Five Reasons Why Stats Don’t Matter and You Shouldn’t Care

28 February, 2013 Musing Musers 69 comments

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Image by tiberiunedelea.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about book blogger jealousy, competitiveness, bitchiness etc.  Parajunkee did a great and helpful post on How to Grade Your Blog.  It’s a great post because it provides invaluable advice on how to gauge your success.  But it also reminded why the whole thing is bullshit and how much of your time can be chewed up worrying about stats and figures.

My basic philosophy is that I am grateful if two people follow me and one of them is my Dad.  My mom doesn’t read my blog but she reads Smart Bitches Trashy Books which means, you’re on my shit list Sarah.

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But I understand the kind of fame that comes from two regular readers isn’t enough for most bloggers.  You’re passionate and enthusiastic.  You want to succeed and do well.  I understand.  That’s why I’m so attracted to you.

Thing is, becoming a successful blogger is like transforming yourself into a magical unicorn through the process of consuming pure alcohol and shitting rainbows – which is amazingly painful because rainbows are a bitch to shit.  Not that I’m speaking from particular personal experience or anything.  But what I’m saying is that it’s hard and somewhat rare for a blog to get really big, but it also may not really be worth it unless you particularly like destroying your liver and having a more intimate relationship with a colour spectrum than most are comfortable with.

What I’m trying to say is that I’ve been there.  I’ve sat down each day to check pageviews and obsess over why some days were better than others.  I’ve pumped out content after content with the hope that something will hit.  Through a variety of experiences, I want to impart the sacred, mystical knowledge that this process is complete bullshit, it’s probably not good for you and it’s probably not good for your blog.  Here’s why:

1. Pageviews are crazy and you can’t actually control them

Pageviews are like a tumultuous, unhealthy relationship.  You know it’s not right to keep coming back to it.  You know some days it’s going to leave you emotionally drained and exhausting.  Yet you still do. And now, my friend, is the hard part.  If this is what life is like for you, if you feel emotionally drained and exhausted tracking your pageviews from day to day then it’s time for a change.

Break up with your pageviews.

At the end of the day, you never really can know what’s going to be a hit and what’s not.  Sometimes Steph and I are like, “Shit!  We have this awesome ARC!  Everyone’s going to want a piece of this!” and it gets almost no entries.  Other times we’re like, “Let’s give a random box of shit away on the blog.  You know, all the books we weren’t even interested in reading.” And ALL THE PEOPLE will enter.  We’re left scratching our heads in utter confusion.  Same for a response to articles.   You can’t MAKE people come to your page.  You can’t make them sit up and take control of your brilliant blog with your fantastic content.  You can’t make all your hard work translate into an audience.  The sooner you come to grips with the fact that you can’t really control pageviews – only nudge it one way or the other, the better off you’ll be.

2. You’ll probably end up pushing people away

So you go on a date with this great guy.  He seems really sweet, he gets your sense of humour, he makes you laugh, and you think you might want to meet up with him again.  But then he does something weird.  He keeps asking if you like him, or is there some way you would like him more.  Could he be different?  Should he do his hair in a different way? Would that make you like him better?  “I like you just the way you are!  Relax!” you say, but it’s not enough.  He texts you, reminding you to check out his facebook page because he posted something funny. “I was going to,” you text back.  “Just… later, okay?” He’s weirding you out.  You like him, you just want him to play it cool a little.  Get out of your face, stop asking for that validation.  Eventually, you’re sick of being pestered and feeling like you have to bolster someone else’s ego for them to make it through the day so you break up with him and get on with your life.

See some parallels?  Of course it’s hard when you’re not getting hits or comments on a review or article.  We’ve all been there.  And you’re putting your heart and soul out there.  You want to know that someone is at least watching and appreciating your effort.

Resisting the urge to fixate on pageviews gives you a chance to back up and judge success by different means.

3. What is popular is not always your best work

So you’ve decided to follow my sage advice and give up an obsession with pageviews.  That used to be how you measure if a post is successful.  But think about the logic there.

More views = A better post.

More comments = a better post.

