Quarterly Blogwanking: Spring 2015

I pulled the quarterly stats Sunday morning, so I’ve not captured the entire month of March, but I decided to go ahead and do this before the A to Z Challenge starts so we can see where we are going in. As always, I’m not bragging nor complaining. I do these because I always learn things when other bloggers share their stats, and I have friends who like this stuff.

We’ve had a stellar quarter both here and at Part Time Monster. I knew January would be good, but February and March have exceeded my expectations and compared to how we ended 2014, the Monster is absolutely killing it. I am curious about two things going forward:

  1. What’s the A to Z Challenge going to do for our traffic and engagement?
  2. Is the increased traffic we’ve seen this quarter sustainable, or are we in for a huge dip later in the year like we saw in 2014?

Here are Sourcerer’s monthly views. I went ahead and included them all so we can compare them to last year’s.

Sourcerer_Stats_2015_03_29January of this year was comparable to January of 2014, but we didn’t see the huge drop-off in February and March this year that we saw last year. That’s because January of last year was a lucky month — we had the Zero-to-Hero Challenge, a weekend where the entire southeastern U.S. was snowed in to binge on the Internet, and some lucky Stumbles. This year, we got the numbers in January by blogging consistently, and we’ve been able to maintain that consistency for the entire quarter.

I don’t expect to reach 3400 views for March, but it’s going to be close. I’m interested to see what we get the first week of April. I think we should see a nice bump, but I don’t know how much of the traffic growth I’m expecting in April we’ll be able to hang on to. We didn’t do A to Z here last year, but it got me my best month of 2014 at my personal blog.

The traffic at my personal blog settled back to the normal level pretty quickly once April was over last year. That doesn’t mean much, though. A to Z took so much out of me last year I had to shut my personal blog down for a couple of weeks to get Sourcerer back on track. I’m hoping I’ve done a good enough job with the planning this year to just keep rolling once April is over.

Now, Part Time Monster’s monthly totals.

PTM_Stats_2015_03_29The Monster’s last three months are the best quarter Diana and I have had at any of our blogs since we started, and it’s the #WeekendCoffeeShare that’s driving this increase. March looks better than it actually is, because Diana got more than 800 views on March 12-14 from someone Stumbling one of her posts, and that’s not a predictable source of traffic. Even when we correct for that, though, the Monster’s had a good month.

Sourcerer and Part Time Monster have run neck-in-neck for views most of the time we’ve been blogging. We’ve rarely ended a month more than 1,000 views apart. When one pulls ahead, the other always catches up. I’ve said several times that I thought PTM was pulling away and been wrong, but I think it’s happening now.

Just in general, the Monster is a better blog for getting views because Diana gets the same amount of traffic for a lot less work than I put into Sourcerer, which is a bit of a high-maintenance operation. Just to give you a frame of reference, PTM has published 550 posts since we started. We’ve published 775 here.

The #WeekendCoffeeShare has made me a believer in the power of linkups, so once A to Z is done, a Sourcerer-appropriate weekend linkup is my next project. And as for the StumbleUpon luck – that’s not going to be luck forever. We will learn how to use StumbleUpon effectively, even if it takes me all of next year to figure out how. And that’s likely the last network I’m going to need to solve.

This is not to suggest that you should run out and get yourself a linkup without thinking about what you’re hoping to accomplish. Linkups have to be well-crafted to appeal to a lot of people, and they have to attract people who actually visit the other blogs on the linkup. Otherwise, they’re just more work for very little gain. But I’ve seen enough good ones to put one together for this blog and have a chance at success with it.

In the meantime, I am interested in seeing how April plays out for these two blogs. Here’s why.

  • We have consecutive list placement and a lot of mutual friends who are near us on the list, and we typically post an hour apart.
  • We’re both doing A to Z with contributors, and we are writing posts for one another, but Diana has fewer contributors than Sourcerer.
  • We’re both planning to visit the same number of blogs, but Diana will be visiting more because she’s a helper, and so she has extra ones to visit.

I am curious to compare our daily totals, and to see how the #WeekendCoffeeShare, which will continue in April, plays into the numbers. Here’s a brief run-down of our quarterly referrals and top posts.

Sourcerer’s Top Posts

  • One of Jeremy’s Batman posts that gets Google search hits every day,
  • A big bunch of Luther’s Walking Dead recaps,
  • Rebecca’s review of Disclaimer,
  • Natacha’s post on Star Wars and long-lasting franchises,
  • David’s Agents of Shield post that ran during the break in Agent Carter, and
  • the A to Z reveal. Nothing else generated more than 100 post views this quarter.

