Technically, yesterday 1/15 was the original deadline for my author platform Mission. The deadline was set because it would mean a rejection from the publisher I’d submitted my novel to in October. However, this date is no longer valid.
Harper Voyager got over 4500 submissions, and haven’t had a chance to read / respond to everything by now. So, they have decided to respond to all submissions.
I’m glad I Googled this question before I tweeted the publishers to find out whether there would be some sort of “all clear” sent out.
I am going to hold off – still, more, again – on another re-read, another edit, another touch of Salvaged before I start agent queries. Frankly, I’ll be too busy refreshing my inbox.
Last week someone asked me what SEO was in a tweet. 140 characters is almost short enough for me to use my cocktail party line: “It’s magic.” I use this in a tongue in cheek way to avoid really technical conversations with drunk people. I’m quite capable of explaining SEO in simple terms.
( Here’s my real answer: ”My goal is to get targeted traffic to my website. I do that by aiming to get my website to the top of search results for certain keyword phrases. I have to know which phrases I’m going after to bring the right traffic to the site. I have to make sure my content answer the question We have to ensure that the back end code is honest and clear about the fact that we answer the question better than anyone else online. It’s a combination of data analysis, understanding web architecture and design, content planning and quality content.”)
But because it was twitter – and that mouthful is no tweet - I summed it up using the phrase “A combination of data analysis and creative hunchwork”.
Because I work in numbers and data, I understand how important it is to know which numbers are important. Remember word problems in high school math class? Do you remember the ones that had insufficient information included to get to an answer? How about the ones that had a whole lot of extra information to confuse you? That’s what we’re working with in terms of metrics.
Here’s what I mean – specifically in terms of my Author blog and that work.
The things that I can measure – the things that I know about my nascent author platform – are all over the place. They are part of both sides of that word-problem coin.
- How many people follow me on Twitter?
- What’s my Klout score?
- How many fans do I have on Facebook?
- How many people visit my blog?
- How many people click more pages in my blog?
- What’s the most popular page on my blog
- What search terms are people using to find me?
- How many pinterest (google + etc) followers do I have?
- What countries do my visitors come from?
Then there are the ways I measure myself and my own activities…..
- Should I unfollow / follow people on Twitter?
- How many blog posts have I written?
- How often do I tweet / post on facebook / pin on pinterest?
- How many words have I written today?
- How many contests have I won
- How many clips do I have
- How many queries have I sent (rejections have I gotten)
This is just the tip of the iceberg. The list of online and offline metrics available is very, very long.
The next set of metrics are the things I can not measure. The things that float in the great unknown.
- Why did those three people unfollow me on Twitter today? (WHAT DID I DO? COME BACK!)
- How many queries will I have to send out to get a Yes?
- How many drafts?
- When is my “good enough” really “good enough”?
- Why does Google show THAT photo of me when I search for my pen name?
This list, I’m afraid, is even longer than the mind-boggling list of the knowns.
Sifting the Wheat from the Chaff
I was inspired to write this post because of Jan O’Hara’s Sexy Numbers blog post at Writers Unboxed.
Jan is 100% correct. I just want to expand upon and elucidate a few of her final points.
The fact of the matter is that you’re going to measure your progress. If you are trying to improve or grow, you’re going to be watching numbers somewhere. Embrace that fact, and then learn how to decode the word problem for only the information you need to solve the problem.
Here are the real tricks of the metrics trade:
- What is the real goal of your work? What are you actually seeking to improve? In SEO terms, my goal is traffic, not search engine rankings. I don’t care if I rank 304, if people are clicking on my links.
- Determine which metrics are meaningful in obtaining that goal. Back to SEO: I track visits to see if people are finding my links, I track page views to see if they like the site when they get there.
- Determine which metrics you can safely ignore. I don’t track my rankings on search results pages, because they are clouded with personalization, diluted with lack of data due to keyword unavailable metrics and secure search, and because they don’t matter.
