Sunday, January 10, 2016

Benchmarking 2015 writing and blog performance

I used to monitor my web stats quite closely, then found that I was spending just too much time navel gazing without productive results so gave up. However, this year it seemed sensible to do a stocktake to provide a benchmark for 2016.

Over 2015, I posted 346 times across my blogs compared to 344 in 2014. The decline was relatively greater on the New England blogs. In 2015 there were also 42 History Revisited columns compared to 45 the year before. 

Because I republish the columns on my history blog, the post stats include the History Revisited columns. This means that you cannot simple add them to get a total output figure, although re-posting actually takes a fair bit of time in part because I have to re-source the supporting images. 

In addition to the column and post, I also tweet and maintain three Facebook pages, one private and two public. This takes time too, and I'm not sure of value, although FB and twitter do feed into blog traffic. I have been experimenting with all this to try to get the best mix. 

Audience reach across the various platforms is difficult to measure precisely. Reflecting lower posting as well as variations in Google tracking and search algorithms, 2015 traffic was down. However, for benchmarking purposes:
  • Total page views as recorded by Google on the three main blogs in 2015 was 252,332 broken up as follows 158,681 Personal Reflections, 64,486 New England Australia, 29,166 New England History
  • The claimed circulation for the weekly Armidale Express Extra in which the column appears is 12,588. I have no idea how many people actually read it, although feedback from the paper or direct to me suggests a fair number especially in the older and more strongly local demographic.
  • Then there are the public FB pages (419 members/likes) and Twitter (209 followers)
There are other ways of looking at or presenting the data. Here I am conscious of other patterns. But this basic analysis is sufficient for my purposes. 

I sometimes wonder if all this activity makes me a busy fool. Obviously I enjoy the writing and the interaction that follows, but it also makes progress on some of my main writing targets slower. The lags here are considerable. For example, the two chapters in Came to New England that formed my main print output in 2014 were completed in 2013, over twelve months before publication. There was no equivalent output in 2015, although I did have a 120,000 word working draft of Belshaw's World completed by year end.This should come out in 2016 to be followed (hopefully) by New England Travels in 2017 and the main history of New England the following year. 

One feature of the last eighteen months has been the increasing number of people interested in the use of the blogs as platforms for their own purposes. This is important to me, for my various platforms are central to my objective of generating sufficient income from writing/publishing to make that my primary income source. We will see how I go in 2016!   .    
Turning finally to this blog, as stated earlier, the Google stats show 158, 681 page views over 2015. There are some issues with Google counts, but difficulties with my other counters now make them the most reliable information that I have. I still use the other sites for checking certain patterns.  

Looking just at 2015 posts, over the last twelve months twelve 2015 posts recorded more than 300 page views. This does not include those who visit the site on a regular basis and therefore come straight to the front page. Ranked by order they were:   
The number of Monday Forum posts included is interesting and has to be linked primarily to the titles. Hopefully visitors actually read the comments sections. That's where the greatest value lies!  

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