Starting an Author Blog – my first 6 months

Starting an Author Blog – my first 6 months

I’ve had this author blog up for about six months now.

Let’s go behind the curtain and look at some numbers! I wish I had seen stuff like this when I was just beginning so I knew what to expect. If you are just starting out in the sweet, salty world of personal branding, be it as a writer like moi, or as whatever, this info should hopefully inspire and inform. šŸ™‚

 

What am I doing?

I’m building my platform online! I write things and draw things and direct things, and up to this point I haven’t had a good, focused landing page.

I’ve had a blog previously, in addition to a bunch of other variations on my home page over the years. About.me, Flavors.me, yada yada. But I never stuck with it in a meaningful way. So, for the last months I’ve made a habit out of posting once a week (minus some breaks, to deal with flimflam). My posts cover a bit of a spectrum, but the most popular have involved exploring the writing and worldbuilding of various pop culture media. I publish the posts on Twitter, Tumblr, and to my Facebook and Google+ walls. I use SEO plugins to do the whole metadata/keywords thing. I watch my stats and moderate comments quickly, and occasionally comment on other blogs.

 

So what have I learned?

Quite a bit! Check out this sweet list I made.

 

1. Author blog traffic does indeed increase!

Here, look:

Stats from March to September 2013

Look at that steadily increasing number of views! Sure, the number of hits is small, but the bar keeps growing *as long as I keep to my posting schedule*. September drops off because I haven’t posted something since the 5th, and also because there is about a week to go in the month.

 

2. A lot of that traffic is bots.

Judging by the spam comments flooding the site, alas, a large chunk of that traffic is spam bots. For every real comment I got at first, 20 were spam, but WordPress/Jetpack’s spam filter gets pretty smart and the ratio has improved over time.

 

3. Not all of it is bots.

I’ve got a handful of comments, the vast majority of which are people I don’t know chiming in on my posts. Considering how little guest posting I’ve done (more on that later), this is pretty cool.

 

4. Tumblr makes me the most friends.

Posting to my Tumblr has brought in the most views – seems like my people are on Tumblr. So, instead of wasting time on twitter or starting a Pinterest, I’ve made an effort to post there more.

If you are in fact building a blog/site, it is SO IMPORTANT that you can see stats like that! Tumblr is good for me so far, but you may find that you get traffic from Flickr, or Pinterest, or whatever. Traffic sources are so important!

Incidentally, if you are on WordPress.org (the self-hosted WordPress), you can connect to WordPress.com using something called Jetpack to get some really simple, useful traffic stats. Due to its relative simplicity, I use this instead of Google Analytics for daily number-checking.

Also, these stats are in the WordPress app on iOS (and presumably Android), which means comment moderation, stats, and your post drafts are all available on your phone wherever you are. Suddenly that ten minute wait somewhere is a chance to outline something.

 

5. Popular posts are indeed popular.

My top post – a critique of the ending of Bioshock Infinite – makes up almost 20% of my all time views. My Ā #2 post – comparing the female companion characters in Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us – makes up 10%. In classic 80/20 rule fashion, my top 20% of posts make up 70% of my traffic.

At the bottom, with almost no views, are some posts I think are great, like this one about G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.Ā Much like when performing standup comedy, the truth is that some jokes are just not going to connect with everyone. Ah well.

 

6. Blog traffic does not equal mail list subscribers.

I’ve had a mail list signup on the site for awhile now and it has had very low traction. To be fair, until I watched Tim Grahl’s phenomenal video seminar at creativeLIVE on selling ebooks, I did not have as clean an offer as I do now. I also haven’t really pushed it in any posts or spent much time talking about my writing, since my book is still a ways from done.

Now, when you sign up for my email list, you get awesome stuff like a monthly short story, more behind the scenes stuff (like this post), and other things I think are cool.

 

7. You gotta go out into the world.

The thing I’ve known for awhile is that guest posting is a big way to get traffic, and I have not been pursuing it like I could be. Or at least, I haven’t had much go up over the past few months. I am quite sure that if I was posting on a higher traffic place, I would see a lot more people end up here.

 

So what’s next?

Over the next few months, as I finish my book and begin work on others, I’ll continue posting about writing and worldbuilding in games, movies and TV. You can also expect me to try some different things, like video posts, sketch posts (linked from Tumblr, naturally), and guest posting. The website theme may change to something fancier (as is my want). Mail list people will also start getting awesome short stories along with little comics and other things starting in October! And of course, I’ll come back around with numbers and thoughts in another few months and let you know how it’s going.