2014 Review, with Blogwanking

Since Luther and Sabina discussed their latest stats recently, I pulled a few of mine this morning. A lot of the info I usually talk about in these posts — top referrers, most popular posts, etc. — is covered in the annual reports, which I made public earlier today. In this post, I’m looking at how we did for traffic this quarter and how well we’ve accomplished our 2014 goals.

First, let’s take a look at Sourcerer’s month.

Sourcerer_December_2014The big spike on December 12 represents 118 views and 79 visitors. That was a Friday. We ran an American Horror Story review and I announced the redesign. I’m surprised we didn’t take a bigger hit the last two weeks of the month. We even managed 42 views and 30 visitors on Christmas Day despite the fact that I forgot to tag my Christmas post.

I’m satisfied with our best ever day, total views, and comments. I’d certainly take more, but they are better than I thought they’d be at this point. I am especially pleased at our views-to-comments ratio, even when I account for the fact that almost half of those comments are responses from the authors of our posts.

Now our monthly views and daily averages since we started.

Sourcerer_Monthly_2014_12_30Our overall daily average hasn’t changed since last quarter, so that number has been rock solid for almost six months. Let’s take a stroll through the year.

  • The massive January-over-December increase is not repeatable. We debuted our first four contributors last January. We also had a string of good luck that amounted to being struck by lightning three times in three weeks.
  • However, given where we are now, 3,500 page views in January is doable if we can get rolling early enough in the month.
  • I expect February though May to improve this year. We have a more solid contributor base, tons more friends, and an all-around better blog than we did last spring.
  • June, our best month, was not a matter of luck. That was a solid 30-day run of good blogging and it was our first good month for search traffic. We can do that again any time we can get the blog firing on all cylinders, pick the right topics to blog about, and sustain it for a month.
  • July and August only came out so well because I overextended myself. That won’t happen again, because you see the price we paid for it in September.
  • I’m surprised we held up so well in November and December, especially given that both David and I went on vacation and ended up down sick for nearly a month each. We have Luther, Diana, Will, and Google to thank for those numbers.
  • As I read the last quarter, if I am left to my own devices and have two or three top-notch contributors, this blog is good for 2,000 views per month just for posting every day. Obviously, more contributors, popular topics, and me having the time to do a lot of networking improves the numbers.

Just for the sake of comparison, here are Part Time Monster’s monthly totals and daily averages for the same period. The Monster is at 31,000 views and 5,126 comments as of this writing. Sourcerer is still keeping pace, and the Monster’s view-to-comment ratio is even better than ours.

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Blog Traffic and Engagement: Quick and Easy Edition

Today I have a reminder and an idea to float.

The reminder: I’m having a linkup at Just Gene’O, my new-and-improved personal blog. All you have to do to join in is drop an “If We Were Having Coffee” post on my thread over there. I’ll read, comment on, and tweet links to the posts I didn’t get to yesterday starting around 2 p.m. Eastern Time. I’ll also pin them to this board. That’s about 5 hours from now. I’m not going to totally shut down the thread, but once I’m done sharing today, I can’t make any promises about when I’ll read or share the late submissions.

The idea: Facebook. Those of us with fanpages should figure out a¬†way to get together on Facebook some weekend and interact as our fanpages. I’d love to brainstorm about that if anyone’s interested. I don’t have a fully-formed idea yet, but there has to be some way to do it. The number of people who were willing to write coffee posts and share the links with me tells me there must be a way.

That’s all. Happy Sunday!

Open Thread v. 0.1

Trying this out because I just thought of it. Wish I’d done it much earlier in the day. Here’s a thread where you can do any of the following:

  • Ask me questions
  • Share things about yourself
  • Geek out on something you’re passionate about
  • Tell me something you like or dislike about the way we blog here
  • Anything else that works on a comments thread, as long as you play nice ūüôā

I’m going to muck about¬†with these until I figure out whether or not they’re¬†worthwhile and what the best time to post them is. This post has the top of the page until Weekend Music runs tomorrow, and we”ll have a Silent Saturday as well.

On Blog Traffic and Engagement: How I do Engagement

Last time I posted one of these on a Sunday, it got us our¬†best Sunday ever. So I’m trying it again. This post is about how I do engagement on the blogs. The connection to traffic is that engagement leads to traffic. If you don’t have money to spend on marketing and you don’t start with a huge network, there’s no substitute for interacting with people.

