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Blogging 201, Day Five: Give ‘Em What They Want

Today, you’ll conduct a short and simple stats analysis that will help you create an editorial calendar for the next 30 days.

After two days of theme changes, custom headers, and color updates, it’s good to take a step back. Live with the design you have for the day while we switch gears and start focusing on your content. We’re diving into stats to learn more about what your readers love.

Today’s assignment: conduct a short and simple stats analysis that will help you create an editorial calendar for the next 30 days.

Why do this?

  • Because knowing which topics and posts are most popular helps you to brainstorm new content that you know your audience will love.
  • Because knowing which days of the week your visitors are most likely to show up lets you to plan to publish that content on your best days.

Let’s talk about cake for a moment: if you know your best friend loves cheesecake and she drops by every Sunday, you’d probably have a bit of dessert yumminess on hand when she shows up, right? It’s the kind of thing friends think nothing of doing for one another.

Your site’s stats can reveal what your friends like and when they’re likely to stop by. If you know what your readers love and when they show up, you can plan to give them what they’re looking for, making them more likely to come back. Pass the cheesecake!

We’ll start with the stats on Top Posts and Pages to see which posts and topics resonate with our readers. Go to the stats tab in your Reader. Just under the main graph tracking your daily views and visitors, you’ll see your Top Posts and Pages for the day. Click on the Summaries link:

toppostsandpages-2

On the Summaries page, you can view Top Posts and Pages over the last seven days, 30 days, 90 days, one year, and all time. Here’s a snapshot of the most popular content at The Daily Post for the past 90 days:

90days

Not surprisingly, the home page got the most traffic, follow by Blogging 101: Zero to HeroOur three ebooks did well, and photo challenge posts (“Selfie,” “Juxtaposition,” “Object,” etc.) are routinely popular.

Stats don’t tell the whole story — although we’ve written more posts on choosing the perfect blog name, none have enjoyed the popularity of the first one, shown on this chart. Use your stats as a starting place, and then experiment.

What did we learn here?

  • Knowing how much readers enjoyed participating in Blogging 101: Zero to Hero made it a no-brainer for us to repeat that course and create this Blogging 201 course.
  • Strong participation in photo challenges tells us that people love the photography topic, so we’re increasing the number of photography-focused posts we publish.

Now that we know which topics resonate with readers, let’s look at the Recent Weeks chart to see which days of the week bring the most traffic.

Head back to your stats tab. On the far right of the main graph tracking your daily views and visitors, click on “Summaries.” You’ll see three tables: Months and Years, Averages Per Day, and Recent Weeks — pick Recent Weeks.

Here’s a The Daily Post‘s:

recentweeksdp

We can see that while traffic is fairly consistent, Mondays and Fridays generally bring more readers. Wednesday is the second runner up, and Tuesdays and Thursdays are the slowest.

What did we learn from this chart?

  • Thursdays aren’t ideal days to run our best content.
  • We’re better off publishing more posts on Mondays and Fridays, because that’s when most readers visit.
  • Tuesdays are big opportunities for us to improve traffic.

Now, we can take what we learned and start sketching out a calendar. For The Daily Post, that means:

  • Photo challenges (our most popular regular feature) on Fridays (our most popular day).
  • Photography-oriented posts on Tuesdays, to give Tuesdays a boost and reinforce that there’s great content all week long.
  • Shorter, experimental, or niche posts on Wednesday and Thursdays.

TIP: use The Commons to ask your new readers what topics they’re enjoying, and what more they’d like to read about.

Take a look at your blog’s popular posts and popular days, and sketch out an editorial calendar for the next 30 days. Ask yourself:

  • What are your top five features? Which topics do they represent?
  • Which days of the week bring the most traffic?
  • When should you plan to publish new posts on your most popular topic?

An editorial calendar is entirely up to you and needs to fit into your life — what and how often you choose to publish is your choice alone. Return to your blogging goals from Day One — did you create a posting frequency goal? Now’s the time to plan to meet that goal.

Are you really stuck? Here are five ideas for new posts you can use right now, no matter the subject of your blog.

If you didn’t create a posting frequency goal, that’s fine, too. Armed with your insights from your stats analysis, brainstorm some new post ideas and plan when you’ll publish them.

We’ll be delving deeper into stats in a few days. For now, let’s get comfortable with stats and start figuring out how to use them.

Questions? We’re here! Head to The Commons for more space to chat.

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  1. Whew, that’s pretty cool! I never thought of analysing my stats in such an advanced manner as you describe — and it is definitely a thing to try! I’m glad that today’s task brings an actual challenge for me, the previous tasks were rather old news to me. Keep it coming!

