Written on February 8th, surf Active Apparel website side zip motorcycle boots zone.at 08:02 am by David Shawver city Stanton

Selling Text Links

Advertising, Miscellaneous Blog Tips 15 comments

It seems that more and more bloggers are being approached via email by companies seeking to buy text link ads on their blogs. For example one of my readers forwarded me this email yesterday (names have been removed):

Greetings - I am looking to purchase 5 text link ads on your site www.xxxxx.com

I would be willing to pay upfront for 3 months for these ads

Our links could be placed anywhere on your website

Looking forward to your response,

xxxxx

I’ve seen many different variations on this email but most contain pretty similar requests.

The question that I’m getting from many readers are:

  • ‘how do I respond?’
  • ‘have you heard of XXXX company’ (ie the people sending the email)
  • ‘are they legitimate?’
  • ‘how much should I charge for a link?’

Here’s a few reflections on how I’d suggest you move forward in responding to these types of requests.

1. Ask Yourself some Questions - Think some of these questions through first:

  • Do I want ads on my site? - It’s quite legit to have a blog with no intention of making money? The interesting thing is that many of these emails are being sent to bloggers with no current ads on their blogs - so while for many readers of a blog like this the question is a no brainer with a ‘yes’ answer - it’s something to think through if this is your first entry into blogging for money. There are implications of putting ads on your blog that you will want to have a think about. What impact will it have upon your design, how will your regular readers respond etc
  • Do I want MORE ads on my site? - If you already have ads, what impact will more have? Are you in danger of clutter? There comes a time when enough is enough.
  • Am I willing to administer the logistics of ads? - Adding multiple revenue streams to your blog is a good thing from the income side of things but there are some costs in terms of your own time. Most of these ad requests are like the above - for a longer period of time and paid every month or quarter but I have heard of a few that have been a little more involved and have required bloggers to chop and change the links every now and again. Also be aware that you’ll need a simple system to keep track of when payments are due. This is simple if you have one blog with one text link running on it but becomes more complicated when you have multiple blogs with a number of campaigns running on each. Keeping track of who has paid can become a bit messy unless you have a system.

2. Ask for more Information - If after asking yourself questions you decided that you are interested switch into investigation mode and begin to ask some questions of the person who has sent the email. Without committing to anything you might like to ask some of these questions:

  • What type of ads would you be wanting to run? - this is very important and you might find the ads they have in mind are either totally irrelevant to your content (something to carefully consider as it impacts the look and quality of your blog) or that they might actually be on topics you have some ethical problem with (ie adult, gambling etc).
  • What are you willing to pay for these ads? - you’ll notice in the above email that specific amounts were not mentioned. Some other emails I’ve seen have named figures up front and others have requested that the blogger themselves come up with a figure. Deciding how much to charge is always a tricky thing and I tend to ask the advertiser for a budget/figure to begin negotiating from.
  • What happens if my blog’s Page Rank changes? - my experience of these types of deals is that the buyer is generally wanting the ad for Search Engine Optimization reasons. ie They want the links on your blog because it will help them rank higher in Google and other SE’s. In most cases when I’ve dug a little the main criteria that they use to work out how valuable your blog is to them is to look at your blog’s Google Page Rank (PR). While there is much debate about the accuracy and worth of PR it seems that text link brokers do use it and are willing to pay more for blogs with higher rankings. This has implications for you in selling text links as your link might become more (or less) valuable over time. It’s worth clarifying what happens in this case up front. Be aware that longer periods of time between payments are good as they are less admin but they might lock you into rates of pay that are below what your links are worth over time.
  • How will payment be made? - I find PayPal is fairly normal but have heard of other methods?
  • How many links do you wish to place on my site? - As they usually pay per link you might be tempted to get a lot, but more will also clutter your blog and could have implications upon your own SEO (see below).
  • How Long will the Campaign Go? - In many cases these seem to be long term campaigns (indefinate in some cases) as advertisers are looking for boosts in Search Engine ranking and to add your link and take it down a month later is unlikely to help sustain a ranking. Having said this it’s worth clarifying up front how long they expect to pay you for the links.
  • Do I have any control over what ads appear? - If they want to run an ad that you don’t want to appear on your site what say do you have in it?
  • What happens at the end of the first time period? - Will they pay in automatic periodic payments or do you need to bill them? Will prices change depending upon any factors (see above)? Will text links change at any time?
  • Do you have a website that I can read about your company on? - While having a website doesn’t make you a good operator you can get a feel for their level of professionalism and their terms and conditions this way.

