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Ten Tips for Stats Addicts

Today Dr. Nicole from Kitchen Table Medicine shares her story of overcoming her Stats Addiction and gives some tips on what to do with your time to build your blog instead of checking stats.

Do you obsessively check your blog traffic stats throughout the day? Do you optimistically expect your Alexa ranking to drop every four hours? Do you frequently fret over your Google Page Rank? Do you watch your Adsense account like a hawk throughout the day? Well as much as these statistical markers may be helpful in understanding the success of your blog, they may also be interfering with the long term growth of your website.

Not only is checking stats a total time kill, but it can be a real buzz kill too when it doesn’t turn out the way we want.

In a month’s time, I stopped checking my stats only to return and find that my page views had doubled if not tripled, and my Alexa ranking had dropped from it’s consistent 252K to 151K! WOW!

So what happened? Had I actually changed anything I was doing…no not really I had just freed up a few extra hours to spend doing something more productive for my blog then obsessing over my stats.

First of all as a recovering stats addict I can’t stand before you all pure and pristine that I actually decided to give up stats all on my own, I never stopped obsessing over my stats intentionally. Actually, I was locked out of my stats program when my website crashed from hitting the front page of Digg! When I upgraded to a better host, their stats program was down for maintenance.

I WAS LOCKED OUT OF CHECKING MY STATS! OH THE TRAUMA!!!

Do you feel my pain?

For the entire month of October I was unable to check my stats! Only those of you obsessed with the constant joyful reassurance that checking stats brings can even begin to understand the frustration!!!

In an attempt to just “go with the flow” I decided to give up worrying about stats and start spending my time on marketing, writing, and building my readership….you know those things I should have been doing all day instead of wondering about my readers in Zimbabwe and if more people read my blog through IE7 or FF?

So you can only imagine my extreme paranoia when I finally could log back in to my site statistics and see if I was meeting my goals. You can only imagine my shock when I logged back in to see 10,000 page views a day!

Previously I would freak out if I hadn’t hit my goal of 3500 page views daily. Previously I liked considered 3500 pv’s my “fighting weight”.

So I was SHOCKED to find in just one month’s time that my baseline was bumped up to 7000-10,000 page views a day!

WOW! Maybe there really is something to this…

For most of us bloggers checking stats is the immediate reward we need for our day. However, checking stats can also be discouraging when we log in to find that a post was not as successful as we hoped.

So can you do it? Can you stop checking your stats? Are you fit for the challenge to completely give up obsessing over your stats for an entire month? Can you stop doing it every day and sit down for an hour once a week to go over it all? In hindsight the following ten traffic building tips are what I unintentionally ended up doing to build up traffic, and for just 20-30 freed up minutes a day, you can likely double your traffic flow in a month as well:

1. Stop checking your stats and stop writing for stats!

Write from your heart. I know we hear this over and over and OVER again, but readers really don’t “care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Keep it fresh, keep it live, and let it flow right through you. Say what is on your mind and be passionate about your beliefs. You may lose a few readers occasionally with some extreme viewpoints, but it ensures everyone else that you are at least always giving your honest opinion. When I couldn’t check in to my stats after a while I suddenly found myself not writing for stats but instead remembering all the things I always wanted to write about…and then writing about them.

2. Instead of checking stats, help out a fellow blogger!

Offering newbie bloggers in your field guidance and feedback for instance is a great POSITIVE way to spend a bit of free time. One day out of severe boredom while my site was down I started a forum thread offering help to people about their blog. It was a fun project for me and a valuable learning opportunity for those brand new to blogging. Pay it forward instead of obsessing on your latest stats. People quickly pick up on your kindness and will link to you like crazy. Please don’t go about this with the intention to gain backlinks. Don’t be fake, just sincerely make an effort to help out those folks you see with a great deal of potential, because it feels really good and truly is SO much more rewarding than checking stats. Honestly I think this is what helped my traffic out the most. The fact that I found myself a bit bored from not checking stats and so started just checking in on other bloggers.

3. Interview other bloggers.

In just FIVE MINUTES you can put together a fantastic set of FIVE interview questions that will not only promote another blogger, but will hopefully bring along some of their following. Find someone that specializes in a niche within your niche and you instantly have a free SEO friendly page perfectly made for your website….by an expert! Don’t forget to ask them for all their favorite links to add as resources, readers love it, and it easily connects you to other like minded bloggers.

4. Participate in discussion forums.

I always participate in the threads that catch my interest and the threads that are within my niche. Participating in your community is a million times more beneficial than obsessively obsessing over you your stats.

