Forget Your Blog Stats and Just Write!

Reality check: My blog readership has plateaued. The number of my monthly visitors has been relatively flat for the past few months. For someone whose primary strength is “achiever,” this is a bitter pill to swallow. I immediately think, What am I doing wrong?

Magnifying Glass on Top of Statistics - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/123render, Image #11435957

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/123render

The truth is that I like starting things. I like growing things. I do not like maintaining things. It’s just how I am wired. If the numbers aren’t moving in a positive direction, I get frustrated and can lose interest.

Frankly, this has forced me to re-evaluate why I am blogging. In the past, I have said, that I blog for five reasons:

  1. To raise my organization’s visibility
  2. To articulate my organization’s vision
  3. To network with people who can help me
  4. To be alert to what my constituents are saying
  5. To mentor the next generation of leaders

However, the more I have thought about this, I have concluded that these are really the benefits of blogging, not the reason.

I blog is in order to clarify my thinking and archive my best ideas. In short, I blog for me. (But you are welcome to read along!)

It shouldn’t make any difference whether I have ten readers or 100,000. “Thoughts disentangle themselves over the lips and through fingertips.” If I am writing, I am achieving greater clarity about my life, my work, and what matters most. That’s enough. And more than most people have.

Periodically, I am tempted to quit blogging altogether. But to do so would be to give in to what Steven Pressfield calls the Resistance. Reconnecting with my blogging purpose has re-energized me.

For now, I’m going to ignore my blog statistics and just write. If I do that consistently, I will accomplish my purpose, whether or not my audience is growing.

Questions: What is your purpose for blogging? If you have trouble being consistent, why do you think that is?
Want to launch your own blog or upgrade to self-hosted WordPress? Watch my free, twenty-minute screencast. I show you exactly how to do it. You don’t need any technical knowledge. Click here to get started.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • http://katdish.net katdish

    Blogging is a discipline for me. I used to post only when I felt like it, but now I post daily. It challenges me to write regularly and write well. I do write for myself, but I very much appreciate the audience. I rarely check my analytics, but when I do, I’m always amused at the keyword searches that land folks on my blog including “Jesus beach buckets”, “Francis Chan throws chicken”, “revoke my mancard” and “gods and cats used for sharkbait”. Apparently, my blog attracts a diverse audience…

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Those are hilarious search terms!

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/kaikunane ThatGuyKC

    Michael,
    I'm so glad you haven't given in and are continuing to write. I blog for much the same reason as you, but confess to getting a mild "writer's high" when I see a spike in readership or getting a bit down when it is low. I do write for myself and enjoy the physical process of writing or typing all on it's own.

    Thank you for inspiring and setting an example for aspiring leaders and writers.
    -KC

  • Jane Smolen

    Hi Mike,
    I am new to your readership and enjoy your blogs, so keep it up! (I apply the leadership ideas in my parenting)
    I have a blog and write occasionally. I determined when I started that it would be my journal, my space to write things that may or may not matter to anyone else. Sometimes people read the blog, but mostly not. However, it is not the means of my best self expression. That is why I am not consistent. I am a musician who is able to express myself more fully through music, and when I can't, I blog.
    I, like you, tend to work things out while I type, sort of a thinking aloud without talking. I like the ability to have conversations with myself, and yet allow someone to banter in if they'd like.
    It's all a matter of parameters, and what the expectation and need is.
    Keep up your good work!
    Sincerely,
    Jane S

  • http://www.therextras.com BarbaraBoucher PTPhD

    A good message for me right about now, too. I recently posted on 'why I blog' – after some inspiration from you on twitter. Wanting to have loftier reasons, I must acknowledge my own benefit from blogging – but am also believing blogging in my life is not by coincidence. God uses blogging to teach me as well as others. I often have not known the reason for my work – and in hindsight sometimes it becomes clear. Blogging gives me a clear look behind me.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Good point. It’s a great way to process the past, so you can get on with the present and the future.

