The Road to a Comeback

So my writing schedule fell apart in 2012 because we had twins, I got promoted, my aunt got cancer and ultimately passed away, and we dealt with the usual stuff like kids, busy schedules, illnesses and stress.


My audience, quite logically, dwindled to miniscule because there was nothing to read.


So, as Wildbow says, UPDATE REGULARLY is pretty key to keeping an audience.


Since the new year I've updated once a week pretty regularly and there was hardly a blip on my stats, that I could see.


Then, this past week, I jumped from about ten to twenty unique viewers a day (based on Project Wonderful stats) to over 100. I really don't know why, though 23 the other day were from WFG. Are there that many people checking it out just because I'm starting to update regularly?


I'm sticking with the Wednesday update, and I'm going to try broadening out to more as I'm able -- but the key to coming back from absence seems to be consistency.


I just want to thank everyone who has offered support over the last few months, because now I'm getting back on track and it wouldn't have happened without each of those people, quite honestly. Kind words, good advice, readers showing up, the occasional comment on the story, all of it motivates.


So thanks.


My webcomic is notorious for being inconsistently updated, and this has led me to believe that many times an RSS feed is a great way to mitigate attrition.


People who want to follow subscribe to the RSS feed, and when they notice it update, a chunk (though not all) come back regularly. I remember at one point when I was regularly following Diggory and suspected I would fall off shortly I looked for it (I didn't find it--I was looking for the RSS graphic and overlooked it in your menu) just so I could keep track of how many updates I'd have to read in order to catch up later. (and then I dropped off altogether because I didn't know how far behind I was, which I realize is a stupid reason, but there you are.)


So I suspect a portion of your audience intended to come back and subscribed to your RSS feed so they'd know when you started updating again. Another group saw it on the Featured Updates page and clicked through from there (that uses your RSS feed as well I believe).


Which is excellent!


I put the RSS feed in my menu forever ago and forgot all about it (I don't usually bother with them because I find it faster to just check a site I like rather than sign into my email for updates) so is there a standard graphic people tend to look for that I can get somewhere?


It's just not somethig I would ever think of but if some people do then it would help them, right?


I also try to keep things pretty contained in the Table of Contents, so Diggory's narration is held within the first 10 Books and then Dahlia and Calla are individually labelled so they can be followed separately. I knew once I went off in both directions that people might lose track of where they were, so I wanted it easy to find if necessary.


(that's one of the few things about drupal, because it nests subchapters really easily)


WFG traffic is somewhere in the 1000s per (correction):month range I believe. (ETA: Used some third party sites to try to pull up compete.com data http://www.statshow.com/www/webfictionguide.com )


Being on the front page is kind of the main driver for traffic. So being in the RSS feed/top reviews on the first screen probably drives the majority of landing traffic.


Only the site maintainers can tell you about internal traffic flows, but the rest of the stories that fall deeper within the site probably don't have as much traffic unless they're "highlighted." (My WFG stats are pretty dismal as have been a few other folks I talk to whose stories only appeared front-page upon submission.)


OF note, both your story and Sharon's latest story "Beauty and the Geist" appeared on the front page this week. WFG (per PW) is a big contributor to all the sites that share the DN ad that Meilin Miranda offers.


I don't know if Sharon can validate WFG's flow to her site, but I suspect she has had a sudden bump directly to her site and can probably quantify the impact of a WFG review fairly decently (if she's watching).


To that end, I'm glad the editors have been trying to review work outside the ones that are highlighted in the feed. This spreads the traffic around to others who have not had much exposure or need a good dose of encouragement.


Heh; I don't check everything nearly as often as I should. Thanks, SgL, for letting me know about the review. I've been focused on edits and output and a suddenly busy Reality, so I haven't checked stats lately. When I checked this evening, I did not see a spike on or after the post date of the review.


I've tried to keep my update schedule as regular as possible. I fell off last summer because I didn't realize just how little energy my summer job would leave me. For about three months, I didn't appear online at all, let alone update the serial. I picked it back up afterwards and have kept my 3x/week since. My unique visitors aren't spectacular, but they're mostly consistent.


That said, I appreciate having the review. BatG has been running over a year now, and this is the first review on WFG for it.


Hiatuses are definitely damaging, but you can come back from them and regain your viewership, I think.


Over the (or my--I'm in Australia) summer, I went on inter-volume hiatus and also had to shift the site from a domain to a subdomain because it was hacked and I lacked the nous (and spare time) to clean it out so I just went nuclear. Stupidly, I did not notify via the RSS before I moved the site, and that combined with a hiatus that went two months longer than intended did pretty dire things to my traffic. That said, a PW ad, changing all the links and more active plugging via Twitter and LJ have got the visitors back to roughly where they were before the shift, and I'm still seeing a high proportion of returning visitors now I'm posting again, so people appear to have found the site again and not forgotten it despite my doing my best to lose them all. :)


SgL, as an aside, I get quite good clickthrough (taking into account volume and duration/loyalty) from Web Fiction Guide, especially when you include TWF. But a) almost half the hits are getting there from the front page, I think (/listing/), b) I have invested a bit of effort into encouraging people to review and thus move AFTGTJ up onto the first page in the key categories and c) a lot of the hits (70% for WFG and 80% for TWF) are returning visitors, which suggests I have reached most of the people visiting those sites that would be interested in my serial. The most popular category pages referring people AFTGTJ are /gay/ and /sex/ which may reflect the interests of WFG visitors or the fact that the /fantasy/ category is more hotly contested! *G*


TWF for me is a decent source, but the breakdown of returning/new is about 80/20% and has been for a while. To me, TWF only funnels traffic from other sites pushing the voting system and I think the numbers of folks who land on that page is probably only a fraction of the combined listed there. (I would guess that the denominator for TWF visitors is hundreds of visitors per month or so, at least smaller by a factor of ten or more.)


Novels online (Another WFG portal) operates more like the formal WFG portal in that it should capture other visitors looking for "online novels," but it keeps the same WFG weight rankings. The benefits are largely for those whose stories rank a five in the guide. Anyone 4.5 stars or below falls below the front screen so the probability of clickthru is small for 4-stars and lower. That said, I don't know if anyone checks their traffic from http://novelsonline.info/ to see if it gives any traffic.


As someone who's 5 stars on novels online, I don't see much in the way of readers from there. Maybe one or two a day. I'm pretty confident they're the same people who have come from other channels (WFG/TWF) and would be clicking through already.


SgL - I've had two referrals from novelsonline.info in the last 12 months--and it looks like the same person who came, read through the whole backlist, and then returned. *G* But the whole WFG ecosystem is a good referrer for me. The other one I get good referrals from is "free-online-novels.com", because I get alphabetised up the top of the list. But the bounce is higher than WFG.


Also, I do have a vote incentive (usually--am lazy) for TWF, but it actually channels back to a different site, where the incentives are, so there isn't a double count issue where TWF refers the same people back to my site automatically.


But enough geeking about stats, haha. *G*