Thursday, April 05, 2007

when will the magic stop?

As someone who likes to write (i.e., as a narcissist and egomaniac), I'm keen to know whether people are interested in what I have to say. On one level, this means checking my SiteMeter readings to see whether there's been any increase in my readership.

Within the first couple months of this blog's existence, I had managed to get my number of unique visits up to around 100 per day. Over the course of the next three or so years, that number went up to around 200, then stabilized for several months. It then went up to around 300, and stabilized... at my best, I was getting around 400-450 unique visits per day. Of those visits, perhaps only a couple dozen represented actual constant readers. I've also dipped down into the 200s for a time; this has usually happened around Christmas, Thanksgiving, and parts of summer vacation, when people would often rather be away from their keyboards.

But over the past month, I've seen a sudden increase in traffic, and I am now averaging almost a thousand unique visits per day.

Yet I take no pleasure in this.

An examination of where these hits are coming from shows that the majority of them are Google Image searches. Many of these searches lead to the same thing: a particular set of cartoons and photographs I had done a long while ago, and which are now, apparently, gaining some circulation on the wider Web. I wouldn't be surprised to discover that someone had copied some of these pics and placed them online under different names.

The point is that these "pic hounds" aren't visiting my blog to read it. Ultimately, they don't count-- not unless they stick around, find the blog interesting, and then become faithful readers. But if my Google Analytics stats are any indication, that's not what's happening.

Last year, I was proud to report that, according to Google Analytics, about 60-70% of my blog traffic was from return visitors. Not bad. But now, thanks to the pic hounds, that statistic has sunk to a very flaccid 28%. That's right: over 70% of my traffic is now of the hit-and-run variety.

This is meaningless to me. It's not a rush. It's nothing to take pleasure in. I'm beginning to think that, if I'm going to attract more visitors interested in my writing, I'll need to start churning out bad erotica (those who have bought my book Scary Spasms in Hairy Chasms know what horrors I'm capable of).

So I'm guessing that my actual readership numbers are about the same as they've been for the past two years. Currently, a thick layer of statistical blubber covers a thin, flabby layer of statistical muscle, but even that blubber might disappear at any time.

There is, however, a bright side to all this: I've noticed quite a few "out clicks" to my CafePress site-- about 10-20 per day. That's fantastic. Thank you, hit-and-runners. Now: go buy a ton of nasty shit from my store!

And that reminds me: many thanks to the people who continue to buy Water from a Skull. My original hope was to sell several hundred copies in a year's time; assuming the honeymoon is far from over, I think that that goal is not only feasible but surpassable. I hope to rely on reviews and word of mouth to continue to spread interest in the book. My family is also helping me market the book Stateside, and I'm learning the ropes of e-marketing so I can hit some online targets hard and stir up some interest there. Thanks again, all of you.

Here's hoping the magic doesn't stop too soon. More hits = more CafePress out-clicks.


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