It's been a while!
We were on holiday for a month, we moved house, I went back to work (for the most stressful term of work I've had so far at this job) and I launched Queer Out Here with Allysse . . . which is to say, I've been busy. I might have neglected this blog of late, but I haven't forgotten you. I'll get back to blogging soon.
It's time for some housekeeping, some pretty Creative Commons photos and some graphs.
It’s been over a year since I published a Q&A post addressing burning issues in the world of tea drinking. I’d spent the previous month or so thinking about starting a blog and worrying that it was a rather old fashioned, self-indulgent thing to do. But I had a lot of time on my hands (a single typographical error at the Home Office meant my visa application was rejected and my life was completely disrupted - a story for another time) and this was one way of filling it. I looked at a few blogging platforms. I drafted a few posts. I spent a good while wondering what I should call my blog. And finally, I hit publish.
Since then, it’s been a wild ride. By monetising my content and reaching out to key influencers, I’ve grown my brand beyond my wildest dreams. Drilling down into my data, I’ve been able to build a robust picture of my audience and develop strategies to tap those target markets. I’ve engaged in some real blue-sky thinking and I’m now very excited to reveal my compelling plan for this blog moving forward . . .
I began In Which I with the aim of building an online portfolio/archive so potential freelance clients and employers could see that I was indeed capable of (a) stringing a sentence together, (b) writing about different subjects and (c) producing/collating content on a regular basis. I think I’ve succeeded in that. I update once a week on average, have an online record of my monthly walking column for the Battle Observer (I’m a bit behind uploading these, so expect a few more soon) and have published many of the articles I’ve written for the Hastings Independent.
I never expected to join any particular network of bloggers. I thought my subject matter would be too diverse and impersonal to appeal to any niche apart from the good old “people who know me” audience. After all, there aren’t that many people who are really into tea and wild camping and veg*n recipes and walking and local community news from Hastings, East Sussex. But in fact, it turns out the majority of my blog this year has been fairly outdoorsy and there’s a bunch of people who seem to enjoy that. Joining Alastair Humphreys’ Year of Microadventure challenge (wild camping) and coordinating my own themed monthly microadventure challenge (not just wild camping) has also meant that I’ve discovered loads of people who share similar interests. Bonus!
I'm still spying on you
Back in October last year, I kind of implied that I'd give you some updates on the analytics front. Uhhh, better late than never? Sorry!
Since I started In Which I, 57% of my visitors (‘new users’ rather than ‘sessions’ for those familiar with Google Analytics) have been from the UK, 13% from the USA and 6% from Australia. I’m surprised there’s more USAn visitors than Australian, given I have a large family/friendship group in Australia. Perhaps this is partly to do with spam referrals - I had to filter a couple of USA locations early in 2015. But while the number of Australian visitors (new users) is quite a bit lower, the number of visits (sessions) from Australia and the USA are fairly similar, demonstrating that my trusty band of Australian friends is much more likely to visit this blog repeatedly.
In terms of referrals, 31% of visits (sessions) came via Twitter and 43% via Facebook (this includes m.facebook, lm.facebook and l.facebook traffic, for those playing at home). Other major referrers were this Alastair Humphreys post and Martin Black’s microadventure round-ups.
Actually, Alastair Humphreys had quite a big impact on my visitor numbers. The graph above shows my overall traffic for the last year, week by week. Those two big spikes in January and February are a direct result of links from Alastair’s Facebook/Twitter. It’s even more noticeable when you look at the daily traffic.
The small increase in traffic around May is the result of a few things: first, a heavy influx of spam traffic; second, the photo-heavy bluebell wood microadventure; and finally, an interview with the former Hastings Children’s Library manager.
Speaking of spam referrals, I currently have something like 36 filters set up and no doubt after I publish this post I’ll get even more faux traffic. So annoying.
What you like
Given those two great stonking referral spikes from Alastair Humphreys, it probably comes as no surprise that the three posts he linked are my three most viewed posts.
The popularity of the next three comes from different sources.
And here are several more posts that are fairly popular:
What's in store
Now that I’m officially allowed to stay in the country (phew) - and now that summer is over - I’m beginning to look for a job. I’m planning to take a couple of months off from my walking column at the Battle Observer, so there might not be a November or December walk article. At the end of 2015, I will also finish the two year of microadventure challenges. But I’m not planning to stop blogging. I’m just hoping to take a step back and think about what I might want to do and write about next year.
