Today I’m looking at our blog performance from July 1 through Sept. 30. Unsurprisingly, our traffic is down, but I don’t think our engagement has suffered much. We’re making progress with both Twitter and search traffic, so the situation isn’t as bad as the numbers suggest. We’re not fading. We’ve just had a rough patch.
Here are Sourcerer’s monthly totals for views and average visitors per day. I’ve included June and the first 10 days of October just to give you a little perspective.
Those June numbers are our biggest monthly peak on either blog so far, and I’m thinking it will turn out to be the yearly peak for Sourcerer. It took everything I could muster to keep the traffic up in July. Looking back on it now, I put too much into it and I was still dealing with the consequences of that wrong decision in September. I should have slowed the posting down after July 4, taken the hit, and written August off altogether. Given the way our schedule works here, that’s the natural way to do it.
I was hoping that if I managed a good July, it would soften the blow of August and perhaps we’d be able to keep our monthly views above 2,000 for the rest of the quarter. As it turns out, my reasoning was flawed. Our traffic took such a steep dive from the third week of August through the first week of September that we didn’t break 1,700 views even though our traffic showed a week-to-week increase for the last three weeks of that month.
It looks like we’re getting a bit of a bounceback in October, but I doubt it will actually happen. I’m going on vacation the last week of the month, and that means limited Halloween madness. I think if we end the month with numbers comparable to August, we’ll be doing good.
Now, Part Time Monster’s numbers
Part Time Monster actually peaked at 3305 views and 107 vistors per day in May, so June is a slight decrease, but the Monster did just as well in July, and I wouldn’t put it past Diana to engineer a stellar November. So I have no idea what PTM’s stats will look like when I do this again in January. PTM didn’t take as drastic a hit in August and September, but traffic was down there, too, and October isn’t looking good so far. This isn’t surprising, since Diana’s been tied up for the last few weeks and I’ve been filling in, mostly with photo features. It should bounce back a bit later in the month.
As we’ve seen in the past, PTM’s traffic is more consistent. The Monster’s peaks aren’t as high and its valleys aren’t as low. It’s notable that PTM has slightly more all-time views, but we’ve had both our best and our worst months this year at Sourcerer. While these numbers are still so small that the differences between the two blogs aren’t very significant, the differences are there, and Part Time Monster is out-performing Sourcerer by more than these numbers suggest. We posted two to four times a day during the week here for most of the summer to generate roughly the same number of views and visitors Diana got with one post per day.
The traffic decreases are a result of three factors, and we don’t have the data to judge their relative importance, but they’re all things for bloggers to consider.
Posting consitency. I’m a firm believer in the mulitple-post-a-day way of doing things if you have the content to pull it off. The summer convinced me, and one of the reasons we posted the way we did in May and June was to see how much the frequency matters. For the next while, we don’t have the content to do things that way, and as our presence on other social media grows, frequency will be less important because we’ll be less dependent on WordPress feeds for traffic.
Quality. Sourcerer had a terrible August because I was tied up with other things and not writing very much while Jeremy had to step away from the comics blogging to take care of business.The Monster is suffering right now because Diana’s got offline things to attend to. When Will started his Doctor Who series, David started writing about comics on Wednesdays, and I got back to answering comments and paying attention to my WordPress reader, Sourcerer started to recover immediately. Now that I’m back to Social Media blogging and doing Thursday Thirteens, we’re rolling again.
Time of year. This will not be true for everyone, but it’s true for us. August will probably always be our worst month of the year aside from December. Many of the people who contribute to this blog and support it behind the scenes are connected in some way to higher education. From the last week of July through the first week of September, most of us are just too busy to give the blogging proper attention, so our blogs are always going to suffer from a lack of presence during the late summer. That’s just part of the game for us, and now that we’ve been through one August, we have a frame of reference for it.
The numbers are interesting, but their usefulness is limited if we don’t know where the traffic is coming from, so let’s have a look at our referrals.
I didn’t pull the actual numbers on Oct. 1, and this post is already getting long, so I’ve corrected for October and rounded down. These aren’t perfect, but they’ll do for our purposes here. The first number listed is the quarterly number. The one is parentheses is the all-time number.
Search Engines 2,100 (4,600)
WordPress Reader 200 (1,200)
Twitter 110 (1,000)
These are the only sources of referrals greater than 100 for the quarter. The next category is in the 15-50 range and is dominated by Facebook and Stumbleupon. The Speech Bubble, Taylor Grace, and Part Time Monster, who all feature links to our posts regularly, are also in this category. The WordPress Reader is Sourcerer’s second-largest source of referrals all-time, followed by Facebook, Stumbleupon, and Twitter. Sourcerer’s top posts for the quarter are all comics and tv-related, aside from one book post and one award post. Jeremy’s Is Batman a Marvel Character Trapped in the DC Universe? generated more than 500 search views between July 1 and Sept. 30.
Part Time Monster
Search Engines 1600 (5,000)
WordPress Reader 225 (1,100)
Twitter 200 (1,000)
The next category is in the 30-50 range and includes Gravatar, Sourcerer, The Broke and the Bookish (hello, Top Ten Tuesdays!), and Facebook. Facebook is still the Monster’s all-time best source of traffic after search engines, but Twitter and the WordPress Reader are rapidly closing that gap. Part Time Monster’s done way better with Gravatar than either of my blogs. Presumably that’s because Diana likes and comments on more blogs, and because PTM is listed in my Gravatar. Part Time Monster’s top posts for the quarter are mostly things that were written before the quarter even started, thanks to searches.
We’re making real progress with learning to write for search engines and with Twitter. PTM’s always done ok with searches, but Sourcerer only generated about 900 search engine hits between November 7 and May 30. We’re now on pace with the Monster in that area and well-positioned to keep it up. Writing for searches seems to be all about the headline and the first paragraph, and it’s easy to front-load comics and tv reviews with search terms. Maintaining our comics blogging and finding ways to make our tv blogging more competitive are the two keys to Sourcerer’s long-term success.
My efforts with Twitter are finally starting to accrue benefits for the blogs. Our quarterly Twitter referrals aren’t stellar. Just to give you a frame of reference, Sourcerer received 175 referrals from Twitter in June alone. The totals are down because I’m not publicizing 4 links on Twitter every weekday, and because I had to step away from the Twitter and do just enough there to keep my hand in for most of the late summer. The trend is good, though, and here’s why.
Three to ten referrals per day isn’t much, but I’m getting them every day now that I’ve gotten my account active again. The conversion rate on Twitter is low, but it seems to be consistent and predictable. That means that as I grow @Sourcererblog‘s following I’ll see more referrals. It’s already on par with our all-time referrals from Facebook and StumbleUpon, but while those networks are difficult, Twitter is easy. A small Twitter account that only publicizes your links is a waste of time. A large, interactive Twitter account is an asset. I’m interested to see what our Twitter referrals look like at the end of January.