Anticipation for that next monthly article

As many bloggers will be aware, especially those who produce content frequently, there are certain core topics that you can recover countless times without them getting old. Because there is never any end to the particular topic that is being talked about, you can pretty much bank on it to draw in some interest at a set time.

Anticipation for that next monthly article

Anticipation for that next monthly article

Image source: Wikipedia click here for this interesting Wikipedia entry on traffic lights.

My Personal Recommendation as a blogger

As a blogger and as a friend to all bloggers, I would suggest that as one of your items to do, no matter at what point along your blogging journey, you ensure that you have one type of article that you can always return to each month. It doesn’t even matter if it doesn’t do hugely well in the beginning, it will just get you into the mode of improving your craft.

 

Blog Prefect’s End of Month Traffic Report

I run a month traffic report. When I used to post less, I was able to get it out pretty much on time every month. The traffic report as a functioning article has grown significantly each month with its complexity rising. It is the most involved element of my schedule involving the most time within a given monthly deadline (I do sometimes work on long-term posts which take far longer but these are few and far between).

Traffic July 2014

Click here to see a whole slew of traffic reports.

 

Something magical happens near the end of each month

Part of me writing this article is to share with you my joy of seeing my previous reports get some hits at the end of the month. These signals indicate that there is some interest to this monthly content and that data (or evidence if you prefer) excites me.

You should be equally as excited if interest stirs in your work. If you are able to garner a habit making piece of work, you might be able to harness that into something truly rewarding.

 

The power of serialization

Unless you come from planet Zog you’ll know that in Hollywood and in the games industry, sequels sell like hot cakes. If you can hook someone back for something each month, you may be able to drive more loyalty, and with more loyalty you’ll be able to put more eyes on your words.

I watch Neighbours. I’ve been watching Neighbours since the age of 9. I come back and watch Neighbours because it is my happy place. I’ve only missed approximately 60 episodes. Neighbours is an Australian soap opera and the reason I like it is because it is familiar but not home. Since Neighbours has been shown on Channel 5 in the UK (after moving from the BBC who don’t use adverts) I am now very aware that ALDI infect my soul. I’ve never been to the shop but ALDI hummus is something that strikes fear and loathing into my head. But can you see how powerful the draw of returning is? I would suffer all those adverts for my beloved Neighbours.

I have sought to try to find something that I can serialize because if you can find a winning formula, people will come back FOREVER-ish.

 

Two powerful emotions

  • Anticipation
  • Expectation

Anticipating something may lead to you becoming anxious. Anticipation has led to many world-class sprinters starting before the starting pistol and being disqualified. Anticipation can be a good thing because it can lead people to make interim decisions (in my case, reading the previous month’s report while they are waiting). Anticipation can be a bad thing because if you don’t deliver on time you might upset your relationship with your audience.

Expectation is not dissimilar to anticipation but expectation is the more patient cousin. Expectation occurs when you generate some relationship with your audience and they seek improvement upon the original. Expectation is a great thing when you provide all you did before and better, but a bitch when you take things away and don’t provide what you promised (Sims 4 toddler and Create a style fans may nod your head now). Expectation can sit hand in hand with Hype, and Hype sits hand in hand with anticipation.

Hype can be great if the item feeling the heat of the spotlight outshines expectation and deeply disappointing when it shoots far wide of the mark. We often speak more of over-hype than we do of under-hype. The reason is that if our expectations aren’t lifted sky-high with over hype, we are far less likely to be disappointed.

 

Examples of how these emotions can manifest

Which film was I disappointed about this year?

Cap’n America 2 & Transformers 4

Okay, that’s two films. Now I should have been prepared for disappointment with Captain America: Winter Soldier mostly because I hated Captain America (even though I so hoped it was going to be good) and met the part of Cap in Avengers with a certain “Meh”. I thought they could have approached that character so much better but they’ve left me disappointed three times. I’ve not even read the comics but something just doesn’t seem right about him. I feel kinda the same about the Hulk too with all of the actor changes, the thread was lost. I liked Eric Bana as the Hulk, they go and change him. I liked Ed Norton as the Hulk, they go change him again. I like Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk. Please don’t change him, please! Anyways, I digress..

