End of month traffic report August 2015

JAG XFGetting into the swing of things can be difficult but I knew that I had to lay down a few articles to start pointing the ship in the right direction. August hasn’t been a stellar month but I expected it would be rough getting back into things.

Distractions

I’ve had a number of distractions this month. I seem to watch an ever-increasing amount of YouTube videos which is a problem. I have had a particularly addictive game which has also leached a lot of my attention in the shape of AdVenture Capitalist. I’ve also been writing a lot.

Experiments

I’ve been working hard on Twitter trying out different methods of enticing people to my work. I haven’t had much in the way of success so far and as you’ll see further below in my “Referrals” section, there was no Twitter take up last time out. I’ve been using Buffer to schedule these bad boys which does allow me some piece of mind in the fact that I know that the article is being delivered at a good time of day (rather than stupid’o’clock when I’ve finished it).

Shout Outs

As shocking as this is I’ve got nobody to thank this month. There were no comments on any of my articles and very little sharing or other beneficial activities within the communities. Whilst writing this I am aware that September will be a different story but one of the principle aims of a blog is to provide a community with quality info and if I’m not serving that purpose then the stats are meaningless compared to the true aim.

You can contribute in many ways as a visitor to my site and as much as I don’t like criticism, it is an adult thing to accept and rake over. You can contact me in numerous channels through Google+, Twitter, via this site’s email address and the comments below.

Twitter:- @blogprefect

Google+:- +Jackson Davies

Site’s email:- headboy (at) blogprefect.com – Also available in the contact page.

How did the posts do?

Quite a sparse offering this month.

The obligatory End of month report featured but this time it was a roll up from February to July owing to my long time out.

How to Return to a neglected blog performed better and I spent a considerable time on this article.

TweeteAttacks Pro Spammed my Twitter was a spur of the moment article so I didn’t expect too big a splash for this post.

Post-Stats-AUG2015

Alexa Stats

Alexa Stats for this period is a sad story. The numbers are not good and I’ve decided not to include a screen shot at this time. Some numbers are recovering but overall the site has dipped below a level I had seen it grow to. Previously I had managed to chart in the top million on Alexa and am now sinking back to nearly 5 million.

AlexaAug2015

All of the data is now estimated as the bots don’t come back often enough. The only way to see these figures change is to post more and ensure more people view each item. That is not something I can sustain at this time.

Dashboards

GAF Filter

Just a reminder of what all of the 7 measures represent:

  • ATOS: Actual Time On Site. This is always measured through the Analytic Filter as set above.
  • Bounce Rate: This is measured as the base result with no filters. Statistically on blogs this figure is always quite high compared to other sites like Amazon and eBay based on the habits of visitors.  Achieving lower bounce is however a good thing as it means that more visitors are having a look around rather than being satisfied by the one thing they came to look at.
  • Post Performers: This is a measure of how well the best post released in the month of the sample did. The higher the better. This does not account for posts that were released in prior months which have gained some momentum.
  • Gut Feel: This is a personal measure (mine) of how well the site did and an overall feel of the direction.
  • Referrals: The results are taken from WordPress stats (which I sometimes class as unscientific due to how WordPress filters information and bots) which cover a multitude of sources. I always find it interesting to see where visitors are coming from.
  • Page Views: This is the classic measure that many people found particularly important years ago but “hits” aren’t necessarily a good indication of how things are going because you can have a lot of hits but your audience might not be performing the right actions. I include page views to get an idea of how traffic is moving. This is a filtered result which aims to catch those people I would class as having a mild interest.
  • Visits vs Visitors: The final measure determines the rough ratio of visits to visitors. This measure has the filter applied.

Dashboard Aug15 vs Jul15

Actual time on site is an all time record at 20 Minutes and 1 seconds. Very encouraging. Bounce rate is on the way back down. Post performers are up on July but at a low. Referrals has halved in one month due to a downturn in interest on my big hitting post. GAF Page views are down by a third and visits vs visitors are also down.

Referrals

Referrals, previously on a huge high, has settled back to a number that I used to see far more frequently last year. It seems clear that my particularly popular post is becoming less popular which is something I come to expect as a normal trend. Whilst the afterglow hasn’t died completely it doesn’t burn as bright as it did before.

Aug-Referral-2015

Conclusion

August was a recovery month so has been tough going in areas but rosier than June. I look to get back in the driving seat for September.

Open University and the case of returning back to the Final Module

Sadly I’m back into the study again mostly because I failed my economics module and have no real interest in submitting the final project again in a subject I lost all love for. The module was a complete waste and I should have picked the module that I have already started in Design and Innovation which matches what I’m doing perfectly at the moment.

For the blog this means a reduced posting schedule but I pledge to write at least one post per month in addition to the traffic report.

Related Traffic Reports:-

End of Month Traffic Reports February 2015 – July 2015 (omnibus edition)

Big Wig Bloggers

What Is A Big Wig Blogger?

It should be fairly obvious what a Big Wig Blogger is but if you were under any illusion then I would explain that essentially a big wig blogger is a guy or gal who made it. I would go a bit further in that definition to say that a person who both made it and flaunts it.

The definition is quite important as Big Wigs, by nature, are quite vocal about their accomplishments.

