(Well, you try writing out a fanfare without having it look stupid…)
Six months ago today, I made my first post to this blog. In some ways I’m surprised it’s been that long, in other ways that it’s been so short. Anyway, at the risk of being a massive self-pleasurer,* I’ve decided to mark the occasion with, not one, but two posts.
This is the first one, and it’s going to deal with statistics – number of readers, trends in readership, most popular posts, confusing search engine referrals, and so on. The second post will be a little more philosophical, and I’ll be indulging myself by looking back at what I’ve written about, why I’ve written about it, what I think I’ve gained by writing, and what I think I might have lost.
Basically, the whole thing’s going to be a nauseating orgy of self-indulgence. If that’s not your cup of tea, then come back by about – oh – the end of the week, and things should be back to normal…
Ok, here we go.
Number of readers
First things first, let’s get the headline figure out of the way. According to WordPress’ stats, I’ve had 6,658 hits altogether in my first six months. WordPress’ way of counting the stats is a little odd, in that they don’t include people who read posts via RSS (rather than coming to aethelreadtheunread.wordpress.com to read them) in the main totals, although if you look at each individual post in turn, those figures are supplied. I didn’t look at the figures for every single post, but based on a sampling of 15 posts, WordPress seems to underreport the views per post by around about 40% in its standard totals (less on the most popular posts, substantially more on the least popular ones). If this was reflected in the headline figure across all the posts, my total number of views would be something more like 9,320.
Whichever figure I choose to believe, that number amazes me. I’m astonished, and really, really pleased that people think it’s a worthwhile use of their time to read something I’ve written. It wasn’t a case of deliberate false modesty when I said my blog would be “unread” – in my wildest dreams I was maybe hoping for one or two regular readers, and I’m thrilled to have more.
Another thing that I’m really, really pleased about is how active the comments have been. In total I’ve had 293 comments left (although that includes the ones I’ve written myself), which would work out at almost 6 per post. This is probably the thing I value most about my blog, in fact. I’m quite isolated at the moment – I think I last spoke to a friend about 2 months ago, and then only for a couple of minutes – and so the sense of having a conversation with people here has been really helpful for me. I have to say that I don’t think I deserve how wonderfully friendly you’ve all been given how rarely I manage to persuade myself to comment on other people’s blogs (it’s something I get very anxious about, for some reason), but I’m hugely grateful nonetheless.
Trends in readership
By and large my readership fluctuates in the way I’d expect it to. Things go up a lot when I post, and drift downwards during the days when I don’t post. I also notice a definite spike whenever a post of mine is linked to by another blog.
Looking over the six months as a whole, my readership has been basically on an upward trend, although things did fall back slightly in April, and again last month:
As you can see, my busiest month was July. The busiest single day was Monday July 28th.
Most, least, and averagely popular posts
My top three most popular posts over the whole six months have been (most popular first):
- “Gay guilt” & the lack of gay Mental Health blogs
- On hearing voices, and other ephemera
- Baby, did you forget to take your meds?
I’m pleased, although a little surprised, to see the “gay guilt” post at the top – it suggests that I might at least have managed to raise an interesting issue to talk about. The hearing voices post is perhaps not so much of a surprise as that’s a topic that a lot of mental and non-mental people are interested in/ worried about. I think that probably also goes for the medication post, as well.
At the other end of the scale, my three least popular posts have been (least popular first):
I think there are a couple of things to bear in mind here. To start with, ‘Sometimes the good die old (2)’ was only posted yesterday, and I would expect it to attract a few more views over the next couple of days. Secondly, none of these posts use the “More” tab, which means most people will have been able to read them on the front page of the blog without having to click on anything to read the whole post. I think that may mean more people have actually read all three of these posts than the figures suggest.
That said, I don’t think there are any huge surprises here. ‘So this is me…’ was my very first post, and most of what appears in it is duplicated on my ‘About’ page. ‘This made me laugh’ was really just a case of me saying, “Ooh, look at that” rather than saying anything more interesting, so I’m not greatly surprised by that either.
The two posts that jointly achieved the median average number of hits are:
These are both posts where I’ve written about things that have been happening to me, and how they’ve made me feel, and what I’ve thought about them. You could say posts like this are the bread and butter of any blog, so it’s quite satisfying to see them in a central position.
Number of posts, words etc
Overall I have published 50 posts since I started writing this blog (this post will make it 51). In total I’ve produced 57,071 words, not counting comments. Terry Pratchett’s novel Mort (a random choice – it was lying next to my bed) seems to be around 90,000 words long, so that would suggest I’ve written the equivalent of about 2/3 of a novel. Putting it like that makes it seem like an extraordinary amount. Mind you, it probably seems like more to all you poor people who’ve struggled through reading my blog – sorry for being so long-winded!
