Written on June 26th, 2007 at 07:06 am by David Shawver city Stanton

Should Links Open in a New Window?

Blog Design 154 comments

Joanna asks - “I’d find it useful to hear your views Darren on the question of links opening in a new window. I was tutored to set them up to open in a new window so I didn’t lose visitors, but I see other people think it’s ’spammy’.”

The old ’should I make links open in a new window’ question - an oldie but a goodie.

My personal preference as a web surfer is that if I want to see a link in a new window (or tab - I’m a big tabbed browser fan) I’ll open it in one (and I do - regularly). I find it incredibly annoying when a new window opens up without me asking for it to. I have enough windows open on my desktop at any one time without needing more!

This personal preference has shaped my own practice as a web developer and blogger - I let readers choose how they wish to open the link. Yes, in doing so I’m sure some leave my blog, never to return, but I’m sure in not forcing new windows on readers that I also retain a few that would become annoyed by new windows opening all the time.

My priority as a blogger is to develop communities of readers who have positive user experiences. While keeping people on a blog by opening new windows for links might seem to make a blog stickier - I’d rather keep people engaged with content that they just can’t live without coming back to. If they do leave the site and want to come back they’ll use the back button.

From what I can tell - the two main reasons that it is legit to have links open in new windows is when you’re linking to a document (PDF) or a large image.

IF I ever decided I had a good reason to open something in a new window I’d make a note of it so the reader knew what to expect.

What Do You Think?

I’d be interested to open this up for a discussion though as I’m sure there are a variety of opinions on the topic. Perhaps others with different kinds of goals for their blogs see things differently.

Do you open links in new windows? Why or Why not?

Written on June 26th, 2007 at 12:06 am by David Shawver city Stanton

How to Sell Products Through Your Blog - Business Blogging

Miscellaneous Blog Tips, Case Studies 22 comments

Dave at Red Fly Marketing asks: “You mentioned that you would probably not sell enternetusers because it sells YOU so well. What advice do you have for business bloggers wishing to use blogging to increase their exposure and leverage that exposure to sell THEIR products?

Thanks for the question - it’s one that I’ve got a few thoughts on - as well as a short case study to illustrate.

The first advice I’d give to business bloggers looking to ’sell’ through their blog is to be careful.

While blogs can be used as a tool for selling they are at their best when they are relational, conversational and offer their readers something useful that will enhance their lives in some way. Ask most blog subscribers why they follow a particular blog and you’ll find out that in almost every case they get something out of the blog (whether it be entertainment, advice, research, ideas etc).

Every company will have customers who will subscribe to a purely sales oriented blog because they are fans of the products that that company makes and want to keep up to date - however in most cases this will be a fairly small group of people.

Most people will not react overly positively to a blog that is just sales spin. We get it all day, on the radio, on tv, in our inbox, in our real mailbox etc.

So what is a business blogger wanting to ’sell’ to do?

If I were a business blogger (and I guess I am in a way - but that’s another discussion) I would spend more time Actively engaging with and enhancing the lives of my readers (and potential readers) than selling to them.

Make your primary focus to build trust, credibility, profile and perception of expertise while doing everything you can to develop a large, loyal and engaging community around your blog and you’ll find that on those occasions you do sell that your message will be all the more effective.

You’ll also find that instead of pushing your products on readers that they’ll push themselves on your products.

A Case Study as Illustration

I did a little work a year or so back with a company that was selling jewelry. Their blog had largely been a sales blog - mainly announcing new products and announcing specials. While they did have a small loyal readership they were not drawing in new customers.

I advised them that they write a series of articles that didn’t mention their products at all but that helped their readers in some way. The articles that they wrote were along these lines (I’ve changed them slightly as they wish to remain anonymous):

  • how to clean your diamonds
  • how to tell if your diamond genuine
  • Diamond carats - what are they?

