How I Gather Web Analytics for my 8 side projects for $15/month

Date: 2024-07-17 | create | tech | analytics | fathom |

I like to build side projects and over the years I've accumulted quite a few of them (46 at time of writing). Most of them get turned off after awhile but I like to keep as many on for as long as I reasonably can so more people can see them (12 at time of writing).

See: List of all my projects.

I use analytics to understand my web projects - who's using them, what are they doing, and where are they coming from. This helps me understand if people are finding them useful, if it's worth investing more into, and if so what parts.

In this post I'm going to share how I run analytics for my portfolio of side projects.

What I'm looking for in an Analytics Service

I run a lot of side projects so I have a few values I look for in an analytics engine.

  • Simple - I want to build stuff. I don't want to have to fuss with analytics. So it should be simple to get the data I want with minimal upkeep.
  • Effective - I want to understand my side projects so the service needs to have a baseline set of capabilities for understanding who's coming to the site, what are they doing, and where are they coming from.
  • Cheap - The service needs to be cheap in maintenance but also in cost. Each of my projects incurs costs for its own hosting and dependencies so I want to make sure analytics costs don't get in the way of spinning up more projects.

Choosing an Analytics Provider

Last year I explored several analytics services and ended up choosing Fathom Analytics (referral). I've now been using them for analytics on all my projects for the past 1.5 years and readily recommend them for those with similar analytics values.

Want to get started with simple, cheap web analytics? Get $10 off your first month with Fathom Analytics (referral)

Now let's dive into how Fathom Analytics stacks up against my values:

Fathom Analytics dashboard for

Related: Fathom Analytics Dashboard Walkthrough.

Simple - Fathom Analytics is very simple. It's mostly one big dashboard with all the most important web metrics front and center. No digging through various screens and customizing reports just to see who hit your site and where they came from.

Effective - Fathom Analytics still provides the power to explore my data and add additional context. You can filter by any dimension in your data from referrals to device to browser and send additional data via UTMs and custom events. All of these get piped back into the simple dashboard for futher exploration.

Cheap - Now Fathom is not the cheapest option out there. There are many other options that are free or save you a few dollars. But I think the price is very fair for what I get out of it - I save time due to the simple interface and the pricing is very competitive for many properties.

Fathom Analytics dashboard - all sites

I currently run 8 sites on Fathom and pay $15/month for their base tier. This allocates me up to 100k monthly page views across 50 sites. The pricing tiers give small discounts as you increase page views and additional sites can be added for a price of $15 / month for 50 sites (this is a big selling point cause most analytics services don't allow so many sites so cheaply!).

Fathom Analytics Examples

It's very easy to add Fathom Analytics into your website - like most analytics trackers it's simply a script tag with a bit of data so it knows what site to attribute the data to.

Example script tag:

<script src="" data-site="YOUR_CODE_HERE" defer></script>

Currently I like to build my frontends with F# and enjoy leveraging HTML DSLs like Giraffe.ViewEngine to do so in a type-safe manner. This means the way I code this script tag looks a little different but ultimately turns into the same HTML.

Example script tag written w F# and Giraffe.ViewEngine:

script [
    _src ""
    (attr "data-site" "YOUR_CODE_HERE")
] []

In fact that is the exact code (w/ my real site id) that enabled analytics on this site.

You can learn more about how I built this site in Build a Simple Markdown Blog with F# / Giraffe.


So that's how I run analytics for my many side projects and how I'm planning on doing so for the foreseeable future.

Get $10 off your first month with Fathom Analytics (referral)

Q: How are you running analytics simply and cheaply for your side projects?

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