When I first started HeroPress I assumed we’d get at least 1000 page views per day. How many WordPress developers are there in the world? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? What about bloggers? Users? Millions of them? Surely even a tiny tiny fraction of that would make for thousands of page views, right?
I’m writing this on a warm Sunday afternoon in July. HeroPress operates on GMT, so we’re about 20 hours into the day. Want to know how many page views we’ve had so far today?
And that’s pretty average for a Sunday. Only once in the history of HeroPress have we had a 1000+ page view day. It was very exciting.
There was a time when the (apparently) low traffic on HeroPress.com bothered me. I even thought about shutting it down a few times. Why bother if so few people read?
The reason it bothered me is that I was measuring success by numbers. Page views, repeat visitors, even number of concurrent readers on a Wednesday . It was all about the numbers. How many people pull up the site in the browser? That’s what I wanted.
My perspective first started to shift when I went to WordCamp Pune. A young woman came up to me with tears in her eyes, shook my hand, whispered “Thank you” and slipped back into the crowd. I didn’t see her again, but I’ll never forget her.
People introduced themselves and told me their story with shining eyes, full of excitement.
That trip was a huge boost for my spirits, but I still watched the numbers.
Stories That Need To Be Told
Typically I seek out HeroPress contributors. People rarely think their own story is interesting, I usually have to show them. In the months that followed Pune however, several people came to me and said “I have a story, and I really need to share it, can I share it on HeroPress?” So far I’ve accepted all of those, so you’ve read them.
Their stories burned in their hearts, and they needed other people to know. To know there are people out there who want to help them learn, grow, and have a better life. That there are second, third, and fourth chances.
Comments from people both on the site and in person let me know that it worked. People find hope in the essays. Not just happy feel-good, but actual hope, that maybe there’s something better out there for them too.
Casting a Wider Net
I recently visited WordCamp Europe in Vienna. I was truly surprised by how many people had heard of HeroPress, and even knew my name. Story after story came to me from a dozen different cultures about how HeroPress stories give people confidence to try new things, talk to people outside their culture, or try to use WordPress to make a better life.
It was humbling to me to hear those individual stories. People whose lives had been been changed by their contact with our community, inspired by HeroPress essays.
Defining Success by Different Numbers
I still define success by numbers, but it’s not page views anymore. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s a little about stats, because countries matter to me. A wide net matters to me.
The numbers I really watch these days are the number of people who tell me HeroPress means something to them. I don’t keep an actual tally, but as long as I keep hearing from even one person that they’ve been made better by what’s on this site I consider it a success.
I don’t know if we’ll ever get huge readership, and at this point I’m not sure I care. What has HeroPress meant to you? I’d love to hear in the comments.
How do you define success in what you do? Is it number of sales? Number of support tickets answered? Page views?
I’d like to suggest that you’ll be happiest when you define success by the number of lives you touch for the better. Sure, that might be measured by a stat somewhere, but always remember the real value is in the sparkle in their eyes, and the joy in their hearts.