Measuring Your Blog’s Success: It’s Not All About Numbers

Blogging Success: It's not all about the numbersHow do you measure your blogs success?

A challenge for you: Take a step back and think – on a scale from one to ten, how would you rate your blog’s ‘success’? As you’re thinking, what statistics do you factor in to determine the success of a blog? Is it about page views? Unique visitors? Average number of comments? Does it all come down to the numbers – the analytic and statistical information that ‘proves’ you’re on the right path?

Realistically, it’s hard to argue that the stats don’t come into play. If someone asks me what my most successful post has been on Life Without Pants, I immediately point them to the 147 comment wonder from a few months ago, my ‘one hit wonder’ that brought many new faces through my neck of the woods – some if whom have remained and become regular readers. It was one of the highlights of my blogging career thus far, without a doubt.

That being said, it is not, and should not be all about the numbers. Measuring success in numbers, studying the statistics and neglecting the real value of content and community is flawed in practice.

Here are three things you should be thinking about when measuring your blog’s success:

Content Consistency

You’ve probably heard it preached time and time again: The most effective bloggers post regularly and routinely. Ask yourself this: Have you established a posting schedule? Do people know when to expect a new post from your blog? Are you ritualistic in your publishing? You would be surprised at the effectiveness of being ‘predictable’. I’m more likely to be a regular if I know that every Wednesday morning I can type in the URL to your blog and expect to see a new post.

Another factor to consider: Is your content consistently ‘good’? I use the term good loosely as there is no clear definition of what makes an article ‘good’. Think about it this way: Is your traffic steady throughout the week or are you seeing peaks and valleys? Are you generating good interactive discussion on most of your posts, or do many of your articles draw very little to no interest? If you’re struggling to maintain consistent interest, you may need to rethink the focus and direction of your blog to determine your blog’s target niche.

Incoming Links, Trackbacks, and Content Sharing on Social Media

Links and trackbacks are the bread and butter of any web-site’s SEO and Google Rank. It’s a pretty simple formula: The more people who are linking to your blog, the better. In short, if people are talking about you and sharing links to your content, you must be doing something right. In this day and age, it requires far less effort to share content, but it still takes effort. We typically aren’t sharing something unless it is/was of some value to us. The most successful blogs are able to focus on content while relying on their community to market content and spread (good) awareness.

Comment Quality

When thinking about our blog’s success, one of the first factors that comes to mind is the number of comments we receive on average. Comments let us know that our content compelled readers (for better or worse) to share there insight and spark discussion. But simply racking up an abundance of comments isn’t what’s important. Quality beats quantity, every time. At first pass, a blog with 200 comments may look ‘better’ – but if you have an interactive and engaging conversation taking place on an article with 20 comments, isn’t that more successful? I think so.

Success isn’t measured in numbers – it’s measured in consistent quality content that inspires conversation and keeps people coming back for more.

What do you think?

(Image courtesy mac steve)


72 Responses
  • David Lawlor Reply

    I think before you can define success you need to define what the goal of your blog is. For different people it can be very quite a bit. For me I pull in at least one to two consulting engagements a week, even though my traffic is barely in the triple digits daily. That is a shining success because it puts cash in my pocket and grows my reputation, which was my goal when I started it. I also wanted to own my name in Google for different variations, which I also achieved.

    I think before you define your success you should define the goal of what you are doing the blog for in the first place.

  • David Lawlor Reply

    I think before you can define success you need to define what the goal of your blog is. For different people it can be very quite a bit. For me I pull in at least one to two consulting engagements a week, even though my traffic is barely in the triple digits daily. That is a shining success because it puts cash in my pocket and grows my reputation, which was my goal when I started it. I also wanted to own my name in Google for different variations, which I also achieved.

    I think before you define your success you should define the goal of what you are doing the blog for in the first place.

  • Monica O'Brien Reply

    I agree that it’s difficult to talk about measuring success on a blog, because different people have different measures of success. Someone who cares about traffic will blog much differently than someone who cares about subscribers – the tactics to boost those two measures are inherently different.

    One thing you have right is that if you can pick 2 or 3 measures of success that matter to you, and focus fanatically on them, you will be a much happier blogger. None of us can ever be the best at every measure of success, but that’s why there are a variety of blogs to choose from.

    • Matt Reply

      @Monica. But what if we want to be the best at everything? :) Kidding, kidding. I agree – you ultimately have to set your sights on a couple key factors. I hesitate to focus TOO much on the numbers – yes, I want the traffic, but with that, I want the interaction and connectivity with readers.

      Do you think it ultimately comes down to the ‘sales’ factor? If you’re selling something, you’re focus is on traffic. If you’re focused on building a community, you concentrate on the people. The challenge is, what if you’re ‘selling’ yourself – as I am here. My goal with the blog is to both build community and establish a name for myself – one that will hopefully lead to future opportunities. Quite the conundrum, eh?

