Written on June 18th, 2007 at 12:06 am by Lorelle VanFossen

Blogging Tips: Writing Purposeful Content

Miscellaneous Blog Tips, Writing Content 28 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.

Writing with keyword-rich content helps your blog be found and readers to fully understand what you are writing about. Write consistent and purposeful content.

The more inline your content is with your blog’s purpose, the more concentrated your use of keywords will be throughout the entire blog, not just on a per-post basis. The more diverse your blog’s content, the more diffused your keyword usage will be across all of your blog.

Make a plan for your content. Make lists of the topics you will write about in keeping with your blog’s purpose. Stick to those subjects as much as possible to build your blog’s reputation as the place to come for answers on those subjects.

What Are The Benefits Of A Focused Blog?

  • Content is synonymous with the subject.
  • Links are synonymous with the subject.
  • It builds a reputation.
  • It builds authority.
  • It becomes a destination.
  • It becomes a source.

Your Blog’s Content Labels Your Blog

If your blog tells more stories about your life than reports on the news and world around you, then it’s a personal journal or memoir. If your blog reports and comments on politics, it’s a political blog. If it has more reviews of products and services than other content, it’s a review blog. If it has more photographs than text, it’s a photoblog. If it has more music than text and pictures, then it’s a music blog. If it has more video than music, text, and pictures, then it’s a video blog, vid-blog or v-blog. If your blog has more ads than content, it’s in the business of blogging.

The majority of the content on your blog indicates the purpose of your blog. When labeling your blog, take a serious look at its content. As your blog evolves, the value of your blog comes from the content you build over time.

Readers Thrive On Consistency And Continuity

If you create an expectation of content on your blog, readers return expecting to find similar content. If you switch one week from blogging about grooming pets to blogging about grooming horses, you have set an expectation that your blog is about grooming animals. If you switch from grooming dogs to racing cars, readers are thrown off and their expectations aren’t met. The odds are they will not return for more.

It used to be said that predictability was boring. In blogging, predictability builds return customers. They know you are the expert on this subject and that you are the source for information. Meet their expectations when they return.

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 17th, 2007 at 12:06 am by Darren Rowse

What Works with Affiliate Sales

Affiliate Programs 16 comments

This post was submitted by Chris Garrett from ChrisG.com

The other day I was telling Darren about an accidental affiliate success I had on my digital SLR blog with a dirt cheap ebay gadget (GadgetInfinity ebay slave triggers). We thought it might make an interesting guest post for enternetusers readers as this audience likes to learn tips for how to make money and I learned a lot from this happy accident myself.

How did this early Christmas present fall into my lap?

Last year through Strobist.com blog I became interested in photography lighting. Like most people who followed the tutorials I started acquiring all the gear I needed. One item was out of my budget though. It was an accessory that allowed you to trigger your flash remotely via radio signals. The price was just too high for my amateur photography budget (and my marriage!). All was not lost, I heard about some cheap knock-offs doing the rounds on ebay.

After research it seemed most people were either absolutely in love with the gadgets or dead against, either because of a bad experience or out of snobbery. As the price was so low I snapped up a set, at the very worst it would make excellent content for my blog.

I couldn’t have been more happier with the gizmos when they arrived. Not only were they cheap, they worked and opened up my flash photography in a way I couldn’t have hoped for. Being the geek I am I had a variety of gear to test the gadget with so I could right away reassure people that they in fact did work with Canon brand flashes. This added considerably to the weight of my recommendation.

Once I had written my post I recalled I had signed up for the CJ ebay affiliate program. (I was going to write a blog about ebay). As these products were mainly available via ebay I took the opportunity to go back and edit my links with my affiliate codes.

Immediately something wonderful happened, I was making commissions! One or two came in almost right away. What really sent the sales coming in though was a link from Strobist. A few days later I was getting search traffic also.

Why did it work so well?

  • Empathy - It was a geniune recommendation from someone in the same position as the audience
  • Topical - The product was “hot” but the available advice was divided, people were researching before buying
  • Authority - I had some credibility in the area, compounded by an authoritive referral to that page from Strobist
  • Fear - Risk was reduced because I had removed the fear factor (”oh it *does* work with Canon!”)

