So You Ask – How Are the Website Numbers Doing for Carolina Arts in February Compared to January?

Last month on Jan. 14, 2011, I posted an entry here about how well our new electronic version of Carolina Arts was doing – which at the time I thought was doing well. On that day we had 3,880 visitors to our website who had downloaded the entire 49 page PDF of our Jan. 2011 issue ofCarolina Arts.

We used the PDF download number as a solid number that we know for sure from our server’s data, although we knew at the time more people were seeing the paper – one way or another. By the end of the month, by the time I had to write my commentary, my best estimate was that we would see 9,000 downloads for the month of January. The final number was 8,929 – not a bad guess.

This was a good showing for a first time effort compared to the 10,000 copies we had printed each month knowing that we distributed 90-95% of those papers – never knowing really how many people actually picked up a copy of the paper and read it.

I was happy and I hope our supporters and advertisers were too.

From the start some people told me I was underestimating those figures as they knew that PDFs of the paper were being distributed by e-mail and other forms of social media. I felt I had to stick with the solid numbers from the server.

So, Linda and I put together our Feb. 2011 issue which is 51 pages and we did the same things we did last month – sending notices out by e-mail, on our two blogs and Facebook – letting them know the paper was up on our site and asking folks who saw that notice to spread the word to help as many people see the paper as possible. And then we waited.

Within a few days we were hearing from folks that they liked the Feb. issue and were really liking the new electronic format. We also were getting some more suggestions on how to improve the paper – which we will be adapting in the presenting the next issue. And we got an e-mail from Jane Madden who heads up the Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC, that she was going to be sending out an e-mail blast to several of her e-mail lists – totaling about 1,500 people who are interested in the visual arts. Artists showing at the Art Trail Gallery were featured on our Feb. cover (http://www.carolinaarts.com/211/211carolinaarts-pg1.pdf).

211carolinaarts-pg12

Madden wanted the folks interested in the visual arts in the Florence area to see the attention Florence was getting in Carolina Arts. She also wanted to promote our paper – which we thank her for that. After all, everyone who is involved with each issue of Carolina Arts should feel the same – it’s in their best interest to get as many people to see them featured there.

One of the reasons why many people have said they like the new version is that it is easy to distribute by e-mail or in social media.

A few more days into Feb. and I couldn’t wait to take a peek at the stats. I have to tell you I was a little concerned.

I pulled up the page that tells you individual page counts, and I took a quick glance and saw that the PDF downloads was just under 2,000 – not bad for 6 days, but I was concerned that February was a short month and perhaps the novelty of our first issue would wear off. As I’m staring at the numbers I realize that the figure I’m looking at is for the Jan. PDF page. What?

Fairly soon I find the listing for the Feb. PDF page – up at the very top and it was 12,000 something. I hate to say it but my first reaction was – that’s not right. What’s going on? Just under that figure was another listing which is the (other) count which was also 12,000. I’ve never known what (other) meant.

The next day I made a call to our server to see if anything was wrong and what the (other) meant. They told me nothing was wrong – the numbers are correct and that the (other) means it represents a number of different ways people found pages on our website from different sources – other than going directly to our website. And, there is no way to say what pages they are – that’s why that number is not directly linked to the page the count is for. Well, that answered that question, but it still took some time for it to settle in that in six days 12,000 and maybe even many more, people had viewed the paper. Also, that 2,000 more had downloaded the Jan. issue to look at it.

This was new territory for us.

A few days later we were able to make a head to head ten day comparison of the Jan. issue to the Feb. issue. By ten days in Jan. 3,185 people downloaded the Jan. issue. By ten days in Feb, 15,722 people downloaded the Feb, issue. It also showed that by ten days in Feb. there were 17,199 (other). Last month we had 47,320 (other). I’m a little blown away.

And, we know that many of those people are discovering our paper with the help of our friends who are sending that PDF link to their friends and their friends who are passing it along to others. It’s a snowball effect.

Before I saw the 12,000 figure I had made a joke to Jane Madden – if only we had ten more like her. And, in an effort to deflect credit she assured me that we must have others, as that number couldn’t be all from her e-mailing. But, I have no other knowledge that others are doing what I suggested and that is – to spread it around. She also suggested that others may even be e-mailing the entire PDF download to others, that won’t be counted in my server’s stats, but I hope people are not doing too much of that as some get pretty mad when they receive such a big file in an e-mail. It’s not really that big, but some people just don’t like anything that doesn’t open instantly.

Throughout our 23 years of doing an arts newspaper we have always told the people who supply us with content and those who help support the paper with advertising that we are all in this venture together – in partnership. None of us could do it without the others. That doesn’t always  work, but many make it their practice.

Over the years there is nothing more disappointing than walking into a gallery that is included in our paper on a regular basis in one way or another and I find the paper hidden from the public’s sight or sometimes I couldn’t find the paper on display at all. I never could figure how they thought the  paper worked – if people couldn’t find it. It’s refreshing to discover instances where people feel the same as I do about getting as many as possible to see how wonderful our visual arts community is in the Carolinas and how active it is.

I’m excited by several things. One, to see how far this thing goes and two, to see how many people will end up viewing last month’s paper during the month of Feb. and even into Mar. I don’t think our papers ever had that kind of afterlife. Which means all of the articles, images and ads have a new afterlife too.

This is the link people are sending around the Carolinas and the world –Note that if you click the link it will take a few minutes to download – if you just want to copy it – copy it like you would anything else with your computer. (http://www.carolinaarts.com/211/211carolinaarts.pdf)

Thank you all that have helped spread this around and to you who will in the future.

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