Can You Survive Death by Statistics?

July 9, 2012 — 6 Comments

 

I’m a statistics fiend.

Whether it’s constantly checking what page I’m on in a book, how many pages I’ve read in the last hour, what location I’m reading through in my Kindle, when my character will level up in a video game, or what kind of gas mileage I’m getting during my road trip, I can obsess about statistics.

When I started blogging more regularly, I discovered a dangerous app for my iPhone and iPad.

I’m addicted

WordPress mobile.

It’s set up so that I can get instant access to the stats about my website. Some days are better than others, but I end up checking my progress at least three times a day, and often much, much more than that.

My compulsion is compounded because these aren’t just meaningless stats. Each number represents the number of people who read what I publish. It’s an instant gauge of the success I have (or don’t).

These three elements, my love of stats, the instant access through the mobile app, and the idea that the stats are meaningful, mix together to create a cocktail of compulsion that I consume copiously. (I couldn’t help myself with the alliteration!)

And now that I have my podcast, I can measure its stats too. Double the obsession!

I feel like I need to know how my blog is doing. I watch the daily and weekly trends. When there is a spike in my traffic, I try to pinpoint the cause. Just like a stock, my hope is that the long term trend is a positive slope. The goal is to have better stats this month than last month.

Check out this week by week comparison.

Weekly website stats (note. these stats reflect the data since switching to self-hosted WordPress)

That dip in week 23 was when I was in Nashville and I didn’t write as consistently. Since I got back, every week has been better than the week before.

Until this last week.

The fact that week 27 is lower than 26 kills me. It makes me wonder:

  • What did I do wrong?
  • Did I write junk that week?
  • Did I post it at a bad time?
  • Did I promote it on Twitter and Facebook during off hours?
  • Are people getting tired of my content?

In an effort to answer these questions, I go to Google Analytics. From there, I can check out even more detailed statistics like the average length of each visit, where all the traffic comes from, and what search terms bring people to my blog.

This worries me even more. For example, one of the most consistent search terms that brings traffic is “Mindbender roller coaster Edmonton Mall.” People searching for a picture of the roller coaster find it in a two-year old post I wrote about my trip to Canada.

Maybe this whole blog thing has run its course.

This morning, I read two encouraging posts that helped me stay in the saddle for another day. John Saddington and Jeff Goins have great blogs that encourage other creative types.

In John’s post, he wrote about the importance of perseverance. John explained that so many authors, musicians, and artists don’t achieve success because they quit too early.

I don’t want to be another failed blogger/writer/podcaster.

Jeff posted an article written by Jim Woods about cultivating more creative passion. He said bluntly, “Expect resistance.” Why is it that we know this, but then we are surprised when we encounter it? Do we believe that we are somehow better than others, immune to the same challenges they encounter?

I’m not implying that 70 less visits in one week on your website is significant resistance, but I do need to remember that success isn’t overnight.

The same is true in so much more than blogs. Change, success, creation, good health, and all other worthwhile things take time. All too often, we start something with great intentions, but when we don’t achieve immediate results, there’s this constant nagging voice of the Accuser that tells us we stink.

Ignore that voice.

Continue to the awesome work that God is calling you to do.

After all, if it gives you and others life, does it really matter how many email subscribers you have?

What helps you press on in what God has called you to do, even when you don’t see immediate results?

 

Austin

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I'm a pastor, writer, speaker, husband, father, and follower of Christ, to name a few titles. You can find my contact information in my About page.
  • scrhill

    The Scripture verses Romans 12:12 and Acts 20:24 and Galatians 1:10 help spur me on. Don’t let these page view numbers get you down!

    • I’ll try not to let them get me down. Thanks for the Scripture references. I love the Acts one. It’s a great goal to remember.

  • awesome man! thanks for the link! don’t stop!

    • Thanks for the encouragement, John. Thanks also for the stream of upgrading http://www.tentblogger.com to Standard 3. I hope to buy the theme soon and convert the site. It was helpful to watch you work with the theme in real time.

  • thedavro

    It’s just cuz I was out of town. Catching up now, don’t worry 🙂