Measuring a Blog’s Success: Visitors and Comments Don’t Cut It

[fr] Un blog, c'est un investissement à long terme. Six mois, un an au moins sans se poser de questions, avant d'essayer de voir si "ça marche" ou pas. Et ne mesurez pas son succès aux visiteurs et aux commentaires. Plutôt, trouvez un moyen plus qualitatif de mesurer les bénéfices que vous en retirez, en vous basant sur la raison pour laquelle vous tenez ce blog.

Interestingly, a large part of my work right now seems to revolved around blogging. I’m happy about that. I’ve been blogging for over 10 years now, and went I became self-employed mid-2006 the first “title” I used was “blogging consultant”. Because back then, it was about blogs (and maybe wikis, and maybe social software, but not “social media”).

Anyway, I digress.

What I want to point out is that if you start a blog, or your company starts a blog, it’s important to have realistic expectations about the kind of benefits you’ll reap, and when, and how to measure them.

Even in 2011, too many people imagine that if you’re doing a good job with your blog, it will translate into thousands of visits per day and dozens of comments within a few weeks.

No way.

Those blogs with thousands of visits per day and dozens of comments are edge-cases, and have probably been at it for longer than you have.

Blogs and comments are actually not a good way of measuring the success of a blog. Honestly, if your blog has a few hundred readers a day and you get a comment now and again, you’re doing fine.

To measure the success of your blog, you need to think back to the reason you’re doing it. What do you want to get out of it? Chances are that “having as many people as possible visit it” is not the reason you’re doing it.

Maybe you want to change the perception people have of you. Maybe you want to showcase certain things you’re doing. Maybe you want to attract a certain type of person — reader, writer, or contributor. Maybe it’s the “marketing budget” for your business. Maybe you want to share a passion. Maybe you want an outlet to express yourself.

There are many reasons to want a blog. And most of them are perfectly valid (one that’s not, most of the time: make money with it).

But don’t go around measuring readers and comments to judge your success just because they’re convenient numbers.

Maybe what you need to do is create a scrapbook of all the things people spontaneously say about your blog, online or off. Maybe you need to make a list of events or situations where your blog was an ice-breaker or opened doors for you.

That seems to make way more sense than counting visits and comments. I mean, if those are so important to make somebody happy, they can be gamed.

Blogging takes time. It takes time because it takes time to think, write, link, tag, categorize, illustrate, title, proof, and publish. It takes time to be creative, and if your ambition for your blog is to be more than a collection of breaking news, hot topics and catchy headlines, blogging is a creative job.

But blogging also takes time because it’s a long-term strategy. When blogging started being hot, there were these numbers flying around, telling us that the average blog on the web was 3 months old and had 3 articles (or something like that). People started blogging, and abandoned their blogs very quickly.

When starting a blog, I wouldn’t worry about if it’s working or not before at least six months or a year. People are in such a hurry nowadays. All this hype about real-time, the internet being a place of unprecedented speed, the acceleration of innovation, not to say the “overnight successes” we keep hearing about but which languished in obscurity for ages before coming to the light. And even if there are real “overnight sensations”, they are, as I said above, edge cases.

And your blog will not be an edge case.

Your blog can work fine and do its job, but it will not be an edge case.

Unless your blog is your product — and in this case you’re clearly in the media business, and not using your blog as a communication tool — it is not to be looked at as a service or product people are going to use everyday and flock to. Instead, it’s a collection of valuable, long-lasting, well-indexed information. It’s the expression of something. It colours who you are.

And that takes time — not just the time of labour, but the days and months flying by in the calendar, so that value can accumulate, and become valuable.

Let me sum up this long rambling post in a few points:

  • blogging is a long-term strategy: it will take many months or even years for you to see what benefits it’s actually bringing you
  • don’t obsess on visitors and comments; instead, focus on what is said about your blog, and the opportunities it brings, in terms of contacts, open doors, favorable dispositions (qualitative measurement rather than quantitative)

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This entry was posted in Blogging, Corporate and tagged blogging, comments, discouragement, long term, measuring, metrics, results, roi, strategy, success, visitors. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Measuring a Blog’s Success: Visitors and Comments Don’t Cut It

  1. Pingback: Blogging Realistically – Even When You Don’t Want To | Blog Learnings

  2. Dona Munker says:

    Thanks for this post. I’ve been working at a personal-professional blog about writing biography for a number of years. A few months ago, burning with a desire to speak to other writers about what I do and love, I decided I was going to do it as regularly as time away from writing a difficult book would permit.

    It’s very satisfying, but while I’ve attracted a few enthusiastic fans who practice (mostly) the same kind of writing I do, I worry that with only a few hits a day and a friendly comment once in a while, it will never be “successful.” Your 3/11 post (thank goodness for the Imperishable Internet) helped me realize that it’s “successful” already, in the sense it needs to be right now: it appeals to people I respect and allows me to produce short pieces that make me feel that I’ve said something worthwhile.

    The stats can wait a few years while I keep on learning. Meanwhile, I’ll pass your post on to other people I know.

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