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?