What I learned from Ship 30 for 30 regarding how to use statistics, the performance of my writing, and ideas for moving forward

In Ship 30 for 30 (affiliate link), the class has two phases.

The first phase is all about making noise. This means talking about a wide variety of different topics and writing in different styles. Experimenting.

This sets us up for the second phase.

The second phase is about looking for a signal. This means looking at what your readers liked most. You can’t know what will resonate with people without testing.

In looking for signal amongst the noise, Ship 30 for 30 talks about five big data points:

  1. Views
  2. Likes
  3. Comments
  4. Shares
  5. Peer approval

Below I’ll share my results, a little bit more about the significance of each of these data points, and some hypotheses I’m currently looking at given the data.

For transparency, I’ve bolded titles that ranked high in two categories and highlighted titles that ranked high in three categories.

(And if you’re interested in seeing the rest of the 30 pieces I published during the cohort, please click here.)

Views (a.k.a. Impressions)

Views are the least important metric because they’re passive.

However, they can provide a quick way to get a sense of which topics might be resonating with people.

MY TOP PIECES RANKED BY VIEWS

  1. What does it mean to organize for actionability? (5,492 views)
  2. 5 Tips to Avoid Overwhelm in Ship 30 for 30 (2,282 views)
  3. Why write everything down? (1,980 views)
  4. 10 reasons I chose Obsidian for my PKM system (1,915 views)
  5. How I do my weekly reviews (1,822 views)
  6. Think a Map of Content Is Just a Table of Contents? Here Are 3 Benefits You’re Missing Out On (1,680 views)

Likes

Likes require action from the reader, but that action is minimal.

Like views, they provide a quick way to get a sense of audience resonance.

MY TOP PIECES RANKED BY LIKES

  1. 5 Tips to Avoid Overwhelm in Ship 30 for 30 (40 likes)
  2. How I do my weekly reviews (35 likes)
  3. What does it mean to organize for actionability? (33 likes)

Comments (a.k.a. Replies)

Comments require more meaningful action from the reader because they require some thought.

They are critical to consider if you’ve asked a question or encouraged participation in some form.

Sometimes you don’t prompt your audience, yet you receive many comments. This usually means your readers have either many questions or a lot of opinions on the topic.

MY TOP PIECES RANKED BY COMMENTS

  1. 5 Tips to Avoid Overwhelm in Ship 30 for 30 (11 replies)
  2. How I do my weekly reviews (11 replies)
  3. Why write everything down? (9 replies)

Shares (a.k.a. Retweets)

Shares are arguably the most valuable data point.

When someone shares your content, it means they’ve taken action. But even more than that, they’ve attached the piece to their digital identity. (For non-Twitter users, it appears on your feed/profile page when you retweet something.)

This is a stamp of approval.

MY TOP PIECES RANKED BY SHARES

  1. What does it mean to organize for actionability? (8 shares)
  2. 10 reasons I chose Obsidian for my PKM system (4 shares)

Peer approval

Peer approval refers to when someone with a large audience, someone with high credibility, or someone you look up to engages with your writing.

This metric doesn’t seem to be as easy to automate.

I think the mark of this would probably be the feeling of excitement when you get the notification of their engagement.

Current hypotheses

Admittedly, I still struggle with the data analysis part of this process. There are a lot of variables, and determining which ones are meaningful is difficult. This will require further experimentation.

In terms of broader observations, I have two:

  1. People seem to prefer focused pieces instead of broad pieces. I noticed a drop-off in likes on my What does it mean to organize for actionability? post after I finished my summary of PARA. I also got feedback from two people that staying focused instead of incorporating additional content would be better.
  2. People seem to like lists. Every piece I mentioned above incorporated a list in some form. At the same time, I’m wondering if this is true of every article I ended up publishing… …maybe this is more of a “Tyler likes lists” hypothesis…

In terms of topic areas, my pieces that performed the best statistically fell into three camps:

  1. Personal Knowledge Management (PKM). 🎉
  2. Productivity. 🎉
  3. Ship 30 for 30. I admit I was playing to the audience when I wrote this piece. In Ship 30 for 30, you’re encouraged to engage with the writing of your fellow Shippers, and I knew this was something a lot of people would be struggling with.

In terms of more specific areas, I picked out a bunch that might be good topics for the future. I hypothesize these might resonate with people based on the number of likes and the number of comments I got that mentioned these:

  • Unreliability of memory
  • The Obsidian community
  • What is a Map of Content?
  • Focusing on noise over signal
  • Processing your download folder and phone photos weekly
  • Freeing up your brain to do things by writing other things down
  • Benefits of your weekly review being an evaluation rather than a checklist

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