Here’s a method I’ve developed for interacting with people on WordPress. I don’t often have time to a lot of networking here. I have to set aside time for it and do it as efficiently as possible. First, I have a few personal rules:

  1. Be nice. That means polite and positive to everyone, if at all possible. If I run into a situation where I can’t do that, my first instinct is to disengage. I try to keep negativity rare to nonexistent. Sometimes negativity is unavoidable, but I dislike it.
  2. Answer people when they comment. I’m not perfect with this – I miss comments sometimes. But I’m diligent about trying.
  3. Visit peoples’ blogs when I see them liking my posts frequently. Sometimes it takes weeks to get around to this. But once I get so many likes I recognize a person’s gravatar, they’re getting a visit from me eventually.
  4. Visit blogs recommended by friends. I find more new blogs reading roundups, award posts, and follow fridays than any other way.
  5. It goes without saying that once I form a friendship with someone, I keep up with what they’re doing and make an effort to like their posts, even when I don’t have much to say, and even when I’m too busy to really catch up.

How I Read a New Blog

  • Is the quality of the content good? This means well-written and presented. It doesn’t have anything to do with subject matter. I appreciate good blogs just for being good blogs, whether I’m interested in the topics they discuss or not. And “good” does not mean “perfect.” Everyone’s on their own journey, and people use blogs for a lot of different purposes. I know good when I see it, even if I’m not very¬†interested in the subject matter.
  • Is the content shareable on my own blogs? Lots of reasons it wouldn’t be. Neither mommy-blogging nor wine blogging really fits here. But I know bloggers who do both of those things, and I respect them. I don’t reblog them, but I talk to them on Twitter, retweet their links, and sometimes comment on their blogs. There’s also the question of safe for work to think about. Posting NSFW content doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t visit your blog or interact with you. It does mean I won’t link to you, though. Because I have a strict SFW policy for anything that runs under my name.
  • Is the blogger interacting with people? This is important to me, because I’m looking for people who interact. If I see readers commenting and not getting responses consistently on a blog’s ¬†threads, I typically don’t leave a first comment.
  • Is the blogger using other social media? This is important for me because I spend a lot of time on Twitter, Diana maintains a public Facebook feed just for blog fanpages and a Pinterest account, and we publicize to Tumblr even though we don’t do much else there. We¬†like to interact with people across social media.
  • How many followers does the blog have, and how many likes/comments are they getting on average? I don’t make distinctions about following/not following based on network size, but I do like to get an idea of a blog’s reach. Here’s why. I’m not building a network just to make myself Internet-famous. I want to build followings for as many friends¬†as possible. That means I need to know something about relative sizes. If you’ve got a good blog that’s share-worthy and only 100 followers, I can probably help you out a bit. If your network is three times the size of mine, my ability to help is more limited, but I’ll be happy to do what I can, and try to learn some tricks by paying attention to what you’re doing.
  • How long has the blog been around, and how often does it publish? Again, I don’t discriminate based on these things. But if you’re posting only once a week, and I really want to keep up, I’ll likely follow by email. If you started the same month I did, and have done a lot better, I’m curious. If you’ve been doing it for three years and I’ve been more successful in six months, I want to share what I know with you, if you’re interested. This is just the way I think, when it comes to blogging.
  • Even though it’s taken so many words to explain this process, it’s something I can do in less than 10 minutes. I ask the questions and draw conclusions. Sometimes my conclusions are wrong, but that’s ok. I work quickly and without much information. If I think it’s a good bet to spend a little more time, I check out the blog’s pages and think about commenting.

How I Comment on a Blog for the First Time

I leave two kinds of first comments.

  1. Short ones that say I liked a¬†post and what I liked best about it. These are three sentences. I leave them on blogs when I’m not sure whether or not I’ll get an answer, or when a post really grabs me but I don’t have time to take a closer look at the blog.
  2. Longer ones that introduce myself and invite a conversation. Usually I leave these on the about page and include feedback on the quality of the page.

If the first comment starts a conversation, I let it run its course and see what happens. If we hit it off, I typically follow the blogger with all my social media and let them know I’ve done that. If not, and I really want to talk to the blogger in question, I comment on a couple of more posts over the next week or two. Once I get the idea people just aren’t ever talking back, I move on. I may still read the blog if I love it, but I don’t leave more comments once I make this call.

That’s my basic method. I’m interested to know, from those of you who are making an effort to interact with other bloggers with an eye to forming positive relationships: How do you do it?