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?

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  1. Thank you~ this is very helpful and encouraging. I am going to take your suggestion of looking at them once a week. You can’t judge a blog’s worth by its stats ;)

  2. 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!!!

    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.

  3. 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 :)

  4. 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.

  5. 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. . . .

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    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!

  8. 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’.

  9. 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.

  10. 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?

  11. 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 !

  12. 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. :)

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. 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!

  16. 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!

      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.

  17. Great timing for this message. Since major holidays such as July 4th tend to be low-traffic internet days, I imagine many of us stats junkies will despair at a momentary slump this week.

    Speaking of my addiction: if I tried limiting myself to checking my stats no more than once weekly, I’m pretty sure the pressure would snap my brain in half. Until and unless more of my silent readers turn into regular commenters, WP stats are my only source of self-validation!

    Yes, yes, “blog for yourself” and all that as the key to true creative happiness, but if I truly didn’t care if my words were ever read by another human being, I’d take it all offline and scribble everything in a spiral-bound notebook instead. (In fact, I do use one of those for thoughts that fit that exact purpose. That’s me walking the walk, as it were.)

    1. You might, but you might also like the ease of typing up your words. And they may be the minority, but there are definitely people whose blogs are more like diaries, and for whom readers and traffic are incidental.

      Challenge: look at your stats every other day, and see how much pressure builds in your brain :)

  18. Comments and likes mean much more to me than the actual stats table. They tell me if my material is successful by the number of comments and likes.

  19. Thank you. Great reminder of why I started my blog. Although it would be awesome if my blog helped others, it was made to help me build a new way of life. :-)

  20. My favorite part of the stats right now is the views by country summaries. I love knowing where in the world my writing has been read, and it’s an encouragement to me as a writer. Throughout the year, I’ll share screen shots of the list on my Facebook page.

    1. Great idea, Darla! For the heck of it, I took a look at where my blog was read in the last year. Though I don’t have heavy readership (a guy and his two Persian cats is the gist of it, with asides), IO was amazed how many places someone actually opened it and, maybe, even read any of it. On the other hand, I frequently add videos of same cats being extraordinarily sweet, amusing, and kittenish to my postsa, and I was surprised virtually no one oipens the damn things! (Their loss, I tell you! Their loss! LOL!)

      1. Cats rule! I’m the proud servant of one. One of the things I do with the country summaries is note the countries that haven’t yet visited and then get excited when I finally get one. It’s like working on a puzzle!

      2. That’s a great idea, too!

        My cats turned two on July first, and people from Poland, Russia, Japan, England, Canada, Germany, the USA, and Austria sent birthday greetings to them. It is an odd business to have Persian cats with an international fan club.

  21. I’m definitely a stats addict! I don’t know if I could limit myself to just checking it once a day, but I suppose I could give it a try.

  22. On the stats page, there’s one section that helps me a lot and almost no one ever talks about it: the country statistics. I live in the U.S. but just under half of my views from here. The rest are remarkably spread out. This is not something I would have expected, so the international stat listings keep my audience visible to me.

  23. I like seeing where my readers are in the world. I used to get all excited when I got another follower, but once I topped 100 I suddenly started getting several a day, but they’re all people with a blog selling something. So it’s become kind of meaningless. I wish I could delete them somehow.

  24. Thank you so much for your great reminder, that we all should blogging for ourselves. I´m checking my stats twice a week, Thats why I can say: I am not addicted. Not yet! :-)

  25. I really needed to read a post like this!
    I’ve been blogging for about a month now, a lot of my posts have got a lot of likes, but there are one or two that mean a lot to me that haven’t got any. This inspired me to keep going and reminded me that I blog because I want to blog for myself, thank you!

  26. I don’t care about stats or comments. Most of my comments arrive via email. It does amaze me that 127 countries have clicked on my blog. Many of those countries and their “clickers” i believe are spam.

  27. Thank you very much for this advice, Michelle. There admittedly are weeks when I deviate from the my intended publication plan just to be able to enter the Weekly Photo Challenge (which really can boost the stats – well it’s not only that, it also can attract new readers). Anyhow, after such “deviations” I often feel bad, like not being true to myself … And you just added a mosaic piece to this feeling, or the dawning insight that stats are, in fact, not everything. Cheers.

  28. I check once a day. The stat I like the best is “followers”… I get excited when I find that someone likes my stuff enough to actually follow me. I had to learn to not take “no likes” personally. The posts that mean the most to me often get the least feedback and/or attention. I am surprised by what does get attention though… A post about “bacon” is one of my most popular… Who knew?!?!

  29. I agree totally! At the moment I’m having a difficult time writing because work is taking up a bit of my creativity. That’s what I hate about my job. I refuse to write anything until I can produce something that’s interesting to read.

  30. As a new blogger who is lucky to get 1(!) view a day on my blog, I still find the stats page hard to keep away from. To be honest I’m happy when anyone reads anything I’ve written, so for now it’s still exciting for me. I also really like seeing what countries people have been viewing from – it’s quite interesting to note that I’ve had more views from the USA and Australia than my native UK.

    1. Early on, looking at stats can actually be really encouraging. I think the problems crop up when you publish a post, then reload the stats page every 10 minutes to watch the numbers go up. They’re helpful numbers, but that’s too much of a good thing!

  31. I love looking at my stats. Everytime I do I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It doesn’t bother me at all that some days I’m lucky to get five views instead of the twelve or so I average. The truth is I’m blown away that I’ve had as much activity on my blog as I do, I didn’t expect to get My Community as large as it is in the month or so that I’ve been on here. I only check my stats once every couple hours, so I don’t think I have a problem.

  32. I never thought it was possible to get OCD about my blog stats but I can definitely feel it kicking in. However I do not let it dictate my posts. One week has less views than another – so what eh? I just carry on regardless as I’ve got more stuff I need to get out of my head, readers or not ;-)

  33. Thank you so much! I feel addicted to checking my stats, but that is something that I will definitely try to control. You are so right-how many people are looking at my blog is not the point.

    1. I don’t care about stats/traffic. I don’t have any anyway. My niche is rather taboo. I’m just trying to educate the world…for those who are willing to listen.

  34. This is wonderful! I know, like most, I’m still going to obsessively check just because…I’m human. I’ve also been checking regularly this past week since I’m having such a great week and monitoring which social media is sending me the most readers so I can focus on increasing the energy I’m putting into each. A wonderful entry for my self-esteem!!!

  35. Being fairly new to blogging and on a very narrow topic (reviews of sports books) I fear looking at them. Just knowing I have already received requests from authors for review and interviews keeps me going. Without spending a lot of money on things like Rafflecopter, not sure what else to do to grow readership. So again,I don’t look at stats. What advice does anyone have?