Transformers 4 was far more of an unexpected disappointment because I don’t dislike Michael Bay (whilst everybody else seems to) and I loved the first 3 transformer films. Number 4 felt like a stretch. I liked the new cast but some felt more comfortable than others. This whole “I must invite China to my film because I need their red bucks” is getting somewhat tired and the shameful inclusion of the Dinobots clearly aimed as a cynical ploy to sell more toys to the kiddies (The Dinobots were actually the one good bit of the film) was also a considerable groan. The truth is, I will probably still buy this for the collection, I’m just rather disappointed that it wasn’t more despite the big budget. Less, sometimes, is more…

Which film took me by surprise?

Into the storm which I’ve seen recently was, what people may consider, a ripoff of Twister. I have to say that this film was frickin’ awesome. It didn’t have a big cast of well-known actors but that was kind of why it worked a bit better because although the cast were a collection of less well-known actors (and some fresher faces) the cohesion of that cast worked really well. I didn’t think that the CG was overdone or the plot was too thin. It all seemed to come together to make a great watching experience. Because the film wasn’t over-hyped (in the UK at least) I didn’t have enormous expectations and so I had an unexpected viewing pleasure. Plus the ending was hilarious so I’d recommend you go see it.

Okay, honourable mention to Guardians of the Galaxy, and yes, they did hype the poop out of this. It performed. I loved every component. Every brass tack. My only slight disappointment came in the shape that with all of the trailers, they showed approximately 33% of the best bits of the film, and it always sucks when you see most of the best bits already. Nobody likes spoilers. I’ve tried to write my 4 film parts here without spoiling and I’m not going to include images. I spoiled the last series ending of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for my sister many years ago and she has never forgiven me since. Sometimes it is better not to know!

 

A word of warning

Formulas do become “Samey” over time. Whilst trying to pursue balance, quality and meet expectations, it is also prudent to mix it all up once in a while. You may notice if you look at my traffic reports, they now involve a much larger series of analytic data than they once covered. I’ve expanded upon all things, I’ve occasionally changed the format and at periodic points I will bin what doesn’t work. Unlike solo pieces that stand on their own, my end of month report can be weighed up against previous installments. Some of my reports have done far better than others even though the content has not varied much in terms of quality. You may have to prepare for unusual results.

An example of a formula that has got toooooo samey.

CSI. Crime Scene Investigation. Sorry Americans, it has just gone on too long. I know you’ve changed the main guy to Ted Danson, I know Elisabeth Shue is in it so technically you’ve changed the head on the broom but it’s still the same broom. Somebody dies at the start, they find the killer, it may involve a bit of tension, enhancing pixellated pixels, super glue, fetishes, Jazz hand hipster music entered into short investigatory techniques and copious amounts of big headed brushes, gizm on motel beds with copious amounts of UV light, we may learn something about one of the cast, roll end titles. Yawn repeatedly. The end. Season 14. Should have stopped at 10. {Shakes head energetically}. The thing is, my parents will continue watching this until their eyes no longer work. Damn you!

 

In conclusion

Hopefully you’ve learnt that one key tool in your blogging tool-chest is some periodic updated content. An article that runs along a theme and that sparks viewers to watch out for it. Whilst you may bore of me mentioning his name; Pat Flynn, my non biological, non related, cousin across the pond; rocks when it comes to serialized articles, podcasts and other materials.

So if you haven’t got around to a repeatable success, why the hell not?

You know where the comments live! (BELOW)

 

If you like articles on Great Expectations, check this post out.

 

Should I now be thinking about December?

Depending on what you blog about, the 4th quarter of the year can either be a busy period of activity or one where the numbers will take a seasonal dip. My numbers in 2013 tailed off towards Christmas in epic style and between the two weeks running up to the event I had roughly 10 people stop by.