- Are there any measurements that are a means to an end? This is the tricky one, and the one that trips a lot of people up. I actually do look at ranking reports – not to track, but to focus my efforts. If I see that I’m ranking top of page 2 for a term, that term becomes a “quick win” that I can focus on for easy gains. I don’t track these numbers – I use them.
For my 2013 goals on my author platform, I don’t target a real number of twitter followers. I target a ratio of who I follow against who’s following me. This measure indicates a reach that extends beyond the immediate circle of influence. It indicates that I have something to offer. Until I get there, I need to keep tweaking my strategy. That ratio falls in the fourth category. In fact, because my platform project is so very new, almost all of my goals fall in the fourth category.
What do you track? What can you stop caring about?
The original mission deadline is next Monday, January 14th.
- Monday / Weds update here: I’ve slipped over the holidays on this blog and these updates, mostly because there’s very little to talk about until I get into the tactical side of things, and I need to pull my thoughts together a bit more on those.
- 2:1 ratio on twitter: that’s going to take a while. I’ve been making strides, but I’m following a lot more people now.
- Average of 10 blog PV per day - Check:
Average per Day
- Pretty consistently getting a blog link in the top 10 of non-personalized search results (next step, a G+ call out?)
- And Klout score remains over 60, which was my target.
I’ve blogged about this personally, but never professionally. I am one of those weird people who desperately need goals in order to succeed. I don’t just think they are a good idea. They are vitally necessary to the way I think and work.
To that end, I spend a lot of time working on setting them. They need to be flexible. They need to be challenging and interesting. They need to be time-bound and easy to measure. They need to be written down where I can check in against them. They should represent incremental steps toward my longer-term goals.
My long-term career plan is simple. I will continue working in SEO and internet marketing until I have established enough of a foothold in the fiction world to write creatively full time. This requires paying off debt and making sure my husband’s career is stable. It probably means moving house so I can have a dedicated office space. I might freelance or consult in internet marketing in the intervening years (it does pay the bills, and I do enjoy it). I don’t plan to spend the bulk of my time doing it, except that I will be using the skills I’ve gained in my own creative pursuits.
That’s my career plan – no definite timeline set on that yet. At the very least, that will take 3 years to achieve, my guess is closer to 5-7 to get everything aligned.
It follows that the most important of my professional goals should support this plan – which means building a strong author platform for myself while I work on getting Salvaged published. (It so happens that this is also one of my personal goals for 2013 – which have already been posted over on the other blog.)
Of course, if I’m realistically looking at staying in my current area of expertise for the next 3-7 years, I’m going to have to keep up. I’m going to have to stay on top of my game. I’m going to have to continue growing and learning with the industry.
One of the aspects of living a balanced life is to use our strengths every day. If you haven’t taken the VIA strengths assessment, I really recommend it. Two of mine are teaching and learning. I tend to learn easily and am hungry for new information, so that one doesn’t require extra work. I am targeting “teaching”, because that requires me to go a bit out of my way.
I’m looking at doing a virtual career fair as an SEO expert for some Tech HS students in the next few months. I’ve been talking with a friend about doing a webinar for NAWBO about SEO. Those count as teaching, certainly.
One of my other personal goals is to ”Come up with a speaking topic for a conference and pitch it.” I’m not sure whether this idea will be for internet marketing or science fiction writing. I kind of want to pitch an idea for a creative conference – a writer’s conference or a sci-fi convention – something to get my name in those circles a bit more. However, I very well might come up with something for an internet marketing conference instead.
I will be able to post my goals toward the author platform – those are a separate subset. What I’m wondering is whether I should be looking at any other areas? Should I try to build this blog and twitter account more? (Or will I be getting rid of it eventually anyway?) Should I work on my portfolio? Get more Linked-In recommendations?
Still not sure. What do you think? What are your professional goals for 2013?