Daily Archives: January 8, 2009

Is This Good for You?

Every month or so I receive a newsletter from Randy Ingermanson. He’s an author who also helps other writers create a "Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius."

Each newsletter contains advice on how writers can improve their writing, and how to market. In this month’s issue about website/blog marketing he said (in part):

If you’re a writer, the purpose of your web site is to sell you. It sells you all day, every day, and it never gets tired.

One of the best things you can do for yourself as a writer is to help your web site help you. But how do you do that?

One easy way is to figure out what your web site is doing well, and then figure out ways to make it better.

. . .

This month, we’ll continue with a look at another way to measure traffic on your site.

. . . "Page Views" tell you something, because each one represents a potential reader for whatever you have to say to the world.

But what if people aren’t reading your stuff? What if they come to your site and then bounce away without reading it? How would you know?

The answer is to look at how much time people spend reading your pages. Traffic Facts gives me this kind of information too.

. . .

In the fast-paced world of the web, people don’t stay on any one page very long. I once analyzed a web site where the average time per page was only a few seconds. Not a very effective site!

If you’ve got readers averaging a minute or more per page on your site, you can be certain they’re actually reading something. (There’ll always be some people who bounce away in seconds, so the reality is that if the average is 1 minute, then a fair number of your readers are taking 2 or 3 minutes to read your page.)

I check my Traffic Facts about once per week. Why? Because it gives me insights into what people like about my site. And if I know what’s working, I can do more of it. If I know what’s not working, I can do less of it, or else find a way to do it better.

As an example, years ago, I began noticing that my most popular page was my article on how to design a novel — my "Snowflake" page.

Honestly, I hadn’t thought much about that article when I first wrote it. People had been emailing me a lot to ask about my Snowflake method, and I was wearing out my fingers typing in the same stuff every time.

So I posted an article on my web site with all the basics. That way I could defer all questions to my site.

When I noticed that the Snowflake page was getting more views than the pages about my books, I realized that more articles on "how to write fiction" were in order.

Eventually, I moved all those articles to a whole new domain, and AdvancedFictionWriting.com was born, along with this e-zine.

All that from looking at my traffic patterns.

I continue to track page views of the Snowflake page. Last year it had a record number of views, over 274,000. In six years, the page has had over 750,000 views!

Do you have a traffic measuring service with your web site? Most web hosting services give you at least some rudimentary traffic data.

Have you looked at it?

If not, now is a good time to do so. Take a look and try to get answers to the following questions:

* How many people visit your site per day?
* How many page views does your site get per day?
* What are your 3 most popular pages?
* How long do visitors stay on each of these 3 pages?

Are you surprised by the answers? What do they tell you about your site? What are site visitors most interested in?

All of the above are good questions, but the most important one is this one: What actions do the and answers to the above questions suggest?

Knowledge is power. When you know what works, you can do more of it. When you know what doesn’t work, you can do less of it.

. . .

There is much more to say about all this, but I think it’s time for me to quit talking so you can start doing.

Look at your traffic reports today. Ignore the thousands of details that you could look at and just go for the big picture.

Answer the four main questions I listed above. Figure out a few actions you could take to make your site better. Pick one. Then take action.

Nothing happens unless you take action.

To legally share Randy’s words I must add the following:

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 14,000 readers, every month. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit

Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.


I removed a lot from the article, because, as Dona requested, I’ll refrain from speaking in code.

The statistics program I use doesn’t show the amount of time people spend on my site, but I still learned a few things.

Using two days worth of statistics, my blog sees the most traffic at 90.

The next most-viewed is the main page at 9, and third is the excerpt to "A Reason to Hope" at 4 views.

For only two days, those are good numbers.

The stats don’t surprise me all that much. I would prefer other pages to jump to the top three spots, such as my writing samples. Then again, I don’t highlight that page like I do the exerpt.

Based on those stats, do I want to try something different to encourage more views, and bring in more visitors?

I’ll have to think on that.

What about you? Would you like to see something different, or added to my website?

One more request, if’n you don’t mind.

If you read "A Reason to Hope," I’d love for you to add a review on Amazon’s website. I think it would help with sales . . . and I am in this for the money, you know.

I also created a Review page, so if you’d like your review highlighted there instead of Amazon, simply email it to me and I’ll add it. 

Thanks muchly!