Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Numbers

The number on rule in blogging, I'm told, is this: don't get obsessed with numbers.  Everything I read about blogging - yes, I read blogs about blogging; don't judge me - says that focusing on your blog stats is counterproductive because it makes you lose sight of what your blog is truly about.  If you overthink the number of comment/hits you get per post/day, the metanarrative of your blog will flounder.

(True confession: I'm not sure I have a metanarrative.  I'm not even sure I know what a metanarrative is.)

When I started blogging a year ago, Google Analytics wasn't a feature on Blogger - and, honestly, even if it had been I don't think I would have realized what it could do.  Count the number of hits per day?  Tell me where traffic comes from?  Rank my posts in order of popularity?  Surely only God can do those things.

And then that little "stats" tab appeared on my dashboard, like manna falling from the sky in the wilderness.  (Or something.)  I was hooked.  I checked my stats every [expletive] day - sometimes several times a day.  And, yes, my blogging suffered for it; I was paralyzed by the thought that my writing wouldn't reach the number of people I thought it deserved to be read by.  Ignorance is bliss, eh?

I did eventually get over that phase, mostly helped by the wonderful people who follow Betsy Transatlantically.  I realized that I've got 45 devoted followers and that 150 hits a day is 150 more than I would get if I didn't blog and that, actually, I blog for me at the end of the day.  So I stopped stressing... for a while.

Then I had my giveaway, and I took a trip to crazytown again.  (Warning: most self-absorbed sentence ever blogged is about to be typed.)  I was devastated to only have seven entries.  Maybe I didn't do the giveaway right, it wasn't a tempting enough prize, maybe I didn't leave enough time or link in enough places - maybe all my readers were vacationing on some gloriously sun-drenched and beach that, because it was so secluded, didn't have internet available.  Who knows?  The point is that I literally had trouble sleeping because I was so concerned that - wait for it - nobody loved me.  (Yes, I really did just write that, and yes, I realize how pathetic it is.)

But you know how I snapped out of it?  It's ironic - that's how I roll - but I turned to my stats counter.  Google tells me that people from all over the world are reading this blog.

Check out all that green!  In fact, Google itself is directing searches from at least seven countries' Google search engines.  How [expletive] cool is that?  Okay, so maybe only one person in each of those countries reads this blog, but still!  Someone in Israel is reading my blog!  Someone in Italy is reading my blog!  (To each of you, I say shalom and ciao.)  I have reached at least two people - due, as they say in Italian - whom I would absolutely not have had access to if I hadn't started blogging.

And with that, I learned to stop worrying and love the numbers.

(I'd also like to admit that I'm obsessed with the fact that over a dozen people have found this blog because they Googled "elbow elbow wrist wrist."  I am now not only an authority on how to get by in London financially - though, really, I feel I owe you an apology if you got here because you searched for "cost of living in London 2011" - but also on the Queen Wave.  Score.)


  1. Hahaha, love it! I had the same feeling for a while. Then I forgot about Analytics. But I love the map too... it's nice to know you're read internationally :)

  2. Betsy, what a great, honest post. I know I am only one single reader but I still check your blog every morning over my cup of coffee. You seem like such a kindred spirit that half the time, I forget I'm reading a blog and not reading a note from a friend. Keep your chin up!

  3. I TOTALLY relate. I use Wordpress for my blog and it has always provided wonderful, and informative stats, but you know what it doesn't? A Followers widget. I sometimes feel like I have no readers until people (and not random robots randomly landing on my page for nothing but to drive me nuts)chime in here and there and remind me that I do. It's nice to know that your words are being read. It's that simple.

  4. Giiirlll been there! Fo' sho. If Austin, Texas shows up a lot on your google stats - that's ME!! :) I used to be obsessed with the numbers, but I haven't checked in TWO WEEKS! But, I hear you, sometimes when I see a spike I think "what on earth was it that caused that spike? My commentary, twitter? what? I want to make it happen again!"

    And also, people find my blog by googling "addicted to champagne" -- awkward.

  5. What a great post, Betsy! It's a topic so many of us can relate to, both as bloggers and readers. I must admit, I check my stats every day. I wish I didn't care, but my heart sinks a little when it's a low-number day. On the flip side, I'm also guilty of reading my favorite blogs - yours included - and not always commenting.

    I laughed out loud when I read your thoughts on how people have found your blog through various search terms, such as "elbow elbow wrist wrist." (When I discovered someone found me by Googling "eat my used tampon," I was simultaneously horrified and amused.)

    Incidentally, I thought your giveaway concept was amazing! You are loved, your posts are entertaining and fun, and we're glad you're here. :-)

  6. There's a quote that goes "Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo." Same goes for blogging (maybe even more so because ANYONE can "publish"), but it doesn't mean that what you're writing isn't great or that people aren't heartily enjoying it! xoxo

  7. YAY thank you everyone! See, this is why I do this. For you. (Pour vous, en Français. No idea how to say that in Hebrew or Italian, alas.)

  8. Oh, Betsy, I get to be in London for a few minutes when I read your blog - I go every day! When you don't blog, I am truly disappointed. You're on my bookmarks toolbar! Mary said it better than I can. Yours is a lovely, uplifting blog, so keep writing! Please?!

  9. Hi Betsy,

    I just had a look at your blog and I found it very interesting.

    My name is Khusbu and I work on a hit American television show called House Hunters International.

    The show is a half-hour program currently airing on the Home and Garden Television Network (HGTV) about people relocating to another country and buying a property.

    I would love to film another episode in London and I’m looking for people that have moved there
    From looking at your blog, I couldn’t figure out whether you had bought a house or not but if you have and if you are interested in being on our show, please let me know at and I’ll be happy to send you more information.


I love reading your thoughts and suggestions! Please do leave a comment so we can get to know each other better.