Relax, Blogger: You Made Your Goal. Now What?


September 27, 2015 by Paula Reed Nancarrow


In January, as people are wont to do, I set a reach goal for the year.

To spend an average of 20 hours a week in creative work. Right now, if toggl can be trusted (the online time tracking tool I use), which I think it can, I am up to 17 hours. Even if I don’t make 20 hours a week by the end of the year, it’s been a good goal to pursue.

There are some “reach” goals that, paradoxically, are useful whether you “reach” them or not. And then there are what I call “relax” goals. That’s a goal an obsessive-compulsive perfectionist makes so that when he or she reaches it, they can RELAX. You did ENOUGH. It says so RIGHT HERE.


Ahem. Perfectionist? You talkin’ to me?

I set a relax goal in March, relative to one aspect of my creative work.

To increase my blog page views. At the end of 2014, this blog had 17,463 page views, or an average of 1455 views a month. I set a modest incremental goal for 2015: 24,000 page views, or an average of 2000 views a month.

If you are not a connoisseur of blog stats, let me explain. There are a number of ways to measure the success of a blog. If you get a lot of interaction and comments, that is one way to measure success. You know people are reading, and are engaged with the material. Another way is the sheer amount of “traffic” your blog posts generates. Most blogging platforms have a stats page, and WordPress, the platform I use, is no exception.

On the stats page you can look at the number of visitors to your blog, and the number of page views. You can find out specific information about which post was the most popular that day, where your visitors are from, etc. True, you can’t know how carefully a post was read. But if your traffic increases over time, you’re generally doing something right.

Yes, You Too Can Join the Glamorous World of Blogging!

Ummm. No. Not what I’m doing right.

2014 was my first full year writing a weekly blog.  

It was also when I discovered how to use Twitter hashtags to increase my blog traffic. In fact, my most popular post in 2014 was the post I did on how to be popular. Imagine that.

But I wanted a more systematic understanding of how Twitter and blog growth interacted. I also wanted to know what wasn’t effective. Because there’s an awful lot of shoulds out there about social media promotion, and very little hard data to back those shoulds up.

So In February and March of 2015, I did a survey of bloggers on Twitter to see how they used Twitter hashtags to increase traffic to their blog. By the time I was done with the survey, I had 35 pages of feedback from 189 bloggers on Twitter hashtag usage. My analysis of that data, and the survey results, are still available, as are the blog posts I wrote on using Twitter hashtags to grow audience and build community.

And I went to town with what I thought was a sound social media strategy, primarily focused on Twitter.

But somewhere along the line Twitter stopped being fun.


I used to retweet 4-6 posts an hour on hashtag days (and there are more such days than there were when I first took my survey), making sure to have a mix of people who have first retweeted me and new folks I want to discover (and/or vice versa). It was a good system, and when I was a relatively new blogger, it worked pretty well.

But as my posts became more popular, and the reciprocity engine more ferocious, it became very hard to sustain. I put all my retweets into a spreadsheet each week, promising myself I would go back later – ostensibly – to read people I had a deeper relationship with. The idea was to read and comment on five posts a day. In truth, there were many days I could not do that and still tend to Twitter. I was doing more and more “blind retweeting.” And the obligations piled up.

At the end of the week, I often felt tired, cranky and resentful of those posts waiting for me to read them.

Even if they were written by people whose work I enjoy. They were an obligation I had incurred, not a pleasure to anticipate. And come Monday, that obligation would renew itself all over again. When was I supposed to have the quiet time, the reflective time, to do my own creative work? To paraphrase Ecclesiastes, “Of making many blog posts there is no end, and much social media reciprocity is a weariness of the flesh.” Most of the time I just gave up.

What does all this have to do with my March “relief” goal?

Well, I passed it about two weeks ago.

gooaalAt the end of this week, my total page views for the year were at 25,220. With the exception of July (when, as they say in Minnesota, everyone was “up ta lake”) I have been well over 2000 views monthly. From now through December, then, as an old boyfriend of mine used to say, “it’s all gravy, baby.”

Reaching my page view goal has allowed me the freedom to step back from Twitter for the rest of the year.

To experiment with some new strategies. To try Pinterest, perhaps, which everyone tells me is worth the investment of time. But right now I am focussed on getting back to what seems to me to be the point. To have higher quality interactions with the people I’ve already met, which is about more than promotion. It’s about feeding creativity itself.