This is not a post I’m trying to rank for, its more an explanation for readers who see me incessantly clarify a phrase that I use quite a lot in some of my deeper looks at blogging and those who blog. Now I actually have some point of reference which I can link to.

Big Wig Bloggers Guess Who

6 individuals you might recognise even though I’ve distorted them.

Top Left: Pat Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome.com

Top Middle: Seth Godin of SethGodin.com

Top Right: John Chow of JohnChow.com

Bottom Left: Gary Vaynerchuk of GaryVaynerchuk.com

Bottom Middle: Neil Patel of QuickSprout.com

Bottom Left: Tim Ferriss of FourHourWorkWeek.com

What classifies as making it?

  • Sustaining a decent turn of profit
  • Being a respected authority
  • Being a niche leader

I’m sure you can think of some more titles to throw into that mix but I’ll explain those in more detail.

Sustaining a decent turn of profit

It is rather a sad thing to say that money and profit must always feature at the top of the list but it is the reality we are faced with.

Due to the changing nature of the Internet turning a good profit can be unpredictable and can decline. The aspect of a master is being able to maintain such profits over the long haul by moving with the environment and the customer.

Often the individual will branch as they find areas that they can exploit and talk ad nausea about further entrenching them in a unique corner.

Profit is a sizable motivator for anybody with a business brain.

Being a respected authority

You become the man or woman that forms a “go to” for many items in a subject. This means that you can own a series of loyal fans. Fans can sustain you even if the search engines don’t. Fans are repeat customers. Fans help you. It is beneficial being the first person someone turns to when they have a problem. This means they’ve memorised your website address and can look you up, bypassing the search engine route.

Being a niche leader

This means that not only are you proven as an authority, and can turn a decent profit, but you have a certain amount of control on the direction in which the niche as a whole, turns. You are ahead of the curve because you in part decide the direction of the curve.

Flaunting it?

Big Wigs are very vocal about their achievements because blogging by nature is a sharing place which fosters the notion of sharing positives (and sometimes negatives) with others. Flaunting is an important concept, a privilege of making it.

  • Reputation
  • Using Numbers
  • Dropping Names
Big Wig Flaunting It

A selection of flaunts from the 6 big wigs mentioned above.

Analysing this from left to right we can see the following:-

Gary Vaynerchuk using 30,000 subscribers he terms as “insiders” to tempt you into the mailing list.

Whilst a more modest boast than the others, Seth refers to himself as “best selling author”.

John Chow’s media bar boasts not only 301,273 followers (at time of writing) but 301,273 “active daily readers & followers”.

Pat Flynn’s looming monthly earnings is always a blow away statement. $119,023.72 is an astounding sum.

Tim Ferriss and his rather showy top 10 most highlighted book of all time.

Finally how Neil Patel managed to elevate a site’s traffic to 500 million page views a month.

Reputation

You can hang a lot of business on reputation and reputation management is a key element of a Big Wig Blogger. Reputation can mean repeat or new business guaranteed.

“I know a guy/gal.”

Using Numbers

The psychology of numbers is something that Big Wig Bloggers can use to their advantage; 500,000 followers, 100,000 subscribers, 50,000 members, 10,000 sales. That’s something you have to exploit when you get to be a Big Wig. Big numbers attract and even if you are cynical about using that number advantage, it wins through in copy.

It all sniffs like money doesn’t it!

Dropping Names

Schmoozing your pants off is a blogging staple. Networking is a basic requirement for a Big Wig. When you get to be a Big Wig, you start to get these other famous Big Wigs that lend their support because when Big Wigs collaborate, big things happen.

With all names dropped the Big Wig blogger has some form of relationship through meeting them at an event, having casual conversation and otherwise being completely recognised and sanctioned. You can’t buy early access to being made popular.

Where else can Big Wigs win Big?

Being an Intermediary / Brokerage

Some big deals can happen in cyberspace and some of those big deals can be handled through networking. Big Wigs can exploit their knowledge of the market to complete deals between 2 or more external parties. They can acquire a fee just by setting up the players.

Affiliation and affiliate sales work very well for Big Wigs. Big Wigs with large audiences can negotiate higher returns.

Launching Products

Big Wigs can launch their own products that ultimately reward with much greater profits than third party offerings. They can use their existing marketing platform and are able to capture greater take up from tried and tested methods and loyal fans.

Prestige and “Goodwill”

Big Wigs can expect to access greater rates of saving, greater rates of affiliation and can sell their property for more. “Goodwill” in a business context is the measurement of the brand and how that can be used to leverage custom. It can be used when selling a business and Big Wigs can sell their properties for more than those who have not attained the same numbers. Goodwill can be used when negotiating rates and when buying products.

When creating associated offshoots from their main business, a Big Wig can attach the branding which generates a certain level of shared and complimentary prestige.

Celebrity Status

Just by being a Big Wig, certain individuals can profit from endorsements, paid interviews and paid testimonials. Big Wigs as celebrities get invited to lucrative meetings, exclusive conferences and rub shoulders with other celebrities.

The Big Wig Curve

Big Wigs don’t last forever like all things in life.

Big Wig Curve

Inception

This is the tipping point where a blogger on the quest of making it crosses the goal line.