But this is not what actually happens.  Particularly with pageviews.  Pageviews doesn’t measure quality.  It measures the interest people had in the topic/book etc.  Comments is the same thing.  A better review might get more comments but this is, once again, not indicative.  There’s a lot of reason that people may not read or comment on a review based on quality.

They may have been interested in the subject based on a tweet or a couple of lines, but then get bored or lose interest due to poor quality, meaning they’re less likely to return in future.  Even if they see something else that sparks their interest.  They’ve lost faith and it’s harder to pull them back in and get those return visits.

But consider this – if you stop caring about pageviews and instead focus on improving your writing, technique, honing your style – then consider that people who are not otherwise that interested in the book/topic, may be more inclined to check it out if they have come to expect a level of good quality content.

Then you can start learning how to phrase titles and intros that catch people’s attention and reel them in.

4. They won’t love you for you

Love is fickle.  Popularity can’t be guaranteed.  Public opinion can be a bitch.  The bigger you get, the more pressure is on.  Think about that.  One wrong move, one stupid thing said and suddenly the tide is against you, and what can you do?

There’s no such thing as universal love.  Ah!  Tough truths!  Think about that mystical unicorn you want to become.  There’s going to be people who disapprove of your liquor habits and the distraction your rainbow excrement causes to small children and animals.  “But I’m a magical fucking unicorn!” you scream.  “Can’t you just love how fabulous I am?” Nope.

No matter how magical you are.  And, I mean, you ARE magical.  Never doubt it.

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All I’m saying is, consider if it’s even worth it.  It’s okay to want to be loved.  But not to be loved by everyone, because that will never happen.  So why don’t you just aim to impress the people who already love you, and let more come to you at their own pace?

5. It doesn’t change anything

Life does not get better, happier, more fulfilling.  You’re chasing 300 pageviews a day, then six hundred, then a thousand, then 1800 then 2500.  No matter how many pageviews you’re chasing now, if you don’t stop chasing them then you never will.  There will never be enough.  You won’t get to a point where you decide, “Yeah… now I’m successful.” You’ll always be looking for more.  Higher stats, more comments, more entries to your giveaway, a stronger social media presence.  It doesn’t end.  We get around 1,800 pageviews a day but we stopped caring a long time ago.  Sometimes we’ll have a week where we get over 2,000 every day.  Other weeks will be closer to 1,500.  But when you don’t care, then those down weeks don’t affect you.  And if you keep on just doing what you’re doing then your pageviews will probably go up without your assistance.

Getting lots of pageviews doesn’t suddenly make you a better blogger, or more respected.  It just means people say less shit to your face.  It may get you a few more ARCs but I can assure you that those ARCs start to weigh you down.  It doesn’t make life easier, it doesn’t make you more satisfied.  The need for recognition becomes a bottomless pit that you can’t fill. So why bother?

In the end, even if you become a successful blogger, this really doesn’t translate in the real world.  “I’m famous on the internet” is not a line you want to break out at a party, unless you want to be severely embarrassed, I assure you.  Whether you get 5,000 pageviews a day or five, you’ll still be that weirdo that spends waaaaaay too much time on the internet.  And the truth is, that’s okay, because you’re OUR weirdo and we love you.  But any dream life you’re imaging comes with becoming a successful blogger is just probably not going to happen.

Ultimately, just remember that this is supposed to be fun.  It’s supposed to be about connecting and sharing and experiencing other book lovers.  Recognize your inner unicorn.  Even if nobody else does.  You’re fabulous.  Your contributions are.  There’s no need to go flashing your magical unicorn around in a way that’s every bit as sleazy and illegal as that sounded now that I see it written out like that.  If you still want to, fine.  You shouldn’t let anyone else dictate who and what you want to be.  But just remember that drunk unicorns are simply not as fun as you would expect.

