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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Year End Blog Review

School is back in for just about everyone, now. Stores are pulling school supplies sales displays and installing Halloween displays.

I love this time of year! I know the change in routine can be tough, but the quickening of the mind and the easing of the heat is exhilarating!

To teachers and students - once you get over the hump of getting back into the groove, the new possibilities for the year are exciting. Think of all the good things that could be starting this year.

To parents - the end of the summer malaise and boredom of your children is refreshing. [Bring on the schedules!]
[I happen to be all three: teacher, parent and student. I feel your pain and share your possibilities.]

In a scholarly mood of new possibilities I'm tackling the yearly review of my blog a little early. On October 22 my blog will be officially one year old. Time for reviewing what I've learned and making adjustments and changes. [I've made visual changes frequently, but I'm talking content and style here.]

Using my science teacher training and experience, I'll apply the Scientific Method to my blog and see what I can discover. [Warning to students: this would not make a good science fair experiment, so don't even try this one on your teacher - way too many variables for a solid experiment.] And hopefully I won't need too much humility to improve.

I'll use the seven steps version of the Scientific Method
Problem, Research, Hypothesis, Experiment, Data, Analysis, Conclusion

Problem/Question – How can I improve my blog? [This question is too vague.]

Attempt #2 - How can I attract more users (potentially be readers of my books when they get published) to my blog?

Research - I took the Writing for the Web MOOC (Massive Open Online Class) from Open 2 Study, with Frankie Madden, she discussed how to generate traffic to your website. Here's a checklist I made from class.

Web Checklist
Search Engine Optimization
-find keywords for search engines through talking to our users and looking at analytics, use keywords throughout the website for different pieces of content and the website as a whole.

-plan for your content
-know your reader and business (understand the purpose of your content)
-structure page and website to make it relevant, useful, accurate, incredible and current
-keep it consistent across website and other channels
-make information findable through search engine but also on the website
-scannable using headings and links and chunks of content understood by users (write for the correct
      reading level, make it interesting, write in plain English, consider the tone of the voice, the brand, and
      the organization in general)
-use active voice and present tense
-keep writing personable and give information to the user that they need.
-needs to be reviewed by someone else
-summarize longer content
-call to action [there is more to this checklist but it's not relevant to the question I asked or I've already incorporated the ideas]

Other websites with advice for bloggers suggest offering perks and freebies, trading comments with other bloggers and trading links with other bloggers.

Hypothesis/Guess – Feedback from my users will help me to understand what would make it better for them.

Experiment - [I have tried asking users for feedback, but so far most of my comments have been from people who already know me. So I will just use this past year's analytics to try formulate an approximation of a user profile.]
  1. Use data from the blog analytics to try to piece together user's desires when reading my blog.
  2. Try to increase user participation and feedback in the up coming year.
  3. Try new things to see if they catch people's interest.
Data - 
The analytic clues show:
1. a marked increase in viewer numbers:
2013 October - 34               February - 125               June - 358
November - 156                  March -225                    July - 482
December - 293                  April - 184                      August - 471
2014 January - 216              May - 197                Total - 2,845 (includes auto views)

2. Countries views are originating from are (in reverse order of appearance, the top viewing countries have their numbers included) [I've thoroughly enjoyed keeping track of each new country as it appears. I love the map feature on the page view by country analytic.]: Hong Kong, Egypt, South Korea, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova - 243, Denmark, Russia, Turkey - 67, Uganda, Philippines, Jordan, Croatia, Sweden, Lithuania, Taiwan, Puerto Rico, Russia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Czech Republic, Ireland - 47, India, Romania, Spain, Finland, Mexico, Brazil, Italy, Chile, Macedonia, Vietnam, Singapore, France, Australia, Poland - 100, Japan, Canada, Indonesia, Latvia, Serbia, Ukraine - 94, Netherlands - 57, China, UK - 42, Malaysia - 106, Germany - 88, US - 1658

number of posts : 50 (counting this one)

Comments - few, mostly from people I know, who really like the pictures, some from the google communities I post to.
Reactions clicks - few

The keyword searches have been: 
animist in the catholic church
blog kc becker mythology
banshee valkrie succubus furies
changelingsrescued fromthe sidhe
chipmunk song joanne ryder
cinco de mayo llama
comments on the salamander room
elf mythology the hobbit
leprechaun fairy
spiderwick chronicles flower fairies
was leo tolstoy dyslexic
docter who leggos

The pages, linking to older posts by subject, click count is: Mythological Humanoids - 13, Book reviews - 7, Poetry - 6, with the rest getting 5 or 4 views

Popular posts by views are first topic, mythology, movie reviews and book reviews [these numbers can be very misleading due to increased exposure times of older post, auto views and combined topics in some posts]

Popular posts by +1 clicks are: Spring Equinox, Sidhe and the Banshee, Harry Potter Stamps and Fantasy Literature, and St. Patrick's Day and Leprechauns.

I'll analyze the data and draw conclusions next week and then I'll make plans for changes to get more feedback and improve my blog.

1. Do you have any ideas on how I could  improve this blog?
2. Do you know how I could get more feedback from my users?
3. Do you know how I could increase my numbers of users?
4. Do you know any websites that you think I could learn from, in style, design or content?


Anonymous said...

Moldova? Wow. Maybe you are already working on this but I think the key to increasing traffic is getting your address (URL) all over the place, especially on sites that have some similarity to yours. You mentioned "trading comments with other bloggers" but it can be anything. Webzines, amazon.com reviews, club sites that have forums, facebook pages for groups (is there a facebook group page for fairy enthusiasts?). Anything where you can post a comment, you can say something relevent and include your url at the end. Anyone who is interested in your comment may try the link. If you cant embed the url as a short link, you can use tinyurl.com to make an alias. For example I use tinyurl.com/chrislab sometimes which I set up to redirect to my home page. If you are serious about this you might set a goal to post a certain number of comments out there every week. Troll the blogs and webzines constantly for anything where you can make a quick comment and add your url. Good luck! - Chris F

Anonymous said...

An observation - not meant as positive or negative... Your blog doesnt seem to fall into an easy topic or category. This seems typical of the vast majority out there, so you are not alone. But I suspect that popular blogs are popular for one of 2 reasons. Either they stick to a clear topic so that readers alwaysknow what they will get. Or the personality and wit of the author is the attraction. The reason your friends like me want to read youra is that we like your personality so much - seriously. But will others gravitate to you because of personality? Just a thought. If you dont want to depend on personality alone then I suspect you will need to discover what other people really enjoy reading/commenting about. If you want to depend on your artistic content, then it seems you should have a more consistent format that isnt just a diary. For example you might only do book reviews, etc. What I dont understand is why you dont just write stories for the blog. - Chris F

KC Trae Becker said...

Thanks for taking the time to offer insights, Chris. I,too, have realized that what I'm righting about doesn't fit neatly into existing categories, and that can be a drawback. But if I can communicate the firm ideas in my mind about what my theme or platform is, the uniqueness of my ideas can actually be a positive message. Your observation has inspired me to work on clarifying my ideas for better communication. Thanks for caring!