Site Stats

Success vs Progress vs Passion.

Like most people who’ve made their career in IT I’ve spent a great deal of my spare time dabbling in things that (I hope) could potentially lead onto bigger things somewhere down the line. Nearly all of them start off with a burst of excitement as I dive into it, revelling in the challenge and marvelling at the things I can create if I just invest the time into them. After a while however that passion starts to fade into the background, slowly being replaced by the looming reality of the challenge I’ve set myself. In all but one cases this has eventually led to burn out, seeing the project shelved so that I can recoup and hopefully return to it. The only project to ever survive such a period was this blog, but even it came close to being shut down.

Site StatsShown above are the stats for this blog over the past couple years and each of the big changes tells a story. As you can see for a long while there was a steady increase in traffic, something which constantly drove me forward, to keep me writing even when I wondered why I was bothering. Then the slow decline started happening and I honestly couldn’t tell you why it was happening. Then I stumbled onto the fact that 20% of my visitors were disappearing between the search engine and my site, indicating that my blog was just loading far too slow for most people to bother waiting for it. Migrating the server to a new host saw an amazing spike in traffic, one that continue its upwards trend for a very long time.

Of course I eventually got curious as to why this was and found that that the majority of users weren’t visiting my site per se, they were just incidental visitors thanks to Google’s Image search. I had figured that this wouldn’t last, dreading the day when the hit came, and when it did the drop in traffic was significant and brutal. Indeed I had come so close to one of my personal goals (20K visits in a month) that losing it all was a big hit to my confidence as a blogger. Still the always upwards trend continued and motivation remained steady, that was until the start of this year when, inexplicably, I took yet another hit.

Try as I might to diagnose the issue the downward trend continued and, unfortunately, my motivation began to follow it. It all came to a head when my site got compromised¬†and I inadvertently deleted my entire web folder, leaving me to wonder if it was worth even bothering to resurrect it. Of course I eventually came to my senses but I’d be lying if I said that my motivation for this wasn’t in some way linked to the number of page views I get at the end of each day.

I had mulled over writing this post for a long time, not to start a pity party or anything like that, more as a catharsis for my current situation. Honestly I had felt that there was something wrong with me as I should have been doing this for the love of it, not for the ego stroke reward that a page view is. However reading over Scott Adam’s (creator of Dilbert) treatise on how to be successful¬†struck a cord with me, showing me that I’m not alone in being motivated by passions that ultimately get dashed by the lack of success. This blog then was the example that getting results is the way to keep yourself motivated and it should come as no surprise that it went away when the apparent success did as well.

For now I’m simply taking it day by day, continuing what I’ve always been doing and enjoying the act of writing more than the pageviews. It’s been helped somewhat by the fact that I’ve been able to make some changes that have directly resulted in little bumps in traffic, nothing crazy mind, but enough to show that I’m on the right track. It’s going to be a long time before I reach the dizzying heights that I was at just under a year ago but hopefully those numbers will be genuine, a real reflection of the effort I’ve put into this place since I began it almost 5 years ago.

 

3 Comments

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  1. I don’t comment often here, and I’m sure it would be nice to hear more from your audience, but whether you hear from us or not, we really enjoy reading the site – it’s on my daily rounds – and I appreciate the effort you put into it. Glad you’ve kept at it and can derive enjoyment from the process of writing independent of total spectators.

  2. Sounds like you have stumbled upon the reason video games are so successful and addictive. Reward for your efforts, regular rewards. You have gamified your blog. The challenge the writing, the reward the page views.
    Screw you bejeweled blitz. I don’t need a score over a million anyway!

  3. @Felix: It’s comments like these that keep me going :D Every time I feel like giving up or taking a break someone will come along and say something like this and I feel a great compulsion to keep on writing. Whilst there will always be that part of me that yearns to be some blogging starlet I’m still very glad to be doing what I’m doing, and you guys are a huge part of that.

    @Jason: haha! I never thought of it that way but you’re spot on. Taken a little further then things like AdSense are like microtransactions to keep you playing since you’ll get more pageviews if you pay for some advertising. I haven’t really bothered with that yet but it’s eerie how close that analogy is to reality.

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