Tag Archives: Startup

Don’t Sacrifice What Can’t Be Measured

Six weeks ago, I published a post about measuring the success of my blog and email newsletter with growth metrics. Since then, I’m obsessed with numbers and dived deep into my stats.

I published several posts about the lessons I learned from my stats. Here are some highlights.

These and many others helped me reach a bigger audience, express myself better, and get more responses. That’s why I say “data is gold if you know how to use it.”

Pitfalls of Using Data

Data is extremely useful, but it can also be extremely distracting. If I’d dive into Google Analytics, I could spend months on it without adding any value to my blog. That’s an obvious pitfall of using data.

There’s a less obvious pitfall. That is focusing on the numbers at the expense of what can’t be measured. That’s a subtle pitfall.

Make no mistake. I don’t downplay the importance of numbers. At the end of the day, we all have bills to pay and bills are paid by numbers. But focusing solely on numbers can backfire in the long term.

Focusing solely on numbers can backfire in the long term.

How I’m Deceived by Numbers

In a previous post, I argued that my about page wasn’t that important. It only accounted for 2% of the page views of my blog.

When I was writing my post the next day, I changed my mind. The about page might be critical. Its 2% page views might come from the most enthusiastic readers. By not having an up-to-date about page, I might be missing an opportunity.

What Can’t Be Measured Is Equally Important

Numbers are important, but what can’t be measured is equally important. On the one hand, we have quantitative analysis, and on the other hand qualitative analysis.

How can we measure the honesty of a blog post? Yet, honesty is a critical factor in the long term success of a blogger.

Short Term vs. Long Term

I think this all comes down to short term vs. long term. Numbers are great at optimizing short term results.

Sometimes, optimizing short term results is also good for optimizing long term results, but not always.

If short term and long term goals contradict with each other, I prefer long term goals.

Most of the time, there’s greater value in the long term.

As I explained in my post, Quick Cash vs. Long Term Value, I made zero dollars from my blog so far. I experimented a few weeks with Steemit and already started to make money on that platform.

If I looked at the numbers, working on Steemit seemed to be better than working on my blog.

After a few weeks, I quit Steemit in order to focus on my blog. Steemit didn’t seem to be a sustainable business model. The lifetime potential of my blog seemed to be greater than the potential of Steemit.

If I needed some cash in the short term, I’d keep working on Steemit. I don’t. That’s why I skipped the quick cash.

Quick cash is more expensive in the long term.

The Right Tools for the Right Goals

It’s important to use the right tools for the right goals. Some tools are more suitable to optimize qualitative goals. Others are more suitable to optimize quantitative goals.

Two weeks ago, I published a post about commenting on Medium. In that post, I argue that commenting on Medium doesn’t boost one’s number of followers. I received a lot of responses to that post. My readers argued about the benefits of commenting.

I agree that commenting has a lot of benefits.

  • It builds relationships with other readers and writers.
  • You develop new ideas with others.
  • You receive answers to your questions.
  • You come up with new topics to write about.

All of those benefits are qualitative benefits. If you use commenting for its qualitative benefits, you’re going to act different than if you use it for its quantitative benefits.

Commenting for Qualitative Benefits

If you comment for its qualitative benefits, you’ll take your time to understand the post, and you’ll comment to add something to the discussion, including asking a question.

If you comment for its quantitative benefits, you’ll read a few paragraphs of a post, quickly jot down a few sentences, and repeat that for dozens of posts every day.

Guess which one would be more effective?

Quantitative Goals Might Not Match the Nature of Reality

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” John Lennon

Another pitfall of using statistics is that we make linear plans. My weekly 10% growth goal is a typical example of this. Most of the time, life doesn’t work like that. Growth comes in spikes after long periods of plateaus (Fig.1).

Fig. 1. Linear Growth vs Quantum Leaps

As I have written in a previous post, it took me 55 blog posts to get published in the Startup Publication. 17 of those posts have 0 views to this date, 12 only 1, and 7 only 2.

Conclusion

You can measure some factors, but you can’t measure others.  If you can’t measure a factor, that doesn’t mean it’s an unimportant one.

Honesty, relationships, and karma can’t be measured. Yet, they play a critical role in success.

Karma is unmeasurable.

Take into account quantitative analysis to optimize your business, but not at the expense of qualitative analysis.

Writing an About Page for My Blog

When I restarted blogging five months ago, I didn’t rewrite my about page. I didn’t write a short bio for Twitter or Medium either. I wanted my readers to make their minds by reading my posts, not by the two sentences in my short bio.

The Need for an Up-To-Date About Page

The page views of the about page of my blog is only 2% of the overall traffic. This figure looks small, but that 2% could be the most important 2%. Those visitors might be the most interested ones in my blog.

Not having an up-to-date about page can become a problem, because I write posts on a variety of topics.

My first time readers might get confused when they visit my blog or sign up to my email newsletter. They might expect posts on one topic, but receive posts on another. I want to clarify my position for my first time readers.

Which Topics to Expect from Me

The majority of my blog posts and page views are in the personal development category. Lately, I didn’t write much about this topic. This doesn’t mean that I stopped writing about this topic. Personal development is a topic that I’m interested in.

Blogging, Writing, and Marketing

Lately, I write mostly on blogging and marketing. It’s a topic that I’m trying to figure out.

I document my thinking process, my plans, and my progress. Some of my readers enjoy that insider look at my journey. Some of them give me feedback and tips. All of that helps me make my mind on how to carry on toward my goals.

Entrepreneurship and Startups

I see blogging and marketing as a part of entrepreneurship and starting up a business. Most of my posts on entrepreneurship and startups are also on blogging and marketing.

I have some posts on the inner game of entrepreneurship as well. I plan to keep writing such posts.

Topics I Stopped Writing About

There are two topics that I don’t plan to write anymore. Those two topics are management and investing.

Management of established businesses doesn’t excite me anymore. I’m more interested in starting something from scratch and turning it into an established business.

Investing

I don’t like to write about investing for two reasons. First, most people don’t have any funds to invest. Second, my investing strategy is extremely boring. I believe in dollar cost averaging and buying and forgetting until retirement.

People want to read about trading, technical analysis, and the latest cryptocurrencies. My posts don’t satisfy the “turn $100 USD to $10 million USD, buy a Lamborghini, and party with models” crowd.

Who Am I?

I’m a 39 years old software developer living in Genk Belgium. I’m originally from Istanbul, Turkey. I completed my PhD in Informatics in 2012.

Throughout my career, I’ve always been in the technical side of business. My focus was on B2B software. With my blog, I dive into the commercial side of B2C. That’s quite a switch and there’s a lot to learn.

