Stats, Strategies, and Secrets! Part 3 on How I Started a Blog
Writing is a process. I keep running into this notion as I sit down and and try to produce new material for my readers at Jack Murphy Live. Sometimes I can sit down and crank out 2,000 words in one shot, producing a draft worthy enough of editing in my first attempt. Other times, I find myself going in circles with notes, outlines, and disconnected thoughts that lack a coherent message. Figuring out what I want to say is harder than actually writing.
As I’ve learned so far, writing is 90% mastery of the subject matter and 10% production.
Even sitting down to write this post has been a process. It seems simple enough, this is a month-end wrap up of my blog stats. It should be straight forward and to the point, but I’m striving to give you more than just a cold analysis of data. I want to give you both the human element and something you can take with you. In other words, I want this to be compelling and worth your time.
Such expectations create massive amounts of intrinsic pressure to deliver something exceptional. My early wins haven’t created an easier writing environment, but rather more pressure to keep momentum and meet the standards I’m trying to raise with each post.
This cycle of ever increasing demands serves me well in other areas of my life whether it be in my established professional career or at the gym. But in this creative process, which is an exploration of a new field for me, the pressure I feel seems to be directly correlated to the amount of page views I’m getting.
A spike in readership means a spike in expectations. The heat of excitement over an expanding audience is met with a cold splash of fear and uneasiness.
I’ve admitted to retaining fragments of vanity and insecurity when it comes to my body, and I’ll admit now that this writing process has stirred up other feelings of inadequacy. Can I meet the expectations of my readers? Will I wow them the next time? Can I keep this up?
Each of those feelings are part of the “drive” I have attributed in part to my past successes. While they may strike you as negative, and some are, I’ve been able to channel them into ultra-focus here like I have in other endeavors.
When I wanted to work for a hedge fund, I spent 18 months trying to crack into the field. I was singularly obsessed and the persistence paid off with a new career in high finance.
When I wanted to develop my body and become physically strong, I dedicated my time to learning what to do and then spent years implementing it in the gym.
When I wanted to become a sex-god, I did the same.
When I wanted to switch careers after the real estate bust in 2008, I worked 18 hours a day for two years just to break into and master a new market.
And when I wanted to learn how to create a blog and what it entailed, it was more monk mode. I blocked everything else out and zero’ed in on my goals.
Obsession has treated me well. The fruits of my life are a direct result of obsession.
Obsession combined with confidence = success.
Today, I’m obsessed with delivering the best online content out there.
The difference here is that my baby steps, my growth, my starts and stops, the fits of success coupled with the failures are all on public display.
I’m learning on the fly.
Because this is a new experience, I’ve yet to develop my almost preternatural confidence I ordinarily sport.
Perhaps my humility is part of the charm at this point, perhaps not. But is it really humility?
No, the biggest thing standing between me and production today is fear. Fear of success. As my friend Ed Latimore just reminded us:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. -—Marianne Williamson
I’ve taken enough of the first steps to see the road maps laid out by the masters are accurate. If you do what they say, the success will flow. All I have to do is put one foot in front of the other, take incremental action, and the results are almost predictable.
I am literally the only thing standing in my way.
In order to find success, we must be vulnerable. Embrace the discomfort. This is growth.
In that spirit, I will get the hell out of my own way, let the words flow, the tweets fly, and sit back and enjoy whatever happens.
Without further fear, procrastination or distraction, I give you this month’s Jack Murphy Live wrap up:
Early Victories: My Third Month Wrap Up
Third month stats are in, and the results are undeniable. Page views are up almost 80% from November to December, check out this growth:
Posts: Five (previous nine)
Page views: 7,670 (previous 4,361)
Visitors: 2,692 (previous 1,434)
Views per Visitor: 2.76 (previous 3.04)
Comments: 62 (previous 67)
While I was on pace to exceed last month’s views, my last post of the month, Mind-Mapping, exploded the totals at month end.
