Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Pageviews: A Vain Person's Measure of Worth

I hate doing things that waste my time. I also get annoyed when Pageviews are bandied about. A 2013 study by Incapsula revealed that 61% of web traffic is from bots. Is your target reader a bot? Mine's certainly not!
 

Reviews can be fun. Add fresh flowers, your favorite candle, and some chocolate. Then sit back and reflect.

 

Don't get me wrong. I too obsessed over my site's Pageviews. When I reached 500 posts on this site, I shared my growth in terms of visitors and pageviews, knowing full well that I'd gamed the numbers, especially for 2012. Sure I posted consistently. I posted a lot. But was it quality--making a difference to anyone? Did it allow you to get to know me? No and no.
 

A quick pause. When I'm talking about "gaming the numbers" I'm not talking about buying clicks or traffic. I'm talking about writing and posting content that attracted traffic, for example Tuesday Shoesday, Thursday Purseday (once a meme, but no longer), Font Friday, and so on. These were strong hashtags and many women were searching for them. My target reader then loved design and had impeccable taste in clothing, accenting her wardrobe with statement purses and shoes.
 

In 2013, I jettisoned this content as I rebranded and focused on what made me happy and made my life full--appreciating what I had and not constantly chasing after wants--those things I didn't have and wouldn't make me happy if I did get. I believed in what I was doing, but how would I know it was valuable to others? If I wasn't focused on pageviews, would I be able to move from writing as a hobby to a full-time job?
 

How do you measure the value of what you do?
 

I don't know about you, but I want to know what I'm doing has value--that it's making a difference in someone's life or growing my business. And because it's easy, I've been known to look to Google Analytics and pageviews to see how I'm doing in comparison to others. I've also been known to set goals that don't serve me and fail to see that I should be making different goals.
 

Schedule time for monthly reflection

 

Since starting this site nine years ago, I have posted more than 680 times, 686 to be exact with this post. More than a few times, I dialed it in rushing to meet a self-mandated publication calendar. (At one point I had three sites I was publishing to simultaneously three times a week single handedly while also running Demand Generation for a technology company. Demand generation is a fancy word for story telling that hooks an audience and informs, instructs, or persuades until they're ready to buy. Community building with intent to sell.)
 

In April 2013, I published my five hundredth post. At the time, I was certain I would publish my six hundredth post before April 2014 and my seven hundredth post before April 2015.
 

Expectations. Boy did I have them. (I still do, but I'm more realistic about the quality I can achieve in the time I have available.)
 

Writing today's post, I discovered I actually beat my goal of six hundred posts by April 2014, or a hundred posts in a year, which translates to publishing roughly twice a week with a holiday break, by a month with Raising a Foodie: Starting a Challah Baking Tradition. As this is my 686 post and it's past April 2015 it's probably obvious I missed a goal of seven hundred posts on this site by April 2015.
 

Am I disappointed that I didn't reach seven hundred posts here by April 2015?
 

No.
 

Why? Because I've been more strategic with where I'm showing up. Not all the content I'm qualified to write is of interest to you--my readers.
 

Three Ways to Increase Engagement

 

Launch a Monthly RSS-Generated Newsletter.

I also learned that publishing more frequently didn't change reading habits. Site visitors typically come once a month and binge read. (Ever wonder why my RSS feed is now published in an easy to scan monthly newsletter? To make it easy for readers to catch up with what I'm doing and dive deeper into areas they're interested in. Are you a subscriber?)
 

But here's the true value of a monthly RSS-generated newsletter. Are you listening? Stop what you're doing and really take this in. A monthly RSS-generated newsletter simplifies your editorial calendar. Instead of viewing posts in isolation, you're focused on what theme your monthly newsletter will have and choose posts that support that theme. I've switched from posting three or two times a week (which my readers only consume once a week) to two to four related posts a month.
 

Strategically Publish Content to Make it Work Harder for You.

Between March 2014 and March 2015, I actually wrote MORE than a hundred posts. Content about marketing and social media appeared on the Alt Summit site where it was seen by a wider audience--an audience who would be interested in hiring me. Recipes and wine pairing tips appeared on blogs for La Crema Wines and Cultivar Wine. While my pageviews for The Road to The Good Life decreased, the revenue associated with opportunities I was seeing from being elsewhere increased by 262% and then again by another 216% in the first five months of 2015. Oddly enough, advertising and affiliate revenue also increased despite a drop in pageviews.
 

When You Work for Yourself Create the Environment You Want

 

Don't Fall Prey to Vanity Metrics.

Which is more important to you? Popularity or profitability?
 

I'm building a business. What does that mean? I need my content and my promotional efforts to generate sales when I'm asleep. If I have to be awake and I have to be involved to close a deal, I'm still a freelance consultant. I don't yet have a business.
 

Pageviews are vanity metrics. Anyone who is good at statistics knows how to manipulate traffic numbers to appear more popular (more attractive to potential partners). In my mind, aggregate pageviews are no better than followers and fans on social media and average likes.
 

When I can drive more traffic to a partner than a site with over 20x my pageviews I know I'm right. There are no shortcuts to building an engaged, supportive community. If you want to reduce the length of time it takes, you need to expand your team (your resources).
 

Make a monthly date with yourself! Grab a treat and review your accomplishments.

 

What's been your biggest takeaway from blogging or running your own business?
 

Like this From the CEO's Desk feature? Be sure to check out earlier articles: A Personal Definition of Sucess, Setting Priorities, and Making Time for Reflection and Celebration. Also, be sure to follow #TRTTGL_LetsDoThis hashtag beginning in July as I start sharing goals I'm actively working on, how I'm attempting to measure progress, and what my results for the month were. I for one can't wait to be more accountable to myself and would love if you joined in.
 

Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.

DISCLOSURE: I received the Less is More - Tickled Pink Mingle candle featured in this post from Bridgewater Candles as part of my participation in their Party with a Purpose campaign to bring 5 million meals to orphans around the world. You can receive 15% off your purchase of Bridgewater candles between June 8th and 12th, 2015 when you use this code BW5Million. NONE of the links in this post are affiliate links. I do not earn revenue or other incentives by including them. My personal mission is to build welcoming communities where no one walks away hungry or feeling alone. With the Light a Candle Feed a Child program, I'm able to decorate my home and help feed children. All opinions shared are my own.

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Thank you for taking the time to join the conversation. - Eden

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