This week, I cut the amount of time I normally spend on Twitter by two thirds, and spent that extra time reading posts. Surprisingly, this refocusing of time only reduced my number of retweets by about 10%. (I am Spreadsheet Woman. Hear Me Calculate.)

But reading as I go during the week – at least this week – turned out to be less difficult than I thought it would be. I enjoyed Twitter more than I have in awhile. And the effect on my page views?

Frankly, I did not see any.


How about you? Is your social media strategy dressed for success? When do you know enough is enough? And what do you do when you get there?


40 thoughts on “Relax, Blogger: You Made Your Goal. Now What?

  1. Paula, I love these insights and the analytics created. I think we always need to read other’s posts and engage. Those relationships keep our readers. Using social media to bring in new readers is a great strategy, but at what cost? I’ve used twitter feed which helps get the post out there automatically. I found that joining link ups brings a lot of readers to my blog as well as for me to discover new ones. Thanks for this great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes! (And we are really on the same page lately…) Or are we in the same tab on the screen?
    Congrats and, on a side note, I LOVE the pic of Hitchcock’s “The Birds” symbolic of Twitter. :-D Brilliant.


  3. jan says:

    It’s big mystery to me. I often feel like the Emperor without any clothes – no idea what I’m doing, just doing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love your posts, too, Paula. I find, after being on Twitter since 2009 and starting #MondayBlogs (which, for the most part, I still don’t regret LOL), that Twitter is what you make it. I don’t expect anything from anyone, and that frees me up to not be disappointed — on Twitter and in life. Every RT is shiny.

    In all seriousness, letting go of that kind of expectation is quite freeing. If RTs happen, great. If they don’t, fine. Twitter is one small part of what we do. xx

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Brilliant post as ever, Paula. As you may know from my previous posts, I think we all need to take a step back from social media from time to time – it’s so easy to become a slave to it. I also agree about taking time to read – aside from writing, reading is the next best thing & there’s so many great blogs out there. Congratulations on reaching your page view goal too. Keep up the great work – I always enjoy your posts. I am also pleased to see that we’re both sharing pictures of squirrels today!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lisa Reiter says:

    So much to learn from you as ever, Paula. Your scientific approach to analysing the impact of Twitter on blogging is fantastic. I love the idea of it and am bookmarking these posts for whatever point in the future it becomes more pertinent to my own aims. I have downloaded and started using toggl straightaway though. Seems just what I’m looking for to focus my precious computer time! Thanks for the tip.
    What I am increasingly mindful of is making sure any goals I set myself are working towards what I want to achieve – I know that sounds ridiculous – It’s so obvious! Surely they’re the same thing?! But not necessarily. I am envious of the attention some blogs attract but it is very easy to get caught up in thinking we should each be doing what everyone else is doing. I’m still trying to accept that primarily, my blog fulfils a need for a little company until I get a book finished. It’s easy to get carried away with all the attention.. But I don’t have anything, service or product to offer in return for greater volumes of traffic just yet. If I get to that point perhaps then I’ll need to attract a few more readers. For now having a dozen or so people pop in for coffee every now and again is just fine. ☕️

    Oh and how I laughed! Out loud at Hitchcock’s “The Birds” as a symbol of Twitter! Fab!



    • Toggl is great, although after using it for nine months I’m getting to the point where I understand enough about where my time is going that I’m not quite so anal about tracking everything anymore. Company is always good. I have the need of more of that in a concrete physical way here, I think, and I fear at times that my focus on my cyberspace support is a diversion from creating that. I’m glad you liked The Birds; I did too.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Spreadsheet Woman is awesome. =)

    Yeah, I have to take breaks, and I can’t stay in the same cycle every single week because redundancy shreds me. One of my bigger surprises was discovering I’m most successful as a depression blogger, something I never intended or even thought about. I think blogging goals necessarily must morph and grow or stagnate, and over the years I’ve noticed the numbers cycle very predictably around seasonal mood swings. White sales come after Christmas for a reason, and blogs go through the same kinds of traffic moods. I think what helps focus me is realizing that the lurker readers who feel out of step with the world seasonal rhythm (because of depression due to illness or loss, etc) are my solid core through thick and thin. Even though they don’t comment, they pop out in private once in awhile to make sure I’m on track myself, which is very touching. I think that has helped me more than anything through my own ups and downs and wearing out.