So, is there something I’ve touched on before that you’d like me to revisit? Something you are especially interested in reading about? A new hobby you think I should take up (lacemaking, campanology, kitesurfing)? An old hobby you think I should knuckle down and do something with (music, creative writing, filmmaking, media criticism)? I can’t promise I’ll get around to it, but I promise I will consider your suggestions. Even the outlandish ones.
There is one other change afoot. Up until now, all of my post titles have been an extension of the blog name, so they can all be read as “In which I [x]” (e.g. In which I sleep in a ruin in Suffolk, In which I make room for nature with #30DaysWild, In which I forage for and cook with Alexanders). Did you notice? While it’s kind of fun, I’m growing tired of the formula. So, I hereby give myself permission to mix it up a bit, starting with this post.
Finally, I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who has commented on my posts, taken part in the microadventure challenges, linked here from their site and/or connected with me on social media over the last year. It's meant a lot and I've enjoyed it.
The month is over and the January microadventure stats are in. OK, that was a lie, there are no stats here. But please, curb your disappointment, because here is the round-up of microadventures from our little group!
Spend time on top of a hill
Our challenge for this month was to spend time on top of a hill. While not everyone managed this (time, life and weather have a habit of getting in the way), here are some hilltop adventures.
Nikki, who is a keen runner, went up a few hills in Melbourne, Australia.
George also had a personal fitness goal with his hill climb in Hastings, East Sussex. Here’s his story, "Helman's Hill".
I live in an awkward spot, neither valley nor hill. In fact, it is halfway up a hole left by the quarrymen who dug through diluvial loam and through white and fawn sandstone to reach the Tilgate Stone that would resurface the roads. Our house was built at the top of the dip in 1870 and my aim this month was to climb up the steep hill to the top of St James Road on a bike without gears (my bike has no gears).
I was aided in this by quitting smoking on 3rd January. No more violent coughing and wheezing as I walk up West Hill to the Old Town. Instead, I am breathing free. But that is a big adventure and I am here to talk about my microadventure. So . . .
I asked my landlord to unlock the garden shed. I wobbled onto my bike and felt for the peddles. I first travelled down the hill, picking up speed. Into town and along the sea front. When I felt I had my cycle-legs about me, I jumped off the bike. I walked up Queens Road. I wasn't going to have the regulars at Zar Zar Bar laugh their heads off as I struggled past them. I waited until I was at the bottom of my road. Then I mounted the bike again. I set off up the hill, hup, two, three, four, hup two, three, four. I was halfway and it was getting harder. It was too far. Hup, two, hup two. I know it is bad for the bike and I tried to resist, but then I stood up and I used all my strength to push the peddles, hup, two, hup two. I was doing it, I was nearly there. I reached the top. Woo! I leapt off the bike and stood at the top of St James Road trying to get my breath back, desperate for water, desperate for rest.
I couldn't have done that in December.
Dan and I went up Mount Caburn in East Sussex and made a video. Further to my last post, Dan adds, "It was cold, but we had fun making our little movie and Iron Age hill forts are good for sheltering out of the wind!"
We also saw in the year sleeping on top of a hill as part of Alastair Humphrey's year of microadventure challenge!
Some of our friends undertook different, but no less exciting, microadventures.
Steph and Danni both took part in Ride the Night cycling challenge in Melbourne. You can read Danni’s write-up about it on Girl Parts and Steph’s blog about it at No Award.
Emily explored Rottnest Island, Western Australia. She went snorkelling, saw fossils, met quokkas and had a lovely day of it. You can read her post about it on Aquaprofunda.
Mags set up a new blog, With Each New Day, where she posted about her outings to Seaton Sluice beach (Northumberland) and Rudyard Kipling's house, Batemans (a National Trust-owned property in East Sussex).
Dan and I are attempting a microadventure (or microchallenge) every week. As well as the two listed above, we made a camp stove from a beer can, performed at an open mic night (more of a jam session) at a local pub and went for a walk along a canal (I’ll post about the walk later this month).
February challenge: wildlife spotting
This month’s microadventure challenge, chosen by Emily, is wildlife spotting. Read Emily’s explanation of the challenge on her blog.
I’m excited to hear what everyone gets up to for this one - recording birdsong, trying their hand at wildlife photography or drawing, setting aside an hour in a local park or garden to watch the fauna, learning to identify new insects, going on a special trip or safari, looking out the window . . . there are loads of options.
I am personally hoping to see a live badger in the wild. I’ve been hoping to do that since we moved to the UK three years ago and have so far been unsuccessful, so I might need to put a bit more effort into my spotting. But that’s exactly what this challenge is for!
