Reading Callie’s thoughts at Steven Pressfield’s blog a while back raised some marketing questions in my head.
Which are you more interested in:
- number of books sold or number of new fans?
- number of words written or percentage of days you write something rather than nothing?
- page views for your blog, or posts you’re proud of?
It’s good business to keep track of statistics.
It’s human nature to pay more attention to what’s easy to count instead of what’s hard to count.
It’s not always obvious that what matters to your business (you know, selling books as your own publisher?) is hard to count.
It’s a scientific likelihood that even when what you count is a valid indicator of progress, you’ll begin gaming yourself and the statistics in order to boost a number. (It’s called Campbell’s Law.)
If your daily writing goal is X thousand words, and you’re pondering sentence structure, will you choose the succinct or the, er, expressive? Maybe you’ll keep yourself honest. It can be done.
But if you’re counting words, that creeps into the decision, a decision where it doesn’t belong. The number of words you use to say something is immaterial (beyond the general rule to omit needless words.)
What matters is the quality of the words. Hard to measure.
If you count books sold rather than solid human connections, you’ll pollute your career as a self-publishing author. Your brain is wired to promote what you’re counting (books sold) even at the expense of something you know intuitively is more important to long-term success: human connections, real genuine fans.
Folks have been obsessing about web traffic since five minutes after they discovered the internet. The only time web traffic matters as an indicator of success is if you live exclusively by online sales of a commodity where you can draw a firm correlation between number of visitors and number of sales.
How many people read your brilliant post doesn’t matter.
How many people care about it, ruminate on it, ask you questions or go do something about it — that matters.
You are what you measure.
Measure what matters.