Sourcerer’s Top Referrers

  • Search Engines (3,200)
  • The WordPress reader (500)
  • Twitter (360)
  • Facebook (260)

No other single source generated 100 referrals.

Part Time Monster’s Top Posts

I’m not going to run them down, but PTM has 20 posts that generated more than 100 views for the quarter. These fall into several categories.

  • Old posts that generate consistent search traffic.
  • Weekend Coffee share posts (nearly all have generated more than 100 post views).
  • Event-oriented posts like the two Feminist Fridays, Diana’s #1000Speak post, and her A to Z Theme reveal.

Part Time Monster’s Top Referrers

  • Search engines (2500)
  • StumbleUpon (652, but this number looks low to me and the stumbled post was viewed more than 800 times)
  • WordPress Reader (560)
  • Twitter (500)
  • Facebook (250)
  • Email (175)

Interestingly, Part Time Monster received about 1000 more front page views than Sourcerer this quarter. I’m assuming a lot of these views are repeat visits from people checking the coffee share linkup periodically on the weekends. Just as a bonus, here’s the traffic spike from the StumbleUpon hit on March 12-14.

PTM_spike_2015_03_29Since this occurred Thursday-Saturday and coincided with the coffee share linkup, it got Part Time Monster our two best days ever for views.

Happy April! Best of luck with A to Z if you’re participating. If not, stop by for our A to Z posts. In general, our April posts will be our standard fare, only the posts will be shorter and we’ll have two posts on a few days of the week that we generally only have one.

Blog Traffic and Engagement: Stats Edition

I’m always a little uncomfortable sharing numbers because it feels like discussing my income. Yet every time another blogger shares their numbers with me, I learn something, so I’m sharing numbers today. Before I start,let me be clear that I’m not bragging or complaining. I know three other bloggers (at least) who have done MUCH better than this during their first 8 months of blogging. I’m happy for them all. I know plenty who haven’t done as well, and that doesn’t make them worse bloggers than me. I’ve had a lot of help, and I’ve gotten lucky many times this year.

These are Sourcerer’s monthly page view totals through June 30. I’m pleased with them, but not because of the raw totals. It’s the overall trend,  a consistent monthly increase aside from one outlier, that pleases me.

  • November 2013 – 426
  • December 2013 – 432
  • January 2014 – 3,424
  • February – 1,411
  • March – 1,878
  • April – 2,174
  • May – 2,976
  • June – 3,434
  • 2013 Total – 858
  • 2014 Total – 15,293

In November and December, I actually did better than I thought I would with a new blog. December doesn’t represent a real increase, because I didn’t start this blog until Nov. 7. But on the other hand, Dec. 23-Jan. 1 is a terrible time to be blogging. I think it’s probably the worst nine days of the year for social media.

January is the outlier and it surprised me. I was hoping to end January with more than 1,000 views. The reason it looks so good, compared to December, is that I got lucky four times during January:

  1. I did the Zero-to-Hero challenge and got my first post out early enough to get good placement in the index for Just Gene’O, which was The Writing Catalog at the time. I was also one of the first people to comment on the very first forum thread, and because I was a noob, I had my gravatar pointed at this blog. So I got tons of views that way, and from liking things on the Zero to Hero Tag.
  2. I was able to do debut posts for five contributors, all in a week, in early January, and promote them.
  3. All of the Southeast was snowed in for the better part of three days at the end of the month, but most people did not lose power. That got me two days off from work at a time when everyone in my geographic region was snowed in. Part Time Monster and Sourcerer posted 12 times in two days during that, and Diana got really lucky by titling a meme post “Snowmageddon,” which we shared it all over Facebook and got good traffic at both blogs for.
  4. Our first real StumbleUpon traffic happened this month, because Jeremy Stumbled a bunch of our links during the blizzard.

I knew February would not match January. No way, no how. February is only 28 days long, and four lucky breaks in a month is a lot, especially when they all come at times when you’re in a position to capitalize on them. Before January was even over, I knew that February was going to give me a new baseline. I was hoping to just top 900, because that would mean I’d hung onto 450 readers from January and doubled our steady traffic for the cost of a month’s work. I’ll take that any day of the week.

