Breaking The Stats Habit

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It’s interesting how a number can influence so much.  For some, the number of birthdays they’ve had can lead to depression and for others the number on the inside of a waistband literally deflates all hope of retaining a drop of self-esteem.  The same is true for bloggers.  For the last few days my stats have been a little wonky and its driving my crazy.  This little bout of insanity has made me realize my confidence as a writer hinges entirely too much on one number.

The bar graph that threatens to define my worth.

I fully admit that I am a total stats addict.  The bar graph, sparkline, and full stats page are an intergral part of my life as I check them periodically throughout the day.  I make sure I have access to my stats via laptop, smartphone, and tablet, so no matter where I am I can check my numbers. Part of my obsession comes from pure habit, but the rest runs much deeper.  My inner critic likes to play with my confidence and she loves to cackle when the numbers are low.  The only relief I get from her is when the numbers are normal or keep climbing.

It’s ridiculous and I know it.

So, why do I allow one number to determine my worth?  Easy.  In this realm, higher numbers are equated with success. Interesting topics and high quality writing attract more readers, right?  More readers means I am a success.  This is the driving force behind checking those stats.  Like any writer, I crave the gratification that comes from knowing I’ve written something worthwhile.

As I said before, it’s ridiculous.

In order to put my focus back where it belongs – on writing and creating – I’m challenging myself to ignore my stats for a full week.  No numbers, charts, or averages are going to determine my level of success.  I am going to minimize the bar graph on my dashboard and abstain from visiting the full statistics page.  The sparkline is impossible to avoid, but luckily it doesn’t provide specific information.  In addition, I’ll be removing the WordPress app from my  Kindle Fire carousel. This week it’s all about writing and creating as well as I can without thinking about “the number.”

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If you’d like to join me on this challenge, sound off in the comments section!

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c.b.w.  2012

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74 thoughts on “Breaking The Stats Habit

    • Who knows! This is such an unpredictable realm. I could drive myself crazy trying to guess why and that won’t help anyway! Instead, I’ve decided its more important to have fun and write the very best that I can. :-)

      Thanks for always stopping by!

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  1. debbierea

    I would love to quit the stat habit but I’m fighting my daily obsession with the bathroom scales and I can’t deny myself both indicators of self worth, no matter how invalid they are. Good luck with it and I’ll try and join you very soon.

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    • I suspect I’ll start to feel the twitch to check those numbers in the next day or so. I’ve already had to stop myself twice today! Ahhhhh!

      Good luck and I hope you join the challenge – it is liberating in many respects!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. There’s a Mother Teresa quote – something about if you can’t feed hundreds, feed one. That’s how I feel about my blog. I love to see the big numbers, but I haven’t set much store by the stats. They are fun to look at and maybe someday when I make it “big” I’ll be more concerned about it, but for now, I feel that if one person gets something out of my post today, if I can make a small difference for one person, I’ve succeeded.

    You are making a difference, in ways you may never know! Don’t be discouraged!

    Would you like to know my most popular post? Almost a thousand people have viewed my post on my daughter’s Fancy Nancy Birthday party (which was posted on my now-hibernating Mama Blog) (and I have to say, that cake was freaking awesome). Oh well.

    Good luck ignoring your stats! :)

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    • You are so right about how much it means to make a difference for one person. Even on poor stats days, I still find joy in reaching someone. It’s a lot like teaching – even if only one student has a light bulb moment, I consider it a successful day. I don’t think I ever lost that in blogging, but it was starting to concern me that I was watching the numbers with so much interest.

      The only post where I’ve seen a four-digit number was my Freshly Pressed post – so you should be very, very proud of your awesome post! :-)

      Thanks so much for stopping by and reminding me to keep my eye on the big picture!

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  3. I’m the same way. I’m ashamed to say that my Stats also are a driving force for my blogging as well. It’s a vicious cycle- the less I blog, thus withdraw from the WordPress community, the fewer hits I get to my blog so the discouragement makes it hard to think of a topic that would be up to my standards. It’s a swirling vortex of negativity that’s hard to break BUT IT IS POSSIBLE.

    Everyone has at least one number that they use as a benchmark when evaluating their life/contribution to society/health/attractiveness. It’s not fair to let ourselves become fixated on that beacon of hope or despair but it’s human nature.

    Good luck ignoring your stats and know that you’re not alone in the battle of number-ignoring!

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    • It is a vicious cycle, but I’ve learned its important to go down fighting rather than give up. Lower numbers make me fight harder to get readers! And even though I’m swearing off stats this week, I’m still going to fight with quality writing and increased networking.

      So far, its been going okay. Today I stopped myself twice from looking, but I’m finding the more I keep busy with writing, reading, and commenting, the easier it is. Today has been a nice reminder of how much more important the community is as opposed to a number.

      Good luck to you as well!

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  4. What stats?? (lol) They just confuse me – why was something I thought bordered on brilliant virtually ignored and some inane space filler viewed a hundred times? Not trying to figure it out anymore. That way lies madness. So happy to have discovered your blog. I will be adding to your stats but you won’t know that until next week…..:)

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    • I’m so happy you’ve found my blog! :-) I hope you enjoy future posts.