You will want to be careful with not wanting to overload them with questions as you might freak them out a little, but you do need to enter into such an agreement with open eyes and knowing all the details. You might want to ask these questions over a couple of emails.

3. Investigate their reputation - It seems every one of these emails that I get or see are from a different company and so it is difficult to work out who is good and who isn’t. I’ve heard a few stories of dubious operators but lots of positive ones too so it’s probably worth doing a little digging. Search on Google for their name and see what others have written about them. If they are targeting bloggers then there is every chance that someone else already has found out if they are good or not.

4. Consider the SEO costs - Armed with this information you might like to consider other costs to your blog of adding the links - particularly the impact that they might have on your own SEO.

There is quite a bit of debate over text links among SEO experts but a commonly held belief is that Google don’t look too favorably on sold links in the way they rank sites and are getting pretty good at spotting them. Some believe they penalize the person buying the link, some say they penalize the seller of the link and some say they penalize both (others think it’s all rubbish and to go for it). I’m not an SEO expert but I’d say if you go with selling text links that you should go into it knowing that there could be some risks.

Particularly risky is when you have too many outbound links and when you have links that have little or no relevance to your site. They also seem to look less favorably on site wide links these days.

5. Investigate other options - There are many companies that buy text links from web publishers and it might be worth shopping around before committing to anything. This might help you negotiate the best price (don’t be afraid to try this - you’ve got nothing to loose) and might help you find a more professional set up. I’m sure if you look around the web you’ll find plenty of text link advertiser options to compare the offerings of.

One such service that I’ve been testing this past week has been Text Link Ads (affiliate link) which I’ve added to a few of my blogs in the last few days. So far the results are very promising on my sites. We’ve also used them quite a bit on some of the b5media blogs - in fact on a couple of them they are earning more than any other income stream. The advantages of them in going directly with directing with people who email you is that you’re dealing with a reputable company, that they have a large number of contacts with advertisers already and that the service is very automated. The only downside of them that I can see so far is that they take 50% which sounds a lot. However the people that email you offering text links are (I suspect) brokers who represent advertisers and are no doubt taking their own cut. I’ll write a fuller review on Text Link Ads in the coming week once I’ve had a bit more of an experience with them - but so far so good.

There are other text link brokers out there that you might like to check out also. Two that I know have been used by others I respect include Adzaar and Text Link Brokers.

6. Implement and with Care - If after all your investigation you decide to go ahead with selling text links do so with care and knowing that with any advertising deal there is likely to be some risk. Go in with your eyes wide open, evaluate it as you go and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself if something doesn’t go right.

Text Link ads might not pay you much individually but I’m finding more and more bloggers who are selling them with the realization that if you are able to sell multiple links on an ongoing basis on multiple blogs that they can actually supplement other income streams like contextual ad systems and affiliate programs quite well.

I’d love to hear the experiences and advice of others on selling Text Links.

Written on February 8th, surf Active Apparel website side zip motorcycle boots zone.at 08:02 am by David Shawver city Stanton

Feedburner Caught Spamming

Blogging Tools and Services 12 comments

Duncan at BlogHerald has broken the story that Feedburner have been marketing themselves with unsolicited emails (Spam). He’s posted the email and has definitely hit the spot - so much so that two Feedburner representatives have already left comments acknowledging that they were wrong to do so (particularly the comment from Dick Costolo who explicitly admits the problem and takes responsibility). It looks like a bad mistake from someone in the company who was given the freedom to market Feedburner without knowing the boundaries. Props to Dick for admitting the problem.

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Blogging for Beginners - Questions?

Pro Blogging News 52 comments

200602071902In a recent poll which asked ‘how long have you been blogging?’ I was surprised to find that 43% of readers of enternetusers either don’t have a blog or have been blogging for less than 6 months. 60% have been blog less than 12 months.

As a result I’ve begun writing a series of posts titled ‘blogging for beginners’ (this is why I’ve been writing slightly less than normal over the past week).

I’m basing the series of posts on the most common questions that I get asked by bloggers just starting out. While there are plenty of these questions I would like to give you the reader the opportunity to ask questions for me to answer.

I can’t guarantee to answer each one but I will read them all and attempt to incorporate as many answers as possible.