From an Expert to a Novice

There’s a big contrast between being an expert B2B software developer and a novice B2C marketer. That’s a challenge.

I always wanted to build a business in B2C marketing, especially information marketing. This goal kept my mind busy for too long. I want to stop procrastinating on this goal and do my best to achieve it. If I succeed, that would be great. If I fail, I would let go of this goal and move on.

Using My Experience as a B2B Software Developer

Even though I’m a beginner B2C marketer, I don’t feel like I’m a complete novice. I bring all the experience in my career to my new venture.

Qualities like analytical thinking and focusing on what matters help me in this challenge. I apply the scientific method and reverse engineering to my marketing goals. I developed these qualities and experience in my B2B software development career.

Extracting Lessons from My Marketing Experience

One thing that helped me a lot is to know how to extract lessons from my experience. I spent only five months on my blog. Yet, I learned a lot about B2C and marketing. I documented those lessons in my blog.

Using B2C Marketing Lessons in B2B Software Development

The experience transfer isn’t one way. I transfer the lessons I learned from my blogging experience to my software development job.

In blogging, I don’t have time for busy work. Busy work contributes little or not at all to my end goals.

After five months of blogging, I developed an eye for what the end user would be interested and what they wouldn’t. Anything that wouldn’t interest or benefit the end user, directly or indirectly, is busy work. I try to avoid that to the extent possible.

Ease of Use

Another lesson I learned from blogging is the importance of ease of use. My blog post have to be extremely easy to read. A reader won’t read long sentences, long paragraphs, or long chunks of text.

An end user won’t be able to use complicated software, no matter how capable that software is. Now, I pay more attention on how usable a solution is before offering it to an end user.

My Marketing Goal for July 1, 2019

My goal with my blog is to build an audience of 100K Medium followers and 20K email newsletter subscribers by July 1, 2019.

This goal requires a lot of domain specific lessons to be learned. Moreover, it also requires some personal development, productivity, leadership, motivation, and entrepreneurship lessons. I’ll write on those lessons as I come up with them.

Conclusion

An up-to-date about page explains my readers who am I and what my blog is about. As the topics discussed in my blog get diversified, an up-to-date about page becomes more and more necessary.

I will use the information in this post to update my about page. Moreover, I’ll use this information to write my short bios for Medium and Twitter and the welcome email of my email newsletter.

Your Turn

Is there any information that you would like to see in an about page that I haven’t mentioned here? Let me know in the comments and I might include it in the new version.

Improving the Design of My Blog to Increase Email Newsletter Subscriptions

  • The email newsletter subscriptions in my blog don’t meet my goals consistently.
  • So far, I focused on improving my writing to optimize these results.
  • The next step will be to improve the design of my blog.

How I Measure the Performance of My Blog

I’m tracking two stats to measure the performance of my blog. These are the growth rate of my Medium followers and email newsletter subscribers. My goal is to grow both figures by 10% every week.

I succeed at the newsletter goal one week and fail the next week. This one on, one off pattern has been going on for a month now.

So far, I tried to optimize my blog post writing skills. I did that by analyzing my Medium stats. I learned a lot of lessons on blogging and I shared them in a series of posts.

Focus on Blog Design

Sure, there is still room for improvement in my writing, but I want to focus on my blog at the moment. There’s even greater room for improvement in my blog.

My traffic numbers aren’t that bad, but I have a difficult time converting that traffic into email newsletter subscriptions. I’ll focus on this conversion for a month or so.

My Knee Jerk Reaction

I started using Google Analytics to accomplish my goal. That wasn’t a good idea. I warned my readers not to jump on to a tool without having a plan first. I made that mistake. I didn’t think whether Google Analytics was the right tool for this job.

Google Analytics is a fantastic tool. When I get into a tool like that, I can spend weeks, months, and even years working on it. I could still learn something after a year of using it. However, that’s not my goal.

My goal is to improve the conversion rate of my blog, not to become a Google Analytics expert.

I warned against this type of tech abuse in the post Use Tech as an Accelerator, not as an End. I even wrote a post yesterday called Data Is the Gold If You Know How to Use It. Yet, I still spent hours on Google Analytics without any results.

Start with Pen and Paper

After hours of unfruitful work, I went away from my computer. I sat down with pen and paper. I brainstormed and wrote the first draft of this post.

Search Queries by Readers

An interesting insight from Google Analytics was the search queries people used on my website. Those search queries gave me some ideas for blog posts.

One of those search queries was “how write every day.” I think my visitor was curious about how I publish a post every day. Actually, that would be easy if I didn’t have a full time job. But it’s hard on top of a full time job.

Improving My Productivity to Keep Up with the Daily Publication Schedule

I’m still improving my productivity and workflow. I plan to report my writing routine once it reaches a certain point.

There’s some inner game that goes into this as well. I find it interesting how my psychology plays tricks on me. Then I play tricks on my psychology in return to keep up with my daily publication schedule.

If you want to read more about how I keep up with my daily schedule, stay in touch by subscribing to my email newsletter. I plan to write about this in the upcoming days.

Start with Quality Questions

After using Google Analytics for a few hours, I realized that I didn’t need to spend all of those hours. I could get what I needed in ten minutes.

Before you start to use a tool like Google Analytics, write down what you want to get out of it. Moreover, write down what you’re going to do with the answers you get.

If you don’t know the answer to those questions, you’ll end up wasting your time. At the end, you might end up knowing a lot about Google Analytics without adding any value to your business.

My Goal and How I Plan to Accomplish It

My goal is simple: to improve the conversion rate of my blog traffic to newsletter subscriptions. In order to do that, I need to improve the design of my blog.

I already worked on my writing. If the design of my blog isn’t good, I won’t be able to reach my goals no matter how good I write. The effects of both components are like factors in a multiplication.

Determine the Factor that Has the Biggest Room for Improvement

If my writing is at 80% and the design of my blog is at 20%, my conversion rate will be at 16%. After a certain threshold, improving one factor will only add marginal value.

According to the 80% – 20% figures above, there’s 25% improvement left in my writing. If I focus on my writing, I can improve my results by 25% at max.

Based on the same assumption, there’s 500% improvement potential in my website design. I can improve my results up to 500%, if I focus on the design of my website.

The Challenge of Infinite Possibilities

When I start a project such as updating the design of my website, the possibilities are virtually endless. Even though that sounds good, it is overwhelming at the same time. That’s why I wrote the post, How to Deal with the Challenge of Infinite Possibilities when Starting a Business.

Where to Start?

If it was up to me, I’d start with the about page and the homepage. But when I look at Google Analytics, I see a different picture.

If you look at the top ten pages in Fig. 1, you might think that the homepage is the most important page. It accounts for 10% of the page views. That means if I improve the homepage, I improve only 10% of my website design.