      The stats machine is maddening and defies all rational thought! That’s why it makes sense to step back and refocus our attention. Otherwise, we will all go crazy!

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  5. A well-considered post–as always!– but why can’t we do both… Be focused on our writing AND pay attention to our stats. Having that need doesn’t make the need go away; but incorporating that need into our self-awareness makes for personal growth– to mr, anyway!

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    • I had a little epiphany when I realized I was starting to lose the balance of my focus. I won’t abandon stats forever, but a little distance will help me regain my footing. Writing takes priority, while stats play a role in the background. :-)

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  6. Your stat slump is probably my fault :P I’ve been disconnected for a few weeks, and I never check in any more – I’m sure that accounts for it, right? :P

    I say don’t worry too much about your stats, of course – but also don’t beat yourself up for worrying about them. It’s natural to want a simple way to gauge how your blog is doing, and bar charts are just so darn straightforward… On the other hand, I tend to find that even if my views are really high, I end up wondering why I don’t have more comments. You’ll always find something you want to improve – if you try and bear that in mind, I find that makes it easier.

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    • Lol! :-D Glad you’re here now!

      You’re right to point out that numbers help us decide where to improve. Complacency leads to little or no growth and that can’t be good for the muse or creativity! :-)

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  7. I very seldom check my stats. I want to keep blogging a fun thing. I just wish Blogger would figure out why people can’t leave comments. Now that is an issue.

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  8. Not only do I check more than I should, but I crave comments. It’s silly, although I love seeing what countries have been checking in. PS Your stats look better than mine so you must be doing somethinmg right!

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  9. There are days when I simply do not have the time to check out my favourite blogs because things get in the way, like last weekend. That’s why I don’t worry too much about my stats. There are also some things that I will share with my regular followers that I might not share with my FB group, especially if I’m detailing cards I haven’t given out yet! Those days and the ones that I don’t put in a lot of tags are usually lower than normal and that’s to be expected. I try not to let it affect my self-esteem. I do check the days when I get a record amount of viewers, just to see what it was that attracted them and I might try to do a similar post in the future.

    BTW, C. B. I regret I neglected to post your interview yesterday, but it’s up today if you want to check it out. :)

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  10. Interesting how different we each are. I rarely even look at the stats. Once in a while I get a “this was your best day” note and I do notice those as it seems I get the most traffic when I share something personal from my heart. Otherwise, I enjoy the group of steady followers and miss them if one is away for a while.
    Stats will drive you bats!!

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  11. My stats are a constant source of disappointment, so I don’t look at them ever, unless it’s by accident – I subscribe to the theory that ignorance = bliss. So, I just go on my merry way, believing that all is right with the world…until I fall into a manhole and discover things aren’t as rosy as I thought they were. And I can live with that.

    Good luck on breaking your stat habit!

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  12. My WP stats were “broken” for almost a month. By the time I got them back I had almost stopped worrying about them altogether. But now I’m back at it – LOL!

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    • My stats broke for a couple of days last week . . . it was infuriating. I don’t think they’ve ever totally come back because the other sources where I get stats do not align with WP. This is actually where most of my frustration is rooted.

      Stepping away will hopefully cure the addiction!

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    • I plan on documenting the experience via Facebook and on a post next Monday. So far, no jitters! ;-)

      The sparkling is that little thingie on the top menu bar – it looks like a mini bar graph. :-)

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  13. Stats are evil. While they are important because they represent an audience, they are still evil and can and will lead you to believe that the opposite is true. People do care, they do like it and are interested in good work.
    Consider this, I’ve had more people watch my graduation video on You Tube than read my blog. They like more what I Pin instead of what I say. My “friends” don’t even subscribe and I even shut my blog down for a while because of it, but then I realized that it doesn’t matter what the statistics say. Readers can click all over a site and not see a thing. It’s more important to know people are reading and digesting your work when they leave you meaningful comments. Then you know you’ve engaged them.

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  14. Good luck kicking the habit! I never look at my stats, to be honest. A nice comment means a lot more to me. Judging by the response on here I don’t think you have anything to worry about!

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    • Comments are my favorite thing about blogging, I love giving them and I love hearing what people have to say. I think that’s why I keep doing this, even when the numbers are low. This little challenge is making me realize even more how important comments are to me. :-)

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  15. I can relate. Having an informative blog I don’t ever know if my numbers reflect an interest in my writing or not! I admit that volume is an incentive, but it’s funny how sometimes the strangest post gets crazy high numbers and something I put my heart and soul into gets hardly anything. lol My advice to you is to just write…. accomplishment is a reward in itself. :)

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    • As always, you give great advice. The last couple of days have already been more fun, even though I haven’t changed anything about what I’m writing. The emphasis is back where it belongs – having fun and having pride in what I do. :-)

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    • I totally agree, Amy!! i love the information on your blog—i am endlessly fascinated by what you have to say—but i am such a dunce in your areas of expertise that i often do not know what to comment other than something stupid like “wow, cool, i didn’t know that” etc……and i have no idea what drives or repels traffic and or comments!