      • Monica O'Brien Reply

        Matt,

        I don’t think it has to do with selling. The difference is really how big you want your blog to be. As your blog gets bigger, your comment numbers don’t necessarily grow. Big traffic doesn’t mean tons of subscribers, or vice versa.

        Communities have a max capacity and can’t grow too big before the relationships between the people in the community start to suffer. As your blog grows your goals are going to change, if you want to get to “the next level.”

  • Monica O'Brien Reply

    I agree that it’s difficult to talk about measuring success on a blog, because different people have different measures of success. Someone who cares about traffic will blog much differently than someone who cares about subscribers – the tactics to boost those two measures are inherently different.

    One thing you have right is that if you can pick 2 or 3 measures of success that matter to you, and focus fanatically on them, you will be a much happier blogger. None of us can ever be the best at every measure of success, but that’s why there are a variety of blogs to choose from.

    • Matt Reply

      @Monica. But what if we want to be the best at everything? :) Kidding, kidding. I agree – you ultimately have to set your sights on a couple key factors. I hesitate to focus TOO much on the numbers – yes, I want the traffic, but with that, I want the interaction and connectivity with readers.

      Do you think it ultimately comes down to the ‘sales’ factor? If you’re selling something, you’re focus is on traffic. If you’re focused on building a community, you concentrate on the people. The challenge is, what if you’re ‘selling’ yourself – as I am here. My goal with the blog is to both build community and establish a name for myself – one that will hopefully lead to future opportunities. Quite the conundrum, eh?

      • Monica O'Brien Reply

        Matt,

        I don’t think it has to do with selling. The difference is really how big you want your blog to be. As your blog gets bigger, your comment numbers don’t necessarily grow. Big traffic doesn’t mean tons of subscribers, or vice versa.

        Communities have a max capacity and can’t grow too big before the relationships between the people in the community start to suffer. As your blog grows your goals are going to change, if you want to get to “the next level.”

  • Tony Ruiz Reply

    How do you measure the success of your blog?
    I know my blog is successful when I reach out to at least one person. Everyone is about fame when they start and they want hundreds of readers to comment on their blog. I know my blog is young and I measure its success by reaching out to people who care to read it. Comments are great, but it doesn’t measure the success.

    What ‘grade’ would you give your blog and what factors are you using to measure?
    When it comes to grading your blog, I think its about what content you’re providing. You should ask yourself the question, “I’m I being true to myself?” — If you are, your blog deserves an “A”

    Can someone with very little traffic and limited discussion still claim that there blog is a success?
    I can answer this question — I have limited discussion on my blog and about 50 subscribers, is it as successful as I would like it to be? No. Is it successful? Yes, because it takes a special person to want to blog and engage with other readers. If I’m reaching out and making my voice heard, my job is done. I don’t expect someone to comment back on my blog if I commented on theirs. I comment because I want to connect, build relationships, and create a valuable network.

    Great post Matt, this post really made me reflect on my personal blog.

    • Matt Reply

      @Tony. It sounds like you’ve got your priorities straight – your blog is both personally fulfilling and a way to reach out and let yourself be heard. That’s the perfect balance – and if eventually you can draw a little revenue in, you’ll have achieved the ultimate ‘tri-fecta’. 50 subscribers is no slouch, and you now have one more (ehem, me). Cheers to you sir!

  • Tony Ruiz Reply

    How do you measure the success of your blog?
    I know my blog is successful when I reach out to at least one person. Everyone is about fame when they start and they want hundreds of readers to comment on their blog. I know my blog is young and I measure its success by reaching out to people who care to read it. Comments are great, but it doesn’t measure the success.

    What ‘grade’ would you give your blog and what factors are you using to measure?
    When it comes to grading your blog, I think its about what content you’re providing. You should ask yourself the question, “I’m I being true to myself?” — If you are, your blog deserves an “A”

    Can someone with very little traffic and limited discussion still claim that there blog is a success?
    I can answer this question — I have limited discussion on my blog and about 50 subscribers, is it as successful as I would like it to be? No. Is it successful? Yes, because it takes a special person to want to blog and engage with other readers. If I’m reaching out and making my voice heard, my job is done. I don’t expect someone to comment back on my blog if I commented on theirs. I comment because I want to connect, build relationships, and create a valuable network.

    Great post Matt, this post really made me reflect on my personal blog.

    • Matt Reply

      @Tony. It sounds like you’ve got your priorities straight – your blog is both personally fulfilling and a way to reach out and let yourself be heard. That’s the perfect balance – and if eventually you can draw a little revenue in, you’ll have achieved the ultimate ‘tri-fecta’. 50 subscribers is no slouch, and you now have one more (ehem, me). Cheers to you sir!

  • cooper Reply

    I don’t look at my blog in terms of success, for me success comes from my life projects not from my blog, so I guess success for me is having a fair numbers of readers, emailers, and decent commenters who return once and awhile. It’s something I have fun with without having to worry about it.

    For those who have blogs which they are trying to merge with their careers, pro-bloggers, journalists, or those aspiring to be professional writers, I imagine the bar is somewhere higher. It’s so subjective this blogging thing.