Fig. 1. Pages with top 10 views

There are eight pages that refer to blog posts in the top ten list. When I look at the complete list, more than 80% of the page views are blog post views. If I improve the design of the blog posts, I’ll improve 80% of the website.

Improving the design of the blog posts is relatively easy in WordPress. All I have to do is to update a few files in the theme that I use.

Measuring the Effects

Once I make that update, I’ll wait for a few weeks to see its effects. I can hardly think that those changes would result in a worse conversion rate than the current design.

I haven’t thought about the current design. I just used the standard theme and added a subscription box at the bottom.

Improvement Ideas

There are already some improvement ideas in my mind. These ideas are inspired by Medium and the Startup publication.

A Link to the Email Newsletter at the Top. There’s no information above the fold that indicates that I have an email newsletter. The only exception to that is the email newsletter subscription page.

I like the way the Startup Publication named their link. They called it “Get Smarter at Building Startups.” In my case, even calling this “Newsletter” would be better than what I have now.

The Position of the Subscription Box. The subscription box is under the post, social share buttons, related posts list, and the category and tags list. The subscription box could be between the social share buttons and the related posts list.

Author Information Bar. I’ll include an author information bar at the top, including my picture, my name, and a short bio. I was procrastinating on writing my Medium bio. Once I have a short bio, I’m going to use it on my blog and on Medium.

A Short Pitch in the Posts. This is not a design update, but it can increase the newsletter subscriptions. I included a pitch in this post. I gave a hint about a post that I’m going to publish in the upcoming days. I can do that in future posts as well.

Conclusion

When updating a project, focus on the component that has the biggest room for improvement. In my case, that is the design of my blog post pages.

Technology can be a pitfall at work. Don’t use a piece of technology just because it’s a good tool. Use it only if it serves your goals. Use it as a means to your ends. Don’t use it just to use it, no matter how fun it is.

Your Turn

I’d appreciate it if you could give me some tips to improve my email newsletter subscription numbers. Let me know in the comments if you have any ideas how I can improve this stat.

Data Is the Gold If You Know How to Use It

There are two famous aphorisms about online marketing. “Content is king.” and “Money is in the (email) list.

Both expressions have a point. They summarize the decade long experience of online marketers. Content and email lists are critical components of online marketing.

There is a third component that doesn’t have its own aphorism yet. That component already became the most critical part of many online marketing businesses.

I’m talking about data. We all heard about big data. The term big data sounds like something that can only be used by multinational corporations. That’s not true.

You can make use of data in your small business, even in your personal social media account or blog. I already explained how I use Medium stats to improve my blogging. However, there are two pitfalls for beginners when working with data.

Pitfall #1. Data as Distraction

I published a blog post about possible pitfalls for the first time bloggers called Read This before You Start a Website or Blog.

In essence, when you first start a website or blog, there are a lot of things you can do. One of those things is to install Google Analytics and AdSense to your website.

Then, you hit the refresh button every five minutes to check the number of visitors and the money you made. I know this too well, because I’ve been there too.

Using Data as Entertainment

Google Analytics and AdSense becomes a slot machine for the first time blogger. They hit the refresh button like they’d pull the lever of a slot machine.

Those tools become a tools of entertainment. The first time blogger expects a prize from those tools. As a result, they waste their time and attention on them, instead of working on their blog.

If this sounds like you, I recommend you read my post The Only Tip You Need to Grow Your Audience as a Blogger.

How Do the Professionals Use Data?

I’m a full time software developer. Sometimes, we come across performance problems in our software. When that happens, we use a specific type of software called “profiler.”

A profiler shows us which code parts consume the most resources. Then we optimize those code parts for resource consumption. Our goal is to eliminate those bottlenecks.

Can You See the Difference Between How a Professional and an Amateur Uses Data?

A professional uses data for a specific goal. They use it to make a certain decision. They use it to take a certain action. They use it to learn something valuable that they can use later. They use data only, when it is needed.

An amateur sees data as entertainment. They expect the data to make them happy. They see it as a playground or casino. They keep playing with it without any specific goal.

Data is either actionable or useless. If you can’t use it to make a decision, take an action, or learn a lesson, it’s useless.

Pitfall #2. Lack of Big Picture

How does your data serve your overall goals? If you don’t have the answer to that question, you might be misusing data.

By improving some parameters in your data set, you might actually worsen the overall performance of your business. I touched upon this issue in my post Measuring the Contribution of My Medium Posts to My Content Marketing Goals.

How to Avoid the Pitfalls When Using Data?

If you want to avoid the pitfalls when using data, start with writing down what your objective is. Then, write down which information you need from data to serve that objective. Coming up with a relevant set of questions is the first step to success.

An Example

My goal is to improve the conversion rate of email newsletter subscriptions in my blog. Here are a few questions that would help me with that goal.

  • Which pages are the landing pages of my blog?
  • What is the performance of each landing page?
  • Which landing pages perform better or worse than the average?
  • Why?
  • What are the exit pages of my blog?
  • Why do the visitors exit from those pages without subscribing to the newsletter?

These are just a few of the many more questions that I ask myself. When I have the answers to those questions, I’ll come up with a set of action items based on those answers.

  • Improve the performance of landing pages.
  • Plug the leaks in the exit pages.
  • Promote the pages that perform better on social media.

Conclusion

Data is the gold mine of the day, but you need to know how to use it.

You can use it as entertainment. You can use it to optimize specific parameters without seeing the big picture. Both usages are pitfalls.

If you want to make the best of your data,

  1. Start with a big picture, your overall goal,
  2. Ask a set of questions that would serve that goal,
  3. And take action based on the answers you get from your data.

Why I Focus on a Single Source of Traffic for My Blog

In the last three weeks, my focus was on analyzing my Medium stats data. That taught me a lot of lessons on blogging. There is still a lot to be studied and learned from my Medium stats.

Medium is a critical part of my content marketing model. Excluding my blog and email newsletter, 90+% of my blog promotion efforts go to Medium at the moment.

My main objective is not to build a successful Medium account. My main objective is to build a successful content marketing business. A successful Medium account is a part of it.

This week, I want to analyze how my efforts on Medium serve my overall marketing goals. To do that, I will use Google Analytics stats of my blog. I will focus on the data of the last 30 days.

The First Step to Use Google Analytics

I’m not going to explain how to install and use Google Analytics (GA). I’m going to explain what to do with it. Once you know “what,” you can google “how.”

The first step to use GA is to exclude your internal traffic from the data. We don’t want our own usage to affect the results. The usage of a website admin is completely different than the usage of the average visitor. You can see that in Fig. 1 below.

