Archive for April 6th, 2012

Flag maps show Marcie’s connection to the rest of the world!

We are atypical bloggers, in that we post more than most. We also probably read more blogs than most. That said, it’s not lost on me that writing a blog is something of a solo activity. I sit at my desk or on the couch in my TV room (TV off, unless husband is home) and draft my posts in Word, find/create images for them, and then upload them to the WordPress site. Yet as I sit and write, I’ve no real idea who is reading them.

(Click twice slowly – not a double click – to see larger image.)

Sure, we can see our subscriber list and we’ve got a bit better a view into some of the more active folks via the comments … but the readership is far bigger than those who comment. Sometimes I’ll say a prayer or a blessing that whoever’s reading our posts is getting something useful out of them, but usually I just write and post, hoping it makes sense and that some number of those unseen people will benefit from it.

This can be a daunting aspect of blogging: WHO is reading my stuff? WHAT are they thinking about it? Is it making sense? Am I basically shouting into the wind? How do I even have the chutzpa to do this in the first place?

Then you get your first comment. You hear back from a reader who really liked (or disliked) what you had to say. We’re fortunate to have many more agreeable comments than disagreeable ones, but we’re also not saying anything that’s too controversial.

One thing about WordPress that was different from Blogger was the metrics. Blogger has this nifty map feature that shows you where your readers are, globally. I had been missing this for a while – MY WordPress.com blog did not have this feature automatically enabled, and I could find no hidden widgets to install it – so I finally decided to find a third-party map function I could use on my WP blog. Perhaps not coincidentally, this was the day before the famous International Women’s Day post that garnered us nearly 1,000 hits in 2 days.

I found a site called FlagCounter.com that does exactly what I was looking for. You install it as a widget on your blog that tracks this data; on our blog, it appears at the bottom of the right-hand column. Through it, we were finally able to see where our visitors were coming from.

Then, a strange thing happened. Out of nowhere – I SWEAR –

Metrics from FlagCounter.com

WordPress started showing similar geographic locations for our visitors. Now, I’m good at the writing and promotional side of blogging – but the back end programming is not my strong suit. It’s likely someone out there somewhere knows a lot more about this than I do. All I can tell you is that once I installed the third-party program, WordPress began giving me similar information.

A WordPress map suddenly appeared...

Why does this even matter? Well, without it, we wouldn’t know that we’ve got readers in 104 countries (or 106, by FlagCounter.com’s stats). Of course, the vast majority are from English speaking countries: my native US, Canada, and the UK at the top. India comes in fourth, with Australia, Philippines, Mexico, Brazil, Netherlands, and Belgium rounding out the top 10. And who could have known that two souls all way over in Maldives had visited?

And the icing on the cake (today’s theme for the UBC) is the very cool flag map provided by FlagCounter.com (at the top of this post). It’s just thrilling to see this visual representation of all the people to whom we are now connected, if only in this small way.

Does this change anything about the way we post? Not really. But it could. For one thing, we could use more international examples in our posts. Secondly, we might use the survey function on WP to find out exactly where these readers are, who they are, and what they’re interested in reading. Knowing your readers can only improve your blogging by enabling you to better tailor and personalize your posts to their needs. Not to mention that it’s just plain fun to see your entire world map become populated with flags!

Happy cartographing…



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