First, though, I should review January, which I didn’t do. After four straight months of record views on my blog, my traffic dropped by 35 percent in January, back lower than it was before the streak of records. I didn’t really need a sophisticated review of my metrics to know why: I didn’t blog as much in January. For much of February, I didn’t blog a lot either. I’ve been traveling and have a large backlog of blog ideas and haven’t posted as frequently as I’d like to.
But two strong posts still had my traffic at a pretty fair pace through the first three weeks of February. And it’s easy to see two lessons from them:
- Addressing a hot topic often generates significant traffic. People who agree and disagree will share the link on social media. I blogged Feb. 6 about journalists’ opinions, and whether and how they should express them, or be free to express them, in social media. This is a hot topic among journalists and it was my most-viewed post of the month, with 2,259 views.
- Competition and polls can stimulate traffic. My Feb. 15 post about Digital First Media newsrooms’ Valentine’s Day engagement efforts had 1,962 views. I asked readers to choose the best by inserting a poll in the blog. Some of the competing journalists retweeted the link on their branded social-media accounts or on personal accounts. The contest got 770 votes, and each of those represented a page view as well.
Still, I had only three other posts through Feb. 21, and I was well behind December’s record pace. Things picked up last week. I blogged about our new Digital First engagement team (778 views), then about the railroad fatality on my train ride home last Friday (174 views; I will be updating that later today), then about the NPR Ethics Handbook (90 views) and Jeff Edelstein’s clever use of Klout (200). None of three individual posts last Friday got great traffic, but together, they made for a pretty good day.
This week I had three straight days over 1,000 views, underscoring a consistent theme of my blog: Journalists are hungry for advice about digital journalism. I have been leading courses for Digital Ninja School (a topic of a post earlier in the month) in Connecticut this week, and posting tips on beat blogging (585 views) and metrics (213). I also joined a debate on other blogs and Twitter (that hot-topic thing again), offering my views on why linking is good journalism (818 views in three days).
The success of the beat blogging and linking posts underscored a lesson I think I’ve noted before: Headlines using numbers and posts that are lists seem to do well. I shared 13 ways journalists should beat blog and four reasons why linking is good journalism and started each headline with the number. I also listed a 12-step process for choosing and using metrics to measure performance, though I didn’t use the number in that headline (and it didn’t have as strong a first day as the other two).
The strong finish gave me my second-best month at 23,541 views. Given the fact that December is two days longer, I consider it as good a month as my record month, December of 2011 at 24,794.
Two more observations about the month:
- My post from last April on the 5 W’s of the news business continues to get strong search referrals, 886 views last month (my third-most for the month). It’s the third hit when you Google “5 W’s,” and to my continued amazement, people Google that term lots of times every day. I don’t think that post is what they want, but they keep coming (a reminder that some metrics are more meaningful than others).
- Helpful archival content has lasting value. My posts from last year on how a Digital First approach guides a journalist’s work and on different revenue sources for news organizations both had more than 500 views last month, and five other old posts had more than 200.
I’m not sure I’ll blog about this every month. But, as I said in the metrics workshop yesterday, I think it’s a good idea to review your metrics monthly and spot the trends and lessons. And, since Chris noted the earlier posts about my monthly metrics (and since it was another good month), I thought I’d blog about it. Even though these naval-gazing posts about my own metrics always attract only a few views.