. WHAT IS BLOG SUCCESS? HOW CAN WE MEASURE IT?
As a very driven person, i’m often striving for ‘success’, in all areas of my life I want to be the best I can, achieve the most possible and of course be a success. In work and life this is far easier to measure & there are clear goals and targets to work toward, a promotion, a pay rise, more responsibility, buying a house, getting married, going on holiday. However when it comes to blogging the topic of success is a little more subjective, undefined and if anything confusing. With more and more bloggers achieving great things on a daily basis, the parameters for success are continually growing, the end goal isn’t simply readers any more, its book deals, FROW invites, your own TV series (watch this space). And with such incredible, but also farfetched for the most of us, successes, it can make your own ‘small wins’ feel a little underwhelming. And that’s not okay.
In my opinion each blog and blogger should have it’s own success goals, because each blog is so unique you can’t really define one homogenous target, we might not all be able to active 50k subscribers if we write about niche or specialist topics, equally subscribers might not even be a true reflection of success for your blog, maybe it’s profit? And we all know by now that subscribers and profit don’t have to work in parallel. I wrote an entire blog business plan here which sets the scene for setting objectives and goals, but today I thought i’d take it one step further and share 5 general ways which you can monitor success, set targets based on or even just use to sense check how things are going every now and then, if ‘success’ in it’s largest meaning isn’t really important.
Of course given the set up, these are by no means exclusive, and not least right, but these are just the ways I monitor my achievements and the ways I set and measure my goals!
. GOOGLE ANALYTICS .
The first tool I use to monitor my blog progress is google anayltics, despite the fact that blogger and wordpress offer their own traffic reporting, it’s really beneficial to set up google analytics for your blog. It’s far more accurate, allows a lot deeper understanding of your consumer, their behaviour and of course your traffic (including where this is coming from which is always great for knowing areas to focus). I have had analytics since I started my blog but only really started to use it fully in the last year, it’s a great way to see what content works well, what channels drive the best conversions and generally the growth of your blog. Many brands are also keen to understand your traffic, whether that be UU (unique users – the amount of individual people that visit), to page views (total page views your blog receives) or even which cities your blog resonates well in. It’s only because of analytics I know how many readers I have from around the world!
When it comes to measuring success, google analytics is a great way of setting yourself benchmarks or goals which you can then measure on a weekly, or monthly basis for example, if growing your blog traffic is important, then maybe set yourself a target of either increasing the number of pages people view when they visit, or maybe introducing your blog to new people to grow unique traffic. Whatever your target, then set tactics to help achieve it e.g. refer to other posts within new content so people have more to read when they’re done. Easy little things, but it helps create a clear objective & end measurement. Again check out my ‘blog business plan’ post for a more detailed recommendation of how to make a plan, objectives & tactics.
. FOLLOWERS .
Followers of subscribers are often the most ‘obvious’ way to measure success, because they’re often very visible to not only yourself but others & of course are an indication of the amount of people that like your blog. However, what I would say is that there are many other ways for people to ‘follow’ your blog beyond bloglovin, Facebook, instagram, twitter, GFC etc … and these are often not visible. So really as a way to measure success, I don’t personally think that followers is the most ‘accurate’ reflection of success. And that’s clear from bloggers who may have less bloglovin followers, yet have great collaborations with brands and probably have very high traffic to their site. Book marking, simply typing the blog URL, organic search etc are all other ways people read and come to your blog, they’re simply just not ‘measurable’ in the same way.
Whilst I don’t think followers is the best measure of success, it’s still something I monitor and dream of growing, of course someone subscribing is so totally rewarding. There’s no harm in having a little goal of growing your followers by x amount every year, but I would just consider all the other success measures along side this. Theres no point having 1000 followers, if only 1 comes to visit after all.
. ENGAGEMENT .
Engagement is often something I think people forget to consider, and actually for brands and advertisers engagement is often a key part of their requirements. Engagement can range from comments and likes on your content, to volume of retweets and shares of your twitter or Facebook posts, likes on instagram, and of course as mentioned above ‘subscribers’. As a blogger seeing people engage with my content is actually one of the most rewarding things, seeing blog comments, bloglovin likes, retweets on twitter, all these things are so important to me, extremely rewarding but also a really important factor in growing your blog beyond your organic fan base. When people like, share or retweet etc, it’s almost like they’re saying this is great content guys, you should all check it out too. What better reward than that?