Fig. 1. Google Analytics Screenshot

  • I’m one of the 929 visitors, but I account for 24% of all the page views.
  • My bounce rate is 25%. The bounce rate of the average visitor is 76%.
  • My % exit is 14%. The % exit of the average visitor is 63%.

How do I filter myself out of Google Analytics?

To find different ways of filtering your own traffic, google “Google Analytics exclude internal traffic” or “how to filter myself out of Google Analytics.”

I created a segment and filter all the views using that segment. The segment I use is Demographics, Location, City, “does not exactly match”, the name of my city. I call this segment Not My City.

This solution doesn’t take into account mobile usage, but I don’t use mobile data to access my blog that often. Moreover, it doesn’t take into account my usage when I travel.

My method of excluding my internal traffic is simple but not perfect. I have to find a better method in the future.

What is the share of Medium in my blog traffic sources?

I’m worried about being too dependent on Medium for traffic.

Being dependent on a single traffic or income source is never a good idea.

In the last ten years, I’ve seen multiple Google algorithm changes that destroyed many online businesses. I don’t blame Google for that. They have to do what’s best for their business and for their users.

Recent Changes in Medium’s Algorithm

Medium made some recent changes in their algorithm. The new algorithm seems to prefer timeless, evergreen content. I can already feel those changes in my stats.

My older Medium posts receive more hits than my recent posts. This is bad in the short term, but great in the long term.

Bad in the Short Term

I learned a lot in the last few months about converting Medium readers to email newsletter subscribers. I applied those lessons in my recent posts. Now, those recent posts receive less traffic.

Great in the Long Term

I don’t write time-sensitive content. I try to write timeless, evergreen content. Eventually, my new posts are going to receive their fair share of traffic as well.

Overall, I like the new algorithm more than the old one, even though sign ups to my newsletter dropped in the short term.

Why I Focus on Medium at the Moment

Even though I don’t like being dependent on a single traffic source, 90+% of my content marketing efforts go into my Medium account.

This might look like a contradiction and a mistake on my site. Yet, it’s a conscious choice. At this moment, I have two options.

  • Focus on Medium.
  • Spread my efforts across all social media channels.

I chose the first option. Optimizing my Medium account results in learning a lot of lessons on blogging. If I don’t learn those lessons, my blog posts will suck. If my blog posts suck, it doesn’t matter how much I promote them in other channels.

A Useful Tip for New Content Marketers

If you’re a new content marketer like me, I recommend that you focus on a single channel and learn as much as you can about that single channel. This is an advice I heard from Gary Vaynerchuk and John Chow.

Content marketing is a side project for me. I have limited time that I can invest in this project. Therefore, I need to find the most valuable activities to invest my limited time in. Optimizing my Medium account has been that valuable activity for me.

Find Your Primary Medium

Blogging doesn’t have to be your primary medium. Maybe it’s vlogging for you. Maybe, it’s podcasting. Maybe, it’s Instagram, Twitter, a Facebook page, or a Facebook group.

This is a decision you have to make. Check my post called To Vlog or To Blog? That’s the Question for the First Time Online Marketer on this topic.

Invest at Least Six Months to Your Primary Medium

Once you determine your primary medium, I recommend that you invest at least six months in perfecting your craft in that medium.

I invested five months in blogging and Medium. I learned a lot in those first five months. Yet, I’m nowhere near the optimal. I still learn something new every day.

I’ll keep focusing on blogging and Medium for at least another three months. Maybe more. Who knows, maybe I’ll stay focused on this medium for the rest of my career. That’s how much I like it.

Unrealistic Expectations

We spend four years on a college degree to get a job to make a living. Yet, most of the first time online marketers expect to make a living after the first month.

Why do you expect to make a living after a month, while it takes four years for the average person to do that? How realistic is that?

Maybe, you should invest at least three years into this craft before making a living off it.

How Dependent Is My Blog on Medium?

I thought that the traffic of my blog was at least 80% dependent on Medium. According to the Google Analytics stats, that figure turned out to be only 35%. That’s still high, but nowhere near the 80% that I suspected. That’s good news.

It is also possible that the remaining 65% comes indirectly from Medium. Here are a few indirect ways Medium might have contributed to my blog traffic.

  • Some people might consume Medium content via feed readers.
  • Some people might sign up to my email newsletter via Medium.
  • Medium import functionality might contribute to my search traffic.

Conclusion

It’s a bad idea to depend on a single source of traffic, if you have an established business.

If you’re just starting out like me, it’s OK to focus on a single medium and a single channel. That teaches you a lot of lessons that you can apply to other media and channels.

In my case, I was lucky to choose Medium. It not only sent me direct traffic, it also contributed to my blog traffic in many indirect ways.

I’m going to dive into my Google Analytics stats further and report my findings here. So, stay tuned for more on this topic.

Your Turn

  • How do you measure the impact of your social media activities on your website traffic?
  • Do you have any tips about using Google Analytics?

Measuring the Contribution of My Medium Posts to My Content Marketing Goals

  • What are my content marketing goals?
  • How do Medium stats serve my content marketing goals?
  • What would be the ideal Medium stats?
  • How can I track extra Medium stats?
  • How could I use the extra Medium stats to optimize my content marketing goals?

Medium Stats vs Overall Content Marketing Goals

In the last two weeks, I analyzed my Medium stats and wrote a series of posts about the lessons I learned from them.

Medium provides us with three stats: views, reads, and fans. This is a limited data set. I could make use of more stats.

I want to determine which stats would be useful for my online content marketing business. In order to do that, I need to write down my content marketing goals first.

The Pitfalls of Optimizing Your Stats

It is possible to optimize a stat at the expense of others. This can happen on different levels.

  • You can optimize the number of views at the expense of fans. This can happen if you write a clickbait headline and the content of the post doesn’t satisfy the readers.
  • You can optimize the number of Medium followers at the expense of the email newsletter subscriptions.
  • You can optimize the email newsletter subscriptions at the expense of annual revenue.
  • You can optimize the annual revenue at the expense of lifetime revenue.

What is my ultimate business goal?

My ultimate business goal is to optimize the lifetime revenue. Now, let’s look at a possible roadmap to realize that goal.

The typical online content marketer offers products and services at different price levels. For example:

  • $10K+ USD
  • $1K – $10K USD
  • $100 – $1K USD
  • $10 – $100 USD
  • $1 – $10 USD

They offer free content to promote their paid products and services.

  • Online course
  • Ebook
  • Email newsletter
  • Blog
  • Social Media

It’s relatively easy to build an audience and create customers at the lower levels. It gets harder to build an audience and create customers at the higher levels.

For example, it’s easier to get followers on social media than converting them to email newsletter subscribers.

The followers and customers at the higher levels have greater value for the business compared to the ones at the lower levels.

