Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Comic Blog Popularity Contest

I've always been a bit too fascinated by Website statistics. Waaay back in the mid-90s (an eternity in Internet years) I wrote one of the first programs for doing transaction log analysis of Web server logs.

So of course I obsessively pour over my blog statistics.

I always figured I was on the third tier of comics blogs in terms of readership. The first tier being the blogs that nearly everyone reads, namely Dirk, Tom & Heidi. The second tier being those who have been around for a while and who post either long, highly entertaining posts or who blog frequently, like Mike and Chris1 and Johanna and Dave and others. The third tier being schmoes like me who have been at this for a while but who don't post every day. There's probably a fourth tier as well, mostly those bloggers who are just getting started and who haven't found a readership yet.

Based on the stats I get--and let's be clear, Web stats are an imprecise science at best--I figure that I have about 300 regular readers, and another 250 or so a day who come at me from random linkage2 or Google searches3. So put my total daily-ish readership at 550 people more or less.

In a post today, Johanna reveals that she gets over 3,555 readers a day, which puts her an order of magnitude higher than me and confirms my supposition that she's in a higher 'tier' of the comics blogosphere than me.

So, anyone else want to reveal their comics blog readership numbers?

1 Man, if I worked in a comic shop, I'd no doubt have no end of things to blog about!

2 Getting linked to by ¡Journalista! or When Fangirls Attack or Mangablog is a surefire way to pump up one's blog stats for a day or two.

3 Seriously, if you ever want to get a permanent boost to your Google search stats, write a post titled "Girls in Mini Skirts Kicking People" and get it linked to by Dirk; your Google page rank will soar!


plok said...

Sure, why not? When I'm posting regularly, I get somewhere between a hundred and two hundred visits a day on average (if I write something good, it's closer to two hundred -- when I'm not posting I hover around fifty to seventy-five for a month or so and then drop to about fifteen a day until I come back). And content counts: though in the past I've gotten unusually big numbers when linked to by Blogorama or WFA, these rarely put me much over two-fifty or three hundred at best, whereas when I did a fun meme a little while ago I zoomed almost to five hundred visits a day for about a week, and stayed high-ish for about a month. WFA interest tails off quickly, Blogorama somewhat less so. Also, WFA referrals aren't usually readers, they just pop in and out in three seconds.

I don't know, I guess I'd estimate my semi-regular readers at about a hundred. Maybe a touch more. Which probably puts me on the cusp between your third and fourth tiers.

Uhh...there is a fourth tier, right?

I think a wider audience is anybody's for the asking, so long as they just put stuff up that people like to read. Of course I have sworn never, ever to produce material which is enjoyable or entertaining in the slightest degree! And I think I've made good on that promise...

Johanna said...

I'm not sure you'll get many details... I debated with myself for a while before even talking in generalities about traffic levels.

Bill D. said...

If I'm reading things correctly, my numbers are quite a bit lower than all of yours, and I'll leave it at that.

I did have a couple of stratospheric rating days, though, thanks to a link from When Fangirls Attack, and they went even higher still that one time I got blind linked in some random item in Lying in the Gutters. And I'm still seeing the occasional hit from Kalinara's cheesecake meme from a year or so back. Go figure.

plok said...

Is there some sort of privacy taboo about webtraffic levels, or something? I've clicked on lots of referrals which led me to people's Sitemeter stats. Always a little depressing, but fascinating input regardless. 2 Guys Buying Comics was still beating my best score by a factor of six or so even when they said they weren't going to update for like a year. A freaking YEAR!

Okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration.

Ah! I notice from reviewing your post (did you edit?) that there's a fourth tier after all. Though I think these tiers are pretty much giant steps, the way you've defined them. Myself I'd propose six or so.

Oh yes, I'm like that Starbucks customer! Only in blogging form. Always wanting MORE.

RedheadFangirl said...

You outpace me by 3-4x a day. I get about 60-80 visits to make a about 2400- 3000 unique visits per month. That puts me in Z tier.

Not just for myself, but I wish there was a way to spread the 1% of blogs getting 99% of the visits. It's one of the reasons I tried to start the Comic Blog Legion to highlight the endless comic blogs.

Not to take away from the daily hard work of the top level bloggers or the years they have put in, natch.

Dave Carter said...

Plok: There does seem to be some kind of taboo about blog traffic, though I'm not really sure why. Maybe we're afraid of exposing just how small of an audience (and therefore influence) we really have? (And no, I didn't edit the fourth tier in; it was always there.)

Bill & RFG: I wonder if you're counting all of your readership? When I went to using feedburner to serve my feed I noticed that my regular blog traffic numbers took an immediate tip of about 100 per day--but it turned out that there were nearly 300 'people' per day reading the feed; ergo there were about 200 'people' each day that I was missing because they were getting the blog via the feed rather than the blog itself.

