A few years ago, readers began wondering whether book blogs could be run without any book reviews. Once the main (and practically only) content on a book blog, the humble review, bloggers found, did not attract as much traffic as other sorts of posts. Some bloggers scrapped them altogether, others cut back, and others simply turned into blogging advice bloggers since blogging advice seems to get the most traffic of all. However, all of this raises a simple question: Should stats alone determine the content of your blog?
Obviously, most bloggers would answer no. And yet I do believe many of us are more influenced by the pursuit of statistics than we might care to admit. Very few bloggers want to shout into the void–we would not be writing on public platforms if we did. And very few of us want to spend hours crafting a post no one will read. However, choosing what types of posts to write and not to write based on traffic patterns alone could actually prevent you from achieving the type of blogging success you want.
First of all, consider that increased traffic does not always mean increased engagement. You could write a post that 100 people click on and two people comment on. In this case, your statistics may look good, but you may feel unsatisfied as a blogger. Any number of scenarios could cause this. Perhaps you wrote a post that is initially intriguing, but lacks real depth of content. Perhaps you wrote a post that will get search engine hits, but that will not entice fellow book bloggers to read your blog. Or, perhaps, in turning to the types of post that you believed would be popular, you inadvertently lost a core group of your audience who followed you specifically because they enjoyed what you were doing before. You will have to determine what type of blog you want to run. Are you willing to exchange interaction for clicks?
Secondly, in chasing statistics, you may end up losing your originality–and thus your audience. Book bloggers often look to other bloggers to determine what kinds of posts are attracting traffic. They will exchange notes on what works on their blog and what does not (often, I should add, in very vague terms so it’s almost impossible to know what another blogger thinks “low” or “high” stats are). They may then adjust accordingly, hoping that they can replicate another blogger’s success with their own audience (always a doubtful process). However, if you are writing the same types of posts you see everyone else writing, you are no longer giving other bloggers to read your blog over another. Faced with ten blogs that look the same, a reader may choose to read only two of them and yours may not make the cut.
Finally, the pursuit of statistics often is emotionally exhausting. Over seven years of blogging, it is my experience that it is almost impossible to guess which posts will get traffic and which will not. Most of the time, for instance, our LotR posts will inspire a lot of discussion. But every now and then a LotR post will get few views and few comments. This seeming randomness is true of every post I write. If I wrote posts solely based on the expectation that I would get views, I would find myself disappointed and frustrated very quickly, especially if my heart were not in the post in the first place.
A book blog has to be a work of love. Blogging requires too much time and too much effort for anyone to keep going without real passion. Most book bloggers know this. But we also get frustrated when we see that other people do not seem to share our excitement for certain books or types of posts. And then we feel pressure to change. But our own tastes, our own writing styles, and our own types of posts are all what ultimately set us apart and make our blogs worth reading. When we assume that everyone else has more followers and more traffic, it helps to remember that changing our blogs for traffic may be too high a price.
- Can You Run a Book Blog without Book Reviews?
- Five Years of Stats at Pages Unbound: Getting More Traffic?