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Drawing Insight From Your Annual Report

Your “2014 in Blogging” Annual Report can reveal a lot — from your blogging habits to potential post ideas.

Note: Annual Reports weren’t sent automatically to all users. You had to publish at least one post for the year and get over five-hundred views in 2014 in order to generate a report.

At the end of 2014, when we were ringing in the new year, the busy data wizards at WordPress.com prepared and emailed a “2014 in Blogging” Annual Report for many of our blogs:

annual report

Your report was a fun snapshot of your blogging activity last year, including:

  • your blog’s total views
  • the total number of uploaded images and published posts
  • your most-viewed posts and top referring sites
  • your most active commenters

Understand and Analyze Your Stats:

As we’ve said before in our Stats Wrangling series (listed at left), analyzing these sorts of numbers — and your posting patterns — can help to inform what type of content to publish or revisit, and what blogging habits to keep (or break). Let’s see what you might be able to glean from your report.

Crunchy Numbers

In this first section, take note of your busiest day of 2014. What was the most popular post? Did your views come from a new post published that day, or an older page of evergreen content? My About page was the most-viewed item on my busiest traffic day. In fact, my About page is a perpetually popular page — which might be the case for many of you — so I revisit and refresh, where needed, every few months.

Related Resources: Check out “Driving Traffic to Your Archives” and “Repurposing Evergreen Content.”

What can you do to continue the success of last year’s most popular post or page in 2015? Consider different ways of featuring or resurfacing it (and similar content), like including it in a Text Widget of links in your sidebar; adding a tab for its category in your menu; or creating a custom Image Widget to call attention to it.

Consider other questions:

  • Are there features about this post you’re particularly proud of?
  • Was the style or format different from others?
  • Did you include more images than usual?

Think about why it performed well, and how you can repeat its success.

Posting Patterns

Compared to those of you who publish weekly or daily, I’m not a frequent blogger. Last year, I published forty-six new posts, which is an average of just under four posts per month.

posting patterns

It’s worth examining your publishing habits, no matter your posting frequency. Are you prolific during a certain time of year? A specific month? A time of month or day of the week? As you can see above, Sunday is my most consistent day for publishing new posts — and to some, that’s actually not a good thing, since people tend to take breaks from their screens on the weekends. But this piece of data is a true reflection of my own habits: I don’t have much time on the weekdays to write, and often find myself writing on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, when things are more quiet at home.

Take a closer look at your patterns last year, and think about why you posted less during a period of time, or what caused a successful streak. (I thank my three-day streak in November to a weeklong visit to Malta, which was photogenic and inspirational!)

  • Do major life events push you to write?
  • Do you tend to blog more when you’re busy and need to get things off your chest?
  • Do you publish only on Mondays, or usually on Fridays?

Identify the conditions that make it easier for you to write, or how you can foster more of these productive weeks or months. (I’m not saying I need to hop back on a plane and return to Malta to get the blogging juices flowing again, but you get the idea.)

Consider dashboard tools to foster consistency and to better promote your content, like scheduling a post at an exact time. Or establish an editorial calendar, and keep story ideas in your well and anticipate any “dry spells” through 2015.

Attractions in 2014

This section can be revealing, and in some cases surprising! For many of us, we have favorite posts we’ve written, and are attached to posts for different reasons. I’ve talked to many bloggers who tell me they’re often surprised by which of their posts perform well, and also shocked by the ones that go viral.

attractions in 2014

Read more about your Top Posts & Pages in our Stats Wrangling series.

This section lists your most-viewed posts of 2014. If you check your stats often, especially the Top Posts & Pages module, you probably already have a good idea of which posts have done well over time. (And if you don’t, click on “Summaries” at the top right of your Top Posts & Pages module in your Stats panel to see a big-picture view.)

My top performing posts are old: from 2010 to 2012! Interestingly, they’re all travel posts, written in a more travel guidebook-style, which is not representative of what I publish today. So, what does this mean? Should I be discouraged that my most-viewed posts in 2014 were written several years ago? Should I focus my time on creating this type of content instead?

After digging into my “All-time” summaries in my Stats panel, I’ve made a decision to not revert to the type of content I used to publish (and a different style) — after all, I’ve evolved as a writer, and I believe my blog should reflect this. But I’ve decided to keep older posts on my blog, rather than delete them, which I’ve thought about numerous times. This way, I’ll still gain new readers to my site, and I ultimately don’t mind how they got there.

Your own report will tell you different things, and it’s up to you to interpret the information.

