NBI: pssst, don’t tell

I’ve spent the last few days thinking about what advice to give to new bloggers. Having signed up as an NBI2015 sponsor, i feel like i have to do something to earn that title. Unfortunately, i’m not hugely talented in writing (this is such a great post by Jeromai) and might fit into the newbie blogger category better myself – if you take a closer look at my posting history, you’d find out that i picked this blog back up again in december 2014.

So i can’t really tell you where my ideas come from, how i’m able to do this for years on end, how i found my niche, my favourite topic and so on. I’m still exploring, still travelling. But there’s one thing few bloggers talk/write about. I’ll come to that in a minute; you’ll have to wade through the prologue, first.

Prologue

I’m not a person that usually wants everybody’s attention- on the contrary, it makes me uncomfortable. If you’d meet me at a party? You probably wouldn’t, cause i’d be the guy in the back watching the action take place. I’m an observer, sometimes curious, mostly interested. I look at how people interact with each other, see group dynamics at work and maybe, if i feel comfortable, i’ll join the group. Or decide it’s not for me. All this happens while i’m still back in my corner.

Why would i tell you this? There was another thing stopping me from blogging, besides the “i don’t have anything to say that hasn’t been said better”-feeling. i felt the instant i pressed the “publish” button i’d be writing- and publishing something for the whole world to see. That’s frightening, right? Everyone could come across your blog and read your opinion on meaningless stuff like MMOs. I didn’t want that. Sure, i wanted this blog to be read, to have comments, conversation, maybe even getting links from somewhere, but the prospect that the whole world is able to read it still is somewhat uncomfortable.

I felt this anxiety the last time yesterday, when i published my opinion on gamergate. I knew i’d offend someone, and maybe i did, but my balance for that post is: no hate-mail and only one Twitter follower lost. That’s not too bad. But i also noticed the – comparable- lack of “likes” and (at first) comments. When you’re anxiously waiting for someone to hit the like button, it’s a strange situation.

The secret

So what do i want to share? Numbers. I think there’s a blog or two who share their numbers, but generally, we don’t share this stuff. I don’t know if it is to lessen competition or for some other reason (for example because we don’t care about those numbers), but actual numbers are hard to find (the easiest being the Feedly reader number of blogs). So if you’re worried the whole world reads your blog and finds it unattractive/uninteresting/offending, you can stop doing that now.

I started this blog when Everquest Next was announced- ok, a few days earlier, but it was around that time- in august 2013. In this first month of blogging, i had 414 visits- that averages out at 13 visits per day. This was also my best month in terms of visits until this january, when i hit 666 visits (21 per day). My EQ Next reveal post was found- and i really don’t know how- by Syp, who linked to it. I can’t access the data anymore, but there were about 50 visits coming from that alone.

You’ll have those spikes when you are lucky enough to get found by people who really do have a high visit count. Massively sent me huge numbers when i blogged about their impending closure and they were friendly enough to link me (about 150 visitors); the only one i know topping that is Wilhelm, who sent almost 160 visitors my way this year alone.

Generally, being in those blogroll-thingies-that-show-recent-postings help getting visits. Because they show the latest posts on top and include the title (really need to get that thing going here, as well- is it possible with basic wordpress?).

Feedly tells me i have 23 readers- one of them being me. That is backed up by my usual average visits/day count, which is at 29 views per day this year. Note, these are visits. On average, everyone who came here visited my blog 1.82 times this year. That leaves me with about 16 different people a day.

About a fifth of my visits (777 of 3685 this year) come from search engines- i consider that much, because what you can find here really isn’t valuable information. The FF14-crafting-post, maybe. A little. The rest is just personal scribbling of misadventures mixed with an opinion here and there. No guides, no deep insights. I used to post/comment news, but that’s really too much for me- i save that for when there really is something i like to talk about.

I’ll also give you quick numbers from 2014 and 2013:

In 2014, i published 10 posts (8 in december), but still got 2288 visits- almost nobody came twice and the reason they came at all was this post about two rocky launches: Archeage and Final Fantasy XIV. I also received 4 likes and 2 comments (all but 1 like in december); and that happened because again, i was lucky. A post got the attention from mmorpg.com as well as Syp.

In my first year, 2013, i published 33 posts, probably in a span of 2 or 3 months before i stopped posting. My daily counts go down from 13 visits/day in august to 3 visits/day in december.

My best month, so far, has been february- with 1302 visits by 658 people. Since that was when Massively was in danger and also when some other, much more popular bloggers than me noticed my blog, it will be quite some time before i can top this.

What does this tell us?

All in all, i’d like to tell you this: of course we care about those numbers- if it isn’t quantity, it’s quality- a like, a comment, a link or a mention somewhere are huge motivators. I’d also like to say that a little help from others, by citing, linking, discussing others’ posts can do a lot of good for the readership and community on someone’s blog.

So all of you who think about starting a blog on your own? Now’s the time, because this month is all about helping- with advice, discussion, common topics, links, mentions and introductions to this community.

And no, it’s not the whole world who’s reading your blog. And those who do? They’re great people!

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16 thoughts on “NBI: pssst, don’t tell

  1. I always get a pleasant bump in views for the NBI. I enjoy helping out and spreading the word, but it is nice to see those numbers rise too. Still, that’s like ordering a milkshake for the whip cream. You’d save a lot of money if you just bought a can and skipped the icecream part.

    1. I have to confess that i don’t get the analogy- on a language, not a logic level. As i understand it, you’re saying that it’s a nice bump, but you also put a lot of work in and you could get the numbers up in an easier way? Or is it that it would be the false priority to do the NBI stuff for the numbers?

