Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Blogger It

So, I mentioned in yesterday's recap of progress so far that there are things to be said about my blogging and this blog. Let's start with a quick apology for having been AWOL last week and inconsistent for a couple of weeks before that. I was simply extremely busy and struggling to keep up. Things have settled down now, and I'll be making up for lost time this week with at least a couple of extra posts, of which this is the first.

These inconsistencies may not matter terribly much, though. I've now been tracking the performance of The Second Realm at Smashwords for almost a year, and a quick analysis of available data shows no clear correlation between activity of any kind on this blog and Second Realm traffic. To whit:

The top graph shows pageviews on this blog (apologies for the scaling - Blogger's stat tracker isn't terribly good at graphs); the bottom graph shows downloads of The Second Realm each week (the blue line), plus four- (red) and twelve-week (green) rolling averages. They don't match up perfectly, but the big spike on the bottom graph is for the end of August 2012, so they're lined up pretty well.

The big spike on the top graph is for March, and represents the peak of an assault by Swedish spambots which is also responsible for a big chunk of January and February traffic. The total drop-off at the end is a bit of an illusion because while April was at about the same level as February, when this screencap was taken, May was only three and a half days old and is actually on-course to outdo April by a small margin. The red line represents a rough guesstimate of what the non-spambot traffic has done.

If blogging (or at least, my blogging) was an effective way of marketing fiction, we would expect the bottom graph to resemble the top one, or at least not show the slight downward trend that it appears to show. If you squint hard at the green line, it does look like there might be the beginnings of an up-turn, maybe, but it doesn't look terribly significant compared to the big rise in blog traffic.

I have another graph which plots my activity (in terms of posts per week) on here against the blue line measure of Second Realm figures, but there's such a severe lack of correlation on it that it's almost illegible, so there's little point my sharing it.

So the bad news is that this blog doesn't appear to be doing much to help the performance of my fiction. I'm sure that's not the case for all blogs, but I suspect that my growing focus on non-writing-related issues, and possibly the way I write, are not attracting people who are looking for the kind of fiction that I write.

That said, there is a definite rise going on in blog traffic since I started blogging regularly and carefully again. It remains to be seen whether the dip in activity over the last couple of weeks will have produced a visible dip in pageviews (or indeed, whether this week's burst of extra will produce a spike), but there's no denying that since late December and my New Year's resolution to put out at least a hundred blog posts this year, there's a clear upward trend.

Blogging, it seems, is a pretty good way to promote a blog at least. It's been good for me in other ways, too - good discipline, good writing practice, good thinking practice while I've been too busy with day-jobs to work on my thesis and so on. It's also pushed me to engage more with the world at large, and I can't discount the effect of the positive feedback I keep getting either.

So whether or not my blogging here is effective promotion (and I'll check in again on this later in the year, just in case that green line is on an upward trend), I'm going to keep blogging. I enjoy it and it's both a useful habit and a useful outlet. If you're looking to use blogging to promote your fiction, though, it might be better to use me as a 'what not to do' than a 'what to do' guide.

If you have any suggestions about how I could strengthen the link between my blogging and my fiction, by the way, I'd love to hear them ;).


  1. I really enjoy reading your blog!
    And it's true, I haven't read your fiction yet. Though in my defence, my dissertation is due in two days hence.
    In regards to strengthening (creating?) a link between blog and fiction, why not actually talk about your fiction? I've basically been following your blog since you linked each article on facebook, and I don't think you've ever really written about your work since then.
    Why not, at the top or bottom of every blog post, put a few lines? Or a status update on the next episode?
    In fact, since you've got more viewers now than you used to, perhaps a retrospective on your fiction once every two weeks or a month would be good.
    In general, just talk about it more!

    1. I guess I was trying to say is that the only incentive (advertising, whatever) I have to read your work is that your blog is good. Which is an incentive, plus I want to be supportive, but you've done nothing to grab me and say "HEY, MY WORK IS REALLY GOOD, YOU'LL LAUGH, YOU'LL CRY, YOUR SOUL WILL BECOME MINE...". Which I think would probably help your reading figures.