Being considered a Big Wig is an intangible measure. Mostly you would know when other people are singing your praises. Many individuals don’t realise they’ve made it until something prompts them to this observation.

Growth

The stage in which a successful blogger begins to grow into their Big Wig celebrity status.

At this juncture you know you are famous and are building on that reputation. Growth at this stage will skyrocket as you’ve already attained backing and credence by the right people in the right places.

Maturity

The point at which a Big Wig blogger has reached the zenith of their reach.

There is always a peak but you never know you’ve reached it until you start tumbling down the other side. Certain niches and areas of topic can only reach so far but there is no precise measuring stick to say how far that is. Big Wig Bloggers normally span a number of topics with more than one business.

Retirement

The winding down of the empire through sale, handing over or eventual decay.

Some Big Wig Bloggers do choose to retire. Shock horror. It is a hard job keeping at this all the time even with assistants and once a Big Wig wins Big they may wish to spend the fruits of their labour.

Sometimes the site might be made obsolete through changes in technology and audiences moving away from certain niches altogether.

Very rarely, the blogger might die or otherwise be unable to continue.

Pressures on a Big Wig Blogger

Success has some drawbacks because in a Newtonian sense everything you do has an equal and opposite reaction.

Apologies

When you are a little guy or gal and you get it wrong there is no urgent sense that you have to say sorry. If you mess something up as an amateur you can put it down to the learning curve and move on. Most people who have scruples do apologise but when you are small, the amount of people you have to apologise to is tiny.

As an established Big Wig, you don’t have the same option because people look at your achievements more critically. You have to be on the ball and honourable in defeat because you are scrutinised all the time. You may at times need to make a statement to define the issue and you may have had to pass it by your legal bod first before publishing it.

Trolls

Trolls are an unpleasant dimension to the Internet as a whole. The more success you gain, the more envy you are likely to attract. Because I mentioned that Big Wig bloggers are likely to flaunt their success they are going to attract the envy of some. Because a Big Wig is a big target they are also likely to attract more. No matter how you deal with trolls, they are time consuming and can take wind out of a Big Wig sail. Some Big Wig bloggers resort to blanket punishment by removing all commentary from their creations at the cost to dutiful followers.

Casual Brainless Trolls

These guys and dolls are the classic no brained individuals who just do it for a laugh. They don’t keep it up for long.

Pre-Meditated Trolls

These individuals are considerably more dangerous. Mostly the jealous individuals who feel slighted, a devious competitor, or another person who has a personal issue with you or someone else on your comment roll. These types can be in it for the long haul.

Overload

It becomes much more difficult to micro-manage when the size of your intake magnifies to unmanageable sizes. Inboxes can overflow, comment moderation can grind to a halt and much can go unchecked.

The only way to get around this is to involve lower order management and leave it in the hand of paid professionals because there is a limit to what you can automate.

Response Rates

When you reach overload like above, getting back to people in a timely manner can prove taxing. Big Wigs will prioritise on what can make them the most in the smallest amount of time expended which may mean they no longer make the same efforts they did for the individual in the audience.

Comfortable with Formulas

All big corporations face this issue. They become less flexible to new risks and get caught up with trying to perfect functioning models. The eventual demise of a Big Wig can be traced to this one incumbent’s trait as can all Corporations.

IBM and Xerox are both good examples of organisations who had once been trend setters but became bogged down with maintaining the status quo. They had golden opportunities to dominate even more avenues but failed to push the big red button. IBM dominated PCs for years but lost their grip and whilst they are on a resurgence recently as a solutions company, they’ve had some dark periods and some major loss. Xerox could have emerged in many great directions from just printers and high grade photocopiers but they decided not to and have limited their growth as a result.

Formulas avoid risk and risk aversion can eventually be costly.

Even if organisations do supposedly “innovate” it is as a response to the changes that a similar rival made with the benefit of hindsight. With that approach, you’ll never win as much as being the first. Essentially you are perpetually behind the curve.

Greed

Whilst optimising is no sin getting greedy is. I have mentioned the “smell of sell” before and often it has an off putting ambience. The level to which you exploit your audience is a personal choice but Big Wigs use every tool and every avenue to milk you as the “leads” that you are. You become less a fan and more a number.

Marketing is somewhat of a plague. We all know examples of bad marketing. Going to sites that claw at you and having adverts that follow you often feels like an invasion. I can think of many times when I’ve been to America and been weighed down by the horrifying amount of adverts that make many popular shows unwatchable. Could you be making your site unreadable with your “grab marketing”?

Weight of Expectation

The weight of expectation on a Big Wig is immense. Unlike an amateur, they are required to perform consistently, any bum notes are scrutinised and they can’t rely on too many off days when they have other Big Wigs chasing their heels. Big Wigs start developing taxing calendars and over commit themselves.

Time

Time is simply the enemy to a Big Wig. They only have time to manage their sheep and become far less capable of jumping on new things in time.

  • They have less time to spend with their ever growing fans.
  • They have less time to explore before they must comply with their next item on the calendar.
  • They have less time to fight growing competitors.

How can I best win against a Big Wig?