The goal is to get the attention of the people at the lower levels and move them to the higher levels.

Tiered Approach vs. Ultra-Premium Approach

Some online marketers, like Dan Peña, give away everything for free except for the top tier products and services. They advertise their top tier products and services in all of their communications.

Other online marketers have offers at each level. They advertise only their free and introductory products to the public.

They advertise the top tier products and services to the customers that already bought the introductory products. They look at the customers at each level as prospects for the next higher level.

Both models have their merits. Both models take time to build.

Starting from the Bottom of the Pyramid

At this moment, my focus is on the bottom of the pyramid. This can also be considered as the foundation of the business.

I’m working on growing the audience of my blog and email newsletter. My goal is to grow both numbers 10% every week for the next 14 months. That makes 100K Medium followers and 20K email newsletter subscribers.

Too Early for Paid Product Offers

At this moment, I don’t expect to make a living with paid products such as a $29 USD ebook. Therefore, I don’t create paid products now.

It takes time

  • To learn copywriting for web and mobile,
  • To find the right niche,
  • To build an audience,
  • To build a stack of products and services,
  • And to monetize that stack.

Still a Lot to Learn

I restarted my blog in November 2017. I published a blog post per day in the first five months. It was overwhelming to publish a post per day and I’m glad I did it.

I learned a lot and I’m still learning about copywriting for web and mobile, finding the right niche, and building an audience.

Medium is a great social media channel for bloggers. Medium’s visitors want to read blog posts. That’s not the case with other major social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

You can import your blog posts to Medium and learn from the feedback you receive from Medium in the form of stats and responses.

The Value of the Lower Levels

As I figure out the lower levels of the stack, I’ll move to the higher levels.

The lower levels are not only valuable to build an audience. They also serve as the foundation of the products and services on the higher levels.

The ideas developed on the lower levels will serve as the foundation for the products and services on the higher levels.

Now that we have the big picture of the business, let’s get into how the Medium stats serve it.

How Do My Medium Stats Serve My Content Marketing Goals?

It doesn’t make sense to optimize the Medium stats, if they don’t serve the overall business. The connection between the Medium stats and the content marketing goals is the Medium followers and email newsletter subscribers.

I need people to view my Medium posts, read them, clap for them, AND follow me on Medium and subscribe to my email newsletter.

Medium provides me with the stats of views, reads, and fans. They don’t provide me with the contribution of each post to the Medium followers and email newsletter subscribers.

What Would Be the Ideal Medium Stats?

The conversion of a Medium reader to a newsletter subscriber is unclear to me.

I’d like to know the chain of events between a Medium visitor clicking the first post of mine and following me on Medium and signing up to the email newsletter.

  • Which posts did they view?
  • How did they react to those posts?
  • Which posts did they read, clap for, highlight, and bookmark?
  • Which post caused them to break the chain?

If you know a way of tracking that information, please let me know in the comments. That might be possible via embedding some tracking code in the Medium posts. I’m not sure if Medium allows that though.

If I had that information,

  • I’d write more posts like the ones that resulted in new followers and subscribers.
  • I’d promote the high performing posts in other social media channels.
  • I’d remove the posts that broke the chain.
  • I’d stop writing posts like the ones that broke the chain.

What Medium Does

Medium gives me some hints about how people followed me in their weekly stats emails. They give the top 3 locations people followed me that week.

That list usually includes my profile page and two posts. This information is helpful, but it doesn’t provide the whole picture. It only provides the final step in a chain of events.

What Medium Could Do

As an alternative, Medium could provide that information as a paid extra. That would be a way of making money for Medium.

At the moment, I try to derive this information from my weekly Medium stats. Needless to say, I don’t think that this method is accurate.

What I Could Do

One improvement, I could do is to use customized links from Medium to my blog. At the moment, I use standard links to my blog posts and newsletter subscription form.

I could customize those links so that I know from which Medium post a visitor came to my blog. That could give me an idea about the following.

  • Should I link to my blog posts or to my Medium posts in my Medium posts?
  • Which Medium posts perform better?

Conclusions

The stats provided by Medium give limited information about how people follow me on Medium and sign up to my email newsletter.

There are some questions I’d like to have answered. Some of those questions could be answered easily by customizing the links that I use.

I don’t have clear answers to others such as tracking the Medium post views that lead to Medium follows and newsletter subscriptions.

Future Work

  • Use customized links in Medium posts.
  • Measure the impact of each link.
  • Find ways of answering the open questions.

Your Turn

  • Do you know a way to measure Medium stats on individual user level? For example, the posts consumed before a reader decides to follow a writer?
  • Do you use other stats than the ones provided by Medium?
  • If so, how do you track and use those stats?

Five Requirements for a Marketing Automation Tool

Yesterday, I published a post about CoSchedule Headline Analyzer. CoSchedule is a paid online marketing management platform. They offer the headline analyzer as a free tool to promote their main business.

The Need for a Marketing Management System

Even though I have a single author blog, I could make use of a marketing management system. Today, I want to write down my requirements for such a system, so that I could compare my requirements to what they offer.

Eventually, I could decide whether I want to start using their system or not. Or I could look for another system.

A Startup Idea

If you’re looking for an idea to start a tech business, you can also use the requirements in this post to start your own online marketing management tool. If you do so, let me know, so that I could give your system a try.

My Daily and Weekly Blogging Routine

At this moment, my daily and weekly blogging routine isn’t clearly defined. I have it vaguely defined in my mind and I follow certain patterns.

I can benefit from defining a daily and weekly workflow. That would eliminate the guess work of what to do at a given time.

The Daily Routine

  • Create content.
  • Publish a post in my blog.
  • Import my blog post to Medium.
  • Answer blog comments.
  • Answer Medium responses.
  • Answer Twitter responses.
  • Promote previous blog and Medium posts on Twitter.

Requirement #1. I’d like the automation tool to create daily tasks for each step of my daily routine with the priority list I wrote above.

Content creation. This is more complicated than a single step in the daily routine. But I want to keep things simple at this moment. I’ll return to this in another post.

Publish a post in my blog. I don’t see any requirement for the automation tool for this step.

Import my blog post to Medium. At this moment, I follow the steps below to import my blog post from my WordPress blog to Medium. Even though the ability to import your blog post is great, there is some room for improvement.

  • Copy and paste the blog post link to the Medium import page. Hit the import button.
  • Add the pictures to the Medium post.
  • Correct the formatting of the quotes.
  • Remove the related posts section at the end.
  • Add the signature I use for Medium.
  • Add the tags of the post.
  • Submit the post to the Startup Publication.

