I had more views in January than I’ve ever had in a month on my blog. Sometime Wednesday night or early Thursday, I passed my record of 32,725 set in October 2012. Traffic this morning was at 34,815. I’ll certainly top 35,000 for the month, with a reasonable shot at 36K.
Update: With 1,116 views on Jan. 31 (my 16th day over 1,000 views in January), I ended January with 35,739 views, beating my old record by more than 3,000.
For a variety of reasons, my traffic in 2013 had dipped below 2012 levels, running 20,000 to 25,000 views most months. A post about Twitter and competition on Saturday, Jan. 4, started a surge in traffic like I hadn’t seen in over a year. Where weekend traffic usually runs a little over 500 views a day, I had 3,500 views that day and 2,000 that Sunday and then topped 2,000 again on Monday (weekday traffic normally runs a little under 1,000).
With that kind of start, a strong month was almost guaranteed. That post about Twitter and competition had 6,668 views in January. The only post to draw more traffic in a calendar month was my Dear Newsroom Curmudgeon … post in April of 2012, which topped 8,000 posts its first month.
A couple of follow-up posts on livetweeting and on how word of that competition post spread in social media added another 797 views combined.
A second factor in the strong January traffic was the growing popularity of a post from last summer, providing advice on what to do if you hit Twitter’s limit of 2,000 people that anyone can follow. Above that limit, you need to meet a certain ratio of followers to people you can follow.
This traffic is largely search-driven and resulted in 2,208 views in January. Traffic to that post has climbed every month since August, and it got twice as many views in January as it did in July, the month it was published. As I suggested in the post, Twitter should consider whether it needs to adjust that limit or provide a way for legitimate Twitter users to get exceptions. It’s not a good thing for a business when thousands of people are searching Google for help on dealing with a limitation of your product.
Those two Twitter posts (plus the follow-ups on the competition post) combined for nearly 10,000 views for the month, more than one-fourth of the blog’s traffic for the month. I need to remember that when Twitter questions arise, I should blog about them. I had been procrastinating for months about the post on the follower limit. Those two posts were my only posts getting more than 1,000 views in January, but a Jan. 23 post with a 50-year-old memo by former San Francisco Examiner City Editor Gale Cook had 973 January views, so it will top 1,000 shortly.
I was already on course to pass my record before Wednesday’s post announcing Project Unbolt (which crossposted on Inside Thunderdome and got more traffic there). But that post and yesterday’s describing how an unbolted newsroom works combined to add another 1,637 views that helped push me well past the record.
A series of posts with advice for a new adjunct journalism professor had a fairly narrow potential audience, so the views for individual posts didn’t approach 1,000. But the first two posts in the series combined for more than 1,000 views and together the series generated 1,800 views.
Guest posts also fueled my traffic in January. Several journalism professors contributed guest posts to the series of advice for a new professor. Along with other guest shots by Jeff Edelstein and Ben Garvin, the guest posts added about 1,000 posts for the month.
My posts on historic front pages didn’t attract much traffic, a little over 100 views for my post on the front pages covering the release of hostages from Iran and Reagan’s inauguration and a little under 100 for the post on the front page covering Lyndon B. Johnson’s death and the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling. I enjoy looking at the front pages and reflecting on them, so I’ll probably continue doing them, but with a humble recognition that they don’t have much audience. While the series on teaching advice and historic front pages didn’t deliver huge views, their accumulation was part of the successful month.
I wasn’t blogging as much most of last year as I did in 2012. I don’t know whether I can keep up the pace this year, but frequent posts do boost traffic. This is my 31st post of the month. My pair of New Year’s Day posts on journalism scenes in movies, Garvin’s guest post, my workshop handout on organizing a complex story and a reaction to an interview with Clayton Christensen all got fewer than 300 views. But together they topped 1,000. And I had a few more posts in that range, too.
An examination of my January traffic also shows the importance of search and archives. Four of my 10 best-read posts of the month were from previous years: the post on Twitter’s follower limit and posts on attribution, the 5 W’s and revenue ideas for news organizations. Those three posts each got 500+ views in January and have become my three most-read posts ever, all because of search traffic that far exceeded their initial attention.
Of the 51 posts I had with 100 or more views this month, 30 of them weren’t published this month. So the archives and search traffic provide a base of traffic regardless of how much I’m blogging in a particular month and how much attention those posts attract.
This is a pretty self-indulgent post and will add only a thimbleful to the January traffic and less than that in February. But I always try to assess my performance every month to see what I can learn, so I post about it. I think I can safely predict that I won’t be breaking this record in February.