Growth in Three Graphs

I’ve spent a lot of time in the past fortnight thinking about how far I’ve come in the past few years – personally and professionally and all sorts. My mantra is to share everything with you so that you can see the truth behind things. So today I want to talk about something more specific to running a blog: growth.

Growth is awkward. It’s something you can definitely do things to improve, but that you still ultimately have no control over. It relies upon the actions of others, so all you can really do is do your best to create something others want to like, share, engage with. To talk about what that looks like here on the blog, today I have a selection of graphs for you. No, don’t run away, I promise it’s interesting!

Each of these touches on a different aspect of blog running, and shows both how well we’re doing but how far we’ve got to go.

Website View Growth

Not unsurprisingly, one of the first graphs I’m going to show you is the one you probably immediately thought of: website views. This graph is one of many available to me on WordPress, which has pretty snazzy analytics features.

Graph displaying the website view growth over the past year for RebeccaMilton.com.

If it looks a bit odd, it’s because I’ve cut out the months where I hadn’t properly launched – they’re not really relevant to analysing the growth of the blog. So here’s what you’re seeing. This is the total views for each month. The main bar is the number of hits, and the smaller (darker) bar within is the number of unique visitors.

You’ll notice two very distinct months: August and December. In August, Mundane Magic was published, so it makes sense that I got a lot more hits there. In December, my article on Sagas of Sundry’s Madness was shared by Geek and Sundry and Erika Ishii. The vast majority of the views you’re seeing there are from just two days and go to a single blog post – hence the higher number of unique viewers.

But most importantly, things are steadily increasing over time. No, it’s not a straight line. But it’s very much going up. The frustrating thing – from my point of view at least – is that it’s doing this very slowly. That’s the crux of growing something like this; it doesn’t happen overnight. You just have to keep going.

Facebook & Twitter Engagement Growth

I have a variety of information about my social media engagement, and they’re a little harder to read – but still very interesting. Here to begin with is my Facebook engagement:

Facebook like, share and comment growth over time for Rebecca Milton.

Bit mad, isn’t it? Okay, so here’s what we’re looking at. Likes, shares, and comments are the main things. “Others” in this instance appears to be people following and liking the page, as far as I can tell – because that jump on the 14th February corresponds with another graph I have. Three months is unfortunately the most I can show you at once with this graph, but it’s still very useful.

What is interesting about this one is how inconstant engagement is on Facebook. Here, for comparison, is my Twitter engagement graph:

Twitter engagement growth over time for @_rebeccamilton.

Whilst still spiky, it doesn’t bottom out as much as Facebook. This suggests to me that engagement on Twitter is more constant than Facebook. I think the main reason for this is likely that my updates are probably more suited to Twitter than Facebook. Going deeper into my analytics, the posts that receive the most engagement on Facebook are the ones that actively seek engagement – like Question Sundays. These posts receive little to no engagement on Twitter.

And A Dream?

The dream, of course, is to grow this blog to a point where even more people see it. I don’t have a specific target goal for how many views I want, or how many followers I ultimately want on social media. I just want people to see and hear what I have to say. Which means the question becomes: how do we do that?

From the look of the social media graphs, what I need to start doing is curating content for each platform. If users want one thing on Facebook and another on Twitter – and that’s not surprising given how different they are as platforms – I need to start catering to that. It’s more work, but it’s worth trying for a few months at the very least.

Website views are harder to gauge. I can publish more books – not quick – or try to get shared by more famous people – not controllable. Really, I think the best thing to do with growing the website is to just keep going. Just keep publishing. Keep working on improving everything I can, and most importantly continuing to produce content. The more I produce the more I’m learning about what you like and are engaged in.

And some of that has really surprised me. I never expected my mental health posts to be amongst the most popular on my blog, and I’m overjoyed that they are. People react so viscerally to them, especially to personal accounts, and that means a huge deal personally as well as professionally. I want to start doing more posts of this nature, but I also don’t want to force it, or lose out on the other things I want to do here.

Slow and steady wins the race.

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