Capture

 

Kat Kennedy

Kat Kennedy

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
Kat Kennedy is a book reviewer and aspiring author in the Young Adult genre. She reviews critically but humorously and get super excited about great books. Find her on GoodReads.
Kat Kennedy
@MagicoMonte I saw. Lol. Looks horrendous! @Sailor_Stephie - 9 hours ago
Kat Kennedy
Kat Kennedy

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69 Responses to “Five Reasons Why Stats Don’t Matter and You Shouldn’t Care”

  1. cynicalsapphire

    Oh, Kat, can I just say how much I love you? Doesn’t matter if you say I can’t, because you CAN’T STOP ME. But I will say it through a hot Asian man, since that might be more pleasant: http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lbser9R5gB1qenwoao1_400.gif
    I saw Parajunkee’s post and it was definitely interesting, but it also immediately made me really sad and down on myself. Everyone moves at their own pace, and so it’s pretty disheartening to see that based on the time I’ve put in I should be in one category, but I’m still in just the second level. Well fuck me.
    My Dad doesn’t follow me (probably doesn’t know how), but he likes to watch my book haul vlogs. lol. So weird. I know my grandma reads it too, which is vaguely uncomfortable, but I’m going for a honeybadger don’t care approach.
    I need to break up with my pageviews, you’re right. Sometimes I manage to leave for a couple of days, but then I just can’t help it. I have to go back to them. They give and take self-worth like nothing else in the world.
    That blind date thing is why I try not to tweet about posts much. I’m sure it lowers my pageviews, but I also don’t want to be that person who’s always like PLEASE COMMENT ON MY BLOG I NEED FREE BOOKS FROM PUBLISHERS. A little bit of marketing is necessary, but I like to keep it to the bare minimum.
    Truth. I have a few reviews of mine that I really love, but they rarely get a ton of comments. One review will get two comments and the next twenty for no discernible reason. Well, adult books generally get screwed because most people don’t care. Discussion posts get way more attention than reviews. I know that Cover Snark is my most popular thing, but it doesn’t get the most comments usually, because it’s a bitch to comment on. It brings out the lurkers.
    This is all lovely, dear, but I REALLY want to check my pageviews and I wasn’t thinking about it before. Damn it. lol. Oh well.

    • KatKennedy

      cynicalsapphire I love you too.  I really, really love you.  And I get the Cover Snark thing.  BWN is a freakin’ killer.  I always want to cry while writing it.

  2. Dana33

    This is great advice! It is easy to get jealous of the bigger bloggers out there who have hundreds or thousands of followers. Who show all their awesome ARCs that you are dying to read. But I want blogging to be fun and when I add review books to the mix it starts to feel like school work. I’m going to tweet this because it is so dead on AND it made me laugh. I don’t want to be a drunk unicorn! 

    Dana

    • KatKennedy

      Dana33 I try to get people’s approval before flashing my ARC’s around – and never in front of children.

  3. Nuzaifa @ Say It With Books

    Ah I needed this today-It is sooo easy to forget that I began doing this for fun!Awesome post,Kat!
    Pageviews don’t matter.Pageviews don’t matter.Pageviews don’t matter.Pageviews don’t matter.Pageviews don’t matter.
    Maybe if I say it enough I’ll be able to keep myself from checking it everyday.

    • KatKennedy

      Nuzaifa @ Say It With Books Keep telling it to yourself!  Keep up the mantra!

  4. Midnyte Reader

    omg, I love this.  I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from laughing b/c I’m at work.  Also, can we get this printed on a t-shirt (pleeeeeeaaaase)?: But I’m a magical fuckin’ unicorn.  Can’t you just love how fabulous I am?”

    • KatKennedy

      Midnyte Reader I don’t know if it’s all going to fit on a T-Shirt though.  Well, not unless I start eating a shitload of McDonalds…

  5. Jennifer @ The Bawdy Book Blog

    Kat, I love your outer cynic. I could care less about page views myself. And you’re right, the ARCs do with on you, it’s like there is an obligation to review them, and that’s a lot of pressure, especially when you are a single person blog. It’s one reason I took on a second reviewer.

    • KatKennedy

      Jennifer @ The Bawdy Book Blog You and I should just get over the preliminaries and have babies together or something.

