The Effects of Social Media on the Traffic of a Tiny Blog

An analytics graph of blog that shows a steep decline next to a shocked emoji face.

I stayed away from social media for more than three months. Here’s why and what this means for the traffic on my blog. (Hint: It’s bad, really bad.)

I run a small blog (the very one you’re reading right now) where I share marketing advice, dissect how certain actions and thought patterns help or hurt people, and explore different ways to reach your audience and find inspiration to do your best work.

Most of my articles are tweet-sized. I aim to share a quick insight without proving or justifying the concepts presented. If you’re reading (and you should be), take what you find valuable and ignore the rest.

Quite recently, I started taking social media a bit more seriously, sharing my work regularly and engaging with others. It had a good, positive impact on my traffic, which started growing consistently.

Fast-forward to three months ago, things fell apart. What follows is my experience of taking a break from social media, how it came to this, and the lessons I learned.

Trying To Grind Through Illness

I caught a throat infection and felt that I needed a short break from social media. (I continued writing and publishing articles on my blog daily.)

I believed I could grind out the illness while working and resting just slightly, contrary to all evidence around me. (My wife and daughter had the same thing, so I should have known better.)

Instead of taking some time off, I continued working unproductively for more than a week before finally giving in, making a doctor’s appointment, and then taking plenty of rest to recover, precisely as the doctor prescribed (along with the medication, of course).

I wasted too much time trying to be productive while my whole body was telling me to take a break. I could have wasted a couple of days instead of weeks if only I had gone to the doctor immediately.

Lesson #1: Rest When You Need To Rest

Don’t try to grid out through illness, whether physical or mental. When your body tells you to stop, stop. Rest, relax, recharge and get better first.

The Trap of Perfection

After the sickness passed, I felt much better, but my family had a vacation planned, and even though I was eager to get back into the game, I postponed it to after our holiday.

This time I actually tried to tune out work intentionally. I’ve scheduled a week of blog posts in advance, and for the first time in years, picked up a book just for enjoyment. (It actually felt great.)

When we got back, I thought that I somehow needed to make up for the time missed. I started exploring different ideas and searching for an ideal time and strategy to engage on social media.

I was looking for perfection, which was a convenient excuse to stay in my comfort zone of inactivity.

Lesson #2: Just Start

Start where you left off. Don’t plan a grand reopening or a massive campaign to get back into the flow. Begin when you feel ready. Or better yet, before you feel entirely ready.

Making the Most of Everything

Eventually, I realized I could treat this forced break as an experiment and learn something from it.

Sharing my experience, mistakes I made, and lessons learned, even if they’re obvious, might help someone.

Lesson #3: Make the Most of Every Situation

You can find something good in anything. Figure out how to turn every situation to your advantage.

Effect on the Traffic

My blog’s stats (which were never really good, to begin with) paint the exact picture.

An analytics graph of that shows growth at the beginning of 2021 and then a steep decline from June to October.

Immediately after starting the regular activity on Twitter and LinkedIn at the end of 2020, my blog started steadily, slowly, but consistently growing.

And although I wasn’t spending a ton of time producing content and optimizing it for growth, my activity had an excellent, positive effect on the blog’s traffic.

As soon as I stopped, the traffic started declining, just as steadily and consistently, even though I was putting an equal amount of effort into producing content.

Note that the data from 2020 is missing from the graph, as I switched my analytics provider in the middle of February—more on that in a separate blog post. In the last month, the numbers went slightly up as more people started following my RSS feed. (You should subscribe to my RSS feed.)

Lesson #4: Don’t Be Afraid To Share Your Work

Social media matters. Even if you don’t have a massive audience, even if you don’t produce viral content, you can still get a good amount of traffic.

And this should be particularly notable if you’re just starting or don’t have a lot of traffic.

Restart & Connect

People mainly use social networks as procrastination outlets, but they can also be used productively. You can build and nurture connections with like-minded people or find the right audience for your work and art. Don’t underestimate their power.

I’m restarting my activity today, and I’ll share my results and progress as I go along.

You can find me on Twitter and LinkedIn, but if you really want to follow my journey and receive tips on building an audience and doing work that makes a difference, subscribe to my newsletter Push the Envelope. The first issue will be out soon(ish), and you really don’t want to miss it.