My beloved little labor of love, this analytics blog, is 5 years old today. Five!
I am so proud of having reached this incredible milestone, because when I started I was not sure I would make it to the first anniversary.
Let me tell you how utterly improbable it seemed.
My first blog post, on May 15th, 2006, was titled Traditional Web Analytics is Dead (let me emphasize the first word, traditional). Per my plan, I wrote two posts a week. At that time I had done just two public speaking engagements, and the love of my life had been to one of them, and she knew what I did and my body of work.
At the end of the first month, having read every one of my 8 blog posts (reason #2691 I love her so much!), she turned to me and said:
"You should slow down your posting schedule, you've already written almost everything you know."
And let me tell you she was not that far away from the truth! I did worry about that as I went into the second month.
But my persistence in learning new things every day by being an active practitioner never went way. My quest to share *everything* I know with you stayed, and here we are. . . it has already been five years!
The secret to the blog's longevity is simple: your engagement with it. . .
In five years I have written a total of 433,273 words in 245 blog posts, and, this is simply awe-inspiring, those posts have received 9,706 comments with a total of 884,699 words! (Around 10% of those words in comments are my replies to you.)
Together we've written 1.3 million words in 5 years! One point three million!!
Isn't that amazing?
From day one my plan was to make analytics accessible, practical, non-IT centric, and real. I wanted to relate to you, your problems and provide solutions and frameworks you could actually use. No theory, just the unvarnished useful truth. My hope was that would encourage conversation (and yes Loyalty and Recency!) and that Occam's Razor would not be like every other blog – a broadcast.
Yet I had never ever imagined that you would write 2x the amount I would! Never in a million years. Every post I have written has been a ton of work; I cannot tell you how powerful your engagement is in terms of motivating me. Thank you.
Other numbers have been equally impressive (to me). Here's a simple graph of the number of visits to the blog and the number of posts I've written, by month. . .
Clearly the less I write the more popular the blog becomes! :)
Over time my posts have become longer (and l o n g e r!), more strategic and expanded to cover a lot more ground than "web analytics." It has been fun.
Those of you familiar with my Blog Metrics post will know that in addition to Conversation Rate (first set of numbers above), I place tremendous importance on Loyal Audience Growth (the number of RSS Subscribers). Here's five years worth of Subscriber count data. . .
When I started the blog, my "I'll die and go to heaven" RSS goal number was 1,000. I did not think I would get to it (there were already so many well established Analytics blogs and people). As you can see above, the number crossed 52,000 sometime last month.
I still don't believe it.
Numbers are great, but as I reflect on the last five years I am struck by the impact of the blog on my evolution. . . my life has changed dramatically in the last five years.
I was Sr. Manager of a small analytics team. They were helping me ignore what web analytics was at that time, and imagine a different future. I became a director, then a consultant for a flirtatious period of one year. Then an Analytics Evangelist, working in fundamental ways to transform some of the largest companies in the world. Today that's coupled with keynotes at conferences around the world, co-founding an online marketing and analytics certification company Market Motive Inc, and advisory roles thrown in for good measure. So different from where I started.
There were other bits of surprises. 3 Bs.
Six months into this blog Wiley expressed interest in making the blog into a book. That initiative became Web Analytics: An Hour A Day. My sweetheart and I decided to donate our $10,000 advance to charity (to convert what we did for love, this blog, into a small benefit for others – The Smile Train and Doctors Without Borders). WA Hour was translated into 7 languages (vastly surpassing my expectations). In the middle of the third year I started writing Web Analytics 2.0. We decided to donate 100% our proceeds from that book to charity as well (adding Ekal Vidiyalaya as the third charity).
In the three or so years that WA Hour as been out and a year that WA 2.0 has been out, our proceeds from the books sales are around US $170,000.
Though that is a small sum, there is no way that I could ever have managed to donate that much money to charity. I am so incredibly grateful to everyone who bought a copy of the book. The result is this unimaginable joy of writing, publishing, donating. What else can a person ask for? I feel incredibly blessed.
This is a deadly cocktail: Pressure to write every week. Self-imposed pressure to create very high quality content. Your deep engagement.
These three things mean that I have to constantly be curious, understand deeply the world we live in, and the challenges we face as practitioners. That is the only way I can stay current and create solutions that matter – to provide something incredible, relevant, of value.
I firmly believe that is the "secret" to a longer "shelf-life." No opportunity to become stale, siloed, out of touch, irrelevant. Thank you!
This was less of a surprise. How much bigger and broader the impact was is a surprise.
I have an MBA in Finance and Marketing so it should not be surprising that I went into this knowing it would be a platform for "brand avinash kaushik." I had a rough idea about what I wanted the brand to stand for. Passion. Integrity. No BS. Real value. Exciting. It is what I am; it is what I wanted this blog to be.
This week I had to give a keynote on "Managing Your Personal Brand." A brand is not what you want it to be, it is what others perceive it to be based on your actions. So I asked people on Twitter to tell me the three words that come to mind when they think of "brand avinash kaushik."
There were hundreds of responses (!). A simple way to visualize all that data, and identify trends, is to create a tag cloud. Here it is, for all the words,. . .
[For more detail checkout the higher resolution version.]
There is an amazing amount of insight in that simple tag cloud, and it is inspiring to see the things that brand now stands for. Far beyond what I had originally envisioned.
While I care a little bit about the professional side of things, everything I do is people centered and so for me there were three words that meant less. So I took those three words (Web, Analytics, Google) out of the responses and got to the data I am really, really solving for ("people feelings"). . .
[For more detail checkout the higher resolution version.]
Looking at the above tagcloud, in Tagxedo, was one of life's quiet moments of amazement.
There is nothing quite like seeing five years of walking the talk summarized like that.
The words there are so beyond my expectations, and often underserved (though I thank all of you who said "sexy"!).
And now there is even more motivation to work even harder for the next five years.
I am immensely grateful for your attention. I have never taken it for granted, and I hope to keep earning it on Occam's Razor. Thank you. Arigato. Tusen takk. Gracias.
As always, it is your turn now. Let's celebrate with some of your stories and perspectives in comments.
When did you start reading this blog? Do you have a favorite idea, ah-ha moment, blog post? Are there small ways in which it has had impact on your professional (or personal) life? What would you do to improve it?
Thank you again for everything, especially your attention and engagement.