Those are specific lessons but there are also general learnings we can take that always apply

  • Specifics sell
  • Stay on top of your niche so you can detect hot products early
  • Comparisons against bigger, better and more expensive products works to upsell or positively differentiate the lower-priced alternative (win-win)
  • Links from the post, in context, drive far more sales
  • Try to link to the specific product wherever possible
  • Big brand names and hard to find products sell far better than generics
  • Choosing to go via ebay provides secondary income from signups

Look at the post, you wouldn’t have dreamed at first glance this would have been an ebay sales machine but it worked and it worked well. What could you do if you actually went out and designed your posts to sell?

Written on June 16th, 2007 at 07:06 am by Darren Rowse

Missed Opportunities Are Worse Than Making Mistakes

Miscellaneous Blog Tips 25 comments

This Guest Post was submitted by Scott at Savvy Affiliate

For a blogger, making mistakes can be embarrassing, but missing an opportunity can come at a huge cost. One thing that new bloggers sometimes have trouble with is the idea of jumping into things with both feet. Often times people are afraid to make mistake, afraid to try something new, and it comes at a huge opportunity cost. In the world of blogging and online marketing your mistakes will quickly be forgotten, especially if you are relatively unknown, but missing an opportunity can put you way behind in the game.

What Do I mean? What’s an example of a missed opportunity?

One example of a missed opportunity by many bloggers is Digg. Digg is well known for its ability to drive large volumes of traffic to a site. Although this traffic doesn’t directly convert to money, it can help a site become popular in the long term. Digg was launched in November of 2004, and started to become popular in late 2005. In early surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia28 zone.Digg surged in popularity. If you check Alexa traffic, you can see that it doubled its reach in practically no time at all.

The missed opportunity comes from people waiting until Digg got popular before they joined.

Studies have shown that the top 100 Digg users are responsible for 56% of everything that reaches the front page. These top 100 users have the ability to drive huge amounts of traffic where ever they desire. Most of them became top users by growing with they site. They were early adopters and were able to increase the authority of their accounts as Digg grew over time. A new user has very little chance of breaking into those rankings, at least not without devoting a massive amount of time to it. Bloggers who jumped in with both feet and gave the new service a go before it got popular won big, others who waited to use established tools had to play catch up.

Missed opportunities abound on the internet

How would you have liked to be the guy who created the Million Dollar Homepage? Or someone who created anyone of a dozen different viral sites which took off? How would you have like to start your current blog 2 years ago, before your nice became as competitive as it is. People who did that didn’t do anything special, other than take a risk. They knew that the reward / risk ratio was enormous. An idea that pays off can pay off in dollars of thousands, tens of thousands. An idea that crashed and burned set the founder back $50 - A couple hundred dollars for hosting and site registration.

One problem bloggers can have is insufficient arrogance

Insufficient arrogance is actually a problem which can plague many entrepreneurs. You look around and see many other people who seem so much more knowledgeable and authoritative than you. You mighty not think that you can compete with them until you learn more. In actuality, most likely you are better than you think you are. If you are learning as you go, and just sort of playing it by ear, most likely your competitors are too. In the world of blogging their are no learned experts. No one studied how to create a successful website from scratch in college. Many bloggers who are successful today were just starting their sites two years ago. They learned what they know through experimentation and reading other sites, just as you do.

So what opportunity are you missing now?

That’s the problem with opportunity costs. You can never know what will turn out to have been a great idea until it pans out. However by the time it pans out, it is too late to be an early adopter, and to reap the benefits. Your specific opportunity costs could be wide and varied. Perhaps you are running your blog solo a little too long when you should start expanding and delegating. Maybe you started a blog on Blogspot when you should have spent the $50 to buy your own domain and hosting. If you are reading this article on enternetusers, it is because when I saw that Darren was going to be posting some guest bloggers, I e-mailed him and asked if he would accept my submission, hoping that it would help drive traffic to my own blog. Although you can’t tell what risks will pay off ahead of time, you do know that if you don’t take any risks, you won’t reap any rewards.

Written on June 16th, 2007 at 12:06 am by 1cecilia53

Brainstorming an Out-of-the-Box Approach to Blog Monetization

Blogging for Dollars 29 comments

This Guest Post was written by Wendy Piersall from eMoms at Home.

