Sunday, March 11, 2012

Stats sinister stature

Hello Fellow Plotters!

First a big thanks to all the folks who are following and reading my blog. There have been a lot of you lately and I am very grateful. I try to return the favor and follow and comment on as many as I can but Twitter and the internet are both very BUSY BEASTS.

I imagine Twitter sometimes like that scene in Bruce Almighty with Jim Carrey when he first gets God’s powers. He finds he has an email client on his computer where he can read ALL the prayers that come to him. And, to put it lightly, he gets quickly OVERWHELMED!

Twitter is a bit like that.

But for a writer building a platform it’s great to see your numbers of followers rise. Seeing my stats go up is a BIG ego boost!

But is it important? Should you be concerned with stats and should you check them/follow them?

Well... the answer is both  YES and NO.

My day job as a Systems Engineer requires me to be savvy on KPI’s. KPI’s are Key Performance Indicators. Simply put, for the systems you are responsible for you watch stats, gather stats, analyze stats, report on stats, discuss stats, and figure out ways to IMPROVE stats.

Yea, it’s a lot of fun.

But for a writer, is it really important to focus on stats in that way? Maybe, because if they go up I feel good J

Could it be detrimental to a writers psyche? Possibly, because if they go down I will feel bad L

See what I mean -- both YES and NO.

For me, a highly trained KPI Jedi Master (chuckle), I have a tough and callous outer shell that allows me to look at stats a bit more dispassionately than most other folks. That’s not to say I have NO passion about stats. I still get the pleasant tingle when I get a new follower or when someone comments on my blog.

And conversely, I get the sinking feeling when I see negative results.

But I can and do forget all of that in about two minutes and get back to work.

Is it possible for other writers to do this? Well, both YES and... you get the picture.

Just don’t forget one major thing about all of this. Remember WHY you are doing this in the first place. As a writer, your goal is to WRITE! So go out there and be the best writer you can be and don’t worry about things like stats and such. If you write well (and work to get your work out there) readers will take notice.

So, as advice to my fellow Plotters and blog and Twitter followers, I offer up this:

Six steps so stats seem scant sinister (I almost set this as the title... shiver)

1.       Think first before checking stats - Make a decision up front if you really want to check your stats and what reason there is for you to look at them. Decide up front what weight you want to assign to them, meaning what value, or how important they are to you. Know that watching stats can be a tough row to hoe, a path filled with pitfalls and terrors, a road with...

2.       Formulate positive internal responses to stats - Remember that it is UP TO YOU how you react to the stats you read. You can make the choice to allow the negative stats make you feel like crap. You can make the choice to allow the positive stats to swell your head. My advice is to temper your reaction both ways. They’re only numbers.

3.       Don’t sweat stats - In the end, LET IT GO. Good or bad just forget about ‘em. Now if we’re talking SALES stats and you get 100K sales in the first month of publishing then I hate you... I mean, Congratulations! Truthfully, sales stats are pretty much the same as blog stats or Twitter retweets. Don’t let their absence or abundance get at you one way or the other.

4.       Remember content (writing) is key- Always, always, ALWAYS remember to focus on becoming a better writer. It will do you absolutely no good to worry about your stats if what you offer to your readers is garbage. There is so much online for you to read to improve your craft. Take advantage of it. Make yourself a better writer.

5.       Think of ways to improve your image/marketing - There is no way I will try to make you believe I know everything about marketing. What I DO know is that it is important. The image you present (online and elsewhere) is vitally important to your ability to draw in new readers. This has to do with the pics you use to the fonts you use, etc, but especially the way you write and the topics you write about. Make sure they all match your passion. Because it comes through to the reader. Check out Kristen Lamb’s site this week for a great blog about how poor online discussion choices can poison your platform.

6.       Walk away from stats - If watching the stats starts bugging you, just walk away. Make a vow to never look at them again. For some this is the ONLY answer and I can respect that. Watching stats can be a very sharp double-edged sword. Be careful with them.

And that my fellow Plotters is that!

I really do love to hear from you, so leave comments if you can.



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