The third anniversary of Variance Hammer has come and gone, and as is tradition at this point (three points is a trend) it’s time for some contemplation on the health and direction of the blog. This allows for closer engagement with my readers, a prompt to do some taking stock, and to otherwise ponder where we’ve been and where we’re going.
A note, as with the year before: This is all taken from WordPress traffic, so traffic statistics don’t reflect visitors who get the blog over RSS, email subscriptions or other services that don’t generate page views. Additionally, many of these statistics are cumulative, rather than specifically for year three.
Where Do Visitors Come From?
Last year, traffic from search engines overtook traffic from social media. This year, that trend continued, with search engine traffic widening it’s lead.
Search traffic brings about 200 views to the site per day with a reasonable amount of reliability, whereas Reddit traffic is, well, driven largely by posts. A couple thousand on the days I post, almost none on the days I don’t. Though more modest overall, Reddit is a clear source of directed traffic, and the primary means a given post is publicized.
Facebook is an interesting hybrid – there’s a small amount of traffic that comes from Facebook every post, followed by occasional booms, usually when someone posts something to a group. Facebook seems singularly capable of causing a blockbuster post – but at present it’s not a major source of continuous traffic. One assumes part of that is most of the Facebook fans Variance Hammer has were already following the site in some form. The same for Twitter.
Where Do They Go?
Where do users go from my site? Ignoring, as I did last year, content distribution systems and the like when visitors click on an image, the number one site remains Frontline Gaming, driven by the review I did of the F.A.T. Mat in the very early days of the site. Following that is our Patreon site, followed by the CoolMiniOrNot’s pages for Victoria Lamb’s figures discussed in my Hobby Heroes post. Chessex also got some traffic from my posts on custom dice.
In terms of other blogs and community, we’ve sent some to RocketShip Games and Cadian Shock, both well worthy of it.
The number of you who now know how to say “Tripartite” thanks to Variance Hammer is up to 95.
Overall Traffic Trends
Last year, Variance Hammer averaged 7771 monthly views. This year, the average is 8686. While a slight increase, I think that last year’s conclusion that Variance Hammer is fluctuating around a fairly stable average remains accurate. The average of the last 24 months of visits is 8190.33 views/month.
I think that represents a pretty stable equilibrium. Beyond a small increase in search engine traffic, how much traffic the blog gets is pretty much a fixed function of how many posts I can put up. And that fluctuates from month to month, and is heavily influenced by the occasional hit post. And in the case of the last few months, which were a little quiet, a broken office chair.
That’s sustainable, and as Variance Hammer isn’t ad supported, I don’t feel much pressure to push this.
And what are those hit posts?
- “What’s Wrong with the Tau?” at 10,652. This was one of those “and then it got onto Facebook…” posts that turned out to be extremely popular.
- “Breaking Down the New Wraithknights” remained high on the list at 9,176, picking up a fair number of views even a year out from it being posted.
- “Review: Death from the Skies” at 6,880. This I attribute slightly to being fairly early with a review on a controversial topic, which I think helped drive traffic.
- “40K on iOS: Warhammer 40000: Deathwatch – Tyranid Invasion Review” at 6761. Most of the views here are from the previous year, as the Deathwatch game is, tragically, basically dead. I’d expect this to drop off next year.
- “Reviewing Doom of Mymeara: Eldar Units” at 6106 views. This post is interesting – in addition to being part of a fairly popular series of posts, this post generates a fair amount of traffic from people idly searching for information on Eldar units.
Note that this list hasn’t been controlled for the time these are up – some of them have had more opportunity to draw views, but they’re mostly posts in the past year. Interestingly, one of the most popular posts in previous years, the F.A.T. Mat review, has finally slid off the list, having been #1 the first year and #3 last year.
This year also saw the most popular single day on Variance Hammer by far, when “What’s Wrong With the Tau?” went up, racking up close to 4400 views in a single day, more than twice that of the previous best (the Wraithknights post).
The Patreon Campaign
First, I’d very much like to thank Variance Hammer’s patrons. You’ve been extremely supportive, and with the breakneck pace of releases this past year, some easing of the expense of the occasional codex I wouldn’t otherwise pick up is deeply appreciated, as is making sure we have the hosting capacity to not go down when I write something popular. As noted last year, Variance Hammer doesn’t really turn a profit – nor does it need to – but the Patreon campaign takes the sting out of things.
We’ve increased to eleven patrons this last year. Using the same calculation as last year, that translates to a 2.5% conversion rate. A very modest, and I very much doubt statistically significant, increase. It’s possible that could be increased either with exclusive content or pushing the campaign a bit harder than just the note at the bottom of posts, but the goal is to be unobtrusive. Though I am considering a new round of patron rewards in the near future…
What’s Coming Up
Last year, my goal for Variance Hammer was mostly just keeping things going. This year, I’d like to push things a little bit, in a couple different directions:
- The Campaign Generator. Some folks have been asking about this, and it’s very much a work in progress. At the moment, I’m working on a Horus Heresy version, as it’s a somewhat more easily digestible chunk (there’s only really two factions instead of nine+ factions). And it’s not being disrupted by a brand new edition.
- Refactoring the simulation code. I’ve been pondering some more elegant ways to do well…what I do. And some particularly confounding problems (how to model close combat and template weapons) are going to get vastly simplified. And once that’s done, and it’s easier to build up more general tools, I’d like to piggyback on the infrastructure of the Campaign Generator to make some of what I do more accessible, and let folks run their own analysis over the internet.
The last question is one for the readers: what do you want to see? One of the driving factors behind this is that I’ve been exploring more games recently. Would you prefer this blog remain 40K? Or do you care about my thoughts on Age of Sigmar? Or Dropfleet Commander?
I’ve also been pondering some new types of content – battle reports, perhaps the occasional video, but overall – the goal is to keep doing the same thing, but better.
Thank you all for another year of your readership and support.