Numbers Are Our Friend–Writers and the Wild World of Metrics

Okay, yesterday Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner had a blog post that promptly scared the bejeezus out of a lot of writers. I’m here to help you guys understand that Rachelle is actually on our side, and the idea of numbers should not scare you. Numbers can be a writer’s best friend. They can keep us accountable and can let us know where we are doing well and how we can improve. This is the purpose behind metrics in any business.

My husband works in the defense industry. His business uses metrics to look for waste, redundancy or errors. What changes are working? Which changes should be scrapped?

Writers can take a lesson from this.

One of the biggest challenges many writers face is the mental transition from artist-hobbyist to artist-entrepreneur. Many of us gravitated to writing because spreadsheets gave us hives and sales goals made our eyes roll back in our heads. I feel your pain. I came from a background of industrial sales. I wanted to throw myself in traffic every day I went to work. Writing was my lifeline, my salvation…but it wasn’t a free pass to get out of being a savvy businessperson.

So grab a paper bag. Breathe. That’s it. Place your head between your knees and your laptop at your feet so you can keep reading. I am here to help.

Not All Numbers Count Equally

Social media changes so quickly that even us “experts” have a full-time job simply keeping up with innovations. Yet, one innovation I have seen that makes me feel better is a site called Klout. Klout measures our ACTUAL influence. We now can gain a clearer picture of the impact we have (or don’t have) because there is context.

Yesterday, I guest-posted for Jane Friedman, contributing editor to Writer’s Digest Magazine (Jane has, by far, one of THE best blogs for writers out there, btw). My post addressed three social media blunders that can KILL an author platform. One of the blunders I listed was focusing too much on the numbers.

At first this seems like I am giving contradicting advice from Ms. Gardner. On the contrary!

There are lies, damn lies and statistics. ~Mark Twain

I see too many writers spinning their wheels joining ten different social sites and then just friending/following thousands of people. Having a Twitter following of 30,000 doesn’t necessarily mean much. To use my example from yesterday, I could theoretically hold up the White Pages I just tossed in my recycle bin and claim that I have 30,000 “friends.” Yet, how many of those “friends” can I count on to spread the message of my new book? How many of those “friends” can I count on for a sale? A recommendation? A referral? Help expanding my platform? Only a very small percentage–folks I know personally and a handful of weird, lonely people.

One of the cool things I have liked about Klout is that Klout measures our ACTUAL influence. It runs algorithms to see how many people our message is affecting. What is our amplification? Translated: How many people repost what we are posting? Are people listening? Are they responding? Are they sharing?

Real Friends DO Matter

See, I can go have 20,000 followers. I can even download an app to tweet witty comments every hour so I can “fool” people that I am really on Twitter. There are all kinds of machines that will blast out links to my blog. I never even have to physically BE on Twitter. On the surface, my huge following looks pretty awesome. Oh, and for a fee, I can purchase peeps to make that following even MORE impressive.

Ah, but the real numbers don’t lie.

Klout will tattle on us if we cheat. Most people don’t feel vested in bots. We are unlikely to repost for them and far more likely to just ignore and move on to people who don’t treat us like morons who can’t tell the difference between a person and a bot. Since others aren’t vested in us, our Klout score will reflect this.

When we focus on authentic relationships instead of super high “numbers” we actually will raise the number that counts—the Klout score. This is one of the reasons that writers are better off narrowing their focus and not “participating” on ten different sites. It spreads us too thinly, and, in the end it will negatively impact our Klout.

An Example

I blog, am on Facebook (no fan page yet) and I tweet. That’s it. I have less than 5,000 twitter followers and less than 2,000 Facebook peeps….but, I regularly have a Klout score of 72, which is pretty darn great. Due to a death in the family, I haven’t been on social media as much and my Klout score is a tad lower, but it generally is pretty strong at 71-73. I have a very high rate of amplification. This means people listen, they like and they share. This proves what I have been saying all along.

No one is successful on social media alone.

What I love about Klout is that Klout is not so much about me as it is about others. The better I serve others, the higher the score. See, if get on G+ and friend a half a zillion people, that serves ME. That is no measure of how I have served others. A “large number” alone can’t tell me if those in my following listen, whether they care, or are if they are even engaged. Klout is a far better measure of our social media impact, and we don’t need the mega-high followings to have a Klout score that will gain an agent’s attention.

Blog Statistics

Last week there were all kinds of blogs about whether it was a waste of time for writers to have a blog. One agent said that they would not be impressed unless a writer could show 15,000 unique visits a month. Many writers nearly passed out with a panic attack. FIFTEEN THOUSAND A MONTH!!!!

What I find interesting is that so many of the agents feel blogging is a waste of time. How about BAD blogging is a waste of time?

Why do we all assume that because writers can write novels, we automatically have the skills to blog in ways that will connect to tens of thousands of followers? Blogging is a skill, like anything else. Instead of blaming the blog, let’s see this as a separate skill that needs to be learned. It is also a skill, that, with lots of practice, can be MASTERED.

I will grant there is a lot of GREAT writing out there, but the blogs are not geared to gain those large amounts of visits or even connect with readers (who aren’t writers). Why? Writers are blogging about the wrong things and targeting the wrong people (exclusively).

Expand the Blog and Improve the Klout Score

I can be a world-renowned expert on the mating rituals of the African Tse Tse fly and it not be worth publishing a book. Not enough people care about the Tse Tse fly getting lucky for me to sell a lot of copies.

