Ca Phe Sua Da (Vietnamese Iced Milk Coffee).
Technorati recently released their "State of the Blogosphere" report, analyzing the trends and themes of blogging. Part of the report also included the fact that several of the top bloggers make six digits a year. And, of course, there are the bloggers who've gotten book deals such as Adam of The Amateur Gourmet, Clothilde of Chocolate and Zucchini, and Molly of Orangette.
Any agents or publishers reading this? I'd like a book deal too please. Pretty please? :)
The reality is that most bloggers don't make that kind of money, nor do we all have book deals, but that doesn't mean your blog can't be successful. Success is relative right? Do you judge it based upon how many comments you get? Or do you judge it based upon how many hits you get?
Two months ago when I started my "How to Start a Food Blog" series, I mentioned my Alexa, Technorati, and Wikio Food and Wine rankings as ways to gauge success. Just to give you an idea of how much difference just two months, and even a year makes, I'll compare the numbers. I said that in July 2007, I had 19,694 hits. By July 2008, I had 72,819 hits. In August 2007, there were 24,964 hits and in 2008, that rose to 75,298 hits. In September 2007, I had 29,183 hits. Last month, my hits were 90,598. I'm only discussing hits, or pageviews, because you can easily set your stat counter to show a higher number of visitors. I'm always excited when my number of pageviews increases each month. So for me, one way I judge my blog's continued "success" is if the numbers continue upward. Simple enough right?
Two months ago, Wandering Chopsticks' Alexa ranking was 206,189. Now, it's 189,676. I consider this the most important number because Alexa, which is owned by Amazon, measures total website traffic. Alexa doesn't care about how many people comment on your blog. It doesn't care about how many blogs link to you. Alexa simply ranks your blog based upon how much traffic you get. Some people have wondered why I'm so open about my numbers, because there are bloggers who are incredibly secretive about theirs. And the simple fact of the matter is, those numbers are already public. While you may not get exact figures, it's pretty easy to estimate how much traffic a blog gets based upon its ranking. Of course, no program is perfect. The results aren't entirely reliable if your traffic is less than 1,000 visitors a month or your ranking is lower than 100,000, but it does give you a pretty good general idea of where you stand. In fact, public relations companies use Alexa to determine which blogs to pitch.
Technorati, which only rates blogs, ranked Wandering Chopsticks at 32,417 in August. It's now 22,917. If you care about how many blogs link to you, or your blog's popularity, this is the number to watch. The more blogs that link to you, the higher your ranking. I sporadically check to see my blog reactions to find out who linked to me, but don't find it very useful beyond that. Also, it's rather inconsistent, sometimes adding in Spam sites and sometimes missing links entirely.
Wikio Food and Wine is a relative newcomer, and I'm a little iffy on whether I care about this number. There are popular blogs that didn't make it onto their top 100 list, and blogs that get significantly less traffic than mine that did. That's because rankings are based upon incoming links from top blogs. Unlike Technorati, which ranks your blog based upon any link, Wikio gives weight to links from top blogs. So then, isn't that ranking inflated since Wikio only counts those same links, when the numbers don't bear that out? Anyway, two months ago I said I wasn't in their top 100 at all. Then this month, I entered the list at #33. *Shrug.*
In all honesty, while I appreciate having a decent ranking with Technorati and Wikio, the only ranking I really care about is Alexa.
Yong Tau Foo (Chinese Stuffed Tofu)
Other counters I should mention include BlogFlux Food and Drink Blogs, which I use to gauge how traffic is going for me each week. You have to register and include the badge on your blog in order for them to rank you. The numbers get wiped out each Sunday so you start all over again. It's useful for me to figure out how I'm doing from week to week, but it's not as inclusive as the others because BlogFlux only counts the blogs that are registered with them.