Last March I attended Elite Retreat - a rather exclusive conference with a small number of participants and 7 big name presenters who taught us much of what they know (including Darren himself!). One of the biggest eye openers I had at the conference was that I had been a bit too hyper-focused on sticky blog content creation. I know - it sounds counter-intuitive! But when you create really good content, your blog readers don’t want to click ads. They stick around to read your stuff and then usually leave the site via a link to other great content.

So it was one of those “DUH” moments when I realized that I had better re-think my monetization strategy on my non-product blog.

A New Advertising Strategy

For blogs that are focused on creating compelling content, AdSense and other CPC (Cost Per Click) ads aren’t the way to go. My blog was building my brand, so it made sense that I shift to an advertising strategy that would build the brands of advertisers as well. This meant a shift into selling advertising directly and charging on a CPM (Cost Per Impression) basis. That way the site would make money based on page views rather than clicks.

Since I started selling advertising on my site (with Darren’s and Yaro’s help), revenue has increased substantially and next month I expect to make over $1000 just from CPM based ads. Because of this I have been able to spend more time writing and driving traffic instead of optimizing ad placements.

A New Product Strategy

It took a conversation with Jeremy Shoemaker for me to have another one of those “DUH” moments. Knowing full well that product blogs make money easier than content blogs, Jeremy sparked an idea to create a blog focused on small business products and services. Since regular blog visitors came to my main site for content (and not to shop), it made sense to create a separate blog just for the products and services that they would be interested in. My readers appreciated the fact that I was able to both give them relevant commercial content AND put it in a place that didn’t interfere with their enjoyment of regular articles, thus Shoestring Smarts was born.

By segmenting the content in this way, both sections of the site compliment each other but draw different visitors for different reasons. Since this new blog has been making money from day 1, it’s definitely been a success.

A New Marketing Strategy

The biggest takeaway from Elite Retreat was that I found a renewed enthusiasm for affiliate and email marketing. Once you’ve built a relationship with your blog audience, selling becomes a two-way street. I buy products and services from readers or via their affiliate links, and they do the same on my site. RSS subscribers climb regularly, but this can still limit you. Only about 30% of internet users use RSS - and far less than that actually KNOW they use RSS. Plus, you can’t just sell to regular readers, unless you don’t want to grow.

Most people want to shop in a familiar setting - especially online. Traditional methods of marketing via email and setting up ‘store sections’ on the site aren’t generally appealing to other bloggers. But they do invoke a sense of professionalism and trust with sporadic site visitors and less tech-savvy folks. It comes back to ensuring your blog is appealing to a larger audience than just other bloggers.

Creativity and Out-of-the-Box Thinking

Although I am an extremely creative person, it really took a different perspective to come up with fresh ideas and ways to market my site. I highly recommend networking with other bloggers to build co-mentoring or group mastermind opportunities, or attending conferences like Elite Retreat to be able to brainstorm with others.

Some of my most successful money making initiatives have come from conversations with other bloggers/marketers in which I said, “I can’t believe I didn’t think of that myself!”

Written on June 15th, 2007 at 11:06 pm by Darren Rowse

A Word From Our Sponsors

enternetusers Site News 7 comments

Behind the scenes here at enternetuserse there are a number of changes in development that you’ll see more of in the coming months - but one has been the seeking out of some premium sponsor partnerships.

These partners are currently being highlighted on the enternetusers sidebar as 125 x 125 pixel ads and in the coming weeks will be featured in a more prominent position on the blog (yes, one of the changes coming soon is a new design).

The current sponsors of enternetusers are:

  • Blue Organizer - a Firefox extension to help you to connect to sites and services faster with built in shortcuts, personalize your browser and power a smarter Web when you put SmartLinks in your blog posts, sidebars and profiles.
  • Profit from the News - a free source of news content available to embed or mash onto your blog or website.
  • Freshbooks.com - a quick way to invoice your clients, track and collect payment. They have a free trial option.

Thanks to each of them for their support.

If you’d like to explore sponsorship of enternetusers please contact our advertising sales team via our Advertisers Page.

Written on June 15th, 2007 at 12:06 am by Lorelle VanFossen

Telling Your Story With Words and Images

Writing Content 26 comments

The following is a guest post by .

Words tell their own story. They bring forth rhyme and reason, color attitudes, and move people. Combining the power of the verbal image with the visual can either enhance your story or overpower it. Finding that happy medium is the challenge facing every writer using images with their writing.