Following on from a similar angle that I broached recently, in my last article about the Saturday Slump, I will be looking at whether it is worth me wasting time in an area of low returns this December or dedicating my efforts to some other website consolidation activities.

So I ask myself the question:

Should I now be thinking about December?

Should I now be thinking about December

Image source: Pixabay by PublicDomainPictures

  • For engaging for December

I like to keep the effort up, I like to be consistent, I like my ranks to stay high and happy.

  • Against engaging for December

I have a lot of things that will provide value in January, I normally change my theme around this time, I need to adjust a good few things that I won’t have time for if I tie myself into lots of posts.

 

Downtime during 2014

There has been plenty of events this year where I have not been able to put 100% into the output of my blog. My study time and general living have cut into blog time repeatedly this year and I’ve lost traction to these events. You could argue that if I’d been able to operate a better schedule I could have done better but the truth is, I can’t work to rigid schedules.

 

Struggle with the schedule

I tried putting together a schedule for September because I will be into heavy revision during this period. The ultimate decision was to abandon the schedule. I simply don’t have the time to pre-write content at the moment. Of the 30 days of September, I only created 1 post. This is a post that I will still release in September despite it gathering some dust. I like to remain somewhat fluid to what’s occurring in the blogging world. Normally I might be spurred on by something interesting I’ve read on my blogging travels.

Many people advocate the use of schedules, the organised people of this world. Coming from a planning background I should conform to this but find it difficult.

 

Why is it difficult?

Blogging and the coupling of Social Media, impacts on the environmental factor of “trending”, which plays deeply into the unpredictable nature of writing to an audience.

In simpler terms, we tend to write what is popular and avoid what is unpopular. However some subjects that are unpopular can soon become highly popular and relevant. We then play a game of chasing curves.

 

Chasing curves?

Let’s take The Sims 4, a computer game coming out on the 2nd September 2014 for the PC in the USA (and a bit later for the ROTW) as an example. It’s attracting a lot of buzz right now and EA/MAXIS have lifted the reporting ban on the product (so more interesting stuff is starting to drift through).

Because there is a lot more information out in the public, the older articles that were based on supposition are no longer valid. Those who profited by those older articles now need to chase a new curve prior to the release of the new game.

I wrote an article, a long article, over the period of 4 months, which went into detail about The Sims 3 & EA/Maxis because I knew that later on in the year, the Sims 4 would be coming out.

Read my long and awesome article here because it is still relevant!

I got a lot more warmth releasing this article in 2014 than I would have in 2013 because it was closer to the event. Simmers were already looking around but had very little information back in January. (Pre Gamescon, Pre E3). I was able to fill a need with my article (which is one of my best long term performers for 2014, released in January.) without upsetting the EA/MAXIS embargo on games reviews.

Undoubtedly the Sims 4 topic has had some curves of interest over time throughout the year. I spoke of Gamescon in Germany. The first time we actually got a decent look at gameplay. The embargo on what was able to be shared was in effect here and this carried through to E3 where the curve ramped up again. The next curve occurred when the Create a Sim Tool or CAST was launched (first to the super fans and movers and shakers) then to the general populace. Now we see more ripples as the Gamescon footage was released and will see further ripples as exclusives come out from the bigger reporters such as Gamespot, IGN and more besides.

Of course all of this is manipulated by EA, the publisher. Hype is ramped up so that EA can make money on pre-orders and first week sales but has been targeted in September to make an attractive “Christmas/New Year” purchase for most of the world.

I hope you can see that this particular topic is indicative of a series of curves that you as a blogger can take advantage of.

You can of course write out of this curve but don’t expect to get as many viewers. A lot of content that we produce often has some form of time sensitivity where we can only expect a limited yield (or return in viewers). Once the crisis or news item is known by many, it ceases to be noteworthy.

Persisting topics (those that either are hard to remedy or are intrinsically difficult to fix) are likely to be over covered. So you have to strike a balance between mild “evergreen” and limited yield when writing because you can’t always chase curves.

