STATS FOR THE FIRST HALF OF 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Stats

This is a good time of year to look at statistics. It’s just past the middle of the year and in theory, it should give you a reasonably good idea what the year will look like. But my stats have gotten pretty erratic and I have bursts of big numbers, then occasionally surprisingly low numbers … and we are still hoping to go on vacation next week which will probably mean a nearly zero week for the numbers game.

July’s bar chart (it’s still early today …)

I really shouldn’t care. I’ve been at this a long time and I know that stats don’t mean much except when they dip very low and I realize WordPress has disappeared me from their database.

Again.

Overview. I had 1500 additional Facebook followers a couple of weeks ago as well as 2000 more Blog followers. I wonder where they went?

I’ve had years when I got a huge explosion of big numbers from them and years when I get almost nothing. For reasons I don’t understand, about 1000 of my Facebook followers have recently vanished along with about 2500 blog followers. Not sure what that’s all about but I haven’t cared enough to follow the trail of crumbs and see what’s going on. It would require yet one more annoying conversation with their Happiness Engineers.

Aren’t those people embarrassed by that title? I would be ashamed to tell anyone I was a Happiness Engineer for WordPress or for that matter, for anyone.

Yesterday’s reading states. For unknown reasons, it was a good day.

But I suppose a paying job is a paying job and these days if you get one that pays the most of the bills and keeps and your family living in a house with heat, light, and a roof that doesn’t leak, you’re doing fine.

We used to have higher standards, but as time as marched on and things like “raises” have become scarcer than hen’s teeth, we are just happy if we manage to keep even.

Now that we are on a fixed income, we can’t even count on staying even. In theory, Social Security pays “cost of living” raises to its recipients, but whenever Congress is feeling poor, the first people whose “cost of living” that mangle are retirees. After all, we are old and therefore we don’t need anything, right? Like … you know … food. Medication. A home. A car. We just need a little, dark room in which to quietly disappear.

If we would just stop doing annoying things like voting, we could be completely dismissed.

Except we do vote. More than any other age group, we vote. Moreover, we think about voting well in advance of doing it. We actually watch the news with all the advertisements for medications we can’t afford, reverse mortgages that will ultimately leave us living on the sidewalk, how to sell off our life insurance, and how to sue people who have ripped us off.

Can we sue the Federal Government? They are the biggest ripper-offers of all time.

In God we trust. We might as well trust in God because we sure can’t trust the people we elected. Or other people elected. I’m sure I didn’t elect them!

Stats. I have pretty decent stats. I don’t work at them anymore and when the numbers drop into low digits, I shrug. Tomorrow will be better. Probably. If it isn’t, does it matter?

Basic numbers

All of this mattered more years ago when I was trying to establish a “base.” Now? I’ve got one. It isn’t gigantic, but it’s not tiny, either. If I keep writing, someone will read me. Maybe someone who matters will read me. Maybe I’ll make a difference.

I would like to make a difference, though I’m not sure what that means anymore. The world in which I live is twirling on its ear and the future is looking a bit abbreviated.

AND SO, THE BIG NUMBER DRIFTED PAST …

I wrote about almost hitting 400,000 on the 9th of June, 11 days ago. Endurance, I called it. Still blogging after all these years. Yesterday, the number was 400,792, but it has changed  hand and I don’t know what it is now. It’s a moving target.

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I had an unstable professional life. I worked almost exclusively for startup companies. Venture capital funded and typically, very small operations doing leading edge work. I fit into that kind of place and the people who worked there. It should there be no surprise that bankruptcy was often the final chapter of my jobs. In any case, single product companies don’t keep a technical writer on staff forever. No matter how much the job is supposed to be “permanent,” after the documentation is complete … it’s time to move on.

Blogging has been great for me, the best gig ever. It has outlasted all but one of my jobs and has been more fun (and more satisfying) than any of them. It has given me new friends, made me a better writer and photographer … and given me epic amounts of pure satisfaction.

Nothing lasts forever, but I’m giving it my best shot.

ENDURANCE: STILL BLOGGING AFTER ALL THESE YEARS

If you blog long enough, the numbers add up. I’m surprised so many people take the time to visit Serendipity. I’m equally surprised I’m still posting pretty much every day. Especially because after four years, I haven’t yet figured out what this blog is about.

I have a lot of problems figuring out what things are about. It’s one of the problems I had with my book. When asked to briefly describe it, I was stopped in my tracks. I can’t really answer that, even 9 years later. Maybe because, like this blog, it isn’t about one thing. It’s about a lot of things not necessarily connected in any discernible way.

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Even that is no longer true. I am still the primary writer on this site, but I am not the only one. Rich has been with Serendipity for more than three years and Garry’s been writing intermittently for more than two years.

Ellin’s been on board for six months and Tom for five months. I love that we have so many voices. It takes some pressure off me, but more importantly, it adds diversity and freshness to a site I felt was getting stale. I was getting tired of me, so I had to figure I wasn’t the only one.


