Day 13 of the A-Z challenge.
M is for Measurement
What’s the best best piece of advice you’ve ever received in your career?
This is one of mine:
Just because you can measure something doesn’t mean you should.
This was a guiding principle used by a Vice President responsible for a huge and complex manufacturing operation spanning four continents. What he meant was that with if you measure too many things, you get so bogged down in detail that you overlook the most crucial information. In essence, you can no longer see the wood for the trees.
I’m reminded of that advice whenever I read articles about how to measure the effectiveness of a blog site or a website. One piece listed more than 20 different measures you could track. Everything from numbers of page views and comments to search engine ranking and incoming links.
Admittedly, many of these were aimed at bloggers and web site owners who use their platforms for business reasons. They are completely irrelevant to the thousands of bloggers like me (and many of you) who blog for fun.
Does that mean book bloggers should ignore all forms of measurement?
The simplest answer is no.
The more complex answer is: How much you measure –and what – depends on why you blog and upon your goals.
Why Measurement Matters
Peter Drucker is credited with one of the most important quotes in business management.
If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.
When you think about it, that statement sounds obvious doesn’t it. Because if you don’t keep track of your golf handicap how will you know if all that practice is working? It’s like trying to learn a language but never getting a chance to put it to the test in a real conversation.
Having a measurement tells you where you are now and where you’ve come from. It can also give you pointers about things to improve.
If you operate entirely without measurement, you’ll be operating in the dark. Any measurement, no matter how basic, is better than none.
How Do You Measure A Blog’s Success?
If you use WordPress you already have some measures available. Look in the “stats” section of your dashboard and you’ll see daily, weekly, monthly and annually:
- number of views
- number of visitors
- number of “likes’ and
- number of comments.
Scroll down the page and you’ll get even more data: the exact number of people who viewed each post/page; the country from where they accessed your site; and whether they reached you from another location (from Google or Twitter for example.)
These measurements should be more than enough for most book bloggers.
Should you want to get even more insight on how your blog is working, you can use Google Analytics (via a free account).
But I don’t think you need to go down that path. In fact I don’t think you even need to concern yourself with all the WordPress measurements I’ve listed above.
Not All Measurements Are Valuable
The number of likes is a meaningless measure. It doesn’t give you any insight beyond the fact that someone clicked on an icon. You can’t even be sure they read your content.
Data on the number of visitors and the number of views is nice to know– if only to reassure yourself that people are seeing your content. And if those numbers are going up, that can give you a confidence boost. It’s mildly interesting to see where in the world you readers are located.
For me, the most valuable measure in this whole list is the number of comments
Because the reason I blog is that I want to connect with other book lovers to talk about the thing we love most – reading. So an indicator of my success would be the level of interaction I get with people who follow me – one good way to measure that interaction is through the number of comments .
So while I do glance at the other measurements periodically, the only one that gets my attention now is the number of comments.
That might change in the future but for now this single focus works for me. What works for you could be different because it depends upon your own goals and why you blog.
Going Beyond The Data
There are some aspects of blogging that are difficult to measure in numbers.
You can’t put a figure on your passion and enthusiasm for blogging.
Yet it’s one of the most important elements of blogging. Because it you’re not enthused, then you won’t put the effort into writing new content or interacting with your followers.
Many of us blog purely for fun; not because we want to make money (very difficult) or become a “personality”. If you take away the fun element, what do you have left? Very little.
In a sense therefore, the only true measure of success is whether you are in fact having fun. Take the pleasure and the enjoyment out of blogging and every other measure becomes irrelevant.
Join The Discussion
Do you pay any attention to the data about your success? Are you someone who is regularly checking whether your stats have grown? Let me know what you think about the issue of measurement by leaving a comment below.