  • http://untamedartist.com Gabriel Anton

    Truly insightful post Michael . . . I couldn’t agree more.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/peoplebuilder Gary R. Collins

    Michael, thanks for your honesty. For 390 weeks, so far, I have been writing a weekly newsletter. This week we are linking it to a new blog (http://peoplebuilder.wordpress.com). When we were making these changes a few weeks ago one of my friends asked why I kept writing this letter. I was surprised at the speed of my response: I said, "I'm writing it for me. I hope other people will read it but primarily I write as a way for me to summarize and synthesize my diverse reading. It's a way to record what I learn from travel or speaking, an opportunity to pull together what I keep learning from my frequent meetings and hanging out with people who are not like me." Maybe the best blogs are written by people who write to pull together their thinking. If blog readers can benefit from this and make responses that's an added plus. If nobody responds the writing is still worthwhile. So please keep writing for Michael – for you, ignoring the stats, and letting the rest of us look over your shoulder.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Wow. Talk about synchronicity. I am encouraged to hear that I am not alone in my perspective.

      By the way, I appreciate all you have done in your field. I am a fan!

  • http://www.amyeslater.com Amy

    Thank you. I almost gave up blogging this past weekend. I, too, must reconnect with my purpose. Your words have been an encouragement to me today.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Good, I’m glad they were encouraging. Don’t quit!

  • http://elainaavalos.blogspot.com Elaina Avalos

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. It's encouraging to hear your perspective. There are times when I struggle with being consistent and when I consider giving it up. I tend to get bogged down when I see how well others, who've had blogs for significantly less time than I have, have created thriving communities online and have large readerships. That's when I remind myself why I started doing this in 2004 in the first place. To write. To express myself. For the pure enjoyment of doing so whether anyone saw it or not. When I remember that, my joy in doing it returns.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/MichaelSGray MichaelSGray

    You hit the nail on the head. For me, blogging is the best way to bring a greater clarity to my thoughts, especially when I get pushback from readers and have to refine or reinforce my views on an issue.

    I came across a William Faulkner quote recently (it might have been one of the quotes in your sidebar, actually) that really illustrates how I am when it comes to writing:

    "I never know what I think about something until I read what I've written on it."

  • http://reenajacobs.com/blog/ Reena Jacobs

    I have to admit, I'm a lot like you. I love starting projects, but have to push myself to finish them. I started blogging at the beginning of the year. Why? Because I registered a domain to build my web present and realized I could add a blog also. I'm not going to lie, my head swells a little when I see more followers or activity on my blog/website. But what I like most about having my own blog/website is that it's my own little plot of land. I get to talk about the things I like/dislike and what I'm doing. It's all about ME ME ME! I can totally relate to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XHkMPA1334

  • http://www.l-dwag.blogspot.com Larissa

    E. M. Forster said "I dont know what I think until I see what I say."
    Writing is a personal experience that forces me to put words to feelings, and structure/design to thoughts. It allows me to build bridges and make connections that I can not do internally without a keyboard and word document. Writing shows me what I am thinking and then proppels me to take the next steps forward based on these thoughts. There is something genuine about reading writing that is written for ones' self, as opposed to writing in a desperate attempt to attract the masses, and make the numbers. It is pushing through these various forms of Resistance to find the pearls hodding in a various oysters strewn across the ocean's floor.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I love that Forster quote. Excellent!

  • http://twitter.com/SteveBorgman @SteveBorgman

    I don't know. I think there needs to be a both/and approach. My right brain agrees with you about the overarching purposes of blogging, and I am a definite right brainer. But my left-brained friends have taught me the value of testing and search engine marketing, so that what we are saying can be heard by the maximum number of interested prospects. So I think both are important.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Yea, I am sure I will check my stats from time to time. I just don’t want to be driven by them. Thanks.

  • Mark Robinson

    I’ve read your blog for awhile now and would consider myself one of those people that you are mentoring. Thank you for taking the time to share your insights and inspire me to be a better leader.

  • http://theleaderlab.org davidburkus

    Ha. I'm at the same plateau. Well, not the same. My stats are far lower. But still, I write because I love to do it.

  • http://sunshines-view.blogspot.com/ Tiffany Cox

    Don't you dare quit blogging…I look forward to them daily! I am a life who's been changed through your thoughts disentangle themselves through your fingertips. (love that quote!) Keep up the great work and know you are impacting others because I impact others as a direct result from your blog.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Tiffany. I really appreciate the encouragement.

  • http://www.reachinghurtingwomen.com Tamara Mapp

    Since I'm in the beginning stages of my ministry and my blog roll is very small; it's easy to be discouraged about the lack of comments being posted to my columns. That in turn makes it difficult to be consistent posting regularly. Why post when it seems no one is reading anyway.

    Then when I start stressing over my Google Analytics report, God reminds me… It's not about the numbers. If I reach just one women, I'm doing my job.