Compass and Map, Photography Copyright Not for Use Without Permission by Brent VanFossenBloggers often use a combination of words and images to convey a message. Some use more words and less images, others use more images and less words, while others struggle to find the way to get the message across equally with words and images.

Like words, a photograph tells a story. It can tell the whole story or part of the story. It’s up to the photographer, like the writer, to determine how much of the story is told by the image and how much is told in words.

When the blog post is a photography essay, where the images tell part of the story and the words tell the rest, how do you choose the images to go with the words? How do you combine written and visual media to form complete picture in your blog post?

When planning your photographic essay consider the following:

  1. What are you trying to say?
  2. What is the point of this picture?
  3. Does it add to the story?
  4. Does it subtract from the story?
  5. Is the point really evident?

As you develop your blog post and examine the words and images you want to use, ask these questions of each image and paragraph as you struggle to find the right combination and balance for your message.

Finding the Right Combination of Words and Images

When you know the answers to the questions, choosing the right images for the story helps you tell the story while using enough words to fill in the rest of the blanks. When is the image the story and when are words necessary for the story?

It’s a balancing game between images and words. Let’s answer some more questions to help you find that balance in your blog posts using images.

What is the point of this picture?

What is the point of the story? Is the story about the forest or the trees? Or is it about the land the trees are on? Find the significant visual element to enhance the words you write.

Forest, photograph copyrighted Brent VanFossen not for use without permissionWhat do you want to say? What are you trying to tell the reader? Is your story about how hard life is for a tree in a dark forest and how it must fight the shadows to reach for the sun and life? Or is it about the scientific process of forest succession?

Look at the photograph or graphic. How many message points can you find in the image? How many stories is it telling? If it is more than three, the image is too much work for the reader to interpret. If it makes one or two points, supporting the content’s intension, it’s a winning image as it balances itself with the story’s message.

Think through the concept and story line. Find the special interest, the main point that will literally “sing” to the readers. Then decide what part of the story needs images and which needs words, and choose accordingly.

Is the image a part or parcel?

Is the image a part of the story or the whole story?

End of pine tree, photograph copyright Brent VanFossen - not for use without permissionImages which accompany articles can be the whole story or merely pieces of the puzzle. The words can carry the message or serve support the visual message.

With the story of the tree,words may tell of a passing breeze which drops a single seed into the soil, and the tree’s struggle to survive. The photographs could show a seedling pushing out of the ground or a tree bent with snow and ice. Or a leaf or branch stretching out to grasp glimpses of the sun. Or maybe a tree seed in a child’s hand.

Does one image tell the whole story of your blog post? Or do you need several working together they may add to the entire post content.

Does the photograph move the story forward?

Just as each word leads to the next, moving the reader through the words, sentences, and paragraphs to the end, so your choice in photographs and graphic images must lead the reader through the story towards its conclusion.

So many blogs and websites use photographs because they think they have to, rather than to add to the point they are making, thus readers have become immune to the power of the image since it rarely relates.

Make images relate to the subject matter. The eyes usually glance to determine if the image is relevant to their purpose there, and if valid, the reader will spend a few more moments with the image, then return to the text. Scrolling down, they will see another image. If the content continues to match the images, the pictures become more important to the story, thus the reader will be more drawn to them. Add another image, and the reader is now following bread crumbs as you move them through the story, making the connections between the written content and visual.

Avoid making the reader pause and wonder why the image was included. This stops the flow. If the reader spends more time with the photograph than the text, they may never return to the text, assuming the photograph tells the whole story.

What emotions are necessary to tell the story?

Forest in fog, Photograph Copyright by Brent VanFossen - Not for use without permissionA good story has an emotional context or subtext. What emotions need to be evoked for your story to connect with your readers? Examine the words you are using to write your post. Are they happy? Sad? Angry? Confused? Melancholy? Thoughtful?

It is important that the images you choose also invoke those same feelings. Think about the emotional content of your images. Are they bright and cheerful? Soft and gentle? Quite and thoughtful? Dark and confused or vivid and angry? Does the photograph tell the emotional story of your article?

Two children playing on the sand tells of youth, fun, magic times of sharing and the joy and simplicity we may have left behind. An older couple watching the sun set from a park bench tells a story of aging, quiet, peacefulness, and contentment. A flower, depending upon how it is photographed, can display joy or sadness, so the image’s emotional quality is supported by the words influencing its story.

