Writing by numbers

Back in July I blogged about the numbers behind the blog, and I received some useful feedback at the time, and I think sharing the information was useful for other bloggers too. A couple of months on here is a quick update.

Total visits to the site are up from 33,884 in July to 39,563 now. September 2011 closed as the busiest month to date with a small milestone of 3,003 visits, a step up from August which was the previous best at 2,076. I’m pleased with the increase in headline numbers and let’s look a little further.


I previously observed a close correlation between number of posts and number of visits. Last month I wrote the fewest number of posts since January 2011, nine in total. Why the shift? Well two posts I wrote in September were particularly busy, Naked Whine and You Will Fail. Beehive Yourself, a review of David Zinger’s London engagement workshop I wrote in July remains popular and is drawing lots of visitors in from Harvard Business Review. And a post I wrote in June, Kung Fu Panda – The Illusion of Control is getting lots of hits. I Googled Kung Fu Panda and my blog post came up on the first page. Lots of folks are landing at that page and leaving pretty quickly too – sorry kids. You’ve heard of the saying an elephant in the room, well I have a panda!


At the time of the previous update, 145 posts had generated 708 comments. Wind forward and 168 posts have now generated 984 comments. I’m delighted that the level of conversation, feedback and exchange of views seems to be thriving. This for me is much more important than a topline view of visit numbers. As I’ve learned from the wise panda, you can probably engineer traffic flows to your site. In this instance it was completely unintentional, I had no idea he would be so popular but he’s costing me a fortune in bamboo shoots.


In the last month (with July 2011 figures in brackets for comparison) the traffic source figures are 15% (23%) direct, 35% (23%) search engines, 40% (43%) referred (almost half of all referrals came from Harvard Business Review last month), and 10% (17%) others. I note that folks referred in via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social type sites spend several minutes here per visit. Traffic from search engines produces briefer visits.

So there you have it. I’ve found it useful to take a quick look under the bonnet and see what’s going on, I hope it helps a few of you out there too. I enjoy writing very much and I enjoy practicing and hopefully improving as a result. As always – thanks so much for reading, and if you have any questions and observations I’d love to hear them.


Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

5 thoughts on “Writing by numbers”

  1. Great to see a very popular blogger talk about conversation, feedback and exchange of views being more important than visit numbers. Encouragement for us minnows – I get about a quarter of your visits per posting!

    For my blog, I’ve started to track both Comments and Reactions per 100 views (normalised) for each months activity. My intention is to understand the reaction regardless of my blog volume or visitor numbers. Currently the blog generates on average 3 comments & 9 tweets per 100 views. Low numbers but encouraging in light of your figures – still plenty more to do though!

    I also find it interesting how certain sites or people can multiply the blog traffic. @AlisonChisnell commented in a similar vein to you recently on her blog experiment (http://thehrjuggler.wordpress.com/2011/09/25/blogging-experimenting-and-learning/). There’s something there about finding your audience and finding those who can more easily connect to your audience. Probably the subject for another blog!

    1. H David – thanks for your feedback. First and foremost I enjoy thinking and writing about stuff, and it’s this enjoyment which motivates me primarily. And I enjoy meeting interesting people, that’s got to be one of the most exciting things about my work. The comments and feedback introduce me to more interesting folk which also motivates me to continue.

      Thanks for the pointer to Alison’s feedback post. There’s doubtless some science somewhere in all of this. I love it when a blog post just catches the mood. You get great surprises that way. My recent ‘You Will Fail’ effort went off in a way I’d never expected, and I’m glad that sense of surprise can’t be analysed too much. I look forward to more from you and let us know how you get on in your finding and connecting quest. I think you’re doing well.

  2. Hi Doug, thanks for the update. Big takeaway from this is that social recommendation is powerful – referrals from social networks – people – lead to a longer stay versus search – algorithms. Search has an important part to play in getting people to your site – the panda post is a good example, but it’s people who like your content who play an arguably more powerful role as advocates and also as filters, that is if you recommend something to me I’ll rate it cos it’s from you. Great commentary and thanks for sharing the learning 🙂

    1. Thanks Martin – your feedback is great and I love your contribution to this ongoing topic. It somehow makes much more sense when you say it 🙂


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