    That helps me to remember — why I started blogging in the first place — my main purpose for blogging is to share how God brought healing in my life. Even if it is only one woman at a time!

    Thanks Mike for all your blogs! I've learned so much from you in the last few months.

    Please don't quit!

    Blessings! …

  • http://www.carryingdaily.com Martin

    The funny thing about the statistics is I just recently changed my template and forgot to add the tracking to it so I went through a couple weeks where I felt like nobody was reading my site, although I was posting new stuff everyday. I blog mostly for me to get stuff out of my head, it helps me sleep and there are some cool people you'll run into on the interwebz. Thanks for the post!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhsmith michaelhsmith

    Let me say…I am glad you continue to blog. I love reading your work and learn much from your thoughts. Here are the reasons I blog:
    * It is a creative outlet.
    * It challenges me to look for topics to write about.
    * It encourages me to read on a variety of topics.
    * It helps me organize my thoughts.
    * It hopefully helps the people I lead know me better.
    * I am enjoying the challenge.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      These are excellent reasons, Michael. (Also, I plan to get back to the 20 questions. I just thought I'd give it a break.)

  • http://www.shanesanchez.wordpress.com Shane Sanchez

    Thanks for writing this post. I needed to read something like this, from someone like you.
    It can be frustrating when you take a look at stats and don’t see consistent growth. I literally just journaled about this topic and what the purpose is behind my blog. When I put it in perspective it makes sense that it is a place for me. I am growing and archiving my thought on a regular basis and if people read I can simply be thankful they are coming along with me. It is incredible to be able to have a place where my thoughts and ideas can be stored, but also shared with those who take the time to read.

    I appreciate this post!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Shane. I’m glad you found it helpful.

  • http://twitter.com/gerrytrue @gerrytrue

    Great advice! I also find it helpful to write to bring clarity…

    The primary I have chosen to write is to create a resource for my children and grandchildren.

    I am grateful your blog does not depend solely on numbers to determine the whether it has been beneficial. I have been reading for several years and have found your blog a mentoring resource. Don't know you personally but you have impacted my life and the lives of those I lead in a profound way.

    Thanks!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your kind words, Gerry. And also, thanks for your guest post last week!

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/mandythompson mandythompson

    Count me! I'm a faithful email reader. I may not make a difference in your blog stats, but you definitely make a difference in my leadership development. Thank you for continuing to pour into us.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    That Faulkner quote is great!

  • http://www.jjude.biz Joseph

    Michael,
    I have recently started blogging and of course obsessed with stats. But when I read this post, I realized why I started blogging:
    ‘I blog is in order to clarify my thinking and archive my best ideas’

    Thanks for the gentle smack :-)

    Joseph

  • Pingback: Stuff I’m Reading « www.ChrisLoach.com

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/betterlifecoaching Darren Poke

    Thanks Michael for sharing your thoughts on this topic, they really resonated with me.

    I've only been blogging for about three months, so I'm still a rookie at this and have found that one of the great benefits for me has been the archiving of ideas. I wasn't expecting this to be the case, but now it's a key driver for me as well.

    I do look at my blog stats often (and suspect that I always will), but try not to get too anxious about them.

    Don't give up Michael, you haven't peaked yet!

  • http://www.reflectingpurity.wordpress.com Connie

    Great post. It speaks right into my season. I have come to believe, like you, my blog is more for me than anything else. I often wonder "how can I get more readers or comments?" Really, I shouldn't be concerned, but my internal wiring shouts a different message. I am just going to write because it's what I love to do! Plain and simple. Thanks for helping me realign my perspective.

  • http://twitter.com/tommcmahonnet @tommcmahonnet

    The Tom McMahon Lord Haw Haw Theory Of Blogging

    Lord Haw Haw, as you remember, was the popular name of William Joyce, a German radio propaganda broadcaster during World War II. And then, right after the war:

    …On May 28, 1945 Joyce was captured in a German forest by two British officers gathering a truckload of firewood. Near Flensburg on the Danish border, Capt. Alexander Adrian Lickorish of the Reconnaissance Regiment, and Lt. Perry came upon an odd, tramplike figure with a walking stick. The tramp pointed to some logs with his walking stick, and addressed the men in French. Then he said in English, "oh, there are three or four more here." The duo immediately recognized the voice of Lord Haw-Haw.

    Some people couldn't keep their mouths shut to save their necks. (Literally, in Lord Haw Haw's case.) Those are the bloggers.