They started out with the goal of answering 5 of the questions that their customers asked most frequently and ended up reinventing their blog. They did this by publishing 2-3 new ‘how to’ posts per week. The results were quite amazing:

  • their current readers loved it (they were the ones feeding the questions)
  • some of the articles went viral and got linked to on many other sites/blogs
  • over time the search engine traffic to the site increased
  • rss subscriber numbers and traffic to the blog increased 100% in two weeks (and have continued to climb)
  • when they did announce new products (they did this about 60% less than they previously had done) they saw sales increase
  • they began to see customers searching the rest of their site in larger numbers - leading to higher sales

They found that by providing useful information to customers and prospective ones that they became the number one place in those reader’s minds when they next needed to make a purchase.

I should say that I’ve had limited experience in selling products through business blogging - so I’d be interested in the experiences of others who’ve had more than me.

  • Can blogs be effective sales tools?
  • How would you advice business bloggers wanting to sell through their blogs approach the task?

Written on June 25th, 2007 at 08:06 am by David Shawver city Stanton

Why Affiliate Links are the best Form of Blog Advertising

Affiliate Programs 36 comments

This Post was submitted by Matt Jones, the author of Blogging Fingers

With bloggers looking for alternatives to AdSense, which is renowned for it’s low click-though rates on blogs with ‘web-savvy’ readers, one of the golden oldies of Internet advertising has been making a comeback. Namely, using affiliate links.

Out of all forms of advertising affiliate links are the least obtrusive to the reader. Long lists of affiliate links are unnecessary because the key to affiliate marketing with blogs is pre-selling and so other than ‘top 5 affiliate programs’ in a sidebar there is little use for listing large numbers of affiliate links.

Pre-selling is content for your blog! Writing a fair review of an affiliate program or of a product (from a certain affiliate program) is both useful for your readers, while being fantastic for the search engines.

Fresh Organic Traffic

Normally the name of the affiliate program/product will naturally be in the posts’ title and throughout the main text of the post. If people link to the post they will probably use something like E.g. “Matt’s review of – insert name of affiliate program” – in the anchor text, which also helps that individual post rank very highly in the search engines.

In other words, reviewing a post about a specific affiliate program/product automatically adds a keyword phrase (usually the name of the affiliate program/product) to your sites ‘long-tail’ of keywords and provides prolonged low levels of organic traffic.

This screenshot of part of my long-tail traffic helps illustrate this:


Longtail-Visits

The left collumn is the keyword phrase used, the right is the number of visits.

The Cycle of Honesty and Reward

Unlike with AdSense, bloggers have direct control over the affiliate links and so if a reader makes a purchase/carries out some sort of action through your affiliate link and are happy with what they got then a level of trust has been gained. This improves the probability that the reader will return (increasing page views generating revenue from other advertisements) and you will be able to recommended more products to them.

This in-turn encourages you to make quality recommendations and so the circle of honesty and reward continues.

We already know that just about any form of advertising works on ‘normal’ people, but ‘web-savvy’ readers are a tougher nut to crack. However, they have several characteristics which actually make affiliate links work better with them than with ‘normal’ readers.

Characteristics of ‘Web-Savvy’ Readers:

Cat-Computer

  • They have a build in scam and spam detectors and will catch you out even if you have a BS in BS. The Cycle of Honesty and Reward can be used to the bloggers advantage here. The web-savvy readers ‘up the pace of the game’ forcing the blogger to play better, with better programs/products which is good for everyone.
  • Web-Savvy readers subscribe to RSS feeds. This in almost creates a captive audience who read only the post and don’t even see other sidebar advertisements, which is great for a post with affiliate links. An RSS feed is surprisingly similar to a single-column landing page of affiliate marketer trying to sell an eBook because in an RSS feed all the focus is on the content.
  • Web-Savvy readers can usually absorb a greater quantity of information and so the pre-selling, while still concise need not be cut short if you run over the 500 word mark. More posts can also be written presenting more opportunities for revenue generation.
  • Many web-savvy readers have blogs of their own and may link to yours. They are even more likely to link if they bought a product on your recommendation and were happy with it (Honesty and Reward again).
  • Web-savvy readers are more obsessive. What I mean by this is that once they have read a certain amount of content from a blog, providing they like it enough the chances are they will visit regularly or subscribe to the Feed.

