Saturday, June 27, 2020

MBS by the Numbers

Regular readers probably know that I’m a data gal. I totally geek out over statistics, analytics, and visualizations. If those are boring for you, that’s perfectly fine. I invite you browse the archive or explore some of the spanko links at the right.

I have almost fifteen years of data from and about this blog. It provides some insights that I hope will be beneficial for other bloggers. My purpose is not to relive past glories, but rather to examine which strategies worked to make the blog successful (or not).

The graph above displays monthly page counts. It’s pretty easy to break this time span into three parts.

The first two years, beginning in September 2005, was a time of nearly continuous growth. I posted almost every day. Most of the well known MBS features, such as the weekly brunch, In with the New, Keyword Chaos, Bonnie’s Mailbag, Love Our Lurkers, Top 10 lists, and song parodies originated during this time. I posted 71 of 109 spanking stories and 14 of 17 fictional tales in those first two years. I started with a cache of 30-40 older stories that I posted whenever I needed some content. By the end of those two years, I had exhausted the cache.

For the next six years, posts appeared less frequently, typically 2-3 times per week. I relied increasingly upon formulaic posts and less upon new, original content. I tried to compensate by building a robust blogroll, maintaining the brunches, and promoting the archive. This approach worked fairly well for a while, but by the end of 2013, I felt that I had run out of content.

I declared the blog closed and posted only twice during 2014. I dabbled in a second blog before deciding to return here. The third and probably final phase, which I call my semi-retired mode, features just a few posts per month. I view the blog now as more a hobby than a job. It’s my enduring connection to the community. MBS survives today, not as a hub, but as a resource.

I have included in this post three bar graphs that trace the history of the blog by month. The pages graph, in green, shows reader activity. We see rapid growth during the first couple of years followed by a plateau. In 2012 and 2013, I attempted to sustain reader interest despite comparatively weak content. This effort was surprisingly successful in terms of page count, but unsatisfying for me.

Page requests dropped by half when I stopped posting in 2014. I expected they might drop to close to zero, but the readers returned for the blogroll and the archive. From this fact, I conclude that approximately half of the traffic during the plateau period was not related to new content.

The semi-retired era features a sag in mid-2016 when I had to shutter the blog for a couple of months after I thought I outed myself. Sorry about that folks. I am pleased by modest but steady growth over the past two years. We’ll see where that goes.

The blue graph shows posts. This is the only element over which I had control. It’s a direct measure of the effort I invested. It would be easy to conclude that what you get out of a blog (page requests) is a direct result of what you invest (posts). But that was not true for me after the first two years. There is another factor at work here.

The red graph presents the number of reader comments per month. I consider this measure more important than either of the other two because it tracks reader engagement. Only dedicated readers will repeatedly leave comments. Although I wasn’t looking at this statistic in late 2013, I had the sense that my reader engagement was dwindling as the quality of my content faded.

So what can we learn from these experiences about blogging?
  1. Pacing is Essential - If I have a regret, it is that I burned though most of my best content and best ideas in early months of the blog. I posted some of my best stories back to back, sometimes even multiple times in a day. Readers very seldom return more than once per day and rarely read more than the current post. There’s little benefit in posting more than about twice per week. Blogging is a marathon, except that you don’t need to try to win.

  2. Quality Matters - There are posts and then there are posts. The best posts are those that attract reader engagement and involvement. They encourage readers to return and rejoin the conversation.

  3. Filler Posts Have Their Place Too - Every post cannot be your best work, at least not if you want to post regularly for an extended stretch. Even with my cache of old stories, I eventually ran out of content. There must be more. To my surprise, some features that started as filler became reader favorites. Keyword Chaos is one such example.

  4. Think Engagement - I judge a blog not by the number of page hits or visitors or posts, but by the lives it touches. The mission of MBS is to support people who choose to learn about, participate in, and share consensual adult spanking. I want to do whatever I can to promote healthy, safe, and fulfilling activities and relationships. This effort works best when we have active involvement and a continuing conversation within the context of a supportive community.

  5. Remember Your Mission - With a few notable exceptions, most successful blogs stick to a single topic. If a blog combines the topic of spanking with, say, dog grooming, it will tend to attract two audiences with relatively few common members. This is not to say you cannot go off topic on occasion, but recognize that those posts seldom expand your audience.

  6. Posts are Just the Beginning - We generally think of blogs as a serial diary consisting of posts. But we can include much more in the sidebars. The MBS blogroll is one example. I can see that some readers come here for that alone. I’m all right with that. If I can help spankos make a connection or learn more or grow our community, then so much the better.

  7. Know Your Numbers - As we have seen, blog statistics provide another perspective on your blogging activities. In the example I discussed above, despite good page requests counts in 2013, I felt dissatisfied with the blog. The comment counts tell the rest of the story. The level of reader engagement had slipped.