    • Matt Reply

      @Cooper. Thanks for stopping by. It is very subjective – Success is in the eye of the beholder, and it’s different for everyone – nothing wrong with that at all. I don’t think there will ever be a clear definition of success – in any facet – blogging or otherwise. I would love to check out your blog – if you happen to come back through this neck of the woods, you’ll have to drop a link so (we) can check it out!

  • cooper Reply

    I don’t look at my blog in terms of success, for me success comes from my life projects not from my blog, so I guess success for me is having a fair numbers of readers, emailers, and decent commenters who return once and awhile. It’s something I have fun with without having to worry about it.

    For those who have blogs which they are trying to merge with their careers, pro-bloggers, journalists, or those aspiring to be professional writers, I imagine the bar is somewhere higher. It’s so subjective this blogging thing.

    • Matt Reply

      @Cooper. Thanks for stopping by. It is very subjective – Success is in the eye of the beholder, and it’s different for everyone – nothing wrong with that at all. I don’t think there will ever be a clear definition of success – in any facet – blogging or otherwise. I would love to check out your blog – if you happen to come back through this neck of the woods, you’ll have to drop a link so (we) can check it out!

  • Victorio_M Reply

    As a relatively new blogger, I measure my success primarily by how consistently I post. I work full time so my goal right now is at least once per week. So far I’ve managed to maintain or exceed that. Hooray for me!

    Aside from that comments are another sign of success for me. It gives me a better idea of what kinds of posts the readers of my blog prefer.

    • Matt Reply

      @Creative Chaos Consultant. It’s definitely tricky to keep up with blogging and community building with a full time job on the side (notice I but blogging in the forefront, jobs are merely an afterthought to our kind). Comments are a good indicator of what your readers find interesting and relevant. I’m learning a lot through using different techniques to spark discussion, and I couldn’t be happier about the response I consistently receive (look around you) – it means I must be doing something right. Thanks for coming by!

  • Creative Chaos Consultant Reply

    As a relatively new blogger, I measure my success primarily by how consistently I post. I work full time so my goal right now is at least once per week. So far I’ve managed to maintain or exceed that. Hooray for me!

    Aside from that comments are another sign of success for me. It gives me a better idea of what kinds of posts the readers of my blog prefer.

    • Matt Reply

      @Creative Chaos Consultant. It’s definitely tricky to keep up with blogging and community building with a full time job on the side (notice I but blogging in the forefront, jobs are merely an afterthought to our kind). Comments are a good indicator of what your readers find interesting and relevant. I’m learning a lot through using different techniques to spark discussion, and I couldn’t be happier about the response I consistently receive (look around you) – it means I must be doing something right. Thanks for coming by!

  • Dan Erwin Reply

    Intriguing post. I focus on content quality and traffic and am pretty nutty about posting every day. With a target of 25 to 45 year-old businesspeople, I’m attempting to distinguish content expectations.

    I’m also searching for ways to adapt my business language still more effectively to web language. For the past 25 years, I’ve worked largely with execs at major companies who tend to be in their 40s. Over the last three years, I’ve been able to work on a unique basis with Gen-Yers. Expectations, values and language are, well…quite dissimilar. Reading bloggers and adjusting my blog to web language is exceptionally useful.

    There are fascinating instances in which an issue for which senior clients regularly express concern may get no traction on the web. That forces me to revise, revise my ideas and language. Very helpful!

    Here’s an example of a useful switch. On numerous occasions I work with execs who need help in giving feedback. On the web, the stuff that flies is usually about getting feedback. For me, that’s a highly useful insight.

    I began this blog with my stated focus on traffic and quality, but writing and thinking suggest to me that the focus narrows to identifying the “driving issues and language of the business webworld.” Of course, reading Ben Casnocha, then Penelope Trunk, and then Slacker Manager–all at the same time–and attempting to assimilate the differences, pushes my ability to define a market to the edge of the cliff.

    Thanks for the opportunity to think out loud. Uhhhh, your insights will be appreciated.

    • Matt Reply

      @Dan. Happy that I could inspire all of this thought within you. I would love to hear more about what your experience and what you do, you’ll have to shoot me an email when you have some time.

      Also, cheers to you for posting daily – I’ve tried my hand in daily posting and I just can’t do it – I find myself to be too long winded – I’ll spend a good couple hours (at least) on a blog post depending on the topic. One thing I am trying to do – to challenge myself – is to write short, concise, powerful posts (think Seth Godin with slightly more substance). The challenge is not sacrificing quality for more quantity. Life Without Pants will continue evolve!

  • Dan Erwin Reply

    Intriguing post. I focus on content quality and traffic and am pretty nutty about posting every day. With a target of 25 to 45 year-old businesspeople, I’m attempting to distinguish content expectations.

    I’m also searching for ways to adapt my business language still more effectively to web language. For the past 25 years, I’ve worked largely with execs at major companies who tend to be in their 40s. Over the last three years, I’ve been able to work on a unique basis with Gen-Yers. Expectations, values and language are, well…quite dissimilar. Reading bloggers and adjusting my blog to web language is exceptionally useful.

