Wednesday, July 21, 2010

WEDNESDAY'S BURNING QUESTION


Ellen Hart writes:

Our blog has received very little traffic since we started doing the Monday blogs and the Wednesday Burning questions. How could we make this site better?  What would you like to see on the blog site that isn't there now?  

25 comments:

Marcia Talley said...

I've been enjoying the blog and read it regularly. I don't always comment, however. Are we tracking traffic by the number of people who talk back, or is there another way to measure "hits?"

Lorraine_Bartlett said...

Marcia, we're currently averaging about 65 hits a day. What skews the numbers is most of those hits appear on the day (or day after--the SinC Digest is usually delayed a day) after we have a new post. Since we only have new content 2 out of 7 days of the week, I don't know that we can expect to significantly build traffic.

Just my 2 cents.

Sarah G said...

You're getting more hits than I am...

The most success I've had was with a political blog. People like inside information on 'the business', whatever it is. You have a lot of 'Hints from Heloise' posts, which are great for people like me, but I'd like to see more about things like Amazon vs. McMillan, e-publishing vs. print, and what's going on in the publishing houses. There's a lot of anxiety out there.

Joyce said...

It takes a lot of time to build traffic. A group of us started the Working Stiffs blog in 2006 and it's only in the past year or so that we've built up a significant following. The trick is new and/or consistent content and lots of guest bloggers. We've recently introduced having a theme for certain months to bring readers back (our July theme is "summer").

SinC might want to think about doing something similar. A post twice a week really isn't enough to drive more traffic here. You need a post at least five days a week. Have guest bloggers and SinC members fill in the other days.

Maybe have a monthly theme, or pick one day a week to have someone blog about a certain aspect of the writing craft. Have a question and answer day--Ask the SinC Officer--or something like that. There are lots of things that can be done.

If you need any help with it, let me know.

Cathy R said...

How about some warm and fuzzy thoughts? Seriously. I'm a novice mystery writer, a former journalist and short story writer. I'm fully engaged with a local writer's group and am connected with other sources--online or otherwise--that simply PUMP me full of advice on plot, character, POV, conferences and all those other somewhat stressful aspects of writing. I love doing this and learning about the craft but there's a furrow between my eyebrows sometimes after a few hours in the writing chair.

I'd turn to this blog, which I only discovered today, more often if it offered solace and something personable for THAT side of me as a writer. If it could take away that furrow. (I hesitate to write the word "recipe" but that is the sort of thing I'm flashing on. Maybe I want to know what one of my "sisters" cooked for dinner after she wrote Chapter Ten. Or how she got in a little swim after finishing her synopsis.)

We're women and smart, presumably. But we also need comfort. A blog that featured some softer aspects of the writer's life would inspire me and would make me a loyal reader.

This is probably a really stupid comment but I'm just responding to the question without restraint--before I tackle my Chapter Six. And do some research. And then go meet a writer friend for a business lunch to go over her manuscript...

Julie Tollefson said...

I'm a regular reader, too, but I usually read through an RSS feed, so I might not be showing up in the hit count.

Pat Cronin said...

Why don't we also post the link on our individual web sites. Spread the word about the blog and get some more followers? I've put the link on my personal blog.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy this blog but don't visit regularly. I'm not sure why. What I find most helpful are posts about the business.

Here's my question: what's the purpose of this blog? Is it to speak to SinC members? Or to raise awareness of SinC among a broader audience? The reason I ask is because the posts seemed focused on the craft of writing: writers talking to other writers. I wonder if we're losing out on some opportunities to talk to readers. What about occasional posts from mystery fans who aren't writers? Or more librarians? Or bookstore owners? Or maybe the "burning questions" can be occasionally broadened to include readers.

I think one of the challenges with this blog in regard to reaching more SinC members is that we have the Yahoo Groups list, which is where a lot of craft and business discussion is taking place.

I do think more frequent posts will increase traffic, as others have suggested.

Themes are a great idea, too.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Well, there are a couple of things to do to increase traffic.

