Stats Transparency Post & Lessons Learned from One Year of Blogging
Last fall when Vicky @ Vicky Who Reads wrote her own Stats Transparency Post, I was inspired. When it comes to blogging, it seems that statistics is a dirty word, and no one really talks about them as a result. (The one exception I am aware of is Kristi @ Confessions of a YA Reader, who posts her stats every month.)
Friends, I have been working on this post for almost five months and finally
have enough courage to will press the publish button. I didn’t realize how personal this post would be until I sat down to write it. And I am really nervous. I don’t want this post to come across as bragging or like I am shoving success in everyone’s faces (and I actually had a nightmare about this recently). It’s okay if you do not want to read this post, and no one should feel obligated to do so. This is merely here as a resource if you want it.
I think it is important to normalize talking about statistics within our blogging niche, as well as remove the stigma surrounding sharing statistics, and agree with what Vicky put in her post:
But ultimately, I believe that the book community is a community in need of a lot more transparency. For authors and publishers, I know this is a lot more difficult, but for bloggers–we control our platforms. Not anyone else. In the end, my blog is my blog and I can give insight to other bloggers by sharing this information (even if it feels so awkward).
The side effect of no one really talking about their blog’s statistics is that we build up unrealistic expectations of what it means to be a “successful book blogger,” and feel bad for not reaching those benchmarks we create in our mind based on those assumptions. Data pulled by Pages Unbound last year shows that 60 out of 103 respondents to their survey indicated that their average daily page views is 0-50. This is why I think it is crucial that we talk about this because unlike other blogging niches our audience is other bloggers. So it is important that we normalize these conversations and discuss ways that we can meaningfully support one another in the community. Everyone’s blogging journey is different and statistics do not measure a blogger’s worth.
I know how very fortunate I am to have the platform that I do and how anomalous it is within the community. In looking at my own data, I have some insights on how my platform grew and I want to share it with the community. I genuinely love the book blogging community and enjoy sharing tips and resources to help others, and in that regard, this feels very on brand. I am sorry if this post comes across as bragging, it isn’t my intent but I know that I cannot dictate how people react to this or any post.
This post is full of tables and graphs, and wherever possible I provided the insight I’ve gleaned from the statistics. This post isn’t meant to be a “How to Grow Your Blog” guide, but rather a deep dive into how my blog’s grown over the year and how you can apply similar methodologies to your statistics. But I’ve rambled enough, let’s get to the data! 📊
My blog recently turned one year old on March 4th, they grow up so fast! *sniffles* I’ve been tracking my data for quite some time, and now I have a year to analyze! 🎉
365 days | 84 book reviews | 245 posts | 220,909 words
When we all start our blog there is a bit of a learning curve as find our voice and carve a place out for ourselves within the greater blogging community. We all quickly learn that the way to get noticed is to interact with other bloggers because the bulk of your traffic isn’t coming from Google searches that lead to your book reviews!
I moved to WordPress from Blogspot in March 2018 and started following a couple of book blogs. That first month was a lot of me trying to figure out what I was doing and what I wanted my blog to be, with little to no engagement. But I was hooked, and I kept at it. I remember adopting a rough posting schedule in April of last year, and that consistency & blog hopping habit to interact with other readers slowly began to direct more traffic over to Reader Voracious. I was over the moon!
It was in May 2018 that I decided to dust off my unused and neglected Twitter account as a way to connect with readers and hopefully promote my blog. I’ve never really liked the platform personally before, but I had experience running work accounts. I fell in love. I quickly became a super fan of Twitter and had another way to interact with other readers! I was building friendships within the community — which is why I started my blog to begin with — and it exposed me to a number of amazing blogs I might not have otherwise come across as well.
The late May/early June timeframe is really when I started to feel like I hit my groove with my content and had a personal voice. I had built a personal brand and it was at this point that my blog started to see steady and consistent growth monthly. In looking at my post data, I can attribute this to two things: a post of mine going somewhat “viral” on Twitter and my consistent, daily habit of blog hopping. If you learn one thing from this post it is the importance of genuinely engaging with other people’s content. I’ve never prescribed to the “Follow for Follow” mentality and choose to keep my follow list small. I make an effort to read every post on my WP Reader because I like supporting others – and I also make an effort to return comments when I have something to say.
No one likes feeling like they are talking into the void; we all want to have our content read by others, so it is really exciting as the monthly views increase over time. As with my monthly views, the same trend can be seen in relation to my follower growth over the last year as with the general views.
I can’t speak to why those of you who follow me chose to hit that button, but I want to say thank you again! It means the world to me that I am fortunate enough to share my passion of reading with so many readers, and I really enjoy getting to know you all! I sincerely hope that I continue to create content that you enjoy reading.
Now that we’ve looked at the super macro view of my statistics… let’s dive a little deeper to see what information can be gleaned!
Engagement Based on Posting Day
Like Joanne sings in Seasons of Love, “🎶 measure your life in loooooooovvvvveeeeeeeee 🎶,” I measure my life in love. In the world of blogging, for me love is engagement.
Likes, comments, and social shares are where it is at, friends. You can have all the followers in the world, but what if they don’t engage with your content? To some degree, a lot of that lies in the habits of your followers: their timezones and blog hopping patterns. Looking at your statistics can help identify the habits of your audience.
For instance, when I first started blogging all of my posts went up at midnight Pacific Time. But I noticed that most of my views come from the United States, and most Americans aren’t blog hopping in the middle of the night (props if you are!). I started A/B testing posting times and found that between 8 and 9 a .m. Pacific was the sweet spot for my audience. (Although I am testing a noon Pacific posting time this week!)
