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Preparing your Blog for the Silly Season

Duncan has a good post unpacking the Blogging silly season a little. The ‘silly season’ traditionally starts the day of US Thanksgiving and extends into the first few weeks of January. It’s silly because traffic levels can vary incredibly. Every blog has it’s own pattern (depending largely upon it’s topic – ie product blogs tend to explode for the next month and die in January) but it’s a good idea to expect the unexpected.

If you’re an Adsense or YPN publisher you can expect variations not only in your impressions over the coming weeks but also in the CPC (cost per click). Advertisers are often willing to pay a bit more in the lead up to Christmas and in some industries in the first weeks of January (to capitalize on new year sales). Some are predicting that it really gets going this coming Monday – which apparently is becoming known as ‘Cyber Monday‘. If this is the case I can’t see what happens on Monday because yesterday was my biggest day ever in terms of earnings.

As Duncan says – in some ways there isn’t much you can do except let the roller-coaster run it’s course although if you have a product related blog I would recommend that this is the time to think about some of the following (in fact a lot of it you should already have been doing for the past month or so):

1. SEO – ask yourself what people will be searching Google and other search engines for in the next month. Optimize your blog for these keywords. Read more about Search Optimization for Blogs.

2. Optimize Hosting – if you don’t have server capacity for big traffic it might be the time to do something about this

3. Work on Read Loyalty - if you get a lot of extra traffic over the next few weeks it’s actually an opportunity to convert some of your new one off readers into regular loyal readers for the coming year.

4. Optimize your ads - people are in ‘buying mode’, they’re on the lookout for gifts for family, friends and (if they are like me) themselves. I found last year that CTR was on the increase in December last year so make sure you are using your ads effectively. I’m particularly interested this year to see how my Chitika eMiniMall ads go and have put them in some of the prime positions on my blogs. This has already paid off with yesterday’s figures going through the roof and hitting record levels for me (almost four times the level of Adsense for the same day). If you want to read more on ad optimization you might like to check out

5. Optimize your Affiliate Links – You might want to consider how you use affiliate links over this period. I find that my Amazon sales triple over this period even without me doing anything extra – but there are ways that you can increase their potential by using deep links, positioning them in the hot zones on your blog etc. I’ve written more tips on using affiliate programs on your blog here.

I’m interested to hear what others are doing to prepare for the silly season.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. ChrisH says:

    Something I’m trying to do is attach a relevant Amazon link to each post. Eg For my post http://www.qwertyrash.com/archives/time-management-happy-the-person-with-only-24-hours-in-their-day about trying to do to much, I put a link to the book “Slow Down… and Get more Done” by Marshall J. Cook

  2. IO ERROR says:

    I have one blog which is occasionally product/service related, and at the moment I’m just trying to publish more on it. I think I’m starting to lose interest some days.

  3. chris says:

    Yesterday was crazy! My adsence ppc was below $.10. Did anyone else have this? Any help would be great to let me know what I did wrong.

  4. Deanna says:

    I couldn’t get on your site for most of the morning and into the afternoon yesterday. I was wondering what could have been the problem, it must have been your traffic.

  5. sara says:

    Thats pretty good.

  6. VjDj says:

    Friday Yahoo earnings increased by over 30% above average for November, making it my best day with Yahoo since I started with them in early October. Saturday was also high, but only my 3rd best day with them.

    Chitika increased 25% Friday over where it’s been averaging over the past week, but earlier in the month & in October average earnings were higher (no curiousity clicks), but I’ve been spending less time working with their ads since Yahoo started paying well.

    Google earnings increased about 15% above November’s average for Friday & Saturday, but is still about 10% less than October’s average earnings. I’m also spending less time working with them for now too, so it could have been better.

    I’ll be spending more time working with all of them through the rest of the weekend, & putting up some more editorials, so it’ll be interesting to see the income for this coming week.

    I only started running ads on my sites the last 4 1/2 days of Sept. with adsense. I was impressed to make $185 just for adding ads to a few of my 10 y/o sites in a little over 4 days.

    I did more research, & even spent almost $100 on a popular online PDF book on the topic I’m sure you all heard of or got suckered into buying. Earnings dropped by over 50% by following the book’s & other pro’s advice. I went back to my own way & followed my own instincts. Ignoring the pros, & having a total disregard for any recommended high-paying keywords & layouts, every week did better than the previous with NO CHEATING!

    I joined Chitika later, & Yahoo much later. Starting the second week in November suddenly they all started doing exponentially much better just by writing a few simple news & editorial pages. It was excellent! Total ad earnings for November will be well over $3000 with a fair chance of them being $4000 by the end of the month.

    I’m 50 y/o & have been making sites since 1995, but never made $3000/mo in my whole life! When a few of the biggest checks come in, I may quit my day-job & go full-time at this.

