Stopping Traffic

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Your humble host.

Blog traffic is always different on a holiday weekend

I made what I thought was a great post on a Sunday, and I tweeted about it because I wanted it to be read. I can usually expect a high volume of retweets on Twitter and a subsequent high volume of traffic to my blog.

Nope.

I had just launched the newsletter, too, so I was like, Oops, I guess people don’t like the newsletter SO MUCH that they’ve stopped reading the blog!

And the ones that were clicking through to the blog were leaving almost zero comments. (Comments had been very high; dozens a day.)

I knew it was a holiday weekend – MLK Day was that Monday – but I forgot that things are ALWAYS different on holiday weekends.

And it almost doesn’t matter what the holiday is.

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When I worked at a Fortune 500 company and had to do recruiting, ads never did well on holiday weekends. People are doing different things on those days. I developed a wide definition of “holiday” – and there’s basically one every month. We all know (or should know) that everybody is doing things a little differently during Christmas; you ae buying presents and going to parties and putting up a tree! Your writing schedule suffers but your overall schedule is different, and blog traffic shows that, too. Traffic peaked in October, was a little less in November (Thanksgiving is a BIG holiday that takes people out of their schedules) and of course December has Christmas, as I just noted, which screws up almost one whole month and a part of the following month.

Here’s a list of traffic-interrupting holidays. Many are small hiccups but a few are MAJOR traffic slowers:

January – New Year’s Eve/Day. The reasons should be obvious. Everybody’s partying! But it’s still basically “The Holidays.” January also has Martin Luther King Day, and because it’s a 3 day weekend, expect things to be a little different in your blog traffic. Things get back to normal around the 15th, with a hiccup on MLK weekend. MAJOR.

February has Valentine’s Day. A hiccup.

March has Easter, another biggie (but not like Thanksgiving; it’s maybe 1/3 of the Thanksgiving traffic drop) and also St Patrick’s Day – in case your hangover from New Year’s had slipped your mind. So, a minor major (Easter) and a hiccup (St. Paddy’s).

April – while not a holiday, tax returns are due on April 15 and people might be busy.  Or unhappy. It’s more of a hiccup, if that.

May has Cinco De Mayo, for a little more hair of the dog. (It’s not as big as the other drinking holidays, though.) But Mother’s Day is known for travel and upsetting schedules. (Or just being upsetting. It never works out like you think it will, does it?) Then at the end of May is another a three day weekend, Memorial Day. So you have a big hiccup for Cinco De Mayo, a minor major for Mother’s Day weekend, and a MAJOR tremor for Memorial Day weekend.

June has Father’s Day, which doesn’t affect anything, really. Certainly not like Mother’s Day. Not even  hiccup, but I don’t want dads feeling neglected.

July has Independence Day, the 4th of July. That’s another party based 3-day weekend, and folks travel a LOT at that time of year. Do not be alarmed if your CPs disappear and your blog traffic dies. People are on vacation. You should consider doing that, too. It’s usually a MAJOR.

August – not really any holidays, but people vacation a lot in August. Traffic will be slower almost all month. Plus, parents are getting ready for back to school. Some hiccups, but nothing worry about in general, just usually a slightly slower month overall.

September brings ANOTHER 3 day weekend and drinking/socializing with family cookouts, Labor Day. Again, expect traffic to be different. It’ll be a minor major.

October has Halloween, which didn’t seem to affect traffic but it’s worth being aware of it. A hiccup.

November. Do I need to say it? Thanksgiving, baby! Stuff some turkey and stuff your belly but don’t check your blog traffic numbers because it will be miniscule. A MAJOR major.

December has Christmas, which starts affecting things by the 15th and continues through New Year’s, the 31st. You know what I’m about to say.  A triple MAJOR. The majorest.

So what do we do? Well…

None of this means you shouldn’t blog or advertise or whatever on these weekends, just that you need to be aware that people are behaving differently at those times.

  • Blog traffic drops and comments drop a LOT at those times. Don’t panic. It’ll come back. If you were doing a good job before, odds are you’re still doing a good job.
  • Book sales may be slower. For some budgets, that means don’t advertise cos you won’t get your usual return. For other budgets, it means spend MORE so your revenue doesn’t slide. (If book sales were good, expect them to get better!)

Now, I doubt you’ll save this “calendar” or even remember next Memorial Day that things were projected to be slow for a few days. But you MIGHT want to advertise and do certain promotions AROUND those dates if you can.

Know your business and what affects it.

Like I should have.

 

 

Yes, BLOG! What New Authors Need To Know About Building A Platform

Is this you when it comes to blogging?
Is this you when it comes to blogging?

Occasionally a new author will write me with a question or problem and I’ll answer it here so we can all learn.

