Another Look at Blogging Numbers (Following Night Owl's Lead)

Consider this "Night Owl Weekend" on my blog.  Yesterday, I showed off a recent trade I completed with the venerable nocturnal bird and now for today's post I'm following up on a post that Greg wrote about a week or so ago on his blog (read it here).

I think if you ask anyone who has read baseball blogs for a decent amount of time, Greg's Night Owl Cards will consistently be a Top 3 "best of" blog for any reader.  Greg clearly spends a lot of time and energy on his blog, and it shows with well-crafted, interesting posts on a near daily basis.  Greg (I believe) works for a newspaper by trade, so it's clear he has the writing (and editing) chops to make a great blog happen.  However, he also is full of good and interesting ideas which make for good and interesting blog posts - perhaps none so interested (to me at least) as his recent entry on blogging itself.

In a nutshell, Greg wanted to somehow answer the question of whether or not baseball card blogging is dying.  It's easy to see lots of reasons why it might be dying (old blogs that no longer exist, Twitter, boring baseball card sets, etc.) but Greg went out of his way to look for proof of blogging's death.

So what did he find?  Well, he found that on his blog blogging maybe has never been better.  Or, perhaps more accurately in my mind, his blogging has never been better.  He basically went through and counted up all the comments on his blog for each year of its existence (seriously go read all his data) and found that in 2018 he had his highest ever interaction numbers on his blog.

That post got me thinking quite a bit.  For one, as a mathematician, I love numbers.  Two, while I definitely don't hold my blog in the same category as Greg's, I too have been at this blogging thing for many, many years (I began Nachos Grande back in 2008)!  

Now, I don't have the time (or energy) right now to go back through and count up all the comments over all the years on my blog.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that I have nowhere near the interaction numbers that Night Owl gets.  That said, I was curious so I did go back and count up the comments for last year on my blog.

My total?  

666 comments, or about 1.42 comments per post.  As I said, that's nowhere near Greg's 2018 average of 11.75 comments per post but it's still a higher number than I was expecting.

So, the next question is what to make of my data.  

As someone who likes to study trends and data, I came up with the following possibilities for my numbers:
  1. I have many, many posts that don't really require (or even encourage) comments from others.  Most notably, my ongoing Barry Larkin Collection series.  I've posted nearly 650 Larkin cards over the lifetime of this blog but I'd wager less than 10% of those ever get even a single comment on them.  I am aware that those aren't overly popular posts - but I'm also aware that there is a small group of people out there who like them!  That said, those posts are as much for me as they are for my readers - I like being able to see my entire collection (or at least a good chunk of it since I still have many, many more Larkin cards to scan and write about)!
  2. I post too often.  I try to post at least once per day (in 2018 I had a total of 468 posts and that was with missing a big chunk of days when my son was born)!  I do think having a consistent stream of posts contributes to some of the more interesting pieces getting pushed aside in the queue too quickly.
  3. I don't often make an effort to ask the audience questions nor do I generally take a hard-line, controversial stance to generate views/comments.  Some of my most commented on posts in 2018 were posts where I did ask the audience a question (such as my Is Blogging on Life Support post or my post asking about Surprise Mailings versus Agreed Upon Trades).
  4. I don't open a ton of new product.  Some of my "biggest" posts of 2018 (whether you judge that by comments or post views) are posts about the latest and greatest products (such as my post where I pulled a red ink auto out of a blaster of Topps Heritage).
In the end, I think each and every blogger needs to be comfortable with what they are doing for themselves.  By that, I mean that you can't compare your numbers to somebody else's numbers and then get upset about why your numbers aren't the same.  You also need to be true to who you are.  In my case, I'm a black-and-white numbers guy who is trying his best to write blog posts.  I can't be expected to reach the same writing heights that professional writers (or budding literary-minded college students) may reach.  On the other hand, if you want something analyzed and figured out mathematically, I'm your guy!

Finally, I thought it'd be a good idea to share how I rate my own success in terms of my blog.  Quite honestly, I had never considered the "daily comment average" idea prior to Night Owl's post.  For me, I judge success on blog trading.  Sending (and receiving) cards (and LEGO) in the mail is the lifeblood of my blog.  Without that, I'd quickly run out of things to say or things to keep my interest.  As a set completionist at heart, blogging has been instrumental in actually helping me finish sets that otherwise I'd never complete.  I get a happy heart when I slide that final card into its appropriate spot in the binder page - it's why posts like this one where I acquired my second-to-last original 1889 Allen & Ginter fish card are special to me (even if it didn't garner a ton of comments from my audience at large).

In summary:  

Be happy and do your own thing.  Support the bloggers you love.  But above all, only do what makes you happy.  The moment you turn blogging into a competition or into a job, it will cease to be fun.  Once the fun is gone, the blog will almost assuredly die within a short time period.  Instead, focus on what you enjoy and go with it.  It might mean fewer readers (or fewer comments) but if you makes you happy it's still worth it.  That's why you won't see me give up on my Barry Larkin Collection posts any time soon!  Heck, if you stick with blogging long enough you'll reach crazy numbers too - like in my case Nachos Grande has 1.3 million visitors and counting.  That's insane to me - a literal million plus visits to a blog written by a math nerd.  I appreciate each and every one of you, whether you comment, trade, or simply lurk here!

Comments

  1. Keep up the awesome posts! You are absolutely right, blog what you love otherwise it isn't fun anymore.

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  2. Your summary at the end is on point, especially the first six sentences or so. Although, anytime I see the words "math nerd" it makes me smile. (I've been doing more mental math in my classes as of late and I think I'm starting to get a rep.) Happy blogging in 2019!

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  3. Great advice. I think everyone's personal touches on their blog make our blogosphere that much more interesting. I'm not gonna lie... I enjoy the interaction on my blog. Reading comments and leaving comments on other blogs is fun for me. However... it's not the driving force of my blog. I use my blog as a diary. I wish I would have journaled more as a child. Now I'm making up for lost time.

    As for Greg... he's definitely the Blogfather of card blogs in my humble opinion. Not just in terms of his huge following, but also his well written and well researched content. Plus... he keeps things real and doesn't care if people agree with him or not. I love it!

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  4. Great post Chris! I can relate to your comments quite well. Blogging started becoming a chore for me last year (mostly because the free time I previously used to blog is now being utilized to plan a wedding). So I stopped for now. I'll be back... eventually. Probably once I get settled in after the wedding (in May). I always appreciate reading your stuff still!

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  5. Blogging is ALIVE! IT'S ALIVE!

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  6. Excellent post. I think all the bloggers do a wonderful job of supporting each other and its cool when you follow enough of them long enough to see the differences in all the topics, collections, and reasons for blogging. I only get to stroll the blogs once a week really but I try to comment whenever possible to let the poster know someone is out there.

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  7. I love statistics too!

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  8. I'm loving all the love that you guys are giving blogs in general! I think all of us are guilty (at times) of doing a lot of reading but not as much commenting - but I know from experience that getting comments on my stuff makes me happy, so I resolve to do a better job of commenting on other people's posts!

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  9. Love your insight and I agree with you and all of the commenters above. All this noise about blogging dying sounds just like those who say the hobby is dying. They've been proclaiming that the hobby is dying for a couple of decades at least, and the companies (and most collectors) know full well the hobby is definitely not dying.

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