Requesting Some Feedback

January 21, 2012 — 18 Comments

My blogging has become more reasonably consistent lately, but I’ve also noticed a trend. I’m don’t get too hung up on the actual number of views I get per day, but I do pay attention to them. I look for where I’m getting referrals from, what site people are clicking over to when they visit, and what content on a given day is most popular. Recently, though, I’ve seen my general numbers slip. There was a point when I could be fairly sure that a single post would net the blog at least a certain number of hits. This week I posted twice in one day and couldn’t manage to hit that bar.

I’m not trying to sit here and bore you with my sadness over losing readers. In fact, if it’s just an issue of numbers then really I don’t mind. But the numbers slide me tells me that I’m doing something wrong. I’d like to figure out what that is.

So help me out. Give me some feedback. Tell me what content you like best on the blog. Be specific if you can. What are your favourite posts? What do you come back for? Are there any kinds of posts you’d like to see or see more of? Do you think I should do more reviews of films? What kinds of reviews? Just straight, simple ones, or more in-depth essay style reviews like my War Horse piece?

And there’s other stuff. Do you like the blog’s recent look and layout? Are there additional layout elements or changes you think would improve the site?

So be a pal, help me out. Let me know what I can be doing better.

Thanks!

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18 responses to Requesting Some Feedback

  1. 

    I’m a late adopter of following your blog, but the post I’ve enjoyed the most so far is “The Thematic Brilliance of Attack the Block”. Well-written and intelligent piece of writing, that one. I wouldn’t mind seeing more posts along those lines. I also enjoy the “Attack the Blog” posts, as they’re a great way of finding fresh content I might not have come across otherwise.

    • 

      Thanks I just started the Attack the Blog posts recently, but I am committed to keeping them going. Even if no for others, just for myself. It forces me to read a lot more blogs than I did before and I find all kinds of great stuff because of it. Of course, knowing others like you get a lot out of it is icing on the cake.

      As for the Attack the Block essay. I liked that piece a lot, as well. Only problem is, they are more time consuming to write, and I can only really do them when I feel both really passionate about a film and have an angle of attack for how to write about them. Also, they’re usually pretty long.

      Do you think you’d appreciate some shorter, slightly less in-depth reviews on a more regular basis, with the big ones like my Attack the Block or War Horse posts happening at the current rate?

      • 

        I can definitely sympathize with not putting out long in-depth pieces on a regular basis. I’m very much the same way myself. Sometimes you just get an idea in your head about a movie you feel strongly about and have to share it with people, but things like that don’t happen all the time.

        I’m only speaking for myself here, but I rarely read reviews of films I haven’t seen. I’m very paranoid about spoilers and always prefer to go into a movie knowing next-to-nothing about it. I enjoy reading reviews of films I have seen, to see what others got out of the movie and find new perspectives. I also like seeing people talk about films that aren’t on my radar, as anything that points me to “new” films I might want to see is helpful.

        I think the best thing to do is to focus on writing the kinds of posts that you yourself would want to read. Catering to one’s readers is good to maintain interest, but if you do it too much, it can lead to resentment towards one’s own writing. “Ugh, I guess I should write this post now. I don’t much feel like it, but it’s what people want….” That kind of thinking doesn’t lead to healthy blogging, and it’ll eventually lead to loss of interest.

        • 

          Right. I guess it’s a balance I’m looking for. I’m not a huge fan of reading reviews in general, nor writing them. Which is why the few times I do write reviews, they’re more like essays. I’d rather discuss a topic within a film or related to a film than just talk about whether a film worked for me or not. That said, maybe I could try doing that for more films, but just try to keep the length a bit shorter so people get don’t get bored so quickly.

          You’re completely right, though. I don’t want to turn this blog into work.

          That said, I’ve decided to re-commit to my Essentials series. I did my Top 20 Essentials of All Time, and I think it’s finally time to get back to that and do different categories. Those posts were a ton of work to put together, but the end result was always a lot of fun.

  2. 

    Increase your syndicability. There’s a reason spam is effective. Press the flesh. A million people will buy your widgets for a dollar a piece and you’ll be a millionaire.

    However, and this is something I’m jealous of on your blog, you get a lot of comments, and dedicated, loyal readers are worth ten thousand times their weight in gold, because they will continue coming back long after the quality of your work has receeded into senile oblivion (see the collected later works of Bob Dylan 1980-1996).

    Decide which audience you want and target the hell out of it.

    Good luck, I love this blog.

    • 

      Thanks. I do like that people comment. That’s always more impressive to me than the actual hits.

      Just one question, what do you mean by syndicability? Is there something specific I could be doing?

      • 

        By syndicability, I mean whatever film/television show/person you’re reviewing should be the first words in your url by order of popularity. For example, your recent post: “wes-anderson-goes-full-nouvelle-vague-in-the-trailer-for-moonrise-kingdom”; could be edited to read “wes-anderson-moonrise-kingdrom-going-full-nouvelle-vague-in-the-trailer”.

        Also, submit your links to every place under the sun. Exploit fan communities and message boards. Press the flesh.

        Make sure to include more links in your articles. Some to other sites, but also to your own. You use a tagging system, so make sure to tag keywords in every article. Especially the ones that drive the most traffic.

        Any external links should open in a new window. Internal links should click straight through.

        Like a casino or a supermarket, the idea is to get people here, trap them here, and then keep them entertained enough that they never find their way out of the rabbit hole.