Any time you can capture the audience’s heart with moving images, the more willing they are to read the article and connect with the it.

Do you have the right balance between images and words?

Balance is critical. Do you have enough images to tell the story? Or have you crowded the story with too many images?

Ask yourself these questions over and over again as you find the delicate balance between the words and the images, combining the two to tell the story.

Technical Tips for Using Your Own Photography

As a professional writer and photographer, I’m constantly challenged to find the right combination of images and words to convey my intent in print or the web. Here are some tips to help you create better photographs to include with your blog posts and writing.

  • Take your time: The greatest gift you can give a photographic subject is time. The more time you spend with a photographic subject, be it person, animal, or inanimate object, the more familiar you become with it, and the more you see to photograph. A rushed picture only catches glimpses of ideas. A well-thought out and patiently sought photograph features whole ideas and concepts.
  • Use lots of film: While few photographers are using real film today, it still takes a lot of pictures to find the right one. Fill your digital media cards taking five, eight, fifteen, twenty-five pictures of the same subject. Don’t let one picture be the only choice you have when you sit in front of your computer. The difference between an okay picture and an award winner can be in the blink of an eye, a shifting of the light, or a turning of the head. Give yourself choices.
  • Don’t photograph at eye level: Everyone takes pictures at eye level, camera to their face as they stand in front of the subject. Try sitting down, lying down, hanging upside down, photographing the subject from a different perspective. With small children and animals, get down to their eye level rather than pointing your camera down. Experiment with different positions to find a new angle of view.
  • Work from a variety of angles and positions: Do you always need to photograph your subject facing the camera? Why not a profile? Photograph them looking at the subject. By changing the position of the subject, you can often change the story or sub-text of the image. Work the subject from all angles so you can choose the perspective that helps tell your story.
  • Learn more about your subject from all angles: Looking at a subject can only tell you so much. Study your subject. Read books and articles about it. Read fiction, facts, and even children’s stories to get different perspectives. Not everyone looks at the same thing with one point of view. Investigate how others see so you can see more.
  • Watch the lines and positions: Humans tend to prefer things in their proper place, looking like they should. We expect the ground to be level, water to run downhill, and trees to grow up. Shaking those expectations can create slightly disturbing images and detract from your point, unless your point is confusion and mixed metaphors.
  • Trees and lake at sunset, Mt. Rainier, photograph copyright Brent VanFossen not for use without permissionLight counts: Morning and evening light flatters most subjects with warm colors and less contrast. It’s the best time to photograph most subjects outdoors. A high overcast sky creates a soft, gentle light on your subject whereas a bright sunny day creates strong shadows and washes the color away. Choose images with good lighting to enhance and complement the subject.
  • Horizontal vs Vertical: Don’t forget that a camera has two points of view: horizontal and vertical. People are vertical, trees are vertical, so turn the camera on its side. Web pages are vertical, and few web page designs feature wide columns, so vertical images tend to play better on a web page than wide horizontal images.
  • Simplify, Simplify, Simplify: Simplification is probably the single most important technique. Just like you do when editing your writing, in photography you need to eliminate the distractions, the unnecessary content. Do you need a shot of the forest floor with all its clutter and dead leaves? Is that the story? Or is it about the leaves themselves and not the clutter? Keep the main point of your story in mind as you look for images to represent it. Keep it simple. Too many words can spoil a story. Too many subjects can spoil a great picture.

Choose your words carefully around images. Choose your images to help your written message, whether they are graphic images or photography. Find the natural blend of words and pictures that complement each other. Allow both to share the spotlight in your blog and you will find the magic of photography enhancing the magic of your writing.

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 14th, 2007 at 10:06 pm by Darren Rowse

New Blogger Jobs

enternetusers Site News 14 comments

There’s been some good activity on the enternetusers Blog Job Boards over the past week with 10 or so new Blog Jobs advertised from a variety of advertisers. Here’s the latest blogger jobs to apply for:

To get blog jobs like these delivered to your RSS feed as they go up on the job boards subscribe to the RSS feed.

Thanks to those advertisers who are regularly using the job boards. I’ve had a number of really positive feedback emails in the last few weeks and will be working on a testimonials page in the coming few weeks.

