Many years ago I had Google Analytics on this site. The only thing I was really curious about was how many page views I was getting and which pages were most popular, Google Analytics did much more than that. But it was there, it was free, and was generally what people used.
Fast forward to around 2018 and GDPR and cookie notices became a problem. I despise cookie notices and would much rather a browser level thing like DNT was legally binding, but that ship sailed a long time ago. I did not want cookie notices on my site and I'd also become more aware of the data I was enabling Google to collect as they creepily track people across the web.
But I was still curious about my page views.
I found GoatCounter and have been using it ever since. Whilst it's not the most beautiful thing in the world, it works well, it's open source and it seemed to have a business model that meant it wouldn't suddenly disappear.
Whilst I didn't pay for it for my personal site, I had been waiting for an opportunity to pay for it on a work project. That came today, but the paid options seem to have gone. There's always a danger of an OSS project (or any project!) no longer being maintained, but I think a one-person project carries an even higher risk and something in the issues section on GitHub (that I won't link to) left me questioning the long term stability of the project. GoatCounter will probably be fine, but I don't want to integrate it into a professional product. Which is a real shame.
Time to have another look around.
Having last looked about 4 years ago for simple web analytics, there is now a lot more out there. It seems GDPR has shaken up the market! One interesting service I came across was counter.dev, it beats GoatCounter on looks but it's quite new and is a side project looking for funding - not sure where that will lead.
I also found Cloudflare Web Analytics. It's billed as a privacy first analytics solution which I really liked - no cookies or fingerprinting and therefore no GDPR cookie notices! And I really respect the work Cloudflare is already doing with things like Workers, KV, and Durable Objects.
I have now switched this site's analytics to Cloudflare Web Analytics and will be using it for my work project too.
I wish GoatCounter great success, and I believe there's still a place for small one or two person projects that make enough money for their creators to thrive on without having to become large VC funded money / growth machines. Things like Standard Notes and Pinboard.