    There are fascinating instances in which an issue for which senior clients regularly express concern may get no traction on the web. That forces me to revise, revise my ideas and language. Very helpful!

    Here’s an example of a useful switch. On numerous occasions I work with execs who need help in giving feedback. On the web, the stuff that flies is usually about getting feedback. For me, that’s a highly useful insight.

    I began this blog with my stated focus on traffic and quality, but writing and thinking suggest to me that the focus narrows to identifying the “driving issues and language of the business webworld.” Of course, reading Ben Casnocha, then Penelope Trunk, and then Slacker Manager–all at the same time–and attempting to assimilate the differences, pushes my ability to define a market to the edge of the cliff.

    Thanks for the opportunity to think out loud. Uhhhh, your insights will be appreciated.

    • Matt Reply

      @Dan. Happy that I could inspire all of this thought within you. I would love to hear more about what your experience and what you do, you’ll have to shoot me an email when you have some time.

      Also, cheers to you for posting daily – I’ve tried my hand in daily posting and I just can’t do it – I find myself to be too long winded – I’ll spend a good couple hours (at least) on a blog post depending on the topic. One thing I am trying to do – to challenge myself – is to write short, concise, powerful posts (think Seth Godin with slightly more substance). The challenge is not sacrificing quality for more quantity. Life Without Pants will continue evolve!

  • Carlos Miceli Reply

    I believe you can measure your blog success, as long as you have very clear what your objectives are.

    Like Monica says, I don’t think you can win in every measure out there. For me for example, is subscribers. More subscribers means more “reach”, means I making more people think. If I manage to keep up this daily post schedule, I realize that comments will drop eventually. So I try not to focus on that, and stay firm with my main goal.

    Regarding little traffics and comments blogs…I don’t believe that they don’t care about that, UNLESS they have passwords or don’t show it to people. If you put it out there, then you want people to read it. There’s still a lot to get from blogging even if you don’t succeed (writing skills and learning why you didn’t succeed!).

    • Ryan Stephens Reply

      Good point Carlos. If NOBODY ever read one word of my blog chances are it’s still enabling me to think through things, develop my own insights, connect ideas, and become a better writer.

    • David Lawlor Reply

      I think that traffic is subjective in that it needs to be quality traffic targeted to your subject, or it is just wasted bandwidth. I can easily grab 1000′s of random visitors a day through various methods, but that doesn’t make them quality visitors or who I target.

      I would rather speak to 10 people who have a need for the information in the post than have 10,000 who just pop in through various methods.

      • Monica O'Brien Reply

        Interesting – how do you “easily grab 1000′s of random visitors per day”? Am I missing something? Even PPC wouldn’t be that easy.

        • David Lawlor Reply

          You can buy traffic redirects of foreign and non targeted traffic if you know where to look. Bulk traffic buys can be from $2-$10 per 1000 depending if you want to filter based on country.

          With just a quick search on Google I found a company that will send 100K for $90.

          But what would be the point if you are not in a CPM advertising model (and even then you will risk losing your sponsors if your real traffic doesn’t keep conversion rates up.)

  • Ryan Stephens Reply

    I think we all measure success differently. I’m pretty tough on myself and I have big aspirations for my blog so I’d probably give my blog somewhere between a 4.5-6 depending on the day.

    Like Monica said, I think it’s important to set goals exclusive to what we’re trying to achieve and those might be conversation based, metrics based, etc.

    I think the core of what you’re getting at is that quality both your content and the contributions of your followers are more important than some other, potentially more quantifiable statistics. While I agree to some extent, I also think those metrics are important to understand WHAT is really resonating with your audience.

    I don’t get too caught up in the #’s, but if I see a really old post is getting a lot of traffic then I know it a.) resonated b.) has become semi-evergreen, etc. Maybe I should go update that post? Also crazy egg will create heat maps of your site to let you know where visitors are clicking. I think it’s important to know how people are interacting with your site. What’s enticing them to click, subscribe, interact, etc.

    • Dan Erwin Reply

      Ryan: Thanks for the hint. Although I extend content to different blogs, I’ve never thought about updating a seminal blog. Thanks

  • Carlos Miceli Reply

    I believe you can measure your blog success, as long as you have very clear what your objectives are.

    Like Monica says, I don’t think you can win in every measure out there. For me for example, is subscribers. More subscribers means more “reach”, means I making more people think. If I manage to keep up this daily post schedule, I realize that comments will drop eventually. So I try not to focus on that, and stay firm with my main goal.

    Regarding little traffics and comments blogs…I don’t believe that they don’t care about that, UNLESS they have passwords or don’t show it to people. If you put it out there, then you want people to read it. There’s still a lot to get from blogging even if you don’t succeed (writing skills and learning why you didn’t succeed!).

