2011 blogging stats: you came, you saw, you clicked

One pleasant bonus feature at WordPress.com is the “annual report” the site automatically provides, complete with the celebratory artwork you see below. It provides a good overview of your blog’s overall traffic, what sites sent visitors to it and what posts got the most attention–along with a corny fireworks animation and a fillip of promotion for my host. (Note to WordPress.com management: I don’t mind that. In other news, please approve my WordAds application.)

But this highlights reel glosses over many interesting wrinkles, and in my case it’s also skewed by the flood of traffic I got for announcing my departure from the Post here. So some other noteworthy details follow.

Of the 75,000-odd views this blog got last year, almost 15,000 went to that “Departure” post–but more than twice as many went to its home page. The third-most popular post was my rant about stupid social-media policies in news organizations, at almost 2,500, followed closely by the about-me page. After that came my introduction of my NASA Tweetup trip (featured on the WordPress.com home page, it clocked almost 1,700 views) and a how-to about forwarding mail from Lotus Notes to Gmail (featured nowhere, but regular queries for help on that topic drove it to about 1,300 views).

Note that I’m not using exact figures because I forgot to write down these numbers on Dec. 31, and WordPress.com doesn’t include a “last year” reporting option.

My biggest source of traffic was Twitter, at almost 3,800 views, followed by Facebook (close to 2,500), the Post (near 1,800), and “search engines” (Google, with traffic from Bing, Yahoo, Ask.com and other sites amounting to kopeks on the dollar). The most notable outlier in the top 10 was the local media-news site DCRTV.com, which accounted for about 500 views.

Speaking of search engines, the search queries that led people here were topped by–duh–my name, accounting for close to 3,000 page views. Farther down the list, I counted at least 20 misspellings of my last name. It’s okay: That’s the tradeoff for having a moniker distinctive enough to guarantee that you can get the same first-name-last-name user ID at most sites.

Of all the links you clicked on, the most popular (almost 800 clicks) was a column by Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton about the paper’s redesigned-but-still-sluggish site, followed by the panoramic photo of my old cubicle and my Twitter account (each just over 300).

The annual report offers a few details I don’t see on my usual stats page, such as the percentages of visitors from other countries. Sadly, I am not big in Japan, but I do seem to have a few readers in the U.K. I’d love to get a complete breakdown (hint: Facebook provides those analytics for public pages), along with software trivia like the operating systems and browsers used by visitors. Maybe next year? Until then: Thanks for reading.


If you’re thinking of announcing your exit from a job you’ve been publicly associated with for years, I offer these tips: Clear out your inboxes, stretch out your typing fingers and charge your phone. I have been humbled and gratified to see the response to yesterday’s post–Twitter replies and messages; comments here and on Facebook; e-mails from readers, colleagues and competitors; texts from friends; blog posts responding to my own. (And yet the first call didn’t come until hours later. I’d say the phone really is obsolete, but it was a great conversation with an old friend.)

It hasn’t been all that long since journalism was a largely feedback-free profession: You wrote your story, and only an exceptionally interested or angry reader would put a letter in the mail or call your desk line. Then came e-mail, followed by Web chats, story comments, blog comments, Facebook updates and Twitter replies. Each of those developments has shortened and accelerated the feedback loop.

That’s not always good–the knucklehead comments on many political stories at the Post’s site testify to that–but the risk should be acceptable. Yesterday reminded me why. Thanks.


A side project

I’ve been blogging for the Post since 2007 or so. Why bother doing another blog on the side now?

One reason: Writing in a system maintained by my employer for its own purposes shuts me out of many parts of the typical blogging experience, such as playing around with the basic design of the page whenever I like or seeing real-time readership statistics. Plus, the paper just switched to a blogging system that the ombudsman, in a fit of charity, described as “a bafflement to most of us trying to figure it out.”

Another reason: While I’ve enjoyed using my public Facebook page as a blog substitute for sharing my thoughts on journalism, technology and other issues that don’t fit in my work blog, that site isn’t set up for writing longer posts. It’s a pain to find older notes I wrote there. And, more important, it doesn’t seem such a good idea to use one site that I report on all the time as my primary outlet aside from work. I’d rather write those longer notes here, then link to them on Facebook.

Most of these reasons applied a year ago; I don’t know why I didn’t heed them then. In any case, please keep reading. I’ll try not to make this boring.