Influenced by ideas of 'tracking progress consistently' and 'counting how many people you help', I was motivated to visualize the impact of my projects. The strongest signals would probably come from questions like 'how much are people creating with my apps?' or 'how many people support me financially every month?' but storing zero data makes the first one somewhat impossible to determine, and the second one is hard to understand on a short timeframe, as the changes will likely happen on a scale of years. So I took the less meaningful route and just made note of whatever numbers were around, which could be categorized as:
- platforms: followers on Twitter, Mastodon, and GitHub
- my spaces: subscribers to the mailing list and Ephemerata, number of accounts in The Café, anonymous visitors across projects
- income: backers and fund button subscribers
- input goals: number of public garden pages and video screencasts
Here is a table of values for each month in 2021 (scroll sideways if it doesn't fit on screen):
|public garden pages||~48||~53||~61||~88||119||125||130||136||139||140||146||155|
✱ Tracked in Emoji Log.
It surprises me that platform followers have grown after being basically flat for years because I don't generally invest to create 'platform-native content'; I assume people are noticing what I'm doing elsewhere and taking interest.
My spaces are interesting to compare with platforms to know what relative percentage do I have some kind of direct relationship with (#OwnYourData). I have not yet invested much in The Café, but it's cool to see people I know show up there without much invitation; I've had some memorable exchanges in the comments.
Tracking visitors is something that I wasn't open to for a while, but after rethinking analytics, I think so far it's been useful. I always imagine my projects aren't that well-known (and they probably aren't) but it's cool to know that a couple thousand people check them out collectively each month. Knowing when there's a sudden burst of traffic also gives me a chance to participate in any meaningful discussion about the project.
Backers will likely be more useful to observe over a longer time horizon; I wasn't expecting it to grow very much this year as I only started an Open Collective half-way during the year. I was expecting to have more fund button subscribers, and describe why I think it hasn't been so effective yet in [[Why the fund button is slow (TBA)]].
What I enjoyed most was tracking the input goals as it's directly linked to creating something. Nice to know that there are over one hundred and fifty public pages on this garden! Hoping to do more videos next year.
Generally I found it sort of superficial to check score too often as I'm not paying attention to how what I do impacts any of these numbers. Tracking monthly was a bit exhausting for me: I would prefer to do it once a year, maybe like taxes. I could also acknowledge the weird internal psychological negotiations to share this kind of thing publicly, but ultimately I believe in myself enough to show transparent stats that might not be considered flattering.
One thing that was definitely helpful is to see a zoomed out view of how things grow over a longer period (as it's hard to notice changes day-to-day): this can counteract the pessimistic perception of being 'stuck', which usually comes from considering small timeframes.
Although this wasn't initially appealing to me, I decided to live by Try everything and see how it feels. There are some aspects that I would like to continue with, which should live on in a [[yearly recap]].
One of the 100 steps to success.