As a data blogger, I’m delighted to embark on a meta-blogpost, benchmarking some milestones for this year and seeing what can be gleaned from the various wordpress/social media/SEO data sources. Digging into this has already helped me learn a heck of a lot and I am going to make some tweaks as a result.
Perhaps you also have a website or a newsletter and you might find it interesting to see how I make commentary on these metrics. If you do, I’d be delighted to hear from you!
I don’t need to remind you that 2021 was an indisputably challenging year. In this blog post, I’m going to celebrate the good – reaching new people, and writing about what’s important to me with those of you who have stuck around. Thank you for being here! Thank you for being you!
I often *END* blogposts with a “so what,” but when talking about metrics, I think it’s always best to start with one. After all, metrics can be so dreadfully misleading, ego boosting, and lead to the wrong conclusions. That’s the last thing I would want. D:
My goals at TDAA are threefold (I’m always looking for better ways to express this, here’s just a quick brain dump)
- Partner with changemakers in big and small ways to solve complex tech and social justice problems
- Contribute to culture change in nonprofit, activist, and tech spaces
- Write (a) (the) administrative history of the American Freedom Movement
- tentatively titled “Keeping <This Little Light Of Mine> On”
- Share candidly about & continuously reflect on my journey as an activist data practitioner
What started out as a passion project to write about spreadsheet tips has taken off big time! Now I spend $100s per year just on website maintenance, and I have a thriving mini-consulting practice that complements my full time work as a Salesforce admin for a local philanthropic foundation. This year, more than 90,000 sets of eyeballs will grace this blog! Somewhere along the line, I decided it was important to me to find people I don’t already know, and create resources that can help people along their spreadsheet wrangling journey or at least start a dialogue. I haven’t ever done any “sponsored” posts or the like, but I’ve started to make choices that will, indeed, help the blog reach more people. You’re going to hear more about that in the paragraphs below. I have a responsibility to myself and to the communities impacted by the blog to write accurately, pursue meaningful goals, and reflect seriously about my mission.
According to WordPress…
Context: This is the 4th full year of TDAA! These metrics (in this section and all to follow) do not include this post, or any “views” after 12/27.
- I’ve written 35 blog posts this year, which is my second least prolific year. In Year 1 (2018), I wrote 64 and Year 2, 46.
- However, my blog length has increased substantially, making this years’ posts the second longest at 1,322 words. Last year was the longest, at 1,548. I’m long winded, so be it!
- Total this year, I’ve written 46,271 words!
- October of this year was my most popular month ever with 8.6k views!
- Of these views, my most popular post accounted for 6.7k views, so let’s remove that from the sample since it drastically skews the data
- However, it makes me SO HAPPY that so many of you read posts that were so important to me, including 205 announcing my new mail merge video project and 137 exploring dashboards vs record pages in Salesforce
- Thank you for making October so exciting!
- Interesting enough, neither of these made this year’s top 10! I think that means that these posts were most popular with subscribers/followers of the blog, but they didn’t rank well in the search algorithms for blog visitors
- This year, I earned 85,260 views from 75,485 visitors.
- My “views per visitor” metric was 1.14, which is slightly up from last year and slightly down from previous years (I think these numbers might be harder to maintain as the blog grows, so keeping this steady is exciting!). This means that my strategy of linking from blog posts to other blog posts, and organizing similar posts into categories, is likely enticing people to stick around. Neat!
- I have 426 followers, of which 174 are WordPress customers and 252 are email subscribers. Do you think I’ll have 500 next year?
top 10 blog posts (plus bonus one!)
- How to Build a Table in Google Sheets
- Admin emoji
- Introducing: xlookup
- Did ella baker have a rolodex?
- Let’s table it
- Digital self care vol iii
- How to populate multi-select picklists in google sheets and salesforce
- going with the Flow
- from bus boycott to badass bureaucracy
- snowfakery til you makery
- on jevons’ paradox
- I literally had no idea Admin emoji (imo not that great of a post…) was so popular. I am going to rework it a bit so that I can reach people who find the topic interesting AND direct them to other posts on the site that are closer to my personal mission.