  • Why did each of those five posts make the cut?
  • From which referrers did you receive these visits? (More on referrers in the next section.)
  • What gives them “staying power”?
  • Do all of the posts have something in common?
  • Can you package this popular content in a new way (create a “Best of” page, compile them in a category, promote them with an Image Widget)?
  • Can you develop a regular series out of your high-traffic posts?

How did they find you?

The following section is really handy: your list of top referrers tells you where your visitors are coming from. In some cases, a specific referring site might be bringing traffic to a particular post: perhaps a high-traffic food blog linked to your awesome butternut squash soup recipe, landing that post in your Attractions in 2014 list. Familiarize yourself with these (and your other) referring sites, and figure out how they’re bringing you traffic — and what kinds of visitors they’re bringing to your blog. How can you get these readers to stay and explore your site, if appropriate?

Look at your referrers regularly in your Stats panel, under the Referrers module. What sites and bloggers are linking to you? Visit these sites to see how you were mentioned, and in what context your blog is featured. Find thoughtful ways to further these discussions: consider follow-up posts on the subject you focused on, a relevant response to a post on the referring blog or publication, or replies to conversations that have unraveled in other comment threads.

Where did they come from?

visitors map

It’s fascinating to look at a world map and see where your readers come from. Take a peek at yours:

  • Where do most of your visitors come from? Is this what you expect?
  • Are you surprised by any of the countries?
  • Is it possible to use this map to shape your future content?

Who were they?

I appreciate this section of the report because it gives a shout-out to fellow bloggers who always take the time to read my posts and write very thoughtful comments. You should definitely recognize these gravatars and usernames — if you don’t, I encourage you to take note of your frequent commenters, and to visit their blogs as well.

A Bonus Tip: If you received a 2013 report, you can access the link at the very bottom of your 2014 report. Revisit this report and compare the data with your recent one — you’ll receive a bigger-picture view of your blogging activity over an even longer period of time, and may discover interesting or unexpected patterns.

What have you learned from your “2014 in Blogging” Annual Report? 

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  1. I always enjoy reviewing the retrospective of the year in stats — it is also a good opportunity to thank those frequent visitors and commenters, and be reminded of the diverse and interesting blogosphere community! I am in year 3 of blogging and so glad I took the leap. WordPress does a great job facilitating community-building and giving insights that help a beginning blogger get off the ground, or help an experienced blogger retool and re-energize! Thank you.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I was thrilled to see that my blog had views from 95 countries in a year. Have to beat that this year! Thanks to the data I’ve discovered the best day to post for me is Sunday. Thanks for the great tips on how to use the data 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I created my first blog, Paddastoel, in August 2014. Although, I personally don’t really count August since I only published one post and did not tell anyone about it. In four months, I generated around 1100 views and I played host to just under 400 visitors, which means that each visitor viewed roughly 2.75 pages. During those four months I gained around 80 followers, which means that, once they visit, one in every five visitors wanted to stick around, or at the very least, stay informed.

    During January 2015, have received just over 900 views and just over 330 visitors. Which means that I am still within my target range of between two to three views for every visitor (2.74). I have also gained just over 50 followers during this period of time. Which means that roughly 1 out of 6 people who visited, wanted to stay informed.

    We are only in the third week of January 2015, so it is quite possible that I may actually reach my goal of doing in this one month, what I did in four previous months combined.

    I did this without any trickery. Strictly white-hat all the way (and the great site design by WordPress). If you are interested in how, I won’t bother you with the details here, but I have done a few posts on the subject and I am busy with original research in this regard.

    During September 2014, I created another four blogs. The first, My Management 101 is meant to double as a website for my consulting business. The second, Klein Kabouter, focusses on “technical” aspects of raising children, while the third, Erdwurm is an environmental blog (earmarked for a community initiative in the next five years). I also created a challenge / test blog, The Considerate Spammer, to post anything that did not quite fit into my various other “brands”.

    Out of these five blogs, I received reports for three, as My Management 101 and Klein Kabouter both received in excess of 500 views four the four months each of them were online.

    So, what have I learned from my 2014 annual report? (And thank you indeed for providing it!)
    Well, I learned that looks are important. So, kicking and screaming, I changed away from Spun.
    I learned that, no matter how much I hate it, people insist that I MUST have an About page. So, I obliged (in my own way!)
    I also learned that the people who really COMMENT don’t care about the looks and will forgive you for 2 000 word long text blocks 🙂
    And I learned you don’t have to be afraid of long form writing and that you don’t have to dumb-down your articles on the internet as much as you may initially believe.

    However, 2014 only set the ground work for this year to come. And what I learned from my annual report in 2014 does not even start to compare to what I experienced first-hand these past three weeks.