Granted, the subject of writing is not as limited as the Tse Tse fly. A lot of people care about writing and the craft of writing, but when viewed as a slice of the larger whole global population? Um…there are better things to blog about.

Storytellers have been making the mundane magical for over 100,000 years. We have the power to create new worlds, breathe life into imaginary people. Yet, we get a blog and we all blog about….writing. We become the All-Writing-All-the-Time-Channel. This will limit our influence and lower the Klout score.

Why?

Because only a small percentage of the overall literate population in need of entertaining or informing cares to read about narrative structure, POV, character arc, or trends in indie publishing. Also, too many writers are all blogging on the same thing targeting the same worn-out demographic. There are only so many writing blogs we writers can follow and be loyal to. Yet, when I mention getting out of the comfort zone, writers promptly want to defend the writing blog. Feel free to blog about writing, but likely your blog numbers will never get high enough to matter in a proposal.

Before anyone gets huffy, I made all the mistakes so you don’t have to. We will look at me.  I blogged about writing once a week, religiously for over a YEAR, and, after a year I had less than 600 views a month. After a year of banging my head against a wall, I set out to figure out what made blogs popular and how we could tool our blogs to connect with writers AND non-writers.

Since I am all about authenticity, here is a look at my stats from May of 2009 into December of 2010. That top number is 25,000 for those who can’t see.

Count over roughly 11 pathetic columns. The wimpy little column in May 2010 was after a YEAR of blogging about writing. 594 visits a MONTH. The next jump was when I started blogging twice a week, once about social media. A little better, but not that wonderful. Had another little bump. Nice, but room for improvement. That fourth jump? That HUGE leap? THAT was when I started blogging in ways that connect to readers beyond writers. I would tell you more, but I save that secret information for my workshops.

One would think my information blogs would have made the huge difference, but actually they didn’t. I had to get out of the comfort zone. When I say don’t do a writing blog, it isn’t because I sit up all night thinking of ways to make you guys miserable (I only stay up until ten doing that). I tell you these things because I have had all the same “bright ideas” that turned into digital tar babies. So when I give advice, it really is because I want to help you guys. Writers are wonderful, but our support base can only do so much.

Remember earlier I said metrics were helpful for figuring out inefficiencies? Well, contributing thousands of words a week to a blog that was reaching less than 600 people a month I think qualifies as an inefficiency. I had to rework my strategy.

Tip: If the horse is dead, DISMOUNT!

As you can see from that image, numbers helped me see when I started connecting and what content made the difference. If I hadn’t had the analytics, I would never have been able to get an idea of what worked and what was a waste of time. Numbers help us improve. They help us adjust and make a new plan if the old one isn’t working. Numbers help agents land us sweeter deals.

This applies to speaking engagements, Internet radio followings and vlog views (also mentioned in Rachelle’s blog). Maybe your numbers aren’t huge, but if you can show a 1000% growth in six months, agents can use this in your favor. Quantifiable metrics can help you grow, expand and innovate. Numbers keep us accountable and focused. Numbers help us try new things and see tangibly if they are working. Numbers help us work smarter, not harder.

What to take away:

  • Authentic relationships DO matter.
  • Klout score is more important than surface numbers.
  • Large blog followings are possible with consistency and a solid plan. Content matters.
  • Some topics, by their very nature, will experience limited growth.
  • Focusing on community and being part of a team will translate into a higher Klout. This is one of the reasons I HIGHLY encourage participating on #MyWANA.
  • ABOVE ALL…People matter the most. If we serve people with authentic interaction and great content, the numbers will eventually reflect all our hard work.

Okay, so do you guys feel better? Need a digital daquiri? Any heart attacks out there? Hey, we are not alone! Better, we are in this TOGETHER!

I do want to hear from you guys!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of October, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of October I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.

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  1. #1 by Ashley Prince on October 19, 2011 - 11:34 am

    Kristen, this is brilliant! I am terrified of numbers. Always have been, and for the most part, always will be. But when it comes to my numbers and writing, I can now see that you’re right. As always.

    I love this post. I’m going to show it to my husband (a number nerd) and he will fist pump that someone finally got to me about numbers. But like I said, only about my writing.

    Thanks for the wonderful post.

  2. #2 by Jodi Aman on October 19, 2011 - 11:35 am

    This post was great to read after Ms. Garner’s yesterday. Now I have to learn about Klout, but I can do it! My blog http://www.healnowandforever.net is not for just for writer’s but for anyone who wants to feel better in their life. Your post was affirming to me! Thank you!

  3. #3 by Liza Kane on October 19, 2011 - 11:39 am

    THIS–>”Storytellers have been making the mundane magical for over 100,000 years. We have the power to create new worlds, breathe life into imaginary people.”–is why I am a writer!

    Thank you for preaching out about the utility of all the numbers, and why it’s actually a good thing!
    I also work in sales, and have to make smart business decisions based on trends/numbers…the numbers help me to create action plans that benefit my customers AND workforce.

    Talking about numbers with relation to a writer’s career doesn’t have to be a soulless exercise. In fact, it can be the aha moment a writer needs to become more relatable and engaging to more readers!

  4. #4 by susielindau on October 19, 2011 - 11:39 am

    I guess I have a Klout score of 53 so things are looking up!

