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):

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How to Start a Blog

I quite often get asked by new readers for advice on starting a new blog. Now I’ll point them to the series that Duncan is writing on the topic of Starting a Blog. Part 1 is on ‘What to Blog About‘ – (choosing a topic).

Duncan’s series is for all kinds of bloggers but if you’re working through how to start a blog with an income earning potential you might also be interested in readying Principles of Choosing a Profitable Blog Topic after you’ve read Duncan’s post.

What to Do when Your Google Traffic Disappears

I’ve had emails from a number of ProBlogger readers in the past week who have each told me that at some point in the last month they’ve seen drastic falls in their Google SERPs and as a result their referral traffic from Google. In each case their page rank has remained at the same level but they’ve plummeted from ranking in the top 10 for their keywords to almost disappearing (or being the 320th ranked site). In each email there is a little panic, desperation and the question ‘what do I do?’ This post is an attempt to give some advice on this topic.

What’s going on?

Without getting into all the technicalities (something I’m not really capable of anyway) Google have just completed (or are getting close to finishing) the 3rd phase of their latest series of updates. This latest round of updates was informally called ‘Jagger’ by SEO experts.

Google employee, Matt Cutts, has been writing about Jagger on his blog (you can see them in his Google/SEO category).

Much of how Google determines who ranks how in their index is kept secret by Google but periodically they do an update like this that gives some sites a real shake up – for some it brings drastic improvements in where they rank and for others it unfortunately sees them seemingly fall out of the rankings completely.

This is what happened to me a week out from Christmas last year when I lost two thirds of my sites traffic (and daily income) to my digital camera blog in the period of an hour or two. Ouch.

What should you do when you lose your Google ranking?

The following advice is not official Google advice – it’s my advice which I gleaned from more experienced online entrepreneurs when it happened to me last year and I went into panic mode and started emailing people. Don’t take it as gospel – I’m not pretending to understand Google or how it works (people who I know work there say they don’t even understand it) – rather this is simply what I did and learned.

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Weddings, Blogging, Intentionality and one Whopping Big Tangent

Warning: Tangent Ahead

I have a secret life.

Actually it’s not really a ‘secret’ because I’ve not hidden the fact and I have spoken of it a few times at ProBlogger – maybe I should refer to it as my ‘other life’.

It might surprise a few newer readers but for the ten years before I went full time as a blogger I was a paid Minister of Religion (Pastor).

In fact while today I’m not paid as a Minister I still perform the tasks of one in a little church that I run in a voluntary capacity called LivingRoom (which is what my LivingRoom blog is about – among other things). It’s a roll that I am passionate about and enjoy thoroughly.

As part of that job I’m a marriage celebrant. Every now and again someone form LivingRoom (or one of their friends) gives me a call and asks me to marry them – something that I love to do (although it can be a bit nerve wracking).

Weddings tend to happen over our summer – and this year I have six weddings to perform (including taking part in my little sister’s) between now and March. It’s going to be a busy season. Tomorrow is wedding number 1.

Over the past few days I’ve been putting a bit of time into the preparation of tomorrow’s ceremony – getting all the forms together, working on the order of service and preparing a short talk – my ‘words of encouragement’ for the bride and groom – something I include in all my weddings.

Tomorrow in my words of encouragement I’ve decided to talk about ‘intentionality’.

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How to take a blog vacation

Arieanna has posted about the options that bloggers have in what to do with their blogs when they go on holidays. She outlines four options:

1. Guest bloggers
2. Advance post
3. Write from the road
4. Announce you are going away

I think all are valid. As she mentions last time I took an extended break (a month this last June) I went for the guest blogger option – something that was a lot of work for me to set up (I had over 50 guests across my 20 blogs) but was well worth while as it kept the ball rolling wonderfully.

For shorter breaks I tend to take option 2 on some of my blogs and set some advance posts to go off once a day while away – or number 4 (announce and just leave for a few days). I guess it depends upon the length that you’re going away for and the normal rhythm of your blog.

Is Digg Traffic All its Cracked up to Be?

davak at Tech-Recipes has a great post analyzing Digg as it relates to bloggers who manage to get on the front page. For those unfamiliar with Digg it’s a social bookmarking site that I’ve written a little about previously.

