Wednesday, April 22, 2009

N Is For Numbers

Digits Define Our Lives In So Many Ways

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


In just about every way conceivable, our lives are governed by numbers. Birth dates, years, chronological references to every important point in our existence. We must remember several numerical sequences – phone numbers, ATM access codes, passwords to computers and everyday online applications.

So it’s no surprise that when I started this blog, I initially declared I had no interest in knowing how many people were visiting my site. A couple of my friends thought I was mad, but it really wasn’t important to me.

Then, nine months after I began blogging, I finally succumbed and installed a hit counter.

Yes, it is irresistible. Yes, I was daft not to load one onto my blog at the outset. Yes, it’s great to keep track of daily visits and weekly patterns. Yes, it’s interesting (not just because I am statistically minded) to notice that visits increase in winter, when people are indoors and start to plateau in summer, when everyone is out soaking up the sun.

There have been major landmarks along my blogging path. The first time I got 100 visits in a day was really memorable. Getting to 200 visits a day was a great feeling, but the real watershed for me was reaching (and maintaining) 240 visits a day. Why? Because 240 visits in a 24-hour day equates to an average of 10 an hour, or one every six minutes. That significant moment came a year ago.

My hit counter, when I installed it, was calibrated to register hits, not page views. I have never changed it. So while the figure in the top right-hand corner of this site shows that I have had more than 200,000 visits, I have had about 315,000 page views .


I often get asked what is the most difficult part of increasing readership – and my answer always is the same. The most difficult part is your first 2000-2500 visits.

If you can sustain a blog that long and weather some disappointments, you are well on your way to establishing a loyal readership. No newspaper, for example, ever achieved a circulation of 10,000 or more without doing the hard yards first. Be patient. Sometimes it is harder to be patient than to be creative.

On the night of February 12, I switched off my computer in the knowledge that when I logged on the next morning, my blog would have (in the middle of the Australian night) notched up a landmark. While I slept, someone would have become the quarter-millionth visitor to my site. But nothing could have prepared me for what was to happen the next morning.

While I sipped a cup of tea, my eyes popped. My site stats had blown out beyond my wildest dreams. It took me a couple of minutes to work out where the traffic was coming from, then I realised that I had been included in Google’s Blogs Of Note. That day I had almost 9000 page views.

If you build it, they will come.

But you have to build it first. And build it well.


For the home of ABC Wednesday, go to Mrs Nesbitt's Place.


55 comments:

Fletch said...

Yup!

I remember I was one that advised you NOT to install a hit counter at the start.

How wrong can one be?

Sorry & Congrats!

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Thanks for such an encouraging and fun post!!! I love the sport jersey photo!

Daisy said...

Impressive numbers! You definitely deserve the blogs of note- I hope it's made all that hard work at the start worthwhile- bonne continuation!

ANNA-LYS said...

... and after that, You realize that You do not have time to answer all those comments, and You feel bad.

I closed down my blog when that happened, and I had to erase it all, because if it still was there, I should have taken a peek now and then.

After 4 months I re-opened again, but with a completely new relation to it all. Today, I can admit, I was a blogaddict, I still am, but a sober blogaddict LOL

Please, take care of Yourself, David, we are many, many that has been burned out online. I don't now the numbers ... but, still.

Tiffany Norris said...

Very encouraging! My husband keeps pushing me to do the counter, but I haven't...yet.

Nessa said...

Wow, David. Congratulations! You deserve it and should have received it sooner.

Sink said...

I really love this post. I am still learning about this world of blogging and your experience with numbers is very interesting to me. Moving from a middle school to a high school math teacher, I see numbers less (!) but it was Pythagoras, I believe, who said, "All is number".
Thanks for your own wonderful blog as well as the fuel you add to so many of our fires to keep us going.

lakeviewer said...

David, not just patience, I'm afraid, but determination, hard work, and understanding that one has to be generous with one's time and skills, and be appreciative to those who support them. You have taught us all those things.

Hilary said...

You totally deserve all of your loyal readers. Who else could employ such a creative use of photos to portray a post about numbers?

Blogs of Note hits are indeed mind-blowing, eh?

James said...

Wow. I can't even imagine, I think my blog has had less than 10 visitors since friday. :-( Congrats on your sucsess and thanks for the encouraging words.

The Girl From Cherry Blossom Street said...

But you have to build it first. And build it well.

Wise words from a very wise man.
Respect to you, Sir.

Artist Unplugged said...

I'm so impressed with your numbers....I have made progress but still struggle.....when you chose my post on my dad, that gave me a bump! Thanks.....just keeping on!