So you are grinding your gears trying to become a Big Wig all by yourself. There are some gaps in the armour that you can exploit.

Being Personal

Because Big Wigs have less time to reach people on a personal level, you have a golden opportunity. Being on the ground level to help someone creates a much stronger relationship.

Being Flexible

Many big companies have sprung up by being quick to market on an idea. It was a big risk but because you got their early, it worked out. Big companies weigh pros and cons up longer and can be slower to market. Sometimes just a matter of timing is more important. If you are flexible with enough small items, you begin to carve out a destiny. When you become big you are less likely to take risks in order to protect the status quo.

Boundless Enthusiasm

Being enthusiastic about your destination means you’ve got motivation and with motivation you can accomplish far more than a person who has reached their personal plateaux. Many ideas often copy old ideas but with the right dose of enthusiasm and a fresh presentation you can storm in from nowhere. Google did it to the search engine world as they weren’t original but they did it simpler. Dyson did it in the vacuum cleaner world with a bagless cyclone design.

Sincerity and Empathy

As Big Wigs grow into their dominance they eventually start losing touch with the Average Joe. Their language changes and no matter how hard they try to register with the common individual, they are streets apart. You, as the little guy or gal, can still see the same dirt on the street as your audience and can use that to your advantage.

 

In conclusion

Big starts come from small beginnings so the saying goes. Everyone knows that blogging isn’t an exact science and that you can’t always apply logic to your audience. It takes time to bed in and be spotted and for a period of time you are going to be producing content that doesn’t live up to its full potential.

 

Over to you

Why don’t you follow me on Twitter 🙂 click on the birdy or punch in @blogprefect

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TweetAttacks Pro Spammed My Twitter

It’s official, TweetAttacks Pro spammed my Twitter. You may be one of hundreds who’ve had the same thing.

My followership on Twitter is what I class as under control. That is to say that I pride myself on not having very many spammy followers and having individuals who I both like in some way, have merit or are otherwise awesome. I don’t get a great deal of direct messaging so when I received this message I was particularly intrigued and wanted to look further into this approach to outline how you shouldn’t go about your marketing if you are taking running an internet business seriously.

I am naturally cautious about what comes through to me. My email account for this site is actively scrubbed for waste of time messages. I do the same on Twitter.

So let’s take a look at this TweetAttacks Pro message

This software appears to be a design very similar to another called TweetAdder. Although there are some pretty core differences between this software and TweetAdder. I won’t link to the TweetAdder because it can break the Twitter Terms of Service and by abusing it you can get banned on Twitter for a lengthy period. I personally wouldn’t recommend synthetic growth methods like this because ultimately they can be low value in the long run.

There is something to going with the flow that is much better than a smash and grab approach. As your readership grows carefully and you gently prune or sow new seeds in your social garden you should be able to keep up with engaged readers. It’s not always healthy to have so many unknown quantities to contend with despite how good that follower number looks. As a second point, it is much better to be followed for what you know, rather than how you cheated.

The software provides you a way to manage your single or multiple accounts through a management system with tabulated windows. It allows quick follow and removal of multiple individuals. It’s particular unique sell is that it can work past the Twitter limitation of follows/unfollows by gently performing adds and removals over a staged period to simulate natural ebb and flow. This is a pretty useful compared to the other competitors and would be a great USP (Unique Selling Proposition) to focus on.

There is a hint to the origin of this software (the country of development) in some of the key windows that are shown on the sales page. Whilst TweetAttacks might state that it has been developed in San Francisco, I very much doubt it has. I believe that this software has been developed somewhere in Asia due to the Hangul (Korean Alphabet) on display on some of the buttons. There is also a Japanese influence by some people tied to the company of origin posting “How To” videos on YouTube. This could be a localisation but I believe that the software has been entirely coded by non-native English speakers. You can tell this by some of the wording on the site. Especially where they haven’t even spelled “Management” correctly.

The Company:

WhiteHatBox

Do they look trustworthy?

It’s hard to tell initially but there are a number of elements that are missing which would not invite me to purchase from a company like this.

Missing from the TweetAttacks Pro website:

  • SSL 128 bit encryption – Normally a good sign that your personal information is secure.
  • Privacy Policy on the footer – As above.
  • A video on the sales page – All the videos for this product are hidden behind a forum signup wall.
  • A uniform design for the product – The branding for the product is haphazard and conflicting.
  • Testimonials from satisfied customers – No signs of this.
  • A free 30 day trial

Inconsistencies

The biggest warning bell is the fact that this has come through on a blank profile. A profile where the user image is the anonymous egg (or Johnny No Face as I like to call them). @Foley8X6 is a nonsense handle.

If searching through Twitter you can find countless fake profiles pushing this product. Dodgy.

The supposed $7 trial button takes you to a page anchor showing you the other payment options. Class.

The “top posts” section is contained behind the forum wall just as the videos are. Denied.

The product itself rests in direct contravention with Twitter’s terms of services. Whilst people choose to head into that grey zone, this is heading towards the black zone. Essentially you are paying to break the rules.

Twitter Automated Following and Unfollowing

Contravention is contravention.

