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A Note On Focus

Remember when I said I was splitting up blogs, one to focus on the environment and political ranting, this one to be retained for more writerly ranting?

Here are the monthly stats (which I grabbed with one day to go in January) to show you what I mean, and to prove that my conclusions are science fact:

Forgetting the little spike in the middle (which was the infamous Why SF is dying post) there has been a nice, steady upward trend ever since this blog had been switched on. You can see the little leaps when the books were published in the UK and the US, but, generally, I’ve talked about writing and books with just a little variation, and built up a decent audience (you horrible lot) over that time.

Then I started talking heavily about politics and the environment, to the extent that there was a significant drop-off in this blog’s readership (and sure, one of those two months was December, which might have had something to do with it), but I was rather surprised. And for January, after I split my blogs and went back to talking mostly about writing and books on this one, as you can see, the upward trend has continued.

Conclusions? SF and Fantasy readers, at least, are by and large uninterested in what I have to say about politics (which means I can be chuffed about splitting off the blogs). I’d say to any freshly minted authors out there that, with so much white noise online, you need to be pretty focussed if you want to build an audience (which, let’s be honest, is the point of this site in the first place). These things aren’t black and white, of course, and I’m speaking in general terms – but if the non-book stuff takes over, then be prepared for a decreasing readership. Leave the soapbox for another blog (which I’d actually recommend – because it allows you to build two audiences, with a little patience).

By Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.

9 replies on “A Note On Focus”

This is also useful data with regards to the frequent suggestion that bloggers should ‘do their own thing’ and not follow the herd. The truth is that, if you do ‘do your own thing’ then you will lose followers as people unsubscribe.

I’m not in the least bit surprised though that people are turned off by your political stuff. Genre fandom is astonishingly apathetic.

I’m not so sure SF/F fans are uninterested in what you have to say about politics. But those who dropped the blog, did probably do so because they didn’t want to hear about the kind of politics you wrote about.

Jonathan / Weirdmage – I actually wonder if it’s more a case of finding the right time and place. I suspect people like SF and Fantasy for their few moments of escape from a troubled world (and no problem with that). So coming to an author site – that vehicle of escape – they might not want to be reminded of the real world…

There are plenty of media outlets where I can get my dose of real world insanity. I visit author’s blogs to get a does of the insanity between their ears and to hear about their writing/publishing experience. If current events affects your genre fiction in a big way, well, that’s something I’d be into checking out.

I would agree with your later comment, I think people can be interested in the politics you discuss but may not wish to find it when they want to hear about writing and books. Add that to the fact that not all your fans will neccessarily agree with your politics and they may not wish to find themselves getting into political debates with someone whose writing they enjoy as an escape.. well, I think the result of the splitting the blogs was entirely predictable.

I’m not sure if it’s necessarily that people want pure escapism at an author’s blog, but rather that they’ve less reason to follow along with you. As an author, you’ve proven you know something about publishing/books. When you talk about them, even if it’s controversial (death of SF, say), people follow along because they believe you’ve got experience. For politics, though, there’s nothing inherent in being an author that proves you’ve got smart political views. You certainly CAN, but, if people disagree with you, I’m sure they can just say “another random nut” much more easily than they could with your genre posts or a political blog’s election posts or whatever.

Is it possible to post statistics for the other blog at some point? I’m curious.

Good points there, Evil. I suppose there is the vague resemblance of knowing what I’m on about by being a Real Author (TM). There’s something interesting in itself in that point and online behaviour.

As for stats for the other blog – I’ve only recently plugged in Analytics, but there’s (obviously) not that much right now. It’ll probably be worth visiting in a year or so to see the trends (if any).

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