(Editor’s note – and here is part 3 of my year in review, this one just discussing the blog and how my site did!)
Lastly, a part 3 to this post – a personal milestone recounting. 2019 was, to say the least, a massive year for my blog. I feel like I’ve hit my stride as a writer, and I’ve managed to get my voice clearer and more interestingly expressed in each post. I took a lot of chances on content in 2019 – writing about wrestling more, writing about non-MMO gaming topics more, and writing more speculative pieces about gameplay and my personal tastes in such, and all of these have been well-received. Before getting into some of those, some stats:
-14,274 total views from 8,880 visitors
-1,295 likes and 471 comments
-181 posts published
-Top 3 Countries Read In: United States (7,079), the UK (1,046), and Canada (676)
-Top Outside Non-Search Referrer – Inventory Full (thanks Bhagpuss!)
Now, some fun weird stats:
-Strangest Referrer – Yahoo Finance (my write-up of AMD CPU launches got linked on their stock page somehow, and they ended up in my top ten referrers for the year!)
-Most Surprising Country I Was Read In – two views each for Kuwait and Iraq. Actually, I have a surprising number of readers in the Middle East in general, although it’s nowhere near a substantial number!
-Most Surprising Post in My Top Ten for 2019 – I stopped doing guide posts because they didn’t really suit my voice, but something I don’t do as often as I’d like is detailed narrativization of gameplay mechanics and learning them. To that end, my post “The Journey to Level 80 Gunbreaker, and Lessons Learned on Tanking in Final Fantasy XIV” was a hit even though I didn’t expect it to be for a few reasons – one, my Final Fantasy XIV posts generally don’t reach the same audience volume as WoW posts or general technology posts, with few exceptions. Two, a lot of the referrers to that post were searches asking about the viability of GNB in the endgame, which was interesting to see – I wouldn’t have expected organic search to return me as a high-ranked result often enough for that to happen, but it does highlight something that makes sense when viewed through this lens – FFXIV simply doesn’t have the overabundance of fan sites that WoW does, and the game’s information economy tends to stagnate into the game’s subreddit, various large and helpful community sites that are mostly built on spreadsheets, and YouTube videos, where most content creators working on FFXIV reside. Viewed that way, it makes some intuitive sense – if you Google “GNB any good?” and don’t want to commit to watching a 15 minute video or reading spreadsheets or threads, a single piece discussing the job makes sense!
As for other metrics, for me, I find it helpful and instructive to compare to my prior two years. While 2017 is technically a partial year (I started the blog in February 2017 and took a pretty long hiatus from spring of that year until the summer), it is illustrative nonetheless.
|2019 View Growth||556%||326%||205%|
|2019 Visitor Growth||612%||357%||225%|
|2019 Like Growth||423%||278%||168%|
|2019 Comment Growth||293%||202%||120%|
|2019 Post Growth||177%||283%||109%|
I’m quite happy to see a continued trend of triple-digit growth, both year-over-year and current year over all prior years combined. Of course, that is an unsustainable trend, but I think I’m going to try to stick a landing in 2020 with a daily posting cadence to see how that works. By far and away my best month in 2019 was August, during which I was participating in Blaugust with daily or near-daily posts (making it up with a two-a-day if I had failed to hit a daily post earlier in the week) and my engagement during Blaugust was largely driven by new readers coming in through other blogs and sticking around. Almost 25% of my total annual traffic in 2019 came via Blaugust – whether through the event itself, links on other blogs, increased viewership due to Blaugust, or other August 2019 factors (I do think a substantial portion of that was the huge amount of discussion of WoW Classic and how that fed into the daily format of Blaugust at a time when people were excited and eagerly consuming everything they could read about the game).
My goal I set in late 2019 was to break 15,000 views for the year, and while I got crushingly close to it, I ultimately didn’t post enough in November/December to push my views over the finish line.
My current pacing for 2020, just off of the one week into the new year we are, would put me on a pace to hit 18,300 views for the year, a solid increase, but no longer a triple-digit percentage growth yield. This doesn’t account for any spikes around major traffic days, as I’m sure I’ll see some jumps for Shadowlands major news (alpha/beta, launch date announcement, pre-patch, launch day, first tier raid opening) or the FFXIV Fan Fest in Las Vegas and the expected new expansion announcement.
