Anyone who has read some of my “stuff” on AC over the past fourteen months knows that I am an AC writer who is not a page view magnet. Earning page views is one of my goals, but I am also trying to write about topics I actually know something about, that pique my interest, and that avoid the tawdry, salacious, and sensationalistic. I give some modest attention to the SEO rituals, and try to write pieces of interest to a larger group than my immediate family, but I don’t have any illusions about becoming the next Pam Gaulin, Crystal Ray, or Jan Corn. (All three are multi-badged ladies with multi-million pvs earned without resort to Britney Spears’ antics as subject matter.)
PVs are More Fun to Track Than Mutual Fund Shares
Even though I am a minor leaguer in the page view derby, I am fascinated by the numbers. Tracking and analyzing my page views has been much more gratifying than tracking the returns of our mutual fund shares because page views only move up! Each article’s pvs can move only in the upwards direction AND the total moves only upwards. Further, I have more control or influence over the pvs; they reflect my decisions about topic, my guesses about how much detail to include, my choices about how much “personal experience” to inject, etc. Sadly, the success of our investments bears little relationship to my efforts.
How I Track PVs and Categorize Articles Using Color Codes
I have an Excel spreadsheet called “AC Stats” that captures gross numbers of articles published, dollars earned, and page views garnered month by month. A second spreadsheet called “AC PV Stats” has all 132 articles as “stubs” down the left margin and months across the top. So far, this must sound pretty dull and predictable, I’m sure. But then I sort the list by cumulative page views and color code the articles from pale yellow insipid performers up though royal purple majestic performers.
Here are my categories:
2,000 plus page views = royal purple (currently 4 articles so honored)
These are the elite articles that have penetrated the mainstream out there on the internet in a big way. They are generally yawners for my family and AC cronies and generate few comments. What are they about? Two are tennis news articles, one is about a pre-Olympic figure skating event, and one is about electronic book readers.
My number one pv article, currently with 2,927 views, is:
Federer Express Rolls Over Andy Murray (#2) in Cincinnati Tennis Semi-final
This modest article about a non-grand-slam event in the humble city of Cincinnati (which I previously did not know how to spell) drew virtually all of its page views within a two-day period last summer. I had no idea it would draw a large audience.
Big Time Winners
1,000 – 1,999 page views = deep magenta (currently 15 articles)
This group of highly successful articles is headed by my all-time favorite informational article, which I hope will “go purple” before long:
American Students Can Afford Graduate Study at Top UK Universities
This is one of the first articles I wrote for AC last July, before I knew anything about SEO writing, keeping everything super simple, and keeping articles short. It was just what I thought a good print article should be-accurate, thorough, well-organized, and covering an important topic. It was something I know a ton about and was I very happy to share what I knew. It was also “evergreen” and has been a steady performer earning healthy page views every month since publication, now totaling 1908 pvs.
Very Solid Performers
500 – 999 page views = cornflower blue (currently 26 articles)
When you consider that the forum sages (you know who you are) define an average of anything less than 500 pvs per article as failure, these VSP articles in the 500-999 range are safely above reproach. They have earned their keep!
The top article in this category is one I wrote impulsively, AT WORK when I should have been working, because it was bursting out of me like the monster out of the guy’s chest in the movie Alien. It was a rare (for me) foray into pop culture that struck a responsive chord and still draws a few views each month, now up to 969 views:
Lackluster American Idol Finalists Outshone by Visiting Pop Idol
No Regrets Articles
100 – 499 page views = lime green (currently 47 articles)
Although below that magic threshold of 500 views, I still value these below average performers that have earned at least 100 clicks-with-full-ad-loading. In my mind, any article that draws this many readers was worth writing. It has definitely been viewed and hopefully read by a significant number of people-a group that includes more than my loyal family members and close AC associates. Some significant number of folks out there on the internet read these articles and with any luck found them useful and/or amusing. The top article in this group is yet another electronic reader article (hot topic), but my FAVORITE article in this group is this humorous Maria Roth tribute, which has earned 327 views and many nice comments to date:
Things to Do While Waiting for Maria Roth’s Next Article on Associated Content from Yahoo!
Weak, But Not (Necessarily) Losers
0 – 99 page views = pale yellow (currently 40 articles)
This is a motley crew of articles you might call putative losers, but you shouldn’t, because “putative” is the kind of fifty dollar word frowned on in internet writing. Not only that, some of these articles are recent evergreens that have not had a chance to reveal their full pv earning potential. For example, the article I just published two days ago that has only 30 views is likely to climb up to the “lime green” world before too long:
Another Good Reason to Study at a British University–Post-Study Work Visa
Other “low view” articles are about noble but obviously yawn-inducing topics, such as:
Ideas for Living Green in the U.S. (stalled at 45 pvs)
Another reason for low views is writing to earn an upfront payment from the assignment desk, as in:
Take Your Dog to Work? I Don’t Think So (crawled up to 75 views)
And a few articles turn out to be utter losers, not even read by your family members and AC pals because they are so non-compelling. They never get off the launch pad. My crash and burn winner, with just 18 pitiful pvs? By the way, this is about a huge bustling hotel right next to a major airport for international travel. Why isn’t anyone interested in this review? Oh well, it earned an upfront payment at least:
A Review of the Holiday Inn Glasgow Airport, Scotland
Concluding Reflections on Page Views
Here are my main conclusions about page views so far:
To earn huge page views, I need to write about sports or television shows.
It can be very challenging to write the three “featured contributor” articles for each category each month on topics that are evergreen (as required) and draw page views.
Sometimes I have to write an article because I have something I want to write about, even though it is unlikely to bring a lot of page views. Here is a classic example, which has only 65 pvs:
After Losing Playoff Game, Capitals’ Brooks Laich Changes Flat Tire for Fans
Every now and then it is possible to write an article that is appealing to me, fits into a “featured contributor” category, and draws significant page views. This is AC nirvana! And here’s my example, that was a “featured article” on the front of the AC Travel page for a while and has earned 698 page views in its first month. I actually started writing this article while riding the train described:
Ride the “Harry Potter” Scenic Steam Train in the Scottish Highlands
Page views are not just about the money. Page views also reflect how many human beings have read your material. If your article is about something positive and helpful (such as how to ride the scenic steam train in Scotland) then it feels great to know many others are reading it. That is one of the most gratifying aspects of writing for AC from Yahoo.
Personal experience as an AC Contributor