The State of the Blog Report

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It’s been five months since Passive Guy started this blog. The original business purpose was to build a platform to support some PG works of fiction that won’t see the light of day for awhile (PG has issues with letting go of backstory).

Since his readers are his constituency, PG decided to provide a State of the Blog report. Since almost every author blogs, perhaps some of what PG has learned will be helpful to you.

When the blog was birthed, PG was researching self-publishing, so he started posting interesting items he discovered during his research. He picked up a few readers (Thank you!), but unique visitors were bouncing along in a generally unimpressive manner.

Following is a graph showing daily unique visitors to The Passive Voice for the first two months of its existence:

This is a slow upward path, but nothing very impressive. At best, about a hundred visitors per day.

If we look at the most recent two months (approximately), we see a nicer trend developing.

For the first few days, we were in the 150-175 visitor range, then on May 7, visitors spiked to over 500. What happened?

On May 6, I wrote my first post on contracts, entitled Don’t Sign Dumb Contracts. This post commented on an essay Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote about hinky contract practices by agents and publishers. Kris was kind enough to mention my post and readership went up and stayed on a 300-400 visitors per day plateau. I’ve picked up 41 comments on that post, which was the first to generate significant commenting.

I continued to write regular posts about contracts in the last two months. During that time period, I also started paying more attention to Twitter, actively trying to recruit additional followers.

The next big spike came on May 28, when the blog hit 929 visitors. What happened?

On May 27, I wrote a post entitled Strip Mining the Authors, once again starting with an essay by Kris Rusch. Kris mentioned my post, Dave Farland picked up on the strip mining metaphor and Dean Wesley Smith had emphatic posts on May 27, May 28 and May 31 pointing to the Strip Mining and a follow-on contracts post, For Avoidance of Doubt as must-reads. On May 31, the blog punched up above 1,000 daily visitors for the first time.

Since that time, The Passive Voice has hit a new plateau, although this last Friday and Saturday were each new daily visitor records and the last four days have each had over 1,000 unique visitors. The last month has also brought more visitors from outside the United States (Thank You!).

Here are some general blog stats:

  • 511 posts since I started – Generally I try to have 4-5 posts per day. I quite often write posts for 1-2 days at a single sitting, then schedule them to appear during the day so repeat visitors will see something new.
  • 2069 comments (Thank You!) – Heavily-commented recent topics include J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore announcement, PG’s upcoming book on contracts, Harlequin, plagiarism on Amazon and Keyboard vs. Longhand.
  • The average visitor spends about 4 minutes on the site. In PG’s experience, this a high number and may reflect the number of new visitors who come and read multiple posts about contracts.

The four most-visited posts are:

1.  Strip Mining the Authors

2.  Publishers and Agents are Trying to Figure Out How to Skin Their Own Authors

3.  You Just Signed with a Big Agent? Oh, I’m So Sorry. (Snarkiness sometimes pays)

4.  Write More for Harlequin, Receive Less Money

In the last month, PG has made the blog feed more prominent and this has substantially increased the feed numbers. Currently 591 people subscribe to the feed, up from less than 100 a month ago. 165 subscribe via email, the remainder via feedreaders.

Twitter is the real deal. PG should go over the 3,000 follower mark today or tomorrow. Clicks from Twitter comprise about 25% of new visitors to the blog, about twice as many visitors as Feedburner delivers.

Some of you are familiar with Technorati. For those who aren’t, it’s like the Social Register for techheads. Technorati ranks blogs by their “Authority” based on a complex algorithm combining traffic, links, quotes, etc. For a tech type, a high ranking on Technorati is almost as cool as being mentioned in Wired magazine or standing next to Steve Jobs.

Among book blogs, The Passive Voice is currently ranked #12 by Technorati. If PG manages to push up two more spots, he’ll have more “Authority” than the Tor publishing blog, which seems very strange and makes him question the whole Technorati ranking method.

Let PG know if you have any questions about any of this, how to do something he mentioned, etc.

As far as the future is concerned, PG knows he needs to do more with Facebook and will begin to build a presence there, starting with an automated feed of blog posts.

PG also plans to provide updates on his contracts book as it progresses, likely asking for feedback on content areas, unmet needs, etc. He appreciates all the comments already made on this topic and has modified his outline based on several.

