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Analytics: a bunch of useless data 

 January 20, 2015

By  Pascal Depuhl

Real-time online data

(No it’s not the NSA, it’s my Google analytics in real-time)

[This is a sneak peek at my article on analytics for ASMP’s ‘Strictly Business’ blog. The full article will be published on Thursday.]

It’s December 27th, 2014 and I got to admit that it’s a little freaky that I know there is a guy in Cambell, CA just down the street from Cupertino, who starts watching my documentary “On Wings of Hope” at a little after 7pm EST. There are also seven more readers on my blog as I’m writing this. 4 of them are on page two of my latest post “How to save $1000 bucks on baggage fees” and during the last minute, three more just started to read the post.

The click in Cambell is made on a desktop computer this Saturday evening at 7:03 pm and 58 seconds. That’s less than 10 seconds ago and he (I’m assuming it’s a he – that I really don’t know) found the link to my video in a comment I made on PPA’s website in the section they call the Loop. 3 of the other users are on mobile devices, 2 are on a desktop and the rest are reading my blog on their tablets. 1 of those users is in Texas, the other in Gonzales, LA and the guy from Brazil won’t start reading the post for another 13 minutes. (Watch a GIF of my real time analytics on the next page). [nextpage title=”next page”]

Google Analytics blog

A bunch of useless data

I’m sitting here in front of my Google analytics dashboard and am watching this data stream in real-time (click on the image to see a quick GIF of that data streaming across my screen). The blue, little vertical bars on the right side of the screen march across toward the “60 seconds ago mark” an eerie precision. They’ve been slowly sliding by from right to left all evening. Out of the 594 views on the blog today, over 420 have read the baggage fee post, making it the best post since I started blogging 7 years ago. Tomorrow will turn out to be the best day in terms of page views on my blog. 864 to be exact from 347 visitors – but I don’t know that as I’m writing this. The green highlight under the Active Pages headline means my guy in California just started viewing the film. Watching this is addicting, fascinating, and in the case of my west coast reader utterly useless.

The most useful information

However, the big picture is where this data get’s fascinating. I write a blog called …catching the light!, which focuses on photography, cinematography, and marketing, pulling posts from the experiences I’ve made at work. My goal is to have the decision-makers who hire photography and video services read my blog and hire me, but my analytics tell me they are not. The data also suggests that it’s my fault and not theirs: I’m creating content for the wrong audience.

My 3 best blog posts of 2014

Do you want to guess what my 3 best blog posts of this year were? Was it the one about how to create a killer video for your blog? Or maybe the one that explained how I put together effective teams for my jobs. No? Well then it’s got to be the one about my TEDx talk, I mean TED’s a pretty big deal right?

Nope. Wrong again. Actually, those three posts are toward the bottom of the list of views. Here are the top three:

3-top-blog-posts-of-2014-e1421349148917

None of the three top posts have to do with photography, well they all do, but that’s not immediately apparent, and 2 of the 3 were posted in December of 2014. My #1 post is about Facebook, my #2 post about blogging, and my #3 top post in 2014 is the one I published last night. The one the GIF is about. The one the guy in Gonzales is reading. The one about airline baggage fees. Really? That’s the best I can do since 2001? Baggage fees? [Full disclosure, the baggage fee post blew past the Facebook post in two days and screamed past 2,000 views after not even two weeks. It’s now my most read post.]

So what?

Big deal,” you say “who cares, which post did well? Why should I care about blogging anyway? I’m a photographer. People hire me to shoot, not to write.” But, where do those people find you? It’s no longer just the ad in Workbook. It’s not enough to mail the occasional piece to agencies. (My last post on Strictly business was about having a strong online brand, remember?)

More and more of my clients find me through search. And they read what I write on my blog, strictly Business and in social media, before they make a decision to hire me. Granted, I don’t think the art buyer at the big agency is among my readers, but – if I look at my analytics – that’s not because they’re not looking, it’s because I’m creating content for the wrong audience.

WP-Stats-Jan-6-e1421349189356

Notice a trend on my blog this year? Anything peculiar happens in December? My monthly average views over the previous 9 months were averaging less than 500 views per month. December is an over 500% increase in traffic. Why did that happen? Analytics gives you the tools to figure this out. To show you what works and what doesn’t. What was effective and what was not. They are objective measurements that we can use to improve how we look to our clients online and aren’t just a bunch of useless data.

How do you use your analytic tools?

[This article was first published on the American Society of Media Photographers, ASMP’s ‘Strictly Business’ blog. If you’ve enjoyed this, check out why you should be using analytics.]

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Pascal Depuhl


Miami product photographer, video producer, cinematographer and chief mindchanger at Photography by Depuhl I love to share the knowledge I've gained over the past two decades. Catching light in motion.

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