Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Traffic (Blog Traffic)

We've all read about or heard about the importance of building a platform, long before a writer gets published. And the most effective way to reach an audience seems to be through blogging. But what are agents looking for in a writer's blog?

From what I can tell, most agents just want reassurance that the writer is able to speak to an audience and generate interest since this will be important for marketing once a manuscript does sell to a publisher. And more importantly, a writer's blog is like a test-run and a way to get practice before everything gets too serious. That way, the blog will be a well-oiled machine and the writer will be an effective blogger by the time it's important.

Of course, an established blog with a lot of followers and high traffic is going to be more appealing to an agent than a new blog with a handful of followers, irregular posts, and low traffic, right? So, how important is blog traffic? And can having a poorly-maintained blog or a blog with a low follower/traffic count negatively affect a writer's chances of getting picked up by an agent? Probably. I mean, if I were an agent, a neglected blog would set off warning alarms and I'd likely take that into consideration before signing a new writer.

What is considered "high traffic"? According to Restless Writers, agents won't be particularly impressed by a blog unless it's getting 60,000+ hits per month. That being said, I don't think anyone expects the average writer's blog to hit those kind of numbers. The way I understand it, having a blog with a reasonable following and traffic rate is expected and basically puts the writer onto the playing field. It would take extraordinary blog success (ex. 60,000+ hits a month) for the blog to positively influence the agent's decision regarding whether or not to offer representation, or extraordinary failure (maybe one or two followers and irregular, irrelevant posts with 10 hits or less a month*) to negatively influence the agent's decision.

*I have no idea what the lower limits of blog traffic/followers are actually considered to be.

For more information on the different ways agents measure social media (and how you can check out your social media influence before you start querying), check out this article: 7 Ways Agents Measure Social Media

And if you are a writer who still hasn't started a blog, check out these links on the importance of starting one:
6 Compelling Reasons Why Authors Need to Blog
Why Twitter and Facebook aren't Enough
Why Authors Need a Blog
Why Writers Need Social Media

Are you aware of your social media score? And have you done (or do you plan to do) anything specific to intentionally increase traffic to your blog prior to querying?

14 comments:

  1. 60,000!?!?!?!

    I've been happy with my 4000 this month. LOL.

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  2. 60,000? Whoa. I really need to step up my game ^^;

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  3. Yeah, that number freaked me out too, haha. But I can think of a few blogs which probably reach those kind of numbers...MSFV?

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  4. I think my heart stopped at that number. This brings my love-hate reaction to social media into full force. It's great for trying to get published but only if you have the "right" numbers. Irritating.

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    1. I think the blog is one of those things that'll hurt a querying writer if they don't have one, but won't exactly be a positive influence unless it's well, amazing. I don't plan on blogging professionally, so I'm just happy to use my blog to connect with other writers and readers and don't worry about my actual blog traffic at all - as long as there's interaction going on, I'm happy :)

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  5. 60,000? I don't even have 60,000 hits total from the time I started my blog.

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    1. haha, ya, that number seems a bit high...but don't worry, I'm sure most writer bloggers haven't reached numbers like that

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  6. I try not to stress out over blog traffic. I get so upset when I spend an awfully long time writing up a post, and then get maybe one or two comments. I always think: I could've used that time writing! However, since my dream is publication, I know that social networking is an important part of the process.

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    1. I know what you mean! The post is there forever though and I'm always pleasantly surprised by how many people find and read my old posts. So, even if a post doesn't get a lot of attention on the day it goes up, at least I know it still has a good chance of being seen and being useful to someone at some point down the line :)

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  7. Great post! I agree with the discussion in the comments. I love writing posts that are helpful to me and therefore hopefully helpful to others. It's fun to expand that network and see what others are doing and interested in, but when it comes down to it, hits aren't what it's really about.

    I haven't really done much (read: anything) with Facebook or Twitter. I suppose one day I will but for now, I just find those media too distracting to create a presence there =)

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    1. I don't think a FB presence is necessarily worth it (at least not until you have a published book anyways) but it's interesting that things like FB likes, Google +1s and blog post Tweets are quantifiable markers of my social media presence. It makes me wonder if agents/editors really do look at those sort of things.

      I totally hear you on the whole new level of distraction a Twitter account will add to your life, haha. But, I have to say, I've met fellow writers through twitter, made contact with agents (and learned so much more about their personal tastes and personalities than their websites or blogs could have given me) and also received feedback on my MS (via a failed contest submission) which I wouldn't have otherwise received. So, yes, it's a major distraction, but it has its positive points too :D

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  8. Great post, AK. To me 60,000 is what a really big author might get. I have to build up slowly to get a small author's following. I took comfort from Mark Coker's excellent guide "Secrets to EPublishing Success" looking at the way platform numbers have changed (and I don't mean 9 3/4) and the way author sales profiles have changed with the coming of eBooks in a big way. I just hope I can maintain the hit rate I've had this month ... I suspect a few of us won't revisit many blogs very often, if at all. I'll come back to you though! :)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by :) This month has been great for blog traffic, but you're right, I don't think it's sustainable. Glad to hear you'll be back to visit me though! Thank you for the support :)

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