I thought it might be interesting to play in traffic today … or, more specifically, look at which topics of mine tend to get the most reader-hits.
I admit: I spend a lot of time looking at my Stats and guessing at who has viewed what and from where based on some pretty bar graphs. So now that we have established that I have very little in the way of a life (though I strongly suspect there are other people who are doing the exact same thing even as I write this out of pure morbid fascination), I want to look at what seems to really “work” in terms of attracting readers on Mythic Bios: and possibly other Blogs.
Well, my first observation is that the recording of Life events really tends to get a lot of attention. It seems as though readers really want to know more about a Blog writer’s actual life beyond, mainly, what they actually record down. For a while I avoided doing that as much, but I recognize the value in occasionally dealing with that part of my self and some of the milestones in my own life offline. I guess the fact that people are interested in other people and specifically people whose writing they follow isn’t that much of a surprise in retrospect.
It also isn’t surprising that there are a lot of hits with regards to my posts on Creativity and the Creative Process, or to be more “nice and accurate” about it: my own thoughts about them. It isn’t as though my thoughts are particularly original, mind you, but I have to be precise in stating that these are my opinions and experiences with the above. Whereas with my Life I tend to find moments where I really need to express or share something, my writings on Creativity are mainly me pretty much talking out loud but–unlike the actual times when I talk to myself (a lot)–I actually want to take readers through something of my process: to outline a bit of my own mind and how it works.
Unfortunately, it also isn’t that surprising that when I wrote my post on Depression, I got lot of hits for two days afterwards. It is a very common topic–especially in this day and age–and it also feeds back to the idea of the “personal being publicly popular.”
In a lot of ways, all of the above are pretty much the electronic Mythic Bios’ bread-and-butter, as it were. I know that if I talk about these topics or choose a day where the new Dr. Who episode or the latest movie comes out to talk about it, I will get some traffic there. It’s good to know what works and what needs work.
I have some specialized posts that do not always get as much traffic, but they are relatively consistent in their own way. For instance, I find that I get a fair bit of views with regards to my What is FV Disco? and my Worms and Bicycles articles from Eastern and Central Europe due to the fact that I am touching upon an art movement and style that originated in Slovenia, and that–at least at the time I made them–there seemed to be few articles talking about the subject online: never mind with regards to the comics medium.
Speaking of comics, I have been getting some modest traffic with regards to my reviews of comic books like Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum and anything I’ve written on Miracleman. I try to put a little of everything for Geek readers and otherwise: though really it depends on my mood and where I think the flow of the Blog is going at that time. What I mean is: I try to maintain some kind of continuity with regards to which article I place after the last.
And I am really happy to see people reading my stuff: especially my articles on, and my stories based from Video Games: of which my only claim to expertise is the fact that I’ve played some of them and even loved them. It also makes me happy to see the occasional view of my article on my experience with Gwendolyn MacEwen and The Vampire Sex Bar too. I obviously find that my articles on mainstream subjects or things that have become so such as Creativity, Superman, The Doctor and what-not to get more attention while some my more obscure and original articles get less: though it is very satisfying when this last does get some views.
But I think the most gratifying moments for me are when someone reads some of my samples of fictional writing. It just makes me happy to see people reading my most original or at least creatively derivative work. Yet I have to say that, in the end, I am just satisfied to see that anyone reads any thought, poem, review, story, or opinion of mine here. It is the closest I have to bringing you into the world that I created for myself from all of this and my own essential self.
Sometimes I feel like I am not always that interesting and much of what I write on here isn’t that important when you really think about it. But writing and writing to one’s audience is more than statistics, or whether or not you get paid, or how much attention-whoring you do. Writing is about getting yourself out there and expressing it in such a way where you don’t dumb yourself down, but the same time you are not trying to be inaccessible and superior.
I am still trying to find the line between what I want here and what I may want elsewhere. But in the meantime, I have a better idea of how to continue. For instance, I know that if I want to get Freshly Pressed the best way to do it is to write about a topic that is universal or very popular (such as a strange pseudo-serious and somewhat creative meditation on the nature of cartoons), make it short, but also make it stand out by cramming a lot of ideas and resonance into so small a space. An appropriate graphic also helps. Of course I also understand that there are other factors to consider too: such as what the staff of Freshly Pressed is looking for that day or that week and there is only so much you can control or predict.
So I will just end off this post by stating that ever since I started Mythic Bios a year ago, I have a much better idea of figuring out what my current and prospective audience wants to see and how much of that is determined by my skill and my circumstances. But there is still a lot of things I do not understand and you all continue to surprise me in what it is that you like to see. My video game and some of my shorter comics ones come to mind there. And then sometimes–very rarely but very sweetly–I see that some of you go on Google and type in the name of the particular article of mine that you want to see. And that, my friends, is what makes me the happiest of all.
6 thoughts on “How to Get Attention: Or What My Readers Seem to Like”
I get the feeling this post is collecting (or will collect) a lot of viewers. Most bloggers want to know how to attract readers, and what works for you may work for them. I’ve also been trying to figure out what people like to read on my blog, so what I did is create a widget that links my top 5 posts that collected the most likes. Unfortunately, it has not told me much. My top 5 include a book review, a dry philosophical essay, two musings on writing, and a brief joke/observation about “The Girl Who Played With Fire.” I don’t see much of a pattern, but maybe you will with yours. Give it a shot.