Marketing lessons to learn

In marketing terms you should rely on a great product, one that people come to find you for (rather than you shoveling something down their throat). I dislike how they’ve gone about this mass marketing effort because despite the average presentation, this software could have some merit but the way in which they’ve gone about marketing their product has damaged their credibility. The truth is that this product is under the table method which as marked above, breaks the TOS for Twitter, so it is understandable why this dirty dog marketing has been undertaken.

There are other programs that have worked in exactly the same way as TweetAttacks Pro but have hidden under the radar. TweetAdder is one such example. These exploitative products have remained fairly black market and haven’t been shouted from the rooftops so they’ve been able to navigate and make profit for a period. I’m sure that Twitter has been monitoring them but because they have tried to remain low profile they didn’t receive issues until later. If you strike out with this offensive spam marketing you can expect knocking at the door sooner.

The traditional path:

  • Get a group of people to try out your product for free as long as they accept sharing their results and providing testimonials afterwards.
  • Provide a video or series of high quality picture orientated walkthroughs on your sales page.
  • Run a 30 day free trial. If you are confident your system will work well don’t charge up front.
  • Get followers the old-fashioned way (you can pay individuals to do this on your behalf without providing low quality through sustainable non-automated methods).

It will take longer but it is worth it!

WhiteHatBox don’t inspire trust in many areas of their marketing and sales implementation. I will list the sales sins here:-

  1. They spam you up front with an impersonal request. Nobody likes cold calls.
  2. Provide a website with no information security measures. Doesn’t inspire trust or security in a buyer’s checklist.
  3. Hide critical information behind a forum signup wall. This gives the impression they have something to hide.
  4. Force you by page anchor from a $7 trial to a list of other payment options (the lowest at $77). This is not good practice and actually made me angry for potential buyers. Not cool.
  5. Seem amateurish in their presentation and copy with spelling and grammar mistakes abundant. They are so cheap they can’t even afford an English-speaking copy writer. Weak.
  6. Disjointed branding standards on their product. This provides ambiguity in what they are presenting for sale.

Most sensible people don’t use aggressive approaches like this. Desperation tactics never look good to anybody.

What should you do?

Report Spam Twitter

Press the button!

If you’ve been affected by this scatter gun marketing on Twitter, report it like above or make a tweet to @twitter naming the individual. With enough reports we should see a reduction in these spam events. Whilst it might seem a small thing on the face of it, other unscrupulous individuals might be tempted to follow suit so it is best to nip it in the bud.

Also… whilst you are there. Why don’t you follow me on Twitter 🙂 click on the birdy or punch in @blogprefect

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How to Return to a Neglected Blog

I examine Blog Return Difficulties in this article because I believe it is a universal problem all bloggers face. “Time away” is a dangerous couple of words for blogging. A lot of the activities you engage with whilst blogging are only any good if you keep them up. As soon as you lose the impetus, of your ever evolving community management techniques and all those methods to broadcast your efforts, life on the blog can become difficult. I look at how to return to a neglected blog and what methods you can use to get started.

Everyone Suffers “Time Away”

It is inevitable despite best efforts that at some point you have to leave the helm of the ship to take some cabin rest. Staying fresh is important to keep the quality of your content warm and salient. It is important how you manage running up to this time away and how you prepare your return. We all maintain an equilibrium when blogging, a happy medium where we are not producing too much or too little in line with the time we have available. Too much and you burn out, too little and you lose interest.

Taking a break is the reset button. This equilibrium or happy medium may not be the same tolerance as before. You may have to build yourself up to a routine again so expect to be posting less.

Consistency

Being consistent is important when blogging. If you can get things out in a scheduled fashion it takes away the worry that you haven’t done enough but it is also restrictive especially when you have to cater your spare time to changing dynamics in the week.

Have you asked yourself this question “I’ve had a long time out and have found it difficult to find new topic areas to research and get back with the community!”

I am in this current dilemma and am sure that many other bloggers have faced this. In order to break the cycle I decided to revisit two of my older articles on the subject on how to operate when taking a break and what to do when returning from some substantial time away.

Blogging requires a lot of thought and upkeep so it is okay to relax occasionally. Preparation on both the point of leaving and returning are incredibly important.

Keeping Up Appearances

Is important even if you aren’t writing anything. Showing that you empathise with another writer is both low on time commitment and should be a way to stay current. It doesn’t matter if you are getting commentLuv to an old post. The fact is that you keep your interest up and it will be easier to assimilate data when you return.

Sometimes I admit that it will be impossible to keep up appearances because you want a full reset from the activity and in that case you must expect to potentially reset to a time when you received much less interest. Whether you like it or not this reality is something you have to accept.

There may be those cynical people who feel that you linger on bloggers to gain their audience but a lot of the time that can’t be further from the truth. A lot of the time you follow people to keep up with trends, gain ideas for your own use (which you can rephrase in your own style) and feel connected.

  • Keep your oar in the water by making some noise on social media.
  • Keep following others and contributing where you can.
  • It’s okay to like other people’s styles and messages whilst maintaining your own wants.

Planning ahead

Is best coupled with a posting schedule but if you play fast and loose then you need some basic plan of the amount of content you need to generate to fill the period you are away. You can apply basic Math. Away two weeks? Post once weekly, 2 posts. So as well as meeting your current blogging requirements, you need 2 posts that are not time dependent to set up for automatic posting. You will also have to think about how you are automatically going to promote those articles as well.