    My sites, most of which been online since 1995 or 1996 are the busiest in January & February, with over a million visitors during just those 2 months. If things keep going like they have been, I might do very well those months.

    Traditionally for the past decade my sites are slower in December, but not as slow as summer months which are usually the slowest. For some reason, July, usually the slowest month of the year was my 3rd busiest month, 2 years in a row, & I don’t even know why.

    I just hope I don’t run out of news & editorial ideas to write about. Sometimes I’m sitting up all night just thinking about what to write about, & still coming up with nothing interesting enough.

    I think what’s happening when I read about so many not making much with running ads is they’re all following a lot of the same advice. So their sites are all looking the same, writing similar articles, & making similar layouts. This is especially true with look-alike blogs being all too common. We’ve just been overwhelmed with them, the layouts, & ads, so they not getting a good click-through payment or clicks anymore.

    I still do it the old fashioned way. I just make a page or site using simple html & scripts, from scratch with no web building templates. No two pages out of over 50 look the same. Only a few pages have white backgrounds, & those are not my highest paying pages. I never made a blog (still haven’t) & just made over $1200 this week on ads. I never put an ad on my sites before the end of September, & never had any experience doing it before then.

    Sure, you see people claiming to make $10,000-$15,000 a day running ads, which may or may not be the truth if they’re selling you the advice to do it. If they are telling you the truth, they may not tell you they may be running over 1,000 pages or sites, & be paying a dozen or more staff to make & run them.

    The internet used to be rich in variety & content. With the onslaught of countless bland, white, ad-supported blogs, created by templates with no HTML or script experience, overrunning the internet, the net has become a little more boring & less adventurous.

    If you’re working alone on sites, & can’t break the $30-$50 a day barrier, it’s time to break the mold & dare to be different. Be creative, think for yourselves, be inventive, unique, & stop following the model that everyone else is using. If your page looks or sounds like someone elses, it won’t be good enough.

    For the first time in my life, I can seriously see the possiblity of being a milionare before I reach retirement. A mere few months ago, I thought I wouldn’t be able to afford to retire until I was 100.

    I’m not selling a book, I don’t want to give away any secrets… less money to go around that way, & it will make it harder to compete. Maybe after I make a million, I’ll write a book about it.

    I’m not promoting a site either, I did not list a site. My sites are private, members-only, & not everybody gets approved to get in.

  7. VjDj says:

    “Yesterday was crazy! My adsence ppc was below $.10. Did anyone else have this? Any help would be great to let me know what I did wrong.”

    Your review page looks like all ads with no content to an average user. So you’re not generating enough return/loyal visitors. Not only will google or yahoo not be willing to pay much for a page like that, they’ll look for a reason to drop you from the program for life.

    Break it up, spread it out, with more, longer reviews, & more interesting content. Most can get more info by just looking up the product at Amazon.

    Too many ads together reduce clicks & value of clicks. It not all bot controlled you know. Your ad servers will occationally have a live person review the page. The more traffic, the more a real reviewer will visit. An ad reviewer will rate your page a lot lower because of too many ads on a page. They may even look for an excuse to drop you from the program, with so many ads or ad-looking things. If they drop you, they usually won’t take you back for the rest of your life. This is exactly the type of page they would want to dump.

    Try 1 or 2 ads per every 3 or 4 paragraphs of content. Your page value will go up, get more ad clicks, & get more return visitors.

    If you must use a lot of ads (but not that many) you’re better off using using light colored backgrounds instead of white for the page & any ad backgrounds you can so it doesn’t look like an all-ad page. Maybe pink or light blue in this case, or perhaps a dark burgandy background with a plale, almost cream yellow text. You may also concider making it look like a Christmas shopping page & use Christmas colors. If the price of the product is lower than average, you may mention it’s on sale.

    You’re highest paying ads should be Google. Those ads should be as close as possible to the top. With so many ads, you’ll actually get less clicks & the clicks will be worth less.

    For your layout though, Yahoo publishing ads near or at the top will make much more. But you can’t run google & yahoo ads on the same page or they’ll kick you outta the program for life!

    You need a lot more serious extra text content dude.

  8. Darren Rowse says:

    Thanks for sharing your story VjDj – hope you keep coming back and sharing your experiences.

  9. buzz says:

    VjDj–
    Yes, content is king. I’m 55, a geezer like yourself, and enjoyed reading about your success.

  10. chris says:

    I have retooled the layout of my site! take a look and see what you think! Thanks for the great advice VjDj!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] With Christmas right at our heals, Darren raises idea’s about optimizing your blog geared to the “Silly Season”. The facts are in – the Christmas period is where blogs and websites see a slight increase in traffic, therefore the potential to earn more via affiliate programs and contextual advertising. [...]