Most of those characteristics are based on the core principal that web-savvy users are trained to focus on the blog content, which is where the majority of the affiliate links should be.

The only real downside to using affiliate links where the reader is aware of them is that they may be suspicious as to where your ‘allegiances’ lie and forming trust will be that tiny bit harder. However, this weakness can be used to the your advantage due to the personal nature of blogging.

The Crunch

A non-web-savvy person may visit a site and buy a product right away only to never visit again. This is the opposite to a web-savvy person. A web-savvy user would take longer to have their trust won over but once they have been, they are committed for longer and will generate more revenue in the long-run. Therefore, due to the characteristics listed despite popular opinion, by using affiliate links, web-savvy users are more valuable than non-web-savvy people.

How to Gain Trust From Web-Savvy Readers

  • Not having every post about an affiliate program/product you recommended.
  • Write about sites you don’t recommend explaining what is wrong with them. This shows you are critical and carefully chose the best programs/products to promote.
  • Spread out the promotional posts with some that contain advice about using affiliate programs, which will help the reader earn more with the program you recommended (often mean you earn a greater commission). This has the added benefit of helping your reputation grow as an expert in your niche and I personally find writing advice far more stimulating than churning out reviews.
  • Spend extra time to answer their questions respectfully, thoughtfully and accuratly because they will read the answers you gave to previous questions.

Conclusion

Too many bloggers are living with the deluded excuse that they are failing to make money with their blog because web-savvy readers read it. This was perfectly understandable when the only thing anyone could talk about was AdSense, but the rules of the game are changing and choosing specific affiliate programs is even more precise advertisement targeting than AdSense is. It integrates perfectly with blogs and should be fully utilised.

Written on June 24th, 2007 at 12:06 am by David Shawver city Stanton

What do You Know Now About Blogging that You Wish You Knew When You Started?

Miscellaneous Blog Tips 110 comments

Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it?

While I’m the kind of guy that spends more time looking forward than dwelling on the past - I’m a firm believer that from time to time it can be a worthwhile exercise to look back on our experiences and let them help shape our future.

So today’s reader question asks you to do just that:

What do You Know Now About Blogging that You Wish You Knew When You Started?

Perhaps it’s some method of finding traffic, perhaps it’s about your writing style, it could be more about how you interact with readers, maybe it could even be something to do with a blogging tool that you’ve discovered or it could even be that you wish you’d never started.

I guess another way to ask the question would be - name one thing you’d do differently if you could start over?

Looking forward to your answers either in comments below or as a post on your own blog (if you do post it - just leave the link below so we can check it out).

Written on June 23rd, 2007 at 07:06 am by David Shawver city Stanton

Speedlinking - 23 June 2007

Pro Blogging News 7 comments

Written on June 23rd, 2007 at 03:06 am by David Shawver city Stanton

How to Write Home Run Posts

Writing Content 28 comments

HomerunThe following guest post was submitted by John Wesley who blogs at PicktheBrain.com (feed) about motivation, productivity, and self improvement.

The Importance of Home Run Posts

Most of you are probably familiar with the Pareto Principal, also known as the 80/20 rule. The rule states that 80% of results come from 20% of causes. In blogging this rule is even more extreme (probably 95/5) because of social media. A great post that goes viral, makes the front page of Digg, and is picked up by a top blogger, will easily receive 20 times more traffic, back links, and RSS subscribers than a post that’s merely very good.

Home run posts grow your blog rapidly so it’s important to do everything you can to take a post from good to great. This goes against the popular opinion that short frequent posts are the best strategy. This might work well for blogs that already have a sizable readership, but if you’re just starting out you’ll need to do more to make an impact. This means providing significant value.

What Makes a Home Run Post?

Home run posts come in all shapes and sizes but they tend to share a few important qualities.