  • Pingback: It’s all about ME!!!!! « Ron Lane

  • Pingback: Resolving: Mid-Year Update on 2010 New Year’s Resolutions « Don’s Ego

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Forget Your Blog Stats and Just Write! -- Topsy.com

  • Pingback: Finally blogging… « Jon Cook

  • http://eastofparis.blogspot.com Jasmina

    I enjoy reading your thoughts on leadership and productivity. I learn something every time.

    I started blogging because I read a variety of blogs[news, politics, finance, travel, food] and admire the writers’ tenacity. I wanted to see if I have anything to say. It’s all seemed about “me” and I’ve wondered if blogging = digital narcissism. But, I also find it is a way to communicate with friends [share photos, recipes, travel tips about where I’ve been and what I’m doing] without writing lots of emails. And, I find that talking about something or writing about it invariably clarifies my thinking. I think I’ll keep writing but still need to figure out how to address more of my interests, may be a second blog?

    PS — I found your blog after I started listening to your podcasts from Ancient Faith Radio.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/mkeckler Maria Keckler

    "I blog is in order to clarify my thinking and archive my best ideas. In short, I blog for me" — this is the biggest take away for me. Thank you for reminding us that writing has value beyond the size of the readership. I had forgotten that and your words have reenergized my zeal for the process.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/rikerjoe rikerjoe

    I'm in agreement with you on the primary reason why I blog – it's for myself. It clarifies my thoughts, allows me to use it as a vehicle for transparency, and to engage others in conversations. If I didn't blog, I would revert to private journaling.

  • Linda

    I appreciate your post, but I LOVE your blog posts – I read them every single day and save them all to a folder. I do not write a blog, but I am a committed journal writer and I write for myself – to sort out my thinking and process what God is doing in my life. So please don’t stop writing, I have learned so much from you!!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your kind words, Linda. Wow. That is encouraging!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/success2you John Richardson

    I can really relate to this post, Mike. My WordPress blog was hit with a hack a few weeks back that brought my Google stats literally to zero. After researching the cause, I did a huge cleanup and upgraded everything. (Thanks to Chris Pearson at Pearsonified.com for finding a solution). While my blog was never down, my Google results were all messed up. While I'd like to say that stats aren't important, they truly do give you a window to your readership.
    This episode has left me in sort of a funk. It really made me focus on why I blog and who my audience is. Many times during this whole episode I was tempted to just close it down and say goodbye to five years of heartfelt work. I felt like giving in to the resistance. But something kept me going.

    A reader left a simple thank-you comment that inspired me to post again.

    Over the five years I've been blogging, I've been tempted to quit a few times. In the first year my original dot.com domain was hijacked and I ended up having to go with a dot.org. My original web host had trouble with blogs and I had to move to a different company. Each time I asked myself if it was worth the trouble to continue. Each time I learned something new and how to make my site better.

    One book that has helped me through times like this is Failing Forward by John Maxwell. It always gives me perspective during the storm.

    Thanks for all you do, Mike, with your blog. Your insights have helped many people become better leaders and better people as a result. Keep up the great work!

  • Pingback: Simplifying… me » Blog Archive » Friday’s Free Advice – Listen To Mom

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/AggieBrad Brad Harmon

    Michael,

    I'm right there with you about liking to start new projects, seeing them grow, and then disappear somewhere during the maintenance cycle. I agree with you about it being something that seems hard-wired into our personalities.

    I guess that I blog for many different reasons. I like to help others and hope that my blog is accomplishing that goal, but there are times when I would write even if I knew nobody else was reading. When my blog traffic and interaction starts to stagnate, it is then that I remember the cathartic nature of blogging.

    God tells us that His word never returns void. I think this is true for us, His Creation, as well. It is why Isaac could not take back his blessing stolen by Jacob. In that way, I know that once my blog posts are published those words will accomplish something.

    If nothing else, they are at work in my own life. They are witnessed by God. It is when I forget this (which I am prone to do) that my postings become erratic.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking questions.

    Brad

  • http://true-small-caps.blogspot.com Derek

    Yes. My blog is just a list of books I've read, but writing down my thoughts has made me much more aware of the world of books.

  • Pingback: Why do I blog? « Endlessly Restless

  • http://lauradroege.wordpress.com Laura Droege

    How timely. I’ve been blogging consistently for almost a year in an attempt to increase my “platform”; I’ve written a novel and given the way publishing works, I’ll increase my chances of getting the book published if I have a platform.