Hey Christopher. I’m not entirely sure what you mean by giving what a shot. Do you mean creating a Widget that links some of my top writings together or something that indicates a pattern? I’m not exactly an expert when it comes to technology, though I try.
I think that what I meant by a pattern is what I write in general and how each thing I write interacts with itself in my own mind or makes its own “narrative,” if you’d like. I think it helps to know what you like to write about in a general sense, or think of some kind of over-arching theme that comes up. But this, I have to tell you, doesn’t in itself indicate what your own readers might like.
What your own readers like is influenced by a lot of factors: not the least of which being what might be trending on the Internet or other media, and–really–their own personal interests. I think accessibility of language also helps a lot too: like making posts that either use everyday language or explaining complex concepts when you use them.
As for getting Freshly Pressed, that is not solely on you. It is most likely based on what the Staff is looking for at that time and a combination of the above.
My advice, if you are interested, is to write about what you like in any form and just keep writing. Eventually, you might create something like I described in my post: a compact, multilayered piece of writing that will get people’s attention if only because you are interested in what you are writing about and if you express it clearly.
But that’s just my own opinion and definitely not the definitive answer. Sometimes it is just fun to speculate on traffic. In any case, I hope you will keep writing and enjoying your writing.
I was just referring to what posts your readers have clicked “like” on most often. I didn’t mean to trigger an analysis of your style, content, and overall pattern, though I’m sure analysis could reveal quite a lot.
I just meant for you to give the widget a shot. You already use widgets, with meta, the blogroll, and Goodreads, so I don’t think it’s too technical for you. Just use the widget called “Tops Posts & Pages,” and tell it to sort the posts by “Likes.” Check out my page if you want, I have it on my sidebar. http://aesopyoplait.wordpress.com/
Anyway, I think you’re on the right track. I couldn’t give you any advice you haven’t already thought of. Of course, I’m sure you have more readers than I do, so I’d have little excuse to dole out advice. I’m just suggesting the widget as a tool to help measure what’s popular.
Well thank you, Christopher. I’ll definitely keep the link to this Widget in mind. I was just confused and I also like to take opportunities to ramble and explore thoughts even in my posts (sometimes especially there). I may have something similar to this Widget already come to think of it. And I appreciate your advice and link in the spirit that it is given. Take care. 🙂
Excellent post, Matthew. I do much the same thing with stats and try analyze it, but I think a lot of it really does have to do with external factors — I did an Iron Man 3 post which thanks to pitch perfect timing is now the second most popular item on the blog (second only to a bunch of Hobbit-related memes I made up). While there are patterns to be found, I’m also not entirely sure that’s a good thing to overthink, either.
Lately I’ve been focusing more on follows as a metric, because I know I do a lot of visual based jokes and Google can corral views from that — I’d think from looking at my stats that there are an inordinate amount of people who are interested in the old Hostess snack cake comic book style mini-story ads, but I also know that a lot of those views are coming from a picture of Tony Stark firing a Twinkie out of his palm repulsor I kludged together in MS Paint which for some reason the cybergods have taking a shining to and factors high in certain search rankings. I think it’s less ‘where did that come from’ than ‘seriously, who made *that*.’
I think with follows — which does focus heavily on WordPress users than the larger internet — it tends to make you think a little outside of the box, because it’s like a business trying to attract new customers. You kind of know what sort of things brings existing ones in the door, but then it makes you think, well, what else can I do to get people to come in and reserve a seat? And your existing readership benefits from you trying new things and stretching your creativity a little, as well, so it’s kind of win-win.
BTW, your videogame-related material likely does well not just because of quality — it’s excellent writing — but also from a more mature and intelligent point-of-view than you see in 95% of pieces on that topic where a vast majority of writers are playing armchair business analyist and trying to prove their knowledge by regurgitating facts and pushing their personal likes and dislikes . . . or craftily putting together a piece that’s just inflammatory enough to get people fighting in the comments section and guaranteeing a certain amount of hits as they go through a heated back-and-forth. That’s certainly something you should capitalize on, in my opinion, because there’s not a lot of good, thoughtful writing on that topic out there, and there is an audience for it that is woefully underserved.
Thank you, Michael. I’m sorry it took so long for me to get back to you, but I’ve been busy with a few things.
I haven’t really done a video game entry in a very long time, but what is interesting is that as I write back to you I just finished playing one game and I am in the process of going through another and I may at some point have some things to say about it. Of course, I can always go back to a few classics that I like such as Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger. Those games are always on the table there: along with these new ones.
I like writing about video games and comics from an angle I don’t see others write: mainly the stuff or ideas that I have and I want to put out there. It doesn’t happen often and that makes me sad: but I definitely won’t count them out yet.
Anyway, it’s been a while since we’ve talked and it is good to hear from you. And I look forward to hopefully making some more entertaining Blog entries in the meantime.