Sunday, 6 May 2012

A to Z Reflections

I usually post twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays. During the A to Z Challenge I posted 26 times in 30 days.  The effect of this was that I received a bump in page views, some new followers, and as severe case of exhaustion.

I had planned to write my posts in advance and then schedule them. The easy life. I managed to do rough outlines of all my posts, but that still meant a rush to get them done on the day of posting. Best laid plans...

So, clearly the A to Z Challenge is a good way to boost blog activity, even if it’s only for a month. Only, I have two blogs. This one, and a Tumblr. I post the same things on both, the only difference is that the Tumblr audience is all cool kids who love Korra, and it wasn’t part of the A to Z Challenge. So how did the two blogs compare over the month of April?

The truth is I noticed a jump in activity on both blogs. And since I returned to my old schedule, I’ve already started seeing a drop in page views.

This blog, being part of the challenge, attracted new faces, many of whom I had visited first, and some new followers (about 90 or so, I think). However, even though I have nearly 700 followers, a large proportion of those never visit (they don’t write, they don’t phone...). Many of them joined during A to Z 2011.

Getting new followers isn’t always as cool as it might seem. Seeing numbers go up on the GFC is nice, but it isn’t very representative of readership, I’m starting to think.

Most of the people who commented on my posts were regular followers. My page views went up because they returned to read the new posts, which were appearing more often. Most A to Z visitors visited just the once and then disappeared. Of course, they had a lot of people to visit (as did I) so they may return once things calm down (as I plan to do with many of the new blogs I joined). Wait and see, I guess.

Back to the Tumblr. My followers went up by about 60. I got a lot more activity. The membership over there (about 350) is almost completely separate to the one here (at least I think so, let me know if you follow both blogs). They have no idea what an A to Z Challenge is.

What drove my upswing in activity over there was my increased activity in the posting department. Posting every day is much more conducive to building a solid readership (assuming you post something interesting, I guess). You’re much likely to catch someone’s eye if you post more frequently. And if they come over to check you out because of interest (rather than obligation) then they’re more likely to return.

What I have concluded is it would be a good idea to post more often. Which would be fine if I could make my posts more concise and less time consuming. But I can’t. I’ve tried.  Look at this one, it’s just a reflections post and already it’s massive. Would I even have the material to come up with something new on a daily basis? It seems a daunting task.

I wonder, do you have any opinions on the lengths of my posts?  Do I belabour the point? Ramble incoherently? If anyone is dropping by for the first time, are you put off by length?  (Please insert your own smutty joke here).

Maybe if I split them up so you’d have to come back to read part 2, would that just be annoying? Or perhaps I should keep things as they are and build slowly. I do have other stuff to do (although I very much enjoy avoiding doing them whenever possible).

Why is everything good such hard work?
This is Korra, in case you were wondering.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Part I and part II? Why not?
I think a lot visited once just trying to get through the Challenge list. The real catch is if they come back later, which I'm sure many will.
Glad you got through it and enjoyed the Challenge. And you are almost to seven hundred followers!

Liz Brownlee said...

Hi there, TWO blogs? Wow. I nearly died doing one. In fact I've developed a twitch, which hasn't disappeared. LOL!

mooderino said...

@Alex-the problem with the internet is all the distractions. i'm pretty sure I'd get a lot more hits if they closed down youtube, Amazon and ebay.

@Liz-it really isn't that impressive, it's the same posts published in two places.

Nicole Pyles said...

Good for you for keeping up two! I have had my share of long posts, so they don't bother me when I see it elsewhere. I think you are a good and entertaining writer, so you can pull them off.

Patricia JL said...

Sometimes long posts can be off putting. If the subject doesn't completely capture my attention or I'm short on time I will skip over longer posts. When I do read your posts, I always find them interesting and informative.

Anonymous said...

I became overwhelmed during the A to Z Challenge. I usually read all of the blogs I follow, but my brain decided to overload at some point. I was barely even able to post on my blog. By the way, I like Korra, although I haven't had much time to watch it. The first episode was quite amusing.

Fairview said...

well, I for one, like the amount of detail/effort you put into your posts. So many of the blog posts are too short- the 'do's and don't's' but never the 'why's'.

Maybe that is why I keep coming back to yours.

Sandra Tyler said...

I completed the challenge too; it was a great way to generate ideas, play around with some fictional characters etc. which now I may pursue. I post once a week, because I like to have time to work on my posts, and give time for people to read them. But maybe you're right about at least twice a week...I may have to think about that. And I post to tumblr too though dont spend time over there. Interesting your take on their audience, I had no clue!

Elizabeth Twist said...