  5. #5 by Kathryn Byer on October 19, 2011 - 11:39 am

    This is interesting, but how do you build a platform and sell books if you are a poet and what you want people to do is READ MORE POETRY. Good poetry. I had a Laureate blog while I was NC Poet Laureate, set up to promote NC writers. Now I have two other blogs in which I’m trying to promote and encourage people to read—and to connect reading/writing with concerns about place and environment. I don’t expect large numbers, as in this post. Hundreds of hits? No way. Still, I’d like to have a few more than the daily 40 or so for the two blogs. How does a poet trying to gather readers for poetry and readers of literature in general follow your advice? Just curious.
    I know we live in different blog words, but thanks.

    • #6 by Author Kristen Lamb on October 19, 2011 - 11:44 am

      If people care about you, they will come to care about poetry. You become the go-between. People are the connection. How many of us cared about Ice Road Truckers until the reality show? We saw PEOPLE that we liked, hated, rooted for. We were able to connect to people in a very different world on common ground. I think if you harp on poetry non-stop you are expecting people to meet you at YOUR interest. People who know you (as a person, btw) will meet you there because they like you. But this will severely limit your following. I recommend taking my blogging class and I can tell you how you would expand this base. It does happen. CSI made thousands of people suddenly want to go to school to learn about forensics.

    • #7 by Jillian Dodd - Glitter, Bliss and Perfect Chaos on October 19, 2011 - 11:47 am

      I’m sure Kristen will reply to this, but take her workshop. She’ll teach you.

  6. #8 by Jillian Dodd - Glitter, Bliss and Perfect Chaos on October 19, 2011 - 11:42 am

    It’s really cool that you posted your blog stats for us to see. I was sort of freaking out a little when I first started blogging. I wondered what is good when you’re starting out?? Tiffany A White (who took your author platform workshop this Spring, and who recommended I take it in July) told me to just look for growth. I had started a blog, in June. Wrote three posts and never published them because I had no idea how to connect with readers. I didn’t want my blog to be a diary. I didn’t want to write about writing or my journey. Uh, boring! I had self published a book in May and wanted to connect with readers. Because of Kristen’s workshop, I started blogging the right way. The way to connect with readers. DO THE WORKSHOP!! It’s online, it’s really easy, you get great support, and you come away with not only a plan, but confidence in your plan.
    I started blogging August 3rd. I had about 1700 hits in August. For Sept about 4,200. October is already well over 3,000. No, I’m not reaching 15,000 people a month, but I think eventually, someday I will. Until then, I’m thrilled that I’m reaching people I never would have reached before. And it’s all cuz of Kristen. So thanks, Kristen, you rock!!!

    • #9 by Author Kristen Lamb on October 19, 2011 - 11:45 am

      You are doing WAY better than me, LOL. A YEAR and less that 600 HITS! How pathetic is that???? Oh, well, at least I can laugh and help you guys get a better start and a brighter future.

  7. #10 by the writ and the wrote on October 19, 2011 - 11:49 am

    Thanks for this post, Kristen. I am going to check out Klout. I have definitely been trying to focus on the more authentic relationships, but it’s hard to get people to take me seriously. My family tends toward feeling like I’m flighty for choosing writing as a career path (they want me to go back to teaching) and my friends find it odd that I would dedicate my life to something that may or may not work out.

  8. #11 by Nicole Basaraba on October 19, 2011 - 11:56 am

    Soooo when’s the next workshop? I’ll go check the Who Dares Wins Publishing website now and also check out this Klout thing, which for some reason makes me think of the word “gout” so I hope its a bit more pleasant. Thanks Kristen.

  9. #12 by Amber West on October 19, 2011 - 11:59 am

    I did business analysis in one of my previous jobs and while I am not a math person I found using various metrics to determine strengths and weaknesses can be fascinating – it’s all in learning to read the data.

    If our goal is to reach people with our blogs, Twitter accounts, etc… you got it right, some numbers do matter.

    Blog stats are a fantastic way to see where you connect with your readers (or even reach new ones). I was surprised to see which posts really brought the readers in.

    Don’t fear the numbers, people! :)

  10. #13 by Anne R. Allen on October 19, 2011 - 12:04 pm

    OK, I get it that numbers can be our friends. But only some numbers (like Klout, apparently–good to know.) My Klout isn’t anywhere near yours, but it’s respectable. However it always goes DOWN in weeks when I’m doing serious creative writing, or working on edits for my publisher as I am now.

    I do check my stats daily–not to see how popular I am, but to see where my traffic is coming from. Often I’ve had a mention somewhere and I want to go over and make friends.

    But the problem is that most numbers can be bought and manipulated. If we’re being judged by numbers alone–and not just the good numbers–there’s still cause for alarm.

    There’s also the question of the actual books. When are writers going to be allowed to write them? If any mess “written” by a Snooki or Justin Beiber with a Klout rating in the 90s is going to trump the next Great Gatsby or Harry Potter, I don’t see the numbers as all that friendly.

    • #14 by Author Kristen Lamb on October 19, 2011 - 12:10 pm

      Numbers with no context are definitely harmful. We can only do so much. But I think if writers will get focused and will put value in content and relationships then they will have more time for writing the next Harry Potter. If we are on LinkedIn, Twitter, Squidoo, Tumblr, Goodreads, Facebook and on and on, we are getting too focused on numbers and losing the context and the big picture.

