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