  1. Length - All the posts I’ve written that have made the front page of Digg, Reddit, or del.icio.us have been substantial, usually from 700-1000 words. People extract more value from longer articles. Maybe fewer people will read the whole post but the ones that do are more likely to vote it up and subscribe to your RSS feed. Go into detail and share everything you know.
  2. Useful Information - The more value you provide, especially in a practical sense, the more incentive people have to share your article with others and bookmark it for themselves. This is why ‘how to’ posts and lists of tips are so successful. Focus on serving the reader.
  3. Originality - It’s highly unlikely that you’ll write a great post by linking to someone else’s content and talking about it. These types of posts are good for meeting your weekly posting schedule, but they don’t add enough value to become popular. Aim to create stand alone, original content.
  4. Well Written - This might be the most important factor. No matter how detailed and useful your post is it won’t spread if you mangle the message with bad writing. This is especially important in the headline and opening paragraph because that’s where readers are drawn in. This also includes good formatting and organization — no one likes to read huge blocks of text. You need to make your message as clear and concise as possible.

Hit More Home Runs by Writing in Multiple Sessions

Hitting home runs is difficult. It’s nearly impossible to predict what will take off, and it’s going to require great ideas and a lot of effort. The most important part is not rushing. Unless your post is breaking news, it doesn’t matter when it’s published. Taking the time to perfect it can make the difference between a few dozen and several thousand visitors.

My most successful posts are always written in more than one session. I usually get inspired and churn out most of the writing in the first session. Then I take some time off, at least a few hours, and let the ideas sort themselves out in my subconscious. A few hours later I write the conclusion and cut out or clarify poorly written sentences. I’m able to improve sections that had troubled me earlier and spot weaknesses that I hadn’t noticed. Before publishing I always do a final review and ruthlessly cut everything that doesn’t add meaning.

It might not seem important, but writing in multiple sessions and carefully editing will improve your writing dramatically. If you’re going to put the effort into creating a great piece of content, it makes sense to do everything in your power to increase the chance it becomes popular. Putting in the extra work will help you attract readers and take advantage of the 80/20 rule.

Written on June 22nd, 2007 at 10:06 am by David Shawver city Stanton

Blog Mentoring Program Launches

Pro Blogging News 35 comments

I’m really excited to see Yaro Starak finally launch his Blog Mastermind Mentoring Program in the last few days.

I’ve been chatting to Yaro about this program for at least a year now and cannot believe the amount of work he’s put into developing it. He’s done so much research, written so much content, recorded so many interviews and has really honed it all into a program that I believe will help many bloggers striving to make a living from blogging.

Click here to get The Blog Profits BlueprintYou can get a taste for Yaro’s style from his free Blog Profits Blueprint which I’ve previously linked to - but the full mentoring program will give you a lot more - including regular e-lessons via email, a 10 part audio series, access to a members only forum, blog case studies (audio and video), extreme makeover advice on your blog, interviews with Yaro as well as some bonus interviews with Pro Bloggers (including one Yaro did with me).

The cost - $47 per month (but only for 7 days until it goes up). While this might seem like a significant amount of money - my theory is that it’s an investment in learning the tools of how to make a living from blogging. Yaro offers a 100% Money Back Guarantee - if you’re not happy you get your money back. I trust Yaro to do this (I know where he lives).

Having looked over what’s on offer for the $47 I’d recommend checking it out also. Take a look around and see what you get and if you don’t start learning from it you can cancel your next month’s membership at any point.

The thing I love about Yaro’s style is that he’s actually built a blogging income from blogs that don’t consume him. Yaro does work hard at his blogging - but he keeps perspective and balance also both in the style of blogging that he does but also the work/life balance thing (he even has time to exercise, have friends and travel - I’m so jealous).

The Blog Mastermind Mentoring is a program that I’d recommend for beginner to intermediate level bloggers. It goes over the basics for those just starting out but explores some of the more advanced techniques.

This won’t be for everyone - but if you’re serious about making money from blogging it’ll be one resource to check out.

NB: This post does contain affiliate links - however I stand by the review of Yaro’s program.

