Patsy Porco

Archive for November, 2011|Monthly archive page

Black Friday

In Black Friday, Humor on November 25, 2011 at 5:21 pm

As a steadfast abhorrer of Black Friday, I spend the day after Thanksgiving on my couch. There’s very little that’s on sale in my family room, and I wouldn’t want to buy any of it anyway. One year, however, my brother spent the night at our house and had forgotten to bring some toiletry or other that we didn’t have, so we had to venture out to the local pharmacy. While I wasn’t thrilled about having to get out of my pajamas, I didn’t cringe at the idea of going to the drugstore. I mean, it wasn’t Walmart. We weren’t going to encounter hordes of glassy-eyed, sleep-deprived, sale-obsessed consumers. We would just go in, get what we needed and leave. “Man plans, God laughs,” as the saying goes.

We walked in the doors and immediately heard an announcement from the  PA system: “For the next fifteen minutes, we are having a sale on Walgreen’s-brand batteries, wrapping paper, bows, and tape.” Those words set off a greed bomb of cataclysmic proportions. Suddenly, everyone in the store was consumed with the desire to buy those four items. Most of them didn’t even know they needed them. I sure as hell didn’t need any of them–at least not right then–but that didn’t matter. My brother, who despises crowds and mayhem, prepared to bolt from the store. I, however, had other plans for him.

All of a sudden I needed store-brand batteries more than I needed oxygen. I directed him to the battery aisle with instructions to get as many as he could carry. I darted off to the wrapping paper/bow/tape aisle, determined to fit a Sumo wrestler’s weight of merchandise into my hand basket. Some part of my brain knew I wasn’t being rational. The irrational part of my brain disagreed and propelled me into the crowded gift-wrap aisle. I could have sworn there were only a handful of people in the store when we walked in, but now there were hundreds of people all fighting over gift wrap, bows, and tape. At one point, when I came up for air, I caught a glimpse of my panicked brother over the bent backs of the fanatical gift-wrappers. When he caught my eye, he yelled, “They’re out of batteries.” As I felt the life drain out of me, I heard someone in another aisle scream, “There are more batteries over here.” I knew he had heard the cry as well, but was going to fake deafness. One look at my face, however, and he trotted off to find the secret cache. He knew he wouldn’t get a ride to the train station if he failed to find those batteries.

Looking back on this episode, we realized that the 15-minute sale (which kept being prolonged as demand for utter unnecessities grew) was brilliant. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t buy store-brand batteries if they were free. Yet, when they were on sale, I was ready to kill for them. And, while I use tape,  I rarely use gift wrap or bows. I prefer the ease of gift bags or online delivery. Marketing techniques have moved past sexy women stroking liquor bottles to targeting our most base  instinct–the desire to beat out everyone else for anything, even if we don’t need it. That instinct probably goes back to our cave-man days. After all, it probably took a lot of paper, bows, and tape to wrap up a holiday dinosaur. I’m still wondering what they used all those batteries for, though.


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Life Was So Simple Before SEO

In Humor, Publishing, Self-Published Books, SEO, Website on November 23, 2011 at 1:35 pm

The concept was simple: I would start a website of self-published books, make a ton of money, and retire on a hot beach somewhere far away. I would schedule regular visits to see my husband, son, and dog. Life would be perfect. My plans changed, however, once I actually started the site, Who knew that it would be such a huge undertaking? I guess many of you knew that, but I didn’t. I mean I have a full-time job and my spare time is filled with watching the Twilight Saga movies,  re-reading the four books, and stalking Robert Pattinson, so when was I supposed to build this site? It turns out that the middle of the night was available, but working then sure cuts into my sleep.

The site is now a month-and-a-half old and it’s growing steadily. I think it fills a need, too, so interest in it should grow as its existence becomes known. Self-published authors seem to love the idea. I even enjoy editing their content and posting their jacket covers. What is proving to be vexing is SEO. Those three letters have turned my hobby into a continuing struggle. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it is king when it comes to having people visit your site. It involves begging everyone you know to link to your site from their sites, and finding the perfect keywords so that when people search for what you’re offering, they’ll get to you. As everyone who has ever used a search engine knows, when you get the results of your search, you rarely look past the first two or three results. So, if you have a website, you need to get your site ranked high, high, high up on the list. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time. There’s so much to learn about how to accomplish this, which is what I didn’t count on. I guess I’m going to have to give up my job as well as sleep, because I’m not giving up Edward and Bella. In fact, last night I saw Breaking Dawn, Part 1 twice, back-to-back. Then I had to stay up all night to think up keywords to improve my web-page ranking. All the words that came to mind were vampire-related. Fortunately, some of the books on my site are also vampire-related. Sometimes things just work out.

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