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      • Seems as though there’s this unwritten law that people should comment. My opinion on that is it shouldn’t be considered a courtesy to comment. If readers want to, great! But if not, it certainly should be taken personal. Maybe that’s what likes are for?

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  16. I don’t check my stats every day, but I can see how it can become a hard habit to break! I am always surprised how some posts (not always the ones you expect) seem to resonate more than others, though.

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    • After almost 2 days of not looking, I’m starting to believe more and more that I check so often because of the habit rather than the need to know. I did not expect that!

      You never know what posts are going to get higher numbers and which won’t. Trying to figure it out will only make you crazy!

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  17. I had to quit looking at my stats. I built up entirely too much frenzy anticipating what I would find. And then too much disappointment if few people had visitied. When I think about it sanely, I recall that I did not expect anyone to read my blog and could not imagine why anyone would want to. It was only my teacher’s insistence that got me started. So every reader is an unexpected gift. And like several commenters said, if something I write helps or resonates with one person, that is success.
    Your worth as a person and as a writer and artist have nothing to do with the WordPress bar graph. Your sparkle in the world cannot be contained or described by numbers.

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    • Your blog resonate with me on every post. I’m so glad you keep writing about your journey. :-)

      It’s funny how quickly insecurity can abound when we let little things like a number take over. This challenge is reminding me of that fact and I’m grateful for the experience.

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  18. settleandchase

    I so know what you mean, I hate my need for the reassurance – does no “likes” mean it was rubbish?! Of course not, and I know thats not true but it does get in your head – important to be able to stand back and think “am I happy with this” and no matter what anyone thinks..but it’s very hard..!! I am tempted to just take off the likes on my posts so I wont know how many I would’ve got, but then I do like to know things have been seen..tis a toughie!

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    • I know exactly how you feel! It’s like we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. We want to know our work has been seen, but we also need to have faith in what we’ve done. Ultimately we create to feed the soul, but its nice to know it matters to others as well.

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  19. It’s just the summer break, my dear friend. Besides those numbers, please be assured that you write beautifully and share lots of fun and thought-provoking information that keeps us coming back! And now I’m thinking about whether to join your interesting photo challenge – only problem, I’m not good with photos :(

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    • It’s been three days without stats, now, and I’m doing fine! There has been so much interaction on my blog this week and that has been loads of fun. Comments from readers beats numbers any day! :-)

      I’m not good with photos, either! I decided its just fun to play and see what happens. That in itself is beautiful. I’d love to see what you come up with! :-)

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  20. This, at least, is a habit I do not have, and I’m thankful!

    You say that good quality writing will attract more readers, and that’s probably true, but it made me think of Facebook. I could post/write there until I’m blue in the face, and possibly attract a few likes, but then … if I post some cute graphic of a cat or so …LOL wow, do I get comments! Now, that’s FB and all depending on the ones I happen to have on my list..

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  21. How’s the challenge going? Do you think you’ll revert to checking more often after your week is up? “You can’t please everyone, all the time.” “Why do you write/create?” Some questions to ponder-no right or wrong answers, but perhaps something to bring you to the importance of your number-or not.

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    • I honestly don’t know how I’ll react once the challenge is over. All I know for certain is I’m not dying over not knowing the number!

      I’ll always write and create for the sheer love of both, but I also try to remember that I’m shooting for opportunities to publish as well. It’s all about finding balance and not losing sight of what I love to do.

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  22. So true. Just last week, my brother was telling me to turn off blog stats as I told him about my obsession. And I said “No” like a child whose favorite toy is being taken away. Now, I do not check my stats the day I post something which has helped in reducing the temptation :). Good luck with your resolution.

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  23. The world is so large – you know that, my traveling friend. Do they even make a number that represents the percentage of humans who go to any blog – yours, mine, others – compared to how many are wandering around minding their own business? We create because we create, write because we write. No number or bar chart should determine the joy in the doing of just that.

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  24. CB—keep this in mind, my fellow writer and fellow educator. We teach (well in my case tutor) to inspire and lift hearts and minds, not just impart facts. We write for much the same reason. I, too, get concerned about stats and at times lack of comments. But as busy as I have been with tutoring this semester, it isn’t surprising. The bloggers who get hundreds of comments~how do they keep up with the comments? How do they keep up with the blogs the follow? I fall behind in all those areas. Know this, though. Each time you write or post, you reach and lift greater than or equal to one heart. You make a difference. I know it’s frustrating, and as writers seeking publication, it is difficult not to consider commercial success/statistical success/ or whatever. It will come—and you do inspire…..just look at the wall in your classroom if you need a reminder!!! Screw the stats—you lift hearts. Immeasurable but exceedingly important!!

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    • Thank you for such wonderful words of encouragement. :-) The week I took off did a world of good. Days often go by without a single peek at my stats. Comments like these and positive interaction with readers is what I live for as a writer. :-)

      Like

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