Written on June 22nd, 2007 at 06:06 am by Lorelle VanFossen

Blogging Tips: First Impressions Count

Miscellaneous Blog Tips, Blog Promotion, Blog Design 19 comments

The following is a guest post by and an excerpt from her popular book, Blogging Tips, Tips Bloggers Won’t Tell You About Blogging.

There are several “first impressions” your blog makes as it struggles to attract and hold on to readers. Few of those first impressions come directly from your blog’s design and layout.

Search Engine Results: The first impression most people get of your blog is found within search engine results. They see a post title, blog title, and content excerpts around the keywords of their search terms.

Blog Feed Aggregator: An aggregator is a blog or website which displays titles or post excerpts from various blogs. Aggregators usually list your blog title, post title, and first 100-300 words of your post.

Feed Reader: A feed delivered to a feed reader displays the content as text, with few images, and none of your blog’s design. Depending upon how the feed reader is set, it showcases the blog title, post title, first 100-400 words of your post or the full post content, if the blog owner has set the feeds to full. Typically, the post title and first 100-400 words are the first impression.

From Other Bloggers: Another first impression a potential visitor gets comes from the words other bloggers have to say about you. It could be a simple link to your post title, or a paragraph or two recommending your blog and/or your blog post. The information in and around the link can make or break a reader’s decision to click through to your blog.

Front Page: Many web designers design the front page of the blog before the rest of the pages, creating a gateway to your blog. This is old “print-think”. Nowadays, visitors may arrive on any page on your blog. If they get lost navigating, or need more information, they will click to your blog’s front page. Every page, including the front page, must visually represent the purpose and intent of the blog. The front page must also still be the gateway to all the categories, sections, and pages of your blog.

Single Post Pageview: Most visitors arrive on a blog post page. The first impression is to the visual presentation, blog title, post title, and content, followed by other visual images. It must also offer easy-to-find navigational aids to help them find related and more content.

About Page: More than anything on your blog, your blog’s About page cements the first impression with information on the blog’s purpose and intent, as well as the blogger’s expertise. If they get past the visual presentation, they will look for more information about the author.

Category Page Views: The page views of your category, tags, and archives showcase the content within your blog in related groups. The first impression of category pages are the post titles, followed by the first 100-200 words of the post content. Most visitors scan the post titles looking for information related to their needs.

Go through each of these “first impressions” to see what kind of an impression your blog makes on the web.


Lorelle VanFossen blogs about blogging and WordPress on and the , and is the author of Blogging Tips, Tips Bloggers Won’t Tell You About Blogging.

Written on June 22nd, 2007 at 12:06 am by David Shawver city Stanton

Goals to Achieve in a Blog’s Launch Phase

Miscellaneous Blog Tips 24 comments

Brian has put together a Blueprint for a Brilliant Blog Launch which I think will be helpful for bloggers in startup mode.

Brian’s 3 step process of starting a new blog is pretty simple:

  1. Cornerstone - before launching writing some ‘cornerstone’ content that will be a great foundation for your blog. This means that when you launch your blog will have something solid for readers to read when they come and visit instead of just seeing a blog with a handful of flakey posts.
  2. Networking - becoming networked within your niche is important if you want to grow your readership via other blogs and sites in it. This means connecting with other bloggers, building relationships with them and becoming a part of the niche.
  3. Attraction - doing something to get attention will accelerate your blog’s growth. I’d suggest doing a number of things over a number of weeks. Like Brian says it could include writing a free report, writing some link-bait content etc

The launch phase of a new blog is one where you need to perform a balancing act between a variety of tasks and attempting to achieve a variety of goals simultaneously.

To put it slightly differently to Brian - here are some of the goals I attempt to achieve in the early days of a blog:

1. Establish Credibility/Expertise

In the early days of your blog you need to prove yourself as someone worth reading in some way. There is a variety of ways you can achieve this including:

  • tell your story - tell your readers how you have grown in your topic, highlight your achievements and share what you’ve learnt (here’s an example of a post in which I told my ProBlogging story) - read more on using stories on your blog.
  • showing your success - if there’s some way to prove yourself as an expert (here’s an example of a time I did this).
  • cornerstone content - perhaps the best way to establish credibility is simply to provide content that is solid and helpful to reader. Write a series of posts that shows your knowledge and ability to help people and you’ll find people start to look to you as an authority on your topic.

