Analytics Liberation

It happened early yesterday morning, although I was unaware until I awoke. I’d kept tabs from time to time, and I knew I was inching closer. And while I anticipated the result sooner than later, there was no predicting when.

It first crossed my mind earlier this summer when I began recording my travels through Southern Africa and the Great Lakes. Little by little, the notion that new posts were finding a newer audience, and past posts were being mined from archives was reassuring. But it wasn’t until I returned home, and caught up on summer highlights from my travels that I began realizing the possibility.

And it remained elusive until an alert on my phone notified me of the news earlier in the day.

After 2 years and 7 months, after 320 posts, after more than 187,000 written words, after over 5,600 uploaded photographs, after 23,000-plus visits and nearly 45,000 views, I had finally amassed my 2,000th WordPress follower.

However, to pass this milestone, it also felt at times like I was carrying this millstone.

What was once a convenient means to share the view from my Airstream with family and friends, had blossomed into a creative umbrella for me after the Discover editors saw fit to feature my blog. The initial response was seismic…yet emphemeral. While I initially gained new readers from the exposure, their enthusiasm seemed to fade over time. My followers were moving on. Alas, fewer views and fewer likes.

My confidence was soon replaced by self-doubt. Had I failed to keep things fresh? Had I run out of fascinating places to visit and report? Were my destinations and musings no longer blog-worthy? I also began questioning my purpose as a blogger. Was I a photographer who writes, or a writer who photographs?

My immediate, albeit measured response was to shape my waning success by constructing posts with wider appeal, and sharing them with the 145 countries that once signaled interest in my blog.

I diversified the content too, choosing to dabble in humor (April Fools PSA) poetic expressions (A Sleeping Bear Dunes Ditty), art and music criticism (Joshua Tree–The Album and the National Park), political commentary (Anatomy of an Email), personal relationships (Happy Birthday, Dad!), and even trying my hand at serializing a book (Uncertainty: Prologue).

I must confess to moments of obsessing over numbers–thinking about ways to boost my online productivity, with guarantees for:

  • First page ranking on Google, Yahoo, and Bing
  • Improving organic traffic
  • Securing my website from Google Penguin updates 4.0
  • Increasing my conversion rate
  • Targeting future local markets

…but then I rejected the notion outright! Why would I pay to acquire an audience? After all, this isn’t a business where I have to drive masses of asses to my site.

Bottom line–I no longer believe I have an obligation to entertain/inform my followers. Indeed, I only have a desire to continue expressing myself, and I’m hopeful my followers will allow me–however and whenever–and still support me.

In the meantime, I’ll quietly celebrate my small victory in fulfilling an unexpected goal before moving on to the next challenge.

Here’s to the next 2,000 followers.

P.S. I’m a writer AND a photographer!

8 thoughts on “Analytics Liberation

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