Let me start by offering this...
RSS is the KEY
The single most important measure of blog success is "how many people have subscribed to your RSS/email feed?"
These are people who are giving you permission and attention to be a part of their lives. That's the best.
Next comes analyzing the pages...
When it comes to page views, I take reports with a grain of salt, so I tend to use multiple reports to "triangulate on the truth."
- Google Analytics is certainly quite solid in this respect and gives you a lot of angles
- I also use MyBlogLog (the free version is fine) to get both reports and insights into the types of people who are coming to the site (plus it's a nifty way to get introduced to new sites of similar interests)
- I used to use SiteMeter, but felt that it was a bit redundant w/Google Analytics
- And the platform I use, GraffitiCMS has built in reporting for most popular posts
Lastly, measuring activity
Comments are the key
I like to watch which posts (and what genre) generate the most comments from my "audience." This gives me an idea of where customer interest lies. Though, you need to be careful of the 1 percent rule.
If you are a popular blog/person, you can use TweetScan to monitor traffic about you. Pretty nifty.
And a word on Publicizing...
And as far as getting the word out goes..
- link to my blog in all of my emails (you can use dynamic feed from Feedburner as well)
- highlight on my LinkedIn profile
- Use TwitterFeed to pull recent posts into Twitter, which then connects to Facebook, Skype, FriendFeed, Plaxo, and more...
- send quarterly email to my network that highlight popular posts and ask for conversation/comments
- comment on other people's blogs (see my blog roll on the right) and put my blog as the link
- Of course, the best is to just write stuff that people want to read.. 🙂