Friday, January 4, 2013

2012 in Review

The year 2012 was a big year for my blog. I posted more consistently and saw a lot more traffic as a result. I was excited to pass 250,000 page views, and I narrowly missed hitting 300,000.

Yet there are other reasons why it was a big year for my blog. Early in 2012, I was in a funk, and I was not exactly sure what I wanted to do with my blog. It had been a bit of a hobby since 2008, but it lacked direction. I stopped posting for awhile so I could decide what to do.

After some time, I realized that I wanted to keep blogging but to narrow my focus. Part of my problem was that I was trying to do too many different things. Over the course of the year, I made a number of strategic changes to the blog.

First, I decided I wanted to focus solely on long-“ish” form articles. Specifically I wanted to write 1,000 word reviews and opinions. I felt that re-blogging had become a distraction and was cluttering my blog. Worse, re-blogging buried the most valuable content I produce: reviews. To facilitate this new focus, I deleted all of the short-form articles. I decided that Twitter and Google+ posts were better suited for any shorter form content.

Second, I wanted my blog to be more professional. I identified a few key areas of my blog to improve. I decided to remove all ads, “associate” links, properly source images and review copies. I also decided to provide credible links and develop a consistent style.

Over the course of approximately six months I have accomplished these goals. I went through each post and removed all ads and Amazon Associate links. This was the first task I approached, as I wanted to remove any potential conflict of interest. I also wanted to remove any desire to produce “link bait” traffic for monetary gain.

I thought it would be important to properly source images and review copies. As a result, I went through every post and added a link to the original image source. If I could not locate the original source, I removed the image and replaced it with one I could source. As much as possible, I have tried to use the art supplied by publishers via their websites. I have also identified in each of my reviews the source of my review copies. The majority are self-purchased, but I do have a few ARCs I have received from various sources.

If you follow my Twitter or Google+ accounts, you will be aware I have been critical of publishers. In order to bring my blog in line with my criticisms, I felt that I needed to provide credible links for each of my reviews. To meet this goal, I removed all links to Amazon. Instead, I have provided links to the appropriate product listing on the US publishers’ websites. I feel this satisfies two goals: it drives traffic to the publisher, and provides my readers multiple options for acquiring a copy of the book. In both cases, I receive no monetary compensation.

Lastly, I wanted to develop a more consistent style. To do this, I wrote out a “business” plan for my blog. I detailed out my tag structure, image editing style, where I post my reviews, my review format, and a few other details. Each time I post, I check against this plan and verify I am meeting it.

I am happy with the end result. I think my blog is better now that I have met my goals. It is more professional in appearance and, hopefully, useful to my readers.

Image Source: WordTipping

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