    • Ryan Stephens Reply

      Good point Carlos. If NOBODY ever read one word of my blog chances are it’s still enabling me to think through things, develop my own insights, connect ideas, and become a better writer.

    • David Lawlor Reply

      I think that traffic is subjective in that it needs to be quality traffic targeted to your subject, or it is just wasted bandwidth. I can easily grab 1000′s of random visitors a day through various methods, but that doesn’t make them quality visitors or who I target.

      I would rather speak to 10 people who have a need for the information in the post than have 10,000 who just pop in through various methods.

      • Monica O'Brien Reply

        Interesting – how do you “easily grab 1000′s of random visitors per day”? Am I missing something? Even PPC wouldn’t be that easy.

        • David Lawlor Reply

          You can buy traffic redirects of foreign and non targeted traffic if you know where to look. Bulk traffic buys can be from $2-$10 per 1000 depending if you want to filter based on country.

          With just a quick search on Google I found a company that will send 100K for $90.

          But what would be the point if you are not in a CPM advertising model (and even then you will risk losing your sponsors if your real traffic doesn’t keep conversion rates up.)

  • Ryan Stephens Reply

    I think we all measure success differently. I’m pretty tough on myself and I have big aspirations for my blog so I’d probably give my blog somewhere between a 4.5-6 depending on the day.

    Like Monica said, I think it’s important to set goals exclusive to what we’re trying to achieve and those might be conversation based, metrics based, etc.

    I think the core of what you’re getting at is that quality both your content and the contributions of your followers are more important than some other, potentially more quantifiable statistics. While I agree to some extent, I also think those metrics are important to understand WHAT is really resonating with your audience.

    I don’t get too caught up in the #’s, but if I see a really old post is getting a lot of traffic then I know it a.) resonated b.) has become semi-evergreen, etc. Maybe I should go update that post? Also crazy egg will create heat maps of your site to let you know where visitors are clicking. I think it’s important to know how people are interacting with your site. What’s enticing them to click, subscribe, interact, etc.

    • Dan Erwin Reply

      Ryan: Thanks for the hint. Although I extend content to different blogs, I’ve never thought about updating a seminal blog. Thanks

  • Carla Blumenthal Reply

    This discussion goes back to the larger picture of ROI in web and social. There are so many metrics you can dissect, but it’s about looking at what fits the goals of your blog (or campaign).

    I think one key takeaway is that with the growth of your blog, your goals and how you measure success will change- and that’s ok! Measuring success as a newbie will be quite different than measuring success a few months or years in.

    • Matt Reply

      @Carla. I think we can all remember back to the day when we first started blogging, the first time someone actually left a comment, that first moment when you realized, “Hey, people might actually be reading this crap”. It’s an evolutionary process, without a doubt. Once you realize that your voice is really being heard, it changes the game a little, you stop writing for ‘me’ and start writing for ‘we’. And as you said, goals an priorities change. Eventually, assuming that I keep doing a good job at growing and building a community here, I’d love to think that my support level is high enough to support writing a book, or other future endeavors. A blog is a stepping stone and a supplement to the much bigger picture for me in the long run. It only further reiterates that blogging can mean totally different things for each of us.

  • Carla Blumenthal Reply

    This discussion goes back to the larger picture of ROI in web and social. There are so many metrics you can dissect, but it’s about looking at what fits the goals of your blog (or campaign).

    I think one key takeaway is that with the growth of your blog, your goals and how you measure success will change- and that’s ok! Measuring success as a newbie will be quite different than measuring success a few months or years in.

    • Matt Reply

      @Carla. I think we can all remember back to the day when we first started blogging, the first time someone actually left a comment, that first moment when you realized, “Hey, people might actually be reading this crap”. It’s an evolutionary process, without a doubt. Once you realize that your voice is really being heard, it changes the game a little, you stop writing for ‘me’ and start writing for ‘we’. And as you said, goals an priorities change. Eventually, assuming that I keep doing a good job at growing and building a community here, I’d love to think that my support level is high enough to support writing a book, or other future endeavors. A blog is a stepping stone and a supplement to the much bigger picture for me in the long run. It only further reiterates that blogging can mean totally different things for each of us.

  • Harold Shaw Reply

    Matt – as usual you have made me stop and think about something important to me – this time my blog. My blog is an extension of who I am and a major part of what my online identity and reputation has become.

    We all look at how much money our blogs make (mine $0.01 over the last month) different stats Google, hit counters, or some other statistical tool, but sometimes it is as simple as opening up your blog’s page and saying this reflects who I am. The unquantifiable measurement of a blog is sometimes more important than the statistical analysis.

    A grade that I would give my blog is that it meets my needs. Blogging by its very nature is very “me” oriented, therefore, if it meets my needs it is receiving good grade, to make mine exceptional, others would have to more meet the needs of others – like yours does Matt.

    Sometimes I think that I give up a little in quality in my rush to get my thoughts down, due to the limited time that I typically have to blog. Are you talking to me personally about my blog? Looking over since I started blogging, my blog is a personal blog that has had too many focus areas to create a brand or theme that readers could identify with. But to me, my blog meets the needs that I have for it, it helps me learn more about myself and allows me to enjoy one of my passions – writing, therefore, it is successful.