 

I strongly believe that priorities change during certain key periods of the year

There are definable seasonal periods effected by various religious and non-religious activity which can affect how our audience approach searching for information.

 

Where has my strongest search related criteria evolved from?

My strongest performers are guides, specifically How To. I could most likely create a whole new blog entirely on the basis of How To and do well which has given me food for thought.

 

What are my plans if I’m not writing articles?

  • I plan to change the theme of the site. I did so last year and was pleased with the change from Twenty Thirteen to Bloggy. I will be seeking a change again from Theme Forrest for my next dabble.
  • I have a Minimum Viable Service which I wish to pitch to somebody. I can’t divulge what this service is going to be but I do have the first client in my sights and need to apply the necessary heat to get them onboard.
  • I have some hacking and slashing to perform because some of my pages are very poor in their performance.
  • I need to provide some more guide based materials and need an incentive to join my mailing list.
  • I plan to update my brand with a brand new style for 2015, one that will take some time to put together. This has to be rolled out universally across my social media platforms as well.
  • I plan to write two epic pieces to start off 2015 with a bang just as I did with 2014.

 

How would you approach your December?

Given that we are soon moving into the final quarter of 2014, have you given it some thought yet? What are your December writing plans?

The Saturday Slump

Saturday is a bogey day for Blog Prefect for numerous reasons, some clear, some not. I always have weak returns and I’ve retreated from taking the battle to the audience on Saturdays. It’s all about the law of diminishing returns. I perform some rigorous analysis of how my posts fair and have found that Saturdays have a very poor take up, regardless of how good the content is.

Average Blog Prefect Post Performance

Average Blog Prefect Post Performance

Saturday Slump Factor 1: Not posting consistently on Friday.

For many weeks, Friday has been a day where I haven’t always had time to get a post out. I tend to find with my content that I get a domino effect where I gain warmth from my content not necessarily on the day but sometimes the following day. Friday is often a difficult day because I run out of time. Friday is never a day you like to stay for extra.

I’ve been considering a number of solutions to this problem.

Automation: Having an automated post for Friday in the sweet spot could well help.

Alternative content. I am pretty much milk and potatoes during the week but I always note that Social media changes tactics towards the end of the week with theme days.

Saturday Slump Factor 2: Not concentrating on Saturday compatible content.

Finding content that works on a Saturday is quite difficult. My general success during the week is on aids to performing tasks in blogging but also on bigger topics which need a bit of explaining. Saturday is a different kind of day. Many people are actually out on some forms of recreation on this day (except those who work on shift) and their minds are far from business unless they burn the midnight oil.

I’m still in search of the Saturday winning content and there are a few types of post I haven’t tried yet.

Saturday Slump Factor 3: The fact that Saturdays don’t convert well to views puts me off writing content for them.

The third factor is the deadly circle. Because it fails I feel less inclined to try which is a self defeating state of mind. I’ve learnt this with my initial jump into Twitter. I went in all guns blazing but was suddenly disappointed by the lack of activity and that lack of activity turned me off the chase.

The solution to the third factor is the simplest of the three issues I face. A particularly well known hypno therapist and neuro linguistic programmer from England, by the name of Paul McKenna, suggests that the best way to succeed is to increase the failure rate. I’ve mentioned in a previous article that we can’t always be a:

“First Try Hero.”

And that we should not be disheartened by failure but be spurred on to victory.

I took a deeper offensive on Twitter the second time I came back to it and it definitely began to lift. In life you’ll try as many times as you need to if you really need something.

Observations

I have noticed that a lot of the high end bloggers don’t concern themselves with covering off the week but more look to maximise on their best days of viewing. I’m in a different position because I post more often and want each and every article to work well on the day it went out until I can switch my strategy later.

 

A plea to you my audience

This is actually a request to you, the reader. What do you find works well on a Saturday?

I’d welcome your comment either through my email at headboy@blogprefect.com or through Twitter @blogprefect

I’d love to hear from you!

