Vanity Metrics Are The Best Metrics. Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Otherwise.

Please Stop Calling Them Vanity Metrics. They’re Inspiration Metrics.

Ken Reid
4 min readApr 27, 2021


Photo by Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash

When it comes to content analytics, the ‘pros’ have a term for data that seem impressive but tell you very little about the user experience or the quality of your content.

“Vanity metrics.”

It’s a term that describes things like claps, likes, comments, ‘hits’, and other metrics that don’t provide real insight into the content’s actual value. They say you shouldn’t use these data to understand what actually works and what doesn’t in your writing.

“Amateurs use these metrics to stroke their egos,” they say. “Instead, we should be focused on better data, like read time, subscribes, and sales.”

I’ll agree with that to an extent. But I also stand by “vanity metrics” without apology.

I give clicks and read time much higher value when making decisions about what to write moving forward. And Medium seems to agree. That’s why they recently changed how writers get paid. Rather than basing your pay on claps and comments, the primary metric used to determine your compensation now is reading time.

Basing your pay on reading time does a couple of things.

First of all, it encourages writers to create more in-depth and higher quality stories.

Of course, just because a blog post is 1,000 words long and another is 300 words doesn’t mean the longer one is better. Quality isn’t solely determined by length. You know this if you’ve been to middle school.

When the teacher required us to write a 1,000 word research paper, we’d stuff it with every fluff word we could think of just to make it longer. But typically, well written pieces tend to be longer because the writer put more thought into them.

Second, I love getting paid based on reading time because it means I get paid for the quality of my content, not for someone’s reaction to it.

Many readers will love a piece of content but never react to it (I do this often). Other readers may never clap, comment, or share it on social media, but they’ll copy the URL and text it to a few…



Ken Reid

Marketing Director & Storyteller | I’m not a dreamer, my brain just vacations in the future.