The limitations of fire and forget are that you will not be able to afford live interaction with your commentators unless you have hired someone to do that for you. In the full reset scenario you will not be able to approve comments unless you set this to automatic on your blog. I would not recommend automatically approving comments due to spammers and haters. This is worth bearing in mind.

  • Be wary of fire and forget.
  • Remember to schedule your publicity as well as the publishing of your post.

Something I wanted to strike from the records is checking your stats. I don’t think that if you are away and want to stay on the “down low” you should be engaging in this activity because stat watching can be time-consuming in itself and can also put you in a negative mood. The obvious correlation between lack of writing and engagement is a tanking in the stats and if you are to be away this is something you have to accept without question.

Taking Alexa.com as one example of statistics, this system monitors daily activity based on frequency of posting amongst other things, you can be severely marked down for low-frequency even though those things you post infrequently do well. It is best to take your gaze of dwindling numbers and think positive about your return. One exception to this is to make sure that errors are kept to a minimum so checking stats on code 404s and the like is time well spent.

Shorten Lengths of Articles

Going shorter can be a way of staying in the game. You may be able to accomplish your goals in less, more efficacious ways, and often the simplest answers to a solution are the best. To make the best use of being concise you have to lay down an article, if you don’t want to get into that CMS then this is not going to be helpful.

  • Take your articles down from epics to something you can write in an hour (between 600 – 1000 words)
  • Don’t write anything if you can’t guarantee some use from the end product.
  • Nothing isn’t the same as a little something.

Keep some Draft Articles Back for Rainy Days

I actually ran contra to this advice when I returned because I had some critically outdated drafts that were there simply because I couldn’t bring myself to complete them. They were good ideas at the time but just have fallen foul of my new-found standards. In other words these canned articles might have been something I’d have published in the past but they now don’t pass muster.

Keeping drafts back is ill-advised. You should be killing it all the time and holding onto any draft is actually counter-productive. The longer it gathers dust on the shelf, the less time it has to rock out. What you are better advised to do is generate a template that you can hold onto for an easy to craft post that will generate some positive results instead. You will need to go through past articles and identify the formats that do best. You will then need to determine a lower than standard word count and limit your time to make the content punchy.

  • Generate an easy to complete template.
  • Identify past articles that do well and use their format.
  • Reduce your word count and limit time spent working.

Returning from time away will often mean that the first couple of posts you write are likely to be sacrificial lambs. You need time to pick up the enthusiasm of your audience and possibly a new direction in your writing to tap fresh interest.

As an aside, keeping drafts until later is possible when you have a writing team or when you devote your whole business time to your blog but my advice is not to sit on posts because their currency may drop if you don’t release them within the “interest window”.

I have found that some posts held back for later really rock out. I wrote one article over a period of 4 months and released it in January 2014. It performed incredibly well in comparison to other articles written in half the time but it went into a great deal of depth. It was the equivalent of 4 average posts compressed into one. Sometimes you can hold a big article back as long as the content doesn’t become too stale over time.

Hire a Caretaker

This is only advisable where you are generating some kind of profit. I wouldn’t advise this for these newbie bloggers who are earning less than a button. There are numerous creative pitfalls to stand-ins. I’ve noticed quality drops on sites where “community managers” have been let loose to steer the ship while the Captain is away. Loss is a factor at this stage and trust can be an issue so you have to weigh up the pros of keeping the train moving versus a number of negatives that come with letting someone else manage your property for you.

  • Not advised for newbies
  • Monitoring required for quality
  • Trust required
  • Accept some loss

Using your Time Away as a Case in Point For a Story Can Provide Plenty of Ammunition for Your Return

You normally need to have reached a stage where you can be open about who you are with your audience, in other words, they have to give a crap about you. If you have no hardcore followers then this could fall as flat as a pancake and I can tell you that it normally does. You have to concentrate more on giving quality advice rather than swaying people to who you are. When you are known for how awesome your advice is then you can concentrate a little bit more on being the celebrity.

  • People are more interested in solutions than you.
  • Wait until you have an “engaged” following before you start writing a lot of personal information about you.

I end the article well by questioning what you do when pause for longer than a week and in that way I am trying answer this question now which leads me to relighting the blogging fire after substantial time away.

You Can’t Brush Time Away Under the Carpet

“So don’t try to. If you were away and it was personal, don’t leap to share. Most of the time if your audience aren’t your best friend or next door neighbour they don’t care as much as you hope they might.” – Me in 2014.

Truer words have never been spoken and I still consider this an important concept. I suggest you move on in a sustainable way. If you can share practical elements that have been positive then this is a good share, otherwise if you intend to drag people down with you, think twice.

  • Your audience aren’t necessarily your best friends.
  • Moaning and negativity isn’t attractive.
  • Prioritise sustainable moves forward.

Out with the old and in with the new

The Internet is a transient changing landscape. If you are lucky to have loyal followers then you know that you worked hard to maintain that loyal band. Leaving for lengthy periods may ultimately lose you some of those followers and your resurgence may be met with ambivalence from your following clan. There is no easy way to do it but you’ve got to get stuck in.

