Background screen on the WordCamp EU 2016 stage.

Finding Your Website’s True Value

It’s an industry standard to use the numbers from Google Analytics to gauge your website’s value.

I distinctly remember a couple of years ago pulling up Google Analytics for HeroPress.com on a Sunday afternoon and realizing that only seven people had visited the site that day. Not gonna lie, it was pretty depressing.

For perspective, when I publish on a Wednesday — the day new essays are posted — I sometimes get as many as 250 page views. It’s still doesn’t feel like a lot, but it’s certainly a whole lot more than seven.

I started to think about whether or not this whole project was worth it. If so few people are reading, then why do I spend my time on it?

From the beginning of the project, my friend Rarst has told me to not pay attention to the stats. And I get it. I know I should be doing it for the love. But if I’m really not impacting anyone, then what am I doing it for?

Shifting How I Measure My Website’s Value

One day, a chance conversation changed my perspective completely.

I was at WordCamp US, talking with Morton Rand-Hendrickson in the hall, and he simply volunteered the information that when he gets depressed about the state of the WordPress community he goes to HeroPress and reads several essays. That renews his faith in the value of what he does, and in the value of what we all do.

A couple years later I was at WordCamp Ann Arbor, talking with Josepha Haden Chomphosy. She mentioned to me that one of her roles at Automattic is to be a listening ear.

Often people will come to her and say “I’m tired. I’m tired of my job, I’m tired of support, and I’m really struggling”. They have a good conversation about the issues, and then the person will often say, “Now I’m going to go read a bunch of HeroPress stories because that always makes me feel better”.

Just today, while I was preparing to write this post, a friend sent me this on Twitter:

..thank you for everything you do with HeroPress. Start of 2019 I hit a serious burnout moment and stories on HeroPress were encouraging.

A New Perspective: Understanding My Site’s Value

I began talking to people, and specifically asking them what value they see in HeroPress. People kept finding me and volunteering their feelings.

I came to realize that HeroPress is no longer simply a publication, but rather an archive, or library of our stories. A written history as it were.

People visit every week, and read every essay when it comes out. And that’s ok. I’ve always thought that if HeroPress helped one person it would be worth it, but I’m learning that it’s helped a LOT of people, and the evidence of that is not in Google Analytics. It’s in the words, tears, and hugs of everyone that tells me what it’s meant to them.

And that’s something Google Analytics will never be able to assign a number to.

So, How Does The Community Value HeroPress?

I recently spoke with Angela Jin via Zoom, and I asked her what SHE thought was the value of HeroPress. Here’s what she said.

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Original photo by Florian Ziegler.

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