      This is why I put my Klout score out there. I am not on a lot of platforms and I certainly don’t have a zillion followers, but I can still have an impact. And, in my opinion, if an agent wants those “fluff” things that really add no value, then move on. I think a lot of publishers are still stuck in the 90s and eventually they will catch up. They are making that mental transition from traditional marketing–which is linear and easily measured by metrics–to social marketing–which is exponential and is better measured by analytics like Klout.

      And frankly, only a very rare few writers will ever be a celebrity to the outside world. In publishing, we aren’t being compared as much against Lady Gaga as we are against each other. No one in publishing is going to expect us to have a celebrity Klout score. Then they wouldn’t be comparing apples to apples. Snooki isn’t writing a novel. That’s a celebrity book and another animal entirely. But, writers can improve their Klout scores and the actual range of influence by focusing on people, relationships and content.

    • #15 by Kathryn Byer on October 19, 2011 - 12:41 pm

      Anne, my concerns are the same as yours. I want my books to be as powerfully written as possible, and that takes time, lots of time in the silence and space of what we call imagination, especially when it comes to poetry or literary fiction. And yet, I also want to be able to create a social space to encourage and promote other writers, not just myself, my own work. Poets don’t sell many books anyway, but I want to “sell” the revolutionary notion that people can read poetry and enjoy it, even if they don’t always understand it, and I want our school students especially to realize that. Our future readers, after all. These two desires are often at cross-purposes, the deep time and play of writing and the blog/social media time to reach out and encourage people to take note of the often moving and life-changing work being written around them.

  11. #16 by Coleen Patrick on October 19, 2011 - 12:05 pm

    Thanks Kristen. After reading Rachelle Gardner’s post I was feeling beyond insignificant, but then again I figured I have to start somewhere. I admit ramping up my weekly post numbers is daunting, but then again if I told myself last year that I was going to be blogging, tweeting and have a FB account this year I would’ve thought it was a joke. Seriously.
    I am going to keep connecting and learning, thanks for all the great advice and info.

    • #17 by Anne R. Allen on October 19, 2011 - 12:37 pm

      Alas–Snooki has indeed written a novel–with more to come. For a dramatic reading by Anderson Cooper go to the link here I hope I made that live. Warning, do not drink beverages anywhere near your keyboard while listening. :-)

      • #18 by Lena Corazon on October 19, 2011 - 12:41 pm

        This is beyond brilliant. Thanks for sharing, Anne!

      • #19 by Author Kristen Lamb on October 19, 2011 - 12:46 pm

        Well, now my plan for bookstores of the future to have a bar looks even MORE brilliant. Download Snooki’s novel and you get a free Jell-O shot :D.

        • #20 by Anne R. Allen on October 19, 2011 - 1:22 pm

          And Publisher’s Lunch today announced a wonderful deal for “NYT bestselling author and Jersey Shore star Nicole Snooki Polizzi’s memoir CONFESSIONS OF A GUIDETTE and second novel GORILLA BEACH; ” Onward and upward with the arts! Gotta have Jell-O shots in our future bookstores. Definitely.

          • #21 by Author Kristen Lamb on October 19, 2011 - 1:39 pm

            Well, there will always be a market for train wrecks, lol.

  12. #22 by Kelly Louise (@GenePoolDiva) on October 19, 2011 - 12:37 pm

    I feel better! Sigh.

  13. #23 by Lena Corazon on October 19, 2011 - 12:40 pm

    Thanks so much for writing this, Kristen. I’ve recently started paying attention to my Klout score, and you’re right — the more I interact with people, and the more I start to build relationships with them, the higher the score becomes. The only downside that I’ve found is, like Anne above, my score fluctuates quite a bit when I don’t have time to spend on Twitter. I also don’t have a WordPress.com or Blogger account to link up (I’m self-hosted), so my blog stats aren’t factored into the Klout score either. At the end of the day, what I’m taking away from this is that building authentic relationships (which I’ve been telling myself takes time and steady effort) is much more useful in the longrun.

    Thanks for putting the “numbers game” into perspective!

    • #24 by Author Kristen Lamb on October 19, 2011 - 12:45 pm

      Your blog does affect it, just not directly. When you tweet your posts and people trust and like your blog, they RT and repost and THAT affects the Klout score.

    • #25 by Author Kristen Lamb on October 19, 2011 - 1:42 pm

      With Klout, that score will fluctuate, but you can give a ballpark. And, in fairness, if we have a plan and we are focused on social media, it doesn’t take that long to check in, interact then get back to writing. We don’t need to be on Twitter all day long to make an impact. Yet, we do need to be mindful to check in regularly. We can’t disappear for days and weeks without it making an impact. Good news is we don’t need much to go a long way so long as we are focused.

  14. #27 by MGalloway on October 19, 2011 - 1:03 pm

    Great post. As someone who spends part of their day job crunching numbers, this was interesting to read.

    I can actually see in my own blog stats on a day-to-day basis what topics are working and which ones need work. The stat graph over the past few weeks has developed a waveform shape, and considering that I blog on three completely different subjects each M/W/F (with some overlap) it’s fairly clear to see what is connecting with people and what isn’t.

  15. #28 by Tameri Etherton on October 19, 2011 - 1:08 pm

    Great post and thanks for the information. I’ll have to check out Klout – I’ve heard of it, but thought I was too puny to need it. I try not to get flustered with the numbers on my blog, but as writers we all want validation and somehow those numbers are what we look at. Then something cool happens like yesterday when I was at Sprouts and my neighbor (who is also a facebook friend) says, ‘So, did you get all the Disney dolls?’ Which meant to me, She Read My Blog! My neighbor. Who knew!

