How do you measure the success of a blog post? Number of views? That might not be the best metric.
Website analytics help make informed decisions, but at the same time online tracking is facing the highest level of scrutiny that it has ever seen.
Imagine if you were out shopping, went into a drug store, examined a few bottles of sunscreen, but left the store without purchasing anything. And then immediately a stranger approached you with an offer for sunscreen. Such an encounter would trigger a fight or flight reaction — the needle on your innate creepometer would shoot right into the red.
There are services like Hotjar which record every user’s session on a website. Having recordings of how people interact with a site provides immense value to sites who need to ensure a good user experience. Not only can unintentional usage patterns be discovered, but also it saves time from having to interview users about their experience.
On the other hand, analytics tools like Fathom have a completely different narrative when it comes to privacy.
I’ve thought about adding analytics to this blog out of curiosity, but also I like how uBlock Origin and web browsers show that there is no tracking on this blog.
When running a company, analytics can provide surprising insights. A personal blog, however, often has other goals that are not best measured by the number of visitors or pageviews.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why people write a personal blog, see why measuring pageviews doesn’t necessarily provide value, and then look at some metrics that do matter.
Writing for career advancement
For many people who switch from other careers to software development, writing is a way to gain credibility in the industry. These people have the goal of starting a new career and may not necessarily be interested in becoming an author of any sort. For someone writing about the new things they learn with the goal of getting noticed by employers, pageviews are not what they are looking for, at least in the short term. The number of employers reaching out to them is the primary metric that does matter.
Writing to share
Sometimes you work through a hard problem and feel like sharing your solution in hopes that other people who face the same problem will benefit. In this case, pageviews don’t matter because you were sharing one particular experience that happened by chance. It’s not like you can create similar content on demand, so the pageviews are not actionable.
Writing to connect
Similar to the first one about career advancement, writing a personal blog is a good way to get noticed by people in your field, a field which can sometimes be very niche and small. In this case, number of people emailing you does matter, but raw pageviews, while interesting information, are not a direct measure of what you’re trying to achieve.
Writing to learn
I often read blog posts which serve no other purpose than to organize the author’s thoughts on a particular subject. This is actually a very effective way to make sure you know something well—you can write about it in a way that mostly makes sense when you go back and read it. If you’ve thought about a particular subject a lot, but when sitting down to write about it your mind goes blank, it may be a sign that those thoughts are not organized enough. Pushing through with the writing helps to organize those thoughts in a coherent way, and you might even find out that some argument you had doesn’t actually make sense on paper.
When it does matter
If you’re running on online publishing business with some kind of funnel, to a course or newsletter for example, then knowing what content gets more traffic and where that traffic comes from can help you make effective decisions on what to write about in the future to grow the business.
A personal blog is often a way to share thoughts or help yourself learn, and having a Google Analytics dashboard with all kinds of information might appease your curiosity, but if you really think about what the purpose of the personal blog is, it may be that pageviews are not the primary metric by which to measure the success of the blog.