I’ve always been a sucker for a good ‘like’ on facebook but recently I’ve also discovered blog statistics. They are marvellous aren’t they? Having published more writing online this year than ever before I started to get curious around October about how many people actually read what I write. The results are reassuring but also a bit befuddling.
For example on my Broadway Baby reviews (which I’ve enjoyed continuing to do more leisurely in London after the whirlwind that was Edinburgh) I’ve noticed that I can see how many people view the page in the top right hand corner. Some reviews for even the most osbcure shows I’ve seen get over 1000 views…
Now I’m quite sure in the grand scheme of things these numbers are not high. I think I remember reading somewhere that to become an internet sensation you have to have at least 1 million hits on youtube. But they do make me feel jubilant simply because it proves somebody has read my work! Give or take about 1000 people have clicked on that page if not read the first paragraph or two. I also know I’ve had at least one instance of somebody booking a ticket to see a show based on a four star review I wrote for Londonist. (Lela and Co at The Royal Court).
Then came December and another exciting new challenge in my writing life as I am currently editing Dulwich On View. Since then my interest in stats has grown into a mild obsession but I’m still unsure as to what is a good number of views and grappling with a whole host of other questions ‘does a click mean a read?’ ‘how many of those views are me or those associated some way with the article?’ ‘who has been clicking and why, why, why?!’ Like marketing I find that blogging is annoying because it’s extremely difficult to know who your audience are, they’re so silent. Half the time I feel like I just write about stuff that I’m interested in and hope for the best.
So I suppose the answer is do more research, ask other writers about their experiences etc etc. And I will do this. I will. I will. But quite frankly over Christmas its been nice to step back from the glowing lights of my computer screen for a few days. I felt like throwing a tantrum on Christmas Eve when I dropped my Iphone causing irreparable damage. But the delightful thing is that it rendered my usual browsing, texting, what’s apping, facebook status updating, tweeting habits completely obsolete for the holiday period and it’s been bliss. Without being able to swipe every five minutes I’ve actually read a whole book and broken away from filling every dull unused second with scrolling through the 90% total dross that is my facebook feed (no offence).
Of course I’m getting twitchy now, feverishly tracking the arrival of my shiny new phone via UPS. But the point is I’ve definitely benefited from enforced time off and have made all sorts of unkeepable resolutions for when the bloody thing does eventually turn up.
One thing I find very strange about my current part-time life as an arts and culture blogger is that I spend so much of my time doing real things and then going back immediately to input my experiences into web-land. I suppose the reason I’ve got so into the stats thing is that I’ve always been somebody who loves a bit of praise, and what greater gratification for a writers can there be than soaring numbers of (albeit anonymous) readers? But actually when I step back to reflect I know that having my stuff published is only 50% of the reason I do this.
The other 50% is the doing of the stuff…for free and often with a cheeky complementary glass of wine! I was always into theatre but now it’s a complete addiction. The thought of leaving my beloved cultural treasure trove of London behind at some inevitable future point fills me with cold clammy dread…damn you housing crisis.
Writing for Londonist has been an absolute delight not only for the crazy adventures in outdoor ponds or the fun I’ve had researching pieces like this one but also the incredible array of really high quality theatre that I’ve got to see.
Quite apart from the joys of the Ed Fringe this year I re-discovered the Globe and found myself there constantly over the summer months, I had my first experience at The Young Vic with a very saucy Measure for Measure, I learnt a bit too much about Grindr sex parties at the Kings Head in Islington, laughed my arse off at the Play that Goes Wrong and rounded off the year being introduced to the international superstar that is Peppa Pig!
You can read my and others’ 2015 highlights for Londonist here. I’ve also become a regular at my favourite Finborough for Plays to See and am hoping to see more at The Orange Tree in 2016 for Broadway Baby. I’m busy all the time and seeing so much great art, theatre and with Dulwich On View a whole host of other weird and wonderful local things too like this.
That’s why I’ve pretty much given up seeing anything I don’t want to see or don’t think I’ll enjoy. Don’t get me wrong I’ll still sign up to the odd wild card and still very much enjoy taking myself off to new places, but you can forget shivering in a pool club in Dalston watching a man make love to a box of porridge oats…never again. Ultimately my time is becoming increasingly more precious with work pressures mounting and as my writing is still 90% voluntary I have had to learn to be more discerning.
I have no intention of stopping though, the sheer joy of doing what I love keeps me going, in fact I often wonder whether I would love it so much if it were my job. The stats on this blog show me I’m getting more and more hits every year I write it so I’m going to take that as a hopeful sign of progress.
My one regret in 2015 is that I didn’t write or perform enough poetry. With everything else that was going on it didn’t feel like a priority and it was hard to find the head space to be creative. However that’s all going change in 2016 as I’ve had the best idea ever…