Thanks to all who support The Passive Voice with visits, comments, emails and links. Passive Guy highly values the intelligence of and interaction with the people who come here.

28 thoughts on “The State of the Blog Report”

  1. I also discovered your blog from a mention on Kris’s site and immediately added you to my Blog Roll (on one of my alias pen name sites).

    Your straightforward approach, choice of interesting subject matter, and most of all your honestly, is what keeps me coming back. That, and a refreshing lack of the all-or-nothing blunt force trauma self-promotion syndrome afflicting so many sites these days.

    I’m most particularly interested in following your (and others’) progression and experiences with social networking. For various reasons, I abhor the whole arena of Facebook and Twitter and have chosen (for now) not to engage in it whatsoever. Simply my personal choice and a sort of private experiment, along with several other behind-the-scenes approaches.

    At any rate, congrats on the uptick of visitors and may they continue to climb and crack the sky, PG.

    • Thanks, MJS. I’m glad you find interesting material here.

      I haven’t done anything with Facebook, but will make a simple connection with a fan page shortly.

      You could spend your life on Twitter, but it’s pretty simple for me. Each blog post is automatically converted to a Tweet with a WordPress plug-in. As I do quick scans of the web for blog material, if I see something interesting that I’m not going to blog about, I do a quick Tweet about it – a 5 second operation with a simple script I wrote, 15 seconds if I did it all by hand.

  2. I really enjoy visiting your blog, too — sometimes several times a day. It seems you’ve hit on a great mix of curated links with amusing and insightful commentary, the contracts thing, and general excellent tomfoolery. I originally came for the content, but the delivery (love your witty voice) keeps me coming back for more.

    Wishing you continued success and growing numbers!

    • Anthea – Thanks very much. Sometimes I think my voice is my alter ego, either a better or worse PG than the real thing.

  3. I found you through a podcast interview Kris Rusch did with Adventures in SciFi Publishing ( that I listened to last week. I have a hard time keeping up with blogs (they cut into my writing time) so I listen to podcasts at work to keep up on my industry news. If you’re looking to increase readership, you might want to try contacting a couple podcasts. I’d recommend Writing Excuses ( and I Should Be Writing ( for starters. You could also check out The Dead Robots’ Society ( or SF Signal ( All of these would be good venues for contract discussion.

    I subscribed to your feed last week, which makes this one of three blogs I read on a regular basis. Keep up the awesome posts!

      • Let me be the first to second this. I listen to about a GB worth of podcasts weekly, on writing and publishing, geek stuff, technology, weird science, lots of stuff. I would definitely be interested in a podcast version of your contract blogs, and especially a news aggregate podcast, with guest commentary.

        Other notes – I added you on twitter specifically for your reposted content from other blogs. The news aggregation function is really valuable to me. The snark – a little personality helps to relieve the dry nature of much of the legal stuff. A spoonful of sugar and all.

        I would be interested to know how much time this blog costs you weekly, whether you feel this time is worth sacrificing away from your writing, how much writing you actually get done weekly, where you see this blog going as far as helping promote your writing, and as far as business in general, and any other analysis you can provide.

        I have a blog, I have nearly abandoned it as I am focused on writing and have little time for promotion, plus I just don’t have a passion for blogging, or much to say currently. I would love to do a podcast as well, but same story. I am still actively turning over ways to turn all that around, but I suspect it may have to wait a few more months or maybe a year (when I have enough stuff written to feel like I have stuff available for purchase and worth promoting.)

        How your efforts are progressing is of extreme interest to me. Nuts and bolts info is really helpful.

        Silver Bowen

        • Silver – Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad you find the blog worthwhile.

          I’ll be talking more about how the blog happens and what role it may play in my writing in the next couple of weeks.

  4. Thank You, Mr. PG, for being the one who isn’t afraid to call a spade a spade. Your take on what’s been happening lately in the publishing world, helped me to make the biggest decision in my writing life — forgo the agent and self-publish.

    I found you through Alan Rinzler and have been snapping up everything you say. Your advice is spot on, your take is insightful, and you tell the truth, which is something I can’t say for many agents these days.