This return to power is a reset, unless you are stratospheric in your career as a blogger, in such a way that you will never be unforgotten. There aren’t many people on that list and I can guarantee you are not one of them (but you could be in the future). Even those guys and gals are busy whilst they are away and have caretakers watching their property because in the internet land you can never take your foot off the pedal and coast for long.

In the scheme of things we gain and lose all the time, sometimes lose more than gain and vice versa. Eventually we should be able to find more strategies for gaining, retaining and recovering from loss but in the mean time we shouldn’t sweat the small stuff.

  • We will often return to a “reset” of all the past momentum attained.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff because if we became upset by every small change we’d be admitted to the asylum.

Assessing the Environment

Having been out you most likely lost some of your followers to other voices and it is useful when returning to assess your field of competition. Unfortunately due to lower barriers to entry, you are likely to face more competition, which in turn dilutes your audience numbers.

You are going to have to strap the work boots back on and get your head around strategies now that you have lost ground. It is alright whilst the cement mixer of blogging is turning because you get a constant pour but as soon as you stop that process you will be spending time mixing up the vital ingredients to kickstart the process again.

When an environment is volatile you learn to role with the punches. When you stop getting in the ring you don’t know what punches your competitors are throwing and you don’t know how to work the crowd.

You should always reassess your environment because it can change at the drop of the hat. You should try to involve some form of monthly or bi-monthly review of what’s going on and how you need to either keep up or stay ahead of the curve.

  • Keep things moving.
  • Change things up.
  • Reassess the environment in a routine schedule.

What you can rely on

“It is most likely that if you set your SEO up well and that your content had some afterglow quality to it that people still find your content useful. You may have a guide or an eBook that is keeping your visitors arriving.” – Me in 2014

This traffic stream can help rejuvenate you if you know how to tweak things in your favour but it is not an exact science and you may find that some of these traffic streams are traditionally high bouncing (satisfy the need but don’t motivate to look around).

What you can rely on are those dare I say “Evergreen” posts, albeit I have issue with the term, to make part of your visitor funnel. If you strike a great balance on an article where Google (or one of the big search engines) ranks you on your merit, you are likely to get a disproportionate entry from an article such as this. You may be able, with research, to generate further entry into your blog.

  • Almost timeless performers will keep you sweet

You may wish to look at this article on “The Evergreen Myth – Articles with that special something” because I have an alternative view on Evergreen content that you might find interesting.

Communicate

Viking Geek Man

Getting back in the grill of people who will in part help promote you and people who need your solutions is important. In my previous article I advised that using email was a good way to go but if you haven’t got that sizeable email audience, what do you do?

Basically you have to pick up the axe (like the incensed Ulrik above) and get back on with social media although some professionals have advised that social media can be time badly spent in your early days. I would disagree but would say that it really depends on how organised and disciplined you are. Social media can become a rabbit hole by its nature due to how it bombards you with a cornucopia of information.  If you learn to become disciplined in how you interact and engage you will perform better.

You may have to locate other communities to share your content but many can be overly critical about self-promotion. Unfortunately self-promotion is essential and people who bar you from this activity are jerks. However, because people abuse this type of promotion it is understandable why a zero tolerance approach has been levied by some as it opens the floodgates to poor quality which is not something you get rewarded for.

You may want to read the following for more on self promotion on this topic “Being Rapped over the Knuckles for Self Promotion.” because you have to be careful on how you present your own information whilst being a welcome contributor.

Generating relationships and partnerships is probably the best use of your time because reciprocal activity is rewarding for both parties. These activities you will have to re-engage when you return and you may have to start with new people where you have lost others in the wash.

  • Consider your marketing mix and what may best provide you a boost in the short term, it may not be email marketing.
  • Be disciplined and develop a formula to exploit social media.
  • Make sure you work on your friends again. Some may not be so receptive if you’ve not reciprocated in a long time. You may have worked your way off the “list”.

Watch Out for the Learning Gap

Mind the Gap

The learning gap is a passive skill which you override as long as you keep level with how the environment changes over time. Small corrections over time may lead to big changes but when you are out of that learning loop, you may have to return to big changes. It is the equivalent of cleaning your bathroom at home which is easy if you clean regularly but filthy and off-putting if you come back to it after 7 months.

You don’t roll with the punches if you are away a long time. You don’t modify and improve your delivery.

A key component that seems to change far greater than anything else is the speed at which your publicity channels can go off the boil. This is the area you are probably going to be spending the most time trying to repair when you return. Most other changes will be fairly minor compared to this. It is one of the reasons why it is better to stay with blogging as long as you can rather than getting distant from it.

You will have natural attrition to those interested and those who are not but as long as you keep supplying solutions and keep the fire stoked, people will come to warm their hands.

  • Prepare for some choppier water when returning because you’ve missed out on incremental changes over a longer time span.
  • Your social path often will have changed the most.
  • Expect natural attrition to your viewing audience.

The How to Eat the Elephant Analogy

How to Eat An Elephant

How to Eat An Elephant

As mentioned in my previous post, deciding on how to eat an elephant has one simple answer; one bite at a time. This is how you should tackle returning to your blog when it is covered in cobwebs. You can’t move mountains straight away you have to chip at them. And for all those cliches there are some key tips you should take away.

