Everyone who makes money telling people how to blog (and even a few who don’t) says you need to track your stats. See what posts attract the most readers. Then write more of those.
But how do you know the people giving you the advice aren’t sabotaging your success to ensure their own?
Maybe they’re like the picture of a skinny model you put on your fridge to help your diet—you think it will help but it actually dooms you to failure.
Pretending to Follow the Rules of the Pet Blogger Challenge
Ok, I’m not totally antisocial. So before I go galloping off to write the piece other challenge posts inspired me to write, I’ll show you my conventional reply to last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge questions.
And I’ll bring my own take to the questions Amy and other bloggers suggested for the hop.
I set notoriously nonspecific goals. Some wouldn’t call them goals at all. Last year I didn’t aim to raise a certain amount of revenue or target a specific number of blog readers.
I did plan to keep a record of my life with Honey, connect with like-minded people, and figure out what place blogging has in crafting a meaningful life. I’ve certainly kept the first two goals. The third is a work in progress.
But I did take a huge action that affects my blogging. I left my job as a full-time employee with a nonprofit and continued working for them as an independent consultant, setting my own hours and concentrating on the part of the job I enjoy most, home buyer education.
I’m attempting to redesign, rework, and relaunch my Hands on Home Buyer blog as a for-profit site.
And I’m wondering what’s next for Something Wagging.
I know how I could make money from it. And I can’t bring myself to do it. It’s a personal project that I don’t feel comfortable commercializing.
In money management, you always have two choices: make more money or spend less. Hosting Something Wagging This Way Comes is a cost I don’t know if I can justify as a hobby. The smart thing would be to move to a free platform, like back to WordPress.com or Blogger. Especially if I have no intention to build or monetize the blog.
But I’m struggling with the decision. I guess the budget hasn’t gotten tight enough yet. Any thoughts?
As for you, I’d challenge everyone to think about their goals and why they want to meet them. I suspect I’m not the only one looking to craft a good life. But if making a full-time income as a blogger is lurking in your mind, look carefully to see if the work you’d have to do to monetize your blog will give you the life you want to live.
You might find you lose what drew you to blogging in the first place.
Posting – Don’t Ever Stop
Last year I published 258 posts on Something Wagging plus another 10 posts as the Pet Travel contributor to A Traveler’s Library.
I post nearly every day except Sunday.
- I have a lot to say. I have far more ideas than I have time to write.
- When I post less often my stats go down (bad motivation, but there it is).
- If I stop I’ll have trouble starting again.
I have long lists of things to write. I try to break up serious posts with silly ones. But I’m rarely at a loss for what to write.
I’ve toyed with the idea of setting up a subscription service for pet (and probably other topic) bloggers where I’d send 10 to 20 potential blog posts each week for them to choose from. Interested? Let me know in the comments.
You Can Make More Money; You Can’t Make More Time
Ahh, time. We never have enough of it.
And even when we free up some hours, we fill them so quickly we don’t know where the extra time went.
It takes me about 3 hours to write a blog post. So 20 hours a week are just spent writing.
I’ve started triaging my commenting—I am more likely to leave a comment on a new blog or with someone who doesn’t have a lot of interaction yet. Comments are encouragement. And when I’m on a tight schedule, I try to be sure the people who need them the most get them.
But it also means I miss some of the interactions with people I really like. I’ve spent far too little time visiting Little Dogs on Long Leashes whose people are planning a change in life similar to one I have in mind.
I have a feeling the thoughts stirred up by this challenge will force a change, though.
I used to worry more about making the most of my time. I even spoke about it at BlogPaws last year. But I discovered that people are far more interested in increasing their stats and making money.
Worrying about making time to blog is like complaining about jury duty. It bonds us together as a community.
Back to the Skinny Model in the Bikini on the Fridge
And stats? They’re deadly.
Like Jan at the Poodle and Dog blog, I’ve found myself listed as Technorati’s #1 pet blogger without doing anything special. The next week, with lots of links and engagement, I’ve been demoted to 257.
My U.S. Alexa ranking has been below 70,000 just to skyrocket the next time I look.
And I have fewer readers than many bloggers who haven’t matched these metrics. Which demonstrates how worthless they are.
Stats are important if you need to justify rates to advertisers. If you sell your site, an investor will want to know about them. And if you’re changing your content to capture the most page views or lowest bounce rate, then yes, load up Google Analytics and start analyzing.
But stats just make me feel bad.
When I get 1500 hits for a funny post, I feel bad that it drew lots of people for a peek but few stuck around. Or I wonder why posts from 2011 did better than anything I wrote in 2012. Am I slipping?
See? There’s no way I can ever be made happy by looking at stats. And I’m starting to see the people who advise us how to track our stats as like the fashion and weight loss companies that thrive when we’re dissatisfied with ourselves.
But I appreciate the comments from thoughtful readers. The comments are often better than the original post. And sometimes they spur a new discussion on another blog. That’s fun.
If stats are the skinny model on the fridge that makes you wallow in chocolate, smart comments are the supportive friend who joins you on a walk.
A Little Help, Please?
Amy urged us to ask for help from other bloggers. I have a weird question I’ve never known anyone else to ask.
I’m a big fan of the Creative Commons. Knowledge should be free. And I’m happy to have my content posted anywhere with a link back here.
But I occasionally have content scraped.
If a fellow pet blogger or finance blogger republishes any of my articles with a link back to me, I’m fine with it. But when my content shows up on a commercial site for unknown purposes I get steamed.
What do you think? Does using the creative commons license mean any uses of my content are legitimate as long as they attribute the original source (some do; some don’t)? Or is it reasonable to distinguish between other bloggers using my content and commercial sites loading up free content for their own purposes?
Okay, back to the challenge at hand.
Finding My Tribe
If collecting stats dissatisfies me and I dislike turning the focus of Something Wagging to making money, where am I going in 2013?
I think it’s time to reconnect with my tribe.
Some of my friends are finding the term “pet blogger” too narrow for their current interests. They are drifting off into other pursuits. And, as I’ve read their statements about moving on, I’ve questioned myself—asked if I was thinking too small.
But I have more to learn about the human canine bond. And more that I want to write on the subject.
My dogs have done for me the most profound thing one creature can do for another. And no, the story is too personal to talk about. Maybe I’ll save it for my last blog post.
So for now, I’ll work harder at being an authentic and generous person in every area of my life, not the least of which is blogging about dogs.
And if I pursue that goal in 2013, I’ll be successful. No matter what the stats say.
If you made it this far, congratulations! And thank you, Amy, for pulling this diverse group of people together on such an interesting project.