I have a confession: I check my stats every day. In fact, sometimes, I check my state multiple times a day. I track my ebook sales, my traffic, my mailing list subscribers, my RSS subscribers, and my affiliate sales. I track how many people come to my site via search engines and how many subscribers click on links in my emails. I track which subscription methods work better. I track whether I get more clicks when I tweet something in the morning versus at night. I love stats and I track them almost to obsessive lengths sometimes.
Yet, so many bloggers advocate focusing on content and forgetting about stats, which I can understand, at least to some extent. I know bloggers who say that they rarely look at stats, checking their numbers a few times a month, if that. I can’t even imagine. But it can be problematic if you spend all your time tracking stats and less time writing great content. As a new blogger, it’s also easy to get discouraged if your stats are pathetic at first, even if the logical side of you knows that everyone starts at zero. So it makes sense that some people advocate ignoring stats.
Today, though, I’d like to make the case for stats tracking. I think that someone needs to defend the practice – and I’d like to explain, at least from my perspective, why it’s worthwhile.
And what I’m going to say might surprise you, because this has nothing to do with all of the practical reasons you should track your stats.
A few weeks ago, David Risley wrote a post called “What The Blog Statistics You Track Say About You…” I thought that he made a lot of really good points in this post – if you’re blogging for bucks, there are certain stats that make sense to track while others don’t matter.
Or do they?
First, let me address some of the excellent advice David gives readers in his post. It makes sense that you’d track stats directly related to your income. It’s responsible, as a business owner, to know what’s working and what is not. As you create goals, you can more easily take actionable steps, and that can translate into dollars in your pocket. Who doesn’t love that?
But sometimes, I think we take a too cynical approach to stats. Cynical is perhaps too harsh of a word. Practical. We take a too practical approach to stats.
Or, at least, we only take a practical approach to stats.
Think about why you got into blogging in the first place, though. Blogging is about soul as much as it is about business. Talk to any a-list blogger out there and they’ll tell you that the reason they do what they do is because they love blogging. The money is just a side benefit. Most bloggers blogged long before they ever made a cent, and most bloggers would keep blogging, at least as time allows, if it wasn’t possible to make money online. If you are blogging only for the money, you’re doing it wrong…because frankly, there are about seven thousand easier jobs you could do and feel equally “meh” about to make money. It’s not like this is an easy career path. Blogging is a job, but it is a job we love.
It’s easy to lose site of that sometimes.
So today, my defense of stat tracking is this: track your stats so you can remember why you do this.
Even the impractical stats, the ones that David mentions as being unimportant to your business, are important to your soul as a blogger. If you get 500 retweets on your post, that might not translate to a single ebook sale…but woah. That means you wrote something that affected FIVE HUNDRED PEOPLE enough that they felt the need to go share it. That’s pretty damn cool. Your RSS subscriptions might not mean anything in terms of sales, but if you have 10,000 subscribers, that’s TEN THOUSAND people who are so interested in what you have to say that they don’t want to miss a single word. That’s pretty damn cool too.
It’s especially important as a new blogger. Your numbers might be smaller, but where were you yesterday? Yesterday, your spouse may have patiently listened to you rant about something important to you, but today, fifty people visited your site and read the post you made about the topic. Those are fifty lives you have potentially changed. Blogging is such a unique avenue to affect people from around the world. Money is nice, but to me, that is much better.
So go ahead and check your stats today without guilt, even if it doesn’t cause you to change a single thing about how you run your blog. Celebrate the fact that you’re reaching more and more people every day and enjoy finding your place in the world with your blog. Even if your blog is your primary source of income, it doesn’t have to be all business all the time.