    Honestly, I don’t enjoy blogging, and it’s hard to keep going when my readership remains small even after spending hours commenting on other blogs, networking on Facebook, etc.

    People always tell me that they enjoy and are encouraged by my blogs; that’s good because it fits into my purpose for my fiction writing.

    Still, it’s easy for me to be discouraged when I look at my stats: five or six hits a day for a post I spent 2 hours writing?! Ugh.

    Thanks for the reminder to re-visit my original purpose for writing fiction and blogging, and the reminder to not be fixated on stats.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/mdperry1 mdperry1

    Thanks Michael, I was at your CEO Day at the Christian Leadership Alliance in April and was inspired to begin blogging ( michaelperry1@wordpress.com ). Being a competive guy that I am I have loved watching the stats and testing how I can influence them. So even 6 weeks into this little experiement I need your reminder to why I blog seperate from the benefits of my blog.
    So even if your numbers have been flat, know that I am a new reader, one that you influenced.

  • http://mamaloafblog.blogspot.com Jill

    I've had the misfortune of taking my blog temperature based on comments and hits. The best thing for me was to get rid of the stats counter and turn off the comments. I feel much more freedom in my writing without the numbers.

    Here is a post I wrote about it, if you're interested in reading…

    &lt ;http://mamaloafblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/measuring-up.html>

    Best to you,
    Jill

  • Steve Stroh

    Mike:

    The stats only matter if you're blogging for direct revenue. If you're blogging for any other reason, then the stats are relegated to being somewhat interesting, but mostly incidental.

    I tried to follow / manage / gauge my blog's stats for a while, but I eventually concluded that monitoring and tracking stats was a tail-chasing exercise and that my limited "blog time" was better spent writing.

    I appreciate you sharing your insights on your blog.

  • http://www.surprisingjoy.blogspot.com Jen@SurprisingJoy

    Well said.

    For me, blogging is like gardening. Instead of tending flowers, I tend my thoughts there. Both hobbies are for pleasure. Then again, when you have 24 readers, the pressure's pretty much off.

    Keep the posts coming, Mike. They're helpful.

  • http://twitter.com/abjani @abjani

    Great post, great thinking and so true, Michael!

    If one does what one loves to do, success will follow.

    You are changing lives… So, keep up the great work!

    God bless you.

  • http://www.visionforabetterasia.blogspot.com Shaun Hoon

    Dear Michael,

    I am a 3 weeks old blogger. With 5 followers to date all of whom I recruited through begging and more beggings.

    I have no idea how to check the statistic so, I have the bliss of not knowing how many people visited…

    What is my purpose for blogging?

    Short story:
    I genuinely believe that there need to be a place for positive people in Asia to give their view for a better Asia, hence I started the forum.

    Long Story:
    Read "What If'" on http://www.visionforabetterasia.blogspot.com

    True story:
    I get to put some of my thoughts to rest through tricking my brain into thinking that someone will discover my great ideas one day.

    My learning:
    I find that having a blog Title enables me to focus with a direction on the themes to write about. My blog's name is Vision for a better Asia (although when I google just that, my name never appears. Why?).

    If you have trouble being consistent, why do you think that is?
    As a new blogger, I'm still going through the excitement phase, hence no report on this. But will certainly return to rant about this when I encounter this problem.

    Shaun

  • http://www.thegetintentionalmovement.com Ryan Jenkins

    I believe consistency is king! If you can remain consistent that translates into stability and conviction – and when people see and experience that, they will want to follow.

    I think we aren't consistent at times because we are either not in our strength zone (as you mentioned with your achiever comment) or we were not truly interested in the task to begin with.

    I waver at times too but mostly because I am overly anxious to move on and impact/reach more people.

    Great post Michael!

  • http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com Nikole Hahn

    I don't have trouble maintaining the blog. If I need inspiration, I just go out and live, write about interesting conversations I overhear, or create stories. Most writers write about writing and I have found that boring because everyone is writing about writing. I think what makes blogging interesting is how real the author is and if their purpose is shining through. Every day a story is just waiting to be observed. The material is endless for blogging. And when that runs dry, then I read other well written blogs to gain inspiration.

  • Ann (SG)

    Mike,does your tracking get hits from RSS/syndication readers? Because I read you on Google Reader. If not, your readership may be growing on that platform sneakily without you knowing it…

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      No, but I do track that another way (i.e., FeedBlitz). I consider it all. Thanks.