5 Reasons Not to Sweat Your Stats

A few years ago, back when I was just getting into blogging, there was a trend going around where book bloggers would “reveal” their stats is a big post with overwhelming graphs, numbers, and analysis. They always prefaced the post talking about how uncomfortable it felt and how unusual it is to talk about stats. So I always kind of thought statistics were kind of SECRET, and maybe a big deal.

But I’m on my third year as a book blogger, and I find that I continue to just … not care. Y’all, this is a hobby*, and I refuse to treat it as more than that. I’m here to make friends, not get followers.

So how do you do it? How do you keep from obsessing about something that may seem so important? Well, I’m not an expert. But I do have a few ideas to throw out there that may help.

*This post was written for hobby bloggers, not professional or semi-professional bloggers. Those people should please ignore all the remaining content.

1. Numbers don’t mean anything

This is the most important piece of advice I have to offer. Followers, likes, views, they don’t mean anything. Again, louder for my friends in the back: NUMBERS ARE LITERALLY MEANINGLESS.

Let me clarify with an example. I was reading an old-ass post yesterday, a post written back in my first few months of blogging when I had maybe 200 or 300 followers. That post had 29 likes. I went back and looked at some of my posts from last week now that I have over 2,500 followers. Between 25-35 likes, each and every one. I don’t pay a lot of attention to my stats, but I notice views for individual posts just because they’re there. Consistently for the last three years my posts average about 60 views in a week. I am constantly getting notifications about more followers, but my views and likes stay the same. Why?

Because these numbers don’t actually tell you ANYTHING. How many followers you have doesn’t indicate how many people are actually reading your posts. Since the WordPress Reader allows people to like your posts without even opening them, that doesn’t either. I don’t know how views are tabulated, but I don’t think that they’re super accurate either based on what I’ve heard from other bloggers. Y’all, these numbers mean nothing.

If you really want to judge the popularity of your blog, I suggest looking at comments. It’s not the perfect way to tell, but it’s the only thing that seems to actually reflect reality.

2. Set a vision for your blog

I mentioned in my introduction “I’m here to make friends.” That’s been a recurring theme in my content this summer. I was very intentional early on in my blogging journey to make a vision, a purpose for this blog. My vision was simple: Create a space to talk to friends about books.

Your vision for your blog may be different. You may envision a blog that makes money, or is influential, or can catapult you to a bookish small business. Your vision may be related to expressing yourself, or to having an aesthetic blog, or to write award-winning reviews. I don’t know your vision. But you NEED a purpose. And that purpose will determine the importance of stats to your blog.

My vision is about making friends. How many views my blog gets this year will have NOTHING to do with whether I feel socialized and like I’ve made friends. That’s why it’s so easy for me to not care about stats. Your vision may require good stats, but for most of us it’s not the most important reason we’re here. Most of us are here to have fun.

3. Don’t compare yourself to other bloggers

I’ve been blogging for three years. Some of my blogging friends have been around for closer to a decade, while others haven’t reached their first blogoversary. OF COURSE we have different stats! Some blogs focus on a certain genre or age range, and those genres tend to have tight-knit communities that lead to “better” stats. Other bloggers, like me, blog about whatever, so OF COURSE our stats are different. Some bloggers post daily, other bloggers post once or twice a week. OF COURSE our stats don’t match.

“Don’t compare yourself to other bloggers” is maybe the most common advice given to new bloggers, but usually it’s because of (valid but) touchy-feely reasons about being yourself and finding your own voice. But y’all, have some sense. Comparing yourself to a blog that is different than yours in any way just isn’t logical.

4. Think critically before you start a spreadsheet

Remember those stat-reveal posts I talked about that were so popular a few years ago? Almost every one of them graced us with an obsessive, type-A spreadsheet to help the blogger track their stats over time. Now, I’m never going to hate on a good spreadsheet. I too enjoy some great conditional formatting and pivot tables! But before you start a spreadsheet, ask yourself if this is going to improve your blogging experience.

If the main objective you have for your blog is to have a fun hobby or to make friends, is a stat-spreadsheet really going to help with that? Or is it just going to lead to you tying your self-worth to how many likes you got that day? Is it really going to lead to an improvement of your stats through careful analysis, thought, and planning, or are you just going to feel bad when the numbers don’t do what you want?

I’m not saying you shouldn’t start a spreadsheet. I AM saying that you should make sure that a spreadsheet aligns with the vision you set for your blog. That a spreadsheet will make you happy in the long-term. And if it won’t, skip it.

5. Have fun!

I know that sounds obvious, but seriously. Which is a better way to spend your Thursday evening, obsessing about your stats, or reading your friends’ super fun blog posts? If you’re here to have fun, you have to make the choice to do so.