I’m particularly looking for questions from bloggers who are just starting out. If you’ve been blogging a while you can ask a question also but I’d like you to ask one from your early days. You may have answered it for yourself since but ask it anyway.

Back when I first started I remember asking Rachel who was one of the first bloggers I began to talk to all kinds of questions - big and small. The one that sticks in my mind most is:

How do I make words bold?

I felt a little silly asking it and she probably had a chuckle when I did - but it was only through asking questions like that that I learned (and as you can see bolding is something I am now pretty much competent in).

Feel free to ask the questions in comments below - anonymously if you feel embarrassed. Be assured there is no question too big, small or silly to be asked. The chances are that if you’re asking it - someone else will be also. If the question is out of my league I’ll do my best to find someone who can answer it to write a guest post on the topic.

Written on February 7th, surf Active Apparel website side zip motorcycle boots zone.at 11:02 pm by David Shawver city Stanton

RSS Ads - Poll

RSS 22 comments

This week’s poll of the week asks:

‘Do You Run RSS Ads in any of Your Blog’s Feeds?’

Feel free to discuss your answers here.

Particularly you might like to discuss the follow up questions of ‘Are they Worth their While for you?

I ask this because while I see an increasing number of blogs with ads in their feeds I’m yet to meet too many bloggers who make much from them. Interested to hear your experiences.

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enternetusers Forum - Poll Results

enternetusers Site News 16 comments

The Question of our last poll was - ‘Should enternetusers.net add Forums?’ and the results from the 430 votes were:

* Yes: 48% (205)
* No: 44% (190)
* I don’t know: 8% (35)

It was a close thing but the affirmative has it.

I’m leaning towards it myself after much consideration this week.

My thoughts are that if I run with it I will do so with small group of voluntary moderators and initially with limited areas of discussion (possibly to expand later). The advice I’ve had on which forum software to use has been to pay for vBulletin which I think seems to be a wise choice.

Thank you to all who voted and especially to the many people who sent emails and left comments.

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Google GBuy to Rival PayPal

Pro Blogging News 16 comments

There is lots of news around today about Google’s upcoming launch of the so called ‘GBuy’ payment product and how it will rival eBay’s PayPal system.

This has potential to impact Pro Bloggers - many of whom use PayPal in their day to day activities and many who would love a more automated payment system from Google to get their AdSense payments (particularly publishers who live outside the areas who already get direct deposit payments).

Read about the story at:

Written on February 7th, surf Active Apparel website side zip motorcycle boots zone.at 02:02 pm by David Shawver city Stanton

Meme Trackers

Pro Blogging News 6 comments

Richard MacManus has a good round up post that takes a look at what he calls the increasing array of Meme Trackers that are pretty popular these days.

He ranks Memorandum as the best (he’s a long time fan) but others that he looks at (some that I’d not come across before) include:

Written on February 7th, surf Active Apparel website side zip motorcycle boots zone.at 11:02 am by David Shawver city Stanton

Comment Design Showcase

Blog Design 5 comments

Smiley Cat has put together a great idea over at their Comment Design Showcase.

The page is a collection of screen caps from some beautifully designed comments sections which each link back to the blogs that they are from.

It’s great to see them all side by side like that.

Written on February 7th, surf Active Apparel website side zip motorcycle boots zone.at 09:02 am by David Shawver city Stanton

Blog Herald For Sale - Take 2

Pro Blogging News 13 comments

Those of you who don’t read Blog Herald might have missed the news that the previous sale of that blog fell through in the last week. As a result they’ve started an auction process over at SitePoint Forums.

Last time I checked the bidding had risen to $19,000 - still a long way to go to the previous sale price of $72,000 but not bad for only being live for a few hours.

There is no specific end date to the auction yet because Jeremy (who is brokering the deal) will be away for a few days (but it looks like being a week long auction unless there is an agreement with a bidder made in the mean time which is often the case in these things).

Written on February 7th, surf Active Apparel website side zip motorcycle boots zone.at 12:02 am by David Shawver city Stanton

Blog Stalkers - Personal Safety for Bloggers

Miscellaneous Blog Tips 68 comments

‘Stalker’ is such a harsh word and one not to be used lightly but in December of last year I realized that I had one.

I’ve hinted at this once or twice in this blog and in my email newsletter and some enternetusers readers did see a few of the comments that he left on this blog (he was the one that called himself ‘blogkiller’ - but I’ve avoided talking about it up until now for reasons of security and not wanting to agitate the situation further.

