On June 14, I posted the results of the book blogger stats survey, which I hope gave bloggers some insights into what “typical” stats might look like for a book blog. In this post, I want to talk more specifically about the stats shifts I’ve seen at Pages Unbound over five years. Bloggers in general seem reluctant to talk about their stats; I think some “small” bloggers are afraid their stats aren’t that good and don’t want to reveal that, while “big” bloggers might feel as if they’re bragging if they post about their 1000 page views a day. However, I think some transparency can be helpful in our community, especially to newer bloggers who might have no idea of what other bloggers’ stats might look like. This post will also give a sense of what I think has been working to increase traffic to Pages Unbound. If you’re looking to increase your reach, maybe these actions can also work for you.
Page Views per Day: Jump in 2012
Here are our average page views per day over 5 years (screenshot taken 6/14/16):
Ok, so when new book bloggers say they’re sad that they’re only getting X views per day, I usually laugh. Because you see 2011, right? We were averaging 8 views per day for the first 8 months we were blogging.
So, why the jump in 2012? I recall two things we did differently. First, I started participating in the book blogging community more. A lot of people say they blog for themselves, well, when i started, I really was blogging for myself. I didn’t follow a lot of blogs or comment on a lot of blogs; I was just posting reviews for myself. People didn’t really know we existed. I actually freaked out the first time someone commented on a post because I legitimately was not expecting it to happen. I didn’t comment on other people’s posts, and they didn’t comment on mine.
Second, I joined Twitter late in 2012. While Twitter is still not a large traffic-driver to many of our posts here, it did increase our traffic. Plus, being active on Twitter helps me keep more on top of the book community. I know what topics people are interested in, and if I want to, I can write a discussion post reacting to something other bloggers are discussing on Twitter; those types of posts are often popular.
Another Jump in 2016
Here’s a look comparing the years in total page views. There’s another increase from 2012-2013, which I have no specific explanation for. However, after that we’re pretty much static 2013-2015. We were looking at 75 page views per day for those three years, which seems on par with the book blogger survey results. Breaking that barrier seems difficult for many bloggers.
However, we seem on track to beat these stats for 2016. The orange bar here is for views only through 6/14, so it’s possible that bar could be doubled by December.
New Blogging Habits in 2016
I know that joining Twitter and participating in the blogging community more probably led to a stats increase in 2012. But what about this year? It’s hard to know for sure, but I have some guesses.
First, I started participating in the community even more. I decided I wanted to find more bloggers to follow and interact with this year, and I have found and commented on more blogs than I ever have in my life. I’ve built better relationships, and I’ve seen some of these bloggers visit my blog in turn. I also started trying to comment back on the blogs of people who comment here, which I never made a priority before.
I’ve seen some “big” bloggers attribute their success to how much they comment on other blogs, and after seeing an increase in my own traffic, I believe them. You don’t have to comment on blogs only because you want traffic on your own (this wasn’t even my plan when I started), but if you are looking to intentionally increase your stats, it’s a good place to start: comment widely and often.
Second, Krysta and I have both written more discussion posts this year than we have before. I used to schedule about one discussion post a week. However, I’ve been feeling prolific, and I guess Krysta has, as well. I’ve seen a noticeable difference in attracting, and keeping, visitors by posting two discussion posts a week.
If you want to go this route to purposely increase traffic, I also think having unique discussions can help. (Sorry if I sound full of myself here by implying I write such amazingly original content. Sometimes I probably do, but I also realize that sometimes I don’t!) However, if you’re really looking to stand out, think about what kinds of posts you haven’t seen a lot of other bloggers write about and what kinds of posts you’re really interested in. Do you really want to know the answer to “How many books do you store on your bedside table?” or is that a discussion with pretty low stakes you couldn’t care less about?
Here’s a look at some recent daily stats. The spikes at 200 page views or over for the day are almost exclusively for days we published discussion posts.
I actually don’t expect our 2016 stats to double what they are in June. The simple reason for this: our traffic always goes down in summer.
Many bloggers have observed that weekends can be slower for blog traffic than weekdays. However, there are also seasonal highs and lows. We always get a boost in January, when I assume bloggers are making New Year’s Resolutions to start blogs or spend more time blogging. And we always lose traffic during the summer. My best guess for this is that people like to procrastinate at work and school by going online, and during the summer they’re doing more interesting things like going on vacation. You can already see our stats decreasing here at the start of June (though remember these are stats only for half the month). You can also see the dip for June, July, and August the past two years. But if 2016 is anything like the past years, they’ll pick up again in September. (We’ll also get a noticeable amount of search engine hits from students clearly trying to look up the books they never read for summer reading.)
The main takeaway here seems to be that talking to other people really matters for stats. I think the typical readers for a book blog (beyond random search engine hits) are other book bloggers. So if you want them to come to your blog, you have to make sure they know you exist, and you’ll want to make sure you’re building relationships ad conversations by engaging with them on their blogs and on social media.
The other takeaway is that Pages Unbound probably had some of the lowest page views ever in 2011, for a blog where we were actually consistently blogging the entire time, so no one else ever has to feel bad about their stats again. 😉