      • sazbah

        KatKennedy @Jennifer @ The Bawdy Book Blog these babies would be too awesome for the world to handle. Quite possibly you’d have to send them away to another planet or the Earth would implode from the weight of their awesome. NOW GO! PROCREATE!
        *waits*
        *stares*
        Err… Hang on, maybe I should give you some privacy… *wanders off*

  6. NatalieAguirre

    Great post. I never really thought about page views until I read a book about Writer’s Platform that talked about analyzing your blog that way. I really have focused on comments and trying to increase those. You’re so right though that people are fickle and sometimes a book you love is just not that popular with others. I do want our blog to grow (and it has–2000 new followers in the 2 years I’ve been blogging with Casey), but there is only so much time I can spend reading blogs and being a blogger friend to make that happen. You’re right to focus on the fun of it.
    I am trying to get more ARCs and it seems like you have to prove yourselves by the numbers to get them. And agree to get a lot of unsolicited books and ARCs that I can’t always promote. That’s something I don’t like about the numbers game. Thanks for posting this. As an aspiring middle grade and fantasy author and blogger, it’s been things on my mind lately.

    • KatKennedy

      NatalieAguirre Getting ARCs is like a magical formula that no one can agree on but seems to work somehow.  I still can’t tell you how we started getting ARCs.  Surely the ritual baby sacrifice helped at some point.

  7. livin_thru_arts

    I have a hard trouble believing how a blog that posts everyday and has quite basic reviews (say, three/four paragraphs of three sentences each) with poor writing having thousands of followers, and then I look at my own reviews and feel that I’m putting much more energy and effort into them than I really need to. I know it’s how I write and how I enjoy writing my reviews, but I wish more people viewed them, commented on them, not just for the posting but because of my effort. Well, now that I think about it, that thousand+ follower blog doesn’t really get any comments…
    I just want to also say: f*** GFC! … with <3 from wordpress user.
    Great post, Kit Kat.

    • sazbah

      @livin_thru_arts *cackles* I’m a WP user WITH GFC. I AM GEMIUS OF THE WORLDS.
      Sometimes I kid of think I’m clinging to it like a safety blanket, and it’s doing me more harm than good. You know, the safety blanket that sits in your bed, picking up germs? EW.

  8. aprilmom00
    Twitter:

    OMG so true when I was on vacation …I didn’t care about the blog at all or pageviews and it was so freeing. Yes I need not to look at the stats so much . 
    golf claps in agreement and agrees about unicorns 🙂 Rock on

  9. Wendy Darling
    Twitter:

    I think awareness of your blog stats is healthy, particularly with an aim towards understanding why a you may or may not have success with ARC approvals, etc., which is why I think Parajunkee’s post is so helpful. So many bloggers have expressed disappointment and frustration with the process that I think it’s good to get a realistic picture of how yours fits into the big picture.

    But people definitely take this overboard, and part of the reason why I appreciate you guys is that you aren’t insanely focused on quantity over quality. Bloggers start losing their way when they start focusing too much on keeping up with the Joneses, and everyone–from the books to the blogs to the bloggers’ peace of mind to the blog readers–loses out by that.

    Great post, Kat. Though I know you’re sitting behind that screen
    cackling at people falling for this “there, there, page views don’t
    matter” as you and Steph charge towards world domination.

    • KatKennedy

      Wendy Darling I absolutely agree that PJ’s post is very helpful.  And I think an overall awareness is fine.  I just see a lot of bloggers and hear them freaking the hell out over pageviews and I like to encourage a healthy system of entropy as much as anyone else.  So I thought I’d help the cause, so to speak.

  10. AnimeGirlAlex

    I’m kind of just happy that I get to talk to a couple of people every day about books, that’s pretty awesome. 
    I have let go of the whole grade your blog, SEO stuff, because it just gives me a headache.

  11. Kate C.

    This post is valuable for authors, too.  If you replace the word blogger with writer, blog with book and pageview with sales… it’s directly applicable.  Kindleboards are full of authors who get down on themselves for lack of sales and it always makes me sad.  🙁
    When you do the book writing/selling thing as an indie, it is even more obvious how much you sell or don’t sell in a month.  There are people who check their sales (or reviews) literally 10 times a day and it isn’t healthy or good for their spirits.  Sales go up and down.  Personally, my sales tanked over January (but I’ve been doing this long enough that I know when the good and bad months are).  It’s an ebb and flow and I wish more authors realized that instead of taking it so seriously.
    Fantastic post.  It really resonated with me.  🙂

    • KatKennedy

      Kate C. So true.  I always feel sad when I see authors freaking out of sales.  I know why they do – but it just looks painful to go through!