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  2. Oh, this is easy.

    My Photo Challenge posts get the most hits. I post them on Friday and Friday is my strongest day for views.

    My Writing Challenge posts get the second-most hits. I usually post them on Monday and those Mondays are my second-strongest day of the week.

    I publish my other weekly post on Wednesdays. They receive fewer hits and likes but, then again, they don’t get viewed by a Weekly Challenge crowd.

    My other top posts include a guest post for a high-volume blog, a post that I linked to as the second comment in a well-traveled Daily Post article (another blogger had used the first comment slot to call me an “expert”), one that got a deluge of Facebook shares but wasn’t popular with my regulars, and one that’s the first result in a semi-regular Google search.

    From this, I conclude that there’s more to judging my readers’ preferences than viewing “top posts.”

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  3. This is where my brain starts bending. Since I don’t post every day I can’t really get a good idea for when my best traffic days are: on any days that I post, traffic increases. So on days that I post and don’t get as much traffic is it because the topic was flat or because it’s a low traffic day? I’ve got two years worth of data for my Butterfly Mind blog – is there any way to study the daily traffic averages over that period instead of over a six week period? I feel like I’d get a more accurate number given my not-daily posting. Thanks!

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    1. I agree with you, it’s only really a helpful tool if you post at least 3x a week, and especially if you post every day. I find the bar graph on the main part of the stats page is more helpful because it tells you when you posted and you can see that in comparison to page views.

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    2. For most stats, you can look at the one year or all time view, and if you click on “summaries” next to the main bar graph, you can see daily average views over the lifetime of your blog. If you look at that next to the other data, you should be able to come up with a few hypotheses.

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    3. Daily stats are kept from the start of your blog, but the way of accessing I have found is a bit cumbersome: stats for a particular day http://wordpress.com/my-stats/?day=2014-04-15 is accessible from the stats page, by clicking on the column for that day; then you can change the date. I found that on 15 April 2012 I had searches for hyper-gynephilic, Vernon Scannell, and athos ikon. 21 posts were viewed, but most had only one view.

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      1. Thanks for this Clare – I definitely found that information interesting – do you know if it only shows you the statistics if over a certain amount of people have viewed? I don’t seem to have the option to click on the lower numbered views. I would like to view those to see if my site traffic is largely dependent on referrers (which I suspect). Thanks.

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    4. I transfer my stats into an excel spreadsheet and then mark when I post so I can see what happens when I post. It gives me a longer history than 30 days so I can see trends over time. It is a little bit of work, but not heaps. (I’ve put a bit more info in the commons.)
      Good luck with it.

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      1. So glad you made it.
        I’ve told all my friends that use blogger to make the switch. I don’t like commenting on blogger post, found it to be way to difficult, which is wholly ironic considering who runs it! LOL.

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  4. Thanks for the great advice!

    Based on the suggestions given by other bloggers during last couple of days, I made some modifications on my home page (http://cxianliu.wordpress.com/), and I am still working on building a eye – catching header.

    I also noticed that the posts regarding my hobbies:

    http://cxianliu.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/my-reputation-as-a-knitter/

    my careers:

    http://cxianliu.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/from-an-ancient-capital-to-modern-home-of-us/

    http://cxianliu.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/my-job-makes-me-feel-sexier-each-day-2/

    and my travel experience:

    http://cxianliu.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/taipei-a-mesmerizing-city/ http://cxianliu.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/xian-the-place-with-enriched-stories/

    have captured more attentions than others. This discovery encourages me to write more on these topics.

    My Chinese writing doesn’t get a lot of readings, partially because WordPress is blocked at Mainland China. As a result, I decided to stop writing in Chinese for the time being until I get connections with other bloggers at WordPress who are also writing in Chinese.

    Thanks.

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    1. I was hoping to hear a more personal story… but perhaps that is not the purpose of your blog. It might be helpful to readers (including outside the UK and Goldsmith’s University) to get a discussion going of (for example) people’s experiences with accessing mental health treatments. Bottom line, what a great cause and I can tell that you are passionate about helping those you were elected to serve.

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  5. Stopping by from 101, here. The title intrigued me so much, I had to take a peek. This is so incredibly useful for creating that editorial calendar. Although I have only been at it for four months, I can already see some trends I never would have spotted before! I’m very excited to get that calendar going!

