Bloggers: Why you shouldn’t be a stat junkie

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Hi. My name is Victoria. I am a blogger, and I am a stat junkie.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s important to keep an eye on stats as a blogger. You have to manage stats if you want to build an audience and maintain the audience you have. To me, “managing stats” implies various things:

  • Putting out new content regularly, so that your following will keep returning.
  • Watching how your totals compare from week to week, month to month to make sure you aren’t dropping the ball.
  • Promoting your content via social media and in places online where your target audience congregates.

It does NOT imply:

  • Linking your mood and sense of self worth to how many people have dropped by your site.
  • Panicking, and allowing your day to be ruined, when your numbers sink below average or stop “growing” for a while.
  • Checking your hit counter/stats page every few minutes rather than being productive.

If you find yourself thinking things like this:

“Dang. It’s Wednesday, which is usually a good day. And I’m well below average. I usually have double this number of hits…. Friday and Saturday are always slow so this whole week is going to be a bust”….

Then like me, you might be a stat junkie.

APPLYING THE SERENITY PRAYER

The problem with worrying about stats…. and investing in stats…. is that like many things in life, you as the blogger can’t really control them.

You can’t force people to come to your blog.

  • Of course, you can take action to market your blog in a deeper, better, or different way.
  • You can study up on SEO, and keywords, and link building.
  • You can forge great relationships with other bloggers.
  • You can adjust the length or subject matter of your posts
  • You can experiment with posting more or less often
  • You can really devote yourself to putting out quality content

But you can’t force people to come to your blog.

Me, I’m a worrier. I am a very anxious person, and as much fun as that probably sounds…. It’s a lot less enjoyable than you think it is πŸ˜›

I am also a person of faith, so personally, I like to adopt the serenity prayer as a model of judging when to focus on letting anxiety go. You might be familiar with it. It says:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

Whether or not you have a religious or spiritual bent, everyone can agree that wasting time and energy on things that are out of our hands isn’t really a good idea.

It’s not healthy. It’s not productive. And the thing about stats? Like I pointed out above, a blogger can’t control them. That means they aren’t worth worrying about.

There’s no point focusing on how much it stinks when you feel like more people should be coming to your blog. What DOES make sense is being proactive: research blogging strategies, make adjustments, and then see what happens and whether more people start coming.

Spending time stewing in a funk won’t bring more people to your awesome blog.Β Far better to get writing, reading, and marketing. Then you just might start seeing some changes for the better.

Now, I’m not saying to IGNORE stats completely. You should know how things are going so that you can keep a baseline to judge trends.

I’m saying not to obsess over them.

I tend to put a bit too much attention and too much value on stats. I’ve read that a handful of followers whom you really get to know and really connect with are worth a thousand “fly-by” hits. And that’s BEYOND true in my experience.

That said, this post is really just to remind myself to chill out and focus on what really matters. πŸ™‚

Also, it is a wonderful opportunity to thank all of you who take the time to stop by and interact with me here. I really appreciate it, and I have enjoyed getting to know you more than I can say!!!

So, do you tend to be a stat junkie? If so, how do you handle the impulse to attribute importance to something that, in the grand scheme of things, is rather trivial?

Are you a junkie in terms of book stats: sales, rankings, etc?

If you dropped by my blog to study up on how to blog, you might enjoy these other posts about blogging. You can also sign up to follow my blog by email, so you don’t miss future posts of interest (top right of page.)

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59 responses to “Bloggers: Why you shouldn’t be a stat junkie

  1. Ooh ooh **raises hand vigorously** stats junkie here!!! I sometimes have major obsessive stats issues… and this post made me laugh and realize that I’m not alone. Oh, and I think I need to leave the computer more often. πŸ™‚

  2. I look in to see how many, but I’m no junkie, honest πŸ™‚ For me, days where I get ‘extra’ hits have been the sad ones, losing someone, or when a young girl is worried about ‘inpatient treatment’ in a clinic, I can tell those by the searches done to find my blog and the posts they’re looking over. Saddens me, but hope they find some comfort in amongst the pain.

    • That is sad, in a way, but you’re right: writing about topics like that, you can definitely hope that people who need to hear your words just then are finding them. If they have to be suffering, it is good that they know they are not alone! Definitely, definitely a double-edged sword there, though!!!

  3. I like checking my stats once a day at least. I know it’s time to write something when the number falls down. It’s encouraging to see it go up each time I publish something. So all in all, it must be an ongoing affair.

  4. Oh, boy, I’m glad you posted about stats because it gives me a place to ask this question: is anyone else seeing an abnormal and unexplained uptick in page views on their blog? I had been getting about 400 hits a day, and that would go up to 500 or so on days I posted something new, which shows me I have 100 or so actual readers πŸ˜‰ Anyway, I hit 1000 page views on Aug 30, in a month where I had not really been blogging, and this past week I got 800-900 views a day, and then over 3000 views on the day I posted something new. No corresponding increase in comments or likes or follows or even search terms. I think it must be some sort of WordPress glitch, like when they started adding that “blogs you may like” suggestion to the Reader, and we all started getting 50 new follows a day, but I can’t find any other change that may account for this sudden increase in traffic. Anyone else seeing this?