 

Dear Dan,

I went to a writers’ conference last weekend (which was kind of intimidating) but I learned a lot about writing technique and learned some things about myself. I’m not a good self-promoter. I’m kind of quiet, actually; but one thing they recommended was a blog and/or website. I never had a good impression of blogs because I never thought people would be interested in things like, “I got up and made myself coffee.”

Sincerely,

Blogless Beginner

.

Dear Blogless,

Not a good self promoter? A little on the quiet side?

Talk? To people?
Talk? To people?

Sounds like you’re an author all right!

Let me tell you a secret. MOST people aren’t good self-promoters. There are very few Donald Trumps in the world – he wrote a few books, you know.

(We recently discussed building an author platform HERE, HERE, and HERE)

The folks at the conference who recommended you have a blog or website probably believe a blog is a good platform from which to build a fan base – and they may be right – but you don’t have to do one. If blogging is a chore, it’ll read like a chore, and nobody will want to read it, a lose-lose.

But some blogs are fun to read. Like this one!

My blog has started to become a good one in the last year or so, after I figured out what I was doing. It’s supposed to be helpful and lots of people think it is. I also like to promote other authors and so far that’s worked pretty good for them, too. So anything I can do to help, let me know.

A visual representation of my blog, year 1
A visual representation of my blog, year 1

(You know what would be good for you to do? But boring? I mean BORING? Go to my archives and see the progression of what I blogged about 3 years ago and what I blog about now. Which posts got comments and which didn’t. Talk about an education! There’s 2 years saved right there!)

There are a lot of ways to do a blog, almost none of them wrong, but you’d never know that from reading people’s complaints about how nobody reads their blog.

And you’re right, nobody wants to read about boring stuff, but think about it: some construction worker somewhere doesn’t want to read about writing and how to do better dialog. But somewhere else, a bunch of nurses would love to share their funny nursing stories – and a bunch of nurses might like reading that, as well as a bunch of other people. (There’s more but this is a start.)

You ROCK!
You ROCK!

What interests you will be interesting to others, trust me. It’s a chicken-egg thing, but if you blog with enthusiasm about what interests you, people will find it, enjoy it, and tell friends.

.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

Your humble host.
Your humble host.

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Click HERE to check out his other works.

How To Get Past The Tricky Spot In Your Story

Remember when writing was fun?
Remember when writing was fun?

We all occasionally reach a spot in the story where we don’t know what to do, how to get the characters past a certain obstacle.

If it lasts a while, people call it writer’s block. So don’t let it last.

In Poggibonsi, the tricky spot was trying to think up a way for Mike’s wife to take him back after he cheated on her. I was stuck for a long time on that. There was no rational reason for her to do it, and yet I know lots of spouses forgive a cheating husband or wife. But I couldn’t think of what that conversation went like or how he’d earn her trust back.

In The Water castle, we have a big confrontation with several characters and a resolution need to be created. Gina’s mom finally goes to help Gina and… what, exactly?

Something will come to me.
Something will come to me.

Beats me!

Similarly, Jenny was stuck on her big battle scene, so I rolled out these two examples for her, as I am for you, because she thought she had to solve the problem alone and that nobody else has these issues. Certainly not real authors with actual books being sold.

Ha!

But, okay, we all have those issues on occasion. What do we do about them?

Usually by telling somebody – in this case Jenny, one of my critique partners – about the problem, I have to clarify things so they can understand. That helps me clarify things for myself. So, simply by explaining the problem to another person, it unravels the mystery to my own brain.

I have a hundred ideas and they all suck!
I have a hundred ideas and they all suck!

And by doing that, I almost always have a few ideas of where things might head, and why they can’t head that way.

Then, lo and behold, as I walk them through my dilemmas, usually one answer remains as the only plausible path. And my dilemma is no more.

Other times, I am hearing the problem from a fellow author and I’m providing suggestions. They may not take any of my ideas, but the sheer act of rejecting solutions kind of implies to their own brain that they have something better. Certainly they have a better feel for their story. And just as often, an answer is derived.

It always does!
It always does!

It’s like in Shakespeare In Love, when Geoffrey Rush’s character (Philip Henslowe) spoke with Hugh Fennyman, the money lender for the play. The sponsor asked how all the issues would be surmounted and the play could open, and Henslowe basically said, “I don’t know, but it always does.”

Philip Henslowe: Mr. Fennyman, allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.

Hugh Fennyman: So what do we do?

Philip Henslowe: Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well.

Hugh Fennyman: How?

Philip Henslowe: I don’t know. It’s a mystery.

That’s my answer.

Talk the problem out with another author. An answer will present itself.

I don’t know how, but it always does.

.

Your humble host.
Your humble host.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Click HERE to check out his other works.