Grace Albaugh said...

Thanks for the encouragement. My blog is new and I need a new computer to add the things I really want onto it but in the mean time I will just keep writing my little memoirs and sharing them with anyone who happens by.

Love your blog!

Patty said...

Oh, my! All those numbers give me a headache. Right brained people hate numbers. Nice post, though.

I guess I am just happy just to have a place to share my photos with whoever runs across my site.

I burned out once as a photojournalist. I don't want to burn out as a blogger.

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

yes great theme for abc wednesday..l'm struggling (well I am trying to get to packing as am off to mums for 5 days tomorrow) back soon

TexasRed said...

Very encouraging post for people just starting to watch the stat counter numbers.

Maggie May said...

That was a really interesting post and you deserve all the hits that you get!
Not only do I find your posts really interesting and the photography attractive, but I learn things all the time and that helps me with my blog. Have a long way to go!!!!! LOL!

ds said...

Build it. And build it well. With luck, it will be with good tools and material. As you have.

Thank you for your kind response to the silly question I asked a while back. I don't come by here nearly as often as I should, but when I do I learn, read, or see something new. Every time. Thank you for that, too.

spacedlaw said...

And yours is very well built!
now I do not care for numbers much but I am amazed to see where the visitors are coming from. It's some type of magic!

RuneE said...

Interesting - and I turned off the visibility my counter a long time ago! But it is true what you say about the first 2-5000. After that it sort of grows.

One thing I also discovered regarding comments: You have to write 'em to get 'em!

Maddy said...

Well that's thoroughly inspiring. Thank you for being such a good sharer.
Cheers

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Impressive. I have a stat counter, I enjoy seeing where my readers come from, am amazed by some of the far away locales. And I am interested in how long they stay, since I do post mostly fiction. I am relatively new to the blogging, but very satisfied with the experience so far. The best part is discovering all the wonderful bloggers out there, like you David. Keep up the good work!

katherine. said...

It is a privilege to be one of the masses...

nanny said...

Congratulations!!! Very impressive!

jinksy said...

This almost makes me want to go and hide in a darkened room away from everybody! Perhaps I was never destined to be proper ablogger?

Sylvia K said...

That's marvelous! and Congratulations, David! Of course I'm not surprised in the least! I've been blogging for less than a year and I'm so surprised and delighted each morning to find that I have had another 200 visitors -- which isn't even a hiccup compared to yours, but I've seen it grow gradually from the very beginning and it's people like you that encourage the rest of us. Thanks! and Congrats again!

rosiescribble said...

Congratulations on 9000 - incredible!

San said...

David, since you are such a punmeister, when I saw the title of your post, I expected to see a photograph of fingers. Maybe that's because I nicked one of my digits slicing veggies last night. Just barely, but I have that kind of digits on my mind!

Is it nuclear power that keeps your sitemeter running?

Love the black background in the top photo.

Margaret's Ramblings said...

And you deserve every hit you get David. You are my first blog visit every day and every day I learn something about a different part of the world I would have never known without your blog. Pop over to my blog, I have left an award for you and I want you to know that I did this before you reached this milestone.

Margaret

Jazz said...

I've been blogging since 2005. I have a counter or something that sends me reports every week as to how many hits and stuff I get.

I pretty much always delete it without ever looking. Unlike you I'm not statistically minded.

I have 10 or 15 regular commenters who follow me, as I follow them. I simply can't be bothered with the numbers. Numbers and I don't get along...

Janie said...

You have a great blog, well deserving of success. 9000 visitors in one day must have been quite exciting.
How true that we live by the numbers today, and every year there are more to remember. I used to be able to recall the important numbers, but now I live by cheat sheets...

Kelly H-Y said...

Great post! And, congratulations!!

Kathleen said...

Holy buckets! Those are Yukon Quest bibs. From different years--and signed though I can't quite make out the name.

Wait a minute. Don't tell me you competed? I know there was a Jamaican team this year, but those aren't this year's bibs. Do you know someone who did? Did you meet Sebastian?

Sorry for digressing...I just don't now any other bloggers who have the slightest interest in mushing. Do you?

Yes, excellent post. Interesting to read how your readership built. Having been in publishing all my life, I have always been a fan of readership numbers. And I used to to love combing through government budget reports. Once found a half million dollar slush fund. Didn't make the county commissioners all that happy.

Numbers always tell a story; you just have to dig for it, right?

Paula Scott said...

WoW! Googles Blogs of Note! How impressive! I've found that the writing, or what you have to say does make a difference. Although I am not really a writer, so I feel as though I don't really have that many things of interest to say.
Congratulations to you, David!!

subtorp77 said...

