I can be better later. Thank you for this post. It was informative and made me think. Cheers!
I’ve just started looking at my stats. Mainly to try to give them to tour companies and publishers. But I don’t quite understand all of it. And I guess I really don’t understand it as whatever I put in my request to go to BEA as press didn’t make the cut for me. Great post! Thanks for sharing this with us!
I use to obsess with our stats, when we first started, because we didn’t have many followers or interaction. So I was constantly trying to figure out how to improve. But now, at almost 2 years of blogging, I usually just look at them when I’m requesting books or glancing to see how our posts have done. We’re slowly growing, making friends and getting interaction, so that makes me really happy.
Seeing that subscribers open or click on our emails or having commenters on our posts makes me the happiest! Of course I’d love to have more commenters and more followers but for now, I’m beyond happy where we are now. Plus, I know I’m not supposed to say this *hides face*, but once I started getting ARCs for my two favorite authors in the world, that helped relieve any stress I felt. Looking at everything it feels like we’re moving in the right direction and hopefully it will continue.
BTW your blog ROCKS!! 🙂
I think we all sort of want more when it comes to our blog. I mostly avoid my stats too because if I get into them too much, I tend to obsess about it so it’s better to just leave them be. That being said, I love your blog and you’re awesome so just keep doing what you’re doing ♥
TY for this post — every time I think I have a handle on stats, I read about another aspect and then get confused! It’s conmforting to see I’m not the only one!
Yes – it can be SO confusing! There are so many aspects to the stats that are hard to wrap your head around.
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I have no idea how I missed this post like… ages ago when you posted it, but I have found it, and I like it! You know that I struggle with this a LOT. It’s dumb, because I KNOW there is not a damn thing more I can really do, aside from skipping sleep altogether, but I still insist on driving myself insane. I have this competition, with myself I guess? It’s so WEIRD. I will say, I have gotten MUCH better lately- I even took the Google Analytics app off my phone 😉 I check like, occasionally, but MUCH less frequently than I used to, so I guess progress? And truly, things are better since I stopped the panic. Granted, the stats are lower, but if my sanity is higher, it’s a win 😀
I’ve very back and forth on my stats. Especially since Google Analytics is subject to being hijacked by spammer page views (I rely on Jetpack stats now). I don’t even bother comparing page views with others because I know mine are waaaaayyy lower haha. But I do compare my previous stats to my current ones so I can know if I’m doing better. Like last week I didn’t do a thursday post (only tues and sun) and noticed a big drop in views from wed-sat because of it.
I also like to look at where my referrals come from so I know where to focus my efforts.
But I can also see how it would be really stressful!