Most blogging packages will provide statistics showing your most popular post, how frequently you post, where your readers come from, how many subscribers or followers you have, how many daily visitors you have and what search terms browsers are keying in to find your blog. In addition you can record how many likes, retweets or shares you got when you promoted an article on social media.
All these numbers are both fascinating and meaningless. Data doesn’t mean anything until you start to turn it into information. If you have a troll, a bridge and three goats, you have the potential for a story but you don’t have the story until you give the goats a reason to cross the bridge and the problem of the troll to deal with. Similarly, you have to find the narrative behind the numbers.
You should have the most frequent visits on the day(s) you post new articles.
If you notice significant clusters of visitors on days you’ve not posted articles, are these visitors looking for new blog articles or is there another reason for their visits? Did you have book published, a poem published, do a poetry reading or have some other event happening on that day which might have encouraged people to check out your blog?
Resist the temptation to change your blogging schedule to suit visitors. Blogging supplements your writing so don’t prioritise your blog over your poems. Look instead to manage readers’ expectations – make your subscription sign up more prominent or mention your blogging schedule on your blog’s main page so visitors know when the next update will be.
Where your readers come from and the search terms used to find you
If most of your readers find your blog through a search engine or via Facebook, then that’s where you need to promote your blog. It might be worth setting up an author page on Facebook as well as your individual profile if that’s where your readers are coming from. Don’t remove your blog address from your LinkedIn profile, but don’t waste time and effort promoting your blog there.
Looking at the search terms people type in to find your blog might be interesting and might suggest article topics, but don’t stray from your blog’s main topic threads and don’t let a couple of individual searchers dictate what you blog about. These people are infrequent or one-off visitors, not your regular subscribers.
Don’t worry about the actual numbers here. A popular post may encourage a flurry of subscriptions but then there will be a quiet period where no one subscribes. It’s more important to look at trends: are you gaining subscribers or losing them?
If you are gaining subscribers, which posts attract the most subscribers? If those posts are of a particular style or on a particular topic, consider writing more like them.
Don’t look at subscriptions in isolation from your most popular post or how many shares you get on social media. Your most popular post may not be the one that gets people signing up to subscribe.
If you are losing subscribers or seem to have hit a plateau, it’s time to consider how you are promoting your blog or whether the blog has run its course. If you find yourself asking “What do I write?” or recycling older posts, your subscribers are getting bored too.
Your blog statistics will tell you which post got the most one-off views.
Your subscription statistics will tell you which posts are encouraging people to read most of your posts.
The shares, likes and retweets on social media show you which posts are most shareable.
Be wary of an old post suddenly gaining popularity. Some spammers deliberately target an old post on an established blog to leave a spam comment with a dodgy link. Sometimes an old post might simply become popular again because of a news item, but this will be a temporary spike.
Your priority in assessing these and deciding which posts you should write is to look at your subscribers (the ones that read most of your posts), the shareable posts (social media promotion by others) and popular posts (one-off visitors who may not read more than that one post).
I find that when I write book reviews, I get more subscribers. When I write ‘how to’ or advice-based articles, I get more social media shares. My most popular post is “How to win poetry competitions.”
I do have a series of posts on a proposal to build an eco-town which was eventually rejected. These posts had a spike in popularity when one English school examinations board set a geography paper with a question around issues concerning a new eco-town. However, school students are not my target audience and this was a one-off spike in popularity for a specific, time-limited reason. It would not be advisable for me to continue blogging about eco-towns because the audience is no longer there.
Therefore, I write a mix of book reviews to attract subscribers and ‘how to’ articles to attract social media shares.
The first post in this series was Poets and Blogging
The second post in this series was Poets and Blogging: Search Engine Optimisation
The third post in this series was Poets and Blogging: Promoting your Blog
The fourth post in this series was Poets and Blogging: Managing Blog Comments.
The Social Media and Writers panel event will be at Leicester Writers’ Club on Thursday 19 May 2016 at Phoenix Arts from 7pm. Tickets for non-Club members are £5 on the door.