    As for twitter, I often ignore it because my Asperger’s gets in the way, but I do try to touch base within a circle of friends because it keeps me grounded. Otherwise I feel like I’m flying blind. I need real contact not connected to blog stats because I too easily go super hermit in my cave.

    Your title is perfect. =)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. elainemansfield says:

    Good to know, Paula. Thanks for delivering with humor and great images. Your record keeping inspires me, but I can’t do it even though I love counting and keeping track of things in an organized way. I’d rather write or read something new. I use hashtag days on Twitter with some success, but here I am responding to what you’ve written because I read the first paragraph before sharing and then read the whole piece. I was pulled in by your creative goals and where you are with them. So, I try to RT unfamiliar writers and new things, but my read the first paragraph before sharing habit slows me down.


  9. Ruth Daly says:

    I always look forward to your posts and enjoy reading them. Found myself nodding my head many times when I read this one – you put things across so well. Thank you!


  10. Judith Post says:

    You always inspire me. Thanks. Love the image of The Birds, but like The Emperor’s New Clothes even more. Both fit the message.


  11. Terry Tyler says:

    Ah, you’ve discovered something I did, too. After a while you find that, yes, everything you’ve done has resulted in that thing you hear people talk about – a positive online presence. Because you’ve taken the trouble to read, reciprocate, help out, WRITE INTERESTING STUFF, be polite, etc, in the past, people now read and retweet you and share your posts around cyberspace simply because they want to. I bet you get followed a fair bit without doing any following yourself, too. I do far less RTs than I did two years ago, yet my blog posts get 10 x as many views as they did then. Oh, and I don’t even try to return all RTs any more, I gave that up ages ago. You’ve earned the rest!


  12. TanGental says:

    Hi Paula. I fail miserably when it comes to doing what my conscience says I ought to viz a viz blogging and twitter etc. I was overwhelmed on the latter so I’ve started muting a number of followers which has made it more manageable. There is a tendency to circle round the same blogs and that limits opportunities to find new ones. I have a rule (that’s more a weak aim) to go to my Reader once a quarter and change the profile of the blogs I follow, so some send me mails instantly, daily and weekly and not at all. I’m trying to d that with the muted blogs on Twitter to ensure my diet varies but it means some people don’t get the visits they undoubtedly deserve for the quality of their writing. It’s all a bit haphazard and random.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think perhaps our consciences are not sized for cyberspace. I do know that when I wasn’t getting the chance to read anybody, I began to feel like I was in some absurdist theater production. And as I get older, it gets harder and harder for me to justifying spending time “playing the game.”

      Liked by 1 person

  13. You are an inspiration to so many writers and bloggers out there, old and new. I think your overall goals are fantastic and will give you some much needed time away from the Social media engines. Time to relax and refresh.

    Aside: Love the images you’ve used to punctuate your points :)


  14. gosh, you do take it seriously! As a non mathy who just writes stuff, I wouldn’t dare do analyses!! hahaha..always learn a lot…. never apply it…


  15. Mary Rowen says:

    This post made me feel a bit more liberated, Paula! My blog volume is much lower than yours, but I sometimes find it hard to keep up with Twitter, especially if I take a few days away from the internet. So it’s good to know that it’s OK to slack off occasionally. And I love to read blog posts. Yours are always good, but seldom do I read any blog post without being glad i did. If only there were more time in the day!


  16. Fred Walter says:

    Hi Paula. Thanks for this post. I am new to the world of blogging and have quickly realized that marketing is a vital aspect of growing one’s readership.


  17. Solveig says:

    Wow you sure are serious about the whole blogging thing…
    I am close to my 2 months on Twitter and have seen a positive increase in my stats but as I always do everything differently I don’t sweat it when I use Twitter.
    Oh I found your blog through Twitter ;)


  18. vafayari says:

    Hey Paula,
    I really like your blog where you mention about the goals that you set each year. It really shows how ambitious you try to be.


  19. […] I wrote in a previous post, I hit my relax goal at the end of September. And I did spend several weeks on a storytelling […]


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