Vital statistics: why so shy?

2499573972_5278eba439_m One of my day jobs is working with PR agencies, training PRs  in how to pitch their clients to the media. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of work with agencies on how to identify, evaluate and work with bloggers across various sectors.

A constant challenge for PR execs is how do they know which blogs have the biggest (and the ‘right’ profile) readership? With magazines and newspapers, it’s easy – circulation is audited. With blogs, stats are private. So what's a PR to do?

In my training workshops, we look at all the sneaky ways you can evaluate a blog without those pesky traffic stats, but I did start to wonder – why are we all so secretive? 

Do we worry that if we share our 50 daily readers or our 500 readers we’ll be seen as less worthy of reading, less influential somehow? Do we imagine that other bloggers in our circle are gaining thousands of readers a day? Do we worry that PRs won’t want to talk to us unless we embellish the figures?

I told some PRs last week that I didn't have an issue sharing my own blog stats. Even so, I was a bit nervous. I prefaced the big reveal (of course) with some mumbling about how my blogs are both very new and have only been going for a few months, we’re heading in the right direction, etc. Well, a girl doesn’t like to set expectations too high.

“Oh, no, that’s a lot,” said the PRs.

Turns out the PR execs considered anything with 500 daily visitors to be “a lot” of traffic. Another agency I worked with the week previously said they’d consider 300 daily visitors to be pretty high.

Who's the Mummy gets around 300 visitors per day and 600 page impressions, although it's more like 800+ daily visitors the week the blog index is published and daily page impressions that week can easily top 6,000 as people scroll through the tables. My journalism blog, Getting Ink, gets more like 100 daily visitors, but I post quite infrequently on there.  Interestingly, Getting Ink has far more RSS subscribers than Who's the Mummy (450 compared to around 150) suggesting it has a more loyal, if smaller, readership.

The Great Toy Guide is very new but got around 200 visits a day in September when it launched as the team worked hard to promote the blog. This rose to a daily average of around 450 in October, and this month the figure is closer to 1,000 – but it is Christmas, so the January stats will probably take a tumble.

I personally think it’s good to be transparent about this – it’s easy for me to say, I know, given that my blogs count as having “high” traffic. But at the moment I think lots of bloggers imagine their audience is smaller (relatively speaking) than it really is. While new bloggers have no idea how to track their progress or what is a realistic size of audience to aim for.

Of course, traffic isn't the measure of a blog's worth, and not why many bloggers write. But if that's really the case, why so secretive? I'd really love to hear what do you think on this issue – why are we so shy, and would it help is there was more transparency?

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