    • It definitely seems like something’s going on with the stats; I saw a huge uptick in views because of a couple reblogs that happened around the same time, but the stats page didn’t mention the other blogs as referrers. Maybe I’m not reading it correctly, though.

    • I can say I haven’t seen that at all in my blog. I’ve been holding steady at around 350 hits a day and dropping slightly…. no crazy bumps for me, glitch or otherwise. Maybe it’s legit for you and people are discovering your blog and spreading the word?

  5. I used to be a stat junkie and then I accepted that I had no idea why people were looking at my blog. It’s been abysmal all summer, so I figured to leave it alone and check from time to time. The books are where my stat addiction is and I’m trying to get better at that.

    I think the stat junkie state of mind is a natural beginning for bloggers. WP gives you those easy milestones at first and they’re like popcorn. Then the milestones stop, so you make your own.

    • I think that’s key: what a great suggestion, make your own milestones: numbers of posts to write, for instance. Hold steady at 3 or 4 posts a week for 3 months, whatever it may be.

      The thing about the milestones, though: I think they should be about YOU. About things YOU, as the blogger, can control. Not numbers of hits.

  6. It’s easy to advise others how to handle the stats, but it’s really challenging to take your own advice about this. πŸ™‚ Stat junkies could be a huge hip hop sensation as a video. And you should start a comedy routine, “You might be a stat junkie if…” (Hey, do you mind if I use this for a post? Or you can take it; it was really your idea.)

  7. What ultimately counts is the number of books you’re selling. Are your blog activities and stats addiction detracting from writing time? Is your blog an excuse to avoid that plot hole you’re trying to fix? If the blog is helping to build a readership, it’s a Martha Stewart “good thing”. Otherwise, it’s a time-sucking black hole.

    • That’s a really solid approach if you intend your blog to be about sales and marketing. Everyone is different, finds different uses for things. Not all bloggers have yet published and even those of us who have might be blogging to make connections or raise awareness.

  8. Like you mentioned, it’s important to strike a balance somewhere between checking them constantly and totally ignoring them — when used properly, they’re a very helpful tool.

    • They can be useful signposts for how you are doing and whether things are working. πŸ™‚ And we all (me included) need to realize it’s really okay if things stop working or aren’t working. Sometimes a lot of things are outside our control.

  9. I’m having some IT problems, and I haven’t checked my stats or participated in any flash fiction groups this week. My stats are going to have probably hit the floor, but I’m going to try not to let it bother me.

    • Good for you! Life happens. When it does, it does. The healthiest thing to do is just keep going and now worry about things we can’t change or control.

      So sorry about IT struggles. That is the PITS!

  10. I think I have the problem of obsessing over comments and likes. When I don’t get over “x” number than I feel like I’ve written a bad or boring post. Lol. But I do check stats from time to time because I get afraid of.losing progress of followers. Man! Blogging has become scarier than I ever thought it would be :). Great post!

    • Blogging can be scary, for sure!!! Remember: just becomes someone hasn’t liked or commented doesn’t mean you haven’t touched someone in a profound way. Sometimes people don’t want to comment publicly about something they feel is personal. And sometimes you can’t like a post on wordpress if you don’t have a wordpress account??? I’m not sure.

  11. There are so many factors beyond a blogger’s control that affect stats–I know in my own case, when I’m super busy with work, my social networking time has to be cut way, way back. I try to go back and read my favorite blogs, but I know I miss some, so my apologies for my part if I wreck havoc with your stats, Victoria. πŸ˜‰

    Like you, I’d rather have “a handful of followers whom you really get to know and really connect with” than “a thousand ‘fly-by’ hits.” I believe that providing quality content on a consistent basis helps me follow the strategy of Aesop’s tortoise: slow and steady wins the race.

    • that’s it in a nutshell, oh my gosh!!! slow and steady wins, for sure. that’s what blogging is about, building relationships. That is always slow work.

      Life interferes in all of our plans. It just happens. It’s not something we should stress or feel guilty about. I’m learning that in lots of respects lately!

  12. I’m a recent reader of your blog and am truly enjoying it. I created my blog (http://sweatercursed.blogspot.ca) on October 10, 2010. It currently has over 151k page views. Over these past 35 months I’ve kept careful track of my stats–in the beginning too close. Growing my blog has been a fascinating experiment. And I’m very grateful for the support I’ve received.
    Best wishes for your continued success, Victoria

    • Oh my gosh, it really is just that: a fascinating experiment, and a great way to grow. To experience new things and take risks and chances. That’s the real benefit. That’s what it’s about. Thanks for your good wishes and your reminder!!!