Thanks to everyone who took part in the January challenge. You're all welcome to join the February challenge, just leave a comment or get in touch on Twitter so we can include you in the next round-up!
Want to know what I know about you? Are you a marketing or data nerd? Or would you like to learn how people use Google Analytics to enhance their websites? Then read on, because I’m going to share what I’ve learnt about readers of this blog – and what I’m going to do with that knowledge.
You’re in the UK on a laptop or desktop
In September, this blog had 182 sessions originating in the UK and 136 in Australia. Honourable mentions include the USA (28) and Canada (10). The only other countries with more than one session were Norway (3) and Vietnam (2) – I’m pretty sure I know who these people are! On average, people in the UK also spent a lot longer on the site than anyone else. About 70% of sessions used a laptop or desktop, while 23% were on mobiles (mostly iPhones) and 7% on tablets. A third of sessions used Safari, just under a quarter used Chrome or Firefox.
What am I going to do with this info?
I’m going to tell the 2% of you poor fools who are using Internet Explorer to try a better browser. Other than that, nothing. The content I’m posting is mainly focused on the UK, so it makes sense for British people to visit my site more. However, if you’re one of my Australian friends and you are annoyed that the UK is beating you at something, feel free to share my blog more frequently with your own Australian network. I won’t complain about the free publicity!
You clicked through from Facebook
The majority of visits came to the blog via social media (67% of all visits). Over half of social media referrals were from Facebook, and a third from Twitter. I initially thought my non-social media referral stats were too high (10% of all traffic), but digging down I found the majority of these people came via the blogging platform Dreamwidth, with six coming via links in comments I made on other blogs. Only three people found my site through internet searches (this amuses me, since I do SEO for other websites as part of my freelance work).
What will I do about this?
It’s interesting that Facebook is responsible for so much traffic, because I’m far more active on Twitter. This might be because Facebook updates can have a longer life-span than tweets, especially if people continue to like or comment on a post. I’ll continue linking my updates on all sites, and I’ll see if these stats change next month (my last few updates were all but ignored on Facebook).
In terms of searches/SEO, free Weebly blogs have limited options. However, they’ve just given us more metadata fields (i.e. SEO title and description – yay!), so I will fill that in for all my posts and see if it makes a difference.
You like reading about food on weekdays
My most visited post is my first post about tea, followed by foraging in Norfolk then, almost equal third, un-beet-able chocolate mud muffins and the future of Hastings. The most popular landing pages (i.e. the page that someone first visits when they come to the site) are also tea and foraging in Norfolk, followed by Special K's brand identity and tiny houses. The days with the most traffic were, in order, Monday 1 September (Tea), Tuesday 23 September (Special K) and Tuesday 9 September (Norfolk). I suspect that the Special K post went almost as well as the tea and foraging posts because I hashtagged the bejeesus out of it on Twitter, where a few fellow social media marketers, brand nerds and comms people probably picked it up.
My least popular post was about The Secret of Kells. (What’s wrong with you ? Go and look at that cute movie!)
What does this mean for the future?
The most obvious pattern in these data is that not as many people are reading my weekend blog posts. That could be due to the content, because I promote things differently on social media on the weekend (I don’t think I do) or simply because not as many people are online.
If I was a proper marketeer, I would spend the next month only writing about food, only "sharing the love" if it was a recipe and only posting on weekdays. Instead, I am going to keep posting mainly as I have been. Then, starting in November, I will change my posting days to Monday and Thursday (instead of Tuesday and Saturday) and see if that makes a difference to my audience (i.e. you).
You’re just about to leave (if you haven’t already)
In September, my blog had a bounce rate of 70%. That means that for every 10 times someone visited the site, 7 people left it without looking at more than one page. This is a pretty high bounce rate! Most ‘real’ visitors (who stayed longer than a second or two), stayed between 1 and 10 minutes.
How can I make you stay?
I probably already have. I’ve linked to a number of other pages throughout this post, so chances are that more than a third of you have clicked on those links. Sneaky!
Actually, there are two reasons I’m not currently worried about the bounce rate. First, this is a blog – not a website that’s asking you to buy or donate or sign up to something or trying to inform you in-depth about a specific topic – so by its nature, people will be arriving to read the most recent post then leaving again. Second, it’s a pretty new blog, so there isn’t much to see. The more posts there are in each tag, the more likely people will be to stay and read them.
Do you think this stuff is interesting? Boring? Creepy? If your name is Belinda or Margot, you will probably leave a comment. There's a reasonable chance that either Emily, Dan or Mary will comment, too.
In which I
In which I do things and write about them
In which I tag
In which I archive