2. Get Reader Buy In

One of the best things you can do in the early days of a blog is to work very hard on building ‘community’ on your blog. If a new visitor comes to your blog and sees comments being left, you answering reader questions, people learning from one another and a sense of community - they will want to buy in. On the flip side, if they see tumbleweed blowing over your comment section and hear the chirping of crickets they’re less likely to hang around. People like to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves.

As a result you need to work hard to building a sense of community on your blog. This isn’t easy in the early days when you might only have two or three readers - but it’s possible. Love those 2-3 readers to death, draw people into conversation, use your own comments section and build a warm and inviting blog and you’ll find it will attract others to it.

As part of this you’ll want to work hard on making first time readers loyal readers. Make your blog sticky, get people subscribing to your RSS feed and/or newsletters. Do everything you can to increase the likelihood that first time readers will want to come back again.

3. Become Active in the Wider Niche

Brian is right when he says that networking is a central part of the launch of a new blog. It’s vitally important to the success of your blog to put yourself out there.

I’ve used the idea of ‘dating’ a number of times as an analogy for finding new readers for a blog and one of the first pieces of advice most dating counsellors give is to put yourself in a position to meet new people. Most bloggers find out very quickly that the idea that readers will find your blog and come to you in droves rarely happens. You need to go in search of readers. This means identifying those places that your potential reader is already gathering and going and participating in this spaces.

Another part of becoming Active in the niche is building relationships with other bloggers. This can actually be a tricky thing also because in effect you’re competing with their blogs by starting one on a similar topic. Some bloggers will feel threatened by you starting up in the niche while others will be quite open to interacting with you. The key is to be generous with others and to find ways to genuinely help out others with their blogs. In doing so you’ll build trust and show that you’re not just in it for yourself.

4. Self Promotion

One of the things that I always struggle with in the launch of a new blog is that I’m not naturally a showy person or someone who is into pumping myself up. However there are times, particularly in the early days, where a blogger needs to step outside of their comfort zone and sell themselves a little.

This might include writing a press release about your blog, pitching a story to a larger blogger or mainstream media, writing something a little more sensational or controversial etc. One of the first times I did this here at enternetusers was in writing a post about how I’d bought a house with my blog earnings. This wasn’t really a post that I wanted to write (as I’m naturally private about such things) but it was an opportunity that I knew I had to take in terms of getting noticed and establishing some level of credibility in the niche of making money from blogs.

I think that the key in these types of posts is to attempt to keep a level of humility in your self promotion and not to fall into the trap of being too hyped. Be real, stay true to your values - but don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.

5. Find High Volumes of Traffic

While I’m a firm believer in building your readership one reader at a time by writing compelling content and loving your existing readers to death - most highly successful blogs experience periods of rapid growth and bursts of traffic from other sources. Whether it be by getting to the front page of Digg, being linked to by a high profile blog or being mentioned in mainstream media - these bursts of traffic are very useful and can really accelerate the growth of your blog if you’re able to harness them cleverly.

The key is to be a little strategic about this and to think carefully about what type of traffic you want, where that potential traffic is already gathering in high numbers and how you can get your content in front of them. I’ve written more on this in my post Grow Your Blog’s Readership by Targeting Readers.

The other key to plan for is to think about how you’ll convert this influx of traffic into regular readership. While you’ll not capture everyone - if you’re able to convert even a small percent of these new readers into regular readers you can see significant increases in traffic over time.

