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

Page Views

Third month stats are in, and the results are undeniable.  Page views are up almost 80% from November to December, check out this growth:

Jack Murphy Live Third Month Blog Stats

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      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.

Read: Mind-Mapping: A Survival Skill That Allows Us to Predict—and Manipulate—Other People’s Behavior

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:

Read: Build a Better Life: 3 Fundamentals to Change Your World Forever

Read: 4 Ways to Be More Dominant Right Now: Jack Murphy’s Pocket Guide to Dominance

Twitter

Like my page views, my Twitter metrics continue to improve:

Jack Murphy Live Third Month Blog Stats

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:

  1. Curate – Tweet and retweet content I think my readers will be interested in
  2. Micro Blog – Produce mini rants on new subjects, test the waters for new blog material
  3. 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).

Jack Murphy Live Third Month Blog Stats

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.

Traffic Sources

Jack Murphy Live Third Month Blog Stats

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:

Jack Murphy Live Third Month Blog Stats

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!


 

P.S. I did a ton of research in starting this blog. I can say without a doubt the best book I purchased on how to start and develop your very own blog is Victor Pride’s Blog Artist Handbook.

I own this book and you should too if you’re serious about having a successful blog.  Buy it here: The Blog Artist’s Handbook.

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13 comments… add one
  • Kitten Holiday Jan 5, 2016 @ 18:35

    Hi Jack,

    I will definitely check out the books you recommended. Even though I’m starting my 3rd year blogging, you could say this year is the first time I’m taking it seriously. Your posts are very helpful!

    As for the pressure, I was talking to my boyfriend recently and he said something that really surprised me. I honestly couldn’t believe he said it at first then it made sense.

    He’s a coach and he trains athletes of all levels from youth through high school and a handful of pro athletes. His athletes go on to be state champs, all Americans, college athletes with full athletic scholarships and some pro. Basically, the people he coaches take their sport very seriously and so does he. So the other day when he said he wouldn’t wish an undefeated season on his best athlete, I was shocked! Why not?!?

    You see, for him, and the value he instills in his athletes, being the best is great, but it should never come at the cost of loving the sport, being passionate and having joy in the process. The pressure of an undefeated season, in his experience, is so great it can rob the athlete of the fun and joy of competing and growing. There’s not just the pressure of doing his best and the competition at hand, but also the pressure of the whole season when you’re undefeated.

    Often, the best will still be the best, even with one loss, but to have some of the pressure off so their love of the sport can still be felt is important.

    With that’s said, in dating, I have often recognized that first date pressure is useless. It can ruin a date with a perfectly awesome person. When I’ve been out with someone who is very nervous, I have at times created a failure or an embarassing situation. I’ve spilled my drink, I’ve dropped a fork then pretended to almost fall out of my chair. And my favorite is to pretend I’ve caught my heel crossing the street. It makes me clumsy and flawed breaking the tension while also giving me an opportunity to grab his arm for safety and be rescued! Oh lala! I also happen to be a total klutz anyway so I know this is bound to happen, why not get it out of the way. I snort when I laugh and like to shock woth dirty jokes that you would never imagine me saying if you saw me. These things make me human and create opportunities for me to connect with someone which can’t happen if we are both trying so hard to be perfect. Laughter, even at ourselves, connects us!

    So maybe the key now is to bomb. Just post something awful! Or maybe post something humorous. Or tell us about a failure.

    You’ve already taken some risks being transparent and vulnerable and survived, you can survive a bad post too! We all have them! Best to keep going, stay a winner and give up the bragging rights to undefeated so you can hang on to our passion for writing and sharing wisdom!

    xoxo,
    Kitten

    ps. I haven’t had time to blog and this turned out to be pretty long so I think I’ll blog it when I get home and link back to you. We can see how trackbacks affect our numbers!

    • Jack Murphy Jan 7, 2016 @ 1:00

      Thank you for noticing my transparency. I think its important to show the real shit along with the successes. I hope it makes the writing more relatable. You know, we’ve all messed up or been hurt. And we’ve all failed to meet our own expectations at least a few times, if not repeatedly. The key is to press on, ever upwards. Stamina.

      Not sure I agree with the undefeated season analogy, but I understand accepting some failures along the way is an essential part of success.

      Good luck in 2016! By the looks of it, you’re gonna kill it.

      Thanks for reading!

  • Gabe Johansson Jan 5, 2016 @ 18:37

    Impressive Twitter reach! You’re at 25% of my following but doubling my average tweet reach. Goes to show how effective a targeted message and audience goes. Congrats on your epic start!

    • Jack Murphy Jan 5, 2016 @ 19:15

      Thanks, Gabe. Its hard to know my relative performance on any of these metrics. Aside form the big guys like Cernovich, most bloggers don’t post stats. Its hard to tell. Appreciate the feedback!

      • Gabe Johansson Jan 5, 2016 @ 20:18

        A lot of bigger bloggers have said a 2% engagement rate is pretty good for Twitter, but most of this side of the internet is crushing that number. People are definitely paying attention to what you’re saying!