I for one despise people who post every day. SLOW DOWN I CANNOT KEEP UP WITH YOU!!! Your posts are always worth a read, so why not post them when you do and at the length you do? And maybe every once in a while plan to post daily so people notice you?

Like, blogging interval training or something? (I am just learning about interval training, so it somehow applies to every situation in my life now.)

Elizabeth Twist: Writer, Plague Enthusiast

Lorena said...

Mood, I have no problem with the length of your posts. (Perhaps because ours are SOOOO long, ;)) To be honest with you, I don't like it when people post too often (more than twice a week) because I can't keep up (and I feel overwhelmed when I "make my rounds") But that's just me. I'm not a very active blogger, though I like to check on the blogosphere once in a while.

Ted Cross said...

Your post lengths seem fine to me for what you do. You fill a useful niche in the blogosphere, with useful tips on writing that give us something to think about. I draw far fewer viewers than you, probably because I haven't found any particular niche, but post about whatever comes to mind.

Nancy Thompson said...

Yes, Moody, you do tend to post long entries, but I typically find your posts exceptionally informative. Yeah, sometimes I skim, but overall, I find your posts helpful, so I have no complaints. As for how often you post, I think twice a week is perfect. I only manage once a week and I'm happy with my numbers. (I don't do Tumblr anymore. I can barely handle Blogger.) So keep on doing what you're doing. It's all good!

McKenzie McCann said...

A part one and two might be a good idea if it's done right. In my opinion, I would certainly come back if you had a few day's worth of posts on a weekly topic or something.

I agree with the number of followers not representing readership. I've been really confused for the past few weeks about the same topic, actually. The number of views has been way up, and my followership is growing, but I haven't been getting many comments lately. I'm not entirely sure what to make of it.

Unknown said...

Glad you enjoyed the challenge.

I run two blogs--no way I can keep up with daily blogging. I like doing the challenge cos it challenges me to write a story a day--and then I get to make awesome blog friends. I always visit back the blogs I like, and it was the same this year.

If you'd like to guest post for us over at to talk about your writing, or blogging in general, let us know at 2012AZinfo at gmail dot com.

#atozchallenge co-host 2012

dolorah said...

I didn't stop by here often during A-Z, but that's because I was attempting a blogger break. I missed people sometimes so had to stop by lots of people. Many times I just read out of my google reader and didn't comment.

I find your post lengths alright. The info doesn't run on or belabour any points. They seem just right.

Congrats on finishing Moody.


Laoch of Chicago said...

The answer to your question I suppose depends upon your goals. Since you haven't made them clear (nor do you have to) it is hard to provide reasonable advice.

When in doubt though, I presume that quality trumps quantity.

Unknown said...

Posting every day is hard work, posting comments on other blogs is also time consuming and if you follow many that too is hard work. I find that the more I comment, the more views and comments I get back. In answer to your question, Attractive posts are ones that are interesting, easy to read and not to lengthy. If a blog takes forever to download, the page is hard to read, word verification is on, then I usually don't visit those blogs as often.

mooderino said...

@Nicole-thanks. But maybe i could make my point a little quicker. Might help my writing in general.

@Patricia-I think my posts work fine for people already interested in the subject matter. I'd like them to be interesting to a general reader to though. Not sure I'm quite there yet.

@Charles-overwhelming it certainly was.

@Fairview-thanks for the support. You don't own a publishing company by any chance?

@Sandra- I get a very different response from people over at Tumblr. They tend to be a lot younger and exciteable.

@elizabeth-that's an interesting idea. Bursts of creativity I might be able to manage.

mooderino said...

@Lorena-I would certainly make posts shorter if I posted more often. Thousand word articles daily would kill both of us.

@ted-I also have the benefit of various Russian websites that visit me regularly to help bolster my numbers. If you ever need a Russian iPhone let me know (you may be the only one who understands what they're going on about).

@Nancy - cheers.

@McKenzie-I don't think any of the stats I have are particularly accurate. I'm just glad I have at least a few peopel to talk to.

@Damyanti-good work with the challenge this year. Went very smoothly.

@Donna-I rely on my google reader too, although I worry people might think no one's reading their posts.

@laoch-I'm not really sure what my blogging goal is. Surpise attack on Amazon, then the world?

@Siv-I agree. But it's finding ways to build once you have the basics down that tends to be tricky. In all parts of life.

Laura Pauling said...

I think your posts are fine for what you're talking about. I didn't do the challenge this year but I found the really short posts hard to connect with and didn't tell me anything about the blogger!

J.L. Campbell said...

If the subject you're covering demands a post of a certain length and your readers aren't complaining then maybe you shouldn't change the format.

