An interesting question came up during Blogchat’s talk about Blog Analytics: Once you start getting that valuable data, do you still blog from the heart or for the stats?
It’s actually a great question that most bloggers have pondered, even if only for a few moments, after seeing their numbers for the first time. Those numbers are so important, but it’s so easy to allow them to make you completely change things overnight, then continue tweaking in a kind of obsession that makes your blog lose one of its most valuable assets: your true voice.
Most of us want numbers, particularly those who put on a show about not caring what the numbers are. But those cold hard numbers are only really a part of the picture.
So when the question came up about whether a blogger should still blog “from the heart” or “for the stats” once those numbers start coming in, the answer that came to my mind was easy: it should never be an “either/or” proposition.
A blogger needs to blog from the heart at all times. It’s called being authentic, and I really believe your audience can easily tell when they’re reading something that isn’t written that way. After 11 years of blogging, I’m sure there are topics I could write about that would boost my stats. But if I don’t care about those particular topics, why would I write about them? If I have no passion at all about certain types of subject matter, my attempt to blog from the heart about those subjects are going to be a disaster.
So, yes, you always blog from the heart. You make sure that what you say is authentically you.
Once you have Google Analytics installed, though, you definitely need to watch your numbers. There’s so much valuable data there to tell you so many different things, I can’t imagine why a blogger would want to ignore it.
The stats may reveal for you, however, that certain topics — not necessarily your method of expressing them — aren’t as appealing to your readers.
That’s where you and your editorial judgment come in.
You have to decide whether content you’re producing, content in which you’re injecting your authenticity and your voice, is important enough to continue posting if your stats show it isn’t particularly popular.
That’s not something anyone else can decide for you. That’s something you have to decide as you learn who your audience is and what it wants.
You may decide that blogging from the heart means occasionally blogging on a topic that stats may show isn’t a top performer. Or you may decide that the things your audience seems to be more passionate about are a lot of the things you’re most passionate about.
That’s one of the best things that can happen to a blogger!
Google Analytics shouldn’t be something that cramps you. It should be the tool to help you focus and improve the content you provide to your audience.
There should never be a question of blogging from the heart or blogging to boost your stats, because the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.