        • Jack Murphy Jan 6, 2016 @ 14:11

          Thanks, Gabe. I can’t stress enough how real life networking enhances your twitter and blog stats. Make real friends and people support each other.

  • Laura Topliffe Jan 6, 2016 @ 23:44

    Very good stuff Jack…especially as I consider starting my own blog. I thank Kitten Holiday for the link.

  • daneel Jan 16, 2016 @ 21:43

    I wanna give you three tips that will dramatically increase the staying time of people on your blog Jack. i’m going to do for you what vic did for mike.

    1. Front page has too much busyness and not enough negative space. There’s far too many articles on the front page, too many small images [versus a few large ones] and its just too overwhelming and confusing. Less is more.

    2. Ditch the subscribe now email pop up as you lower the page. It’s huge, Cannot see the sidebar at all. And you already have the subscribe now on the top right hand corner. Better to just have a small line that says subscribe now at the bottom of each article, and kill the popup. It’s annoying and you don’t need it. Content is what will get people coming back, and you already have a call to action at the end of every article. Ditch the popup.

    3. I know you’re a couple of months old, and you’re starting and have a lot of insight to share. But man this theme and template [genesis] is pretty much danger and play circa early years. It is the premiere copycat template. Sorry but that’s what its really become.

    I read this site because Mike repped you well and i saw its value, but if i was a newbie it would just look like another danger and play, bold and determined clone.

    Don’t mean any kind of hate or disrespect, but change these things, and watch it grow a lot lot faster.

    Best.

    • Jack Murphy Jan 17, 2016 @ 15:27

      Solid points, each of them.

      I’m aware that this theme is tired (though I wasn’t that aware when I began using it). I’ve been putting off changing the theme as I have been cranking out content. Maybe I’ll take a breath now and put some time into researching and implementing a new theme.

      I’ve reduced the pop up in the lower right hand corner down to once every three months, to give my regular readers a break but to pop up for every first time reader. It hasn’t proven to be that effective in any case, with conversion rates less than 2%.

      With respect to the content on the first page, I’m struggling with the idea that once the content is off the main page no one will ever see it again. I’ve looked at many popular mainstream sites and using thumbnails and content excerpts seems to be popular (check washingtonpost.com for example). Perhaps a new theme will have different layout options.

      But to your larger point about getting people to stay longer and read more – I guess that presupposes that they aren’t already.

      If you back out my Stumble Upon traffic, my average page views per visitor is well above 3.0. And more than 25% of visitors spend greater than 5 minutes at the site. Not sure if these are amazing or not, but it seems positive to me.

      If you’re suggesting these changes could increase Page views per visitor to 4.0 or higher, I’d be really surprised!

      Nevertheless, you’re right about the theme. I need a fresh new theme to match my fresh new content and set me apart.

      Thanks for reading and thanks for the feedback.

      I’m open to suggestions on themes, btw.

      • daneel Jan 17, 2016 @ 20:52

        best method is A:B testing. Theme you’re just gonna have to look through loads of premium ones and then find the one that punches you hard in the gut and try it out.

        Then depending on engagement and tweaking colours you can A:B test and figure out what fits you. Its need to be a radical departure from manosphere type sites, because all the not big name one’s look the same.

        Re: Front page
        You have to trust in yourself that your articles are good enough that you don’t need all of them on the front page at once.

        You want readers of the type that Mike has. By that i mean, people that will actually stay long term with you.

        This process is going to take a while, but the best sites put in the hours and it pays off.
        Anything more i’d want to say about link embedding to other articles [on your own site], long tail keywords, and how to tailor content depending on which page a viewer finds from google, are all covered by Mike in so much more detail than i could ever do.

        Mainstream sites are not a good example to follow in all honesty.
        The washington post website has a lot of underpaid gremlins working for them full time, its not something a one man operation, can or should want to compete with toe to toe. They are going to always make more content and get views. Every newspaper with exception of the paywall ones and Daily mail, are losing money hand over fist on their online publications.

        You are aiming for better content.

        Look to someone that’s above you in the area you inhabit to gauge an idea of where you want to go.

        • Jack Murphy Jan 17, 2016 @ 23:10

          All excellent points again, thanks. Yeah, I’ve read/listened to most of if not all the content Mike has on the blog stuff. I’ve got tons of crosslinks, creating a ‘walled garden’ as he called it. I’m doing well on the seo terms I’ve targeted, etc.

          RE: Theme – You’re right about needing to be a radical departure, I’m ok with that. I’ve been looking for a while now actually and but nothing seems to feel right.

          Still, traffic continues and folks are reading a lot of articles (thanks!). Even with a small dose of useless Stumble Upon traffic which has a stupid high bounce rate, today’s readers averaged 4.46 pages per visitor, which strikes me as pretty good.

          700 views a day isn’t even a big day really, and that tracks out to 250k+ per year.

          I mention this to wonder if what I’m doing now is working well-enough for my fourth month, or maybe I’m actually under-performing? I have no idea.

          These stats don’t make me hear alarm bells, is what I mean. Right or wrong, I’m not seeing how the site design is a drag on performance.

          Unless you’re seeing something I’m not?

          –Jack

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