Tag Archives: Research

A Slave To The Numbers

Michael Jackson has the biggest selling record in the history of the industry with Thriller. At its peak, it was selling a million albums a week. Sales are estimated to be between 47 and 108 million copies worldwide. There were only nine songs on the album, but seven of them were released as singles and four of those songs went to number one; the others all made the top ten. Thriller the album won the Grammy, American Music Awards, and just so many other awards that it’s scary to try to think about it.

Thing is, since that time period, Michael Jackson has done fairly well musically, but he’s never been able to get anywhere close to the standard that Thriller did. It doesn’t seem to matter that no one else has either; people look at him as someone who did it once, so why can’t he do it again. And that’s with his second album selling over 25 million copies and having five of those songs hit number one. Even with that type of success, he, and everyone else, keeps looking at the numbers, wanting more, wanting to be better.

That type of thing hits many of us who are trying to monetize our blogs. We look at the top bloggers in the world, who show us their monthly figures, and wonder how we can get there. We check our Technorati stats to see how we’re progressing, and get worried if we slip a notch here and there every once in awhile. We check our Adsense and our Widget Bucks and our Commission Junction affiliate performances and do our tweaking, looking for that one big post, or that one big product, that’s going to put us over the top, so we can join the pantheon of top bloggers and proclaim our success to the world.

It’s tough not to. I’m one of those people, mind you. Not only do I post my monthly statistics on this blog, but I’m looking at my figures often, trying to figure out why one particular post hit the masses and made them stand up and say “hey, this was good”, or why I’ll write something else and have it totally get ignored. I wonder why my Adsense performance is so far down on my blog, but doing fairly well elsewhere. And I wonder how others are doing, those who don’t share all this information. I wonder where my blog ranks with all the other blogs in the blogosphere. Okay, sure, right now it’s ranked in the top 300 blogs, sitting at #279 (look at that badge on the right), but who knows how long that will last, or if I’ll be able to move up the ladder some more?

So, what determines our success with our blogs? Is it the number of visitors we get? Is it the amount of money that we might make, if we’re trying to make money with our blogs? Is it the design, how pretty our blogs are, or how ugly, how many ads we have on our blogs? Is it the pictures, or the widgets, or any of that fancy stuff? For that matter, is it our content?

Or is it the fact that we’re blogging to begin with, and not only blogging but adding more and more things as we go along? In a way, we put ourselves out here for the masses to grade us, and it can be somewhat scary at times. Not everyone agrees with our position, and sometimes we have to deal with that. It’s kind of life what I’m talking about in my book writing series, the guts that it takes to even start writing, let alone finishing. I look at all you wonderful people here in the blogosphere and then I look at my friends, and I can easily say that the friend to blog ratio doesn’t figure out all that well. It could be that most of my friends are older, but I’m not sure that qualifies anymore.

As I’m about to embark on another professional adventure, heading to Reno next week for a consulting assignment, I wonder whether the obsession for chasing better and better numbers will wane a bit, or whether they’ll stay as intense as they already are. In any case, I hope to keep up my blogging schedule as it is now, but realize that it might come down to 3 or 4 posts a day, unless I do what I’m hoping to do, that being writing a bunch of posts on the weekend and dating them for future posting. After all, that’s how I’ve done my book writing series, which ends Wednesday morning. I hope y’all have been checking it out, by the way, and sharing it with others. Oh yeah, I’m supposed to ask that of people, to share the idea and spread the word to anyone hoping to write anything. I guess I’m also supposed to ask you to flag them on any of those social networking blog sites so that people will supposedly come over and check the articles out for themselves.

Nah, I’m not going to ask that. It’s enough that I’ve told the world that I want more RSS subscribers (and I still do, by the way, so let’s keep it going!), but I’ll have to do with getting those higher numbers the natural way, I suppose. And I’m going to gain control over myself as it pertains to checking all those other numbers also.

Yeah, right; we all know that I’ve already checked my Adsense and my Technorati score. 🙂


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Book Writing Series Step One – The Concept

This is the first part of my series on writing and publishing a book. I want to make a few things clear, if I may. One, not all of these concepts are specific to writing “print” books. Many of these concepts can be used in writing ebooks, magazine articles, short stories, or pretty much anything else one wishes to write. Two, all of these steps aren’t concrete; these are my opinions on the steps one should take, or things one should think about.

Writing
Pedro Ribeiro Simões
via Compfight

This may seem like the most basic step to most people, but it’s actually the one that keeps a lot of people from starting. Every person has to first decide what they want to write about, but it has to be more detailed than what they think.

For instance, you may say you want to write a detective story. Okay, what kind of detective story do you want to write? Do you want your main character to be a male or a female? Is it an agency or an individual? What kind of detective agency; serious crimes, following around people cheating on each other, finding lost children? Is there a particular area of the world your detectives are living in, and do you know enough about that area to write plausibly? What race is your main character; weight, height, background? Are they funny, serious, brooding, good looking, ugly, troubled, perfect, educated, rich, poor, sexual? Are they well known, well liked, well traveled, or are they the opposite? Are they more like James Bond or Easy Rollins or Kinsey Milhone? Or are they actually something else entirely, but end up doing detective like stuff, such as Dirk Pitt or Stone Barrington?

