I sometimes wonder if all of the contributors know what they’ve gotten themselves into on SWI. Recently we had a problem with the site being throttled and that caused me to whine loudly to Bob. In the typical resourceful and wise management style, Bob then asked if I wouldn’t mind helping out as a site administrator. See what happens when you complain?
Actually, I’m thrilled to help out and I’ll tell you why. What Bob has here is something very different. The goals and purpose of SWI is simply to provide a vehicle for writers of all levels to present their work and opinions in an open forum. It isn’t edited, it isn’t muffled and it isn’t constrained by topic or political agenda.
His idea has now grown to a site with a substantial number of contributors and a large audience. Most sites can’t even dream of a thousand hits a day, and these aren’t just “flybys,” viewers are stopping to read and look around. That is very impressive for a blind Internet startup. Much of this is because Bob is constantly on the prowl for new contributors, but a great deal comes from a central core of strong writers who stay and continue to contribute. We get to be part of the success, both in writing and commenting.
Most of us here have our own websites and can appreciate just how popular SWI is. We wish we had this kind of traffic. What that means to us is an audience that we could probably never get on our own.
While this may not mean a lot to most of us, the picture above is a graph of how much the site has grown in traffic in the last year. Itty bitty last March and growing wildly in volume in the last 3 months. It’s typical in just about any popularity graph. As more people find the site in the vastness of the Internet, they trigger more interest which brings even more people to the site.
In plain numbers, last March the SWI site did about 9.8 gigabytes of throughput, that’s people viewing pages and making comments. Just at the end of this month, even with the enforced slow down, we will probably do over 40 gigabytes. For a mostly text site that’s pretty incredible. According to the slope of the graph it’s not going to slow down anytime soon.
Why is this happening?
I believe that the numbers show a couple of basic assumptions about Internet traffic and readership are true. First, content is king. Good content, in our case well written thoughtful pieces attract loyal readers. Readers who come back for more, day after day month after month. Second, something new every day. SWI has poets, essayists, cranks and loonies, philosophers and good story tellers all cranking out good pieces every day. The water is fast but more importantly, it’s also deep. Third, people here are dedicated. Bob is dedicated, the writers are dedicated (and good at explaining to their spouses and partners why they they waste so much time on a non-paying site) and it’s looking like our readers are dedicated as well.
Bottom line, we need to keep going. We are all part of SWI, from the oldest members to the newest contributors. We can all make SWI even more successful by keeping up the quality, thoughtfulness and the encouragement of each other. There are a few other things we can all do as well.
There is a little box on the page we use to create our pieces under the one where we check boxes for categories. Tags are used by Internet search engines to classify and expose our work to the population of readers. Use them. Come up with 5 to ten words or phrases that typify the piece you are about to publish. Think of it as filing your work under these key words. More people will find you if you tell them where.
Every author here should be using the “Share this” service by clicking on the little green and white icon at the bottom of their newly published piece. This allows you to post an announcement of your latest work on your Facebook page or Twitter feed, plus a few other services, so your friends can know what you did. If you don’t use these free services, start. There is little point to Speaking Without Interruption if no one is listening.
Bob Grant pays for the site out of his own pocket. If it keeps growing the way it has that will become onerous (and harder to explain) but we all expect that he will become fabulously wealthy in his new business venture, so that may not be a problem. One way to support him is by keeping your work sharp, insightful well edited and presented. Don’t ever be afraid to go back in and update when you catch an error or think of a better way to say something. Realize that comments are a very popular part of the site, so comment and comment often. That is also one of the only ways we have of telling each other we read and thought about what was written.
Anyway, this is getting long winded. One last thing, if you have questions about any part of the site don’t hesitate to ask.
Copyright Prentiss Gray 2011