5. Check in on your readers instead of your stats!

Pay a visit to your latest commenter’s, thank them for stopping by your blog and read their latest article. Being a successful blogger means being part of a community. Are there any top bloggers that are an island within themselves on the internet? Not that I know of. Chances are if you have the time to fritter away checking stats, you are better off using that precious time to build your community.

6. Sign up for a new social network each day instead of obsessing over stats.

The more websites your blog is featured on, the more enmeshed in the internet you become. It only takes a few minutes to get signed up. I just copy and paste my info from Blog Catalog consistently in to each new site. If you are seriously obsessed with stats you may need to be prescribed two to three social networks a day to fill the void!

7. Write a scintillating guest post such as this one (well hopefully).

Translate those moments obsessing over stats into something productive like guest posting. Ask to be interviewed. A great guest post can be done in a matter of minutes. Many bloggers are just looking for a quick basic bit on your area of expertise. Write up a list of tips and tricks that reference longer posts on your site to generate new interest to old content. A great guest post can typically be done in a matter of twenty minutes. You know the basics about your field. Don’t waste your research time on a guest post. Talk about the stuff that constantly rattles out of you. You will sound more like an expert that way anyways. Save writing longer articles for your own site, and then write guest post “press releases” using them as a reference. Whatever you do, just keep writing, you got in to this business because you love to write—right?

8. Reach out to new friends at Stumbleupon, Digg, Reddit, and Mixx.

These social news sites are fantastic places for promoting your news and the more friends you have the better. I spend about 15 minutes on intentional time per day per social network and it is plenty. You don’t have to be on the front page, don’t digg your life away. Remember the best way to have a friend is to BE a friend. Spend a few minutes each day voting for your favorite articles and finding like minded authors and readers in your field. Now write some articles intended for the front pages of these sites. I know I know…Ignore my previous recommendation to write from your heart. Suck it up and write some REAL newsworthy piece of journalism for your niche. Spend some time on the front pages of Digg and Stumbleupon in your category to see what becomes popular. When you learn to consistently craft posts that are eye catching and intriguing they will inevitably hit the front pages. For Digg and Mixx I write brief journalistic newsworthy features on the latest in alternative medicine research, and for stumbleupon it is all about the simple numbered lists of tips and tricks, quizzes, and photos. I’m sure right at this moment you can easily go through your categories and find a theme for some numbered posts such as my article “21 Free Preventative Medicine Tips” .

I actually now create categories for certain tips and do a post a month on this topic until I have enough for a great viral link post.

9. Keep a stats journal.

Instead of obsessing about your stats on your computer make a stats journal. Write a log of the post title’s for each day, the time you posted them, what you did to promote them, if they became popular on any social media sites, etc. Then sit down with your stats journal for a couple hours at a time once a week and try to make REAL sense over your page traffic instead of just obsessing over numbers and feeling destroyed if today wasn’t as popular as yesterday. Looking at the big picture is the best way to address stats. Is it really worth all your time to spend your day on Digg when 90% of your socialnetworking traffic comes from Stumbleupon? Hmmm…Maybe not.

10. Read Problogger.net!

Ha…you all know that Darren did not edit this in because I made it the last tip and not the very first ;) But really we always save the best tip for last and the most important thing you can do to improve your page traffic is become a better blogger. You are far better off reading Problogger or your other favorite blog improvement blog 15 minutes four times a day then you are obsessing over stats. I remember a post a while back here on ProBlogger on how to be a “Meta” blogger. Some people hated the post, but I took it to heart and the advice has rung true on many frustrating occasions. The message behind “meta” is that you don’t have to be the very best each and every day. You just have to be a little bit better than we were yesterday. That is why Meta is bettah.

In all honesty, if you are on the internet to write, if you are passionate about blogging, I hope you will be inspired by my little stats success story to focus on your readers and your writing, and not use stats to determine the success of your blogging endeavor. Instead of obsessing over your traffic, obsess over ways to improve it.

Could you give up checking your stats for an entire month? A week? One day? Two hours?

What else would you recommend to increase traffic instead of checking stats?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Ganesh says:

    I’m moderately obsessed over stats. I need to cut down the habit and start focusing on content.

  2. I am stat crazy as well, but I have been trying hard to ween myself from them :)

    Nice post!

  3. Duncan Riley says:

    I know part of this is tongue in cheek, so with that priviso I still think it’s a little extreme. Yes, you can spend far too much time looking at stats, but knowing your numbers and knowing how to read them is an important part of intel for any blog. Knowing what works, what doesn’t etc…if you’re not looking at your numbers, you simply don’t know. There is such as thing as too much, and Alexa and PR would be two examples that shouldn’t be regularly checked, but Analytics or live stats should be checked at least once a day.

