Visitor statistics

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Harry Marks, in his post Quality over Quantity:

It’s difficult to pull yourself away from the feeling that you need to be posting more and doing everything you can to keep numbers up, but when it comes right down to it, it’s all about who is paying attention to your work, not how many.

I stopped obsessing over visitor statistics shortly after the migration from the old Quillink Observer to this website+blog. I admit to having been a website stats addict up to 2011, and I admit that in the past I often associated quantity with relevance. And the feeling Marks talks about — I know that very well.

Of one thing I’m sure, though. Ever since I started writing online (2001) and maintaining a blog rather regularly (2005), visitor statistics never influenced the choice of content or the frequency I posted. There was a time when I genuinely thought that posting quick links to interesting stuff I find while browsing my feeds and the Web was a way to ‘keep the site fresh’ and maintain interest, but that didn’t improve or worsen the status quo. I’ve just been keeping my pace and following my rules — which are quite simple: to write and publish articles only when I have something to say; to favour longish, original pieces instead of quick link-posts with a line (or a word) of commentary; to let my followers on Twitter and App.net know when I’ve published a new article without insisting or shoving it down their throats, so to speak.

Over time, I’ve learnt to overcome my insecurities about ‘relevance’. I’ve learnt that there are people out there who value my opinion and who are willing to listen to what I have to say. I’ve learnt to appreciate that having ‘only’ 80 visits in a day is fine when one of those 80 gets in touch with me via Twitter, App.net or email to tell me that he or she has liked my article.

Meanwhile, what I’ve been doing with those visitor stats is to try to figure out a way to use them as behavioural indicators. One thing I’ve noticed is that readers can be a fickle bunch, no matter the quality one offers in a blog. In the past I’ve had some well-known and respected guys link to a few articles of mine that got their attention. The increase in traffic was substantial (and even if I don’t care much about numbers, I’d lie if I said that I didn’t feel good about the increased attention), but it pretty much reverted to its usual standards in a day or two. The image above sums this up pretty well.

While I still find a bit depressing that a lot of people, after discovering my blog in such a way, don’t stick around, my attitude has changed pretty much over time. Once I would have thought It’s my fault, I’m not interesting enough. Now my reaction is more like Hey, this is me, this is what I write about; I strive to provide good quality and well written pieces. You won’t return? Your loss. It’s not arrogance. I’ve been writing (in two languages) for so long I know what I’m capable of. And over time I’ve received enough appreciation to give me the additional boost to further strengthen my resolve to keep on writing, here and elsewhere.

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About Riccardo Mori

Writer. Translator. Mac consultant. Enthusiast photographer. • If you like what I write, please consider supporting my writing by purchasing my short stories, Minigrooves or by making a donation. Thank you!