  13. I try not to obsess about it too much. I remind myself that I write for the joy of writing and my audience is a wonderful bonus. Of course, I love my audience and my interactions with others, but on a low day, I try to stay focussed on my craft. I try to remember that, just like me, not everyone can be glued to the internet – life does go on, and I hope people are enjoying life in the outside world. But yes, there’s always that my writer’s ego who has that dip of disappointment when the numbers are down. πŸ™‚

    • Oh my gosh, LOVE your focus on the craft rather than other stuff. That’s SO the point! A very healthy way to approach stats and such. So important…. blogging is not fun, and not healthy or helpful, when we focus too much on “how long is the post?” “is it perfect” and “how many people have seen it?”

  14. I think you wrote this post just for me again, didn’t you? lol πŸ™‚ I tend to focus too much time on worrying about my stats and why something is working and why something else isn’t. It is inconsistent so I am still in the dark! I am trying not to obsess and check on them all the time. You are certainly right about one thing: there is nothing we can do about them. If we need to revamp the blog, then we can try that, but we can’t make people read (or like) the posts. Thanks for that reminder! πŸ™‚

    • You’re welcome! If it helps my stats are inconsistent from day to day as well. Besides dips on Friday and Saturday which make sense—people are living life on the weekend–it doesn’t make much sense to me. I’m trying not to try to make too much sense of it.

  15. I’m one of those weird people who never looks at her blog stats. I’ve taken your advice though:
    β– You can forge great relationships with other bloggers.
    β– You can adjust the length or subject matter of your posts
    β– You can experiment with posting more or less often
    β– You can really devote yourself to putting out quality content
    I could market the blog more though.

    • I think it’s AWESOME you don’t look at stats. The only way you might want to I think is if you need them to market yourself as, say, a freelance something or other to show credibility.

      If not…. yeah, why bother? πŸ™‚ Wow, I really admire that strength. As much as I try not to worry about trends curiosity does get the better of me.

  16. I do check out my stats, but I don’t let it influence my content. I can see that when I blog regularly they improve and when I don’t, they drop. I find the search terms people have used to find me interesting!

    • Oh, YES, the search terms…. some are really cool in that they match really, really well and others are just fun to think “how did THAT get them to my blog? πŸ™‚ haha! And yes…. for sure, consistency is key. That is really very important.

  17. Oh, this is a fabulous post! Seriously! The farther I get into blogging, the less I obsess. I think that has something to do with a loyal following, but also because I’m figuring out that I’m not doing it for the people who read, I’m doing it for myself. Because I enjoy it. I think that makes all the difference. Besides, we all have good and bad days!

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  19. I checked my stats when I first started blogging (January 2013) but have refrained from looking since – I don’t want to have it confirmed just how low my numbers are (sigh). Despite the positive feedback I’ve received on the quality of my blog, connecting to those who share an interest in what I write about has been harder than I thought it would be. There are days when I question whether the amount of time I put into connecting with others (via twitter, comments on blogs, blog carnivals) is making much of a difference. But just when I’m ready to say β€œenough” I remind myself that each weekly blog post gives me further insight or challenges me in a new way as a writer. And if it reaches that one reader and makes a difference in their life? That is worth more than a 10K following (but yes, I will take another stab at understanding SEO, keywords and link building – smile). Thanks for another thought-provoking post, Victoria (and lively comment section).

    • The comments on this one are great, I agree! And I think you are very, very right to focus on YOU: if you are getting something out of blogging, if you feel like it’s helping you examine and improve your writing, then it’s totally worth it no matter many people read it.

  20. I used to be bad; every hour bad. It was for both book sales and blog hits. Like you said, I realized how much time I was wasting when I could be productive.

  21. This is a great post…brb…what was I saying? I had to check my stats…oh yeah, this is a great post. πŸ˜› I try hard not to attach my mood or my opinions of how good or bad a post is to the traffic it recieves or comment it gets. I’m getting much better at that. Now, what about checking email too often? It this a problem?

  22. I am glad fully not a stat junkie

  23. Looking at the number of comments and likes on your blog, its not subtle to perceive that you are a blog junkie. But, really this blog stat is something, even if I want I wouldn’t just be able to avert it. Every day seeing how many people saw your blog and commented on your blog is just unavoidable.
    Also, on blogger its not visible who liked your blog post which adds more to the curiosity.

    • Oh, I’m not saying bloggers should check numbers and strive to build an audience. I’m just saying that shouldn’t be the be-all, end-all of blogging. I think blogging is about how it helps you, the blogger, as a person grow, develop, and think through problems in life while also helping others do the same. πŸ™‚ You’re right…. it is impossible not to see what the stats are from time to time. It’s not something that’s healthy to obsess over…. that’s my point πŸ™‚

      • Your right probably, I have semester exams even then I see blog stat (Damm!), its not healthy if obsession.But yeah, blogs do helps us to look deep down into ourselves thereby helping us to develop. I write because I love to, it gives me happiness :). But, sometimes this stat thing does create issues.

        • I know, the issues suck :-/ I’ve been there and still am to some extent. All we can do is try to focus on the real benefits of blogging and keep a handle on “no one’s coming to read.”

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