Friday, September 16, 2016

The person behind the data

Big data is a really big deal these days. It's really not all that hard to gather data in the first place, but knowing how to analyze the data and what to do with it is another story. Blogging is no different. There is an abundance of data at your fingertips even with an out of the box analytics platform. In a matter of seconds, you can see who is visiting your blog, what country they're from, what operating system they're using and a whole mess of other metrics. 

Of course to really analyze the data, you have to do a little tweaking and filtering to get data that's of any real value. Don't worry, I'm not going to get into that process today. It's just my long winded way of getting to what I really wanted to talk about today. I want to look at what you may choose to measure and why - rather than how to make sure your numbers are legitimate. [Spoiler Alert] My number is 9, but I'll get to that later.

People start blogging for many different reasons and those reasons may not even be the same reasons they are still blogging today. The reason why you blog also relates to the kind of data you monitor and how you measure "success" in general. Here's a "quick" rundown of why you may choose to start blogging and/or keep blogging. 

Oh, this is a good one. Many folks out there see blogging as a way to make loads of money while getting to work from home. Being able to type away and throw some content up on the web seems like a pretty slick way to grow that bank account. It might even be a jumping pad for a writer hoping to gain an audience for an upcoming book they're working on. 

That's a great reason for some, but not for me. I never had plans to monetize my blog. I'm not saying I wouldn't be thrilled to make a living off writing one day, but it wasn't (and still isn't) a driving force in my desire to write or why I continue to blog. That and I'm too lazy to start using proper grammar and complete sentences...or stop using run-on sentences for that matter. (Or horrible punctuation...the list goes on and on and on...) 

With hundreds of millions of blogs out there, getting someone to actually read yours is a pretty big deal. No matter how much people (myself included) say they write for themselves and don't care about gaining popularity, it's still more enjoyable when you know people are actually reading what you write. 

This is part of why I love writing on a few blogs other than my own these days. It gives me a chance to "borrow" some readers from other bloggers for a while and even add a few readers to my own blog. This still isn't a major motivator for me least not by itself. On a related note, my page views stayed about the same even after expanding the number of blogs I write on. 

So you actually got them to your site and reading your posts - and it feels pretty good. That's assuming you also look at the time-on-page metrics to know they were actually there long enough to have read at least some of your post. The "likes" you get add a little reassurance that some people are enjoying what you're writing. 

Since I started writing on more sites recently, I have noticed an uptick in likes overall - which is fun. It adds a little motivation...but still not the number I jump up and down about. 

Ok. Now we're starting to get warm. Views tell you how many people showed up...assuming you're filtering out the bots and ghost hits. Likes tell you people are enjoying what they're least enough to click a button. Comments though...those take a little bit of actual effort on your reader's part. I know this is going to come as a bit of a shock, but the actual words people use in their comments give you insight into whether or not they actually liked it. It's almost like talking to someone. Wow, right??

I have noticed a significant jump in comments since broadening my tromping grounds. This was a really exciting change of events. It showed me that deep down I was looking for interaction rather than just writing for myself as some means of personal therapy. Comments are high on my list, but really just pointing towards my favorite part - the biggest driving force that has me itching to write again each day. That would be...

Making new friends from around the world has been the biggest joy to date. To me it's more about the people behind the data than the numbers the data is providing. I said earlier that my magic number was 9. I came to that number based on the fact that I've developed some pretty fun relationships with 8-10 new people in the last couple of months because of blogging. These "relationships" range from frequent back and forth banter to actually writing on each other's blogs. 

We may not be dropping by each other's houses or meeting up for coffee or a beer, but we're getting a more in depth look into each other's lives through comments and extremely witty banter. Well, sometimes it's witty anyway. 

Shameless Plug (another benefit of appreciating fellow bloggers)
When I was toying with the idea of blogging, I checked out a few blogs to see what was out there. One of the first blogs I stumbled across was Chaotic Kids & Clutter written by Scott. Not only is Scott a bit of a goofball like myself, he is also the same age as me, married with kids (like me) and living in Minnesota (also like me). If you like anything I write, I encourage you to check him out. Chaotic Kids is still on my required reading list. Maybe I should try and get the guy to do a guest post over on average jester?? Until next time friends....