Written on June 21st, 2007 at 12:06 pm by David Shawver city Stanton

7 Reflections on Scaling a Blog to a Sustainable Business

Miscellaneous Blog Tips 25 comments

Wendy has written a heart felt post on her blog titled The Things That Get You Successful Won’t Necessarily Keep You That Way which is basically about the realization that her current blogging business model is not really scalable. Some of the areas she’s seeing this in:

  • I cannot respond to the 30-50+ comments left every day anymore, which both saddens me and also decreases participation in the conversation on both sides
  • I spend every Monday digging through 200-300 (or 400+!) emails from the previous week
  • Writing for three blogs is very time consuming - and coming up with 3x more fresh ideas is at best a stretch and at worst downright stressful
  • I have advertisers willing to pay for more impressions - but in my current business model, I do not have the time or resources to create more content

Wendy then shot me an email asking for any thoughts that I had. Here’s a few that come to mind as I read her post:

1. Building a Sustainable Business Out of Blogging is Hard

The realizations that Wendy is having now are ones that most bloggers come to at one point or another. While they are not easy questions to tackle - they are important ones to grapple with and the results of having done so will make any Blogger stronger (if they don’t lead them to give up - as often happens).

The hard reality is that for the majority of blogs - scaling them to a point where they’re able to sustain their authors is not easy. Some blogs are easier than others due to their topic (ie some topics have a direct commercial tie in in terms of selling advertising) but for most bloggers it’s bloody hard work.

2. It takes time

Another obvious thing (that still needs to be said) is that building a blog to a point where it’s able to earn an income from it takes significant time. Getting established in search engines, building an RSS subscriber or email newsletter list, getting Active members and building up enough archives to generate significant long tail traffic all takes time.

Part of my advice to Wendy is simply ‘hang in there’.

Her blog has come a long way in the last 12 months - and the next 12 months will see it continue to steadily (if not exponentially) grow. I generally find that the second year of a blog’s life sees it grow faster and to greater heights than the first year.

3. Focus Upon Indirect Income Earners

One of the things that I think Wendy will find is that the key to monetizing her blog will not necessarily be through direct income via advertising or affiliate programs. While this might currently be the main focus of monetizing the blog - the real pay off will probably come through leveraging the profile that the blog gives her.

Wendy has been very Active in participating in the blogosphere and her personal brand has grown as a result. She’s already having opportunities to speak at conferences, has experimented with different e-resources and with continued quality blogging and a little self promotion has the potential to open up bigger opportunities for speaking, writing books, selling resources etc.

The key with this is to continue to build her own personal brand and tie it closely to the blogs themselves.

One strategy that Wendy might explore to help keep the content levels up is to use more and more guest bloggers. While this is good in that it helps her to keep the content pumping out - the downside is that she also runs the risk of diluting her own profile on the blog. This is a bit of a tightrope to walk - but if I were Wendy I’d probably be a bit more intentional about selling herself more on her blog than selling other people’s products. Perhaps the blog could do with a little more ‘Wendyfying’? (from memory I think it used to have a picture of her on it for example).

4. Find Untapped Audiences

Most blogs hit plateaus in terms of traffic at one stage or another. This has happened to me on every blog I’ve written on and it can be quite frustrating. To some extent it’s pretty natural - however just because your traffic levels stall doesn’t mean your blog has reached its potential.

At these points a blogger can be tempted to increase the frequency of posts or start writing more and more linkbait type content. While these strategies may work - they are perhaps not the best strategy if you’re hoping to build a sustainable type of traffic. In fact increasing your frequency of posting could alienate loyal readers and set you up for blogger burnout - and writing more and more linkbait articles can also be frustrating for current readers and tends to only attract fleeting traffic.

A better strategy is to investigate ways of exposing your blog to new, and previously untapped, audiences.

‘Easier said than done Darren’ I can hear you say. You’re right. But it’s not impossible. A few ways come to mind:

  • Translation - more and more blogs are getting their content translated into different languages. In doing so they can potentially reach a lot more readers with the same content.
  • Write for Other Web Properties - this might sound like you’re adding to your workload (and it probably will) but one way to expose yourself to a new audience is to write for a site with an established audience and draw them back to your blog. This might be by writing guest posts or could even mean taking up a regular writing job. In fact this is something Wendy has done with her blog for Entrepreneur (smart move Wendy).
  • Media Coverage - while I’ve had limited success with translating MSM coverage into new readers I have seen it work. Get the right story into the right paper or TV show and you could just expand your audience.
  • Offline Promotion - one thing that I’ve been pondering more and more is how to draw traffic to blogs from offline non media sources. I won’t say too much about what I’m thinking of experimenting with but perhaps there are some possibilities here.