I looked at the stats and could see 400,000 coming. On the horizon.

I remember when I first looked at stats — I had only just realized there were stats to look at — and discovered I had 5,000 views!

That was a gigantic number at the time. I had never imagined that many people would ever visit my site and I’m still a bit astounded at how many people have visited over the past four and a half years. And, when I breached 100,000, then 200,000 … and eventually 300,000 … I knew that if I just kept going, that there would be more milestones.

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Endurance is a huge part of blogging. A determination to not let it go. The belief that somehow, I can make a difference. That Serendipity makes a difference. Maybe we won’t change the world, but we can tweak it a little. We can poke the demon. It won’t stop the demon, but it might make him change direction. A little bit.

There seem to be a lot of demons lately. Depending on the day, the hour, the mood I’m in, and a bunch of other stuff that I can’t quite pin down, I’m appalled, shocked, frightened … and positive that I’ve fallen through a rift in the fabric of reality and I’m actually living on some alternate version of Earth. Or I’m in a coma and this is a terrible hallucination from which I will eventually awaken. It’s going to be a long, painful political year.

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So — about the future: I’m planning to stick around. As long as Serendipity has an audience, it’s worth the time and effort. Knowing that you guys out there are willing to take time out of your complicated lives to drop by and visit, I’ll try to be here for you.

I might take a day off. Maybe. One or two, here and there. It might happen, but I will return.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY SERENDIPITY — A QUARTER OF MILLION VIEWS

I wrote when I hit 200,000. Then vowed I’d wait until I hit 250,000 before I’d write again. I got here faster than I expected. During the past few months, Serendipity had lots of traffic, even during holiday periods which are typically slower.

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Meanwhile, my third blogging anniversary was February 4th. Oops. Missed it. I guess I’ll have to wish myself a belated anniversary. I’m nothing if not fair. I forget everything and everyone equally.

3 YEARS OF BLOGGING
THREE YEARS!

It would have been delightfully symmetrical if I’d hit a quarter of a million on Serendipity’s third anniversary. I came close, just 16 days later. It’s hard to predict precisely.

Views come in bunches. The first year was slow starting, yet I finished my first year with numbers I wouldn’t duplicate for two more years. The whole second year was about steady growth. Not many big days, but few bad ones, either.

During this third year, I doubled the average daily views. The end of 2014 was a roller coaster. Big days then slow days. Bursts of views, then nothing. Followed by another big day.

new stats

250,000 feels like a lot of views. I know there are lots bigger blogs, for whom 6,200 followers is no big deal. Where a quarter of a million hits is a drop in the bucket. Considering that I expected nothing, I’m amazed I got here. I started blogging knowing nothing except that I could do it. I learned along the way using the best tutor in the world: trial and error.

Each time I think I’ve worked out “the formula,” I discover I haven’t. I’m pretty sure there is no formula, at least none which works for everyone. The best part of blogging is its lack of structure, the freedom to be whatever (whoever) you want. To keep redefining yourself without answering to anyone.

A note about followers: Until about a couple of weeks ago, follower totals included WordPress blog followers, plus Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. In January I had almost 8,000 followers. At some unknown recent moment, WordPress stopped including all but blog followers.

I don’t mind the new formula. This is how it should have been from the outset. It is, however, a bit jarring to see ones followers count drop like a rock for no apparent reason. A warning would have been nice.

My years in blogging
My years in blogging

I’ve written more than 3,200 posts. So many, I can’t remember most of them. Or find them in the archives. I’ve posted I-have-no-idea-how-many pictures. I keep waiting for my blog to collapse under the weight of all those posts and pix. So far, so good. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Serendipity blew up tomorrow. If I disappear, remember me kindly. I’ll always be out there, somewhere.

I’ve had a difficult year. For me, this journey has not been about popularity. More about perseverance. About writing even if I’m sick and can’t find my muse. No one is more surprised — and pleased — than I am to have survived and done pretty well.

I’ve been blogging long enough to know each post won’t be a winner. It doesn’t mean I should quit. Writing is important to me in ways I can’t explain. If I stopped blogging, I don’t know what I would do with my days. Blogging is communication, networking, self-expression, and a focus … all wrapped up in a pretty bundle. And I don’t have a boss (YES).

I know — because I’ve done it — it’s worth hanging on. Numbers go up and down, but when you stick with it through the valleys, eventually, you get to the peak.

200,000 VIEWS. THAT’S A LOT, HUH.

When I took a quick peek at my stats this morning, it was obvious I was going make a milestone today. I was going to hit 200,000 views. Golly whizzakers. That is a lot of hits.

Indeed, sometime while Garry and I were speeding down Route 91 from Vermont towards home, Serendipity slipped quietly over the line. When I plugged in my computer a little while ago, there it was.

Welcome home.

