Best of Life, Prioritized 2012: What the Numbers Mean for 2013

Image by Christian Ferrari

Image by Christian Ferrari

As the year is closing, the time is ripe to review your stats from 2012. For me, it’s an interesting mix between posts I really enjoyed writing and ones that were really popular. Not all the popular posts were tedious to write, in fact all of these were enjoyable and I was proud to ship over 100 posts this year. I’ve written about this effect before, but sometimes posts you feel awesome about fall flat, and one you felt was average will receive a bunch of traffic.

Here are my top 5 posts for the year, and then 5 other posts I really felt great about writing, whether they performed well or not. Page views are in parentheses.

5 Most Popular Posts

My 5 “Other” Favorite Posts

What Did I Learn?

  1. List posts work – 6 of 7 top posts were lists.
  2. Images work – The Hobbit post was #2 for the YEAR, despite only being live for 3 weeks!
  3. Guest posting works – The sources of most email signups and dedicated followers have come from guest posts for Michael Hyatt, Goins Writer, TentBlogger, and Buffer.
  4. Money works – StumbleUpon and Facebook offer fairly inexpensive ads, just be careful how long you allow them to run.
  5. Social media works – My biggest referral source was Twitter, followed by Facebook. Pinterest made a strong push late, and I’ve seen good results from it. The Hobbit post was strongly tied to traffic generated by pins (74 post pins). See the board here.
  6. Name-dropping works – My biggest post (11 Priority Secrets) was one I put a lot of effort in to with contacting bigger bloggers. They were incredibly kind about offering me a little blurb, and in turn shared on their site or on social media. It also helps even if you profile them in a positive light, as in the Generosity Model post from last week. Simply send them a quick email and let them know you wrote a bit about them, ask them to check it out, and if they like it if they would share with their followers.
  7. Consistency works – I’ve seen the best traffic and engagement when I’ve been able to focus on keeping my schedule consistent. Even if you begin by committing to 1 post a week, you’ll end up better than just posting on whim.

Looking at 2013

I really enjoy analyzing stats and trends, not just in blogging, but I was a nut about it when I was a lacrosse coach. But in writing, this analysis offers a unique challenge. You must write to drive traffic, but also to provide value, and write about what you care about. I’m not going to beat out the big sites in terms of pure clickable content every day, but I (and you) can offer such personal, in-depth information and researched content that blows them out of the water.

I plan on focusing more on a framework of post topics which will force me to be creative within the constraints of a topic. I can use this information to know what works for traffic and engagement, but also leave room for making sure I write about topics I really care about, even if they don’t convert as well.

What are your blogging thoughts for the upcoming year? What did you learn from your stats and engagement in 2012? Please share in the comments!

Find your stats 1 of 2 ways (via Michael Hyatt)

  1. Google Analytics:
    • Log into your Google Analytics account.
    • Select the appropriate website (if you have more than one).
    • Select Content | Site Content | All Pages.
    • Set the “Primary Dimension” to Page Title.
  2. WordPress (self-hosted):
    • Make sure you have JetPack installed. (It’s free.)
    • Log into your WordPress Administration page.
    • Under the Dashboard, select “Site Stats.”
    • Now select “Top Posts & Pages.”
    • Select Summarize “Year.” (Be patient, this can take a while to tabulate, depending on the number of posts you have on your blog.)

Disclaimer: Though I was planning on a post like this regardless, I did borrow some formatting and structure ideas from Michael Hyatt’s similar post


  1. says

    Matt, I am so glad I found your blog this year. It doesn’t take long to read your posts, and I have gleaned a few bits of inspiration that I believe will help me in the future. So… Thanks! You seem like the kind of guy that gets things done. I would be interested in a post on your process for setting new years resolutions that stick. I did read your guest post on tent blogger where you touched on goal setting, but I was wondering if you had any more. Thanks again!

    • says

      Hey Logan, thanks for your encouragement, you have a knack for it! I’m trying to get all the better at getting stuff done, but I think if you hung around me you would find I struggle with procrastination and distractions as well.

      My big focus in 2012 was to be more aware of my choices and their impact. Most of my productivity has come from choosing to do one thing I care about over another. Now, in 2013 I hope to be a little better at doing those things efficiently, even as I struggle with distractions!

      For goal setting, I’ve found the best implementation techniques for me are to make them as small and measurable as possible, with the possibility for an accomplishment every day. So for writing a 1000 word post, try and write 500 words for 2 straight days, rather than being disappointed that I didn’t write the whole thing in 1 day. There are other countless methods I’m testing, but I’ve seen good results from those 2. It applies to other things as well, like eating healthy or exercising more. Don’t toss all your unhealthy food on day 1, or try and run 5 miles. Break down, measure, and build piece by piece!

      • says

        Thanks for getting back to me. I appreciate that you always try to respond. This is great advice. I also read your most recent post on setting goals. I love the idea of the 30/30 app and blocking undistracted time for setting goals. Heaven knows I get distracted easy. I think I should be responding to emails right now rather than posting here…. Oh well. Slow and stead, right?

        • says

          Yep, it’s crazy because I try and find new things to do during page loads! Like I can’t be content for 5 seconds! We all do it man, that’s why I think small batches are so important. Jason Fried of 37Signals says that creativity and great work are like REM sleep, you have to get in the rhythm for a little while before the mind begins to create.

  2. says

    Matt – thanks so much for sharing this level of detail, great ideas here other bloggers can easily implement. Do you see your bounce rate go way up using something paid like StumbleUpon? That was my experience, making me wonder if it’s worth it (or is a commentary on my content). My learning for 2012 is that you grow a blog one reader at a time early on, and you can’t get discouraged…just keep trying to pump out high quality content that the big sites can’t match. I’ve enjoyed your writing this year, looking forward to more in 2013.

    • says

      Hey Tom, great point about paid content, I did see the bounce rate increase. For paid advertising, I mostly use it in small batches to promote a particular post I think has some viral quality to it. I’ve used it on guest posts (like Michael Hyatt’s), and I wanted to try The Hobbit post because I published the same day the movie came out, and I thought I could capitalize on search traffic. It helped, but not something I would make a regular practice of. As you said, one at a time grows a dedicated community!

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