33 thoughts on “5 Reasons Not to Sweat Your Stats

  1. I agree with so much of this! We’ve been blogging for nine years, but our stats the first, say, three years were really, really terrible. No one was reading our blog. :p So if someone looks at our blog now and assumes we have good stats, I don’t think they should read too much into. Also, the follower count isn’t accurate because people who were following us eight years ago are not ACTUALLY following us now, but they’re still counted if they didn’t unsubsribe.

    I also have noticed the same thing about interaction. We had very few followers when we first started, but we also had some very dedicated ones and would get lots of visits and comments from them. For a blogger who likes discussion and interaction, having a core group of followers you actually talk with can be more fun than having a lot of followers and views from people who never comment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed! I notice that I have 5-10 followers who comment on a LOT of my posts, but most of the time I don’t get a lot of other comments. And that was the same even when I had many fewer followers. And you make a good point about just because WordPress says they “follow” me doesn’t mean they actually still do. A lot of my followers (and people I follow) have become inactive over the years. I wanted to talk about that, but I didn’t know how to word it. You said it just right.

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  2. Thanks for this! I just started blogging about a week ago and I just wanted a place to read & talk about books. I don’t want it to be stressful or make me not like reading – that wasn’t the point! This post just made me want to read, post, interact with you all and not worry about anything else. Thanks 💛

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  3. I think bloggers do obsess over stats and there is some kind of secrecy around them. However, I think it’s important to remember that stats don’t really DO anything for you, except maybe give you a sense of accomplishment. You don’t get a reward for more stats, right? If anything, they’re important so you can request ARCs, but, if you aren’t into ARCs, they really mean nothing. And you can probably get some ARCs without having sky-high numbers, anyway. And I agree I’m not really sure the WordPress stats are the most accurate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve noticed people with a much smaller follower count (and I therefore assume fewer views/likes/whatever) than me who get ARCs, so I don’t think you have to be the most influential blogger in the world to get them. I wouldn’t know, it’s not something I do. It seems like Instagram is more influential in terms of ARCs, and stats are a lot more indicative of “success” on that platform too.

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      1. That’s true. I think you just need decent enough views. Ten a day might not be enough, but you don’t need five hundred. I think, too, that it is easier to get ARCs than people realize, if you aren’t going for the most hyped releases. If you ask for books from a smaller press, I think they’d be happy for the publicity. But I think you’re right in that Instagram and BookTube, too, get more views and they’re probably likely to get more attention from publishers as a result.

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      1. My ratio was always about 2:1… for every like there were two views. Now it’s more 3:1….I get notifications that people are reading, but no idea who. It’s a strange gap…

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        1. That is unusual. I also usually have a 2:1 ratio. I open usually ten posts to read, but then sometimes run out of time before I’ve read them all and close two or three without reading/liking. Maybe people are doing that to us too?

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  4. I do not care that much about my stats. They are the same about every day anyway. I have been blogging for ten years, and I love it so much. Its my passion though —for me its more than just a hobby for me, if I could do it as my job I would if I got paid for it lol BUT I really care more about building connections with others than looking at the stats. Its not a big deal to me. New bloggers get stuck on them and I feel like they just aren’t a critical aspect.

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  5. Such a great reminder! I tend to get the same amount of views and likes regardless of the number of followers. In the last year or two, I’ve felt more pressure about posts, but that is completely internal. I still find blogging fun! 🙂

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  6. From my point of view, when blogging as a hobby it is easy to slip into comparing with “professional bloggers” who post very often, have high stats, and so on (been there, done that).

    But once I remember that I am not interested at all to be the go-to blogger for publishers to review new books and I am not willing to make concessions about the content I blog, then everything is back to normal 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a good point, especially when you’re new it’s not always easy to tell who the professional bloggers are and who the hobby bloggers are. It would be silly for *me* to compare myself to a professional blogger since I am DEFINITELY not. I am also not interested in reviewing new ARCs and having a tight-knit relationship with a publisher rep etc.

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  7. I agree with this wholeheartedly. I blogged from 2010 to 2015 on a different subject, and actually ran two sites at once, and sometimes I got obsessed with stats. Then I’d get a reality check when something I’d slaved on didn’t get the expected response. Now I’m older, wiser, and not like an anxious puppy when I look at my stats. Granted, I just started again a few months ago, but my goal is to build a community of like-minded readers and hope for more give and take with my readers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that as long as you know what your goal is, it helps keep those stats in perspective. Stats aren’t going to kill you, they’re just not the end-all-be-all for most of us. Sounds like you’ve found that happy medium.

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