Blogging 201: Give ‘Em What They Want

Conduct a short and simple stats analysis that will help you create an editorial calendar for the next 30 days.

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Time to take a step back. Live with the design you have for the day while we switch gears and start focusing on your content. We’re diving into stats to learn more about what your readers love.

Today’s assignment: conduct a short and simple stats analysis that will help you create an editorial calendar for the next 30 days.

Why do this?

  • Because knowing which topics and posts are most popular helps you to brainstorm new content that you know your audience will love.
  • Because knowing which days of the week your visitors are most likely to show up lets you to plan to publish that content on your best days.

Let’s talk about cake for a moment: if you know your best friend loves cheesecake and she drops by every Sunday, you’d probably have a bit of dessert on hand when she shows up, right? It’s the kind of thing friends think nothing of doing for one another.

Your site’s stats can reveal what your friends like and when they’re likely to stop by. If you know what your readers love and when they show up, you can plan to give them what they’re looking for, making them more likely to come back. Pass the cheesecake!

To get to you stats, head to your blog and click the little chart in the black bar across the top of your screen, next to the “My Sites” and “Reader” links. (Note: if you have a self-hosted blog or use another platform entirely, you’ll probably need to poke around in your blog’s administrative tools to find your stats).

The first thing you’ll see is a graph showing your views, comments, and likes. You can look at this graph by days, weeks, or months to get a sense of whether your blog has particularly popular times. Click on any bar in the graph to get the stats for that particular time period, and see what posts you published:

A bit farther down the page, you can also see your most popular posts and pages in that time period. The orange bars on the left indicate that a post was published within the time period you’re looking at. These were the most popular posts and pages on my personal blog during the month of January, during which I published two posts:

stats post and pages

Not surprisingly, the home page got the most traffic, followed by my newest posts and then a collection of older content. A bit further down the page, I can also look at what search terms visitors were looking for when they landed on my blog:

stats search terms

(As you can see, I receive an oddly high number of visitors searching for “iceberg hunters,” which explains why that post, which is much older, is still high on the list of my popular posts and pages.)

You can learn a lot from your stats, but you can also dwell on them too long — when you get too emotionally invested in your stats rather than just using them as a tool, it may be time to take a step back from your stats.

Elsewhere on the page, you can see your most popular tags and categories, the countries your readers come from, your most engaged commenters, and more. Take a few minutes to browse your stats page — look at different time periods, click around the charts, and see what you can learn. Then, ask yourself some questions:

  • What are your top five posts by views? What are your top posts by number of likes or comments?
  • Which topics do these posts represent?
  • Are there posts or topics you are surprised are popular? Can your stats provide a hint as to why (e.g., as in my “iceberg hunters” traffic)?
  • Which days of the week bring the most traffic?
  • When should you plan to publish new posts on your most popular topic?

Now that you’re armed with data, it’s time to sketch out an editorial calendar for the next 30 days — a outline of what kinds of posts you’ll publish when.

An editorial calendar is entirely up to you and needs to fit into your life — what and how often you choose to publish is your choice alone. Return to your blogging goals from Day One — did you create a posting frequency goal? Now’s the time to plan to meet that goal.

Are you really stuck? Here are five ideas for new posts you can use right now, no matter the subject of your blog.

If you didn’t create a posting frequency goal, that’s fine, too. Armed with your insights from your stats analysis, brainstorm some new post ideas and plan when you’ll publish them. You might feel like your stats aren’t high enough to tell you much about your readers, or your blog might be quite new — that’s fine. You can still look at your popular categories and posts, and start experimenting.

We’ll be delving deeper into stats in a few days. For now, let’s get comfortable with stats and start figuring out how to use them.

Questions? We’re here! Head to The Commons for more space to chat.


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