The first is to remember that blogs are a conversation. You're asking people to comment here, but do you ever stop in at the blogs of the people who leave YOU comments? Reciprocal visits are the lifeblood of blogging. It's where relationships are built. I've stopped leaving comments at a number of blogs whose owners won't acknowledge me (either at my blogs or via Twitter or something). Heck, I've unsubscribed from them. If they don't have the time for me, why should I make the time for them?

Some of those blogs are run by people I consider real-life friends, too.

I don't agree that you have to post every day to have success. Check out my Alexa rankings and then make that argument, okay?

As for content, it's got to be fresh. I can't tell you how many friends (who I've met through blogging) who have started group blogs that are nothing more than "how to write" blogs -- and how quickly and quietly I unsubscribe from them. I've read it a million times by now. I want something new.

Let us SinC members talk about our books. Our experiences. Do First Sale stories, like Dear Author does. Do Second Sale stories. Let us talk about our funny promotions, tell stories of being an author. Let us laugh and cry together (but always, always, don't make us readers feel unimportant or in a vaccuum of aloneness).

THAT is how to improve a blog.

Like I said, it doesn't have to be every day. Most of us who've been blogging a long time have found it's better if you don't post daily. Not everyone can check in, the feeds pile up, the "mark all as read" button gets pushed and the post is never seen.

Go ahead and keep it twice a week. Just make sure I have a compelling reason to keep coming back -- and the number one reason (beating a dead horse, here) is that your readers feel like part of the community.

Get out of this one blog and visit your comment-leavers. You'd be surprised at what's out there.

Pat said...

I'm like Cathy R, a novice mystery writer, but I don't have the benefit of a local group because I'm over 40 miles away from the nearest chapter.

I would love to see information on the various conferences. I was thinking of going to the Boucheron or the Pacific Northwest one. The Squaw Valley Writers takes a writing test and an extra $200 this year. That's steep for a struggling novice. But where would a writer go to get some serious feedback on their work? Where would we see certain writers?

Some other blogs email their posts, which stimulates people's responses. Is that something you might do? I would sign up.

One other thing (You can tell I'm into this writing thing.), sometimes I feel like I shouldn't be posting because I'm not published (in fiction). Is there some way you could encourage us amateur fiction writers to join in?

Lorraine_Bartlett said...

Pat, if you're not already a members of the SinC Chapter Guppies. you should join. It's the best $12 an unpublished mystery writer can spend. Take a look at their web site: http://www.sinc-guppies.org -- they can help you learn what you need to know, polish your ms., query letters, and synopsis. They have many subgroups, too.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

I love the blog, but I don't always comment.

Maybe..we can give prizes to commenters? Have themes? Have special programs? Debut day? Series day? Historical day? Promo? BSP? Contest? Whatever.

Maybe--assign chapters to host a special week? Or have more members chat about their lives and writing?

I also think--a lot of it is about making an appointment with the blog. And if there's not something new pretty often, it's easier to forget. Or! If it's clear when the new content will be there.

Beth Groundwater said...

I have just recently started scanning this blog, reading some articles, rarely commmenting. As the other comments have said, it takes awhile to build up a readership base. Is SinC promoting the blog enough, with mentions on the mystery-oriented email loops, inserts in chapter newsletters about the blog, status updates about the blog on SinC's Facebook, Twitter, etc. presence, and so on?

How about adding a Friday feature, so there are three a week, with a paid SinC staff writer posting an article each Friday about different themes in mystery fiction and books by SinC authors written in those themes, with covers and quotes from the authors? It would be nice to see the diversity of work our authors produce, esp. the non-best-selling ones.

Pat said...

Thanks Lorraine --- See already the blog is getting more pro-active...

I loved what Susan posted. These are some great ideas.

Anonymous said...

I'll probably forget to look at it if I don't get a tweet or a Facebook posting. I don't think I always do. When I am reminded to read it, I enjoy it and often pick up a valuable bit of information.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Or! (Still thinking about this..) ask authors to take a day, or even one month or two, and fill up all the days! ( Yes, someone would have to coordinate and schedule, which would be a bit of juggling.)

Sign me up for a day, of course!

Norma Huss said...

I usually read this blog when a post on Guppies or SinC reminds me. I will put a link to it on my website. (That's a good idea.)