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Thing is, you can see this stuff coming. After you’ve been blogging for a few years, you pretty much know — in round numbers — how many hits you are going to get on an average day. I’ve been getting — usually — 300 to 400 hits. Sometimes less, occasionally more.

I only needed 200 to reach 200,000.

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Thank you, all of you, for visiting Serendipity. For liking me. For looking at my pictures, reading my stories. Supporting me when I needed help, sympathizing when I was sick. Even though most of us have never met, you have been wonderful friends. This has been a difficult year in a lot of ways, but my connection to all of you — those I know and those who are hidden — has carried me over the worst of it.

I’m not sure exactly what I did right … but obviously something. I never expected this little blog to be as successful as it has been. I haven’t got a formula or any special advice except to say whatever you are doing, do the best you can. Post the best stories, pictures, art, recipes, whatever. Publicize your stuff on Facebook and Twitter because that makes a difference, no matter what anyone says.

Then, persevere. Because so much of succeeding in the virtual (and real) world is hanging on and not giving up. That, and having good friends who care and are willing to show it.

STATS AND STATS – 6,001 FOLLOWERS?

Someone just alerted me that the count displayed on my site shows 6,001 followers.

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No matter what it shows, I don’t have anywhere near that many followers, unless you count Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. My Facebook total is especially meaningless in this context. Most of them are people with whom I used to play Metropolis. I don’t play Metropolis anymore, but the connections I made because of the game are still officially Facebook friends. They were never real friends, just folks with whom I played a game.

For reasons unexplained (probably rivalry), Google followers are not counted.

None of the WordPress counts are reliable. Until last year, hits from the Reader were not counted. Then, for a while, WordPress provided a separate tally of Reader hits. After a few weeks, it was discontinued.

Now I have no idea how or if Reader hits count. Who is counted? Many of us use not just WordPress’s Reader, but other readers. Like Bloglovin, to name just one of many.

As far as I know, the only hits that count (for sure) are when a reader clicks on an individual post. If a readers just accesses your site, then scrolls through, reading as he or she goes, it counts as a single hit. On the other hand, if someone is looking at a photo gallery, then clicks on 6 different pictures, you will get 7 hits — 1 for selecting the post and 1 each for every picture.

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It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

You can study the statistics all you want, but all you can extract are general trends. More or less traffic. A little analysis will show you which of your posts get the most traffic, though the count on that is also suspect. It is not unusual for the number of “Likes” on a post to exceed the supposed total number of hits on it or show 17 hits when you’ve got 75 “Likes” and 55 comments. How can that be?

The only followers I count are WordPress followers yet I know I have followers who prefer to not create a WordPress profile and never register. So they aren’t part of the “follower” count. I’m not sure whether or not they count at all.  I only know they exist because they are friends and have told me they read my posts. Since none of them comment or “Like”, are they counted?

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We want to make sense of our numbers, but it isn’t going to happen. It won’t make sense because WordPress won’t tell us how they come up with the numbers. We need a definition of “hit.” I’d like WordPress to tell me if Reader “hits” are included in the count. Until we have a realistic idea of how they come up with the numbers, we will never understand what they mean.

Does anyone besides me wonder why they won’t tell us for what are they using our numbers? How are they mining our data? To whom they are selling our personal information? I don’t worry about hackers nearly as much as I worry about being sold as part of a list.

What I can tell you with certainty, is I do not have more than 6,000 followers. No matter what it says in the little box.

And all of us are getting more hits than the hit count shows.

WHERE ARE MY 4,089 FOLLOWERS?

Yesterday, I glanced at my statistics and realized I’d reached a new level. According to WordPress, I now have 4,089 4,111 followers.

That’s a lot of followers. You’d figure I’d get at least 1,000 hits a day, right? And certainly, with 1000 more followers than I had a few months ago, I must be getting a lot more hits. It just stands to reason, doesn’t it?

Not.

I have no idea who — or what — is following me.

I am convinced most of my followers are non-human. I have a couple of dozen real people in the mix. These are  my regulars who read my stuff, comment and have become virtual friends. They look at my photographs. They remember stories I’ve written in the past.

That accounts for a couple of dozen people There are a few dozen others who drop by regularly, but not daily, as the spirit moves them. What’s with the other 3,500 followers?

Image: Mashable.com
Image: Mashable.com

Where are you? You don’t write, you don’t call. Not a comment or a “Like.” What’s a blogger to do but wonder if you are real? I bet you are software spammers and cyber-bots. Unless there more than three thousand people who — for no known reason — clicked “Follow” on my site, then lost interest and never came back.

I’m by no means alone in wondering “where have all the followers gone.” It’s the deepest, darkest mystery of blogging, these elusive followers from whom one never hears. Do I really have thousands of lurkers, none of whom have ever clicked on a post?

Anyway, although I’m (technically) more popular than ever, the number of hits per day is slightly lower than it was a couple of thousand followers ago.

If you’re out there, drop me a line. Click “Like.” Make a comment.

Or not.