Measuring Blogging Success
What makes a blog a success? Traffic? Income? Interaction with readers? Personal satisfaction and expression? It could be any or all of the above. But measuring blogging success needs to be done based on some quantifiable factors, particularly if it is being done as part of a business' overall marketing strategy.
Blogging Busy Work and Burnout
When some bloggers launch their sites, they also launch into hyperdrive. They try to blog every day. They reason, "What's a little blog post gonna take to write? Twenty minutes?"
In the beginning, a blogger may be able to hammer out a wave of posts in a hurry since the creativity cache is overflowing with ideas. Then, maybe six months in, the cache dries up. It gets harder and harder to come up with new ideas. A post might take 20 hours to get done. Eventually, the posting stream turns into a trickle, maybe even completely abandoned.
Contributing to the burnout is the fact that the blogger's work and life keep going on. Family and social obligations, keeping up with business activities, exercising, social media... the list goes on and on. Bloggers get exhausted trying to keep up with it all. Something's gotta give and usually it's the blog.
Then there are some bloggers that flip in the other direction. Instead of abandoning the blog, they make it their priority and neglect other work and life responsibilities. That might work if the blog is a roaring financial success, though that is rarely the case. The blog often becomes busy work that feels like real work, allowing the blogger to escape from more important personal and professional obligations.
Tips for Measuring Blog Success: If finding time to write and maintain a blog is extremely difficult, evaluate whether a reduction in posting frequency might make the blog more manageable. Also, be realistic in evaluating a blog's success. A blog can be a huge investment of time and money though it seems cheap in theory.
The Comment Conundrum
Blog comments are quite gratifying to bloggers. Aside from the stupid spam comments (which can be quite amusing to read!), insightful comments show that readers have taken their precious time to add to the conversation the blogger launched. That can help bloggers understand what issues and topics are resonating with their audiences, maybe even inspiring more blog post topics. It may also identify some potential clients or business partners since these folks have self-identified themselves as interested parties.
Or maybe not.
While certainly there are sincere commenters on the web, many people who comment—particularly on big, very popular blogs—are looking for the Internet gold of backlinks to their own sites. Backlinks from popular, authority or well trafficked sites can signal to search engines that a site is relevant or valuable. So unless a blogsite is structured to limit comments to only those from registered users or community members, the possibility exists for backlink squatters who comment just to gain from association with a popular site... or many sites of all types. Many of these "spammenters" (the combo of "spammer" and "commenter") can be quite audacious and include a link to their sites right within the comment.
The wave of spam comments that bloggers must contend with can also be generated by bots and questionable sources for the same backlink bounty. Sometimes clearing out the myriad of these junk comments can be a chore, increasing the operating cost (in time and money) to run the blog. Another factor that needs to be considered when assessing a blog's cost.
With the scarcity of genuine comments on many niche blogsites, bloggers can feel that they are failing which may, or may not, be true. Realize that readers are very, VERY overwhelmed and multitasked these days. So they may be reading blog posts, but may not comment even if they really agree or like the post. They're just too busy and distracted to take the time to comment.
Another metric which could be a bit more encouraging and useful is to monitor sharing of blog posts with readers' followers and communities. Even if they don't have time to comment, readers may think enough of a post to share it on social media. That is a comment in and of itself! Actually, sharing can even be more helpful than comments since it can amplify the reach of the post and the blog.
Tips for Measuring Blog Success: Measuring blog success based on the number of comments can produced skewed and disheartening statistics, especially for smaller, niche blogs. So certainly measure them, but evaluate the results in light of the issues discussed here before changing or abandoning a blog effort.
Have you ever considered closing a blog due to:
The Blog Traffic Traps
Most who blog for business, blog with these major objectives: Build traffic, improve search engine ranking and get sales. A relevant blog can have tremendous power in building a community of followers and potential customers. But beware of these traffic traps when measuring a blog's success:
- Impatience. Building traffic through SEO (search engine optimization) techniques can take many months to produce results. Because many business folks are obsessed with results they can get NOW (or at least this quarter), they quickly abandon blog and content marketing strategies before they can even produce traffic.
- Dead Ends. Even if a blog can generate a groundswell of traffic, if readers are not taking a desired action such as visiting a specific website or making a purchase after reading, the blog can become a dead end. The blog will drain resources while producing nothing.
Determining the success of a blog, particularly for business, requires continual monitoring of traffic patterns both to and from the blog. If the purpose of the blog is purely recreational and conversational, this is less of an issue, although there are hobby bloggers who obsess over statistics. Set up Google Analytics (or other traffic monitoring system) for the blog. Monitor traffic regularly. Depending on the topic and objectives of the blog, monitoring intervals could be daily, weekly or monthly, in addition to an annual review.
Tips for Measuring Blog Success: Be cautious of overreacting to minor or short-term fluctuations in traffic. Watch for trends over an extended period of time, such as a year. Comparing year-to-year traffic trends can be very helpful in determining if changes need to be made.
In addition to raw traffic numbers, watching where the traffic is coming from can be incredibly useful since it will help determine if blog marketing efforts are successful.
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© 2014 Heidi Thorne