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.

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.

Continue reading

2014 Annual Report

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. (The highlight that tickles me the most is the 144-day streak from April to August.)

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 30,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Social Media Sunday: Quarterly Blog Stats

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.

General Trend

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.

SrcStatsSept2014

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

PTMStatsSept2014

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.

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.

Sourcerer

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.

Discussion

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.