  4. shy blogger says:

    I’m stat crazy..
    everyday I must check my stats..
    Maybe coz I’m not earning much from my blog…
    If I get 1K visitor per day maybe i won’t be addict like this

  5. On the subject of joining social networks, I’d recommend spending the time hooking your blog up to Twitter – a great way to reach out to an ever-expanding crowd.

    This can also pay off in different ways. Last week someone sent me a message that my site was down. Something that could have taken me days to realize (thankfully apparently I’m not as addicted to stats as some out there).

  6. Truly exellent tips. The 15 min time to spend on social networks a day is what I will start to do from now. thanks for the exellent tips!

  7. Albert says:

    I’m crazy about checking my adsense everyday, probably because I have just launched my blog a few days ago. I’m just getting a couple of viewers so far, hopefully more. I think I’m crazy about my stats is because it’s fun to blog and it’s to fun to make some money at the same time.

  8. Thanks so much. Very helpful. as it speaks straight into what I’m experiencing as a new blogger. I’m learning to go with my heart…focus on what I enjoy writing about and providing for people, and that is liberating.

  9. Dam I am going through the same issue. This is a great help to stop checking stats, adsense account regularly and do something productive.

    Really good one for me personally. It seems like you gonna save lot of my time.

    Thanks Darren

    Cheers
    Sjay

  10. Harish says:

    Great tips.I do get addicted upon stats.But I feel they are bit useless.Any way I must try to decrease it.

  11. J.D. Meier says:

    Beautiful post and Your passion shows through in your writing.

    Congratulations on getting over your addiction (you are over it aren’t you?)

  12. Great post!
    A short while ago I moved Goodlife Zen to a new host and something went very wrong. I ended up without a blog for about a week.

    When my site came up again, the first thing I did – this is confession time – was to check my feed-burner stats. Yes, ok, ok – I’m too am a stats addict. To my amazement, my blog had grown 100 subscribers, although nobody had seen it!

    I might see what happens if I don’t check this week…

  13. Anjay says:

    Its been a month since starting our recipe blog http://radiancerecipes.com so I couldn’t help but check the stats around twice a day. You are so right that it can waste precious time that can be used for more productive exercises.
    One thing that has helped is whenever we follow one of the advices given on problogger, for example, after signing up to technorati, digg etc we can see the results on the stats.

    Once again another great post.

  14. Tim Rueb says:

    Great post, thanks. I ran across your BLOG on AllTop.com and really the title caught my eye. In the same way I help my clients work on email subject text, I think more time could be spent on Blog Post Titles as well.

    Thanks again.

    Good Hunting,

  15. Chic Gal says:

    When I read your article, I thought you wrote it just for me. I do obsess over my stats. I look at them several times and day….bad, very bad. It does change my mood sometimes, but more often it makes me questions why I’m not getting more visitors. I plan to take each of your tips to heart. Thank you!

  16. I am addicted. It might be a problem.

    I check my Google Page Rank and Alexa Ranking. I even get a little annoyed when the number in my browser plugin doesn’t match that number on the widget on the page.

    I refresh my YouTube stats hoping for more views. I also check my feedburner stats, hoping for one more subscriber.

    I also check adsense to see if I made more money.

    I admit I also check statpress and wordpress stats about 5-10 times a day as well. I don’t think it really helps much.

    I’m going to take your challenge. Tomorrow morning, I will check my stats one last time in order to get the month total results. I will then not check my stats until January 1. I will focus my efforts on the things I know builds traffic. I will then report back.

    The only think I will not change is that I have the Google Pagerank and Alexa toolbars. So I won’t uninstall those.

    Wish me luck and strength!

  17. Rahul says:

    I’m a stat guy. No doubt about that. This has become an addiction for me. But I’m trying to get it out actually and focus on other things like online marketing, social networking and SEO.

    Btw, I do check my stats @ least once a day. My stats are like mountains. Some they they climb high up and sometimes its like downfall. Still I’m positive and my readers are definitely increase too. Which is a positive sigh for me.

  18. I needed that Nicole. I just realized that I probably check my stats 5 times a day. I have only been in the blogosphere for 3 months, but I now admit I have a problem….first step is to admit you have a problem…right?? Thanks for the advice, and I am taking on your challenge.

  19. Hi my name is Kendra and I’m a recovering stats addict :) I would check it multiple times a day just hoping that traffic would take off for me. But I realized one day that I really was getting a little obsessed with it, so I made a resolution to only check once a week. Then it got down to less than once a month, then I almost completely forgot to check them.

