When I started building an online presence, I never imagined where writing and creating online could take me. I started out not intending to build my own business, but more as an online journaling sort of style to document the process of moving into and remodeling my house. I posted every single day, sometimes twice a day, for a few years with only 32 “followers” (mostly family and friends).

And then I got my first comment from a stranger. I was completely flabbergasted and felt like I had arrived. I realized there was an entire community of like-minded bloggers out there, and I became more active in the blog world. Slowly my “followers” increased from the 30s to the 100s.

After I attended the Alt Summit design blogger conference for the first time, I became more aware of metrics and analytics. Analyzing traffic was “a thing” that was especially important for legit bloggers who wanted advertisers and sponsors. So I installed Google Analytics on my blog and quickly became numbers obsessed. Soon no number was enough. I wanted more. The validation I received from blogging no longer came solely from my own creative expression but from the number of followers and RSS subscribers I had. Even as the numbers of my blog readers increased to the 1000s, I would still find myself with hurt feelings if I woke up to 1,348 followers when the day before I had 1,349 people reading along. I became obsessed with tracking my traffic—the numbers turned into an addiction.

Enough was enough. When I switched from my Google Blogger to WordPress, I quit reading my analytics.

Because meaningful connections and conversations were more important than metrics.

Because I was more interested in generating content I was proud to hit “publish” on vs. hitting an arbitrary amount of monthly page views.

Because I was far more concerned with exploring, experimenting, and wholehearted searching with my soul than I was with my SEO.

And while this was true and valid, eventually the purpose of my blog and my online presence changed. My personal blog was not a numbers game, it was a valuable tool for creative expression, exploring new ideas, and creating community. I was not being compensated for that content by sponsors or advertisers. My writing supported me because it lead the individual readers who followed me and supported my work to hire me one-on-one for coaching or branding.

But when Emily and I started Being Boss (and even at Braid Creative as we start some new projects focused on expansion and growth), the purpose of my writing changed. I was no longer writing to support one-on-one work, this was one-to-many work. We were building a boss empire.

In order to up-level our online presence to reach more bosses, inspire more budding creative entrepreneurs, and share the knowledge and resources we have gained over the years to creative business owners across the world (and by doing so, financially support ourselves and our team), Google Analytics—and all metrics—became very, very important.

I realized that it’s not about obsessing over the numbers to gain personal validation, it’s about taking the pulse of our community and figuring out how we can better serve all of you. By paying attention to analytics and metrics, we are able to create content that answers your very real questions, create products that help you grow in your business, and yes, grow our numbers, but more importantly, connect with the people represented by those numbers in real and life-changing ways.

So when it comes to analytics and metrics, it’s ultimately up to you. You can absolutely create a successful business and online presence without looking into the numbers even once. And if the numbers make you unhealthily obsessive, then maybe that’s the way to go. But in creating, running, and growing an online business, I’ve learned that your metrics and analytics are a tool—just like your invoicing and accounting system—for making informed decisions on the health of your business and cluing you into how you can be more effective in the work that you do to reach your audience.

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In this episode, the Track Your Metrics worksheet was mentioned. Download your copy here!

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P.S. Check out this week’s Being Boss Episode #89: When Your Metrics Suck where Emily and I dive into this topic even more (and talk about our own metrics at Being Boss).

Kathleen is the co-host of Being Boss Podcast, helping creative entrepreneurs learn how to run their own creative business while being their most authentic selves. She also co-owns Braid Creative, a business visioning & branding agency for people- and purpose-driven businesses.