What You Are Doing Right
It's important that you understand your sphere of influence and the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. As an author, writer, artist, or any industry professional you need to have a solid understanding of your own platform in order to grow it quickly, efficiently, and in new and original ways; however, stat checking can also be a big time distraction.
What You Might Be Doing Wrong
It's true that stat checking might seem like a more "productive" distraction than Farmville, but in reality it is just one more thing that eats up the time you might have otherwise spent writing. For your analytics to truly be effective you have to allow for enough time to eclipse so that the number will show you some real data. Watching your page views climb might be uplifting, but what will be the true boon to you in your marketing efforts are the conclusions that you will draw from those numbers over time.
Some things to consider about your numbers:
- One of the obvious things that you should be looking for are the topics and features that consistently do well for you in terms of traffic and/or discussion. (Even if a post attracts low numbers in terms of impressions and unique page views, if it sparks the energy and intellect of your audience then it has done well.) By honing in on that, you can work towards developing your authority within the community or subject matter. Variety though is so the spice of life so be careful that you don't let your blog grow into a one trick pony.
- You may notice over time that certain days of the week do more well than others. That's good to know in terms of scheduling content.
- It's also incredibly important to look at how people are finding you. Where does the bulk of your traffic come from? If it is all from Twitter and Google Reader, is there more that you could be doing to improve the SEO of your site?
Obligatory Enabling Section
Here are a few analytics tools that I use/have used. Try them out, see if any fit, but remember to check your stats responsibly.
Google Analytics: A lot of blog engines like Wordpress and Blogger already have built-in simple interfaces this data, but if you don't have that, sign up with Google Analytics. (Blogger bloggers, you're already using Google Analytics even if you don't realize it.)
Twitter Counter: Good at tracking your growth in terms of Followers.
Goodbye Buddy: Useful in identifying those specific users who have chosen to unfollow, seeing how long they followed you, and whether you follow them back.
Klout: Honestly I'm still on the fence about this one, but that's a whole different blog post for another time. Klout is a tool for measuring your influence, but it seems a lot more fun than useful. You can even earn badges like on Foursquare different milestones on the path of building your Twitter brand.
Twitter Grader: I like it better than Klout, and again offers me data on my influence and those users that influence me. I get cleaner, clearer results and numbers with Twitter Grader and I like that they are so transparent about their algorithms.
Twitter Karma: A simple tool for finding out which of you Following list follows you back. It's a great tool in terms of housekeeping.