      I think the numbers are interesting in blogging- it’s not about absolute or competitive numbers- sure, i was happy when i hit the 1k wall in february, but more about relative visit counts. I mean, i like it when i’m “doing better” this year than last.

      I thought maybe it would provide some take-away for new/shy/reluctant bloggers to see what numbers we’re talking about. Do they have to be like that for everyone? No, i guess you can do “better” if you want to quite easily.

      What it really comes down to is conversation- sometimes between blog posts, sometimes via comments (or likes) or tweets or whatever. That’s why i at least try to respond to every comment that’s made here. That’s the important part- the community, and maybe that’s why nobody talks about numbers. Right now, new bloggers have this great opportunity to get a headstart into it.

      1. To me, the numbers aren’t the point, they are just something extra. One view is worthless when compared to a single comment or having someone agree or constructively disagree with you. No amount of views can compare to just writing something you feel proud of or are grateful to get off your chest. It is nice to feel recognized by a large amount of view,s but I’d take one good comment over a bunch of people seeing something I wrote and not say anything about it EVERY DAY.

    2. It’s funny but I’m the opposite during the NBI haha – I tend to get far less hits. Probably because i’m writing far more about blogging and community which only interests a certain subset rather than being as topical with games

      1. My guess would be- depending on what you post in general, that postings marked with “NBI” are of interest only for those who participate/are thinking about starting a blog/interested in blogging in general. All those coming for game-related opinions and tales of awesomeness might skip those.

  2. Numbers are funny, because once you start sharing them then suddenly there is a way to quantify comparisons between blogs. People can end up feeling bad or look like they are bragging. And what do the numbers even mean really? Would a 10x boost make you write any differently?

    I decided after a while that I would post numbers for my blog, but only on the anniversaries. So every September 12th I have a post burdened with a lot of silly stats and numbers, all of which are only really good for comparing my blog against itself for a given date range. And even that isn’t really a good comparison. As you note, search engines send a lot of traffic, but Google has changed up things on me a few times and ended up causing a noticeable drop in traffic, even though I seem to have about the same number of regular readers.

    Glad to see I am sending you some traffic. My cobbled together side-bar link thing does seem to generate more outbound traffic than a static blog roll ever used to. I’m also one of your Feedly readers, as that is the start point for my Rube Goldberg system.

    1. You’re right. Of course. Numbers are funny like that. Ah, and you’re one of those i was talking about! The numbers, well, no, they don’t mean anything here. I don’t know what a 10x boost would do to my writing- it isn’t entirely impossible that numbers 10 times as high would scare me away (100x probably would).
      Yeah, the bragging part. I was worried about that when i posted- but i think my numbers are low enough to share them safely. Also, i know that when i went in, i didn’t even have an inkling on what to expect.

  3. Numbers are tricky beasts. If you go hunting in search of them, you might end up losing your way too.

    I share numbers for my blog annually, using the handy dandy WordPress report.

    (Alas, there is no handy dandy blog sidebar like Blogspot’s, which makes me green with envy and led to me pulling off my entire sidebar because maintaining it was so hard – individual sites had to be edited – nor was it getting much clickthroughs due to lack of information on which was immediately relevant. The first one would get clicked, is about it. Ended up deciding to just link people in posts instead.)

    Common themes around numbers are very simple. If you have common keywords that come up in a google search that someone will trigger while looking up information via a guide, badabing, it explodes. But these are only one time visitors, looking up a specific page for info they want. They may or may not become regular visitors, and it’s not the best measurement to judge your normal posts by these massive outliers. (But I’ll sometimes shamelessly post one so that I get to sees the big numbers.)

    Imo, the best way to soothe one’s ego and accumulate a nice amount of numbers per month, is… to post frequently.

    No kidding, it’s work, but it’s also logical. If you have 30 regular readers, and you post once a month, hello, 30 hits. Post 4 times in that month, 120 hits. Post every two days for 30 days, and voila, 450 hits.

    The side benefit is that you “fool yourself” into writing more, which is a nice feedback loop, and you also train your regulars to keep popping by. 😉

  4. I agree with the comments here so far – they can be quite helpful or hurtful but it’s often hard to guess which and that probably changes based on the reader.

    Personally I don’t think I’ve ever shared my view numbers except maybe a tweet now and then at big milestones. That’s more a personal decision though but if someone asked privately I’d probably share.

    Oh, and the traffic gold mine is reddit – get a post linked there a couple times and you get thousands haha

    1. ooo and some weird stats for you, my wordpress blog still gets more views a day then my new one haha – funny how that works. Probably a good example of going self hosted early if that’s what you want to do

      1. i’d have expected something like that- it’s easy to miss or forget about the move- and there’s also the huge amount of content you have over there that’ll attract search engines. I didn’t look for that, but did you transfer your content over to your new blog?
        I’ve thought about selfhosting, as well, mainly because i feel wordpress.com to be somewhat restrictive in terms of addons/widgets (or i fail to find them in the administration) and the version granting more freedom is also quite expensive.
        You could, of course, buy the redirection service offered by wordpress (they do offer this, right?), but you’d need to get your stuff moved over first.

      2. The content but not all the pictures are moved over but then, the redirection wouldn’t really help. It more just points to the new blog not the same content. It’s also that the same posts on the newer blog won’t have a google rating as high… Not even close so they won’t get pinged.

        Thought it might be a better idea to leave it, and then if someone like the content they’ll see I’ve moved and read more.

        That’s the theory anyway haha

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