Sunday, December 30, 2012

A year on blog

So, tomorrow is the last day of 2012. It's been some year for me and mine - a really different year than the past few in more ways than one.

I'm hoping to do a reflective post tomorrow, a summary of the year that was - my extended family and overseas friends always enjoy those, and it substitutes for the Christmas / New Year letter that I'm too lazy and disorganised to write :-) But I thought today I'd do what I did last year, and have a look at how this blog fared in 2012. I always find it an interesting, and occasionally startling, exercise, as I don't stats-watch through the year (one of the upsides of not monetising - I don't actually have to care about eyeballs per se, and no one asks me for the numbers).

So, I had a looky at Google Analytics, and was firstly mildly astonished to find that this has been a much bigger year (in terms of unique pvs) than the first two years of this blog's life, or any of the 6 years on my old decommissioned blog, Zucchinis in Bikinis.

Why this should be, I have no real idea. Post numbers were virtually the same as in 2011, with the same bulge pattern in November (for NaBloPoMo) and January (when I blog more because I'm not working). My comment numbers were, if anything, a little down on 2011 - a phenomenon that is, I think, common in the blogosphere at the moment. But despite all this, the blog is getting read, and by more people (or, shall we say, unique entities?) than it was last year.

It probably speaks to my lack of marketing nous that I can't really fathom this, or work out how to nurture it, should I want to. It's still a bit gratifying though - after all, I write on the Internet to share ideas and be read, so it's rather pleasant to think that some people, somewhere, are reading what I put up here.

The "10 most read posts of the year" part of my stats checking was both surprising and not. I expected the Dorothy the Dinosaur gluten free cake how-to to rank highly, and it took #1 easily, with view numbers well into five digits across the year. (How-tos always attract page views, in my experience). Likewise, the Back to the Future picture post on the DeLorean was linked on a number of Facebook pages, while the Black Ruby restaurant review was linked on a couple of websites, so I wasn't surprised to see them high in the list. I suspected my professional services contractor post would get good traction, and it did, and I knew people would read the 2-post profile on Nicole of Planning With Kids, especially as she linked to the posts (and they did!)

You could've knocked me over with a feather, though, at the placement of the book review of The Language of Flowers. Book reviews always attract a gentle but consistent readership here, and they do grow steadily over time, as people Google titles. But this innocuous little review had a monumental surge in October this year - why, I do not know - and was the third-most-viewed post of the year. Go figure, huh?

Likewise, my post on a little acrostic poem my daughter wrote, and my thoughts about it (Mother-Worker), was very widely read, and my musings on the whole "activated almonds" snafu got a lot of pvs. Both of these were a bit surprising, although I guess the topicality of the almonds post lent it some fuel. I was very pleased that my post explaining Coeliac Disease got read; I saw this one as an educative post, and I'm really happy it was seen.

So here's the list:

1. Dorothy the Dinosaur cake (February)
2. Back to the Future in the DeLorean (January)
3. Reading Notes: The Language of Flowers (January)
4. Black Ruby restaurant review (April)
5. On being a professional services contractor (November)
6. Mother-Worker: An acrostic poem about me(April)

(All six of these posts are in my top 10 all-time posts, too, and the Dorothy cake post is currently my number 1 hit post ever).

7. Self-employed and working at home with kids profile: Nicole Avery (Pt 1) (November)
8. Self-employed and working at home with kids profile: Nicole Avery (Pt 2) (November)
9. Activated almonds (November)
10. Coeliac Awareness Week: What is Coeliac Disease? (March)

So what makes a difference to the level of traffic a post gets?

Well, I don't really know. However, a few factors I can identfy as having an impact are:

- Twitter - I tweet links to most of my posts, but not all. If I tweet the link, that will double the pvs. If it gets RTed by someone else, that triples it.
- Linking - Any post that got put up on Facebook or Google +, mentioned in someone else's blog or website, or linked in an online discussion does well.
- SEO (when I accidentally do it :-) - Apparently some combinations of phrases are good at attracting Google hits, how about that! Sometimes I accidentally call a post something that matches to a common search string on Google or Yahoo, and then I get lots of hits.
- Black magic:Then there are the times that I *just don't know* why the heck people read it or where they come from. The Language of Flowers is one of those.

I took the blog in a slightly more literary / thinky direction this year; while I still did plenty of slice-of-life posts, I did more than twice as many book reviews, twice as many poems, and more opinion pieces, than in 2011. For me, personally, this worked well; I was happy with the tone and emphasis of the blog and will probably continue in the same vein in 2013.

I was a little surprised and heartened to see that my poems, traditionally a weak performer in terms of pvs, did quite well at being read this year. I love to write poetry and I write much more of it than ever appears on the blog. It's nice to share your work sometimes and I get more of a kick out of comments on poems than on any other kind of post.

The three most read poems this year were:
Who are you? (June)
Running (November)
Love, actually (August)

I'd have to say that my biggest personal blog highlight of 2012 came in a post in February, which was a review of the stage show of Yes, Prime Minister. Not only was I happy with that post, but I got a comment from the wonderful Jonathan Lynn, author of the play (and the TV series and books), indicating that he liked the review and felt I'd captured the essence of the satiric message it conveyed. I was giddily delighted by this interaction, and held it up for the rest of the year whenever any of my non-blogging friends asked me why I bothered :-) (Of course there are other reasons, but that one's pretty compelling, right?)

So that was 2012 on Play, Eat, Learn, Live. I am comfortable here; this is my online sandbox, to write and discuss and inform and share and be silly and be serious and feel connected. I am content to be un-monetised (or is it non-monentised?) - I feel I've made the right decision for me in seeking my income elsewhere, through my professional writing business, and keeping this amateurish little space just a treasured hobby and record rather than an income source.

In 2013, I'm going to do the Australian Women Writer's Challenge (I've signed up to review at least 4 books), and will do the Booker Longlist read-review again too. I plan to publish more poetry, more photos, and more work-life / working tips posts. I'm sure I will also opine about many things, at great and no doubt tedious length, as issue arise. I also will continue to blog in support of Good Return, one of the main charities I support, and on gluten free food issues, including recipes.

I hope to see some of my readers back for the new year, and that the year was good to you all, on-blog and offline too!

1 comment:

  1. Google Analytics will probably tell you with some precision where the biggest hitting pages got their traffic. I've always been somewhat surprised how many hits I get from Google searches, particularly for images.

    It's also sometimes interesting to see what countries the hits come from.