OK. I’m just going to come out and say it.
My name’s Michelle and I’m a stataholic.
I know what I’m meant to say is that I blog for myself, I don’t care who reads it (if anyone) and I never really bother checking my stats. If you’ve mentioned my blog to me out and about in Real Life, this is more than likely the line I will have trotted out in a (possibly) convincing manner. On a good day, I’m so convincing that I even start to believe it myself, until a quick peek at my wordpress dashboard brings me down to earth with a crash.
This isn’t just about blogging – my obsession with measuring up to self imposed standards runs through all aspects of my life. Run around the block without collapsing? Start planning for a sub 4 hour marathon. Figure out how to make a link no-follow? Oh, yay, I’m going to learn to code and build my own website by the end of the month! Make the perfect fried-egg sandwich? MasterChef here I come!
But the difference is with having a blog is that it’s easy to measure your progress, or lack of. A quick flick around the analytics and you can see how many people read your posts. You can see where they are in the world, you can see how long they hang around reading your shizzle, you can see where they came to the site from (I imagine the person who ended up at LearnerMother because they were searching for ‘Teeny Dicks Tumblr’ was VERY disappointed).
Having this knowledge at my fingertips means I constantly have a stick to beat myself up with. I always want to come out ahead of last month, to reach the next milestone, to have the post that goes viral, to get that call from Lucy Mangan to say she’s up the duff again and could I just look after her Guardian column for a few months.
One accepted way to get more readers to a blog is to read and comment on blogs written by other people. I already do a lot of reading around but not so much commenting – if I like a post I’m much more likely to tweet the blogger to say so, and reshare it, rather than going in and commenting on the post itself. I feel like it’s a much quicker way of showing my appreciation, and to be completely honest, it’s much easier than getting caught up with captchas, disqus, the weird and wonderful G+ comment system – all of those give me blood pressure!
However, in a quest to get my blog ‘out there’ a bit more, and also to find some new blogs to read and enjoy, I’ve recently made a concerted effort to go out there and comment on other people’s blogs via a couple of blogging groups on Facebook. This has been brilliant in some ways – I have discovered some amazing new blogs to read, my stats have improved, a couple of fun review opportunities have come my way, and my blog has become more ‘visible’ in the blogosphere – I’ve had a couple of shout outs from established and well respected bloggers recently, for which I am very grateful.
So where’s the problem, I hear you say, because there’s obviously a problem if she’s still wittering on about this after 558 words…well, you lovely folk, HERE is the problem.
It’s that I am very much a part time blogger. I try and post twice a week, plus a photo at the weekend. In a normal week, I can carve out two or sometimes three bloggy sessions of around 90 minutes, squeezed in before work, or during dead time waiting outside clubs, or the like. I try and limit all blog related activity to those sessions, whether it be writing, social media, tinkering with the layout, or mending my site when I’ve broken it (to be fair, it’s mostly the amazing Ryan from SW Broadband who does the mending).
Add commenting into that list and it dramatically reduces my time for actual writing. I try to comment on a wide variety of blogs, and reply to all the comments people leave, even with just a brief ‘thank you’ – and of course I visit, read and leave a comment back on the blogs of people who’ve taken the time to visit mine. And I quite like doing this, to be honest – dipping into other blogs means I’m always learning something, or getting inspiration about something I could write about. But – and it’s a big but – I don’t have time to write! And when I do get something written and published, it tends to be rushed, unpolished and even, on occasion, have an auto-correct induced ROGUE APOSTROPHE *shudders*.
Since one of the reasons I started this blog was because I wanted to write, I’m left in a bit of a commenting conundrum. Carry on with it, and reap the benefit in terms of my stats, Google page rank and Tots100 score – while knowing I am not writing as well as I could or should? Or give the commenting a rest, accept the inevitable drop in readers, but know that I have more time to write as well as I possibly can, every time?
I guess I know the answer, in my heart of hearts. It’s all very well using commenting as a way to chase the stats, but when I spend more time in a week commenting than writing, then it defeats the object of having a blog. So I’m going to pull back a bit from the quest for more readers and try and concentrate on just writing stuff, which is after all the bit I enjoy. And I’m going to take the inevitable hit on my stats and tell myself that it doesn’t matter. In a very convincing fashion. Hell, I might even disconnect Jetpack and Google Analytics…but then how will I know if anyone’s read this post?
*hits publish, runs to stats*