How fast do you grow your blog? 10% 20%?

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Oh, oh, oh,  it is New Year and it is time to transfer some stats helpfully supplied by WordPress onto an Excel spreadsheet.  Oh, what fun!

First the obvious

Month-on-month growth

When I first launched my blog, month-on-month growth was over 100%, that is, each month my readership doubled. Progressively, my growth has dropped to about 8% month-on-month.    The number of additional readers per month is more than it was at the start, but the % gain is now around 8%.  Imagine if that growth translated into revenue!

Good and bad months; good and bad days

People do stop reading blogs when they have something better to do!  Yes, that’s right.  Readership drops during Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

We also stop writing blogs when we are busy.  There were two months when I was busy on other projects.  The first time, my page hits plateaued.  The second, hits dropped horribly.

Readership also goes up when we write about something topical.  Experts talk a lot about key words.  The key to a killer post is writing about what people are looking for today: current events!

The best days are supposed to be Tuesdays and Thursdays.  What I can say, is traffic at weekends is less (we have something better to do) and traffic is very slow during the morning, British time!

Then a little deeper

The next thing I did was to model the exponential growth.  Allowing for the good times and bad, on average how fast has my blog grown?

What I did (for anyone who has forgotten their maths) was convert my page hits for each month into a log (using Log10) and then used the “slope” function to regress the logs (Y) onto another column in which months were labelled 1-14 (X).  The slope was 0.11 meaning that my page hits increased 11% each month.

To check I had the maths correct, I recalculated the monthly amounts by talking the first month and multiplying it by 1.11, and then did that again for the next month, and the next, until I got to December 2008.  The model estimated my December total within 3% of the actual number.

So 11% growth per month.  Is that good or bad for a first time blogger?  Does anyone know?  A quick Google search didn’t throw up any figures.  An odd omission I would have thought.

Then forward

If I can maintain this growth, then what readership can I expect this time next year?

This time I took my actual figure for December 2008 and multiplied it by 1.11 and then again by 1.11, twelve times.

Hmm, the total figure would make me happy.  I had set myself a target of exceeding the number of student hours in my classroom in my last university job : 50 000 per year (staggering isn’t).  I did this again using 8% or 1.08, and I still exceed 50K.  Fine!

But several of my friends in the Social Media Mafia have readers of 500 per day.  That is three times the total I expect!  Hmm.  That made me feel dissatisfied.

What is possible?

There is plenty of advice out there on blogging.  So far I could say that I have mastered writing regularly.  I have some loyal readers who even comment sometimes (thank you).  And I comment happily on other people’s sites.

I know the search terms that bring people to my site and I know that responding to world events will bring more.

I imagine if I were in a less specialised field and wasn’t addressing professionals, largely, I would have greater readership.  Those characteristics I’ll accept as constraints.

My questions

With my specialised field, tendency to long posts designed to solve professional issues that I am grappling with now,

  • What is a realistic rate of growth to aspire to?
  • What attributes of blogging should I attend to.

Until I answer those questions, I think I need to aspire to growing my blog 8% to 11% a month by posting regularly and about topics that have some link to world events.  I would like to do more though.  And advice would be welcome.

Thanks to my readers

Thanks so much to the people who do read my blog and spur me on.  You mean a lot to me.  I believe writing clarifies my thoughts about my professional work and with an average of 70 page hits per post, I am encouraged to put in more effort!  Requests taken!

A very good 2009 to you.  May it be happy, joyful, and despite all odds, prosperous!

7 thoughts on “How fast do you grow your blog? 10% 20%?

  1. Perhaps a video blog would be a wise move? I don’t think any of the psychology blogs have done that yet. Just sharing some secrets 😉 wink wink

  2. I noticed you have Goolge Analytics installed, are you not using that for some insights?

    And how about a subscribe to comments plugin?

  3. Hi Trudy, I think you have a point. Good visuals are the way to go. They are a lot of work though mainly because I didn’t develop the habit of communicating visually at the outset of my career. I think it would be good to turn all essays into visuals. Maybe that should be our joint NY resolution. Get students across the world putting up visuals of their work?

    Could you do me a favour? If this comment reaches you as an email, could you let me now. Chris suggests a ‘subscribe to comments’ and I don’t know if WordPress follows up all comments once you have commented.

    Thanks again for stopping by.

  4. Hi Jo

    Like you I take note of the analysis of hits on my blog, and of course there are wide fluctuations by date and message.

    I have another thought however: are we aiming for the current ‘type’ of blog-reader, or also for other sorts of reader?

    You will be very aware that the scope for developing a wider readership also means that we need a wider demography. For me, because again like you I try to encourage people to intereact constructively, that means a style and mode which will I hope appeal to people who are not web-savvy as well as those who are.

    Writing about a whole range of topics (and sometimes adding photos) I have found that some issues are far more widely read than others; but I still prefer to log stuff which I consider significant, for the record (and for the passing academic…!) if nothing else. Who knows who will read what in time to come?!!

    Very best
    Hilary

  5. Thanks Hilary – yes – the blog where “what I promise” was nothing more than my passing thoughts was the most successful of my earlier efforts.

    And my “back issues” are picked up by Google search.

    Thanks for dropping by! Happy New Year!

  6. First of all, thanks Jo for commenting on my blog throughout this year.

    This month marks my 1st anniversary as a blogger. It has been an interesting journey.

    I haven’t always cared how many people were reading my blog. And I experimented with various approaches to writing posts. Some of the less popular one’s were some of my favorites… It’s kind of like gardening in a way. You plant something and see what grows.

    If I were you and I wanted to increase a more general readership than just my peers, I would brainstorm stuff about what value I could offer the average person about work. Most people do not use “positive” and “work” in the same sentence.

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