Every so often, someone says to me “how many readers does your blog/website have, Neil?”
And I don’t know.
In truth, I don’t care.1
My personal blog
The main reason I run my personal blog - this site - is to keep a record of what I’ve done and how I’ve done it.
It’s essentially a reference point for me.
Originally, I started doing this in a wiki, accessible only to me, but then I decided that it might be useful to others.
Probably not very many others, given what I write about, but perhaps some others.
If something I write helps just one other person facing the same error or situation that I had, then great. If no-one else ever manages to get into the same mess, so be it. I’ve lost nothing.
I refer back to my own site loads. For me, it’s invaluable, and it might as well be public.
For the other stuff - book reviews, meanderings of various topics, and so on - I do it for me.
I’m not going to write more book reviews if they’re popular. That would mean reading more books, and I read for pleasure, when I get a chance, and I don’t want to ruin that and probably wouldn’t have the time to do so anyway.
(It’s the same with my toots. I toot what I want to toot, about stuff I find interesting. I chat with interesting people. To the person who said that they’d unfollow me unless I tooted about something specifically interesting to them, please unfollow me. You’ll be happier.)
My work site and blog
I guess that, for our work site (decoded.legal) and blog (decoded.legal/blog), not caring about viewings / readership / other stats is a bit more unusual?
But I don’t care about stats for those either.
Our business is built on repeat custom and word of mouth (for which we are always very grateful; thank you, lovely clients).
It’s also (intentionally) not scalable: I don’t have a warehouse full of geeky, tech-minded lawyers, all needing work to be put on their desks.
It’s me, and Sandra (but mostly me).
I want to be busy enough, and no more than that. I don’t like turning work down, but nor do I want to scale up.
So I want our website to be useful, and it hope it reflects us well. I think it achieves that but, frankly, you tell me.
But I am not chasing views, or trying to optimise dwell time, or anything like that, so stats just don’t matter to me.
Our work blog started in the same way that my personal blog did.
I used to use an internal wiki for keeping track of interesting cases, writing up my thoughts on legislative changes, and so on, as a reference point for me.
Sometimes, I would turn that into an article for a legal publication.
I do still keep the occasional private note on something - how it might be useful in some client-specific situation, for instance - but, on the whole, there was very little on my private wiki that couldn’t be in the public domain.
And, in putting it in the public domain, via more blog, more people get to read it, if they want.
Some people find it useful, because they are kind enough to tell me so.
But again, since I’m not writing to please an audience, or even to attract one, exactly which posts are the most popular, or from where in the world viewers are coming, doesn’t matter to me.
I write posts to either remind me of something, or because the topic is of interest to me and more suited for the “work” blog than my “personal” blog.
I’m not looking for a conversion rate, or - and boy do I hate this term - “lead generation”.
If I were, perhaps I’d need to do more than this simple theme. Perhaps more links between posts, or an image at the top, and more boosting of it on social media, and so on.
I occasionally put in a half-hearted “And if you’re affected by the issues in this blogpost, feel free to contact us” type of statement. Many times I don’t bother. I’m not looking to “nudge” anyone towards us. If someone wants to get in touch, they can.
Perhaps I’m just terrible at marketing.
You might. That’s fine. I’m not criticising you for caring. If you’re trying to build or curate or - yuck - “monetise” an audience, then stats may be vital to you. ↩︎