On the last day of 2010, I watched with baited breath as my blog stats for the year approached 5,000 visits for the year. I’d switched to WordPress in February 2010 and my blogging trailed off over the summer, but it had picked up again in the fall and I was desperately hoping for that nice round number of 5,000. It just sounded cooler to say I had 5,000 visits than it did to say I had 4,998.
I ended up with 5,004 visits for all of 2010.
Yesterday, I had a similar experience watching my blog stats tick up toward the end of the year. Again, I was hoping I’d hit a nice round number, and indeed early yesterday afternoon, I did it.
I hit 100,000 visits.
Now, understand that is since inception, so I ended up with just over 95,000 visits on the blog for 2011.That’s 19 times the visits I had in 2010. Now, that’s just direct visits to the blog. If you factor in the stats I have from Feedburner, which captures people who read the blog via RSS feed, I had another 142,500 visits, making for a grand total of nearly 250,000 visits for 2011.
For those interested, here are some additional blog stats for 2011:
I like stats and numbers and I was culling some data on my Vacation posts the other day and thought it would make for an interesting post itself, so here you go. The numbers below represent the first 26 episodes of my Vacation in the Golden Age, covering the July 1939 through August 1941 issues of Astounding.
Shortest episode: 14 (August 1940) at 2,737 words2
Average length: 3,514 words
Plotted over time, here is what the words per episode looks like for the first 26 episodes:
Anyone who cares to plot the trend line can see where things are going. Interestingly, that jump beginning in Episode 19 is right around the time I started doing the write up for each story as I finished reading the story as opposed to waiting until the entire issue had been read.
One of my goals for this year was to improve the posts that I was writing in order to provide more useful content for folks visiting the site. The easiest measure of this is to look at the total number of visits to the site 1. A few months back I posted in some detail about the stats on the site so far this year. With two thirds of the year completed, I wanted to provide an update as to how the site is doing.
Last year, I averaged about 35 hits/day and had a grand total of 5,004 hits on the blog. My goal was to triple that by the end of 2011. As you will see, I have rather exceeded my expectations.
My data comes from two sources:
The native WordPress Stats application that comes as part of the WordPress JetPack.
Below is a table listing the totals for the first 8 months of the year, broken down by direct hits and Feedburner hits.
As you can see, from direct hits alone, I am doing far better than I imagined. My average daily hits in August was 248, not counting what comes through Feedburner. For the entire 8 months, the average daily hits is about 160/day, well above what I was aiming for. When you add Feedburner into the mix, things really shoot up. Indeed, I have passed 100,000 hits in just the first 8 months of the year, which astounds me.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in all of this is not to stress the day-to-day numbers. For the first several months, I was obsessed with checking my stats (the truth is, I still check them several times a day) and I was concerned every time I saw a slow day. I no longer worry about that. What I focus on is attempting to raise the number of hits from month to month and as far as direct hits to the blog goes, I’ve done that for each of the first 8 months of the year.
Of course, I just write the posts. A lot of the success that I have had this year is thanks to the folks that have come to the site and liked what they saw enough to tell others about it. I also have places like SF Signal to thanks for signal-boosting some of my posts, giving them more visibility than they might otherwise have received. Thanks to everyone who has visited the site! I hope to keep providing more good content and maybe see these numbers go up a bit more before the end of the year.
Note that I say this is the easiest measure, not necessarily the most accurate when it comes to quality. ↩
I didn’t register this site with Feedburner until late February so data for January and most of February is missing ↩
A few weeks ago, I posted an open discussion on my blog stats, in which I discussed my blog stats for the first half of the year in some detail. I’d set a goal to increase the views on my blog and I was doing a good job. In the weeks since that post, I’ve seen my average daily views exceed 200 for a few weeks. But the last two weeks the trend has been down. At first, I was disappointed by this, but I sucked it up and figured that these things ebb and flow. There would be weeks that traffic was unusually low and weeks where it was unusually high. I shouldn’t stress over it.
But I can’t let things go that easily. And I started thinking: the stats that I reported on were for direct visits to the blog; people who came directly to the site to read the posts. The stats did not include, for instance, people who read the posts via RSS. My sites RSS is relayed through Feedburner, which, as it happens, provides a nice set of statistical tools of its own. This morning, I went over there to look at the data and was surprised by what I found. I pulled data for views over the last 30 days:
As you can see from the chart, the trend of RSS views has been going up. And more remarkably, on 3 days in July so far (circled in red), the daily views have peaked over 1,000/day. The average daily RSS views for the entire 30 day period is 516. Since July 1st that number is 737 views/day. I had no idea that so many people were reading the blog via RSS. If you include these number in my direct blog views, then I’m looking at about 700 total views/day, which is far better than I thought I was doing, and makes me feel better when I see the direct views going down slightly. I’ll be keeping a closer eye on the Feedburner stats in the future.
