Close
Close

2 Blogging Myths: Traffic Measures Success and Content Is King

This guest post was written by Stephen Guise of Deep Existence.

Admit it. You think I’m crazy for dogging the two most commonly cited blogger goals—traffic and great content. Allow me to explain before you throw your mouse at the screen, please.

Busting the myths

Blog traffic is very important. With no traffic, how will anyone see your masterpiece on writing blindfolded for enhanced focus? Your blog needs traffic.

But traffic is not a valid measure of success. If traffic were a valid measure of success, every blogger starting out would be an instant failure for months, if not longer.

Success metrics must be applicable to people at all levels of experience. High traffic later on is a great indication that you have succeeded (like ProBlogger has), but it simply isn’t relevant to new bloggers who want to know how well they’re doing.

Traffic relative to experience and time online is also a moot statistic, because it has more to do with luck and/or marketing than anything else:

  • The better marketers will have better traffic—especially in the beginning.
  • I’ve seen horrendous blogs (messy layout, weak content, horrible grammar, etc.) with thousands of subscribers.
  • I’ve seen great blogs that are practically invisible online because they don’t know how to, or care to, gain exposure.
  • Time separates the wheat from the chaff (unless you never market your blog at all, in which case, good luck).

For a beginning blogger, it can be tough to see the big-time bloggers pull in thousands of visitors on a daily basis while you’re reaching for 50 on a good day. It takes time and effort to get your name out there so that you can get the chance to be fairly evaluated by web users. I know that many quality bloggers have simply quit because they equated low traffic with failure.

63,494 blogs were started in the last 24 hours (according to blogpulse.com at the time of writing) and many of those bloggers will quit in the first few months. The first few months are important.

We’ve all heard the classic “content is king” viewpoint as well as the opposing, “unseen content is useless” perspective. In reality, both have some truth—you need great content and you need to make sure people know about it.

However, saying that content is king gives the writer the wrong focus.

How to measure success at any level

So then, what is the best measure of success?

Success is measured by what readers think of your content.

I have only been blogging (on my website) for a month, and as such, my traffic is hilariously low. However, I am very hopeful for retaining and gaining new readers because of how I’ve been measuring my success.

When I read articles about content being king, I get the impression that we should write the best content we can create. The problem is that the writer’s opinion of “best content” doesn’t matter too much.

Content is not king, and neither is traffic: your readers are king!

Some might say that this is what “content is king” actually means, but that is up for interpretation. Saying that readers are king leaves no doubt.

Readers decide what they want to read, how much, and when. They determine which blogs soar to incredible popularity and which blogs bite the dust. They are king because they control the destiny of every blogger. So how do we cater to their interests? How do we know what they want?

  1. You want to shape your content to your readers. Okay, but how do you do that?
  2. You do that by listening to what your readers are telling you.
  3. You listen by measuring the number of tangible positive responses (Facebook likes, tweets, comments, new subscribers, etc.) relative to the number of people who viewed a post (individual post views can be seen with Google Analytics, but make sure you’re blocking your own IP address views to prevent skewing the stats).

This approach is primarily geared towards people starting out such as myself, but it is relevant to all bloggers.

When you’ve “made it” and are getting tons of traffic, the positive responses in relation to your traffic (and increased traffic itself via reader sharing) will be pretty obvious indicators of how your posts are received. You have a much bigger sample size in that case, and precise calculations aren’t necessary. But I’m sure you’ll do them anyways because of how much fun they are.

Low traffic … but high hopes

I believe that I am going to be a successful blogger. It isn’t because of my traffic—on Saturday I had a whopping six unique visitors (ouch, weekends).

My readers, not my traffic, have been foreshadowing my success by responding positively. In the first week, a couple I’m friends with told me my blog was changing their lives. I’ll take that over 1,000 visitors.

My last post was seen by only 22 unique visitors the day I posted it, but from that it received seven Facebook likes. My subscriber count doubled from seven to 14. About 32% of the readers liked it enough to share it with their Facebook friends.

If I were attracting 2,000 visitors a day and maintained that 32% sharing rate (unlikely, but interesting), it would translate to 640 Facebook likes on that post, which could obviously boost my traffic substantially.

I’ve had other posts that were seen by a much higher number of people with a much lower response—that is a huge statement by the readers. I would be a fool to ignore it and write whatever I want.

As a blogger, you need to have a willingness to adapt your vision and content to the marketplace. Let’s face it: blogging is a business. You have to promote your product (blog posts), network with other businesses (bloggers), and create value for your customers (readers).

Consider the variables

It is important to note that there are many other factors that come into play here—the time the post was published, the length of post, topic interest, marketing, statistical variations, the influential power of who shares your post, and so on.

It isn’t an exact science because of the variables involved, but it remains the best measure of success for a blogger at any level. This is why I recommend allowing comments on your posts, or at the very least adding social sharing options, to bloggers starting out. Disable comments because it looks bad to have no comments, and you’ll miss out on a chance to get valuable feedback.