Not only did this post crush it on views but it taught me a lot about myself and writing.
At first, I wanted to write about trust. I had been tweeting about it and testing the waters, looking for something that gained traction. Feedback was that I had a unique take on it and that I should expand it into a post.
When I sat down to write, I discovered I didn’t really know what I wanted to say. I was still researching, finding myself lost in Aristotle and other arcane philosophical reading. I realized in some ways I was trying to recreate the wheel.
It took me many drafts, outlines and “wasted” days to narrow down my focus to mind-mapping and then to expand that into a full-length feature.
The time I invested paid off. Mind-mapping received 1,436 views in just four days of December. I realize compared to the big guys this number is nothing, but for me just three month’s into existence, it’s a real number.
Stumble Upon, a social network for sharing webpages, picked it up and it gave me my first taste of “viral” traffic. Of course my virus was more like a minor irritation rather than a pandemic, but hundreds of people outside of my network saw the post and passed it on.
So while my post count was down and comments held steady, my views and engagement per post are up dramatically. Quality vs. quantity carried the day.
Posts from December:
Like my page views, my Twitter metrics continue to improve:
I gained 171 new followers, bringing my total over 500 for the first time, continuing my linear growth. At some point I expect (hope) the rate of increase to accelerate but for now I’ll be happy with steady gains. At this rate I should cross 1,000 followers by April.
My twitter strategy remains the same:
- Curate – Tweet and retweet content I think my readers will be interested in
- Micro Blog – Produce mini rants on new subjects, test the waters for new blog material
- Self Promote – Get my message out to my existing followers and hopefully new ones as well
Until the data tells me otherwise, I will continue on with this approach. Seeing the new followers each day helps my need for immediate feedback and affirmation (I told you I wasn’t free from insecurity).
KEY DATA POINTS:
- My impression per tweet is 428, which means on average each tweet is reaching an audience of approximately 85% of my following. As far as I can deduce from others, this seems to be a good rate.
- Profile visits up to 16,000 for the month.
Goal for January: Revise Twitter Profile page.
Social continues to rule my traffic and the addition of Stumble Upon to the numbers is only going to continue this trend.
Organic search increased month over month, but I’ve yet to see any big numbers from organic searches. Just 183 sessions, or 4% of my total, yet this traffic is the best quality.
These readers stay longer, read more, and click through to additional posts more than any other source. I’ll keep on with my SEO efforts and eventually this number should increase.
Organic is passive, while social is active. I have to tweet to drive twitter readers, while organic readers find me. It is a key to long-term success.
Goal for January: create more SEO/organic search focused articles.
What I’ve learned
I’ve changed careers a few times, and each time I learned a lot about myself. Trying something new is a risk and being a novice can be scary. Starting this blog has been no exception.
Because I’m learning on the fly in a public space with hard data and instant feedback, the process even adds extra vulnerability to the mix. Andrew Sullivan sums it up well:
An exhausting, soul-bearing, personally challenging endeavor with precise data and tools for analysis makes for quite an experience. But it is all worth it when I see my writing making an impact in the lives of others, whether as entertainment, new information or inspiration.
Sharing wisdom from my past along with displaying the lessons I’m learning in real time are what I’m trying to do.
Each time I do that, it’s a victory.
This is why I embrace the fear, the uncertainty, and the vulnerability: to win.
The stats speak for themselves, the trends are up. Yet, their final destination is left up to me, my hard work, and my strength in the face of uneasiness.
Thanks for coming along so far, lets keep pushing and see where this thing goes!
A big thank you to everyone who has supported the site since inception especially Mike Cernovich for his retweets and behind the scenes support, Milo Yiannopoulos for his inspiration and motivation, and @the_red_hen for her tireless work helping me focus and edit my writing. I sincerely appreciate it.
To my readers, I hope I can continue to meet and exceed expectations, at the end of the day I do all of this for you guys, so thank you!