📝 Related Post: The Ultimate Social Media Guide for Book Bloggers
Another thing that I have noticed is the cyclical nature of my views, which to me means that my followers are not blog hopping daily. Which I get because sometimes I wind up hopping every 2-3 days in bulk (although I prefer hopping on a daily basis). This is also evidenced when your notifications show a person liking and commenting on your most recent posts in bulk!
📝 Related: I’m conducting a survey on the blog hopping habits of book bloggers for a follow-up post. I’m interested to see what the community at large does and how that correlates to my stats. Please take 3 minutes to complete the survey here!
So while seeing the averages for my views, likes, and comments for every day of the week is really interesting in terms of planning which days of the week I will post, it didn’t give me the full picture I was hoping for. The subsequent chart based on this daily data is below and makes it look like my reviews are the most viewed type of post… which isn’t the truth, unfortunately.
Engagement Based on Post Type
If you follow me on Twitter, you will know that this post got delayed by a day because I got an idea during the final editing of this post and spent another 5 hours on data compilation. This section is that reason. I got to thinking about how much my data shows that my daily views is largely due to when people are hopping, and so the Engagement by Posting Day chart was a little misleading. So I pulled a CSV file of all my posts and their views from WordPress… and went through to add likes and comments for each one. From there I was able to create a Pivot table and dive deep into the data.
I simplified my Pivot table for the purposes of this post, and it is worth it to mention that while I subtract out my own comments from the Daily Engagement by Post Category section… I did not here because I honestly couldn’t will myself to do it.
Reviews again appear to be the highest viewed and engaged with, but that has more to do with the fact that it’s the largest category represented at 86 posts. My reviews, over the last year, on average:
- 65.72 views
- 36.74 likes
- 18.43 comments
Whereas my overall averages for all of my posts for the year are:
- 105.30 views
- 41.38 likes
- 26.30 comments
The most notable trends that I saw were in terms of the types of posts that have the highest views (guides and features) and really points to how book blogging isn’t just about writing reviews these days. It’s about being a part of a community, sharing ideas, and conversations. My first guide was Edelweiss 101 and honestly came to be because I needed to figure out how the heck to use that site and figured I would share the information with the community. Same with the Book Blogger Spreadsheet templates: I made them for myself and thought I would share with others. But this ties into who I am at my core: a person who is highly organized and enjoys making guides/processes.
I am not suggesting that you run out to make a bunch of guides. Some people really thrive with writing discussion posts, others make amazing lists of recommendations based on representation, others create Buzzfeed-style quizzes for their followers, or write in-depth research pieces on the different genres. The opportunities are endless. I encourage you to write things you would want to read and that you are excited to create. What that looks like will vary for everyone, but for me — it’s that passion spark coming through that gets me to follow a blog!
It is also important to note that I noticed a general uptick in engagement in the last 3 months as my follower count has grown, which is a natural progression to expect. If I were to only take the averages for the last six months (and eliminate the couple months that I talked into the void), the averages would be significantly higher. The lesson here is to keep doing what you are passionate about, your engagement and followers will grow as your blog does!
Some Final Thoughts
I’ve talked a lot about how blog hopping and consuming other bloggers’ content is my favorite part of blogging. If I can give you one piece of advice if you are starting out or just wanting to take your blog to the next level, it is to interact with other bloggers. There is no greater thrill than getting a thoughtful comment on a review or post, and I believe in putting out into the world what you want to receive. But don’t approach it like an obligation; read and comment on the posts that genuinely interest you. I attribute any success that my blog’s had with my blog hopping habit and the fact that I do it because I enjoy it rather than out of obligation.
Ultimately, what works for me and my audience here might not work for you. You may have increased traffic statistically on different days of the week, have greater engagement on different types of posts, and different interests as well! One thing that I didn’t really touch on in this post is the role of social media and a deep-dive into those statistics. I am open to doing a social-focused follow-up post if that would be interesting to you, just let me know!
We all have something different to share. I happen to be really, really Type A and come up with a lot of organizational tools to help others. I like figuring things out and writing guides. I feel strongly about boosting the voices of others. Your strengths and passions are going to be totally different, and whatever they are I encourage you to explore those passions on your blog. Posts that are obviously made with lots of love resonate with me deeply, and I think it’s that authenticity and love that makes people want to follow a blog.
I hope you found this deep dive into my statistics and the lessons they taught me interesting! It is my hope that you will be able to do some of your own analysis behind the scenes if you want to, and I would love to see more people talking about this: stats aren’t a dirty word!
Additional Reading About Blogging Statistics
- Pages Unbound conducts a semi-annual book blogger stats survey and the 2018 results were released in last fall. This gives a good idea about what is average and demystifies a lot of what we all assume about “big blogs.”
- Be sure to read Vicky’s Stats Transparency post, because she is the reason I got the courage to work on this post and she was so brave in putting it all out there!
- Marie @ Drizzle Hurricane Books wrote a really fantastic post about the Truth of Blogging Stats and how they matter.
- Drew @ Sarcastic Enigma ran a Twitter poll asking about average views for book reviews, which received 338 responses, and posted his findings. This reiterates that the bulk of us are all in the same boat.
Thanks so much for reading!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on statistics and if you’ve noticed any interesting trends while looking at your data! Next week, I will be posting a discussion follow-up to this post: should we let our statistics dictate our posts?, which I am really excited about!
As a final note, this post was originally going to include a dive into my Twitter statistics, ARC approval ratios, and a look at where my traffic comes from but ultimately cut them in the interest of space. If there is interest, I will do a Part II of this post to include those areas and provide a more complete picture.
💖 If you like the work that I do here at Reader Voracious, consider fueling my latte and black tie addiction by buying me a ko-fi! ☕
Let’s go on another adventure together!