With that, I’ve set a few goals for the site in 2020 that I hope to crush!
-20,000 views minimum: a healthy increase over 2019 and just over my current trajectory for 2020, this takes into account what I expect to be seasonal volume from the major events described above. It doesn’t hit my ideal, however, so…
-29,000 views ideal: By writing at least once a day, I think I can make my blog worth visiting enough that it pulls an extra 9,000 clicks over what I reasonably expect to be my floor for the year. Especially if coupled with timely and quick posts on the major topics of the year, I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect that type of growth, although it will definitely require some work!
-10,000+ Visitors: Increasing visitor count over last year might be a challenge given the anemic growth rate of blogs in general, but a bit of increased effort on my part into promoting outside of WordPress (better Twitter links to posts with actual promo text instead of just a summary, links from other sources) should help find another 1,200 people to look at least once. I’m not going to get into writing in SEO style or anything of that sort to fish for more – my style is what I like and I’m not going to bastardize it to ensure it places 10 spots higher with Google or anything.
-500+ Comments: The easiest goal in my opinion, as it requires a jump of 29 comments. One of the things I like about blogging on what is still a relatively small scale is that the comments remain more interesting and the discussion friendly while focused. I know most of my commentators, at least on a blog to blog level, and I can feel when a post is going to draw out a comment from some of you! I promise that I don’t typically abuse this power for evil, but I do sometimes over-emphasize some content if I know it can prompt good discussion!
-2,400+ Likes: Close enough to a 100% increase over 2019, and if I indeed hit 366 posts for the year, my normal like rate should carry that forward. For me, this isn’t about changing styles – short of making sure my points are clear and well-articulated or that if they aren’t, it is to allow my writer’s voice to shine in an entertaining way. I expect that at least a few pieces over the course of the year are going to be duds for likes (while I loved writing my Wrestle Kingdom 14 piece the other day, I fully expected my core audience would look at it, maybe read it as a courtesy, and go on about their day – and that has held true!), I expect that the nature of this year’s news cycle is going to bring out likes. Well, hopefully. I mean, it’s not like Blizzard is going to completely screw-up Shadowlands and deliver a dud of an expansion, right?
-366 Posts Minimum: I left it stated more plainly above, but hey, this is a goal too. My pace aims to be one a day, but I fully expect that there will be gaps I’ll have to make up pre-emptively or later (for example, if my plan to go to both Blizzcon 2020 and FFXIV Fan Fest 2020 come to fruition, November might be a lean month or have a lot of posts typed in a frenzy on my smartphone from a convention floor!)
-At Least 10 Posts About My Hobbyist Game Dev Journey: Me designing and developing a game is something I think will be amusing to write about. Often here, I enjoy writing about other people’s works in the industry and question how they came to certain decisions or what the process was like that led to something shipping in a bad state. With the shoe on the other foot, I think it will be fun to do some expectations vs. reality, talking about the assumptions made when starting the project versus where things land once code hits the screen, models are rendered, and gameplay is present. I’m not fully sure how long the whole project is going to take me, but I have a pretty robust design skeleton that will form the backbone of the game (and my first post in the series).
-200+ WordPress Followers: Maybe a conservative goal, maybe not, but my follower growth has remained steady over the three-year journey with blogging I’ve been on so far. One thing that has made me nervous to migrate to a custom domain is that I fear losing followers (anecdotally, a few blogs I really enjoyed underwent that migration, and their posts stopped being in my WordPress feed, which has, sadly, limited my viewing and commenting of their posts).
-Better Participation On Other Blogs: I’ve outlined this one a bit before, but I have a good number of commentators whose blogs I only seldom comment on, even though I read their posts. Whether it is custom domain issues, just forgetting, not having a lot to say about the post (Wilhelm’s frequent EVE posts are this for me!), or platform crossover (not having a Blogspot linked clearly to this online identity to use for participation’s sake), I am somewhat of a poor participant in the overall blog community and while I enjoy all the discussion people bring to my front door, it is unfair to enjoy that and not reciprocate.
To sum it up, 2019 was a year of stellar growth for me individually and my site and blog, and while it feels like 2020 will be another fantastic year, there is certainly a lot to be done to make it so.
With all of that now down in posts, the way is clear for all of the news and analysis to break loose. Bring on 2020 (I say, 7 days into the year)!