What I Learned Blogging in 2014

Thank you for reading The Runner Eclectic in 2014!

In spite of my tendency to flit from topic to random topic in this blog, there are two things I’ve tried to do consistently: first, write about things — people, events, history, research, media, and my own running experience — based on genuine interest and not necessarily based on what’s in the headlines, and second, do so in a way that feels conversational and invites comment and discussion. It often feels like a post is just a longer, more edited version of a conversation that took place at the track or on a long run. Which is to say that the source of almost everything I write is my feeling of connection to other runners, especially my friends and family. I’m especially grateful for that, and I hope that it comes across in the blog.

Even though I try to focus on topics that genuinely interest me, there is constant temptation to sneak peeks at the statistics that the blog platform serves up, including the number of visitors and their countries of origin, the number of views, the search terms that led visitors to the blog in the first place, and a lot of other data – all available by day, by week, by month, by year, or ranked to show what material was most or least popular. The stat geek in me revels in this stuff, but the writer in me gets distracted and confused. I think it’s not terribly healthy to think too much about what’s likely to result in more clicks, unless that’s one’s business in the first place.

But as I say, the temptation to wallow in the stats is strong, and when WordPress automatically generated a summary of annual activity on the blog, I couldn’t resist. So today I’m going to share some of the interesting and curious statistics from the past year.

Visitors and Views

A visitor is defined as a unique combination of a date and an IP address. A view is any request to see any page of the blog. By those definitions, there have been 6003 visitors and 14,869 views of the blog since I started it in January.

For the first couple of months, the blog felt particularly intimate, with about 12-13 views per day from a handful of loyal visitors. That changed when I wrote about Tyler’s treadmill half marathon in early March (It Takes Village to set a WR), which turned out to be one of the top five most-viewed posts of the year and effectively doubled my readership overnight. In April, my take on Meb’s win at Boston garnered almost 400 views, and at the end of the month, I was getting about 40 views a day.

Things stayed pretty much the same through the summer, and then at the end of August, I happened to write about the final leg of the women’s 4×400 Relay at the European Championships (‘Miracle Race’ in EC Women’s 4×400 Relay). This was by far the most popular post I wrote all year, with over 2200 views, to date, or over five times the number of views for the second-most popular post. It continues to account for a significant proportion of daily blog views. Who would have guessed?

How People Found the Blog

Most people who read the blog are regulars, but quite a few are not, and they find the blog after searching for some word or phrase that happens to lead them to me, or clicking on a link someone has posted to their Facebook page.

The search terms fascinate me. I always feel a weird rush to think when someone types in certain phrases to Google, the first page of results includes a link to the runner eclectic.

For example, as of this morning, if you search for “fun facts about 400m tracks,” my post is the top Google search result. Man, I’m feeling lucky!

Popularity Contest

I don’t think I ever really grasped the dynamics of social media until one of my friends (ok, it was Jonathan) posted a link to the blog on his Facebook timeline and that day I got hundreds more views than usual.

Being a shy and retiring person, it still feels awkward for me to promote the blog, and I’m not sure that judging the blog on views and visitors is a good thing, but if you, my readers, ever decide you want to push me out from the wings onto the Internet’s main stage, here’s how to do it: post a link to the runner eclectic on Facebook or on your social media platform of choice.

If on the other hand, you want to keep TRE a secret between us, just keep reading and every once in a while leave me a comment to keep me going.

The Raw Stats

Finally, a few raw numbers from 2014:

  • Number of Posts – 149
  • Number of Visitors – 6003
  • Number of countries for visitors – 122
  • Number of Views – 14869
  • Most views on a day – Aug 27, 2014 (580 views)
  • Most popular post – ‘Miracle Race’ in EC Women’s 4×400 Relay (2246 views to date)
  • Least popular post – Early April Workout (April really is the cruelest month…)
  • Most Popular Topic – Pro Runners
  • Most prolific commenters – Robin and Kevin, of course. Thank you both!

And to all, best wishes for a healthy and happy 2015!

About Jon Waldron

Running and Racing have been important parts of my life for as long as I can remember. I ran Track and Cross Country at Amherst HS, back in the day, and am proud to have been training and competing with the Cambridge Sports Union (CSU) for more than thirty years. If my bones hold out, I hope to continue for another thirty. Sixteen years ago, I began coaching, first as an Asst. Coach at Newton North HS in Newton, MA, and for the past ten years, as Head Track and Cross Country Coach at Concord Academy in Concord, Massachusetts. I've been writing about running for almost as long as I've been running, dating back to high school, when I would write meet summaries for the Amherst Record for about $0.33 per column inch. I've been blogging about running since 2005, and began blogging at "the runner eclectic" in 2014. Until recently I also had a day job, working full-time as a Technical Product Manager for Nuance Communications, based in Burlington, MA. But I am now on what might turn out to be a permanent sabbatical. Thank you for reading my blog, and please consider leaving a comment.
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2 Responses to What I Learned Blogging in 2014

  1. Terry says:

    Jon, Lots of information here, but I have to cycle back the the title and ask “What did you learn blogging in 2014?”. (besides the fickle nature of social media)

  2. Jon Waldron says:

    Thanks for the comment/question, Terry!

    I learned that social media works more predictably than I thought (i.e., it’s LESS fickle). Specifically, there was strong evidence that two factors had the most impact on the popularity of a given post: first, the popularity of the topic as reflected in other news media, and second, the number of times someone posted a link to the post on their Facebook page, in a letsrun thread, etc. The first factor didn’t surprise me, but the importance of the second factor was quite impressive. So that’s what I learned about media and popularity.

    I also learned that keeping to a regular schedule was easier for me, and I think, appreciated by readers. I still expect that one day I will simply run out of things to say and I’ll have to close up shop, but the rhythm of three posts a week feels about right, and allows me to write about whatever and not feel guilty about it. If it were once a week (or once a month), I’d feel the need to write something really special, but three times a week means I can explore a topic and not worry about whether it’s profound.

    Thanks again for reading and commenting!

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