This is the last entry! the previous entry is up on Chad’s site! Spoilers abound, ladies and gents, we are officially in the danger zone!
DB: Oh man, I’m positively obsessive about the audience. I have a third-party counter and the official WordPress stats plugin going. The third-party is so that I can point to our stats and go, “Hey, look! You should let us interview X or give us a preview of Y! People read us!” A certain (a lot) of it is almost definitely simple ego-stroking. It’s nice to be wanted, and as a writer, about the best compliment I’ve ever gotten is “I like to read your stuff.”
Another reason why I pay attention to hits is money. I added ads to 4l! about twenty months ago, Amazon Associates maybe a year ago, and knowing the hits is a good motivator. I know that going a week without content means that hits drops which means Project Wonderful advertisers may not bid as high as they usually do which means I’ll eventually have to go back to paying for hosting. Which is no big deal, I did it for four years, but I really, really enjoy that after five years, 4thletter! pays for itself. It’s like the little blog that could.
But the hits thing… I think you’ve got to know your audience. The WordPress stats gives you the views by post, which is enormously useful. There are a few weird bits in the system (posts with a Read More tag get more traffic than ones without, for obvious reason), but it’s helped me figure out what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes I’ll write a post, be completely unsure of it, and throw it out into the ether and bam, it does gangbusters. That gives me something to look at and figure out what I did right, or what I did wrong, and adjust for the future. Not that I’m writing for hits, but it helps to know whether or not people are listening or if you’re just talking to yourself.
As far as approaching an audience… I kinda do and I kinda don’t. I like a lot of popular stuff, and I know if I do a cheap snark post it’ll get a different response than a long, in-depth analysis of some comic. But, when I’m sitting down to write, I’m just thinking of myself. I mean, I dedicate a month’s posting in February to racial issues, something 10% of comics fans barely care about and the other 90% are actively hostile to, I’ve done several thousand word essays on rap music, and I swear I’ve done other posts that only I care about in the entire world.
So, short, probably more sensible answer: I have an idea of what the audience wants, and while that sometimes lines up with my interests, I don’t have a reader in mind other than myself. I write what I want to read, or a reasonable facsimile thereof.
CN: I imagine I would care more about hits if I had my own site and hosting fees like you do, but being on a free site like Blogger means I can be as oblivious as I want, thankfully.
I’m not sure there’s anything else to cover. We’ve discussed the past, the future, and well a bunch of stuff not covered by either label. I’ve really enjoyed this. A nice way to celebrate five years or so of comics blogging. Hopefully, we’ll be around in another five.
DB: I don’t have much to say (all appearances to the contrary), barring sincere and genuine thanks to Gavin, Esther, Thomas, and Paul. Hopefully in five years we’ll have another dot-com boom and we can all live in Comics Blogospheria, our own island country.