    It is about being authentic and putting yourself out there and it is also about the numbers. Balance is good.

  16. #29 by Catherine Johnson on October 19, 2011 - 1:15 pm

    I’m off to check out klout too, thanks for another great post Kristen!

  17. #31 by Amy Kennedy on October 19, 2011 - 1:19 pm

    Even with a resume employers want quantifiables. It makes sense that publishers would want those as well!

  18. #32 by janellemadigan on October 19, 2011 - 1:38 pm

    Thanks, Kristen. Generally, thinking about numbers and metrics makes me want to hide under a blanket–especially when I have to think about things like “unique visits.” Okay, so now I’m peeking out from under the blanket. ;)

  19. #33 by Julie Glover on October 19, 2011 - 2:00 pm

    This was very helpful. I try not to look at the numbers too much, but I do pay attention. I don’t understand how Klout formulates influence exactly, so the number is a little hazy to me. I have this sense that most agents would be impressed with social media presence, improvement, consistency, and some numbers. I would presume they want you to understand how to reach out in our tech-savvy world. Personally, I enjoy blogging anyway, but it is very nice to see when people have visited and to know when a particular post has found an audiience.

  20. #34 by K.B. Owen on October 19, 2011 - 2:07 pm

    Hi, Kristen! *waves*
    So, Klout scores go from 1-100, right? Sigh. I’m 47. I wouldn’t even pass this test in high school, lol. Oh, well, I’ve still got a lot to learn!

    Thanks, as always, for the great info. :)

    • #35 by Author Kristen Lamb on October 19, 2011 - 3:00 pm

      Yes but I think the average person is like 25, so you are going in the right direction.

  21. #36 by Amy Sundberg on October 19, 2011 - 2:07 pm

    I have recently discovered Klout myself, and I’m finding it very helpful. I completely agree with you that relationships matter more than raw follower numbers, and it’s nice to have a way to see what I’m doing more clearly.

    Thanks, Kristen!

  22. #37 by August McLaughlin on October 19, 2011 - 2:08 pm

    Fantastic post, Kristen! (I’ve NEVER said that about a math-related anything. ;)) My agent actually suggested blogging several times each week, if not more. I took that as a sign that I’m in good hands.

    Since reading your fabulous books, I now check in with my WordPress stats routinely. It helps guide my writing, as I’m growing more aware of which topics draw the most attention…and inspires me to forge on.

    Now I’m inspired to check Klout out. Thanks!!

  23. #38 by Kecia Adams (@KeciaAdams) on October 19, 2011 - 2:28 pm

    Hi Kristen!
    Thanks for this post and the comment discussion too! Coming from a number crunching background in one of my past jobs, I got to see sort of the ugly side of metrics where the point of the exercise became generating the numbers themselves, not looking at the reason behind the numbers, the “What are we doing here? And why?” That may be why Ms. Gardner’s post caused such a visceral reaction in me. I know numbers can be helpful, and now I can see specifically how they can help with analytics like Klout.
    Thanks again!

  24. #39 by caitlinmuir on October 19, 2011 - 2:34 pm

    Thanks for this post, Kristen! I’ve been trying to get more into the analytics side of blogging – I signed up for a course on Lynda.com so I can understand Google Analytics. As for Klout – I LOVE it. I’m a 70 right now. :)

  25. #40 by ScottTheWriter on October 19, 2011 - 3:02 pm

    THanks for the post and the stats. It certainly puts mine in perspective.

    Now, I do a lot of things that you tell me not to. I do things a lot of people tell me not to. Don’t know why. For example, I blog about writing, the writing process, and good and poor writing that I come across. I started blogging regularly recently, and have seen my page-view counts really climb.

    When I first read your post, I was dismayed by my numbers. Last month, I got 1300 hits. I thought that was pretty good.

    So, I guess I’ll have to take your workshop and more of your advice. But the good news is that I have already put a link to your blog on my own (two, actually). I’ve also tweeted about you. I hope that counts for something.

    Keep up the great work, Kristen!

  26. #41 by Jennifer on October 19, 2011 - 3:30 pm

    Thanks, Kristen. I’m looking forward to better blogging with Wana1011, and I”m going to look for Klout now. Cheers!

  27. #42 by amyshojai on October 19, 2011 - 4:19 pm

    Kristen, you’re the 3rd person this week to mention Klout and urge me to look into it so I just signed up. Looks like I’m slightly over a score of 53 so I guess that’s okay.

    The blog has been a joy and a duty but now averages around 1500 or so PV a month. I don’t flog every blog religiously though, just post ‘em, and I don’t have nearly the subscription rate of many. It’s interesting to me that while my Klout score indicates highs in cats (less so in dogs how funny!), the blog consistently has more PV on the writing topics (and I really don’t do that many).

    Keepin’ on keepin’ on I suppose. Wouldn’t be blogging this way at all if it wasn’t for your workshop, LOL! YOU’VE CREATED A MONSTER, BWAA-AHAHAHA!

