Menu

Quick Tip: Ignore Your Stats

I know, I know — we’ve told you over and over to use your statistics to grow your readership. What…

I know, I know — we’ve told you over and over to use your statistics to grow your readership.

What gives? Are we backtracking? Not at all. Your statistics are still a rich source of information about your readers and what resonates with them, and you should absolutely mine them for helpful information… maybe just a little less often.

Your statistics are a measure of what readers react to and how they find you, not of your worth as a blogger. Having five thousand loyal, engaged readers is as much a function of your activity in the community and the serendipity of the internet as of the quality of your blog. Any number of things out of your control influences your stats: if most of your readers are local, a particularly gorgeous afternoon that drives them outdoors causes a precipitous dip, while a few well-timed Facebook shares sends the graph skyward.

If you’re serious about growing your readership, you’ll want to track normal fluctuations and understand what causes the spikes.  But despite their significance, it can be a good idea to limit your stat exposure.

This statue used to be laughing, but then his last post got 23 views instead of the normal 35-40.  (Photo by Alex Proimos.

This statue used to be laughing, but then his last post got 23 views instead of the normal 35-40. Even stone can fall prey to Statistics Funk. (Photo by Alex Proimos.)

In the early stages of blogging, monitoring stats can give you a great confidence boost — it’s proof that someone, anyone is reading (and later, proof that someone other than your mother is). As your blog matures, it becomes dangerously easy to let your stats dictate how you feel about your own posts. An essay you’re particularly proud of is no less an accomplishment because it attracts few readers — but that can be hard to remember, and expectantly clicking over to your stats every 15 minutes doesn’t make it any easier.

Our suggestion? Moderate your stat visits. We know it’s tempting, with the little graph always up there in the admin bar, but limiting visits to once a day or once a week is great for mental health.

Keeping stats at arm’s length is also a great way to re-assert ownership of your blog. Sure, we love it when other people read, like, and comment, but many of us started our blogs because we had something we wanted to express. Readers or no readers, your site is still your space, where you’re free to explore and create. Cutting down your stat consumption is a helpful way to remember that you blog for yourself, not for other people.

Best of all, this gives you the headspace you need to publish your best. When you’re confident in your writing, photography, or art and are creating exactly what you want to create, you do your best work — which is more likely to attract readers. Win-win!

Are you a stat addict, current or reformed? How do you use your stats without letting them take over?

Show Comments

179 Comments

Comments are closed.

Close Comments

Comments

  1. Thank you so much. I needed to read this today, especially since my blog is about my mental health and dealing with my abuse. I tend to look at stats alot and see it as a reflection of me, forgetting WHY I started blogging in the first place. THANK YOU AGAIN!!!

    Like

    1. I have bookmarked my Stats page and I refresh it every 15 minutes all day long for the last five years…every 5 minutes for a whole day every time I post something new. LOL.

      Like

  2. you got me there. stats can become the benchmark of your blogging mood sometimes. thanks for reminding us that we blog for ourselves, not others :)

    Like

  3. Great article. Sound advice. Write your best stuff and people will find you. They won’t come any faster by looking at stats. In your success as a writer they are the least of your worries.

    Like

  4. Well said! I especially like the notion that limiting your stat visits reinforces that “you blog for yourself, not for other people.” I also found your reference to “five thousand loyal, engaged readers” sort of intimidating–someday perhaps, but not yet, at least for me. . . .

    Like

  5. great thought! I get too focused on my stats and forget about the message. I want to reach people with quality not reach too many people and quality goes down.

    Like

  6. I personally don’t see the “thing” about stats although I don’t write my blog to make money so I guess that may well be part of it. Sure i like stats and comments, I like replying the the comments too but i see posts names and how many views, I see the bar at the top and how many views and reads etc, it fluctuates, I don’t see the big deal. I like to see which countries have viewed me, Although i have search engine turned off so i dont see anything there.

    I dont understand want information apart from X number of people viewed Y post you glean from the stats.

    Like

    1. There are other bits of data in your stats that can be useful for engaging your readers, like seeing which tags and categories generate the most interest. If you do want to learn more, click any of the links in the first line of the post — but if you’re happy as is, then just keep blogging!

      Like

  7. Good reminder, as i was just checking my stats. I promise I am not addicted! I prefer less readers but engaged ones who comment than a lot of followers who just click ‘like’.

    Like

  8. The same thing can be said about “Freshly Pressed” When I first started to blog I would check out the Freshly Pressed daily. At first it was a great way to find bloggers with similar interests and follow them. Now that I have a manageable group of bloggers I follow I no longer check Freshly Pressed. Mainly because, for the most part, I don’t understand why most of them were chosen.

    Like

  9. I agree. The problem is that, as you say, the stats are always there, sitting up in the admin bar. Maybe this is configurable; if so I’ve not found out how to remove it and thus actually avoid looking at stats! If it isn’t configurable – capable of being turned off to allow those of us who wish to avoid stats all the time – maybe it could be made so?

    Like

  10. For the past few weeks I’ve been wondering how to go about my posts after an extremely successful day. This post has just confirmed my suspicions of the stats and how it has been affecting my writing. Thank you very much !

    Like

  11. I’m addicted to the stats. Partly because when I have something to say I actually want the world to here it, not to just sit in the corner mumbling to myself. And partly for the thrill of validation. :)

    Like

  12. Data analysis is what I did for a living (in a large part) before I retired. It is not coincidental that “analysis begins with “anal”!

    With that background, I realize there is variation in data, some “normal”, some significant. You bring up a good point about avoiding checking too often.

    Unless you have a blog read by hundreds or thousands each time, your sample size probably is too small to make any serious analysis. There is a big temptation, with data, to over-interpret small samples.

    I thought your advice about possible causes of variation was significant, too.

    Like

  13. I am a total addict – but I know that constant OCD like checking does little to influence my readership. It is interesting to see when a post gets picked up by FB and the numbers fly. I will always be checking my stats, but have to admit – love the commentary and interactions from my readers even more! When the sun is shining, the commentary definitely goes down, which is an interesting correlation. I guess it is no different than the falling of numbers on Super Bowl Sunday – people are doing other things. Thankfully, my regular readers are always back! But, I agree – the validation on my work is always nice!

    Like

  14. It’d be great to have the option of “hiding” the stats from our dashboard, then :) I am completely obsessed with my stats and it’s completely stupid!

    Like

  15. I am an unreserved status addict… I’m constantly monitoring visits on the mobile app. It may also be the fact that I’m a Web Analyst that brings it out in me!

    Like

      1. It does, not in what I write about (I’ll still do a post on vampire butterflies and July 4th on the same day) but the encouragement to keep posting. I can see the days I don’t post how views drop off and how posts have a lifespan. My wife posts sporadically and even though she writes longer and better posts doesn’t get as much attention.

        As a Web analyst it is fun to look at the stats as to how people find my blog, where their from and what they read. The summary page is one of my homepages! I would love to go .org for the ability to add Google Analytics but I like the .com community too much.

        Like