My twitter feed is awash in end-of-the-year posts. The niftiest of these include a site’s most popular posts.
That an author publishes a ‘best of’ post must mean they know their traffic stats.
Here’s my conflict: When I was on blogger, I followed stats. My tech-savvy younger pals first informed me of stats after I was online for a few months. I was shocked that there were actually real people reading my words. “Sweet,” I thought. Then, honestly speaking, the stat page started to affect me negatively. It felt like a training log used to, when I kept one. The traffic graph became yet another master to be served. It became a drag–a rubbing brake, a wheel out of true.
When I switched to a wordpess.org site a year ago, I had absentmindedly omitted the stat page. I just wrote and hit ‘publish.’ No stats. Well, not really. Of course there were metrics; blogging, bike-racing heart doctors live their life chained to metrics. I just measured a post’s success differently. Was their conversation? ReTweets? Emails? And the best metric: when I read it again days later, did I like it or did I squirm uncomfortably?
As the year went on and I became busier (way busier) with clinical medicine, time to write grew more limited. I had to pick and choose topics. Sure, ideas constantly poofed to mind, “that would be a great topic, or, I should say this, about that study.” But there often was not time. Realities like work as a doctor, life as a father and husband and trying to keep up with younger bike riders chose for me.
Plus, I mentally decided that my writing was a work in progress; one in which I was pursuing for enjoyment and expansion of brain power, not to spawn another career. It became clear that following a stat meter seemed incongruent with my goals: sharing the coolness of science and medicine, helping foster a better understanding of health topics and learning the craft of writing. (And a side note: on the rare occasion that a post gained attention in the mainstream world, it made me nervous–and not the good kind.)
But maybe not ever looking at what resonates with readers is misguided? Maybe my friend, Larry Husten, author of Cardiobrief, was right when he said I should look at stats because doing so would likely improve my site’s content.
So for 2012, in addition to striving to provide the best possible content, I also plan to occasionally peek at–but hopefully not become entrapped by–traffic data. I hope the feedback will help me help you. And may the paltry stats not be discouraging.
To the many readers, tweeters, facebookers and emailers who have supported me, I am grateful, and offer you all a hearty thanks.
Happy New Year.
May your 2012 be low in inflammation, and high in peace, health and happiness.