Let's Talk About Numbers

This Week In Writing, we talk about the importance of metrics and why I barely pay attention to mine.

person in white shirt and blue denim shorts standing on black and white floor
Photo by Markus Krisetya / Unsplash

I had a car that crossed the 100,000-mile mark on the odometer once. Do any cars still have physical odometers? Anyway, I watched the little numbers roll from 99,999 to 100,000. It happened years ago before I had a camera in my pocket every day. While it seemed like a momentous occasion, it wouldn't have been photo-worthy. Today, it's just a memory.

This week, I've been a little more attached to my writing stats than typical. Medium only updates Audience Stats and Partner Program numbers daily, so I'd end each day with a look at the page. Then, on Thursday evening, I saw another digit added to the display: 100,008 followers.

Screenshot that reads "100,008 Followers (+2,880 from last month)"
Screenshot from Medium

Frankly, it's both weird and humbling. Thank you to all of you who choose to read my thoughts!

But looking at my stats each night this week got me thinking about metrics in general. It's really easy to obsess over them. I've been there, watching individual stories, trying to discern what works and what doesn't. But, ultimately, the stats are a distraction. Like my odometer of the past, the numbers change, and I move on with my life.

My goal is to write. Getting caught up in a metrics game is ultimately a losing battle. Not everything is going to be a hit, and I'm completely ok with that. My goal is to write and share my thoughts with others. The people who are interested and engage in conversation or ask questions fuel that desire, not the little numbers that show up next to my name.

Anyway, thank you for being here. I'm grateful for you and hope you chime into the discussion when you're interested.

Update on Ghost

I moved my website from WordPress to Ghost a few weeks back. Since getting the bones up and running, I've been slowly adding major functions and getting a feel for what Ghost can do.

Overall, it's great. Ghost is fast, super modern, and manages my website well. It is, however, not without complexities.

A few weeks ago, I explained that all updates are handled through SSH command line prompts. Which, fine. That's not something I'm uncomfortable with. But, compared to the auto-updates feature of WordPress, it's a lot.

I also ran into an issue where every update broke all media links on the site. Something wasn't configured correctly, which broke uploads and site paths. In other words, if you're going to self-host Ghost, make sure you have an idea about what you're doing.

Anyway, over the weekend, I took a big step and moved the subscribers of This Just In, my personal newsletter. The import process was simple. Seamless, even.

I barely send a newsletter to that audience (maybe a few times a year?). There is still no timeline for moving subscribers of This Week In Writing since I don't think my site is ready for a weekly traffic spike yet. Managing servers is a lot of work, you all!

Despite it all, I'm impressed with Ghost and know many of you are interested in this process. I'll keep you updated with any new major discoveries.