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  6. Very early on, a blogger told me to publish on Mondays/weekdays – and time posts to arrive after the cubicle /office rats are stuffed into their boxes if you want hits and people to read your stuff. I laughed but it does seem to be true – you can experiment for yourself and compare.
    A WP Happiness engineer once suggested to me publishing on Tues or Thurs to get more attention as fewer bloggers publish on those days and your post will be hold a more prominent place in the reader – but Reader format has changed now – so not sure about that anymore. Some bloggers are holding to that schedule though.
    My biggest stat days come from readers outside of WP. TImely currently big interest topics handled creatively. (Other bloggers have seen the same thing.) You can visit those from other blogging platforms and develop relationships on their blogs, but some readers wander in and off as interest in that topic diminishes.
    Stats are exciting, depressing, and a mystery at the mercy of whimsy?
    But no doubt, striking images, titles, and good opening lines do make a difference.
    The publishing calendar for types of posts is a good idea.
    Some bloggers must build big followings for one reason or another – Understanding the system and pattern of traffic is critical for snaring big stats and grabbing audience share.
    Another suggestion given to me a while back by a long term “Big” blogger: “Write. Write good solid posts on interesting topics. Write on a predictable schedule. Writing is will bring what you want.”
    (but we all know everyone sneaks peeks at those stats…and wring hands….)
    Thanks for all the great info. and ideas

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    1. Thanks for sharing what you have heard and learned. Having an engineering background, I was all over the stats early on when I started my blog in January 2014. It got to be depressing because I didn’t have a lot of traffic. I finally had to come full circle back to why I blog… I like to write and to encourage people. I hope the numbers will come, but if not, it has been a fun adventure to write on a regular schedule (the accountability of a blog helps me to make it a priority!)

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    2. Stats are exciting, depressing, and a mystery at the mercy of whimsy? <- LOVED THIS!!

      i think the key things is to write and be consistent. that's what brought me traffic.

      i sometimes write about current pop culture topics. I try not to jump on bandwagons, but will try to post when it makes sense. (usually before over saturation on the topic but after the screaming and yelling online has died down). i wish i had done this before i officially deleted the old blog. boo. LOL.

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      1. As an aspiring culture writer, I think blogging on pop culture can be a hard one. At times it feels like you’re a needle in a haystack, no? :) We’re competing with the likes of Buzz Feed, et al. which thrive on sinfully delightful and no-analysis-behind-them listicles. Sometimes I wonder whether more niche writing would be the ticket to having a voice.

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  7. Hmm this is a tough one for me as I haven’t even been blogging for 30 days and mostly people look on the days I add a post or the days when I have publicised stuff on facebook and twitter.
    I think i need to build a bigger audience before i can really analyse the stats for them to be useful – and that is hard for someone who loves looking at stats :-)

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    1. This is an assignment you might want to tuck in your back pocket and revisit, toward the end of the challenge or a few months down the road.

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  8. This is valuable stuff. Now I know that in the past five weeks Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are my high traffic days. It also reinforced my belief that my tutorials are most popular followed by my editorials. Now I will work on planning my post along these lines. Thanks you for providing this course.

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  9. This was a bit of a surprise for me, though I guess it shouldn’t be. My highest stats come Saturday-Monday. That makes sense, since I cover football/soccer…that’s when the games are. Actually, my highest hit days tend to me Monday, as everyone is digesting the scores. My stats drop steadily throughout the week, and tend to start picking up again on Friday.

    In addition, my highest rating posts are not the appointments for the refs (which are usually during the week) but the “news” stories that I run about things that happen during the weekend. So, are the stats the chicken or the egg?

    In any event, it’s interesting that two of the most popular of my posts of all time were short pieces about a league I don’t cover regularly (Spanish La Liga). Might be worthwhile to spend more time there. So much to do….

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  10. Excellent assignment!
    However, what can we conclude about the “home page/archive” (if anything)? Are those readers exploring our blog further after a having read a first post? Or are they just looking at our latest post?

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    1. I think often people just want to look around. Looking at your blog, however, I notice that you have the entirety of every post on your home page. There is no reason for a person to click into a post to read your articles. I usually put a “more” after my first or second paragraph. I think it makes it easier for people to scan my blog real quick but it also captures when somebody reads the full post. But even so, my home page has received 5 times more views than the next post down.

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      1. how do you do that? because that’s a good point. i thought there was a way in the settings.

        please teach me oh wise one! lol.

