Aug 18

In Review: A Fourth Year Report

 

Last week, Tales of a GM celebrated its fourth birthday.

 

I now enter my fifth year of blogging, but take this opportunity to review my fourth year as a blogger. Running the website remains an enjoyable experience. I have a good schedule most weeks, which copes with the workload. Every year, my writing improves and my productivity expands. I suspect I have peaked my level of blogging, but my fifth year may yet take me to new heights.

 

 

A Year in Figures

Raw data is not a perfect way to assess the impact of a website. Even after four years, I worry too much about the shape of the various graphs. Yet, this remains the most consistent set of data about my performance as a blogger.

 

The figures for the blog break down into three categories:

  • Posts
  • Page Views
  • Comments

 

 

 

Posts

First, we have the Posts, the number of articles uploaded to the blog. At the end of last year, this total stood at 1028. As of 8th August this year, the grand total had reached 1571 which means 543 posts for the fourth year. This is a good improvement on last year’s 416 posts. This brings the average above 10 per week. Earlier in the year, I tried to delete a few older posts, so these figures may not be the whole picture.

 

I wrote last year how I felt I had reached my limit. Clearly, that was not true, as I have increased again this year. Through the year I found additional content to post, which keeps me excited about blogging.

 

 

Page Views

This raw data may not be the best metric to use, but it s a fair representation and the numbers are easily accessible. The total page views were 49,727. Subtracting last year’s total of 34,714 gives me 15,013. The weekly average through the fourth year was 289, a tiny gain from the 285 of last year.

 

The rate of growth has tailed off heavily. This is very disappointing, especially in light of the jump in yearly posts. Spring 2017 saw a dip in traffic, which recovered in the summer. I promoted my list of 40 posts heavily this year, so I am trying new methods of spreading the word on social media. I take some comfort that the numbers are still moving forward.

 

 

Comments

This last metric is always the hardest. WordPress logs links as well as comments, so a careful count is required. This year I received 116 comments, up 14 on last year. This tips the average over two a week, including my replies. An increased presence on social media has not drawn more comments to the site. Yet, the number of comments has increased more than the rate of change in the traffic. I can take comfort from this positive.

 

 

The Best Articles

A review like this is another chance to look back at my previous posts, and pick out some highlights. My ongoing Forgotten Scrolls series provides a weekly snapshot through the life of the blog, but this essay is focused on the last year. The change in format for the Home Page continues to have an impact, with the number of views falling below two thousand.

 

Back to the top of the single article list is Why I Love HeroQuest 2

 

This perennial favourite received a huge boost when it was promoted by Chaosium on their Facebook and Twitter. HeroQuest is now published by Chaosium, back at the home of Glorantha. This page received a mammoth 662 hits through the year and looks set for a triumphant third reprint in the Best of 2017.

 

The next single article page is 40 Top Sites for GMs

 

This overview of useful websites gained 472 views, only six less than the similar article posted last year. Given how heavily I promoted my updated and expanded list, I hoped for better. The RPG Blog Carnival, including my hosting in January, and the various improv articles also showed strong numbers.

 

 

Lowlights

As I write every year, blogging continues to take a lot of time. However, it is good for my writing and self-discipline. I feel the time pressure strongly, so sometimes I resent the time required for writing and promoting the blog. Even after four years, I still have so much I want to do that it is tricky to squeeze everything in.

 

The low point of the year was probably the demise of my trusty netbook. It had served me well, and my new laptop is faster, larger and yet lighter. I prefer the enlarged keyboard and did not lose any data in the transfer. However, this was stressful and frustrating. The gap in blogging could not be helped, but I came out of it with a better computer, so it was not a total loss.

 

 

Looking to the Future

The plan for Tales of a GM remains more of the same. The list of ideas for the longer posts remains healthy. I will continue posting about the Tales of the Hero Wars campaign, which is such a great source of shorter articles through the week. I hope to play more often with the boys, who slowly show more focus every time.

 

This year I added the FebShoMo project to the August RPG-a-Day sprint. Increasing the number of monthly themes helps keep the number of posts high, and gives me focus. Last year’s Reading Challenge transformed into the GM Reads series, and I launched the Summer Gaming Challenge to help me survive the long summer holiday. Once more, I plan to continue with a broad range of topics through my fifth year as a blogger.

 

 

Conclusion

Overall, the fourth year of Tales of a GM was another year of gradual progress, albeit at a slower rate of growth. There is more work to be done, especially with the social media and community-building. My productivity is good, and the pdf books are flowing better. I hope you will continue to share the journey with me.

 

What has been your highlight of the fourth year of the blog? Is there anything you think I could do better? How can I encourage comments better? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

Happy Gaming

Phil

 

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