Another way to look at it, in total, is that in the last 30 days, I’ve had about 5,300 direct views on the blog, while I’ve had three times as many (15,043) views via RSS. That’s a total of 20,000 views/month or better than 200,000 views each year.
Of course, all of these are just numbers and say nothing about the quality of the content, but at the moment, they are the only measure I have to go by and not knowing what the numbers should look like (but seeing how they have grown in the last six months) I can only assume that I am doing something right.
Last year, I made it one of my goals to triple the average daily traffic on my blog. I had a pretty good set of objectives for achieving this. By the end of 2011, I wanted to be averaging three times as many views as I was at the end of 2011. What I didn’t do at the time was specify numbers. I’m not sure why that is, but I suspect that I was somewhat embarrassed by the low numbers I was seeing. Looking back, that seems a silly reason to not be specific in numbers.
I had planned to report on my progress toward this goal at the end of June–the halfway point for achieving my goal–but I realized that I am going to be extremely busy at the end of the month. Since we are only a week shy of that, I thought I would do the post now. And I will use my real numbers, since my example might help others who are looking to do the same thing on their own blogs and websites.
Before I get into the details, I wanted to point to a post I wrote some months back on online presence for writers. This post summarizes many of the strategies I have used to try to make the content of this blog more useful and interesting to readers and attract new readers.
Also, I wanted to answer the question: why? Why does it matter how many people visit your blog, or whether or not the content is valuable? I think the answers to these questions vary depending on your goals. For me, as a writer, this blog is the central and primary means of self-promotion for my writing. “Self-promotion” sounds kind of greedy, but really there are two purposes to what I do here:
Talk about my writing so that maybe people will become more interested in it
Pay-it-forward, by providing what I hope is useful content to other fans of science fiction, and other writers looking to break into the field
Having established the why, let me dive into the stats.
Sometime in the last two or three months, this blog passed a milestone: 1 million words of content.
I hadn’t checked on these stats in a long time, but I did so today, out of curiosity, and I found that, not counting this post you are reading now, there are 1,077,931 words worth of posts. If you factor in the static pages, that brings the total up to 1,093,536 words of published information on this blog, spread over 4,153 posts. And so far this year, I’ve been averaging between 27,000 – 41,000 words of new content each month. Pretty cool! At 25,000 posts/month, that means I’ll hit 2 million words in a little more than 3 years.
Since I spent some time collecting some blog stats this morning, I spent a little more time culling some interesting reading stats, what I call reading “100s”. These are the 100th books that I have read (only 3 so far) and the duration between them.
Today marks the 600th consecutive day of at least 1 post on my blog. Since the beginning of this run, I’ve made 2,080 posts (if you include this one), which comes to an average of nearly 3.5 posts per day. I’ve received 2,619 comments, which comes to an average of 1.26 comments per post, or 4.4 comments per day.
I sometimes wonder about things in idle moments. These things have absolutely no value other than curiosity. On and off again, I have wondered, for instance, how many episodes there are to a long-running soap opera. I always forget about it after a moment and never think to look it up.
Today, I remembered.
I looked up the number of episodes of the popular soap opera General Hospital (the only one I knew by name). It turns out that since it’s birth in 1963 there have been 11,326 episodes through June 18, 2007. That’s incredible of you consider that between April 1, 1963 and June 18, 2007 there have been 16,149 days. The show does not air on weekends, so if you subtract weekends out of that figure, there have been 11,535 possible days that the show could have aired. In all that time, it missed 209 possible slots for one reason or another. Percentage-wise, General Hospital has aired a new episode 98.2% of non-weekend days in the last 44 years.
I guess you get pretty good a memorizing scripts in that line of work.
This evening, I was doing some archiving of my journal in order to make sure that I had copies of everything locally. I also decided to write a script that would index my archive for better searching capabilities. In doing so, I exported all of my journals, by month to XML files, and then ran a wc -w *.xml on the resulting files. I was curious to see how many words I’d written in my journal this year. Here are the results, up to, but not including this entry:
To give you an idea, 20,000 words is roughly the equivalent of 100 manuscript pages. To give you a better idea, 233,000 words is just slightly shorter than John Steinbeck’s novel, East of Eden. It is roughly the length of Frank Herbert’s novel Dune. It is longer than The Grapes of Wrath and more than twice as long as Alice Sebold’s, The Lovely Bones. It is ten times as long as my 20,000 words novella, “Graveyard Shift”. It is a lot of writing.