- I’m sooo excited that TWO civil writes posts made it into the top 10! That is largely because a few prominent, awesome sociologists on twitter found my work and have been sharing it generously.
- I’m also totally stoked that writing about Snowfakery has been of use to the community
- I desperately want to talk more about Jevons’ Paradox, so I am including it since it naturally fell in the 11th slot
- I notice that the advice column posts do not get as many views. Curious about that! I plan to keep the column open and accepting dilemmas. Helping people solve real problems is WAY WAAAYYYYY more important to me than counting eyeballs!
Last year, the extent of my knowledge on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) was that one of my posts performed well on Google, but I never really understood “how” or “why.” This year, I implemented some special SEO plug-ins so that I could see what people search for, and how they get to my website. The app additionally suggests things that I can do to improve SEO, some of which are contrary to my goals (so I am obviously not doing them!). (Examples: writing shorter posts, different style headers, more links, etc). Learning what other people do to get higher eyeball rankings is an interesting process, in and of itself.
According to WordPress:
- Table related search terms: google sheets create table (and variations within)
- Not-Table related search terms: admin emoji; jp drain log (this is related to a surgery procedure I had, lol!); digital self; excel check duped;
According to Google Search Console (only since 12/12/21 when I set it up)
- My blog links resulted in 34.2k “impressions,” and 2.03k “clicks.” An “impression” means that it appeared in a search result and someone at least scrolled past it.
- This means that I have an average CTR or 5.9% (percentage of impressions which result in a click)
- How to populate MSPL in Google Sheets performed really well (65 clicks / 1,951 impressions). Interestingly, none of the search terms that led to my post mentioned Salesforce.
Things I want to do differently next year:
- Assume that people reading blog posts do not know me personally
- Resist urge to be consumed with SEO
- Write more descriptive excerpts
- Make a list of tech questions that *I* search in Google
- Pay attention to subject headers – can they be more descriptive without losing flow?
This is the first year that I started making videos for YouTube, focused on how to use Conga Composer, a third-party app for Salesforce. As of a few days ago, I’ve reached 500 video views! Today, I dug into the YouTube creator metrics and learned a few insights:
- So far, I have 6 videos on my channel
- About 50% of people who go to my Channel page click and watch a video
- 220 view come from “external”, which is defined as external websites where videos are embedded. Does this refer to my blog page or somewhere else?
- YouTube search only accounts for 12 views so far, and the most popular search term was Salesforce. Curious to see if that changes over time!
- In terms of “External traffic,” LinkedIn and Salesforce were the most common sources. I wonder if this includes the Trailblazer Community.
Big projects and synchronous activities
It’s not only eyeballs and metrics around here. I’m also super proud of some big projects that have only indirectly made it onto the blog! (Transparency note: I got paid for most (not all) of the projects described below). These projects spanned issue areas from antiracism to queer liberation to reproductive justice and more. Here’s a few highlights:
- I partnered with an incredible nonprofit to research whether Campaigns or Program Management Module would be a better data model for tracking their programs. In the process, I learned a ton about PMM as well as culturally responsive social services
- I learned the innerworkings of the NPSP (especially Gift Entry and Customizable Rollups) as part of two projects, one was designing a data tracking and reporting system for a capital campaign at an LGBT services org and another was implementing a brand new version of Salesforce for a QPOC land stewardship project
- I had the honor of redesigning a Google Sheets macro-ish type of tool to support a domestic violence agency to report their data for a federal grant requirement
- I collaborated with my work bestie to create a special training on “spreadsheets vs databases” for a coalition of abortion funding organizations
- Other projects spanned dashboard building for a social movement intermediary funder, lead tracking for a service learning organization, and cleaning up an open source database with an immigrant rights org.
- Finally, I contributed many hours and even a few PRs to the Open Source Commons: Data Generation Toolkit project.
I love this work with my big, messy heart. I know it’s important to many of you, too! I’d love to hear in the comments what most resonated with you from TDAA this year – and/or – something from your own suite of accomplishments that aligns with the TDAA mission. Don’t be shy, hearing from you will 100% make my day!