Requirement #2. Obviously, all the steps above could be automated. I’d like the automation tool to execute all the steps above as soon as I publish a post on my blog without me interfering. I’d like to receive a confirmation email with a link to the imported post.

The steps above could eventually be implemented by Medium. Or I could hire a virtual assistant to delegate them.

Requirement #3. I want the automation tool to create three separate lists for my blog post, Medium, and Twitter comments and responses.

A task with a link to the related comment and response should be created for each of them. The task should remain open unless I mark it complete. An option to auto-delete complete tasks after X days.

Promote previous blog and Medium posts on Twitter. There’s a lot of value in this step.

At the moment, I log into Twitter around once a day. I do all Twitter work at once. Sometimes, I publish more than one tweet in the same session. I don’t think this is optimal.

I know that there are tools to schedule tweets. I used them ten years ago. Back in the day, Twitter blocked my tweets scheduled by a third party. For that reason, I am reluctant to use them. This might be the time to change.

Fig. 1. Medium highlight card

Requirement #4. Medium has beautiful highlight cards (Fig. 1). I’d like to be able to send those cards to the automation tool, instead of tweeting them immediately.

When I send those cards to the automation tool, it creates a new task for me to schedule it. Then, I’d like to be able to schedule those cards to be published on different platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and so on.

The Weekly Routine

  • Publish the weekly email newsletter.
  • Write and post the weekly online mastermind group report.
  • Process ideas and come up with a content plan for the next week.
  • Check the new followers, highlights, and claps on Medium.

I’m probably missing some steps in the daily and weekly routine, but this is the first version anyway. So, let’s move on to the last requirement.

Requirement #5. Create tasks for each step of the weekly routine. Integrate the weekly tasks in the main task list.

The daily and weekly tasks have to be merged and sorted according to the priority of each task. For example, the weekly email newsletter has a higher priority than responding to the daily comments.

Conclusion

There are two types of improvements in my blogging routine.

  • Automating existing steps such as importing posts to Medium and promoting existing posts on social media.
  • Creating a workflow and a to-do list based on my routine and the signals received from different channels.

Future Work

There are two tasks in my routine that require separate, detailed workflows. Those tasks are content creation and processing stats for the weekly reports. I’ll discuss them in separate blog posts.

Your Turn

  • Do you know a marketing automation tool that could satisfy the requirements above? At least partially?
  • Do you have any experience using marketing automation tools?
  • Are you inspired to develop one?

How Accurate is CoSchedule Headline Analyzer?

  • CoSchedule’s headline analyzer is a popular tool among bloggers.
  • I tested it with 82 blog posts of mine that were published in the Startup Publication.
  • The scores of the headlines don’t correspond to the number of views of my post.
  • Still, there are some valuable lessons to be learned from the tool.

The Three Most Recommended Tools

Two weeks ago, I analyzed my Medium stats and published a series of posts about the results.

Getting published in a major Medium publication is the biggest factor in getting views. The title of a post is the second biggest factor. I published a few posts to come up with titles that get clicked.

After I published those posts, I received a lot of recommendations for three tools.

  1. Grammarly.com
  2. The Hemingway App
  3. CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

The Hemingway App was so good that it entered my standard toolbox.

Grammarly

I still have to try Grammarly. I’m postponing this, because it doesn’t have an easy access trial version like the Hemingway App.

Grammarly requires installing a plugin in my browser. Firefox warned me against that. Installing the plugin means that Grammarly can see everything I type into my browser.

As I have explained in my post about privacy, I don’t want that. I’ll find another way to try out Grammarly.

CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

Today, I wanted to give the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer a try. The results are mixed. It has its strengths and weaknesses.

CoSchedule Headline Analyzer didn’t enter my standard toolbox. Yet, I’m going to use it from time to time. There are lessons to be learned from it.

What is CoSchedule?

CoSchedule is an online marketing management tool. You can use it for the following purposes among others.

  • Plan and automate your marketing efforts.
  • Track your results.
  • Manage your team.

The Need for an Automated Marketing Management Tool

I haven’t tried CoSchedule yet, but I get the need for such a tool. I’ll write a separate post about automating marketing management. I could use such a tool, but I want to write down my requirements first.

Promoting Your Online Business with Free Tools

It’s a shrewd strategy to promote your online business with free tools. People like to use such tools and they recommend it to each other.

The headline analyzer is one of the tools in the toolbox of CoSchedule. They give free access to it in exchange for your contact information.

Headline Analysis Criteria

I expected this tool to give me a score and a few tips. It gave me a thorough report besides the score. It checks the title for the following factors.

  • Word Balance
  • Headline Type
  • Length Analysis
  • First Three, Last Three Words
  • Keywords
  • Sentiment
  • Google Search Preview
  • Email Subject Line Preview

Some of the factors have links to blog posts with more details. I haven’t read those blog posts yet, but they are now on my reading list.

Let’s go over each factor and let me share my observations.

Word Balance

The idea here is that you have four types of words in your title.

  1. Common
  2. Uncommon
  3. Emotional
  4. Power

You need to balance those word types in your title. The tool recommends a certain percentage for each word type. Please check the tool for specific percentages for each word type.

I like the idea of balancing word types, but the tool doesn’t categorize all the words in my titles. As a result, the total of the words in each category doesn’t add up to 100%. That makes me question the accuracy of the final score.

Moreover, it categorizes words such as “skill” and “focus” as emotional.

The tool doesn’t recognize words conjoined by an apostrophe. For example, it recognizes “re” at the end of “you’re” as a separate word.

Headline Type

The tool recognizes several headline types. It recognized the following types in my titles.

When it recognizes a headline type, it gives you a green tick. If it doesn’t recognize a headline type, it gives you a warning sign and calls your title “generic.” I don’t like that conclusion.

First of all, it suggests that all blog posts should fit one of the predetermined templates. Sure those templates can help you come up with new blog post ideas.

Why should I follow them every time I write a blog post? Where is the creativity in that?

Moreover, “how to” titles don’t perform well in my experience. I believe that they are overused and people became immune to them. They don’t stand out in the crowd of other blog posts.

Length Analysis

This was one of the most insightful of the factors. The headline analyzer recommends titles that are approximately 55 characters and 6 words long. That makes sense to me.

If you want to include more information than that, break the title into two. Add the second part as a subtitle in italics to the content. That way, the title is not too wordy and the subtitle is still featured in preview cards.

First Three, Last Three Words

This was the absolute eye opener for me. People tend to read the first and last three words of a title. Do those words say enough about your post? Or are they common words?

Keywords

I get that you have to include strategic keywords in your blog post title. But the keywords that the headline analyzer pulled out didn’t convince me. It featured “I” and “re” of “you’re” as keywords among others.