  12. Cecelia

    Love this post.  Your voice is funny and I appreciate your ‘talking us off the cliff’ of page view dependence.  That said, I went over to Parajunkee’s post and found it equally interesting and useful.  It reminds me of work – the marketing department versus the content creators.  Each is right in their own way, and different approaches will appeal to different bloggers depending on their blogging style, goals, and overall outlook.  
    Thanks for sharing, and for entertaining us all while you did.  I especially liked the ‘famous on the internet!’ party line – I know how *that* goes down.  *grin*

    • KatKennedy

      @Cecelia PJ is fantastic.  I did not at all mean this post to be any disrespect to her.  That post was insightful, easy to read and helpful.  Bloggers who want to make it big should probably read her post and then bow down at her feet.  I just want to encourage other bloggers to embrace their lazy, diffident side if they’re finding the pressure of pageviews to be too much.

  13. kimbacaffeinated

    Brilliant post, and so gosh darn true! Blog because you love to do it, and  everything else will come. I am not in this to make money, I kept track of all those stats when I worked at the bank..what I want to do is share my love of books. Is my blog perfect? Nope!  Does my writing improve daily?..Yep! Do I tweet, and post all over the blogosphere that I posted today..heck yes. Do I worry how many page views I have received?.Nope. I am happy, and delighted if one person says…I think I might like this book, author etc..it’s Nirvana 🙂

    • KatKennedy

      kimbacaffeinated Excellent comment!  I agree. This isn’t supposed to be work!  It’s SUPPOSED to be a hobby!

  14. Nemo
    Twitter:

    It’s easy to be jealous of fancy blogs that write poor reviews that basically summarise the novel or only write praise, and then giveaway that novel, so that every frickin post is a giveaway, and they have thousands of followers. I’m happy where I am. If you’re not focusing on free books, as only every new book blogger is advised against, then blogging can remain an enjoyable experience because who gives a crap about page views? Just have fun with it.

    • KatKennedy

      @Nemo I think the thing to remember is, they probably got bit – not by blogging, but by networking the fuck out of everyone.  I don’t have time for networking.  Only for sweet, sweet lovings.

    • KatKennedy

      @Nemo I think the thing to remember is, they probably got bit – not by blogging, but by networking the fuck out of everyone.  I don’t have time for networking.  Only for sweet, sweet lovings.

  15. sazbah

    Ahahaha! “My mom doesn’t read my blog but she reads Smart Bitches Trashy Books which means, you’re on my shit list Sarah.” THIS. My mum apparently *does* read my blog. But. She rarely comments. She DOES, however, comment on my cousin’s. NOT FAIR.

    KAT. YOU ARE WIIIIISE: “The need for recognition becomes a bottomless pit that you can’t fill.” YES.
    But I would totally think you were awesome if you told me ,“I’m famous on the internet.” I’d just google to varify, first.

    • KatKennedy

      sazbah You’re my friend.  OF COURSE you’re easily impressed!  And what is it with mum’s?  Aren’t they supposed to be the supportive ones.

  16. RadiantShadowss

    I love this post – it’s exactly why I’m happy that I don’t have a GFC widget on my blog anymore! There’s much less pressure to “perform” when I don’t have numbers shoved in my face every time I see my blog.
    It also reminded me of this…
    <a href=””><img src=”http://i.imgur.com/Cm0a9kz.jpg”></a>

  17. RadiantShadowss

    I love this post – it’s exactly why I’m happy that I don’t have a GFC widget on my blog anymore! There’s much less pressure to “perform” when I don’t have numbers shoved in my face every time I see my blog.
    It also reminded me of this…
    http://i.imgur.com/Cm0a9kz.jpg

  18. SnugRainbows

    This post seriously made my night. I need to heed your advice and stop caring about pageviews like yesterday! Awesome post.

  19. SnugRainbows

    This post seriously made my night. I need to heed your advice and stop caring about pageviews like yesterday! Awesome post.

  20. Danny_Bookworm

    Hach, perfect post girl! I’m getting there! At first I stopped caring about subscriber numbers. They didn’t make sense anyway, then I looked up my Pageviews every day – constantly! Yes, having an iPhone app is not helping here. Now, I check them less often and I actually feel better…

  21. Bookish_Belle

    Great post! You’re right, it’s so easy to lose sight of what’s important – having fun!