  28. #43 by ann foweraker on October 19, 2011 - 5:47 pm

    So, Kristen, I’ve just signed up for your Jan/Feb workshop .. really hoping that this will be the turning point for me – I love all your blogs so am really looking forward to it! Ann

  29. #44 by Marji Laine on October 19, 2011 - 7:25 pm

    Okay, I’m sold. I’ve learned so much with WANA, and started my blogging in June. I started tracking visits in late July and have almost 1k per month. It has been steady, but if I don’t work my tail off every day, the visits flatten.

    I think I MUST take your workshop! I’m ready to step it up a notch!

  30. #45 by Roxanne Skelly on October 19, 2011 - 7:31 pm

    I checked out Klout for the first time today. As expected, my score is quite low. I could probably improve it if I got off my butt and did some blog posts. And perhaps more twitter.

    Then again, right now I should be focusing on completing revisions on my WIP. I think I’ll work on my social networking scores later, after I complete my WIP.

    Strangely enough, Klout claims I’m most influential in the topics of Zombies, Sql and Economics.

    Zombies I can understand. Sql, meh. But economics? Really? Klout, I doubt your judgement now.

  31. #46 by Sarah Forgrave on October 19, 2011 - 9:24 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post, Kristen! Someone was raving to me about Klout yesterday, so apparently I need to get my tail over there asap. :)

  32. #47 by Meg on October 19, 2011 - 10:16 pm

    I’m rather baffled about how to make Klout work. Is there a way to log into it other than with Facebook (which I don’t do) or Twitter? If it’s just going to tell me what my score is judging me from Twitter, it’s going to be abysmal. But I do blog, and I do LiveJournal, and I’m the mailing list queen [g]…

  33. #48 by Suma Subramaniam on October 20, 2011 - 2:31 am

    Wow…awesome awesome post Kristen. You are so right!

  34. #49 by Adriana Ryan on October 20, 2011 - 8:24 am

    Thanks, Kristen! I just bought both your books. I am just getting started with the whole author platform thing, and I really want to do it right without wasting a ton of my – and other people’s – time. Love your blog.

  35. #50 by Kim Kircher on October 20, 2011 - 11:52 am

    Blogging, like any kind of writing, is still a lonely world. Even when I connect with readers, I still wonder, in the back of my mind, if anyone is really connecting with the writing. Or are they merely checking in and moving on? The Klout score thing is another way to obsess about influence, but I’m right there with you. Thanks for all the encouragement.

  36. #51 by Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson on October 20, 2011 - 12:05 pm

    Okay so Gigi aka @KludgyMom wrote about Klout a while ago so I checked it out. I was astounded at how high my Klout score was. I figured the program must not be worth anything. (This might tell you more about my psychological profile but I like to think it has more to do with my inherent distrust in technology.)

    I stalked you a little (not in a creepy way, just for curiosity sake) and saw your score, and then I saw a graph that showed the difference between our INFLUENCE. Super interesting. So while we may both be considered “highly influential,” clearly you have much more of a reach than I do. That made sense.

    Right now, I’m trying to teach well, blog well, create a quality book while supporting my fellow writing workshoppers.

    I’m trying not to focus on the numbers as much. I’m trying really hard to just find time to write. To me, I can get really obsessed with these numbers and all these diagnostics can be a bit of a distraction.

  37. #52 by Patrick Thunstrom on October 20, 2011 - 1:13 pm

    I must be the oddball writer, because numbers excite me. I’m taking business statistics right now and absolutely adoring it! Lots of fun.

    I’ll also present myself as an example. When I got into blogging, I followed the pattern set by blogs like Problogger and Tentblogger: Focus on one subject and only one subject. So I’ve got a string of failed blogs in my wake.

    Then, one day, I realized I had something that people needed help on, and I was in a position to provide it. I wrote up the TweetDeck Guide’s first tutorial that day. I continued to hammer out those tutorials every day until the guide was complete! Then, I started listening to your lesson about just being ourselves, that our readers will understand. And so I continue to go on about things I love: blogging, community building, games, and writing. But writing is now my least blogged about subject, with games and social networking being some of the most frequent.

    The numbers have only backed up that series of thoughts.

  38. #53 by Jami Gold on October 20, 2011 - 2:50 pm

    Kristen, You know I love you to pieces. :) But I 100% disagree with you about Klout.

    Klout measures crap. Klout score means diddly-squat. I analyzed my entire list yesterday in Klout (yes, that took a while), and you know what I found? 5 out the top 8 people (all those above 80) on my list were BOTS.

    I wish Klout was the easy answer to this numbers dilemma, but it’s not. *sigh*

  39. #54 by Jami Gold on October 20, 2011 - 2:51 pm

    Kristen, You know I love you to pieces. :) But I 100% disagree with you about Klout.

    Klout measures crap. Klout score means diddly-squat. I analyzed my entire list yesterday in Klout (yes, that took a while), and you know what I found? 5 out the top 8 people (all those above 80) on my list were BOTS.

    I wish Klout was the easy answer to this numbers dilemma, but it’s not. *sigh*

    All that said, I do think you’re right that numbers can be useful to show us where we can improve. :)

    • #55 by Patrick Thunstrom on October 20, 2011 - 3:04 pm

      The problem is what Klout rewards. I’ve watched my score fluctuate in the last few weeks, and I am closer to understanding the behaviors.

      Regularity is one of those things. If you tweet once an hour, your Klout score will be generally higher than someone with less. I’m sure there is an absolute maximum for the behavior, but I don’t know where that maximum is.

