An Experiment to Gain 1,000 Page Views

As a few posts have mentioned already, the empathy challenge presented by John Maeda this month has asked us to:

Speak about how to grow an audience for an existing blog post with the following parameters:

  1. Pick a colleague’s post, and explain why you chose that one.
  2. Outline a plan for the post to get more traffic creating a hypothesis.
  3. Imagine that you have a US $20 budget to work with.
  4. Spend no more than 2 hours on this task — tops.

Working with WooCommerce for the past 5 years had largely shifted my writing focus from what used to be daily or weekly posts on previous travel blogs to completely internal posts, on our internal team blogs. In fact, since we first joined Automattic July 1, 2015, I’ve published over 625 times, with over 2,500 comments, not to mention the daily conversations we have in Slack. All this to say, I’ve spent a lot of time writing, however, I haven’t needed to worry about how many people are seeing my posts or how to get more people to see my posts. The ones that need to see it will.

When the challenge was first presented to me I knew right away I was out of my league. It typically takes me a few hours alone to write the posts I have for this site, not to mention the time it took for me to research and formulate a plan for what I wanted to write. Knowing part of the challenge was to keep this under 2 hour max, I had to be quick with what I tried.

Up until this point, I’d spent just over an hour reading other’s posts on how they’ve been thinking about this challenge. Google is typically the starting point for me on something like this, but as @melchoyce already explained when thinking about how to pay her way to success, I thought, no need to repeat that, her findings were what I expected and the same thing I questioned early on: Quality views are greater than quantity of views. Spending $20 just because we can doesn’t feel like the quality way to go.

Then there was @folletto‘s take on ways he could achieve 1,000 views as if he was just starting out, part of which was to turn to a few expert friends for advice, something I considered to do as well. After reading his takeaways I decided that I was well in over my head, as I don’t have the public social following for topics we blog here to try to organically gain enough reach, let alone estimate what type of results I could get with such an approach. Even if you have a decent size following, without good reason for something to be shared to amplify reach, 1,000 views can be difficult to achieve in a short time.

He also concluded that $20 really isn’t a big enough budget in most markets to expect 1,000 views no matter how targeted we try to get.

I had an assumption that this may be the case, so I decided to turn to our blog stats to look at the top page views and sources of traffic we’re currently getting today to see if I could glean any insights there. We have 2 sites we’ve been blogging on this past year:

a8cdesignflow.wordpress.com:

A8c Design Flow blog stats for 2017 – top referrer outside of WordPress.com Reader was Twitter, with 1,426 total views.

and a8cdesignvoice.wordpress.com:

A8c Design Voice blog stats for 2017 – top post for the entire year, To be a design-led company, has just over 600 views.

Right away I realized that even though we’ve been blogging for just over 6 months, only 4 of our posts across both sites even came close to going over 1,000 views. I then started to wonder about the posts that did have over 1,000, and was curious how they might have got there. Unfortunately, there’s no way for us to drill down to view traffic sources for an individual post, but clicking around our monthly stats revealed an outlier to me:

A8c Design Flow blog stats for November 2017 – top referrer was Flipboard, with 1,121 total views.

Amongst the typical Facebook, Twitter, and search engine referrals, the a8cdesignflow.wordpress.com blog had it’s biggest spike in November 2017 from Flipboard.com, with over 1,000 views from what seemed to be one magazine alone.

This looked promising I thought!

“Join Flipboard to reach 100+ million people.” Surely this could be too good to be true.

It had been years since I first learned or even thought of Flipboard. I remember it being one of the first apps I discovered and enjoyed when I got my first iPad back in 2010. Like many apps, it quickly fell off my radar, however, with just a few clicks I discovered they actually tout quite a large audience these days, comprised of what I believe the target demographic for theses sites to be based on the type of content we are writing about.

2017 Flipboard Media Kit
2017 Flipboard Media Kit

Their users are: global, tech savvy, and evenly distributed in age from 18-50+. Not only that, but it feels safe to assume that Flipboard users are in the app for what I believe to be one of the most difficult barriers to getting page views today: reaching people that actually want to read something of interest rather than unconsciously scrolling their news feeds for hours on end.

“Our users turn to Flipboard at key, focused moments of the day when they are relaxed, receptive, and ready to engage with highly-personalized content that furthers their passions.”

Their blog goes on to say:

Did you know that every 60 seconds, there are 448,800 tweets, 500 hours of YouTube videos streaming, 3.3 million Facebook posts, and 3.8 million Google searches occurring around the world? People everywhere are voraciously consuming and simultaneously sharing media at lightning speed across channels.

As we increasingly turn to multiple platforms to exchange information in our everyday lives, it’s crucial for us to be able to connect and consolidate all of our experiences—that’s where Flipboard comes in handy. The personal magazine provides several features and strategies to make it easy and intuitive to curate and share different types of content from various channels and streams in one single place, all while building your network and collaborating with others. —Jessica Rosenberg, 4 Ways to Use Flipboard to Curate and Share Content 

Within Flipboard, they make it very easy to get started. You can quickly create an account to follow topics of interest and create your own magazine, linking to posts you want to highlight. They also have an entire blog dedicated to making the most of your magazine reach and effectiveness. One of their recommendations is to add the Flipboard Follow and Share social buttons to your website to increase followers and encourage readers to share your content with their followers on Flipboard.

We could also try to get other magazines with targeted topics such as Remote Working to share one of our posts, or start a new magazine specific to a topic that currently doesn’t exist on Flipboard, which we are very passionate about: Inclusive Design.

Knowing I need to cap my research time and efforts on this experiment, and that I’m technically closer to 3 hours spent now I will stop here. The post I’d like to promote, written by my colleague @courtney0burton shares her thoughts working fully distributed for the first time. I chose this post because I believe stories are the best way to connect with another person and I believe the topic is timely and relevant, growing in popularity over the years as technology improves, enabling us to work remotely more effectively. If I spent more time on this project I’d like to piggy back on @joen‘s hypothesis where he asks, what comes first, the audience or the page views. His hypothesis is: “if you focus on growing your audience the views will come on their own.”

So for this experiment my hypothesis would be: creating, curating, and sharing a Flipboard magazine with multiple a8c design voice and flow posts, will not only help promote an individual post to gain over 1,000 views, but will have a side effect of increasing the likelihood for us to grow our audience across both blogs, and the views of more than just one individual post.

Even though we weren’t expected to follow thru with this experiment, it was too easy to create a magazine, so for now, the one post I selected is published here: Automattic’s Design Voice and Flow Flipboard Magazine just to see how it goes on it’s own.


Stay tuned for other’s take on this experiment and future ones to follow. If you have experience with the topic of gaining site followers or have done similar experiments yourself, let us know in the comments below!

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