My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Trashing Prometheus is the New Black (Blogging About Blogging)

It's been less than a week and my post on Monday about Prometheus has gotten the second highest hits of anything I've ever written--even stuff with "slow burn" popularity like 5 Things You Can Do to Be a Better Writer Almost Overnight.  The highest ever was my grammar themed potpourri, but I think that had a lot to do with all the images within it.  I put images in Pintrest, and when they're funny little comics like that, they always get a couple of clicks back.  Since that post had a LOT of images, it picked up a lot of Pintrest traffic.  But mostly that traffic is stopping by to see if I am a vast repository of lulz, which I'm not.

Most pages get 90% of the hits they're ever going to in the first 24hours, but the movie reviews tend to keep a trickle going.  The Disney Movie reviews bring in a glimpse or two every week. It's entirely possible that the Prometheus review will pull into the #1 position in the next month or so.

Of course the other posts that consistently do quite well are the ones I post about conventions, though they are more likely to do very well right when I post them, and never really be heard from again.  I think most people are just interested to see my perspective of mutual experiences, and storytellers want to see what kind of insight I might have into their games.  So this has made me think a little about what gets hits and how to incorporate that in going forward.  I figured the Prometheus review wouldn't do well because it was so long, but that didn't seem to be a factor.

Something to consider when I'm dumbing down and shortening up the next thing because I don't want it to be too monolithic or I think an audience will tune out.

In some cases, I really have to redraw all the maps of Bloggerville that have come before me because I'm not taking the paths they have pioneered.  Quite a few people (friends who are bloggers themselves in many cases) have ponied up some truly spectacular advice about trying to get more traffic and what I could probably do to make Writing About Writing more popular.  I don't want to seem like I'm ignoring those people, or that I'm ungrateful for the advice.  I know how I feel when I give someone my heartfelt input and they basically say "Wow that's really great, but I'd rather strap myself with C-4 and jump off a very tall building onto some spikes while shooting myself in the head with an explosives-detonating-plunger bullet than listen to your advice.

It kind of stings.

I wanted to mention here why some of that advice is on hold and some of it is on long term hold.  I don't want to seem unreceptive.  I'm not.  The fact is that I'm listening to every bit of advice. But after I get that advice I have to put it through the "priority file" and see which of four boxes it lands into.

1-Ideas to incorporate now; 2- ideas that need to wait until my site is really off the ground; 3-ideas that are ideologically different than what I want to do here; 4- ideas that are too divorced from writing.

Some ideas are simple, elegant, and easy to incorporate.  Ideas like reviewing movies from the perspective of their writing or talking about fiction that's all the rage. I give them a shot like throwing spaghetti at a  wall.  Whatever sticks, I keep doing.  In some cases this information exists, suggesting what to write about to get more traffic, but a lot of THIS stuff is passed over for the more technical tactics, which leaves me in the position that the information I'm most interested in is least available and I have to struggle through myself.

There's also a big chunk of low-effort steps that I'm GOING to do...but not yet.  I've actually been doing my homework, and I have some ideas, but the blog is still in the proto-stage.  I need to finish up the glossary.  I'd like more than one or two items on the lists in the Reliquary.  I would like a couple of dozen products reviewed.  And before I "get serious" about the blog, I'd like to have something more than one of the Google templates as my background.  I tend to step up my game each time I get more people reading, but that's a slow feedback loop, and mostly I intend to focus on finishing up the foundation before I start trying to build upwards.

If I wanted to get the maximum number of hits, I would start a site with porn on it.  Seriously.  That's what gets crazy traffic.  I'd post homemade porn only available on my site and watch my views skyrocket.  But...that's not writing, or if it is, it the internal conflict and central themes usually involve the forgetting of one's pants.  So a large part of my initial moments of creating this blog were actually focused on some pretty hand on forehead soul searching about what I wasn't going to write and what I wasn't going to let myself get caught up in.  As many jokes as I make about being a total page-view whore, like the kiss-on-the-mouth rule, I have some pretty serious boundaries around what I won't do.  I want to stick to the writing, and many of the gimicks.

One of the things I'm interested in with the blog project is finding ideas to write about that are popular without getting too buried in the "web marketing" end.  I joke about being a total whore for page views, but honestly there are some things even this whore won't do.  As I did my homework, researching blogging and how to get more traffic and stuff, the thing I noticed right away is that you could get really caught up in a sort of internet marketing stuff.  Gimicky ways to get page views, fretting constantly about SEO's, and trying to pimp out your pages to dozens of other pages so you ascend the ranks of a Google search.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying this wouldn't work.  I'm sure it would.  But it's also not writing.  It seems analogous to those guys (who DO exist) always out there networking with agents and publishers, but who don't really have a lot written or spend a lot of time writing..  I'd rather do less of that, have fewer visitors, and focus on the writing.  I'm still interested in the sort of content that people want to see, which is why I am watching closely to see what posts are popular, both right away and long-term.

I've seen some people I know go way too far down that rabbit hole.  For every hour they spend writing, they spend three trying to get that writing it's maximum possible exposure.  That's a slippery slope, especially if you prefer to focus on the writing end.  So I'm being very careful to weigh some of these suggestions against their This-Is-Not-Writing factor.

Is it a good balance?  I don't know yet.  Could I be incorporating something small that would make a big difference?  Almost certainly.  But what I do know is I'm watching the analytics closely, and learning more every day, and it seems almost certain that I'll be trashing more bad movies' writing in the future.

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