Part five of this eight-part series on better blogging deals with the importance of tracking your blog to find more success. The first four parts are linked below this post to make it convenient for you to access the entire series.
Track Your Blogging Success
While putting together this series on better blogging, I had some difficulty in figuring out what order to place each part. I mean, some people will probably think that the order is important as far as how to focus their efforts, right? But really, blogging isn't that linear; each element is interchangeable.
For instance, take today's focus: Track your blogging success. Tracking is one of the most important principles for finding success online, whether it's for a blog, newsletter, or whatever. Why?
Most writers (and yes, bloggers are writers, for the most part) have an inkling of what appeals to their audience. They have hunches. Tracking your blog's success can confirm these hunches--or suggest that something isn't working the way you thought it might.
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How Can Tracking Help?
Bloggers may hear that tracking helps, but they may not know how it helps. Or they may not know which stats are important for them to track. So let's take a look at how it can help first.
Here are some ways that tracking can help:
- Tracking helps with content development. If certain subjects or topics always tend to perform at a higher level (more clicks, more unique visitors, more shares), then you know you're on to something from a content development perspective. This can help guide what content you share on your blog.
- Tracking helps with subject lines. One thing I learned with many of my posts is that I get more traffic with posts that focus on achieving goals. Is that going to work on every blog? I don't know, but by tracking performance, I do know it's more effective for my blog.
- Tracking helps with selling products/services. If you're trying to sell something (even if it's through an affiliate link), then tracking and analytics are crucial to finding success. Any time you find success selling, pay attention to what you did and try to duplicate that success. If a specific method always seems to work, continue to use that while experimenting with other methods.
What Should I Track?
This depends upon the goals you've set for your blog. Yes, you do need to set goals for your blog: Even if it's just to get more readers...or engage more readers. If you're just starting out, you probably shouldn't focus on monetizing your blog, but you can shoot for that if you have a growing audience.
At the very basic level, you should pay attention to how each blog post performs in terms of hits and unique visitors. This tracking will help you see on a post-by-post basis, which posts appeal to your readers more than other posts. As mentioned above, this can help with your content development.
If you're at the monetization level, then you'll want to track clicks and unique visitors, sure, but also sales conversions. What content drives people to buy products and services?
For all tracking, it's something that gains power over time. Look for trends in terms of successes and failures. Sometimes a random post will find a lot of success, though it typically does not; sometimes posts that usually always find success flop.
There is a randomness on a post-by-post basis at times, but trends often emerge that prove certain posts will usually find success. Don't give up on what usually works because of one bad post, and don't keep banging your head against a wall chasing success for something that never works (except for that one time).
At all times, try to use common sense and remember that you should always put your blog readers first.
Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community, which includes editing Writer’s Market and Poet’s Market. He regularly blogs at the Poetic Asides blog and writes a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine. He also leads online education, speaks on writing and publishing at events around the country, and does other fun writing-related stuff.
A published poet, he’s the author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53) and a former Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere.
Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.