        It’s a strategy I call wikipediaing.

        • 

          Ah, you’re talking about strategizing to get hits the old fashioned way. Yeah, I mean, I do what you mentioned with the links. But I can’t be bothered to do some of the other stuff. It feels like too much work, and a little shameless. Kind of the opposite of what I intended with this post.

  3. 

    I just discovered your blog, so I don’t have much in the way of feedback. But I do gotta say I love your writing style.

  4. 

    I’ve already talked with you in the chat but I could as well write it down here as well. I think Emil is right about trying to not get too professional about your blog. You’re not doing this for “them”. You’re doing it for yourself.

    I step up on my soapbox and talk about things that are on my mind, things that I’m passionate about. If people want to listen or even discuss, the better. But the thought wouldn’t occur to me to let them dictate to me how I should blog.
    It’s my place, my rules, take it or leave it.

    I think you’ve got a good chance to get a bigger audience if you keep writing more opiionated material than reviews. And as I said to you: try to keep it short and sweet. Also: comment a lot on other blogs and get involved in the community. If you’re involved, if you feel like a friend, someone you really want to follow, people will come back to your blog over and over again.

    And for God’s sake: stop fretting over statistics! It’s not as if you’re making a living on clicks on your blog. Just stop looking at them for a while and keep your focus on blogging and having fun whilest doing it.

    • 

      I’m not fretting, Jess. Just looking for ways to improve. Always looking for ways to improve. Be a better writer, offer better content, make things easier for both myself and my readers. That’s actually why your advice about writing some shorter posts is something I’m definitely going to keep in mind. Not for everything, but I can definitely see how people are more likely to read a 500 word piece than a 2,000 word piece.

  5. 

    I can’t say I have a favourite type of post – it’s your writing style that I like. So write what you enjoy writing (I totally agree with Emil above). I find I really bog down with my blog when it starts to feel like homework – you may have noticed I’m not exactly pumping out the content these days, but I’m feeling much more relaxed and post when I feel like it (e.g. I really enjoyed putting together that cluster of end of year stuff).

    Hit counts are funny things, so definitely don’t put a lot of stock in them…I’ve seen my hit counts rise during periods of inactivity and then plummet during periods of several posts in a row. One random link to your blog can really help, so you never know when that might happen. Having said that, you can absolutely grab more hits (and I’m not necessarily suggesting you should do these things)) if you start 1) linking to other sites, 2) posting about the BIG movies and 3) posting photos of actresses…By far my most successful post (in terms of individual hits) has been my “20 Favourite Actresses” post in which I had a photo of each actress I wrote about. I didn’t intend that, but it is the Internet after all…

    I guess in the end it depends what you want your blog to be – do you want to drive traffic through and build it into a “site” OR do you want to make it a personal spot for you to talk about film which over time will build a select set of people who enjoy discussing your posts as well as a place for you to flex your writing muscles? Either way is fine. You’ve obviously been doing something right due to the frequency of comments and the new appointment to Dork Shelf (hey, Congrats on that by the way!), so just make sure you keep the passion in your writing.

    • 

      Oh, I definitely know the benefits of one random link. I once got a link to my article about Star Wars on Blu-ray from a Finnish magazine’s forum. That link got spread to some other Finnish blogs, and I think over the course of two or three months I got maybe over a thousand hits from just that. In fact, I still usually get about one hit per day from one of those Finnish sources. Of course, they’re Finnish, so I don’t think any of them have ever stuck around or commented.

      I think you get at my issue though. I’m not looking for ways to drive traffic in numerical terms, because as you say that can be fairly easy to do and it gives no indication of whether people actually like what they see.

      There must be something I’m doing right, because as you say, I get a reasonable amount of comments, though I think WordPress’s system is conducive to that as well. They make it easy.

      Do you think that my slightly less focused approach might be throwing people off? They come to my blog and see that in the past week I’ve posted about movies, books, and even politics. Does that turn people off? Maybe they get confused about what my blog offers them.

      And thanks for the comments and the congratulations!

  6. 

    Don’t trust the numbers too much, especially in the short-term. They’re subject to the whim of random tends and the odd occasion where one of your images ends up high on an image search term.

    I say just keep being consistent and you’ll gradually see your numbers grow over time. Look at the big picture over a few months and you’ll see growth as long as you’re producing solid content.

    Also, it might help if you wrote more about good movies. 😛

    • 

      Haha. Yeah, I actually tend to look more at the views on individual articles. It’s easier to see what people are actually looking at and for what reasons. For example, this post? Easily my most popular new post in ages.

      So what does that tell me? Well, maybe it means that when I’m more open about wanting feedback or inciting discussion then people are also more interested in checking out the post and reading it. Maybe not. Who knows?

      Also, War Horse and Attack the Block are great!

  7. 

    I haven’t been reading your blog for very long, but the writing style made me subscribe and makes me want to read it more often. Like others have said don’t look at your statistics too much. Sure it’s great seeing a sudden rise in numbers (love seeing that as well), but in the end you have to think why you write. Do you do it to see some numbers or do you do it to know what other people think about it and have a discussion about it. To me it’s the comments which makes it all worth it and the closeknit group of other bloggers I regularly come into contact with. You have to decide what you want to write about, not ask what other might want to read. That’s what I do and that what makes it fun. Sure there might be things you expect to be popular, but you never know for sure. Just keep doing what you have been doing and visit other blogs and comment there as well.

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