Digg has the ability to send many thousands of visitors to your site if you manage to get a front page link up – but is it all as good as it sounds? Here’s some of the points that davak makes (they write more on each point at the original article).

1. Digg users do not click ads
2. Digg users do not use Alexa
3. Digg traffic does not generate new users, comments, or posts.
4. Every site on the front page gets flamed in the comments.
5. The digg effect brings in a moderate amount of traffic and uses a lot of bandwidth.
6. Digg users are more polite than slashdot visitors.
7. The digg effect is much less on a weekend.
8. The best digg post regarding a topic is not always the one that reaches the front page.
9. Digg may or may not have positive effects on your google pagerank.
10. After a site is highlighted on the Digg front page, it will start showing up in the other social bookmarking systems soon.

The interesting thing is the correlation to most of these points to most bloggers experience of getting a link on Slashdot.

The lesson is that Digg and Slashdot traffic can be a bit more glamorous than the reality. Of course I’d never knock back a link on either site’s front page – in fact if you’re smart and act quickly you can increase the positive impact that such an influx of traffic might bring to your blog.

Value Added Blogging

Steve Rubel writes about the ‘secret sauce‘ for getting corporate blogs noticed in the midst of the millions of other blogs and corporate sites out there. His advice is:

‘The short answer is, your blog won’t get noticed unless you nurture it. This means – in an ideal situation – weekly or even daily someone is pumping the weblog with fresh compelling content. But any old content won’t do. Corporations interested in blogging need to add value to people’s lives. That’s the biggest key to a successful corporate blog that keeps people coming back.’

I think his advice could be applied to all types of blogs.

Add value to people’s lives and your blog has a significantly better chance of succeeding. Add no value and why would anyone bother reading it?

So here’s the question to be asking – ‘what value does your blog add to your reader’s life?’

It’s a worthwhile question that is worth pondering for each blog you we run.

The Distracted Blogger

In my daily blogging activities I get to interact with a lot of bloggers from around the world. They have blogs of all shapes and sizes and have a variety of different experience levels. However in the past week I’ve come across quite a few newer bloggers who fit into one of the following two types of bloggers:

1. The Paralyzed Blogger – I’ve come across quite a few bloggers recently who look at the wider blogging community and are so overwhelmed by what they see going. They see blogs with beautiful design, bloggers with incredible gifts of communication, the massive traffic numbers of some of the A-listers and even the big dollars that some bloggers are making – and they get sucked into the trap of comparing their blog with others and end up being quite depressed by what they see – to the point where often they give up.

2. The Hyperactive Tweaking Blogger– I’ve also been bumping into quite a few bloggers that get so inspired by the wider blogging community that they spend 90% of their time tweaking their blog’s design, finding the perfect place for their ads, working on publicity etc that they actually become completely unproductive in terms of creating content for their blog.

(note: I’m not saying every blogger fits into one or the other of these categories – just that I’ve met a lot of them this week).

What is common to both of these groups of bloggers is that get distracted by other blogs and bloggers. The paralyzed comparisons lead them to depression and giving up while the Hyperactive Tweaker’s comparisons lead them to working on secondary items to the detriment of content.

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Quotes for Bloggers

The other day when I was looking for quotes to finish up my Making Money From Blogging Takes Time post I came across a heap of great sayings from famous people that seemed appropriate for bloggers.

So I thought it’d be fun to start a little meme here to see what quotes you’d use to inspire, motivate, inform or educate successful ProBloggers.

So hit your favorite quote sites and nominate your favorite quote from a famous person (your definition of fame) and leave it in comments below and/or post it on your blog.

Here’s a few to get you going:

  • “Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.” – Demosthenes
  • “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” – Thomas Alva Edison
  • “Work is either fun or drudgery. It depends on your attitude. I like fun.” – Colleen C. Barrett
  • “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” – Donald Kendall
  • “100% of the shots you don’t take don’t go in.” – Wayne Gretzky
  • “I’m a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” – Thomas Jefferson
  • “The winner is the chef who takes the same ingredients as everyone else and produces the best results.” – Edward de Bono
  • “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” – Albert Schweitzer
  • “Never work just for money or for power. They won’t save your soul or help you sleep at night.” – Marian Wright Edelman
  • “The world is but a canvas to the imagination.” – Henry David Thoreau
  • “Seek to understand then be understood.” – Stephen R. Covey

Looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with.