  8. Find Your Place - I’ve made peace with my role in the community. I am content with being a part time commentator. My investment is less and my return is less as well, but I’m still here and contributing where and when I think I can. As important as it is for a blogger to establish a mission and a brand, it’s acceptable to change them. In fact, even if you don’t choose to change your role, it’s healthy to consider it occasionally.
Despite the naysayers, I don’t think blogging is dead at all. It continues to evolve. Long form traditional blogs like this one have been somewhat eclipsed by Twitter, but that’s progress. The short burst, real time format has given voice to more spankos than ever. I celebrate these voices and welcome them to our big, diverse, wonderful community.


Bernie said...

Hey Bonnie,

For what it's worth - Your blog went a long way in helping me fully accept what I am. You and Hermione keep reinforcing it. Please stay at it. We would miss you, again, if you were to stop.

Thank you,

Midwest Reader said...

The Spanking Spot was probably the first Modern Spanking Blog(tm), but MBS has been the leading spanking blog on the Internet for at least 12 years - even with the slower rate of posting the last few years. I alternate between MBS and HH as the 'first blog to check each day' but this Bonnie still sets the standard.

Congratulations and thanks!

Midwest Reader

Bonnie said...

Bernie - Thank you! That's very sweet. My current pace is one that I expect to be able to sustain.

MWR - Brushstrokes' The Spanking Spot was a truly excellent site, but it began a year after this blog. I suggest the first modern spanking blog was the Spanking Blog by Spankboss. He started in 2003 and he's still at it!

If you have a choice between checking Hermione's blog or this one each day, I suggest visiting hers first as the chance of finding fresh content is much higher over there. Thank you for your kind words and your continuing readership.

Rich Person said...

Out of all the spanking blogs, this is the one I still come back to. That's because I can always find something of value. Keep up the good work!

Roz said...

Hi Bonnie,

Interesting to see and track the life of your blog. I enjoyed reading this. Thank you for sharing your lessons learned. Your blog has always been a cornerstone of blogland and it is thanks to your "in with the new" posts that many of us became established in blogland.


Hermione said...

Wow! That's a whole lot of data! You are so clever to make such good sense of all the ups and downs.

I'm glad you have decided to carry on blogging. The data proves it was worth it!


Bonnie said...

RP - Thank you! I am grateful for your faithful readership.

Roz - Thanks, Roz. As I was writing this post, it occurred to me that the blog's history is also my history. When the blog was doing well, I felt tremendous satisfaction with its mission to help people. When it was stumbling or worse yet, gone, I felt a bit lost. I hope the current balance will be one that I can sustain for years to come.

I am most thankful to Ronnie and Hermione for keeping alive the spirit of MBS through In with the New and the weekly brunch posts. Each of these features requires considerable behind the scenes work and both are beneficial for our community.

Hermione - It was enlightening for me to lay out the data this way. The numbers mostly confirmed my impressions, but there were a few surprises (like keeping half of the traffic even after I stopped blogging!).

I owe you in particular a huge thank you for all of your assistance over the years. I truly could not have done all this without your timely aid with Blogger, with the brunches, and with the blogrolls.

Minielle Labraun said...

I enjoyed reading this. I like that you pulled the info together for us. Lots of good info. It makes me think!
Always love coming here.

Oaks and Pines Spanking Stories said...

I remember that you were the first to help us. Today you have further helped us and everyone with great advice ! Thank you dear Bonnie :)

wolfman7446 said...


Your story Friday on P.K. Corey's "New Beginnings" was delightful.


Bonnie said...

Minielle - Thank you! The data made me think as well.

Brigitte - You're most welcome. I am delighted when I am able to help friends.

Rick - Thank you. If you like my fiction, there are more stories in the drop down menu above on the right labeled FICTION. I wrote a one act play that is set in a very similar small town. It is entitled "The Spanking Booth."

PK said...

I'm most grateful for your blog. It lead me to begin my own and gave me the courage to come out to Nick. I learned how to blog from you and to me your greatest piece of advice was to always answer my comments. This has lead to many friendships. Although I'm not on topic very often I still want to be here surrounded by spankos even if I don't get to participate as much myself. I hope you're right and that blogging continues but I do have my fears that it won't. Thanks for all you've done here.

ronnie said...

Bonnie, that's a lot of data you've put together. We're all happy you are still here.

Your blog was the first one I found over 14 years ago and I still read, though I don't always comment. If it wasn't for you finding me, I wouldn't have made so many friends some of whom I've personally met a few times.

Thank you for the mention. I was more than happy to take on In with the New but never seem to find as many blogs as you have:)


Bonnie said...

PK - Thank you for your continuing support.

I think quality content that readers find relevant will always attract an audience. The medium can and will evolve, but the interest in adult consensual spanking remains strong. This is the source of my optimism for the future.

Ronnie - Being a member of our community has been rewarding for me as well. I really appreciate all you do!

Enzo said...

Bonnie - Let me just add to what has already been said and just add my name to the list of bloggers you encouraged and helped launch.
Also for being a source of general blogging advice as well as a jumping off point (a linking list) to so many other like-minded blogs, tumblers and other accounts.
Thank you and thanks for sharing these numbers and this entire exploratory post.

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