Sentiment

I agree with the idea behind this factor. The more emotionally charged your title is, the more readers it’s going to pull in.

The headline analyzer tells you whether your title has a positive, negative, or neutral sentiment. Having a negative sentiment isn’t bad, because that has an emotional charge too.

Sometimes, I’m criticized for using too strong words in my titles. For example, This Is What I Learned from My Most Hated Blog Posts. Nevertheless, those strong words pull readers in.

Google Search Preview & Email Subject Line Preview

I find both previews helpful.

How Accurate Is It?

This is the most important question about this tool. I can only answer it according to my own data. I tested it on 82 blog posts that I have written and that were published in the Startup Publication.

As I mentioned above, the details of some factors are not accurate. The overall score reflects those inaccuracies.

I compared the view numbers of my posts with the headline analyzer scores. The correlation was only 11%. You can see in Fig. 1. that there are no relations between both data.

Fig. 1. Scatter Chart. Headline Analyzer Overall Score vs Number of Views

This result might be my mistake. I normalized my data by using posts only from one publication.

I could normalize the data for the day of the week as well, because posts published on Monday tend to outperform the rest.

In either case, I expect a high correlation between the number of views and the overall headline score. Without that correlation, I won’t use this tool on a daily basis.

Conclusion

An automated headline analyzer is a great idea. I learned some important lessons from it. I’m going to visit it in the future to learn more. Yet, there is some room for improvement in this tool.

Points of Improvements

  • Categorization of words in Word Balance
  • Recognition of words conjoined with an apostrophe
  • It recognizes some simple words as keywords.
  • The overall score has almost no correlation to the view numbers of my posts.

If CoSchedule addresses these points, their headline analyzer can be a useful tool.

Positive

In some extreme cases, it gave me accurate points:

It’s an educational tool. I learned about the optimal word balance, title length, and the importance of the first and last three words.

Future Work

Here is a follow up action list for me. I’m especially curious about #2 and #3. I’m going to post about them as well.

  1. Read the blog posts linked by the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer.
  2. Use and Review Grammarly. What’s the added value on top of MS Word grammar and spell checker?
  3. Write down my requirements for an automated marketing tool.

Your Turn

  • Have you used CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer?
  • What do you think about it?
  • Do you use it for every post?
  • Are there other tools that you use and recommend?

A Solution to the Privacy Puzzle

An Opportunity for People and Businesses

Two days ago, I wrote two sentences about IKEA in a Medium comment. I started to receive IKEA ads on YouTube on another device the same day.

A few days ago, I bought the audiobook The Principles by Ray Dalio from audible.com. After that, YouTube started to recommend me videos by Ray Dalio. Maybe it was just a coincidence or maybe Google detected the receipt from my Gmail account.

YouTube, Medium, and Audible are just recent examples. There are other websites that use this type of practices.

The Feeling of Getting Stalked

When I see connections between unrelated websites, my “lizard brain” freaks out. I have the feeling that I’m stalked.

I feel like a creepy salesperson is watching my moves, notes it somewhere, and tries to use it against me to sell me stuff.

Then, I wonder what else “they” about me. By “they,” I mean all the internet companies who sell data to each other.

The Data Gang

It’s one thing that a website collects data about me. It’s a whole another thing when they “gang up” against me. It feels like all of my data is saved and used in a central database. That practice feels like “the big brother is watching me.”

I know that there isn’t a central database where all the data is collected. However, with all the data brokerage services between websites, this is how it feels likes. Mark Zuckerberg admitted using data brokerage services in his recent hearings and Facebook is not alone in this.

The Benefits of Big Data

Another part of my brain says that I’m worrying for no reason. I have nothing to hide. This type of connected data usage is good for me. It provides me with relevant content, products, and services.

In his recent hearings, Mark Zuckerberg argued that this type of data use is good for small businesses. They can advertise their products and services cheaper. As a result, consumers can buy those products and services cheaper.

The big data makes advertisement and as a result products and services cheaper.

Sure, some of that benefits all of us. There’s an opportunity for all of us. Nothing hold us back from using those services to advertise our own products or services. Some of us could even find ways to use data to build businesses.

Even a blogger or a social media influencer can learn a lot from their stats. I’m not an influencer, but when I dove into my Medium stats, I came up with lessons published in ten blog posts. And this is just the beginning.

The Dark Side of Big Data

The big data is about manipulating people. Data is used to keep us on a website as long as possible, even if it’s against our interests. It’s used to extract as much money as possible out of our pockets. In the worst case, it’s used to manipulate us to vote in a certain way that might not be in our best interests.

Back in the day, I used Amazon’s affiliate links. My goal was to sell personal development books. I recommended the books that added value to my life. I wanted those books to add value to the lives of others as well and get paid in return.

One day, I received an affiliate sales notification. The person I sent to Amazon not only bought the book I recommended, they also bought some bracelets. I felt bad for them.

I felt like I caused someone to waste their money on something they didn’t need. I didn’t sign up to be a cheap bracelet salesman. I signed up to be a book salesman. Amazon converted a book reader into a bracelet shopper.

The Business Model of the Future

I know some of you are worrying about the feasibility of Medium‘s business model. We like Medium, because it doesn’t bombard us with heaps of advertisement. I published a post about a possible monetization scheme for Medium in the past.

Maybe, we are worrying for nothing. Maybe, Medium is already monetizing our data. Maybe, the premium membership is just a façade to answer the question “how do you make money?” I don’t know.

There’s one thing that I’m sure of.

More and more Internet businesses will be based on selling the data of their users to third parties.

It is already a widespread practice and it will spread even more if it is not regulated. European Union is already taking measures against this practice.

Take a Critical Look at Every Device, App, and Tool You Use.

Recently, I received a lot of recommendations for Grammarly.com. Finally, I wanted to give them a try. They have an option to install a plugin to my browser. When I tried to do that, Firefox warned me.

If I installed the plugin, everything that I typed in to my browser would go through that plugin.

I don’t know Grammarly.com that well to trust them with everything I type in to my browser. I didn’t install it.

There’s another tool that I use frequently, the Hemingway App. It’s a literary style checking app. They allow me to copy and paste my text to their online editor. That means I know and I choose which text to send to their service. Why can’t Grammarly.com come up with something similar?

Maybe, the Hemingway App sells my data to third parties as well. I can live with that, because I publish those texts as blog posts. Probably, other parties are going to collect and sell that data anyway.

Think About All the Freemium Tools that You Use.

I use Evernote and Workflowy. Both tools have free versions and paid versions. They appear to make money from their premium subscriptions. Do they sell my data to third parties? I don’t know. I didn’t read their privacy policies.

