When starting a blog it is helpful to have a goal, some clear idea of why you are writing. Once launched you need to have some way of measuring your success towards that goal. I want to talk to you about some ways to think about tracking your success, because at the end of the day, it’s all about RBI, Return on Blogging Investment
Your blog needs a goal. Is it to make you famous, make you a fortune, get you consulting gigs? The metrics you use to measure progress towards the goal will help you focus on what is helping you toward this goal.
Perhaps the easiest way to measure your success is to look at metrics that tell you how popular your blog is. Popularity in the blogosphere is usually represented by links coming to your blog and traffic.
To work out how many links your blog is receiving you need to look at your referrer statistics, external services such as technorati and the search engines such as Google, MSN and Yahoo! Referrer information will also tell you where your audience is coming from. While it is nice to get lots of search engine traffic, clicks from other blogs shows your growth in reputation.
Traffic information also will come from your visitor reports. Some blog software provide statistics built-in, if not you will need to look to your ISP control panel, downloading your log files and using a hit report statistics package or using a service such as Sitemeter. Look at your unique visitors and return visitors, how long they stay (session length) and how many pages they view. Aim to have the graph of all these figures steadily increasing!
Popularity can also be measured by the amount of user registrations and comments you receive. If people not only stick around but contribute you are on to a winner. These are also figures you can compare month on month. Which posts got the most feedback? Using the number of comments and number of views you can work out your best posts and try to beat them.
RBI – Return on Blogging Investment
Popularity will tell you trends about how well you are doing on gaining audience and awareness but a professional blogger needs a payoff outside of ego concerns! How well does your blog convert visitors, that is how many visitors to your blog do what you want them to?
Most professional bloggers will use some sort of advertising. Outside of sponsorships and advertising space rentals these will be paid on a per click basis. Your conversion in this case will be the same as your click throughs. The major advertising systems will report these but it never hurts to have your own stats reporting just to be sure all clicks are being paid and nothing untoward is happening.
For affiliate links you will get paid when a customer purchases. By adding keywords to your affiliate tracking links you will be able to see which posts generated the income. This can be very useful if the purchase happens up to 30 days after the click, you might have forgotten all about the post that delivered it.
If you are selling an ebook or some other service then your conversion rate will be directly tied to “buy now” clicks. One blogger sells paintings from his site, another bespoke suits. They have direct feedback in terms of revenue.
It will be relatively simple to divide the number of unique visitors by how many of them arrived at your “thankyou” page. The better your reporting software the more control you will have over this process, especially if you have “paths through site” functionality. Work out how you can maximise people arriving at that buy now button, how can you funnel your visitors to make that purchase.
Out of all your stats the conversion rate rules supreme, it shows how much bang you are getting for your buck. Even if you do not pay directly for traffic through ads you are paying with your time. It is far better to “fix” your conversion rate THEN generate traffic than the other way round.
Your blog as a system
Your blog is a system, only you can tweak the nobs that control the efficiency of the system. You need turn up your traffic and revenue nobs to 11!
By looking at which blog posts bring in the visitors, ad clicks and sales you can only improve. You might not directly sell a service but you can still continualy improve your blogs ROI if you monitor some simple things. And what you measure you can manage. Look and see when was your best day and why, now go beat it!