    Thank you Matt for making us all think more closely about this subject, which from reading the other comments you have done again.

    Harold

    • Matt Reply

      @Harold. I’m always glad when I’m able to force people to stop and think about themselves, we’re all learning and growing through these conversations.

      I left a response on your blog so I’ll keep this one short. If your blog is serving it’s ‘purpose’, if it’s meeting your needs and helping you learn and grow as an individual, what more can you really ask for? Isn’t that what it’s all about? I say, keep doing what you do, and if your priorities shift (money, building community, etc) then adjust accordingly. Cheers Harold, couldn’t be happier to have you as part of the community here to provide some perspective.

  • Harold Shaw Reply

    Matt – as usual you have made me stop and think about something important to me – this time my blog. My blog is an extension of who I am and a major part of what my online identity and reputation has become.

    We all look at how much money our blogs make (mine $0.01 over the last month) different stats Google, hit counters, or some other statistical tool, but sometimes it is as simple as opening up your blog’s page and saying this reflects who I am. The unquantifiable measurement of a blog is sometimes more important than the statistical analysis.

    A grade that I would give my blog is that it meets my needs. Blogging by its very nature is very “me” oriented, therefore, if it meets my needs it is receiving good grade, to make mine exceptional, others would have to more meet the needs of others – like yours does Matt.

    Sometimes I think that I give up a little in quality in my rush to get my thoughts down, due to the limited time that I typically have to blog. Are you talking to me personally about my blog? Looking over since I started blogging, my blog is a personal blog that has had too many focus areas to create a brand or theme that readers could identify with. But to me, my blog meets the needs that I have for it, it helps me learn more about myself and allows me to enjoy one of my passions – writing, therefore, it is successful.

    Thank you Matt for making us all think more closely about this subject, which from reading the other comments you have done again.

    Harold

    • Matt Reply

      @Harold. I’m always glad when I’m able to force people to stop and think about themselves, we’re all learning and growing through these conversations.

      I left a response on your blog so I’ll keep this one short. If your blog is serving it’s ‘purpose’, if it’s meeting your needs and helping you learn and grow as an individual, what more can you really ask for? Isn’t that what it’s all about? I say, keep doing what you do, and if your priorities shift (money, building community, etc) then adjust accordingly. Cheers Harold, couldn’t be happier to have you as part of the community here to provide some perspective.

  • Jackie Reply

    Personally, I started my blog more for an area for me to think critically about different issues and as a place to direct potential employers to see my thoughts. Since then, it’s evolved somewhat into a blog that’s more directed towards generating conversation with others who have similar interests/expertise as me.

    Along the way, however, the main thing I’ve used to track my “success” has been my stats. Although I still am not drawing HUGE traffic, the stats do let me know when I had something extra insightful to say, which helps planning for future posts.

    As someone who posts once or twice a week currently, I think that quality is much more important than quantity, but that quantity helps make you more visible. Personally, I find it harder to maintain high quality when posting more often and I’d rather just not post if I don’t have anything insightful to say.

    • Matt Reply

      @Jackie. It is an interesting trade off, as you say. Quality is always more important than quantity, but there are benefits to posting daily as well – More content = more chance of appealing to a wider audience, it builds your archives up, can increase your Google search results, etc. Again, it comes down to a balance. Those who are the most ‘successful’ are those who write quality content that attracts large numbers of people. And through these conversations, I think we’ve seen that ‘success’ is a very loose term that can mean very different things to different people.

  • Jackie Reply

    Personally, I started my blog more for an area for me to think critically about different issues and as a place to direct potential employers to see my thoughts. Since then, it’s evolved somewhat into a blog that’s more directed towards generating conversation with others who have similar interests/expertise as me.

    Along the way, however, the main thing I’ve used to track my “success” has been my stats. Although I still am not drawing HUGE traffic, the stats do let me know when I had something extra insightful to say, which helps planning for future posts.

    As someone who posts once or twice a week currently, I think that quality is much more important than quantity, but that quantity helps make you more visible. Personally, I find it harder to maintain high quality when posting more often and I’d rather just not post if I don’t have anything insightful to say.

    • Matt Reply

      @Jackie. It is an interesting trade off, as you say. Quality is always more important than quantity, but there are benefits to posting daily as well – More content = more chance of appealing to a wider audience, it builds your archives up, can increase your Google search results, etc. Again, it comes down to a balance. Those who are the most ‘successful’ are those who write quality content that attracts large numbers of people. And through these conversations, I think we’ve seen that ‘success’ is a very loose term that can mean very different things to different people.

  • Grace Reply

    This is a good question. I didn’t really start thinking about these questions until my blog started to actually get noticed, commented on and read, haha!

    Success for me really has to do with the conversation and comments. I’m not writing to blank air/web space, I’m really interested in asking questions, sharing and communicating. Although a lot of comments is great (and exciting) if there are 20 quality comments, then I’m so happily satisfied.