Just incredible, David! I've also thought about a counter of some sort, but feel I'd be too distracted by it. Maybe someday...and your spot on when it comes to the numbers in our lives. Congrats!

Rinkly Rimes said...

What a lot of good advice! Maybe you can advise me on the difference between a hit and a page hit?

Cath said...

Wow. Mind blowing. And very good advice.
Congratulations. I forgot (while I was reading) this was for a meme too - wonderful writing! I'm at 14600 - and hoping not to be "private" forever. I'm past a year which is good, but definitely plateaued. :(

I just think you built this blog so well. Brick by itty bitty brick...

Cath said...

Oh fab photos of course - love the combination lock (?) ones. They look like they are on a bike lock.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Hello David - I'm visiting via Willow Manor - enjoyed your interview with Willow!

I'm a bit wary of a stat counter - firstly because it'd mean having to work out something else 'tekky'! Secondly because I don't want to focus on numbers. It's been interesting reading your post, thinking about where people are who are reading the blog puts a different perpective on it. Maybe I'll stick my neck out and get a counter! An easy-to-use one ...

Karyn said...

very interesting....and congrats on developing a loyal readership!

Jewels said...

Congrats on your achievements David, you are an encouragement to all of us.

Carolynn said...

Hey, David,

I'm a first time visitor through Finding Sirius. I like what you've written here about numbers and visitors.

In spite of having maintained my blog for a while, I still have a low readership. Sure, I'd like to be wildly popular, who doesn't, however that's actually okay with me. The ones who drop by for a visit are stalwart regulars who have become friends.

I haven't installed a hit counter, because it really hasn't been about that for me. Those that want to stop to chat will, in spite of whether they leave a notch on the door frame or not.

Truth is, I'm not sure I could handle much more traffic than I have. There are times when it feels like a full time job, as it is.

I commend you on your success.

BTW, I lived in Australia for a little over a year. Great place.

Carolynn

Beth said...

I haven't had a counter on my blog but now I think I'll add one.

Great post.

Thanks for the shout-out today! It was a huge surprise for me!

Granny Smith said...

Wow! After three years of blogging I have still not installed a counter. Now I'm afraid to start because of all of those visits that can never be counted.

Speaking of numbers: are you also a sudoku fan?

Kirti said...

Very inspiring post!

♥ bfs~"Mimi" ♥ said...

That is truly no surprise that you would be a "blog of note" -- not to me! Congratulations and keep 'em coming!!!




Word verification: squadrat

Willow said...

Congratulations on being a blog of note, David! I finally got a site meter and have enjoyed finding out that people actually read my blog! It's exciting!

Shadow said...

interesting post. i've never thought about a counter much... until now you devil you.

Daryl said...

Wonderful post and advice, Den Mom!

Suldog said...

I can think of few people who deserve success more than you, David. You continually give of yourself, from the heart. God bless.

A Cuban In London said...

Wise words indeed. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Mojo said...

I didn't install a counter for a year and a half. Of course I rarely installed a post during that time either so it probably didn't matter. Then last June I decided to get serious about it and discovered that if you give people something to see, they'll come to see it.

And if you do it right, they'll come back. My 800th post will publish later today, and I'm expecting my 25,000th "registered guest" in a few weeks. Think there's a connection?

Congrats on making the Blogs of Note list! Can't think of anyone who deserves it more.

Leslie: said...

What an incredible post today! I, too, installed a site meter only 2 years ago, even though I've been blogging for 4 years. And I'm so overwhelmed to have over almost 120,000 visitors! I slacked off over the past few months because of my surgery and new love interest, but life is becoming more normal again and I'm back at it trying to think of some topics of interest. It's exciting to have new visitors comment and then come back again & again. It's no wonder you have so many visitors with all your fabulous and intriguing posts! Keep up the great work!

Babooshka said...

I agree with ANNA-LYS that it can all be too much. Blogs of note can be a poison chalice. I had over 6,000 hits the day I was named blog of note and got hit with some terrible links. I almost jacked it in. Numbers do rule our lives, especially those of time. Always a unique interpretation of the letter.

(I'm having email woes. You did ask me to do the Roast, hopefully I can try again within the next few days)

becky aka theRAV said...

Thanks for this post, David. It gives me hope. I am preparing for an art show next month so I am excited about it. I remembered one photo you told me I should blow up and frame. I am going to put it in my show thanks to you. Coincidentally, my word verification is "raven". How cool is that? It has to be a sign... a good omen.