Every morning, I check Google Analytics to see how many visitors MinnPost received the day before and how many pages they viewed. It has been a lot more fun than checking how the stock market is doing.
One of the metrics Google measures for us is Monthly Page Views, which is the total number of pages viewed by all visitors over the last 31 days.
This morning, for the first time ever, our monthly page views exceeded 1 million.
Another measure is the number of unique visitors over the past 31 days — a unique visitor is one IP address. So if you visited the site from your home computer six times during the past month, you count as only one unique visitor. Yesterday morning, for the first time ever, our monthly uniques exceeded 300,000.
These numbers are more than triple the traffic we had a year ago.
A caveat: This is a snapshot, and it’s a little like hitting a peak value for your 401(k): The results in the future may well be lower. In January, our last full month, our page views totaled about 830,000, and our average for November-January was just over 700,000 — double the three-month average of early 2008.
Click on graphic to enlarge
Our traffic remains modest when compared with major Minnesota media enterprises like the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press and Minnesota Public Radio, which can drive traffic to their sites from their legacy print or broadcast media. And it’s modest compared with some web-only sites that serve a national audience, like Huffington Post.
But among web-only news sites serving a local audience, we think MinnPost may be the most-read in the nation. (If you find a site that beats us, let me know.)
Obviously, all of us at MinnPost are grateful for the growing readership. It’s a sign that we’re fulfilling a need for an audience of people who care about public-affairs reporting and analysis for our region.
But we need more than just traffic to succeed, because on the Internet, traffic is proving very hard to monetize. MinnPost is a not-for-profit, but its aim is to break even by 2012 on revenues from sponsorship, advertising and membership. Sponsorship and advertising revenues are growing, but in the current economic environment, they’re not growing as fast as we planned. We continue to improve the value of our advertising proposition — we now target our local ads to locally based readers of MinnPost.com, with our readers around the nation and world seeing ads provided by national advertising networks. To learn more about advertising on MinnPost.com, contact Sally Waterman.
On the membership side, we are approaching 1,300 paying members. To break even by 2012, we need about four times that many — and that’s at our current tight expense budget, which leaves many great stories unreported.
Since you can read the site for free, being a MinnPost member is a powerful statement of support for serious local journalism. If you’re reading MinnPost.com, but have not yet made that statement, please consider becoming a member at the $50 annual level or higher, or $10 if you’re a student. And thanks for reading.