And lastly, there's Feedburner, which consolidates all your RSS readers. You'll notice that bloggers who use this often display the badge with the number of subscribers. It's now owned by Google, so you can consolidate it with the rest of your Google accounts instead of registering a separate Feedburner account. Last December when I started using Feedburner, I had 147 subscribers. I now have 538 readers. Clara of I (Heart) Food 4 Thought recently asked whether people preferred summaries or full feeds. Reading the blog on a reader doesn't count in number of pageviews which, if you have ads, affects how much you eventually get paid. Check her post for some comments on where people stand on this issue, or drop a comment here. I couldn't find the original post to link it to this one, but I remember signing up after reading a Feedburner post about how full feeds actually encouraged people to comment more. There's no way to find out how much switching to full feeds last year helped increased my readership, but I do think it played a role. I've said before, in relation to blog navigation, that people are lazy. Throw up obstacles such as additional clicking to get to the information and you may lose them as a reader. Unless you're one of the top blogs and will get readers regardless, or your blog has been scrapped repeatedly, it's best to go with full feeds.
Based upon my blogging interactions and emails, I separate readers in three categories. The lowest level of reader is the lurker. The lurker reads your blog, perhaps even on a regular basis, but they never comment. Now, there's nothing wrong with being a lurker, most of my family and friends who read my blog fall into this category, it's just they have minimal to non-existent contact with you online. Occasionally, they'll email to ask a question or thank me, then retreat back to lurkdom. If you go to partial feeds, the lurkers who read your blog through a reader will most likely unsubscribe. After all, they don't interact with you anyway and if you make reading your blog inconvenient for them, they'll move on to another blog that's more accessible. If they lurk by reading your blog directly, this isn't an issue.
The mid-level is the sporadic reader. These are the people who only check in for the specific information they want from your blog. For instance, I have readers who don't cook and are only interested in whether I have a new restaurant post up. Or they don't read the blog and only check in to see if there's a new Vietnamese recipe. It's when the specific post that they're interested in comes up that they'll comment or click over from the reader in order to comment. If you switch to partial feeds, this reader probably won't change. They're just scanning headlines anyway, so they'll only click over for the posts that are of interest to them. If they're reading on your blog directly, it'll still be sporadic.
And finally, the top level of readers are the truly dedicated. They read your blog on a regular basis, even if they don't necessarily comment every time. They use readers to make sure they don't miss a single post, and then click over to comment when they feel like it. For the blogs that update on a regular basis, I tend to read their blogs directly so they can get the few pennies of ad money from my visit. If you switch to partial feeds, you may lose some of them, but on the whole, they're going to read you regardless.
Don't get bogged down in all this talk of rankings and number of readers. There's always going to be someone who does better or worse than you. I use the rankings to get a general sense of how I'm doing. I recently mentioned to lil' sis about some of the emails I've received that were particularly poignant -- the reader who's using my Vietnamese recipes to cook for her dad after her mom passed away, the reader who never learned to cook Vietnamese food until now because her mom passed away when she was young, and the reader who's learning about and how to cook Vietnamese food to get closer to her boyfriend. These are my measures of success, not the numbers, but the people I've touched.
How do you measure success? Do you care about being popular or do you care about your ranking? Do you count it by how many comments or how many hits you get? Do you pay attention to Alexa, Technorati, and Wikio rankings? Did you even know about them until I said so? :P Do you use full or partial feeds and why? What are your blog reading habits?
Also, Diana of Appetite for China suggested I make my "How to Start a Food Series" more prominent. So there's now a link on top at my navigation bar. Or if you want to access a specific chapter directly, there's a breakout list on the sidebar.
- How to Start a Food Blog
- On Blogging and Food Blogging
- Choosing a Blog Host
- Picking a Name: Be Clever, Original, and Memorable
- Posting: Frequency, Topics, and Accuracy
- Giving Credit: The Right Way to Link, Copyright, and "By," "Inspired," and "Adapted"
- Your Online Identity: Blogging Interactions and Comment Policies
- Photos: Photography Tips, Storage, and Watermarking
- Design: Layout, Navigation, and "Above the Fold"
- Blogrolling: Will You Be My Friend?
- Building Traffic: Participate in the Community and Respond to Your Stats
- Measuring Success: Cheerleader or Nerd?
- Public Relations: Handling the Freebies and the People
- Monetizing Your Hobby: To Ad or Not to Ad
- Bottomline: Have Fun, but Protect Your Work
1 year ago today, a long rambling story that ended at Uzbekistan - Los Angeles (Closed).