      Another thing is how often your posts are shared, or your tweets retweeted. That’s the ‘amplify’ score, and that one IS pretty useful. The thing is, it’s tied into the first score, since the more you put out, the more likely some of your stuff is shared.

      Then you have True Reach, which I STILL haven’t quite figured out. It seems fairly arbitrary to me.

      • #56 by Jami Gold on October 20, 2011 - 3:19 pm

        Exactly. I’ve watched my Klout score change too. And I don’t like what I’m seeing (even though it’s been going up).

        Klout is Game Theory. Period. And it *certainly* can be gamed. A group can bond together and all give each other +1 Klout and look! They all go up in score. And look! When you get so much +1’ed you get a badge. Whee! I unlocked the next level in the Klout Game.

        And gee! My Klout score goes up when my followers add me to a list ON KLOUT. And add me as a friend ON KLOUT. Klout is all about making Klout look important in this incestuous party aimed at putting Klout at the center of our social media attention.

        In other words, while helpful for self-analysis, the Klout score numbers are still crap when it comes to predicting a book’s success. And it just rankles me to no end that that’s how some publishers are looking at it.

        *deep breath* Okay, rant over. :)

    • #57 by Author Kristen Lamb on October 20, 2011 - 5:33 pm

      Nothing in social networking is absolute, which is why we must always trust that hard work and authenticity pay off. Klout, like anything, can be manipulated of course. But it is a better measure than, “I have 40,000 followers.” I never said Klout was the panacea answer. I said it was a better measure than linear metrics. Next week I actually am going to blog about the dark side of numbers. But the problem I see with writers is they get a panic attack when you mention numbers. Numbers can be very helpful, but being a slave to them is a waste of time.

      • #58 by Jami Gold on October 20, 2011 - 6:15 pm

        I agree with you here. (Yay! Order is restored to the universe. ;) ) Klout is potentially better than flat numbers like Twitter followers.

        But if I worried about my Klout numbers, I’d change my behavior (which is why it’s game theory). “Uh-oh, should I not follow this person? They just joined Twitter, will their low score drag me down?”

        And that’s crazy-making. As you said, being a slave to numbers doesn’t help us. :)

        • #59 by Roni Loren on October 21, 2011 - 4:06 pm

          Jami, I hear you on the Klout thing. I thought it was a cool thing until I saw the whole giving people +1s and adding to lists, which affects score. For it to be accurate, I feel like Klout should simply be an analysis–not incestuous as you said where you gain “points” by participating in Klout specific activities.

          And I’m not scared of numbers, I just want accurate measures and ones that truly mean something.

  40. #60 by educlaytion on October 20, 2011 - 3:27 pm

    Great stuff Kristen. I am simple grasshoppa in your garden of knowledge.

  41. #61 by Lesann on October 20, 2011 - 3:32 pm

    Tracking numbers and statistics is one of those practices that puts you on a rollercoaster ride…at some point I’m going to have to get off – or – get sick. The ups and downs of visitors and followers is like a tidal surge. People come and go. If I follow the numbers of visitors to my own blog over the course of six months I see a direct correllation to when I started PARTICIPATING is the online community rather than just floating around dipping a toe in here or there.

    Likewise, when I went back to work at the end of September, my numbers took a dip because I’m not as active about visiting and reading other blogs, contributing to discussions, hooking up and chatting on twitter. Sometimes there just isn’t enough time, and that’s okay…people understand we have to sleep occasionally.

    I don’t know much about Klout but it makes me smile to know people think I’m influential about bacon and underwear. How’s that for platform?!

  42. #62 by Reetta Raitanen on October 20, 2011 - 4:19 pm

    Thank you for this encouraging post, Kristen. It’s easy to get crazy with Social Media and try to be everything to everyone everywhere. And to fuss about metrics if you don’t know what the most important stats are. Klout makes things so much easier. My score is 45 now (has been little over 50 at its best) and I don’t even have a blog yet.

    I agree with Roxanne that Klout sometimes measures weird things. It lists me as influential about Colorado but I have never even mentioned it in my Tweets.

  43. #63 by Kathryn Roberts on October 20, 2011 - 6:44 pm

    This is definitely a post about me. My blog, I’ll admit isn’t hitting great numbers. Mostly because I don’t care enough to put forth the effort. I kept thinking I would just get around to it if I ever got an agent, but perhaps now is the time to start working smarter as you suggest. I could use the experience before it’s too late =).

  44. #64 by Emily Casey (@EmilyCaseysMuse) on October 20, 2011 - 7:37 pm

    Sweet. Funnily enough, I go to your blog only for the writing/marketing advice. But I’m in that smaller population of writers.

    My own blog has writing, cooking, and a few other little slice of life posts, but there’s no real pattern. I just blog about things in my life as they happen, if I think they’re interesting.

    So you’ve given me something to think about. Maybe I could have “Slice of Life Saturday”. Or whatever.

  45. #65 by Ellen Gregory on October 20, 2011 - 7:47 pm

    Hi Kristen – This is my first visit to your blog and I think I’m here to stay. Thanks for such a great and honest post. I keep hearing about ‘platform’ and have been telling myself that I shouldn’t let it distract me from writing, because until I produce something worth publishing, I don’t need a platform. But . . . since I am taking the time to blog, I guess I should make it count better than it does at present. Mine is definitely an example of ‘inefficient blogging’. So, I think I will go check out your course and books!