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Things go wrong because they normally go right

The rather interesting title I have for you today originates from a gentleman named Sidney Dekker. It’s a watch word in complacency. The key premise is that if you take your eye off the ball and get comfortable with things working just so you are likely to be bitten and bitten hard. Putting all your eggs in one basket is a risky strategy if you are dealing with change.

 

Things go wrong because they normally go right

Things go wrong because they normally go right

Image Source: www.geograph.org.uk

A question to pose before I move on

Q: Why do you think that successful bloggers run multiple projects and have multiple sources of income?

You could have an answer like this:

  • Because they are greedy
  • Because they like the notion of omnipotence
  • Because they like to try new things
  • Because they have many great ideas

You wouldn’t be wrong with any of these answers but the actually reason is more striking:

  • Because it provides protection when something goes wrong

Why would something go wrong?

Despite all of the analytics, all of the positive signs and all of the right ingredients good times can change.

Change Factors:

  • New technology (which moves a lot quicker in the software world)
  • Competition (especially fierce on the internet)
  • Substitution (being replaced with an alternative)
  • Obsolescence (being outdated)
  • Unexplainable situational or environmental factors

New Technology

Technology improvements are unavoidable because whilst something can stay essentially the same, it could be completely replaced by something new. If you don’t keep up to the operating level, you will soon be lost. Those who are able to harness new technology nearer the curve often succeed far more handsomely than those who are 20 steps behind.

Competition

Competition is Human nature (even if we shy away from it). Whilst we can co-operate in a competitive marketplace ultimately we compete for our space. We compete for the right to be read.

Read my article here on the Hypercompetition sea.

Substitution

There is something far worse than just the march of technology in the form of pure substitution. When we find something that works better for us, we may discard that original source that helped us for years. Loyalty on the internet is not a given, we should expect to gain and lose in the ebb and flow of the internet. We must make sure we reward those who stick with us.

Obsolescence

Being obsolete may occur where what we are talking about has no further use for anyone. If all value is lost, that is something we cannot recover from. Obsolescence can be a by-product of technology’s march and the fickle shuffle from substitution. Unless we deviate from our core once in a while, we’ll become obsolete. New uncharted territories are not to be feared.

Unexplainable Situational or Environmental Factors

That which analytics cannot tell us is, “Who is going to show up and when, are they going to be the right person?”

The saying goes you can wait hours and then 3 busses turn up at once.

In my last traffic report I always allude to the fact that one half of my statistics is unpredictable and certainly uncontrollable.

Dashboard Jul14 vs Jun14

See my latest traffic report here.

Factors that could cause a dip or loss

There are a number of factors specific to marketing and traffic growth that can cause issue and these include the following:

  • Errors
  • Underhand tactics
  • High and more effective competition
  • Saturation of the market
  • Being too static

Errors

Such errors could include affiliate links that don’t work because they don’t credit the referral. I have read about this possibility by someone who had lost out on 6 referrals equalling $600. More obvious perhaps is 404 errors which is basically broken code on the website, being careless with deleting or another form of error can trigger this.

Underhand tactics

Paying for questionable uplifts and “nobbling” other people’s hard work could constitute underhand tactics. Negative reviews, bombing Adsense on competitor’s sites and other such underhand tactics can all be viewed in this arena.

High and more effective competition

Being the small fish amongst big fish is always going to be a problem. It’s not that you can’t secure your place but expect to be partially covered by the shadow. It will be a tight swim in that pond proverbially speaking. What is your unique angle?

Saturation of the market

Only so many people can have hosting, once you’ve got hosting, you don’t need more hosting on top. Often you may be selling stuff that very few people need and might have snagged somewhere else with a better incentive than you provide. If the core of your market already have what you are selling, you are more than likely wasting your effort.

Being too static

You have to roll with the punches, you have to enter new territory and you have to move the story forwards. You can’t be a Simpson and never age. You need to have a few facelifts, try some new stuff and keep up with the Jones’.

 

What are your thoughts?

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