Just one month ago, I turned off analytics on my website and urged others to follow suit. You can read that article for my reasoning, but I felt analytics can unduly influence a writer, so it was best to turn them off. And then a couple weeks later I set off on this crazy writing goal of publishing 50,000 words to my site in just the month of November.
And just a couple weeks into that, I am starting to have pangs of missing those analytics. They were like a really ratty old, but super warm and comfy, blanket that you could snuggle up with. Comforting you, warming you, validating you. That’s what analytics did, and that’s the part I missed.
They reassured me that what I was writing was valuable to people.
And I’ve been getting a lot of people saying: “I bet you are getting a lot of traffic from all these posts.” And I would love to be like: “I really am”, except I have no clue how much traffic I am getting. I could be getting none, except I know there are at least 2-3 people reading the site. So there’s that.
It’s nice to see people sharing links to my writing on Twitter, but it just makes me wonder: oh was that one popular? I won’t know of course, but I can wonder. And in that wondering I can’t help but to feel myself saying: I should stay on that topic more. And then I realize all over again why I turned off analytics in the first place: to avoid that very feeling.
While I do miss those analytics from time to time, for the sheer ego boost they give, I also realize I have a lot of time back. Instead of checking site analytics a couple times a day, I am now using that time to read or to write. I also have less stress if the site is having a slow day and less stress if the site is having a busy day. Ignorance in many ways is bliss.
Truth be told, overall this past month has been rather freeing for me. A few fleeting moments of wonder notwithstanding it’s been quite nice to just write and publish and never worry or think about the reaction to what I have been writing.
It is a bit scary. I’ve not been increasing membership counts in any worthwhile manner, and I have no way of knowing if that is simply the way it is going this month, or if there are just no readers coming to the site. I don’t only base conclusions like that on traffic either, I base it on sites linking in too, which I no longer know about.
In fact not being able to see sites linking in, is really the biggest regret. I really like discovering new sites that way. But the trade off is not worth keeping analytics turned on.
Even with the downsides — the pangs of regret and not knowing — I still highly recommend that you rid yourself of analytics. If you are starting out and you never had analytics to begin with — you wouldn’t even feel the need for them. They are dangerously addictive and not at all worth it.
So while I miss them, I miss them like a bad habit — yeah that used to be a thing I did, but so glad I don’t do it any longer.