  1. It is quite easy to get caught up in what you should repair and change altogether. I would always start with repairs first because they are an easier win even if the solution isn’t obvious.
  2. You should update all of your plugins when you are finally tackling your CMS. Why? Because it ensures that your plugins remain valid, functional and free from exploits.
  3. If you’ve been away from Social media for a long period, you should see what your numbers are looking like and who’s stayed loyal. Whilst there may not be much you can do, you might be able to stir things up again and let those truly interested parties know you are back for business. You should expect that some individuals have moved on and that you may never be able to welcome them back.
  4. You should delete any old drafts that you know you cannot complete and can no longer fulfil in the time window (Closed subjects). It may be painful but so is pulling off a plaster/band aid.
  5. You should make sure that any comments that were pending are dealt with. (pros and questions kept, cons binned if you can’t make your response shine or they are a troll).
  6. You should make sure that any critical emails are replied to. Emails in themselves can be a time sink so you need to develop a method to cut out the superfluous and get to the nub of your key emails.
  7. You should make sure that your card details have been updated for any automatic billing. (Preferably you do this when your card comes up for change even though you are not using your services).
  8. You should launch a few posts to get you back in the saddle and start turning some interest. If you are struggling to think of a good place to start, look back on an older article(s) and try to elaborate more on the subject or report on how the situation has changed.

Then you can make changes

Something I didn’t speak about in depth in my relaunch articles were changes….

Life is change, it is the one true constant in life, everything moves with a tide, the ebb, the flow. Systems evolve or die. Changes can make you or break you. You may need some change to keep up with what your competitors are doing or you may need change to move away from what your competitors are doing.

The position school of strategy is an important one as it defines who you are in a dense marketplace and who needs you. You can re-position yourself numerous times to put your audience offerings out of the heat of competition.

Before making changes you have to make sure that your basic remit is being fulfilled.

Basic Remit:

  • Satisfying audience needs.
  • Providing timely solutions.
  • Providing clarity.

If you don’t fulfill these key aims then changes don’t add up to much in the scheme of things.

Sometimes you don’t need to make any changes, what you have already is a good enough vehicle to keep you going. It is only when people start demanding more that you need to step up your game. As long as the basics are working, you don’t need to worry too much. Big changes can come later, when you’ve got a budget and/or a team for it and when you have reached an audience level where you need more commitment.

Fresher eyes

The beauty of time away is that you have a chance to look with some fresher eyes on what your production has become. You can critically assess if what you have produced stacks up against what you had hoped and how it compares to better performing competitors.

There are a number of ways you can go about deciding on changes. One way I suggest is being a visitor to your own blog and approaching the content like a visitor might.

Testing is important and on most occasions you should test features as you add them but sometimes you may miss certain wrinkles and creases which you may detect as a visitor to your own site.

Rolling out change

When systems administrators roll out changes (and I know because I’ve been one) they try an aim for a low usage time when the least viewers are affected by these changes. The beauty of most WordPress themes and plugins is that they can handle on the fly updates but there are the odd times when a simple refresh is not enough and where you may have to restart some elements.

  • Don’t schedule change rollouts in peak times!
  • If the change is significant and affects engaged users, inform them in due time that change is coming.

One area that can cause outcry is changing the theme or a critical layout in your blog. Repeat consumers of your content may lose affinity if your theme or layout changes dramatically. Why? The reason is that humans are creatures of habit and change brings fear. This shouldn’t stop you from changing if you simply can’t maintain the old layouts in the way you used to. You should just be mindful that changing for changing’s sake can be hazardous.

  • You will always lose people in the wash.
  • Some changes are inevitable.

Don’t change too often because it will detract from your core activity. Visitors will make do with some shortfall because they realise that what you have put together is DIY and therefore may have a few creaky floorboards and a wonky handle or too. Your writing is more important.

What happens if the change doesn’t work?

Don’t be afraid to rollback changes if the results of the change aren’t to your liking or don’t relate well statistically. The only time rollback is not easy to swallow is where you have invested money into the process and some of the mighty Big Wig bloggers have had costly failures.

  • Allow a week of bedding in time at minimum and keep track of your statistics.
  • You can only safely rollback within a month or two, any longer and you are committed. You can rollback later but you go through that horrible period of instability again whilst your audience are getting used to the changes.
  • You learn a lot from failing, more than from winning but winning first time out of the gate is more preferable to your audience perception. Getting things right will impart kudos whilst getting things wrong can affect the audience’s faith in you.

And there you have it!

Returning to neglected blogs is difficult but not impossible. You can expect to feel apprehensive but you should power through this if you really want to get back in the driving seat again.

Your initial writing may suffer but you have to expect a slight downturn in interest since you were not able to generate enthusiasm in the process through your sharing. Such publicity normally requires linking up and appearing to be in many places simultaneously which you cannot cheat at when starting out cold.

What do I want you to do?

If you liked this article, please consider sharing it. I’ve put a lot of time into crafting this and hope that you’ve found it useful.

If you are having some return difficulties, get in contact, I’d like to hear from you! headboy (at) blogprefect.com

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