I find that people who aren't regular readers won't stay for the long haul, but regulars will take the time to hang on until the last word.

Posting regularly can be a strain if your posts are lengthy. I've tried three times a week and it's all I can do to keep up with doing it, plus visiting those who've commented. I should scale back to two posts, which is what I'm averaging anyhow, outside of the A-Z.

Stacy S. Jensen said...

Glad you survived. I thought I would have all the posts done ahead of time, too. I didn't factor in enough time to comment on blogs. Thanks for the tip on how to leave a link in a comment. Stacy S. Jensen

Robyn Campbell said...

If long posts have something to catch my interest, then I'm all eyes. I don't mind them at all. People would come back to read part two or even part five if it was of interest to them. I know I would. I noticed this A to Z (for me at least) that folks were viewing, but not commenting. I had a lot of comments, but they were from my regular commenters. *sigh* Congrads on finishing. I wish I had gotten by here during the challenge.

Julie Dao said...

Don't worry, I too have trouble writing concise posts! I don't think there's anything wrong with them as long as they stay on track and have plenty of paragraph breaks :) And pictures are always good!

Cherie Reich said...

I know I visited a few blogs just once, but after things calm down, I'll try to visit more often. It's hard to get to everyone. :)

mooderino said...

@Laura-I think there's not much be done about quality of posts - you either write interesting stuff or you dont'. What I'm wondering is if more frequent posting will attract a wider range of readers. On the basis that it's more likely to be noticed if there are more of them.

@JL-I doubt I would be able to sustain daily posts at the sort of lengths I'm producing now. A month was about my limit.

@Stacy-a pleasure to actually offer useful advice (I knew it would happen eventually).

@Robyn-happy to have you here at any time.

@Julie-Finding the pictures often takes me longer than writing the posts.

@Cherie-and very time consuming!

LD Masterson said...

When I'm trying to read through all the blogs I like to follow and I run into a long post, I read a little and, if it looks like something I want to give the time, I save the link in my "come back to" folder. Yours frequently get tagged for a more leisurely read. But going with the part one, part two approach might ease of your posting pressure. Try it and see what works.

SueH said...

The whole A-Z challenge is an intense and atypical experience of the blogosphere, to my mind. With the best will in the world, it's impossible to get around everyone and do them justice, much less become a regular visitor. So, I tend to take a scatter-gun approach - visit as many as I can and decide which few I can realistically continue to keep up with.

I liked the suggested idea from the co-hosts about visiting five blogs per day, starting with the ones immediately after you on the list - in theory, every blog should have received at least some visits. I'm still attempting that - I'll be at it for a good few months, I think! ;-p

SueH I refuse to go quietly!
Twitter - @Librarymaid

Sarah Allen said...

I've been hearing a lot of good things about Korra lately :)

Great thoughts here, and congrats on finishing the challenge. I would be interested at some point to hear your thoughts on using Tumblr. I use it a little, but it seems clunky to me and I can't quite figure out how to use it effectively and efficiently. Tips would be good.

Great post, as always!

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

nutschell said...

I didn't know you were an avatar fan! I love Korra! I missed Aang the first two episodes, but afterwards I really got into the storyline. I'm looking forward to seeing how this one goes. Aang's story was more middle grade, Korra seems to be more YA.:)

mooderino said...

@LD-good advice, thanks.

@Sue-I think you're right about the challenge not really being representitive of normal blogging behaviour. I'll probably wait a bit to see how things settle down.

@Sarah-Tumblr isn't really a place for discussion, more exhibiting favoured items, like show and tell at school. A lot relies on peopel reblogging your posts on their tumblr. There's no real way to control it. There a lot of aspiring writers over there though, mostly college age.

@Nutscell-definitely YA. They've got a double love triangle going already.

I love anime (even though Avatar isn't really) and manga, big fan of that style of long form storytelling.

Anonymous said...

I, for one, will continue to visit this blog because you write such wonderful posts. The length doesn't bother me as long as I find the information useful or entertaining.

I won't always comment. That isn't a reflection on you, it's me. I'm the quiet type. :-)

Susan Oloier said...

A lot of my followers are from 2011, too. Of the never write, never call variety.
I tend to like short-ish blog posts across the board. Life is ultra busy for everyone, and short post make it more likely for me to read and return. Maybe you should try the Part I/Part II posts. Sort of like a cliffhanger in the blogging sense.

Annalisa Crawford said...

When I follow a blog, I do try to visit every new post, so you should see me around now that I've found you through the challenge. With 700 followers though, I'd be almost grateful they didn't all visit the same post - can you imagine the replying time!?

mooderino said...