    After about four months I finally checked them and I too was totally shocked at how many more google hits and general traffic I was getting. About 10x more! I used all of that time to do actual ‘work’ towards getting people to my site and it worked!

    I really like these suggestions you gave. I just printed them out to put next to my computer.

  20. Mel Menzies says:

    Great post, Nicole! Like all addicts we kid ourselves that we’re not really hooked, that we could give up just like that if we wanted, when we wanted, that the peek we take at our stats is actually absolutely necessary, and that though others may be addicted to several checks per day, we most certainly are not looking more than once – maybe twice, well, perhaps every other hour – but what does that say? Only that we’re vigilant. Surely? No? Oh, well!
    From a stataholic.

  21. Logan says:

    Awesome post! Thanks! :-)

  22. Jim Gaudet says:

    Um, great post. Number 9 is the best idea I think.

    I think I will try this since the first of the month is coming..

    thanks,

  23. Dragos Roua says:

    Thanks for the post!

    I do like the strategy: “don’t just kill your addiction, replace it with something really worthy”…

    I’ve been a stats junkie myself, not as a blogger, but when I had an online publishing network of vertical portals and I know what damage this can do. I think I spent around 1-2 hours daily only on stats.

    In the end, it’s not the stats that are counting, but your real contribution to the real people.

  24. James says:

    Hi, I would just like to say that I really enjoyed this article. I feel very much encouraged….especially in the area of social networking…it is such a powerful tool, and I have been very lazy when it comes to social networking on my current project…I have seen how well twitter has been working for me, and i’m sure that there is SO much more potential to be unlocked!

  25. As a true addict of stats, this is very helpful. I know I need to stop looking at it all the time and now you have given me reason why I should stop. So thank you and I will try..

  26. Alan Thomas says:

    Very interesting thoughts. It shows you how much time you can waste just going over your stats.

  27. So I failed on day one. I tried, I really did. However, On the wordpress dashboard, you can check stats without clicking on the link and so I told myself that it was ok. I guess this a guilt post…well…time to try again!

  28. Dawn says:

    Thank you for your insight…I would like to promote a beautiful seaside town. Can you suggest a blog that provides information to people looking to come to south Florida?? How about the locals that live here?
    I would like to reach more people interested in vacationing or moving to the area. Some of the wonderful activities offered all year long are diving and snorkeling, charter fishing, parasailing, waverunners, fine restaurants and shopping or just laying on the beach and soaking up some rays..we have it all and want to share it with everyone interested in having a tropical vacation all year long.

    I would appreciate your direction in getting started, my sincere thanks!

  29. Saving Money says:

    This post has given me the courage to try something.

    I am not going to check my analytics or adsense for 7 days, starting right now.

    That means I won’t be logging in until 9th December (Sydney Time).

    I will also limit checking my email for the blog to 2 times a day.

    Wish me luck!

    Check out my saving money blog at http://www.savingsguide.com.au

  30. DeeJay says:

    The post was useful for me.
    So… I swear, no more Stats! ;)

  31. Hajib says:

    This is my obsession.. checking stats every hour.. still in my project to drive 1000 visitors daily traffic to my blog…

  32. KC TAN says:

    I think checking emails and web stats are both great killers to building our blog quality. Come to speak of it.. it has been a while since I check out my commentors.. lol.

  33. Takumi86 says:

    Darren thanks so much for letting me know about this, before i read your post i never make any friend at Digg, Stumble Upon, Reddit, and Mixx, now i know that i have to make a lot of friend and gain more exposure, thanks. Again thanks a lot, i owe you Darren – really

  34. Chris Raider says:

    Thank you. Very good article, I am also an “every hour checker” (until now). I will try the surprising effect by only checking the stats once a week: As a reward I will spend me a beer ;-)

  35. Rohit says:

    I could remain aloof from stats for a week.
    But I always believe checking stats is necessary daily. You need to know if something is wrong with your site i.e if its down or up etc.,. They can be discouraging at times but we need to get on with them.

  36. Guilty as accused. I am going to try to cut down to 1 x per week. Maybe over the weekend since those are slower traffic days, but I do agree with Rhoit that you have to check a bit to make sure all is A-ok especially with revenue generating links.

  37. julie says:

    well, considering it’s 1 AM and everyone is in bed while i check my stats, i’d say this article is for me. i’ll give your advice a try, but i can’t imagine life without my stats…

    wish me luck!

    julie

  38. Mobile Games says:

    well.. i tried to not check the stats but i have to say that i can’t :(

  39. Hello from a Montreal Web design company. Stats are very important.

    Allen