Managing a Blog by Numbers? 5 Tips for a Better Way

Do you ever wish there were a better way to manage your blog? A recipe that you could follow to result in instantaneous success! Well, in business there’s a book called, Managing by the Numbers by Chuck Kremer. The book is basically a self-help guide to help business owners understand their company’s financial indicators and translate that “financial understanding into better financial performance.”

That sounds perfect, don’t you think? Why can’t we create a similar template for bloggers? If we did that, what would our indicators be? What numbers should be used to manage a blog: Google analytics, Technorati Authority number, advertising dollars generated? You could also add to this list the score you can get for your blog at Website Grader and the number of followers you have at Twitter or Facebook. And I think we’d all agree that these indicators can be important for bloggers. But they should come with a warning: Beware, managing by numbers has a dark side.

Anyone who has obsessively stepped on a scale day-in and day-out, please shout an Amen! to me here. What you weigh from day-to-day can vary and may have little to do with your diet. As a result you can become so discouraged that you derail a diet before it’s really even taken steam. The same can be true of blogging.

Have you ever felt the dizzying rush of a huge spike in traffic? You try to figure out what you did the day before to generate that buzz and you replicate it…to no avail. Try as you may, you don’t generate that kind of traffic again for awhile. You keep at it, trying this keyword here and that forum post there. You track your website traffic stats and look for signs of trends.

What is a better way to manage your blog? Here are my top 5 tips:

  1. Become Autotelic. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has written about the importance of flow in his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Csikszentmihalyi describes how autotelic people do things for the experience it provides. On the opposite extreme are exotelic people who do things not necessarily for personal fulfillment (such as joy), but to achieve a goal. Blogging for the joy of it will get you in the “flow” which is where you want to be in order to produce high-quality posts.
  2. Be Authentic. If you’ve spent any time on other blogs it’s easy to imagine that everyone has a better life. They cook spectacular meals, adore their kids, have immaculate houses, and (gulp) beautiful kitchens. (I have a problem with kitchen envy…I’m happy for people who have them, I just wish I had one too!). We all have to make the best of what we have while at the same time continually improving (I’m painting my kitchen cabinets to try to prove this point). It’s not an easy tightrope to walk and we can find ourselves with hands flailing about when we lean too far to one side. Take a deep, centering breath and know that who you are is enough.
  3. I hate squirrels

    Be Brave. Blogging requires putting yourself out there and that takes courage. You might have an idea that you want to write about but you’re nervous about how people might react. Trust me, I know how you feel. I’m a vegan and I just recently posted about my “secret” hatred of squirrels. It’s not so secret now and I worried about receiving hate mail from the millions of other vegetarians and vegans out there. People gravitate toward authenticity because there is an element of realness to it. Being yourself in person and on the page allows others to understand their humanness better as well. Your audience will appreciate you more in the end.

  4. Focus on Quality. Rather than push yourself to post on some arbitrary schedule of 5 times a week (or more), focus on producing high quality content. Rather than emphasizing key words that supposedly generate a lot of traffic, write about things that matter to you and to your target audience.  Writing takes time and you need to allow yourself time to do it well. Quality first, traffic second.
  5. Have Fun. Ask yourself this question: Why did you start your blog in the first place? Did you hope for a million hits a month? Or were you hoping to write words and/or show photos that impacted people? I started my blog to talk bout something that I feel is important: people and their names. In the meantime I’ve expanded my topics to include vegan recipes and thoughts on life…and squirrels (again with the squirrels?). Because I realize that in talking with you about names, I needed to share other parts of my life too. That helps you understand who I am and where I’m coming from. And I also find that when I’m talking with someone who is monomaniacal, it’s either boring or worrisome. I didn’t want either of those for my blog.

If you realize that lately you’ve been focusing more on the numbers than the flow of your blog, don’t beat yourself up about it. We all lose our way sometimes. Commit to taking time away from the computer living your life. But be sure to carry a little writing pad with you because once you get out amongst the living, you’ll be surprised how many blogging ideas come your way. My very best to you all!