@missy-you might feel differently if they were coming at you seven days a week.

@susan-feels a bit like cheating though. Might get me more hits but easier to get the message of what I'm saying in one go.

@Annalisa-oh, I don't know. 700 comments just the once would be nice.

Hektor Karl said...

Interesting comparison between the two blogs. My experience seemed fairly similar to yours (at lower numbers), and I also tend to find my posts getting a bit long.

Splitting them up would get more page views, but it would probably be mostly the same people coming back for the second half of the post.

Elise Fallson said...

Just so you know, I'm never "put off by length." :P I keep reading as long as the writer keeps me interested. And I agree that the number of followers may not always be a good representative of readership. I don't have many followers (around 80) but do have a small group that regularly comment and I'm thankful for those folks. What surprised me was the number of pageviews I got for a sunday post... Anyway, I think it has already been demonstrated that the more you post, the more people you will attract, in the same way repetition is used in advertising as a way to keep a brand (your name)in the forefront of the reader's interests.

Beverly Diehl said...

Your posts are fine in length. A-Z is a LOT of work.

I also did two blogs; totally different material. Despite all I had planned ahead of time, I did NOT get enough done. Nor enough visiting.

Next year, I may sit out the A-Z as a poster, and simply be a visitor to discover new blogs.

mooderino said...

@Hektor-that's undoubtedly true. Actually the more I think about it, the idea of spending even more time sorting out posts isn't all that appealing. I'd really like to put a bit more effort into my actual fiction writing.

@Elise-I think a lot of this is down to me having started querying agents recently and looking for ways to distract myself as I wait for the rejections.

@Beverly-I thought about that too. Might be a less intense way to do it.

Kela McClelland said...

Lol, the smutty joke tripped me up for a second. I got it now though. :)

I think the length of your posts are just fine. I tend to read several blogs in Google Reader and then I never comment, I know I read a bit of your posts, but I don't recall commenting. Sorry about that.

It was nice to meet you, looking forward to your future posts. :)

Arlee Bird said...

Interesting observations. I'm still like the numbers, though the readers and comments are more preferred, but I think the numbers look good.

I do feel like sometimes your posts are a little on the long side. Visitors probably do better with shorter posts. Splitting them up could work if each post stands alone as well.

I'd say experiment and see what works best. I'm planning to post something about this topic on Tossing It Out tomorrow and Friday (though not necessarily a part 1 and 2).

An A to Z Co-Host
Tossing It Out

kjmckendry said...

I think a lot of people are taking a bloggy break for a while after the craziness of the challenge. My visits have dropped as well. I'm now trying to catch up on everyone who I followed during the month.

I admit I do get scared off by long posts sometimes, but as long as they are engaging I think it's fine. :)

mooderino said...

@Kela-I read a lot of posts in Google Reader too. Shame there's no way to let the blogger know.

@Lee-It's a very specialised blog so I don't really know if I should even be looking to reach a wider audience. Will they care about pronouns and strong verbs, long or short?

@Kathy-I do think if I was able to make my point in a sharper, more pithy manner, it might make it easier to grasp. Many of the things I talk about are quite technical and complicated, which is why I make up all the examples, but it may just be that I'm not being clear enough. Would be a lot easier if I was a better writer.

baygirl32 said...

I agree with you about followers/ readership, but followers are still nice to get :)

congrats on finishing!

mooderino said...

@Evalina-thanks for the visit.

@baygirl-true, always a thrill to see the numbers go up, just the way we're built I guess.

Deniz Bevan said...

Great analysis! I managed to schedule all my posts, but my comments went down in the latter half of the month mainly because I wasn't commenting - went on vacation and didn't bring the laptop! So now I'm catching up...

Jen said...

If you split them up I'd be annoyed that I was being manipulated. And it actually doesn't matter how long your posts are: if I'm interested I'll keep reading. If not, nothing will help! Ah fickleness. :)

Great post, by the way. Interesting to hear the results. I found the same thing when I went from 1 to 2 posts a day. My stats almost exactly doubled.

mooderino said...

@Deniz-there's a defintite quid pro quo element to comment etiquette.

@Jen - I'm just wondering if there are people who look at the length of my posts and are immediately put off. They might be more likely to come back if the portions were smaller. But maybe that's not true. If they're interested in the subject matter, possibly that's all that matters.

Andrea said...

Well I enjoyed this reflection post. I think the pressure to write towards the end of the challenge was almost outweighed for me by the pressure to read other blogs on that ginormous list! Now I have made my way back to the much shorter reflections list, as that seemed like a swell idea that one of my visitors had.

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