One of the fun things about being a data nerd is that Google Analytics gives a junkie like me something to ponder. I have pulled a lot of different charts and tables from last year’s stats on my primary fiction site, Tales of the Big Bad Wolf, and think I’ll be writing about different pieces of data over several posts.
The first I wanted to drill down further is a follow-up to comments in a previous blog about advertising.
I’ve screenshot the table I prepared for this blog post, but given the possibility that it will emerge on the web as a big garbled mess, you can link to the spreadsheet at this Google docs table and open in another window.
- This is a small subsection of fiction sites taken from a much larger list of referring sites. If you read my previous blog about my Project Wonderful experiences, you’ll understand that the majority of the referring sites are due to the use of the network.
- The contribution of these sites listed below with respect to the rest of the traffic is small. While I’ve listed the sites in relative order with respect to other fiction sites, the Overall Rank refers to how it compares to all sites, including direct traffic and google searches. For proper context, these visits are a dismally small part of the overall traffic (64k+ visits, of which 25k were new visits, and I am missing one month of data).
- The relative # visits from other sites is not directly correlated with traffic that those sites get. “Tales of Mu”, line entry 31 is actually one of the strongest stories in the ad network and one of the few where the author is making a full-go at supporting herself She is one of few to hit 1000s of readers a day (according to available public statistics through Project Wonderful).
Okay, now that’s out of the way, let’s continue below the chart…
In orange I’ve highlighted the five quasi-directories that actually list my work. The one thing you should recall is that these are not considered high traffic sites. (In the blogpost I did on stats, the resource sites would not even list anything for these five sites as they claimed the traffic was rather low.)
Three of these – topwebfiction.com (TWF), webfictionguide.com (WFG), and novelsonline.info (NO) are extensions of the same directory. All are tied into some aspect of webfictionguide . (In other words, your listing is primarily on webfictionguide and the other two are different formats of that same data.)
My story’s placement on these sites correlates well with the visits/traffic I receive from them.
Tales of the Big Bad Wolf has (since I instituted an in-chapter vote reminder this year) been able to move up to first screen status on the Top Webfiction(TWF) viewpage. However, its referral pattern is polluted by the vote incentive feature which redirects people from my main site, to TWF, and back to my site for an incentive page. The actual real new visits that are new are not the 1900 but 20% of that amount. That said, it may be an appreciable reminder to reader of other sites that once they finish their other serials, to come and read what they find on that page. Hard to say, as without confirmation it’s hard to prove.
“Tales of the Big Bad Wolf” has a pretty average presence on WFG. It sits on the 3rd page of the Fantasy category. It is not on the front page (a domain reserved for new stories or editor selected stories via the RSS update feed notice on the top right of the page). Half of the traffic that comes through that seems to be newer visitors who spend 19 minutes (blue column) and view slightly more pages per visit than TWF.
Novelsonline.info is another service of WFG that turns up in some keyword searches for “online novels.” “Tales” appears halfway down the page. One guesses that its placement is based on the Editorial rating from WFG. On my screen, it’s 8 screenpages down — less than optimal in webspace real estate. The low percentage of “new visits” at 7.89% actually suggests the majority of this traffic are from repeat visitors. In other words, no appreciable new traffic comes in through this listing and there’s not much that will change.
Muses Success is a smaller directory but appears to still yield new visitors at a decent ratio. What I didn’t show is that the bump of visitors came about this year when I enhanced my listing . This afforded a small window whereby the folks in charge of its Twitter account promoted the site (as an example/early adopter).
Tuesdayserials was a site I started playing around with listing my story this year for each week I had an update. The trend was close to zero visits for the majority of the year until after I posted about Wattpad. I suspect the link from the Wattpad blogpost actually was the main driver and not my listing in the weeklies. I have had no traffic since.
Overall — My lesson learned after this year and the last is that while these sites can bring in new visitors and are important and valuable, that the expectations of an influx of readers is unfounded. Short of these sites making concerted efforts to promote themselves, their inreach into the web community is questionable. Also due to the story ranking as average on all sites, the only avenue I have to overcome this is to continue to find readers on my own and, if possible, motivate them to help share the story either in these networks or, better yet, outside these directories.
So on to the good news….
The fiction sites are a great story in themselves, however. What I’ve listed are sites that either have Project Wonderful space or are unsolicited links from the authors themselves.
The traffic is not humongous on a broad scale, but blue columns tell a story about the readers who do visit from those pages. Compared to the list of all the other sites that were part of PW campaigns, the pages visited and length of the visit is among the best overall. It makes sense, after all, to think that a person who likes one serial is more willing to try another.
That said, there are some rather interesting caveats. One serial’s fanbase is not another’s. In general, but not always, the fantasy stories lead to better blue column results than the other genres — superhero and paranormal readers spend less time on the site.
And some other issues that are important. Some of the paid advertisements continue to do well, but the returning visit % shows for stories like the ones on row 20 and 31 that the actual number of new visits is low. More or less these boxes have become glorified paid links on the front page for readers who already visit the story. This means unless those stories acquire new readers in the near future, their benefit for future advertising is likely very small.
Given that some of these spaces are considerably more expensive than webcomic counterparts it becomes clear that next year, intermittent advertising needs to be decided more carefully and only if those sites themselves appear to do a lot more PR.
That said, I’m appreciative of the link exchanges that I do have from other authors and support for the idea that one author’s fate (on the web) can have downstream effects for others.
I feel comfortable that these other sites (particularly those with links) are contributing to the pool of regular readers I have (see purple boxes) and am going to contemplate how to return the favor to those that have freely promoted my site.
A caveat again – these are stats from Wattpad (an in reading experience) to the website. From time to time, I push people to incentives/graphic art on the website (as it features more FAQs and extras) and so this is really about reader curiosity than reads. My Wattpad stats have been fairly modest the past few weeks but continuing to slowly grow. My January update is included on the spreadsheet I’m updating here. I expect the story to suffer a bit from here until the end of the serial. As an excessively long work for Wattpad, the best thing right now for the story is to be complete so I can begin tracking behavior for that particular story.
Complete works have a better shot at being read. I’ll work on getting TE Waters to talk about her Wattpad experience (assuming they let her). Her stats for “Ghost Tiger” versus her serial for “Memory of Ausos” is pretty mindbogglingly different . (Peek here.) Her experience suggests the importance of “completion” in my mind as well as how a feature on Wattpad’s site can be a game changing experience for an author.
This year I added two links to the site from the Web Serials page and from Fairy Tales. These are fairly buried in the pages themselves (very far down in turns of screenpages) and yet the click through appears modest. The impact of TVTropes is probably increased for those sites that have dedicated listings and multiple trope examples. I haven’t pushed this upon my readership, for so far they have been fairly passive in generating reviews. I would like to experiment with this more next year.
Let me know if you have questions… otherwise next week I’ll be looking at either social networks or reading devices :]