In my opinion engagement is organic and you can’t really boost it (aside from tactics like competitions etc), and that’s another reason it’s so rewarding. People engaging is a real reflection of their like for your content!
Whilst I don’t encourage engagement beyond my blog content often being conversational (as it always had been) and me talking to you guys and asking for your points of views, comment volumes, but also bloglovin likes are all things I real appreciate & are things I look at to see whether or not I think my content was a success or not. For example whilst I don’t have a target, for my tips series, I always get an amazing number of likes which always blows my mind, so this has sort of become a benchmark for my success now, I always hope that my future content will be as liked as the last!
. CONTENT .
This is a funny success measure and actually more personal than the rest of the points i’ve talked about so far. But a blog is all about content, and yes whilst we can deem it a success by it’s visits, likes, retweets or comments, there’s also of course the very important factor of your opinion on the content itself too. Were the images perfect, did you write a well written article, did you blog 5 times this week which was your target? Your content is another really important success measure, whether the measure is quality, frequency, or volume of features, content is a really important (we wouldn’t have blogs without it) thing to base your success on.
For me, daily blogging, 7 days a week, with a quality post each day, with new, fresh & quality pictures is my ultimate goal. If i’m doing this, then I should take the moment to pat myself on the back. We often forget that actually developing content, regularly, is a measure of our success and a really obvious target to set ourselves. It’s also the fundamental backbone to the other success measures i’ve talked about (traffic, engagement, followers etc).
You probably already have a target in mind when it comes to content (e.g. how often you blog, what topics you write about, the image quality or editorial quality you want etc), so don’t forget to factor this in when you’re considering the success of your blog.
. COLLABORATIONS & INVITES .
Collaborations is also for me, another thing I think about when I am looking at my blog and how it’s doing. For me it’s extremely rewarding, and in my opinion a reflection of my blog, when brands want to work with me. Fortunately over the last few years I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of my absolutely favourite brands, and for me, this little portfolio of client collaborations is always something I like to look at when i’m measuring success.
Whilst I would never approach a brand myself to work together, it’s some sort of pride thing I think, I still have a little ‘wish list’ of brands I’d just absolutely love to collaborate with. If i was a bit more savvy or brave I might put an action plan in place to introduce myself to these brands, after all they may not know your blog until you introduce it, but for now i’m taking a little less proactive approach, largely as my blog isn’t my full time job.
Collaborations aren’t the only thing to consider, event invitations are also another important thing to think about, both of these things are a reflection of the demand on your blog and what’s a better reflection of success than people wanting you.
. INCOME .
Whilst for many bloggers, including myself, our blogs are hobbies and not jobs, for a whole ton of people blogging is now a full time career and their sole source of income. For me my blog becoming profitable would be an amazing, if not the ultimate ‘success’ I could achieve, I absolutely love blogging and so for this to become my full time job, well it would be simply amazing.
For bloggers whose blog is full time, and even for those for who it’s not but they still earn some money from collaborations or sponsored content, then of course income is another measure of success. Profit. For me personally anything I make (which is more rare these days) would be an absolute bonus, but if your blog is something that you do full time, then having income targets & goals for paid for collaborations is something that will become increasingly important, and a real success measure.
I wrote a whole post here on working with brands if you’re interested in reading more on this topic.
. HAPPINESS .
Yes blogging is a business for some people now, but for the most of us, and even for those who make their income from their site, this all started out as a hobby. Something you started for fun, because it made you happy and because you enjoyed doing it. Your passion for your content is what made you start this in the first place, so probably the most important thing to consider when you’re reviewing if your blog is a success or not, is of course your own happiness. Do you still love doing it, do you still get excited to produce content, does it still make you happy … that is really the most important thing. So yes we may all want our blog to grow, people to like what we do, and best of all keep coming back for more, but the ultimate success in all of this is that you’re still doing something you love.
Success isn’t just about the hard numbers, its about the feelings, happiness and joy you get from things too. So lets all make sure we bear that in mind, and take the time to reward ourselves regularly for all our successes, no matter how big or small.