Posted 7 years ago by Marly on Friday, May 14th, 2010 · Permalink

10 Responses to Managing a Blog by Numbers? 5 Tips for a Better Way

  1. What a great post, you should be very proud. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. You hit on so many wonderful points.

    1. I use site meter to gauge traffic and I rarely go there. I’ve realized that it doesn’t much matter to me.

    2. I started this blog only 2 months ago, as a way to indulge two of my great loves cooking and writing.

    3. Starting the blog actually lead me to an even more fulfilling endeavor which is writing for Blogcritics. I sometimes, okay most of the time, doubt how many people actually read blog posts. Or they just look at the pretty pictures. Being published on a site like BC, where writers go to write and readers REALLY read. Has been amazing.

    I could go on and on….

    Cheers!

    • I didn’t know you were on Blogcritics. I checked you out and loved your post on respect for food.

  2. Marly,
    Very helpful. I just started blogging in January, and so I feel completely unversed in this new and exciting world. I’ve been excited to watch my numbers grow, but I still find the most joy in baking and writing about what I love. Your five points of advice are excellent and have reminded me of the importance of staying grounded and following my heart. I know that it can be easy to get caught up in the blogging world (ie…numbers, numbers, numbers), but we all must remember to cultivate our inner spirits by doing things that will enrich our lives and souls. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Hey Marly, I don’t even keep a meter on my blog, nor do I keep the followers gadget or anything else that I can see. I did this intentionally, so that I would not get caught up in stuff like that. Unfortunately, blogger has an area that keeps track of followers even if you don’t put the widget on the blog.
    This is a great post. I have a problem with the ‘being afraid to say certain things’ subject. Like the way you posted about squirrel hate. I’m way too chicken to do that, but I loved that post when YOU wrote it. maybe next time I want to write about something that could be controversial, I will just do it! I’ll have someone check my writing first though to make sure it’s sincere and honest (& not too scathing-smile)…

  4. I really enjoyed this post, thanks for bringing up all those points! For me blogging is just the result of my passion for cooking, the rest I am not sure…I don’t like to talk about my personal life like some people do, I tend to be private that way. I love your no.5 point! I think it’s one of the most important.

    • I prefer having fun whenever I can. Some of my favorite teams at work were small groups of highly qualified people with great senses of humor. We did some great work together and had so much fun doing it. Sounds like that’s our goal with our blogs – continue improving and have fun at the same time!

  5. What a wonderful post Marly!

    Honestly, I started blogging because friends kept telling me that I should – advice I ignored for years before I finally decided to act on. I decided on food and things related as the focus of my blog because it’s always been close to my heart and something that makes me happy. Either that or ranting about everything that makes me unhappy LOL

    Over time I realise I have become more open and personal in my writing and it’s proven to be very fulfilling and to an extent, cathartic. Fortunately I have yet to alienate or offend anyone. I can’t agree more about the importance of being honest and mindful of quality rather than being entirely focused on crunching out x number of posts per week, no matter what, or garnering y number of hits per week/month.

    What keeps me going is how much I enjoy it and the wonderful response and interaction I get with my readers. Thanks for taking the time to think about your motivations and sharing them – your post served as a compass and a reminder as to why I started this.

    • Hi Denise
      I’m so glad to see that others of you agree with the gist of this post. I have to admit to being a teensy bit worried when I posted it. I don’t want to offend anyone either, but every now and then something comes to you that you just need to say. I have only recently visited your site but looking forward to many, many returns! Marly

  6. Thank you, Marly.

    I just started my blog in January. I get a kick out of writing abd my readership has grown, but not like some blogs I’ve heard about. I can empathize with your analogy to the bathroom scale. Yes, I’m guilty of both.

    I love the writing and the positive comments I get. That’s absolutely the best. One of my readers told me she reads the posts to her dying mother, who then shares stories of her own childhood. That gave me goosebumps.

    • Wow, that is amazing. That has to feel amazing to know that your writing is a source of comfort to others. Keeps you going when times are rough, eh?