The 28 Day Blogging Challenge

Posted on Tuesday, Feb 2, 2010

Yesterday I made mention of the fact that I’d jumped on board with Scott Bishop’s 28 Day Blogging Challenge. One of the main precepts of this challenge is to look for measurable improvement and change in this blog.

What am I looking for?

During these 28 days, I have some specific goals I would like to achieve. They are related to traffic, content, and methodology. Here are the items I would like to improve for the 28 Day Blogging Challenge:

Traffic to the blog – This is an easily measurable goal, but determining success is a little more difficult. I could compare the 28 days to the previous 28 days, although that’s not necessarily a perfect comparison (February is a different month with different types of user behavior). Another metric would be comparing Feb 2010 to Feb 2009. I think I will publish both comparisons, as it’s not an “either/or” type of goal. I will be using Google Analytics for these measurements, and I think I will also do a weekly “touchpoint” every Monday to see how I’m doing so far. The number for this goal will be Visits (as opposed to Pageviews, etc).

“Stickiness” of visitors – I get a fair amount of traffic via organic search results, mostly from Google (last month, organic search results from Google accounted for 39% of my traffic and search engines in general were almost 50% of it). But just getting hits from a search engine does me no good if the users bounce out right away – since I don’t generate income from ad impressions, page views in general aren’t useful. I want to create repeat visitors (more on that later), and one way to do that is to ensure that users “stick around” after they’ve come in the front door, so to speak. I’m still debating on which metric to use to measure success for this – bounce rate, or pages per visit. Thoughts?

Repeat visitors – Once people come here, I want them coming back again and again. Like they say – it’s way harder to get a new customer than keep an existing one, and I think the same thing applies to website visitors. Metric-wise, I’m going to look at two different numbers to calculate this. One will be the “returning visitor” number from Analytics, and the other will be the Feedburner subscribers. I think it’s important to look at the specific number of returning visitors, vs. the percentage, as I’m not necessarily against a high percentage of new vs. old, but rather, I want a larger number of return visitors. Feedburner stats have become fairly useless after the inclusion of FriendFeed data (in my opinion), but since I don’t add a lot of new FriendFeed users all at once, I think that looking at the delta will still be a useful metric. It’s going to be really hard to compare Feedburner against the previous year, as the stats only go back 30 days on the website, but I can export all of my stats to Excel, which I will use in my final review. Ongoing, I’ll just compare the Feedburner subscribers each Monday to the number from Feb 1, the day I started.

Comments on posts – I’ll be honest, I measure my worth as a blogger by this metric more than any other. And frankly, my comments have gone WAY down in the past year or so. I really do want to improve this one, although I believe that the areas listed above will do their part to help with this. I’m not sure exactly what metric to use to measure this, though, and I will take any suggestions you might have.

Taking action

These goals are well and good…but they don’t do anything without actually making some changes. Action is the word of the day, so here are the new actions I will be taking to accomplish these goals:

Organized and schedule posting – I was REALLY good about this early in 2009. I had specific types of posts I did on certain days of the week. For example, Monday was “RSS Recommendations”, Wednesday was “Web Wanderings”, Thursday was “Tech Tips”, etc. I found that with this type of schedule it helped me figure out what I wanted to post ABOUT…but the issue was when I couldn’t think of a “Web Wandering”, for example. My goal now is to use the content schedule as a guide, but I will allow myself to post outside of that schedule if the content requires it.

Improve “calls to action” in my posts – Nobody does this better than Matt at Life Without Pants. His posts ALWAYS engage his user base, and the dude not only gets a LOT of comments, he sparks really interesting DISCUSSIONS in them. One of the main recipes for his success is the concept of “call to action”. He doesn’t just post stuff…his posts are springboards for conversation. I am going to try to make a point of including at least one “call to action” in each post. Actually, I should do one better – I should include ONE, and only ONE, “call to action” in each post…and put it at the end.

Include images in each and every post – Everyone loves pretty pictures. I’m also going to make a concerted effort to ensure that every post has an associated thumbnail graphic for Thesis to use in archive type pages. My hope is that not only will pictures make my posts “stand out” in an RSS reader, but the thumbnails will help when people are poking around on my category pages, etc.

Just post more – The challenge itself will help with this, but more content is always better, right?

The baseline metrics

As I mentioned above, we need to know the targets we are trying to reach. For purposes of comparison, here are the numbers for February 2009 and January 2010 for each metric I’ve called out above. I know it’s not going to be true apples to apples, but for January 2010 I have to use my Clicky numbers, as I didn’t have GA numbers for the whole month (I screwed up my tracking code for about half the month).


22009: 5,643

12010: 3,115

Bounce Rate:

22009: 87.08 %

12010: 75 %

Pages per Visit:

22009: 1.36

12010: 1.6

Returning Visitors:

22009: 1,377

12010: N/A (Clicky doesn’t provide this in an easy to find manner)

Feedburner Subscribers:

22009: 206

12010: 387

So what do you think? Are my goals realistic? What about my chosen metrics…are there other numbers I should be considering?

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