Tuesday, 2 August 2011
This is my one-hundredth blog post. Some sort of landmark I guess, though why we are all so obsessed with round numbers remains a mystery to me. I ought to be able to deduce some sort of lessons or conclusions or possibly refine my blogging strategy as a result of this experience.
Because the nice people at Google provide the data, I can of course instantly find out which are the most popular posts, but what does that mean? Two posts have had more hits than any other and neither of them is typical. A novel look at novels was a blog about playing with a new piece of software made available by Google. The analysis that it enabled was interesting, and I couldn't resist playing with it. Does it tell me what I should blog about? I don't think so. What it does say is that adding a bunch of strangers who are interested in something novel (that word again) will push the numbers up, but those numbers are not associated with a sustained upsurge in interest.
Similarly, the post about the Spearhead dinghy; that actually came top but it was put there in order to provide additional background when we were selling one of the boats on eBay. That didn't produce a sustained upsurge either.
Novelty is fun, but impossible to do all the time and each novelty probably attracts a different audience, who don’t necessarily stay.
What does push the numbers up or down? Not posting, or posting less often causes a downward trend. The couple of months earlier this year when my mother was in hospital, because she had been knocked down by a car, were associated with a considerable reduction in posts. I visited her every day for several months and it just takes up time. In the last few months I have been posting much more regularly, partly because mum is a lot better and also because Lois is now writing five blogs, all about different things, and putting me to shame.
As to subject matter, that is a harder question. The one thing I was sure about when I started was that I wanted to change my creative direction away from all the things I did when I was working. As a result, there has been very little about public health or the terrible things the government may be about to do to the NHS. I still read and correspond about it, but I don’t blog.
There was a brief relapse over Amy Winehouse, but I intend to carry on resisting the temptation as much as I can, though I might just do a bit more about alcohol some day, just to respond to Lexi and emphasise that it is OK to drink; how much, how often, what and how are issues that can be explored.
My biggest interest now is writing, so there are more posts about that than anything else. I still consider myself a learner, so inevitably I post more often on things that I find curious or frustrating. Repeating back to others the things I do understand seems somewhat pointless, at least until I reach the point where I am sure I know what I am writing about. This is of course contrary to the advice from the big-time bloggers. Give people something they need, they say repeatedly. Probably good advice, maybe when I get past two hundred I'll think about it.
The major area that I appear to have ignored altogether is blogging to attract an audience that might read my books. There is a dilemma here, more than one actually. The first is that it is difficult to know who the audience is. Amazon is very good at telling you how many books you have sold, but I have not found any way of getting demographics. On some of the writing sites, information is available and you can guess it from comment on others. The snag is that these are most likely writers who also read. Are they typical of readers in general? I read a much better blog about this by Livia Blackburne
Her message is that blogging, particularly for fiction writers, may be a waste of time because the readers are likely to be writers and so not the real market.
Ho hum. Add to that a second problem, in my case - I am writing in two different genres. Should I be running two blogs, each aimed at a different audience? The second genre is Young Adult, and so far, I have not finished any of the books. Ideally, I should be doing something to create an audience before I publish a book. There are those who would suggest that the thing to do is to produce one book and virtually give it away in order to attract the audience and then produce another and another.
This is too much introspection for one blog, even my hundredth post. For the moment, I will set myself the modest target of being able to understand all this a lot better by the time I reach two hundred.