Ages ago, I did a promotional project in an attempt to boost blog hits. I asked hundreds of other people to retweet a link to my blog. It didn't work for long. My hits spiked during the month, then died off. My mate Tom pointed out the obvious- if you want lots of sustained page views, you need good content. You need to offer up what interests people. Anything other than that, and all the promotion in the world will only result in temporary hits.
I thought about this. I wanted the blog to have a bit of journalistic nuance to it, a bit of professionalism. I thought about what I'd need. First: touchtyping skills. Second: shorthand skills. Third: a good nose for a story, and the ability to write it up quickly and eloquently.
I spent two months learning touch typing. (The first, the second) I spent a year redrafting a feature-length screenplay. I spent many months reading and reading and reading. And then I spent a month learning shorthand.
The final project in my plans was another monthly project: citizen journalism. It was time to go out and find some stories, and use the skills I'd taught myself. My plan was to beat the local news outlets to some stories, and get myself known. To let the papers know that I'm finding things that they aren't. I also wanted to report on things that genuinely helped people in some way.
Did I do that? Well, I guess I did: my video of a fight outside Panacea led to a phone call with the Manchester Evening News. I gave them permission to use it, but it never ended up on their site.
I found a few one-off events, street festivals, campaigns and- most successfully- a short piece on changes to the appearance of Oxford Rd. A friend of mine read this and may be syndicating it on her business' website. If I understand correctly, her housing agency wants to replicate the article for their own site and link back to mine. I'm down for that!
It would have been good for me, a month ago, to make more notes of my hits- I suggested I'd got 2K in the last month in the project's introductory post. This time I got 3K. Well. I was hoping for a little more, but it's an improvement. Overall hits: 569,034.
I should also have made a note of my Twitter followers. This month I've passed the 1100 mark (currently 1105).
It's been fun. I'm going to scale back the amount of time I spend actively looking for stories, although I still have about 8 events lined up that I'm going to report on. I'm also still going to try to beat the MEN to any news stories I can, and tweet them so they know I'm competing against them. Stay tuned.