I seemed to get off to quite a brisk start, with 10 posts in March. April, May, and June were comparatively slow, with 7, 6, and 6 posts respectively. Things picked up a bit in July with 9 posts, and by August were on a roll, with 11 posts. This is the 2nd post so far in September.
Search engine referrals
In total, 70 people seem to have found their way here via a search engine. The most popular searches were for various variations on the theme of ‘Aethelread the unread’, which I would guess were made by people who were looking specifically for me. Other fairly popular searches were for ‘mental health issues’ and ‘gay mental health’, and I hope those people will have found a blog that was reasonably in line with what they were looking for.
The search which I am most confused about was ‘good state to live in USA’, as I can’t for the life of me work out where a search engine would have found any reference to that in this blog. I’m pretty sure I’ll have used the phrase “good state” a few times, but a search for that would return thousands and thousands of hits, I’m sure. ‘Hybrid car blog’ also seems fairly random, but I made a passing reference to hybrid cars in one post, and this is a blog, so I suppose that’s at least logical.
The search term that has most aroused my interest is ‘homosexuality as a social commentary’. I’m not all that surprised the search found my blog – ‘Social commentary’ is one of my categories, and I talk about homosexuality a fair bit. Obviously, I’ve come across the idea that homosexuality is socially constructed before now, but what fascinates me is the idea of homosexuality actually being interpreted ‘as a social commentary’. I guess you could come up with some sort of argument for saying that (straight) 1970s glam rockers flirted with the appearance of homosexuality as a way of commenting on the restricted options that were open to them as working-class men. And there might be some mileage in looking at whether or not Oscar Wilde saw his homosexuality (a non-reproductive sexuality) as related to his belief that art should be non-productive, or ‘quite useless‘, as he put it. I can almost feel an academic thesis coming on…
Referrers and referrals
Far and away the most readers have been sent to me by Mental Nurse. I think the main reason for this is that Zarathustra (and others) have been kind enough to include me in their weekly round up (‘This Week in Mentalists‘) on several occasions. I know I’ve been turned on to a lot of other people’s blogs from reading extracts there, and it looks as though that’s worked in my case too.
Other blogs that have also sent a lot of traffic my way include Life of Chuckles, Mental Patient About Town, Teenage Misanthropy, Ms S. Tonin’s Blog, and Mentally Interesting (aka Secret Life of a Manic Depressive). I’m worried it may seem like I’m playing favourites by singling out only a few of the blogs that link to me, but really that’s not the case. I’ve given a list of the people who send me the most traffic because I think that’s interesting, but I’m equally grateful to anyone who thinks my blog is interesting enough to recommend to other people. That’s really the only thing that matters to me, not the numbers of people involved.
In terms of returning the favour, the most popular links people have followed from here are Fighting Monsters, Toaster in the Shower, and Mentally Interesting. Overall, there’s no question that I am referring fewer readers to other blogs than I am having referred to mine. I guess this is in part because my blogroll is hidden away on a page of its own, rather than being easy to see and use on the right hand side of the front page. I also think this might not be the whole story though.
My blogroll page is far and away the most commonly viewed thing on this site – far more than any post – and there seem to be a lot more readers going to look at my blogroll than are reported as following any of the links from it. I don’t know if this means I’m not presenting the links in the best light, or if there’s a problem with WordPress not accurately reporting all the clicks that do happen. I also think it may just be the case that my readers are not very inclined to get clicky with their mouse fingers – it’s rare for any of the links I include in the course of a post to pick up any traffic either.
Anyway, as a way of making this entry slightly less self-obsessed, I’d like to end this post by asking a question which you can answer in the comments if you want to. Do you like the way I organise my blogroll at the moment, with the space it gives me to write a bit about each of the blogs I link to, or would you prefer that I went for the more usual list of links on the right-hand side of the page? Obviously I’d like to know the opinions of the people I link to – it’s your blogs that may be attracting fewer readers as a result – but I’d also like to know what everyone else thinks too.
And that, I think, is that. I hope I haven’t bored you too much by examining my own navel in quite so much detail. And, last but not least I’d like to say thank you for sticking with my blog so far. Hopefully I’ll keep writing vaguely interesting things for a while longer yet, although I’m afraid that won’t be before I’ve done some more self-obsessed waffling in the next post…
* – yes, I am calling myself a wanker. Well, I thought I’d get it in first…