Even at low traffic levels, I’ve found you can still get a good feel for your winners and losers. For example, the aforementioned post with fewer views had a much greater response than every other post with more views on my blog. The readers have spoken.

Keep in mind that different posts will have different reactions. The popular post I mentioned has zero comments, but people were sharing it and subscribing as a result of it.

Another post I wrote on deep thinking was shared less, but has more comments. Both posts were successful based on the number of views.

I’d love to hear from you about your experiences, and get your thoughts and feedback on this idea. After all, if you’re reading this, your feedback is king!

Written by Stephen Guise. See my website for more deep thoughts and follow me on twitter!

About Guest Blogger

This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above. If you'd like to guest post for ProBlogger check out our Write for ProBlogger page for details about how YOU can share your tips with our community.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

Check out the incredible features and the selection of designs. It's that simple - start using Genesis now!

Comments

  1. eky says:

    Awesome tips sharat this will really help me bec i am getting low traffic to my blog. i have already started to implement some of the tips.

    Thanks Problogger….

    • In this section I never get any success till now.All the things I had monetize for traffic always got failure.You have an awesome post.

  2. Love it Stephen. I’m a relative newcomer as well. Your post has inspired me and motivated me beyond belief!

  3. Karen Cioffi says:

    Interesting post. While I usually use “content is king” in my writing, I do agree that it is the reader who is really king and using “reader is king” shows clarity.
    Never thought of it in that light.

  4. webly says:

    I recently wrote a very short blog about not making your weight loss journey about the scale. I shared a personal experience and it was my most popular one. On stumbleupon in 1 hour it got 400 clicks. It was strange to me because I didn’t consider it my best one. So that proves that the reader is king and because of that I plan to continue writing focusing on those simple and more personal experiences that I guess the readers relate to.

    • That is a terrific example of readers being king. Aside from that being a great topic idea, it makes sense to me that a personal post was the one that was so popular. People love to relate to one another. It makes us feel as if we’re not alone, which is very important,

      Side note: Stumbleupon seems to be an amazing traffic resource if you can utilize it correctly.

  5. very interesting and i am sure we all could take sth. from your post and take it into action for our blogs and websites.

  6. Silvia says:

    Great post. It inspired me to be more reader oriented.
    This materialized into a blog post dedicated to my short-sighted readers:

    http://beauty-and-aikido.blogspot.com/2011/05/to-all-short-sighted-out-there.html

    -Silvia

  7. balkony says:

    i’m a new here. i like your post. I’m agree with you that content in our blog is a king. Eventually, there are much hope that reader will read our blog. so i will be reader oriented now.. thanks..

  8. Chris Kahler says:

    Great blog post, and I agree with you! There is no single element that makes your blog successful, it’s the healthy combination of them all that push your blog past the initial ‘barriers’.

    One thing that gets a lot of hopeful bloggers down, which I’m sick of reading about honestly, is building a blog around SEO concepts… I believe you should build SEO around your blog as a byproduct, or shadow of your real focus. The real focus to try and sincerely help people with what you write!

    A lot of people are too focused on finding the perfect keywords, thinking they have to build back links, and their content suffers from not focusing on helping people therefore losing the strongest marketing ally of all… which is people sharing with other people!

    Sticking to great helpful content with the intention of helping change other’s lives for the better, and then doing the marketing strategies mean to get that content in front of the audience you’re writing for will ultimately boost your blog higher in the blogosphere than by focusing on what a lot of these people try to teach. SEO will happen naturally as you gain readership and a level of popularity with them.

    Great blog post, I really enjoyed it!

    • I have to agree with you on SEO. I haven’t even been looking at keywords even though you’re supposed to research them before writing a post. The possibility of getting lots of search engine traffic is certainly appealing, but if it affects your content, it isn’t worth it!

      Thanks Chris!

  9. Charlotte says:

    Thanks for writing this, Stephen. I’ve been blogging about two months and have received calls and emails from folks I know personally telling me how much they enjoyed a specific post or the blog as a whole. Part of me wants to say, “don’t call, leave a comment! I need social proof!” and at the same time this is a good reminder that what matters most is that they liked it and will perhaps become loyal readers and even spread the word.

    • Haha, yes…I’ve had that same thought! “Just leave a comment!” If people are saying that now, then you should be successful later.

    • Leigh Ann says:

      This made me laugh, Charlotte! As I was reading this post, I had the same thought. I wish those that tell me how my blog is affecting them would say so on the screen so others can see it. :)

  10. Ankush Kohli says:

    Long but great post! All beginners should read this carefully.

  11. barry says:

    wow a lot of good info, i read it two times!!

  12. Jim says:

    I think I have heard too much of these content is king thing. Well it is true to a certain extent but if no one reads it and if it doesn’t drive them to take action then what’s the point. Just my 2 cents.

  13. Susie says:

    No doubt traffic is important. If your traffic isn’t the one that converts to subscribers, regular readers, commentators or buyers then it isn’t good. You can social bookmark and promote a content like hell but without the right kind of visitors, then there isn’t any point even having 10000 unique visitors a day.