Another idea (did someone already mention this?) is choose a subject of the month (or some similar time) and ask for volunteers to write something on that subject.

Sheila Connolly said...

I regularly read a small group of blogs (this is one of them), limited only because there is only so much time in a day. I've also been part of a few blogs, so I've been on the receiving end of hits and comments (or lack of).

It's hard to come up with a distinctive voice, and content that makes you stand out from the crowd. It's true that many blogs seem to be limited to writers talking to each other, which limits your pool.

I would say, mix up the content. Devote some posts to those areas that a national organization such as SinC does best--follow publishers, reading trends, statistics. Use another day to highlight authors' stories--the first sales, the second sales, the series that die, the author who shifts genres, and so on. Use both known and unknown writers.

I have no problem with the twice-a-week calendar, because the dates are fixed and we can anticipate them. And you've done a consistently good job of asking questions.

Susan M. Boyer said...

I typically read Sinc blog posts on Google Reader. Does that show up in the stats? I'm not sure, but today may be the first time I've clicked through to the actual blog.

I think what Sheila said about following publishers, trends, etc. makes sense. Maybe a look at the leading imprints for mysteries and what differentiates them. (Maybe most people know all of this stuff, but I'm betting there are still things we could learn.) Things have chanegd a lot in the last couple of years. Also, maybe agent profiles or interviews for agents who have a strong mystery track record.

Steph Damore said...

I like how annon @ 2:04 asked what the purpose of the blog was. For me, there's already numerous blogs out there who offer excellent publishing and industry advice. I don't come here for that.

What makes SinC's blog different? I'd say two things: our genre and the people who write it. Guest posts by authors, genre-specific news and advice, anything that offers personality would be welcomed. And interacting with your audience is always nice too.

Good luck!

Dana Stabenow said...

Anonymous' point is well taken--what is the purpose of this blog? What is the purpose of Sisters in Crime? I'd say it isn't only to serve those members who are writers, it is to serve those members who are readers, too. How about canvassing the membership for a semi-irregular post that reviews a favorite book or series, old or new? Any title, any genre, so long as it is written in a style that makes the reader feel like they're sitting in on a conversation.

More frequent posts on all topics germane to the organization, the business of writing, the craft of writing and on the products of that craft and business would help drive more people here. I would also recommend that the post writers let themselves off the chain a little, too. "Did you see what Dana said about the latest Crapholla Cooper mystery? Man, is she full of it or what?" The blogosphere rewards no-holds-barred smartassery.

Marcia Talley said...

Today I'm reading the blog on my new iPhone, typing with two thumbs. Dana, I agree completely with what you, and others have posted here. Frequency, variety and a bit of smartassery and in-your-faceness is key. I can't wait!

Anonymous said...

As this blog is an extension to the SISTERS IN CRIME organization and National Chapters in the USA, I find it ironic that you wonder why your traffic is so low...
Aren't your members participating? Why not?

I think most blogs suffer from the same problem, they lose sight of their intent for the blog, becoming complacent and self indulgent with content and other's participation.

I see many comments ignored if they are not in sync with the OP, instead of promoting healthy discussions, or giving the slightest ackowledgement.

A very predictable weekly format becomes boring, even to your members?

This subject matter is such an interesting one that I find it baffling that you can't think of innovative topics to post or talk about.

The mystery genre has dramatically changed in the last 100 years, it has spawned many variations in the publishing world today.

As all things in life, if you put in the time and effort you will be rewarded. At this point you are just going through the motions. Just remember if your guys want a monologue, that is fine, if you want a conversation try to listen.

There is immense competition online for our time and attention, you have to try harder if your traffic numbers are that important to you.

suzanne said...

I like the idea of chapter involvement on a rotating basis. It would be great to hear from other chapters to reinforce the "web" between us.
I'm a regular reader, but only check in once a week since I know the pub dates.
Thanks for all the work y'all do to bring it to us.

Ann Littlewood said...

I'm a member of the local SIC, have been for over a year, and did not know about this blog until Dana mentioned in Facebook today. My bad, but still... more outreach?