Or maybe you want to write a book about travel. Are you going to try to cover the entire world, or just a specific segment? Are you going to talk about places you’ve been, or places you’ve researched? Will there be images? Will there be history? Are you going to talk about the foods, the demographics, the politics?

Perspective is always key when you decide you want to write something. Almost no one gets away with writing about something they really don’t know anything about. Many years ago a friend and I decided to write a short story about a guy who ran a mining company on the planet Mercury, and how, on his return flight back to Earth, settings on his ship had been altered and, instead of flying back towards Earth, he was heading towards the sun, and had to try to figure out a way to get things changed before he was killed. Sounded like a plausible thing for us, as I wrote the storyline part and my friend dug into a little bit of the science. We submitted the story and got rejected soundly, saying our science wasn’t close to being legitimate enough to make the story plausible. Though the storyline was a pretty good one, we were way out of our realm in trying to write a science fiction story to pull it off.

I told you about my book, which I’m not going to mention here, but expect it in the next post; hey, I get to plug also, right? 🙂 Anyway, it’s a book on leadership and management. I had been thinking about writing that book for years before I started. I had always been the leader of my group as a kid, and when I got my first real job, I worked as a regular employee for 8 months before I was promoted to management, and I’d been in a leadership position ever since until I went into consulting, and even now, I always go into a consulting assignment in a leadership or independent role. While I was a director, twice the place I was working brought in survey companies to question the employees on management, and both times I came out as either the top ranked leader or tied for the top ranked leader. I always had other managers and directors and supervisors coming to me to ask how I would handle situations involving their employees. I felt that this was a subject that I was imminently qualified to write about. And even with that, I still did a little bit of research, because I wanted to have some statistics behind me while I was giving my tips.

Every book written doesn’t necessarily need to have research done, but if facts are put into a book they need to be somewhat accurate. For instance, if you mention the name of a song and the group that sang the song, it had better be correct, unless you’re writing an alternate universe story. If you’re a male and writing the story from a female perspective, you’d better be sure you’ve captured how women think and act correctly, and not just your impression of how women are.

Anyway, this all leads to what all the preparation and concept of what you’re going to write is all about. No one sits down one day and starts writing a book. Most probably, you’ve been thinking about something for a long time. Hopefully it’s become a passion for you, but it’s possible that you’re a hired gun; the process is the same.

What I recommend is to create an outline or a fact sheet, or both. An outline helps you determine in which order you want things to happen in your book. It also allows you to group common themes together if it’s a nonfiction book, or keep the flow of your book together if it’s fiction. A fact sheet allows you to put down facts that you garner from research, or write more detailed biographies of characters you introduce in your story. I know one guy who actually writes mini diaries of all the characters in his books, even if they only appear in one chapter, if he gives them a name. That way, he feels he has a better chance of capturing their personality properly as his story goes along, in case that character gets introduced again. But that’s for another time.

This gets us started on our series. I hope you’ve picked up at least one or two tips, if you needed them. Be looking out for part two of this series.
 

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October Report; The Good And The Ugly

Well, this should prove to be interesting; nah. The stats are in for the month of October, and I’m only going to talk about what I made with the blog and nothing else. But I’m also going to talk stats.

So, for the month on the blog, I made,… $9.44. Hey, it’s a start, and for the blog, it’s my biggest month. Isn’t that a shame? Well, even with a number like that, there’s some positives. Even though I still am undecided on it, I made $7.60 from Text Link Ads, and that was for just over 2 weeks of being on the site. And I made .36 cents from Widget Bucks, and that wasn’t up long either. The other money was .98 cents from Adsense and .50 cents from one of my Commission Junction ads. That’s the first money I’ve made off a CJ ad, so I’ll take what I can get.

Now, some other stats. Per Google Analytics, I had 1,169 visitors in October, the most ever. Of all things, traffic started taking off with the first, then the second post about Blog Action Day, a very personal post on a very big day internationally. So, this shows that participating in a community effort can be good for your traffic, as well as your soul. Also, it’s the first month that visits to the blog surpassed visits to my business site or business blog; need to work on that some more, I see. Per my ISP, I had over 12,200 unique visitors for the month, another high, more than 4,000 more than last month, which had been a previous high for me. Here, however, it’s far lower than my business site, which was just 65 visits under 20,000, which is actually down from the highs I had over the summer; so be it. One day someone will be able to explain to me what these visits mean compared to Google’s Analytics, but for my purposes, I’m figuring Google’s telling me who’s actually stopping by.

And there you go. Of course, I’ve already said that I was going to step up marketing efforts this month, so maybe I can increase some of these figures more. But I still hope to provide intriguing content otherwise.

By the way, I’ve mentioned about the newsletters that I write for my main business on business topics, but I don’t think I’ve ever shared a link to a newsletter. So, I’d like to share one with you, the one previous to my latest one, on credibility; it was what led to this blog post on credibility. I guess I can even inspire myself sometimes.


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