Why I Don’t Stress Over Blog Subscriber Numbers

I’ve been blogging on this site for a long time now. Well, a long time in the scope of how long blogging has been around. I’ve done a lot of the major no-no’s in blogging:

  1. I’ve changed my blog domain 3 times (a blogger blog, then on enrogue.com, then here).
  2. I’ve changed my rss feed location 4 times.
  3. I change my entire site look completely -at least- once a year.
  4. I don’t push people to subscribe via RSS or email.
  5. I’ve taken many breaks over the years where I may not write for months at a time.

After reading an article about people who stress about their RSS subscriber count, I realized I hadn’t even logged into Feedburner but maybe once this year – and that was just to give the ‘ok’ for them to change my feed url to the one run by Google.

Why don’t I care if my numbers are low, high, or anywhere in between? It’s simple – that’s not how I gauge success.

Back in the day, when I first started blogging about web standards and people were still refusing to believe that this small collective of ‘standaristas’ had any idea what they were talking about.. I got a lot of visitors to the blog. That was my goal at that point, to get the word out on the topic I was passionate about. I wrote many hundreds, if not over a thousand (don’t recall), articles on the subject for a variety of places. But, time moves on.

Goals change. People have accepted standards. I hit a point where I no longer felt like there was much I needed to teach on that because it became viral, there were tons of other people doing it. So, what next was the simple question. My next goal was to see if I could simply keep writing, finding other things to write about often enough to keep up the blogging habit. I succeeded, I failed, it was flexible depending.

Nowadays, I’m simply happy that if you type in my name or my site name it’s right up there on Google’s main page. For me, this blog has always been an outlet. I’m not trying to have the biggest readership, biggest amount of visitors per day, nor am I trying to have a 100+ comments on each post. I’m not trying to make money off this blog (even though I have a few Google ads on it I don’t think they’ve made any money over the years and I’ll probably remove them entirely on the next redesign). It’s simply a place for me to really discuss topics that interest me now.

So back to the subscribers count – is it a true reflection of … much of anything at all? Nah, not really. Outside the young and the high tech, most people don’t know what a feed reader is yet. Most people are so sick of filled email boxes they just start mass dumping stuff out of their email boxes, including newsletter subscriptions. So what’s a decent measure?

You can consider your site hits I suppose, although that’s filled with various inaccuracies also. What if they got there by accident, or got there and didn’t find what they wanted. If it says they’ve visited 10 pages on your site, is that good.. or does it mean they couldn’t find what they wanted? If it says they stayed on your site for 20 minutes… were they actively looking for all that time or did they walk off and get a snack and leave the window up? Who knows.

So what -is- a useful stat? One fairly useful stat that I actually will look at is available in most statistics programs, and it shows the entry URL. I love seeing my counts for people who typed in my URL directly – which often means they have the site bookmarked or simply remember it. That’s a useful stat, in my opinion.

I had my visitor spikes and huge stats ‘back in the day’ and at this point, I am just writing for the enjoyment of it — which, upon reflection, is really all I should’ve ever been doing with this blog. Note I said THIS blog. I have other sites I am not nearly so flippant about. Sites that are monetized and sites that involve businesses I run. You really need to decide where your position in it all is.

If you have a blog for venting, enjoyment, recreation… keep it that way as long as you can. Like anything, when you turn your hobby into work, it loses some of its charm. If you can, separate your blogs and keep one for personal venting and let your other blogs be for money/business blogging. Sure, you can cross-reference your blogs between each other to share traffic.. or not. Depends on how much separation you want for your own sanity.

I’m not good at talking about really personal things, probably related to the fact that I am cautious enough to never post pictures of my kids or much information about them online – and they’re a huge part of my life. So, instead of a ‘very personal’ blog, my recreational blog is this one — where I talk about the tech stuff that I actually want to talk about, versus coming up with articles just to fill space and meet a ‘post-per-week’ goal.

My suggestion for anyone who is coming into blogging is very contrary to what most people will suggest. Keep at least one blog for yourself. The rest will come, or not. If you don’t enjoy listening to yourself talk, maybe you will do better with social networks than blogs. Save the numbers game and worry for a site/blog you have attached to something that brings in money. Let your personal blog simply be as it is, and evolve with you — faults, mistakes, errors and all the rest.

~Nicole

2 thoughts

  1. Hi Nicole

    Interesting article. I think these days, entry URL counts are more precious than they would have been in the past, although less representative. You mention that ‘back in the day’ your stats were significantly higher. This may reflect the increased tech-dependency of recent times, where bookmarks and tags have become commonplace. The number of people in this world who possess the patience to type more than six letters into their address bars is diminishing.

    Cheers
    Ingrid

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