The year in review? Or a year-end top 10 list? Or both? Part 1: How to grow your blog and your base.

your humble host

Near the end of December it’s always fun (or a quick way to have a blog post without doing a lot of work) to post a year in review.

What we’d do is show the top 10 blog posts for 2018.

But I remember 10 turned out to be a lot of work one year. Maybe I should go with Top 5. Or Top 3. I could get into Top 3.

But since laziness isn’t my style (Ha!) I thought I’d show you some stuff from each year that was/were our top posts. You might be surprised.

Check this out.


In 2013 I had a whopping 22 views for the entire year. To be fair, I started the blog in August and didn’t really know what I was supposed to be doing. For those of you starting blogs, we’ve shared a lot of stuff about how to grow your blog. Type key words into the search box and probably any topic you want will come up. Wanna grow your blog? Type “grow.” It’s not a perfect system, but with a little scrolling you’ll find what you want. If you don’t, you can wait for a As Me Anything day, or use the Contact Me button and ask now. I’m really good about following up.

a Years stats dec 2018


2014 had 210 views, a 1600% increase! Around September of that year, I met Allison Maruska, another struggling author type, in an online critique group, and she gave me some advice about things to change on my blog. Those suggestions helped a LOT. The first was, the blog isn’t your book, it’s you. The blog had originally been called Savvy Stories. I changed it to the bold name of Dan Alatorre – AUTHOR (as opposed to Dan Alatorre – DENTIST) that you see now. The other changes I made was sharing each writerly tip I learned, to help others along the path faster, and just generally being more relaxed and being myself. These were critical changes, and they launched the blog. But there were others in 2015.

2015: Growing the blog

2015 is the first bar on the bar chart that really shows up. I had over 22,000 views, mainly due to Allison’s suggestions, and then from a tip I discovered myself: follow other blogs and about 1/3 will follow you back. I have lots of interests, so I followed lots of blogs. I read AND COMMENTED on them. I “liked” posts and shared them or tweeted them. For any blog that I read, I’d read at least two posts, like them, comment on them, and then follow the blog. As I noted, about 1/3 would check out my blog and follow me back. Since I wanted a lot of followers, I followed a TON of blogs that year. It worked, and many, many followed me back. Then, because people, want to do what other people are doing (I call this the empty restaurant theory) people started following me of their own accord and I stopped “bulk following” so many blogs. But for a while I was following dozens a day, spending about 20 minutes each morning reading new blogs. It takes about 2 minutes to read a new blog post, about 1 minute to short comment on two posts (“Great post” or “I agree; thanks for sharing this.”), and a few seconds to like and follow. So in 20 minutes I’d have 4-5 new blogs I was following, and each week about 10 followed me back. n Sundays I’d wake up and read blogs for an hour or more, so another dozen or two would be following me after that. It was all about getting more followers so more people would be aware I existed. Word Press helps bloggers with lots of traffic get seen more, and I figured my books appealed to everyone. Once a decent number of followers at all, it would grow on its own – and I was right. After a while, I didn’t need to do that any more, and the blog kept growing.

2016: Big Achievements and Not So Big Achievements (Okay, some flops)

In February of 2016 this blog reached 1000 subscribers. We got to 2000 in March of 2017 and 3000 nine months later. THAT’s the power of the empty restaurant theory. (I will explain that soon, I promise.)

Because we changed the blog content, we are at 3300 subscribers as of December 2018, but we could easily have been at 5000. This was about quality, not quantity after setting the growth in motion.

We had over 31,000 views in 2016, quite a leap from when we started the blog 27 months earlier, and most of that came after implementing the two key changes a year earlier.

See, it was always about making friends. I acted like a friend, doing lots of interviews and profiles with new authors, and telling you what I’d learned while asking you to share what you learned. I knew friends working together would accomplish more than I could on my own – and we did. When something good happened, I got excited and shared it with you, and I shared your big moments as well.


In April of 2016, we started a YouTube show for authors called Writers Off Task With Friends. It never really got off the ground, but it was a fun way for Jenny Allen (who I’d also met in an online critique group), Allison Maruska and I to get together once a week, talk about writing issues we were having, and laugh a lot.

Not knowing what we were doing did not stop us form making 50+ shows. With no viewers to speak of after a year, we kinda read the writing on the wall and stopped early in 2017. But not before convincing ourselves we were good enough to be presenters at the Florida Writer’s Association Conference that year.


Hey, why not? So we did that, and I’m not sure I laughed so hard ever before in my life. Not during the presentations, but when we’d go out and just have fun. Writers are fun too, you know!

Around that time the blog reached its highest viewership to date, with over 60,000 views in 2017. That’s crazy. Wanna know the secret? I started posting something every day, and I had that stuff autopost onto Facebook and Twitter, but the biggest part was: I had content every day.


I know!

On Mondays, I’d post a writing-related meme and ask if you agreed or disagreed. On Thursdays, I’d post (copy/paste from the prior week) an “Ask Dan Anything” segment. Wednesdays were supposed to be a reblog of a friend’s blog from the week, and Tuesdays could be profiles of other authors or guest blog posts. Sundays were always a big new writing thing I thought you should know about. That left a few days for miscellaneous thoughts, which I always had/have.

More content = more views. I thought people would stop reading, and some did, but most didn’t – and my views went sky high.

Oh, and somewhere in there we started having writing contests.

Word Weaver logi FINAL trimmed

In April 2017 I acquiesced to several suggestions that I host a writing contest on my blog. I had no idea how to do one, but I knew one thing: it could be VERY embarrassing if no one entered.

Luckily, quite a few people did, so a new thing was started: Winners of my writing contests went on to get published! The winner of our 1st Word Weaver writing contest did, and the winner of our 2nd word Weaver writing contest did, and the winner of our 4th Word Weaver writing contest did – and quite a few second place winners and third place winners did, too.


So we needed a place to showcase that talent. How about in a book? And The Box Under The Bed was born – and the following year, its sequel, Dark Visions. BOTH have gone on to become #1 bestsellers in horror anthologies.


We had a lot of fun here, made a lot nof friends, helped people get published, and learned a few things. I hope we keep doing that, too.

Tomorrow, 2018’s best moments and top posts. See you then.

3 thoughts on “The year in review? Or a year-end top 10 list? Or both? Part 1: How to grow your blog and your base.

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