No fancy preamble. We’re going to jump right into the middle of my favorite Blogging Commandment.
We’ll start here –
What is your cost per visitor?
How about – cost per subscriber?
These two numbers will show how effective your blog efforts have been in the last week, month, or year.
You might ask, blogging is free, so how do I figure out your fancy numbers? First let’s agree that blogging is not free. You spend time writing posts, finding images, and publishing.
Let’s say that you spend 5 hours a week on blogging tasks. Next determine how much someone else would pay you for that time. When I was working a full-time corporate job I took my hourly billable rate and multiplied it by 5.
For example sake, we’ll say that I was paid $20 an hour. Making my blogging cost equal to $100/week (5 hours x $20/hour). Over the year that roughly came to $5,200.
Now if my blog attracted 5,200 visitors over the same period then my cost per visitor would be $1 ($5,200/5200 visitors). My goal is to decrease my cost per visitor. I can do that by getting more blog readers or lowering my per hour cost.
Taken one step further, if I added 1,000 blog subscribers, my cost per subscriber would be $5.20. The goal is to decrease this number too.
I like using cost per subscriber and cost per visitor because it focuses on three important blogging considerations: 1) How much is an hour of time worth? 2) How many people are visiting the blog and 3) How many people are subscribing.
My blog started growing and attracting a loyal following the moment I started watching these numbers.
Tracking – The Real Silver Bullet
Management experts say that “what get’s measured get managed.” They are right. I found that my key costs went down once I started watching them.
For that matter, visitor counts , subscriber count, time on site, and revenue per customer (my third favorite metric) increased at a nice steady pace too.
Whenever someone tells me that their blog isn’t doing well, I ask them the same questions I asked you: 1) Visitor Cost, 2) Subscriber Cost. Initially, I really don’t care what the number is – I just want to know if they are aware of it. To date 100% of underperforming blogs are published by people who don’t track their numbers.
I don’t look for silver bullets, but tracking is a darn good candidate for being the silver bullet for publishing a growing blog.
A Dangerous Mindset
I like to lurk in discussion forums and Tweetchats. Whenever the conversation thread turns to blogging performance, somebody jumps in and says – I don’t watch my metrics, I just focus on creating great content. This person is immediately heralded as a thought leader and savvy content marketer.
I have a word for these people. Idiots. Your blog will fail if you follow this advice. I guarantee it.
Think about this notion…
- How far would your car run if you never checked the gas gauge?
- Would you ever arrive on time for appointments if you ignored your watch?
- How well would your kids do in school if you didn’t care about report cards?
- Wouldn’t you be just a little concerned if your doctor didn’t check medical records?
Your blog needs to be tracked. It’s common sense.
I believe the “no tracking” crowd is really wrestling with another issue…
What If My Numbers Suck?
It’s discouraging to see single digit traffic and even fewer comments, retweets, and subscribers. I get it. The answer isn’t to ignore it or let the Unicorn and Rainbow crowd rationalize the situation away.
Instead, use the numbers to push you toward action.
No visitors: Focus your attention on compiling a list of reader attraction tactics and systematically testing each one.
No subscribers: Work on improving your Expert Products, build better opt-in forms, create landing pages, and split-test your headlines and offers.
No sales: Create a lead nurturing campaign, survey people who didn’t buy, learn how to write persuasive marketing copy, etc.
Get focused and your numbers will improve. Remember everyone starts at zero, but you don’t have to stay there.