Skip to main content

I continue to turn into an old man who doesn't understand the Internet

I recently gave up on trying to figure out my website stats.

When I first started this blog, I was really hot on generating traffic and making sure my daily views were at least average, if not more.  I had this wild idea that I'd win over sales of my books from random people who'd stumble onto my latest manifesto about the Strike Commando sequel (coming soon) or some other garbage that only white people care about.

I don't think I was ever expecting that my site would be huge - I don't think it's possible for blogs to get that popular anymore.  Nevertheless, I had this desperate feeling that if I wasn't sustaining at least a modicum of traffic each day, I'd be selling to a vacuum.  Not much of a point to that.

Gradually I started to realize this whole thing is more like therapy for me than it is an advertising tool.  Writing this blog gives my week structure and forces me to take a hard look at what I'm actually doing with my books.  It's the reason I have deadlines for myself now instead of "some day."

But I still can't resist the allure of traffic statistics.  Only problem: I have no clue what they mean.

Blogger gives me a quick snapshot of page views, which I can view by day, week, or month.  I can see what country they originated in and which of my posts are more popular than others.  I learned early on that referral spam is going to inflate a lot of those numbers - so if I log in and it tells me that I got 450 page views from Russia, and the referring site is "hotsexchairs.ru.mychairhasapenis," I know I can ignore that number.

That used to happen with regularity.  My actual traffic, after subtracting the spam, was paltry at best and never really took off in a major way.  This is probably why I stopped obsessing about it.  Failure is liberating like that.

So after months of not tracking this sort of stuff, I checked my stats... and there's a surge.  I'm suddenly getting thousands of page views from the US each week with legitimate referral sources (Google and Facebook mainly).  Good news, right?

Not quite.  None of my actual content seem to be generating those views.  My average post traffic is still meager, and my comments aren't blowing up.  So, once again, I'm left wondering if I should chalk all this up to spam or if I should be celebrating that things appear to be taking off after a few years.  I suppose a bit of Googling would tell me if any of this is legit traffic and how to build on it.

It's times like these I have to force myself to walk away from the stats.  When I start thinking about them, I lose track of the bigger picture.  My goal isn't to be an Internet celebrity.  I never wanted to be known for my blog.  I'm a novelist.  I want people to know me for my books first and my dumb website second - or maybe even third or fourth.

Time to stop obsessing and ignore the noise again.  I'll probably post again about this in like a year, though.  I always do.