by Madeline Van Tassel | Featured Contributor
When I launched my blog Style Me Thrifty (almost exactly three years ago now — they grow up so fast!), I quickly got wrapped up in all the excitement that comes with blogging.
The words, the photography, the freedom to say whatever the heck I wanted! It was all so inspiring. And really, really fun.
During my first year of blogging, I focused my efforts exclusively on all the awesome aspects of blogging — like writing, tweeting, and opening up freebies from companies — and none of my time on the not-so-fun aspects. Like analytics. I mean, talk about a buzzkill. Who wants to poke around in Google Analytics when there are outfit posts to style?!
I had spent hours (days? weeks?) churning out content and about 45 minutes looking at my analytics. I didn’t have a good sense of who was reading my blog, where they were coming from, and what content they enjoyed. If I was going to be a player in this massive blogging industry, something had to change.
It was time to roll up my [fashionable] sleeves and become one with my blog’s analytics.
Data Will Set You Free
Understanding the metrics behind your stories, whether it’s pageviews, top posts, or referring sites, will give you valuable insights into your readers. What content is resonating with them? How are people finding your stories? What keywords are they searching for to find your blog?
Sure, analytics sound scary, especially to us writers, but they don’t have to be!
How to Become One with Analytics
1) Start with Baby Steps
Many blogging platforms provide a bare-bones analytics system. It’s a nice start, but I recommend downloading a free analytics plugin so that you can see a bit more detail on your blog’s stats. As a WordPress user, Jetpack is my analytics plugin-of-choice and I can check my stats while still in the comfort of my blogging platform.
2) Learn to Swim with the Big Dogs
Once you’re comfortable with the terminology (pageviews, referring traffic, etc), you’re ready for a more robust system like Google Analytics. Don’t be intimidated. It’s free, it’s super comprehensive, and easy-to-use. When in doubt, there are million forums online to help you navigate through Google’s stats.
3) Listen to Your Numbers
The tools are in place, you’re making time for your metrics. All that’s left is listening to those numbers. Make a commitment to check your analytics daily. Yes, daily! You’ll have real time information on who is visiting your blog. Plus, seeing all that traffic is super rewarding!
[Word cloud created via Wordle]
Madeline Van Tassel – Blogging Expert – Alexandria, VA
Madeline Van Tassel is the founder and author of the budget style blog, Style Me Thrifty. After years of politely telling her family and friends how to dress (e.g. “Never, ever wear jeans to a bridal shower!”), she decided to combine her love of fashion, writing, and overall thriftiness by launching Style Me Thrifty in March 2011. In addition to her fashion blog, Madeline has also made a career out of blogging by running the blog of one of the largest nonprofit organizations. With limited hours in the workday, and even less in the evenings, Madeline has mastered the art of blogging smarter, not harder.
When Madeline’s not writing, playing around in WordPress, shopping, or tweeting, she can be found enjoying the newlywed life with her supportive husband and their cat Bandit.