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      2. ps i hope you don’t mind that im quoting you in my post for today. but of course giving credit with link back to you. :)

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  11. In viewing my stats I verified two ideas I had. First my single most popular month was January 2012 when I expanded the focus of the blog from just The Hudson River to all of NYC and a slow decline (overall) since then.
    Second, counter-intuitive but what I thought was happening, the more followers I get, the fewer views I have…

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  12. Do you judge your top posts by the number of views or by the number of likes and/or comments? With my blog these are very different things. First, I have a few anomalies. After my home page and about page the most views go to reviews that get a lot of search engine traffic but few likes from WP people. Next up come the two pages my mom linked to on her Facebook. All of her friends came to take a look but there are few likes or comments. Then came the posts that I talked about in these challenges. Also at the top of the list are the posts I put up memorializing my beloved boxer when he passed away this winter. None of these really represent my real content. Well, except the ones my mom put on her Facebook. Ranking by likes and comments, I feel, really brings out the full story.

    Oh yes, I almost forgot, it also seems if people only look at your posts in the Reader the views don’t count – I’ll often have 3 comments from people who obviously read the content but have 0 views. Waiting an hour or two (or three or four) doesn’t make the views show up.

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    1. Likes are not the best way to measure, I’m afraid — there are lots of “spam likers” out there, and it’s possible for someone to like a post in the Reader without actually opening the full post. Things like views, shares, and comments are much more helpful.

      On the Reader — if someone views your full post in the Reader, you’re credited with a view. That’s why it’s possible to have many more views than actual visitors.

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      1. If I visit your blog it counts as one visitor. If I look at ten pages it is still one visitor but ten views. I played around with it a little when I had only a handful of followers so I could tell I did it.

        What about people who post short poems or single images? My guess they get a lot more likes than views because people don’t click into their blog to read or view it. I always try to but admit to being lazy on a couple of occasions – reading in the Reader is instant, going to a page takes a while.

        If somebody reading a full post in the Reader is supposed to count as a view I think something is wrong with my blog because I know at least a few times people have read the full post and yet a view never showed up as a view.

        I understand “spam likers”. However, if I have two posts one week and one has 20 likes, 15 comments but only 5 views, does that mean it is less popular than the one that has 20 views but no comments and 5 likes, all of which are from the people who like anything, even a blank post?

        I have a few friends/family who read my blog. When I talk to them “off-line” and ask if they’ve been reading my blog they only bring up the posts that have a lot of likes and/or comments. If I bring up one with a lot of views but few likes and ask what they thought of it, the response I usually get is a shrug of the shoulders and a, “oh, I guess it’s OK,” i.e., they didn’t like it but don’t want to hurt my feelings.

        I’m not saying to discount views, but I think people need to consider them carefully. As I said, my top 10 posts are up there because of outside influences and don’t really reflect the opinions of my followers. (The memorial to Elliot does, but I can’t have a pet die every week, I’d be a mess.) So when I look at my numbers I have to keep that in mind.

        But just as important to me as numbers, or more so, is when a valued follower writes, “Wow, I really like this one!” Those are the types of things, not number of views, that let me know I’m on the right track.

        Just my admittedly beginner point of view.

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      2. Michelle, Thanks for that little piece of information. I’ve done posts before where once I hit “submit” I see a like coming in and I wondered when did that person have time to read it. Good to know.

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  13. What I learned from all this is that I NEED to have some kind of regular features. My numbers are inconsistent because my blogging topics and days are also inconsistent. Going to go create my calendar now and add some features before I lose all my followers next month.

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  14. I looked at my analytics and my highest traffic comes on Sundays, because I bake on Saturdays and write about what I created on Saturday on Sunday. (For example, today I’m making eclairs and tomorrow will post about them.) The only traffic I have so far is from Google+, Pinterest and Facebook — and it’s not very high.

    I wonder if I should continue baking on the weekend, but save the photos and copy to post during the week? My stats don’t tell me anything yet…but maybe Sundays isn’t the best day to blog, across the board? Any thoughts?

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    1. If you’ve been posting consistently on Saturdays, it’s hard to say — try varying the day of the week you post, and see what effect that has on your traffic. Then, you can start to make decisions about what works best for you.

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  15. Just letting you know that the link to this from the dailypost home page in the panel part way down is broken – I just guessed from the link what it was to get here.

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  16. One thing that I think would be very helpful in analyzing stats is to be able to download the info into an Excel file. I would like to be able to manipulate the data in the stats in order to see it in ways that make sense to me. Just a thought.

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  17. Sadly I don’t have enough to really do this but I was surprised I did get views and even a few followers today as well as yesterday. XD Yay surprises and with only three posts in!

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    1. We hope that one of the things participating in challenges like this will do is help kick-start your traffic, so good to hear! Familiarize yourself with the stats page, and then forget about it and return in two or three months of consistent blogging.

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    2. I loved your header. It looks like you are using the Hemingway Rewritten. That’s the one I chose to experiment with. (I’m still working on that assignment.) Keep writing… the more I write the easier it becomes!

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