It seems hard to believe, but Tales of a GM is one year old.
I wanted to share this moment with you, and to review my first year as a blogger. I have enjoyed the experience despite the additional workload. I think my writing has improved as I am doing more of it.
But how has the website performed?
A Year in Figures
I know that raw data is not the only way to assess the impact of a website. Doubtless, I spend too much of my time looking at the traffic figures, or worrying about the shape of the graphs. Yet, this is a measurable quantity and does provide me with some degree of feedback about my performance as a blogger.
The figures for the blog can be broken down into three categories:
First we have the Posts, the number of articles that I have uploaded to the blog. At the end of the first year, this total stands at 258, which works out at 4.96 per week. For a single blogger, plus a handful of Guest Posts, this has to be a good average.
I am pleased with this work rate. Yes, many of the posts are short, such as the Prep in Progress series, or the photo-based Geek Wisdom posts. However, there is a limit to how much I can post in a week and still have time for my other writing.
Total Page Views
The next parameter is the number of page views over the year. I accept that this is not the best of metrics to be using, not least as the number of visitors is an entirely different figure. However, page views is the information that WordPress gives me, so these are the figures I use to judge my traffic.
For the year, the total number of views were 6,555. Over the twelve months, this gives a monthly average of 546. Numbers have grown through the year, not exactly steadily, but the overall trend is for growth. I am pleased with these figures, but I very much want to build upon this basis for next year.
However, I have not had a meteoric rise in the viewing numbers. This makes me think that while this is a solid start, there is still a long way to go.
The year has seen 125 comments left on the blog. As I try to respond to each comment, then about half of these were written by me. This leaves about 63 posts from visitors, which then makes the weekly average of comments rather poor. This metric is perhaps the best indication of the state of a Tales of a GM community, namely that it does not exist.
Such a thing is not the main focus of my blog. If it were, then I would need to look at a proper forum, rather than just allowing comments for an article. This has not been a failure, as I do have comments, but nor has this been a roaring success for me.
Incidentally, I have suffered a lot of spam comments. At one point of the year, I was overwhelmed by Japanese spam bots, and had to close the site to comments. This has been overcome, but there is still a steady stream of spam comments to be deleted. For the moment, this is manageable, but should it intensify, then I need to look at more sophisticated anti-spam software.
Beyond the numbers, this review is also about the experience of blogging as a whole. How has the experience been?
This review of the year gives me a chance to look back at my previous posts, and pick out some highlights for the year.
Returning again to the figures, the most popular page has been the Home Page, inevitably, at 1729 views. This does not really count, as it is not a single article, and the content changes each time I upload something.
From a personal standpoint, this is also my favourite post. I am generally very pleased with my GM theory articles. Interludes was one of the first of these, and forms a central strand to how I run the Tales of the Hero Wars campaign.
These Kickstarter articles have proven useful in generating traffic to my site, so it is interesting to see one polling so high for me. Fourth on the list, with 177 views, is the About a GM page. This is a surprising entry, but as an unknown in the hobby, it makes sense that people want to learn who I am.
However, the greatest highlight of the first birthday of Tales of a GM is the fact that it is still going. I have proven to myself that I can write a blog. Furthermore, I am maintaining a reasonable rate of posting, even if many of the articles are short or chatty. Regardless, most weeks see four or five posts, including a longer essay of about 1,000 words, or more. Even if the quality is not always at the highest level, I feel very proud of myself to have maintained this work rate through the year.
The biggest downside of the blog has to be the relentlessness of it. Just like parenting, it does not stop. No matter how hard I work one week, the next will always need the same amount of effort. This does take up a lot of my time, and impacts my writing and the amount of game prep I can achieve.
Just as I am excited when I have a spike in traffic, it can be sad when the traffic falls away again. I accept that such figures will ebb and flow, and that the overall trend is for slow growth. This does not lessen the disappointment of a poor week.
So, blogging is hard work, and can be emotionally draining, but overall it is still worth the effort.
Looking to the Future
So where now for Tales of a GM?
Essentially, more of the same. I still have a decent list of ideas for the longer posts. The wandering Warlock’s Journal and promoting Kickstarter projects are both an excellent source of regular posts. I am still excited to be blogging, so I am happy to continue for another year.
I would like to build upon the initial growth of traffic, and for this I need to expand my efforts at self-promotion. These have been variously successful, so this is very much a work-in-progress.
Looking to my writing as a whole, and the blog is very much one strand of my writing. My parenting duties will change in September as both boys will be at school. This should free up a lot more time for my writing. Thus, I need to push forward with my other projects. The intention is Tales of a GM will serve as a vehicle for the promotion for my pdf publications, so this is a new avenue for me to explore with the blog.
Overall, the first year of Tales of a GM feels like a solid start. More traffic, more comments and better promotion are required. Yet, I established have a good weekly writing rhythm and have more time opening up for me next month.
The second year is shaping up to be a good one, with some fresh writing opportunities for me. I hope that you will share the journey with me.
Something for the Weekend next week: Little Wizards and making failures interesting