Since February, there’s been nothing but increases here. I’m not going to break every month down. April surprised me. We had a lot of drama here in March, and drama typically means one-time traffic. And I was barely present at all here in April, because I was doing the A to Z Challenge with Just Gene’O. May was sweet, and June was even better. Here’s why the increases in May and June:

  1. Search engines. We’ve managed to get one of Jeremy’s posts such a high search ranking that it’s bringing in 8-12 views every single day. Diana also wrote a Penny Dreadful series and consciously structured her headlines and leads for searches. It worked.
  2. StumbleUpon. We got really lucky several times in both May and June with some of Jeremy’s shares. We’re still not sure why, and haven’t been able to figure out how to do it consistently. But I’m stumbling things now, too. Mostly other bloggers. Trying to get my account active and figure out how to be effective there. If you wake up one morning and find hundreds of referrals from StumbleUpon in your stats, do let me know. Chances are, it’s either me or Jeremy experimenting and trying to help our blogging buddies at the same time. StumbleUpon doesn’t really like you just sharing your own stuff, so we are always looking for things to share.
  3. Frequent posting. I am absolutely certain frequency matters now, at least if you blog the way I do. All our best days are days where we posted three or four times, even if two of the posts were just photos.

I don’t expect July to match June. I’m looking for a new baseline number at the end of July or, at latest, the end of August. True Blood isn’t getting us what Penny Dreadful got us from Google, we have no idea when or if we’ll see another massive day from StumbleUpon, and we can’t keep the frequent posting up past the first week of August. I’m hoping for 2500+ in July. That’ll give us a new baseline to work with, and it will mean we’ve increased our steady traffic by 1,000 views per month since February. I can live with that.

Now a quick word about average views per day. This stat is important, because it helps you make sense of the monthly totals. June only topped January by ten views. But June was the better month because it’s a day shorter, and because the June traffic wasn’t just a matter of blind luck and opportunism. Work and strategy got us 4 more views per day in June than we were able to get in January with godlike luck. If I didn’t have this stat to look at, I would have no way of knowing that. Average monthly viewers per day for Sourcerer:

  • November – 16
  • December – 14
  • January – 110
  • February – 50
  • March – 61
  • April – 73
  • May – 96
  • June – 114
  • 2013 average – 15
  • 2014 average – 84
 Now, here are Part Time Monster’s monthly views through June 30, so we can compare the two blogs:
  • November 2013 – 1,031
  • December 2013 – 573
  • January 2014 – 2,579
  • February – 1,524
  • March – 2,217
  • April – 2,527
  • May – 3,305
  • June – 3,077
  • 2013 Total – 1,613
  • 2014 Total – 15,230

Observations

  • PTM slipped a little in June. I’m hoping we can manage to stay above 3K in July. If we do, I’ll take that as the new baseline.
  • If you compare these numbers, you’ll see that Sourcerer has matched PTM in views this year on the strength of two good months. I see this every day in our stats. The Monster’s traffic is more consistent. It doesn’t swing as wildly as Sourcerer’s.
  • Those two good months are months where Sourcerer posted several times per day for long stretches. For the most part, PTM posts once per day. What that tells me is, all things being equal, a single post at PTM is worth almost twice the number of views that a post at Sourcerer is worth.

Here are Part Time Monster’s daily averages:

  • January – 83
  • February – 54
  • March – 72
  • April – 84
  • May – 107
  • June – 103
  • 2013 average – 26
  • 2014 average – 84

Observations

  • You can see the same thing here you see with the monthly views. Sourcerer is only better for average daily views in January and June.
  • Part Time Monster topped January for average views in April, partly on the strength of the A to Z Challenge.
  • The only reason Sourcerer is keeping up with Part Time Monster is because of views from StumbleUpon and search engines. That is mostly Jeremy’s and Diana’s doing. It’s their posts that people are reading, and I don’t mind that at all. My role is to give advice, keep the content flowing, and analyze things. They have much better instincts when it comes to writing things that people actually want to read, and I’m glad we’re a team.

Just a few thoughts to wrap things up:

  • There’s really no substitute for partners, unless you’re just that good. People working together can accomplish much more than people working independently, most of the time.
  • Part Time Monster has a big advantage, because it rides on two peoples’ social media. Aside from a couple of exceptions, everything published at the Monster sends links out to all my social media accounts. Sourcerer doesn’t share Diana’s accounts that way. I set that up at the start, for very good reasons, and I think my instinct was a good one.
  • Contributors, both at PTM and here, have been the real driving force behind this success. A multiplicity of perspectives is just interesting, it seems. If we suddenly found ourselves without contributors, I’d have to rethink my entire way of doing things.

That’s all for today. 1500 words is my absolute limit, and I’m at 1495. If you have questions, or would like to compare info on the thread, feel free to comment.