    If you like, you are welcome to join me on this journey. More information with regards to my original research will be released at the end of this month.

    Happy blogging!

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  4. I enjoyed reading my annual report and seeing how much my blog has grown. But it definitely instilled a goal to keep up with my blog even more. When I first started blogging, I made the classic mistakes, and also spent too much time away from engaging my audience. This year is a year for improving myself. 🙂

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  5. Im very new to the blogging world but im learning that it takes time and effort to make your pages stand out as well as word content in such a way that it attracts attention, keeps interest and yet still gets your points and opinions across ! Its super fun. 🙂 i do take a peek at my stats every so often. Still learning how to understand it all.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My most-viewed posts are always the same, and are being referred by spam sites and google searches. I get really frustrated because stats really don’t do much for me but tell me that nobody is reading my blog, only clicking on it based on google searches for giant isopods, because I have one post about giant isopods. I’m not interested in writing more posts about giant isopods, or other sea creatures.

    So, while I know that post brings people to my blog, I also know they aren’t looking at anything else on there. How can I get more people to actually look at my blog for the content I am writing? I share new posts via Twitter and Facebook, but that only goes so far.

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  7. Interesting idea about developing a mini-series from a popular blog post. Worth chewing about.

    Some of my most popular posts continue to be some slightly older ones that touch readers across different lifestyles. Or 2-3 blog posts, I suspect are hits as a topic for school projects: children/teens come across the topic in their Internet searches. You have to be a Canadian to understand the allure of a school history project on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police…which I did feature local museum, memorabilia, etc.

    I have actually had to withdraw another older blog post to private mode, which now I can’t help but wonder if certain readers have nefarious intentions: crossing the Canadian-US international border.

    I would love to learn from other bloggers here, what days of the week..and what time seems to draw decent readership, but more importantly attract new readers. So far I publish towards the latter part of a week ie. after Wednesday and in the morning (my time).

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    1. Addendum: I rarely write exclusively to increase statistics. That’s not authentic writing (to me). I don’t deliberately choose to rant much on my blog, thought I could. Some blog posts suggest it.

      I just try to choose words to tease some curiosity, interest to hook in some readers to skim over the blog post. I don’t expect readers to captivated totally by every sentence.

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  8. Like others I was very excited to see review for my blog! I can’t believe I could get one with only being a blogger for only a few weeks. (Started on November 16, 2014) My most favorite part in the review was Where Did They Come From? It was very cool because I didn’t even know that people would read my blog from places such as the UK! All in all, I am very happy to see my progress and hope 2015 is a big hit!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The funniest thing happened. I looked at my annual report and it was identical to the one from the year before, 49,000 views. I blogged complaining about it the next day and joked about how I should combine my top post of the year with the one from all time and came up with “Are boobs in your future?” among other silly ideas.

    What happened that day was insane. An old blog post went viral on Reddit and I got 52,000 views in 24 hours. Ha! Reddit had been my lowest referrer up until then. I doubled my year’s total in one day. You never know!

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  10. Thanks for sharing your observations on your past content. I find that I have similar experiences – my most popular pieces are past ones from 2012 and 2013. While the nature of my blog precludes me from staying on one specific genre, I do want to make sure my old content still looks good and is up to snuff. Like you say, I don’t ultimate mind how new readers stumbled onto my site. 🙂

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  11. Very interesting reading, especially for a newbie like myself 😉 I wonder, was the report sent only to English-writing bloggers or language wasn’t a criteria?

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    1. Hi! You can browse our resources tagged for beginners: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/category/beginner/

      You can also see the posts that are published in the Blogging 101: Zero to Hero course, which helps new bloggers get up and running: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/courses/blogging-101-zero-to-hero/ You are welcome to read those at your own pace.

      If you prefer to start a course among other students, Blogging 101 courses begin each month, so you can follow along on our blog to hear announcements of new courses that start soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. This report gathering is more than enough tips for guidelines i shall digest and use for my consumption. I thank you earnestly for the links provided for research and tools to make a good post. I for my part visit as much as possible those who like, follow or as a referrer and dont mind- even though sometimes I do- if they remain silent to comment on my post. I’m happy I do this at my free moment and hope to continue this to elevate my writing and reading skills.

    Again I’m truly and indebtedly grateful for this post as i use it to make a good post for better refferal or visitors.

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  13. This was a most helpful post. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the data in my report and making sense of it all. The most interesting items of course were my most popular days to post. It wasnt really by plan but in hindsight made complete sense based on my work schedule.
    Since it was my first year at steady blogging and converting to self hosting I was really encouraged to learn the criteria for getting a report.
    Thanks for posting.

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