  22. MaijaSteinbrika

    Great post! It’s interesting and you have really honest opinions and advices, thank you ;)I track my pageviews, but I don’t take them seriously, bacuse it’s not important how many views I get for either post, I’m just curious about my visitors and where are they from.Interesting

    • KatKennedy

      MaijaSteinbrika I find pageviews tedious and the quest for an ever-growing blog exhausting.

      • MaijaSteinbrika

        KatKennedy I wouldn’t say that I’m on a quest for an ever growing blog, I just find it interesting to be a blogger and share opinions with the readers.
        It’s not like I have a lot of people to talk to about books, my friends don’t really understand how I can sit in a room and read for hours. But if I could talk to my blog readers who share my obssession, it just seems nice 🙂

  23. Ivana

    Great post, as always. Those stats are wicked. Sometimes I look at the numbers, thinking, “hey, this post did fairly well as far as views go.” And then there’s not a single comment on the post and I just want to die.

  24. tripsis

    LOVE this post!  I definitely do check out my page views now and then but I seriously try not to. 😛  I completely love what you’re saying though.  If you get stuck on page views (or follower numbers, etc.), there will never be a point where you’re “satisfied”.  You’ll always be aiming for a higher number.

  25. Kristilyn

    This is an awesome post! There have been times where I’ve checked my page views HOURLY, but as of late I really haven’t done it … and it feels great! It feels nice to not worry about it. And I love ALL MY FOLLOWERS. I may not have a lot, but the ones I have are awesome and dedicated and they make me happy.

  26. Mel @ thedailyprophecy

    I love this post! I’m not lying when I say that I don’t look at my page views.I do look at my follower numbers sometimes and I sometimes think too much about comments on the blog, but I always try to remember why I started to blog in the first place. I just love to talk about books and I want to share my thoughts about it. So if you get one comment, that is at least one person who read it and who took the time to say something about it. It’s always more than no one :p

  27. katlb82

    Fab post!  I haven’t checked my pageviews in a long time – I just don’t need that kind of pressure.  If people love your content, even if it’s only a handful, that’s the important thing, and it feels way better than knowing that hundreds of people are just opening your blog, getting bored and wandering off again!  After all, drinking should be for fun, right? 😉

  28. PARAFANTASY

    Is it weird that I never check page views and am kind of surprised how much other people seem to be checking them? The numbers are so random and sporadic I just consider it a waste of time. Awhile ago I had a good laugh when I went to see my stats on blogger (not a post’s stats, just stats in general) and saw that the posts with the highest # of page views from all time are were pretty darn random. People would search for a random keyword on google and end up on this particular post on my blog. Another was this viral post I wrote on the controversial with a ghost writer who replaced an author I loved. None were my actual every daily bookish ramblings. Now follower stats I can understand because they’re kind of in your face. But page views, I honestly just don’t get the appeal. Awesome post Kat!

  29. The Fiction Conniption

    “Whether you get 5,000 pageviews a day or five, you’ll still be that weirdo that spends waaaaaay too much time on the internet.  And the truth is, that’s okay, because you’re OUR weirdo and we love you.” 
    I feel like I just want to frame this and put it over my bed or something. This was a really great article, and a really refreshing point of view too!

  30. The Bookwyrms Hoard

    Fantastic post!  I confess, I’ve been guilty of the whole focusing-on-pageviews thing at times.  But you’re absolutely right; I can’t control them, so I shouldn’t let them control me.  Sound advice and something I really need to take to heart.  Thank you for helping to put why I do this back into perspective.

  31. Rachel_Blaufeld

    I love this post. Ok, I actually adore it.  It is so hard to get caught up in the stats however, in my opinion, it is the ‘real’ interactions going on behind the scenes that matters – for example, the people that reach out to you in email/private messaging and start to form a relationship with YOU – they may ask for book recs based on their pref or in my case say they used a product I recommended and loved it.  They may ask my advice on a family trip or my opinion on making a lifestyle change – either way, I know they connect with me and engage with my writing and want more.  This is the part that PR people do not get – at all.

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