  46. #66 by Nina Badzin on October 20, 2011 - 8:01 pm

    Great post (as usual). I have to say as a Twitter user, the one thing that bugs me about Klout is how the twitter stream has filled with the “I gave +1″ “I received +1″ stuff. I CANNOT stand it. It reminds me of the constant thanking I’m always discussing. It’s simply not real content . . . it’s fluff, air, etc. It’s funny–I’m actually a very grateful and gracious person IN PERSON and online too, and yet I’m always the one harping against so much of this stuff online. Not sure what my problem is. ;)

    Side note, I’d never checked my monthly stats before (I obviously check the dailies but never the months). I’ve been blogging almost exactly one year. First month was 1000 and every other month has been an average of 4000. I think that’s pretty good! At least way above anything I expected. Not sure what to do with that knowledge . . . i have to book to sell right now. Wish I did.

  47. #67 by LittleMissVix on October 21, 2011 - 6:22 am

    Great post! I mentioned my blog in submissions to agents, will be interesting to see if it helps / hinders or is irrelevant to them!

  48. #68 by Valerie Brooks on October 21, 2011 - 4:53 pm

    Kristen, I just signed up for Klout and am figuring it out. Thanks for blogging about this. An agent just told an author friend who is changing houses that she needed to up the numbers on her FB and Twitter account. I wonder how many agents and editors go to Klout for the real numbers?
    Also, on my blog http://gobsmackedwriter.blogspot.com/ I gave blogging awards this week, you being one of favorites and most influential. Here’s what I said:
    “I’m certain Kristin has won these awards too many times to count, but I don’t care. She’s a buccaneer of the first order in the way she keeps every writer’s ship afloat. No shrinking violet or shaking in her boots, not this pirate! She gives us the necessary guidance to fly our flags as authors.”
    Thank you.

  49. #69 by lanceschaubert on October 23, 2011 - 12:02 pm

    Thought this was really helpful and fleshed out some of your consistent axioms, the best part was finding two neat blogs to subscribe to!

    By the way, what’s Klout? I feel like I’m coming late to the game here…

  50. #70 by Theresa Ramseyer on October 24, 2011 - 10:31 am

    Kristen,

    Numbers are important; I like numbers. But I stopped for a break this morning, read this post and Rachel’s, and my brain shut down for a moment.

    I am scrambling to find time to write and/or to blog and/or to keep up with social media in the first place, and now I’m supposed to keep a close eye on my numbers as well?

    Right now, I am looking around at and thinking about the several projects I have to get done. They need to be finished as soon as possible. I’m trying to cut back on some things, trying to shift focuses, but I feel like I’m back at square one most of the time.

    Maybe it’s not so much the numbers writers are having problems with, but the feeling of “oh my gosh, something else I have to keep track of/remember to do”? That, and “I’m never going to match those numbers (so why bother trying?)?”

    There’s hope :). I have plans to work my blogs over, following your steps; I only may not get to them today. Thanks to both you and Rachel for the information. I will look at my numbers and see what I find.

    Have a great day,
    Theresa

    • #71 by Author Kristen Lamb on October 24, 2011 - 1:09 pm

      I am going to blog about the dark side of numbers this week. No, we don’t need to keep a “close watch” on the numbers. That’s like trying to drive a car while looking through a microscope…we’ll CRASH. But we cannot ignore numbers wither. They can be helpful.

  51. #72 by Paige Kellerman on October 24, 2011 - 1:14 pm

    Hey Shaman, Thanks so much for addressing that article. I feel a whole lot better. Sharing with others…:)

  52. #73 by Meghan Ward (@meghancward) on October 30, 2011 - 4:53 pm

    I’m one of those people who was unhappy about Klout’s recent algorithm change. My score took a dive from 55 to 46, and I see yours is now at 60, so you probably took a hit, too. Meanwhile, I have a friend who is not on Twitter and who doesn’t used Linked In or have a Facebook Page who has a score of 43 based solely on her Facebook profile where most of her “friends” are people she doesn’t know. I have another friend with a Klout score in the high 50s based on the fact that she tweets everything she does all day and many people @reply her. So I’ve lost my faith in Klout. Maybe that will change if my score starts improving, but right now I feel like I’m doing pretty well and my score doesn’t reflect that. (It also doesn’t take into account blogs that are not hosted on WordPress.com or Blogspot.com, like mine.)

  53. #74 by Meghan Ward (@meghancward) on October 30, 2011 - 11:17 pm

    By the way, since I commented on your blog earlier today, my Klout score took a dive from 46 to 10! I e-mailed Klout to see what happened – I’m assuming it’s a bug – but I’m losing faith in their ability to measure online influence. I also read an article that said you can be penalized for associating online with people with low Klout scores! Here’s a quote from USA Today online: “Klout also encourages a class system. One of the first online actually. To become ranked higher, one should actually engage only with people who have a relatively good to a higher Klout score. Engaging with people on Klout with a poor score is to be avoided at all costs……”

    • #75 by Author Kristen Lamb on October 31, 2011 - 9:13 am

      Yeah, Klout is ticking off a lot of people right now. All the more reason to not get too focused on the numbers. In truth, as I stated in the article, the frustrating thing about social media is that it cannot be accurately measured. All we can gather is a “best guess.” Just keep focusing on good content and relationships and it will all work out. In the end, that is really the only sane plan anyway.

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