I’m a stats addict.
Whether it’s my Twitter feed, an email newsletter, my latest blog post, or my overall blog subscriber numbers, I’m constantly checking the stats. I’m obsessed. Comments, retweets, Likes, clickthroughs, I check them all.
Of course it’s important to check your stats. Without them, you wouldn’t know if your readers like what you’re doing. But, in a painful lesson, I’ve found out that obsessing over them is dangerous.
The dangers of obsession
I first discovered the joys of blogging in 2007 and I launched my first blog in 2008.
I did everything right. I chose a clear niche, which I had a deep passion for. I set up a self-hosted WordPress acccount and bought my own domain name. I devoted myself to following the advice of the best in the business, including ProBlogger, Entrepreneur’s Journey, and Skelliewag.
I launched my first posts, commented on other blogs, and promoted my content on social media. Within a week, I had my first comment.
I set myself a schedule to post twice a week, and my blog continued its upwards trajectory. After three months, I had over 100 subscribers, and most posts got ten or more comments.
Yet all around me I could see blogs with thousands or tens of thousands of subscribers. I compared myself to them and I felt small and stupid. What right do I have to blog, I thought, with all these amazing bloggers around me? How will I ever be as good as them? I also wanted my blog to make money, and I couldn’t see how it ever would.
That’s when my stats obsession began.
Diagnosing the problem
I started spending more time checking feedburner than writing blog posts. I’d gaze at the subscriber growth chart with a potent mix of hope and hatred, like a jilted lover.
My passion for my blog fizzled out, and I started posting twice a month instead of twice a week. My subscriber count plummeted, and I got even more disheartened. My posts dropped to one a month, then even less often.
Eventually I gave up, let the domain name expire, and archived my blog at wordpress.com.
I loved that blog dearly, and I look back in regret at the way I let it languish and die because of my obsession.
I’m now learning to manage my stats addiction. At Social Caffeine, my new blogging home, we check the blog stats once every two weeks. That’s healthy. It’s enough to check out what’s working (and what’s not) without wasting time every day mulling over numbers.
As a recovering stats addict, I now know that obsessing over stats is a surefire way to suffocate your blog and your passion.
You can, however, use stats healthily to find out what your readers want and to help you grow your blog.
Stats—the healthy way
- Set aside a time each week (or each month) to check your stats. Check your stats too often, and you’ll find it more difficult to notice overall trends.
- Look for trends. What topics are the most popular? Which received the most comments? Page views? Tweets? These are the topics your readers want to know more about.
- Use Google Analytics, and ignore the built in stats counter on WordPress and Blogger. You’ll get a more in-depth (and useful) stats report.
- Don’t change the core of your passion because of your stats. Your most dedicated readers come because they like to read what you care about. Make your mission chasing readers, and your blog will lose its soul.
Are you a stats addict, or have you got the addiction under control? How do you use your blog’s stats in a healthy and productive way?