    Keep up the great work. And much continued success in your writing/blogging endeavors.

    • Thanks very much, Anne, and welcome.

      I’m a great admirer of Alan Rinzler and happy you found your way here from his blog.

  5. Complimenti as they say in Italy, and auguri!

    I’m certainly not anywhere near your level with my blog (though I admit I work at it a lot less than you: averaging only 2 to 3 posts per week). But I think you hit on a very effective model: picking out the interesting bits of news and commenting on them (in a very effective snarky way!)

    Great fun to read and always informative: a winning combination!


    As far as Facebook goes, I’d love to hear from you how it goes (once you’ve built up some experience). I’ve automated my blog posts to my FB page, and even set up a special page for my blog, and still find it next to useless – certainly no comments ever seem to appear from that angle.

    In short, while I agree with you that twitter is very effective in drawing traffic, I’m not so sure about FB…

    • Grazie, Claude.

      I think I’ll ask the marketing minds assembled on The Passive Voice for best practices when I’m ready to start on the Facebook piece, so that should be interesting.

  6. I appreciate your sharing your blog history and stats. My writer buddies and I started a blog a few months ago. We don’t produce nearly the posts you do–and there’s five of us. Actually I think you must be on writing steroids. LOL But it’s all good and super inspirational.

    I really enjoy your blog! Thanks again.

  7. Excellent blog PG. You had me worried with the title of this post for a bit. Thought you were packing it in or something crazy like that! I’ll keep coming by as long as you keep posting them…

  8. Onward and Upward my fine-feathered friend, it shall only get better from here.

    I continue to be proud to say “I knew you when” as I’m pretty sure I not only started reading when you first posted, but was also one of your first commenters. I probably mentioned something about flatulence and used the word “awesome” in conjunction with another to form an entirely new word.

    Been a fun ride mate. I certainly look forward to your emails every day and I look forward to many more.

    Good luck and Rock Socks Like Hurricanes!

    PS – Thanks for sharing neat datashit with us. I’m migrating away from SEO and into Analytics & Reporting full-time once babymoon is over, and I shall surely be emailing you to offer up some of my ninjatastic expertisiations.

    PPS – If you can’t find a plugin that emails previous commenting folks with new comments, I’ll build you one. Hell, if you can’t find a WP plugin for anything, I’ll build it for you mate.

    • Judd – I think you were the only visitor for the first couple of months.

      Having worked with Google Analytics and Omniture, I think there is a lot of room for good quality analytics in between those two extremes. Good luck.

      Thanks for the tip on the comments. I’ll see about getting that fixed.

  9. I’ve been trying to remember how I first discovered your blog. I think I clicked on a link in a tweet that drifted onto my page — not from you, but someone else who posted the link. I’ve been back pretty much every day since then because your blog is so interesting. In fact, I return several times per day because I like to keep up with the comments from your readers and because you post so often during the day.

    Have you ever considered offering your blog or a variation on it via the Kindle Store to paid subscribers?

    • Patricia – I’m very pleased you enjoy the blog so much and find it interesting and valuable.

      I honestly haven’t thought about a paid subscriber service, probably because I’m too cheap to pay for one myself, but I’m flattered that you suggested it.

  10. Congrats on your successful blogging, PG. The problem for me is that I am publishing my fiction, and I want to blog in a way that serves my readership, such as it is. I’m still experimenting, trying to find a good way to do that. Right now, I get the most hits on days when I post self-publishing tips. Lol. And something tells me most of those people aren’t especially interested in buying my fiction. For now, I guess I’ll keep slogging along, trying to build my backlist and blogging in order to have a place for readers to go, if they’re interested.

    • Tori – I think blogging for fiction is a hard thing to do.

      The blogs that seem to be the most popular are those where the author has become a sort-of mini celebrity and blogs a lot about herself.

      I would guess that Joe Konrath’s self-pubbing posts get about 100 times the traffic that his blogs about his books do.

  11. First rule of blog traffic wh*ring: Give the people what they want!

    When I analyzed my own traffic spikes and slumps, I decided to cut back on the haikus. I will pay for that in the next life.

    Poor art. Always sacrificed on the altar of commerce with nary a tear shed.

    Congratulations on the numbers. Very impressive.

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