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A coding error completely ruined my Google Analytics data. I cringed, closed my web browser, and went to bed.
I know quite a few of my readers aren’t travel bloggers, so I wanna apologize if this post falls outside your interests. But my stupid screw-up inspired me to swallow my pride and cheer on others like me (re: new travel bloggers). I promise I’ll have more literary wonders, beginners guides, and photo essays in the near future.
Anyway. I’m determined to motivate fresh voices in blogging. In a previous post, I stressed the importance of not giving up even if you wanna write in an over-saturated market. New travel bloggers are still absolute assets to the field, regardless of naysaying, and they should find their voices and run like the wind.
However “not giving up” doesn’t translate into “perfection.”
As new travel bloggers, we always compare ourselves to writers who’ve been on the scene for five years or more. This behavior is both unhealthy and counterproductive, and certainly won’t allow your blog to organically grow. Use “famous” blogs as inspirations, not starting points.
I was a huge livejournal nerd, so blogging as a writing form wasn’t new to me, but travel blogging has still been a very steep learning curve. I don’t always understand wordpress, photo editing, various plugins, SEO, and Google Analytics. My confusion causes me to break things often. Whoops.
Here’s a big example of me messing up: last Sunday night, I was reading about ways to fix a low bounce rate.
To clarify: a bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who immediately leave your site after they’ve read a single article. A high bounce rate (think 90%+) is a possible result of a slowloading blog or a blog utilizing a clunky user-unfriendly layout. A fantastic bounce rate falls below 50%. Most sites have bounce rates between 60% – 80%.
My own bounce rate was 1.25%.
I’m awesome. I know I’m awesome. But I’m not so awesome that only 1.25% of readers leave Blond Wayfarer to read TripAdvisor or Lonely Planet. I’m neither of those sites, nor do I rank as highly on Google, so it was dumb to think that percent was remotely accurate.
I came across help on a random forum – I won’t say where – and as I read various solutions, I read a post by a PR person. This poster discussed bloggers using two Google Analytic codes – one via a plugin and another manually placed in the header – as a way to “cheat” the system and double their pageviews. Apparently these unsavory folk do this to receive sponsored trips and other free stuff.
Just as I was rolling my eyes and wondering why someone would do such a stupid and risky thing to fake their numbers, I noticed two codes can also cause a ridiculously low bounce rate, one less than 10%.
I double checked my code. I somehow installed it twice – once via plugin and once manually.
So not only did I have a faulty bounce rate, but the pageviews I’d been tracking for a few weeks were double my “true amount.” Fake. Wrong.
Ouch, I wasn’t as popular as I thought I was.
After fixing the problem, I lamented about my error on Travel Blog Success, went to bed, and took a walk early the next morning. It’s not cool to think you’ve reached a ~certain blogging level~ when you haven’t. I won’t lie, but I also felt angry at anonymous PR person for assuming everyone who installed their GA code twice were sneaky liars. Honest mistakes happen!
Luckily I have a way of bouncing (no pun intended) back from mistakes. My anxiety sucks, yet I don’t allow second-guessing and self-deprecating talk run my life into the ground. If I wanna do something, I do it. End of story. There was nothing left to do than divide my pageviews in half and track the “real” number.
I came back from my walk learning another little lesson that I wanna pass to new travel bloggers: It’s okay to make mistakes.
Travel blogging should be a fun outlet to share your passions with like-minded people. If you earn money, cool! If you don’t, also cool! If you inspire others, you are amazing!
Mistakes happen. Links break. Uploading your images destroys the quality. Your site crashes over plugin conflicts.
And you still move on because you love blogging and travel.
No one expects perfection and if they do, then they’re jerks who aren’t worth your time, energy, or creativity. We all begin somewhere. Even the famous bloggers.
Make mistakes, learn from them, and then create more outstanding content, you fabulous new blogger you.
If you’re a travel blogger, share some of your epic mistakes in the comments. How did you bounce back from them? As always, thanks for reading, and be sure to check out my current reader survey and giveaway.