How I Learned To Stop Worrying About My Blog & Love My Stats #63 #cong15

By Amanda Webb.

Amanda Webb 63 Blog Vanity Stats

When I was in primary school, like most children I had a piggy bank. I got excited about saving, it gave me great joy to drop my coins into the slot. I'd dream of things to spend the money on once I'd filled it to the top.

One day my very intelligent best friend came by to play. She saw me lusting after a toy and suggested I stopped saving and spent my money on that toy now.

'Oh no' I said 'I want to wait until the piggy bank is completely full up'

'Well then' she said 'just go to the bank and get them to change it all up for 1p coins, they’ll fill it up.'  I sat there aghast. I couldn't do that, it would be cheating wouldn't it?

I kept my piggy bank the way I always had. I knew changing up the money to coppers wouldn't satisfy me, I'd be cheating my way to my goal. Recently I realised that all the years I've been blogging I've been cheating myself. I've been collecting coppers instead of euros.

Over the years I've told people the numbers don't matter. Twitter followers don't matter, Facebook likes don't matter, your Klout score is irrelevant. I've said all this whilst closely following my own vanity stats, whilst secretly feeling smug as I saw them grow. I knew they weren't supposed to count but somehow in my heart they still did.

I'm not cured but I've stopped believing, something has changed. It happened when I started getting geeky about stats. I decided it was time to stop marketing in the dark and started to measure with intent. 

The first site I analysed was We Teach Social, the business I run with business partner Lorna Sixsmith. I'd never really delved into our stats there. The business was brining in an income and our website stats were small enough not to interest me. I'd been playing with Facebook ads for the site and had added some landing pages. I needed to know if the work I was putting in was effective so I started digging into the stats.

I discovered that the landing pages were doing well. I discovered that some of the blog posts we wrote were resulting in sales. I discovered that traffic coming from Lorna & my individual sites were driving sales. I discovered that we weren't converting from our Facebook ads. I discovered that our email newsletter was singly the best sales tool we had.

This was great news, that site, with it's tiny monthly visitor score was working. 

It's easy to look at the statistics in isolation, but there was more to it than that. The site was also working because of the years Lorna and myself had spent building our personal reputations. We make sales as a result of traffic that comes from our existing sites: Write on Track & Spiderworking. 

Now I can recognise this. I looked beyond the headline vanity stats and discovered the site was working. Now I know why I can make sure we focus our efforts in the right places. To start with:

  1. Monthly emails (every month, we've been slack in the past)
  2. Better CTA's from our own blogs and sites

Today I can still recite vanity stats for my own site and for We Teach Social but it doesn't feel good anymore.  I've changed, I now know and more importantly, BELIEVE that they aren't important. I know where to focus my time for better results. I've changed all my coppers up for euros and although my piggy bank isn't quite as full the contents are more valuable.

So it's now with confidence and with true belief I can re-share the advice I've been paying lip service to for years:

  1. Know what you want to achieve from your blog/website
  2. Identify the metrics that will help you measure the success of your goals
  3. Build your content strategy around these goals and metrics
  4. Constantly analyse your success to identify where you need to concentrate your time and money

On a side note I've started a Podcast to share the journey I'm taking with my own blog as I strive to improve it. You can listen here or subscribe on iTunes.

CongRegation © Eoin Kennedy 2017 eoin at congregation dot ie