RFG: I suspect that comic blog readership, like nearly everything else, follows an 80/20 rule.

The Dane said...

I've been blogging for 7.5 years now. My own site has gone through various stages of popularity. A number of years ago, I was getting about what you're seeing in terms of regular readers - with maybe 150 per day off search engines. In that era, a post with only 20 comments was considered a dud. Nowadays, regular visitors are probably down to about 80/day with another 150 or so off Google (etc).

I lost a lot of readers (that is, actual visitors to the site) with the advent of RSS. It's really impossible to track readership based on syndication because even a downloaded feed file doesn't mean readership (I always had feeds in my aggregator that would get downloaded and left unread).

Three other problems contributed to my lack of sure footing in the blogworld's popularity contest.

1) Discontinuation of vidblogs.
2) Lack of focus in content.
3) Inconsistent posting schedule.

Looking at those in greater detail:
1) In 2003 I began posting videoblogs on a weekly basis. At the time I was one of a small handful of videobloggers (this was long before Youtube, if you can believe it). I think I was one of the first five or ten bloggers to do so. That brought in a regular audience, however, it was pretty exhausting as videos would take between two and eight hours to prepare. Eventually, just as I won several prizes for content and received mention in The Independent and wrote an article for a newsmagazine on what videoblogging was and how to do it, I finally burnt out. It was pretty unfortunate because I got a perfect storm of traffic from all these sources and suddenly I had no content to offer. Sigh.

2) My site has been an eclectic mix from the start. And that lack of focus continually draws readers in and then drives them away. For instance, if I write a good piece on comics and it gets linked by WFA or whoever, visitors who like what they see are generally going to have to wait a few weeks (or more) before I even touch the subject again. Instead, I'll write about movies, art, politics, education, history, pumpkin carving, websites, religion, or whatever. Most readers will find perhaps 35-80% of my content interesting, but it's pretty unlikely that everything will appeal. So the nature of the site tends to drive readers from becoming regular readers.

3) The first three years or so, it was pretty easy to post regularly. I still had enough things that I hadn't talked about that I didn't feel like I was repeating myself. But then it got harder. I wasn't covering comics news or movie releases or celebrities or current events or whatever, so I didn't have a steady source of blog-fodder. So I faltered and even stopped for a while. Now I generally try to post something new three times a week, but that lack of constant information can be hard on readers who want to be regular but just can't keep attention that long.

Oh yeah, there's also the possibility that I'm actually not interesting, but being a blogger I quickly dismissed the idea that people don't want to hear what I have to say.

plok said...

I loved being linked to by the Comic Blog Legion! It totally made my day!

But to the extent that I have regular visitors, I think that's depended on me commenting on posts I already really enjoyed because they were already kind of like what I wanted to write about anyway. Click-through traffic dropped off pretty fast, in my case (and I take it that click-throughs make up the bulk of big blog traffic), probably because I rarely do reviews, don't know any news, and never post pictures. Nothing for a casual scanning reader to hang onto, there. Also, most of my Google referrals are simply "trout+milk", people looking for the source of that quotation, so I don't get too many of those either. And about feeds, I just don't know.

But my traffic seems to have stabilized, anyway. So I dunno, Red...I think the 99% has simply pronounced my blog "tl;dr". Although I'm quite surprised to hear you and Bill say you aren't attracting their attention!

And, Dane: that's a very interesting story, about the videoblogging. I never thought too much about how external changes (advent of YouTube, e.g.) might shift traffic flows around, until you mentioned that. I know that's not quite what you're saying, but...

Hmm. There's a paper in all of this somewhere, isn't there?

The Dane said...

Yeah, Plok. I've considered that too. A year and a half ago, I toyed with returning to videoblogging, but then I looked around at the landscape and realized there was nothing unique about it anymore. YouTube had come and had conquered and now everyone was videoblogging, in a sense.

It just didn't seem worth it to put so much hard work into something that wouldn't really be all that unique.

Brigid said...

Dave, you were one of the first bloggers to put me on their blogroll—you might even have been the first. I still remember how thrilled I was to see "MangaBlog" on there alongside all the others. So I'm flattered that you see me as a traffic booster!

Bill D. said...

Feedburner, eh? I'll check it out.

Steve Flanagan said...

I get about 200-250 "unique visitors" a day, if I'm posting regularly. My peak was over 6,000 a day when my review of Alice in Sunderland was linked widely (about half came from BoingBoing, so far as I could tell); but that was very much a one-off. So very much fourth-tier; but they say that the average readership of a blog is not much more than 1 (the author), so we're all doing OK, really!