Good morning Horse Nation! Hope your day is off to a great start, like Zenyatta out of the starting gate.
The tough thing about this gig is that you’re writing to an invisible audience. It’s not like a comedian who knows whether his jokes are funny by whether the audience laughs or throws tomatoes, or a band that knows it’s doing a good job if its music gets people to stand up and dance. With Horse Nation, every post I write and send out into the world gets met with what I can only perceive as deadpan silence–not that that’s necessarily your actual response (although sometimes, I’m sure it is). You guys could be sobbing into your keyboards or shaking your fist at the screen or falling out of your chairs laughing, I would never know the difference.
I do have two signs of life to work with:
1) Direct feedback from readers: i.e. your letters, comments, Facebook “likes,” etc. That’s the stuff that makes my world go round and is actively informing the direction Horse Nation will be moving toward in the future.
2) Post view counts and Google Analytics. Post view counts are the numbers you see beside posts on the page, and they tell me a lot about what interests our readers. For example, I know from last weekend’s YouTube extravaganza that you guys are most interested in zebra show-jumping (179 page views), follow by male stripper show-jumping (167 views), dog show-jumping (122 views), cat show-jumping (118 views), bunny show-jumping (99 views), and cow show-jumping (61 views.) Mental note: In the future, we need more zebras and male strippers and fewer cows.
Google Analytics is another super-helpful tool. With this program, I can glean a lot of useful information about our readership demographic, including how many readers we have, what percentage of those are first-time viewers, where they’re coming from and how they’re getting here. For example, I know that in the past 30 days, we’ve had 50,290 visits, 41.57% of which were first-time viewers.
I also know HN is being read around the world. The bulk of our readership, of course, lives in the U.S., with Canada in second and Australia in third. According to Google Analytics, though, we’ve had visitors from 96 countries. 96 countries! Yesterday alone, for instance, readers hailed from the UK, Netherlands, France, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Japan, Belgium, Denmark, Latvia, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Sweden, Slovakia, Turkey and Uruguay. I probably couldn’t even point to Uruguay on a map, and yet someone in Uruguay somehow found our website.
If I think about it too much, it starts to freak me out a little. But it also feels like a round of applause. Maybe we’re doing something right.