It’s been almost two months now since the situation was resolved and I believe it is now safe to talk about it without inflaming things (but hope you’ll forgive me for not going into too many specifics).

What I will say is that the situation arose when someone who lives in my city read a number of posts written on another blog about me. Before he read them I was unknown to him but the posts attacked me, made allegations about me which were untrue and it was written (in my opinion) without fact checking in quite an aggressive tone. Who wrote it and which post it is is irrelevant (in fact I’ve made peace with the blogger and resolved it) - the fact is the person who read it was in a place in their life where they were under extreme pressure and mentally unstable.

The posts were enough to trigger some extreme thought processes and obsessions in this person that led to a chain of escalating events that went from what I initially considered to be a harmless comment troll, to a cyber-nuisance, to a concerning threat maker, to what unfortunately became a situation where there was a physical attack made upon my property.

This process was very unsettling and in the end shook me up quite a bit.

As I’ve written above the situation is now resolved. I do not feel under threat - but in the process I’ve learned a lot and have a somewhat different view of blogging.

I wanted to share this story for a couple of reasons.

Firstly I think it’s important for us all to remember that the words we write might be written with one intention - but that they can be read and interpreted in a very different way. The blogger who wrote the posts that triggered this chain reaction did not intend for this to happen and could not have foreseen it. I don’t hold them responsible for it and as I say we’ve resolved our differences. However it has made me think twice before posting about other people since.

Secondly I wanted to remind bloggers to consider their personal safety.

While I’ve seen a number of articles in recent times about how to keep your blog safe and secure from hacking and accidental loss - it’s also worth considering how to keep yourself (and those you live with) safe and secure also. When you write in a public forum you are doing so with the hope that people will read you. The unfortunate side of this is that you have little control over the perceptions of others towards you and that from time to time people will disagree with you and even become agitated towards you. This is both one of blogging’s biggest strengths (ie the conversation, diversity and dialogue) but also one of it’s biggest weaknesses when it goes to far.

Lessons in Blogger Security

While I’m no expert on personal online safety I would STRONGLY advise you consider what information you do and don’t reveal online about where you live and your family. While this person tracked me down through offline sources it’s a good reminder that the things you write can often be used to track you down. Here are a few reflections on the experience:

Decide up front how much personal information you will share on your blog - I’ve always been reasonably careful about this. I don’t post my address (I have a PO Box), I don’t post the name of my spouse and I never post her picture or those of other family or friends. If I do post photos I generally ask for permission or make them anonymous.

Consider your offline security - Ask yourself - ‘How easy would it be for someone to find you in real life?’ As I say I was not found directly through information on my blog (although I’m sure knowing my name and city which I reveal in my about pages helped) but through offline sources. I’m sure there are different ways to add layers of security in different parts of the world but consider silent numbers, PO Boxes for mail, being silent on the electoral roll etc.

Consider the way you are perceived online - I work hard at presenting myself online in a fairly easy going, polite and well mannered person (I’m often made fun of for this even). While at times I don’t feel like being this way it is an intentional thing. This is partly because it’s my character and personality (I’m a shy guy who was brought up to always consider the feelings of others) and partly as a security consideration - I don’t want to inflame the wrong person. Obviously it doesn’t always work - but I do worry about some bloggers who seem intent on promoting themselves through angry, attacking and personal attacks. Consider the costs of your actions and words both on yourself and others before you post. You may still choose to take the attacking approach - but do so at your own risk and knowing the full extent of what it could one day lead to.

Have a plan of action - I would strongly recommend giving some thought to how you will deal with escalating situations that could lead to personal safety problems. This is part of the reason I wrote the What to do when your blog is Attacked post a week or so back. In the vast majority of cases things do not escalate to the stalker stage and can be resolved by using some of the strategies I mentioned there. However what if they escalate? At what point will you involve the police? How is the security of your home? etc

Don’t face it Alone - If things do escalate - I would strongly advise that you do not face the situation alone. The resolution of my situation came with the involvement of others. I don’t wish to go into details of this but ‘others’ could mean the help of other bloggers, others who live near you and others with some official and legal ability to help.

Online stalkers are not a common thing to my knowledge and I don’t share my story to scare anyone - but I do think it’s something to be aware of as you blog. Don’t let this kill your blogging but let it be something you give a little thought to in the hope the tiny chances of this happening to you are lessoned even further.

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