    • Matt Reply

      @Grace. It’s funny what being one of the top two Gen Y blogs in the UNIVERSE will do to you, eh? :)

      I think I have really been getting back to basics lately – rather than writing closed-ended blog topics that (may or may not) spark inspiring thought, I’m getting back to the original purpose, to ask questions, to learn new perspectives and ideas, and to grow, both personally and professionally. So I’m challenging myself to tackle some new topics, but leaving the floor open for Q&A, and through the process, learning a lot about myself.

  • Grace Reply

    This is a good question. I didn’t really start thinking about these questions until my blog started to actually get noticed, commented on and read, haha!

    Success for me really has to do with the conversation and comments. I’m not writing to blank air/web space, I’m really interested in asking questions, sharing and communicating. Although a lot of comments is great (and exciting) if there are 20 quality comments, then I’m so happily satisfied.

    • Matt Reply

      @Grace. It’s funny what being one of the top two Gen Y blogs in the UNIVERSE will do to you, eh? :)

      I think I have really been getting back to basics lately – rather than writing closed-ended blog topics that (may or may not) spark inspiring thought, I’m getting back to the original purpose, to ask questions, to learn new perspectives and ideas, and to grow, both personally and professionally. So I’m challenging myself to tackle some new topics, but leaving the floor open for Q&A, and through the process, learning a lot about myself.

  • Sam Reply

    I agree with Monica that people have different measurements of success. It depends on what you’re trying to achieve with your blog, and what’s important to you. My goal is for people to connect to my posts in some way. While page views, trackbacks, and tweets are all nice and much appreciated, I feel a post is successful if one person takes the time to comment and share their perspective. Of course, I love to watch discussion develop too, and I’m always very happy to see that happen. But, I still see the less “popular” posts as successful. Very interesting topic and great questions, Matt!

    • Matt Reply

      @Sam. I agree that there can be different focuses, but what if someone is trying to ‘do it all’ so to speak? If through the community building and branding, they’re trying to make a name for themselves? Is that not what you’re doing? Are you blogging simply to impact people’s lives? Or do you see it as being a supplement in establishing your own personal brand? The challenge is balancing between building community and increasing traffic – more eyes on impressions never hurts. It almost seems like if your blog ever turns into a money-making ploy, you pretty much have to ‘sell yourself out’.

      Can you be a passionate community manager who focuses on establishing relationships while driving traffic and earning revenue? Yes, but it’s easier said than done. It appears that ‘success’ truly is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Sam Reply

    I agree with Monica that people have different measurements of success. It depends on what you’re trying to achieve with your blog, and what’s important to you. My goal is for people to connect to my posts in some way. While page views, trackbacks, and tweets are all nice and much appreciated, I feel a post is successful if one person takes the time to comment and share their perspective. Of course, I love to watch discussion develop too, and I’m always very happy to see that happen. But, I still see the less “popular” posts as successful. Very interesting topic and great questions, Matt!

    • Matt Reply

      @Sam. I agree that there can be different focuses, but what if someone is trying to ‘do it all’ so to speak? If through the community building and branding, they’re trying to make a name for themselves? Is that not what you’re doing? Are you blogging simply to impact people’s lives? Or do you see it as being a supplement in establishing your own personal brand? The challenge is balancing between building community and increasing traffic – more eyes on impressions never hurts. It almost seems like if your blog ever turns into a money-making ploy, you pretty much have to ‘sell yourself out’.

      Can you be a passionate community manager who focuses on establishing relationships while driving traffic and earning revenue? Yes, but it’s easier said than done. It appears that ‘success’ truly is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Anita Lobo Reply

    Hi Matt

    It all does come down to numbers – not blind, numbers for the sake of it, but a balance between qualitative questions, that are translated into intelligent numbers
    e.g
    - number of repeat commentors vs no. of comments;
    - fillers vs evergreen’s that attract people regularly;
    - one-time hit [eg a post on twitter] vs topics that attract more readers, regularly
    - benchmarking against other bloggers writing on similar topic/ or take one post on the same topic and do a head to head comparison

    I think its key to understand universal benchmarks, and then tweak them to give you relevant inputs that help grow the blog.

    I also think its good to review the evaluation criteria every six months – just as a business is reviewed!

    Cheers

    Anita Lobo

  • Anita Lobo Reply

    Hi Matt

    It all does come down to numbers – not blind, numbers for the sake of it, but a balance between qualitative questions, that are translated into intelligent numbers
    e.g
    - number of repeat commentors vs no. of comments;
    - fillers vs evergreen’s that attract people regularly;
    - one-time hit [eg a post on twitter] vs topics that attract more readers, regularly
    - benchmarking against other bloggers writing on similar topic/ or take one post on the same topic and do a head to head comparison

    I think its key to understand universal benchmarks, and then tweak them to give you relevant inputs that help grow the blog.

    I also think its good to review the evaluation criteria every six months – just as a business is reviewed!

