Friday, July 8, 2011

The Tyranny of Knowing (and not Knowing) the Numbers

One of my other hobbies, when I'm not podcasting, reviewing, writing or painting tiny plastic figures, is being neurotic and insecure. As many of the above involve putting my thoughts out onto the internet in one form or another, this can be best described as an "interesting" combination.

Now on sunday we are recording the "Conclusions" episode of Dissecting Worlds Series 4, which will be our 29th podcast, which is all kinds of cool. Like the rest it will go out into the world, get syndicated, copied, stuck on itunes, and generally passed around the internet, and like all the rest we'll have very little firm idea of how many people listen to it. Sure, we get some very welcome feedback, it's not that much. I've worked my time in Customer Support roles and I know the deep truth that no-one rings you or emails you to tell you you're doing a good job, so a lack of being called a proper idiot is as good a compliment as you can get in these circumstances, but at times you just want to know people are out there.

The complete opposite is true of this blog - and indeed the reviews I've done over at Geek Syndicate. I can see in wonderful, granular detail how many hits an article gets, and where it is referred from, and so on, which leads to complusive stat checking to see how many people are reading whatever whitterings it have put out at which particular time.

Now the wierd thing is, from talking to fellow podcasters and bloggers, is that I'm not alone. We're all - well certainly a lot of us - like this, driven by an urge to put out our opinions to the world and then caught between fear of being told we are doing it wrong, or just plain ignored and not sure which would be worse. It could drive you mad, but I'm not sure doing this sort of thing is a mark of sanity to start with.

The answer of course is simple, and the single best piece of advice I was given when we started out, and probably the only piece of advice I would pass on. Do it because it is fun to do, in of itself. Do it because you enjoy the process of recording, or writing. Do it for your own pleasure, with your voice, and that will come through in what you do. 

Let the numbers look after themselves. Anything else is a bonus.

Right, just got to go check how many hits this has got...