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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?