    Cheers

    Anita Lobo

  • Elisa Reply

    One thing I’ve noticed no one mention yet…RT’s, cross links and track backs. I know that anyone can click onto my blog, anyone can visit from a link, heck people can even take 90 seconds to comment and offer insight. For people to put their reputation, brand and name on the line and recommend me to others to check out, I feel that is the best way to know that I’ve written something that hits home for people.

    • Matt Reply

      @Elisa. This was a big one for me, and you summed it up perfectly. Carlos had a post earlier this week about the ease of sharing content, and while it may only take a couple clicks to re-tweet a blog post, subconsciously it means that person took away enough value to share it with others – at least, that’s how I approach the ‘sharing’ process. Couldn’t have said it better myself Elisa.

  • Elisa Reply

    One thing I’ve noticed no one mention yet…RT’s, cross links and track backs. I know that anyone can click onto my blog, anyone can visit from a link, heck people can even take 90 seconds to comment and offer insight. For people to put their reputation, brand and name on the line and recommend me to others to check out, I feel that is the best way to know that I’ve written something that hits home for people.

    • Matt Reply

      @Elisa. This was a big one for me, and you summed it up perfectly. Carlos had a post earlier this week about the ease of sharing content, and while it may only take a couple clicks to re-tweet a blog post, subconsciously it means that person took away enough value to share it with others – at least, that’s how I approach the ‘sharing’ process. Couldn’t have said it better myself Elisa.

  • Ana from far away Reply

    I started blogging for real since May I think, I have only 31 followers but they are my favorite ones! I still remember the day I saw that I had a follower! I started writing for me only at first, but know I like to also write for other people.
    For me a successful post depends on 2 things: how much I enjoyed writing it and the types of comments I get, not the amount. I like when I help someone to feel better about life with a motivating post, or just to laugh with a really stupid one.
    My favorite posts are the ones that talk about just being happy and positive… As I mentioned in my blog, I might sound repetitive… but I just love writing about happy things! It makes me happy, and I know that they can make someone else happy.

  • Ana from far away Reply

    I started blogging for real since May I think, I have only 31 followers but they are my favorite ones! I still remember the day I saw that I had a follower! I started writing for me only at first, but know I like to also write for other people.
    For me a successful post depends on 2 things: how much I enjoyed writing it and the types of comments I get, not the amount. I like when I help someone to feel better about life with a motivating post, or just to laugh with a really stupid one.
    My favorite posts are the ones that talk about just being happy and positive… As I mentioned in my blog, I might sound repetitive… but I just love writing about happy things! It makes me happy, and I know that they can make someone else happy.

  • Trace Cohen Reply

    At first we based all of our “success” on the amount of unique visitors to our blog. Using SEO and other tactics to drive users to our site, the numbers have been steadily increasing to hundreds of readers a day. This brings up the problem though of quality over quantity as we don’t get as many comments as other blogs do in our niche who receive far less traffic. Once we build up our following a little more we will probably move to more of a community blog and try to make it more interactive.

    A major problem though is that it is a double edged sword; we’re trying to build a business around it and unfortunately cant be caught with our pants off.

    • Matt Reply

      It’s very tricky Trace, balancing results and building relationships. You almost always have to sacrifice one of the other. I have experience from both ends of the spectrum. Personally, with Life Without Pants, I have branded myself as someone who is very enthusiastic about promoting community conversation – but as I continue to evolve, I now find myself wondering how to appeal to a wider audience, how to further optimize for more organic traffic, etc.

      Professionally, in my work as a ‘community manager’ I see the exact opposite with clients. The traffic is there, the eyes-on impressions are huge, but the level of interaction is slim to none. So my job there is to replicate what’s happening there, while continuing to build traffic. It doesn’t have to be about one or the other, but balancing the two is far from an easy task.

  • Trace Cohen Reply

    At first we based all of our “success” on the amount of unique visitors to our blog. Using SEO and other tactics to drive users to our site, the numbers have been steadily increasing to hundreds of readers a day. This brings up the problem though of quality over quantity as we don’t get as many comments as other blogs do in our niche who receive far less traffic. Once we build up our following a little more we will probably move to more of a community blog and try to make it more interactive.

    A major problem though is that it is a double edged sword; we’re trying to build a business around it and unfortunately cant be caught with our pants off.

    • Matt Reply

      It’s very tricky Trace, balancing results and building relationships. You almost always have to sacrifice one of the other. I have experience from both ends of the spectrum. Personally, with Life Without Pants, I have branded myself as someone who is very enthusiastic about promoting community conversation – but as I continue to evolve, I now find myself wondering how to appeal to a wider audience, how to further optimize for more organic traffic, etc.

      Professionally, in my work as a ‘community manager’ I see the exact opposite with clients. The traffic is there, the eyes-on impressions are huge, but the level of interaction is slim to none. So my job there is to replicate what’s happening there, while continuing to build traffic. It doesn’t have to be about one or the other, but balancing the two is far from an easy task.

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