Quarterly Review: Jan–Mar 2017

Sophie Playle
Quarterly Review: Jan–Mar 2017 image

Rather than write down my goals and not review them again until the end of the year, I thought it would be a good idea to start doing quarterly reviews.

That way, I can make sure I’m on-track and able to make adjustments along the way.

Main goals for 2017

In the original post, I identified these as my main goals for the year:

  • Conduct twelve critiques.
  • Edit six manuscripts.
  • Run my course Start Fiction Editing twice, at full capacity.
  • Create a Developmental Editing course and run it twice, at full capacity.
  • Reach 500 newsletter subscribers.

I had written a little about how I planned to reach these goals. Here’s how I’m getting on.

CONDUCT TWELVE CRITIQUES

I’ve only critiqued one novel this year so far, so I’m already behind on this target. I’ve published one post that directly relates to critiquing (What is Developmental Editing?) and one post on writing craft that helps showcase the kind of knowledge I would bring to the table during a critique (How to Write Great Characters). I also conducted a few interviews with past clients (Charlie Maclean and Gina Maya), both of whom had hired me to critique their novels. I haven’t yet run any Facebook ads, as I had planned to do, because I instead decided to experiment with increasing my blogging output to twice a week.

EDIT SIX MANUSCRIPTS

I’ve completed one full-length manuscript edit and one shorter project, and I’m just starting on a full-length edit from a new client. I’m happy with the level of editing I’m currently doing. I feel I’m on target here.

RUN START FICTION EDITING TWICE, AT FULL CAPACITY

I’ve run Start Fiction Editing once so far this year, but it didn’t sell out as it has done twice previously, which was disappointing. I think it was probably a bad time to run it – just after Christmas, and just before the self-assessment tax deadline! I had hoped it would be a good time to run it, since people may have committed to launching their businesses in the New Year, but I was mistaken. Lesson learned. I’d planned to market the course by guest posting on a few blogs, but I haven’t done this yet. I’d also planned to get more involved in online editing groups, and though I’ve slightly increased my activity, I haven’t done this nearly as much as I had intended. My increased blogging activity seems to have driven more people to sign up to the waiting list, though, which is good.

CREATE A DEVELOPMENTAL EDITING COURSE AND RUN IT TWICE, AT FULL CAPACITY

I didn’t end up creating a waiting list for this, as I had planned – I just launched it! I had a feeling that enough people would be interested, and I was right. The course sold out, and I’m currently in the middle of running it for the first time. I plan to run it again later in the year. So far, so good.

REACH 500 NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIBERS

I’ve started asking readers to forward the newsletter to people they think might like it, though I don’t have a way of measuring how successful this is. I’ve been blogging twice a week instead of the planned once a week, and this definitely seems to have had an effect! I’ve gained 109 subscribers since January, which is the highest level of growth I’ve ever had. The newsletter currently has 384 subscribers, so I’m well on my way to hitting my target.

What’s been working

Over the past three months, I’ve been experimenting with publishing more frequently and regularly on my blog. I’ve been posting twice a week since mid-January, and matched this with sharing my posts more frequently on Twitter.

By doing this, I’ve increased the number of visitors to my site fivefold. Last year, my website visitor numbers cruised along at an average of around 500 per month. In March 2017, I had the highest number of website visitors I’ve ever had – just over 2,500. The number of people finding me through organic search has doubled.

Being more focused with my social media marketing seems to have paid off, too. (See: How I Use Social Media in My Business.) Around half of my website visitors now come from social media, whereas last year it was a third.

Most popular blog posts:

It’s useful to keep an eye on what kinds of blog posts are attracting the most viewers so I can make sure I’m writing more content in the same areas. I’m surprised that a post about commas was my most popular this quarter, especially because it was quite a hefty beast of a post! Then again, everyone likes to break the rules.

What’s not been working

One of the content marketing strategies I had decided to try was to create audio recordings of my blog posts. I only ended up creating two recordings (UPDATE: which I’ve now deleted).

Together, they’ve had thirty plays, which isn’t much. I found the process rather time consuming, though I think I would get faster with practice. The more I do it, the better my recordings would become, too, and perhaps the more listeners I would attract. But I decided to stop making the audio recordings and instead write more blog posts. I might experiment with audio again some time, but I don’t think I’ll carry on with it just now.

My bounce rate has gone up, from 57% to 78% – and I’m not happy about this. A ‘bounce’ is when someone visits your site but doesn’t click on any other link within that site before leaving, so it indicates a lack of engagement. I’m not sure how to tackle this, to be honest. Assuming more people are finding my website through my blog, perhaps I need a stronger call-to-action at the end of each post to encourage people to explore more of my site. Of course, this higher bounce rate could indicate that people enjoy reading my post but aren’t interested in my services or courses, in which case perhaps my posts aren’t attracting the right readers, which would be a bigger problem …!

What’s next? Apr–Jun 2017

CONTINUE BLOGGING – BUT ONLY ONCE A WEEK

Posting twice a week has certainly increased the number of people finding my site, and this in turn has led to more people signing up to Liminal Letters. (By the way, if you’re not signed up, why not? You get to read my most personal thoughts about running a fiction-editing business.) But it’s been so time consuming creating all that content. I want to make sure every post I publish is of super high-quality, so that means no short, rushed pieces. So yes, posting once a week is probably going to be more sustainable for me.

GUEST POSTING

This is something I keep saying I’m going to do more of but never get round to doing. In this second quarter of the year, I’m going to commit to trying to get three guest posts published. I have a few ideas on where to pitch … Watch this space!

START FICTION EDITING – RUNNING AGAIN SOON

I’d like to run another session of Start Fiction Editing in May, which means registration will open in around three weeks’ time. There are currently 117 people on the notification list. (If you want to be notified when registration opens, sign up to the email list via the website!) When I opened registration for the February running of the course, there were only 79 people on the list. I’m also going to do a bit of a marketing push (including experimenting with Facebook ads) leading up to the registration period. I’d like to have at least 150 people on the notifications list – and this will hopefully mean the course will have a good chance of selling out again.

I’m also going to move the Start Fiction Editing website content to this website, Liminal Pages. Now that I’ve decided to offer more courses for editors, it makes sense to keep everything under one roof.

UPDATE: I no longer offer Start Fiction Editing, but I’m assimilating the content into my other online courses.

Sophie Playle profile picture
Sophie Playleis a professional fiction editor. She specialises in copy-editing and critiquing, working directly with authors. Speculative fiction, fantasy, science fiction and literary fiction are her genres of choice. She's an Advanced Professional Member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders and has a Creative Writing MA from Royal Holloway, University of London. Find out more: liminalpages.com

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