Google, the Data Giant

It’s obvious that any Google product that you use collects data about you. I use Gmail, Google Drive, Google Maps, and Google’s search app on iPhone. A lot of people use Android phones and Chrome. Think about all the data collected by all of those apps and phones.

How about Google’s paid services? I pay for Google Drive. Do they treat the privacy of the paid customers differently than the free customers? Probably not.

Maybe, it was a mistake to purchase extra Google Drive space. Maybe, I should have purchased disk space in a service that respected my privacy more.

Using an iPhone is not enough to be tracked by Google. By using Google Maps, I expose myself to their data collection.

In a way that data collection has benefits. It tells me the peak hours in the traffic and in the grocery store. However, I don’t know what else they do with all the data they collect. And Facebook and Google collect a lot of data. Check this Guardian piece for more on this.

How About Messaging Apps?

How does Facebook use the What’s App data? What’s App isn’t a social app where people are willing to share information about themselves publically. It’s a private messaging platform. The data shared over that platform is much more sensitive. How about FaceTime by Apple?

How About Apple and Microsoft?

We don’t expect Apple and Microsoft to collect data about us. After all, we pay a big price for their hardware and software.

Is that so? What kind of data does an iPhone, Microsoft Office, or Windows collect about us? How do they use that data? I don’t know.

I never entered my home or work address or working hours to my iPhone, but it keeps telling me how long it would take me to go to work when I’m about to leave. That feels creepy too.

A Solution Proposal to the Privacy Puzzle

Using only open source software is an option. I don’t know how feasible an option it is.

Another option is to come up with standard privacy certifications. Each certification can denote a different level of privacy. Something like platinum standard, golden standard, and silver standard. Each level would be documented online clearly.

That documentation would have two versions. Something that could be understood by the average person, explained with easy to understand diagrams. And a legal version to be used in the courtroom if it comes to that.

Independent auditors could verify companies for each standard and issue certificates to them. Companies could choose to certify their products or services or not.

If Google and Facebook choose not to certify their products or services, then people would know the level of privacy they get from those products and services.

Eventually, they could come up with products and services at different levels. There could be a free version of Gmail and Google Drive with no privacy certification and premium versions with privacy certifications at different levels.

Conclusion

Like the average tech user, privacy is a big mystery to me. I don’t know what data the software and websites that I use collect from my usage. I don’t know how they use the data they collect from me. There’s one thing that I’m sure of. I feel like being stalked by the big brother.

There is a solution to the privacy puzzle. This solution is at the same time an opportunity for businesses.

Just come up with simple, easy to understand privacy levels and certify products and services with those levels.

That way the users know what they sign up for and businesses can create new revenue from the premium level products and services.

The Read Ratio Is the Key to Convert Viewers to Fans

I analyzed seven factors that affected my Medium stats and published my findings in a series of blog posts. I thought yesterday’s post would be the last one in this series. I planned to wait for another 100 posts to collect new data and make a similar analysis.

I was wrong. My study of the stats was incomplete. I only analyzed the views and fans. I ignored the reads. I tried to rationalize that decision while writing yesterday’s post. I couldn’t.

There was no rational reason to ignore the reads. On the contrary, the reads were slightly more correlated to the fans than the views. The correlation between the views and fans is 91.9% and the correlation between the reads and fans is 92.4%.

Fig. 1. Fans vs. Views

You can see this difference, if you look carefully at the scatter graphs in Fig. 1 and 2. The points in Fig. 2 are slightly “tighter” than the points in Fig. 1. That means we better pay attention to the read stats as well.

Fig. 2. Fans vs. Reads

The reads act like a bridge between the views and fans.

Analyzing the Read Stats

This time, I don’t want to randomly dive into the analysis like I did with the views and fans. I want to make a structured analysis based on the results from the previous study.

I’ll come up with a set of hypotheses to test with the data. While doing these tests, I might come across hypotheses that I haven’t thought about. I’ll report them too.

Here’s an overview of the factors that I’ll analyze.

Publication the Post Is Published In

This is an interesting factor. My posts get 10 times more views when they are published in the Startup publication. However, that 10X factor doesn’t translate to fans. My posts get four times more fans in the Startup publication.

The readers of the Startup publication have higher expectations from a post. I will analyze those expectations. I will work on increasing the reads to views and fans to views ratios of my posts in the Startup publication.

The Title of the Post

The title of the post plays a great role in pulling in readers. My initial studies show that it also plays a role in the read ratio.

If the title charges the reader emotionally, the read ratio seems to be higher. However, this emotional charge is a double edged sword.

The reader could hate your argument and read your post to see how wrong you are. Or they could love your argument and read it to maximize their positive experience. You can see this in the number of fans.

Unfortunately, there are no reaction buttons like Facebook on Medium. An angry face or a heart say much more than the number of claps. That’s a downside of Medium, but that’s the subject of a different post.

Post Length

I read claims about a strong correlation between post length and read ratio. Based on my conclusions from the fans to views ratio, I don’t think that would be the case. I don’t have any evidence at this moment. This will be one of the hypotheses that I’ll test with the data.

Readability of a Post

I believe this will be one of the top two factors that affect the read ratio. The other one is the emotional charge of the post.

My initial observations point out that increasing the readability of web copy is harder than I thought. More on that in the future posts.

Day of the Week and Tags of the Posts

Honestly, I have no idea whether the day of the week or tags play a role in the reads to views ratio. That’s a good thing. Starting an analysis with an open mind is always better than starting with a set of beliefs.

The Right Mindset to Approach Research

Even though I have some beliefs about the impact of some of these factors, I don’t do this analysis to prove myself right.

I’d rather be wrong, learn something, and improve my stats than prove myself right.

The Pitfall of Optimizing Your Stats

There’s a pitfall when analyzing and optimizing your Medium stats. You can end up overoptimizing a stat or two.

These stats are important and they add value to a content marketing business. They need to be seen in that context.

It is possible to overoptimize a parameter at the cost of others. For example, I can write an irritating piece and increase the read ratio. However, that high read ratio won’t translate to fans, followers, and email newsletter subscribers.

Conclusion

The read ratio turned out to be more important than I initially thought. That means I’m going to analyze the impact of different factors on the read ratio.

I believe the emotional charge and the readability of a post would have the highest impact on the read ratio. I’m especially curious about how I can improve the readability.

I believe there are a lot of lessons to be learned in the readability of web copy. Those lessons have probably a high impact on the bottom line of a content marketing business. For that reason, I’m going to analyze the readability next. I’ll publish my lessons here.

Your Turn

  • What do you think about the importance of the read ratio of a post?
  • What are the factors that impact the read ratio? Did I miss a factor here?
  • Do you have any suggestions for this analysis?
  • Is there any factor that you want me to look at when analyzing the read ratio stats?