It strikes me that some bloggers ‘mine’ the same audiences over and over again. To do so will see a ceiling to your blog’s growth.

5. Smart Diversification/Add Ons

In my early days of blogging I probably would have advised Wendy to simply start more blogs if she wanted to build a larger income from blogging. The logic - if 1 blog earns $XXX a month from blogging wouldn’t 10 blogs earn $XXX x 10?

Of course the problem with this logic is that it’s not scalable (for the reasons Wendy has outlined).

However diversification can take other forms and need not mean starting more blogs. It will mean something different for every blog but perhaps there are some ways of adding income streams that don’t take a whole lot of work to existing blogs.

My own example of this was adding a Blogger Job Board to enternetusers. While it’s not earned me millions it’s a fairly low maintenance tool that relates strongly to my topic that generates enough income to help sustain my business.

The key is to find something highly related to the topic you’re blogging about and to make it low maintenance.

6. Involve Others

Another thing that comes to mind is that a one person operation will always have a limit to the amount of time that they can devote to any business or job. However when you learn the power of outsourcing, delegation and building a team you can achieve a lot more.

There are many ways to involve others in a blogging business. None are ‘easy’ (be warned) but some might be worth exploring:

  • Build a Network - this is obviously something I’ve explored with b5media. The logic was that I could only ever sustain the writing of a small number of quality blogs by myself but by drawing other bloggers together and managing them there was a greater potential for earnings. Of course managing others takes a lot of work - and this strategy won’t work for everyone. Having said that - a small number of related blogs on similar topics could be an option to explore.
  • Introduce other Bloggers - I’ve already touched on the downside of this above - ie that it runs the risk of diluting your own personal brand. However there are some upsides (many of which I’ve touched on with this post on why guest bloggers are good for a blog). Whether you go for one off guest contributions or regular contributers there are some upsides - however it does take more ‘managing’ type work to keep it coordinated.
  • Administrator Assistant - I’ve toyed with the idea of hiring an intern of admin assistant for a year or two now. The idea is to find someone to help run some of the logistical aspects of running the business. Filtering emails, moderating comments, letting you know of comment threads that need your personal attention, fielding interview requests, doing some basic marketing/promotion etc. I think this would be one ’solution’ that many bloggers would benefit from - the hard part is finding the right person and being able to afford to pay them.

7. Build a Low Maintenance Blog Community

This one is still forming in my mind - but it strikes me that some blogs have readers that demand a lot more from their blogger than others.

One of the things that I’ve done quite unintentionally on my blogs is to build communities where readers feel empowered to help one another - rather than to just rely upon me as the blogger.

For example - if you wander through the enternetusers comment threads you’ll find that there is a lot of activity - however many of the questions that get asked are actually answered by other readers rather than by me. My belief is that together as a community we know much more than any single one of us (including me as a blogger). In the early days of my blog I tried to communicate this over and over and perhaps in doing so have created a community that is less dependent upon me to have a good conversation.

The other tip I’d give when it comes to reader interaction is that many of the questions that you ask or conversations that you have with readers can easily be repurposed as actual posts.

Quite often instead of just responding to an email question with an email answer I’ll ask for permission to share it as a post. The asker of the question usually doesn’t mind it - in fact many like it because I give them a link for their troubles. The same can go for answering questions in comments. Quite often it can be better to take a comment of a reader and make it into a new post.

I’m not sure that I’ve really solved Wendy’s problems - but hopefully something here triggers something for her and others.

I’m sure she’d also appreciate anyone else’s thoughts on the issue - fee free to comment on her post or below as she’s a regular around here!



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