Written on June 14th, 2007 at 05:06 am by Darren Rowse

How to Get a Six Figure Book Deal From Your Blog

Miscellaneous Blog Tips 22 comments

This post has been submitted by Penelope Trunk - columnist at the Boston Glob and Yahoo! Finance, blogger at www.blog.penelopetrunk.com and author of Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success.

I’m going to tell you how to get a six-figure book deal from your blog.

People ask me this question all the time, and I have been a little hesitant to give people advice because I had only sold one book, and maybe it was luck, because it’s hard to know how to do anything from just doing it once. But now I feel like I know a bit because I just got my second book contract, based on my blog, from Rachel Klayman, the editor who did Barack Obama’s recent book.

Here are ten tips for getting a book deal of your own that is based on that blog you’ve been writing.

1. Solve a problem.
Non-fiction books define a problem and offer a solution. This is what makes the consumer buy the book. A blog can be a fun rant. A book needs to be more than that.

Do the ‘how to be’ test. Can you say, ‘My blog is about how to….’ And finish the sentence? You need to be able to do that to turn your blog into a nonfiction book.

For my book, I said I’m solving the problem that most career advice books are irrelevant to the current market. I did a they say/I say section. For example, they say report sexual harassment/I say don’t. They say don’t lie on your resume/ I say be practical.

2. Have a big idea.
A blog is a big pile of small ideas adding up to a community of people talking about those ideas. A book needs to be more than that. A book needs to add up to a big idea. You get your advance based on how big the idea is. One of the hardest lessons for me was that I thought I would just put a bunch of posts together in to a book. But my editor rejected that when I turned it in. The posts need to be organized in a way that build up into bigger ideas (chapters) into a big, grand idea (the book).

Aside from Seth Godin, who is an industry unto himself (mostly as a public speaker), there is no record of printing out a blog and having a six-figure-worthy book.

3. If you’re in a niche, make it a big one.
Editors don’t like to buy a book that is in a field where no other books exist. In the blogophere, if no one is blogging about your topic, it’s probably because you’re in a very small niche. Niches are fine for blogs, but not for six-figure book contracts.

Also, ask yourself if you are solving a problem for a mass market or a niche market. If you’re in a niche, you need to expand your reach by choosing topics for a more broad audience.

4. Have a big audience, but say they are old rather than young if you want a lot of money.
Most blog readers are young and most book buyers are old. Therefore, books that are geared exclusively toward young people often come out as paperback originals, which don’t get huge advances. Figure out how to sell your broader portion of the population.

5. Have a lot of blogger friends to promote the book, but talk mostly about USA Today.
No one really knows if any blogger besides Guy Kawasaki can make a difference in book sales. Of course, I hope that my book with change all that, and people will say, ‘Wow, the bloggers took that book to the bestsellers list.’ But until something like that happens, you need to tell the book publishers that you can get a lot of attention from conventional media outlets.

6. Follow conventions.
Most of the non-blog world sees bloggers as the wild west, at best, and a freak show at worst. The publishing industry is wary of being able to translate bloggers into authors, and there have been a lot of high profile LH flops. So make your writing look like the kind of writing that agents and editors are used to dealing with. This means not only very high quality writing samples (which will probably be blog posts). But you also need to follow the conventions for writing a killer proposal.

7. Find someone to model yourself after.
I am not the only person to get a book contract from a blog. Here are some others: Gina Trapani at Lifehacker, Shauna James at Gluten-Free Girl, and Joe Bageant. When you were in sixth grade, you read five paragraph essays in order to figure out how to write one. When you started blogging, you read other peoples’ blogs to figure out how you wanted to do your own. Now you should read books by bloggers in order to figure out how to package your own blog into a book.

8. Your blog goes in the marketing section of your proposal.
A book proposal is about the idea, and who you are and how you’re going to sell the book. If you have a large blog readership, you can say that in the marketing section. You can’t say they’ll all buy the book. If that were true, Gina Trapani would have the one of the biggest selling books ever. But you can say that the blog will provide a lot of buzz and a lot of customers.

9. Trust that agents know a good proposal when they see one, but try again if you get a bad response.
Here’s how I got my agent: I bought Writer’s Market 2007 and picked out five agents. Here was my criterion: I only chose agents who said they weren’t accepting new clients, because I wanted someone who was established and doing well. And I picked people whose last names started with letters at the end of the alphabet because I thought other people who pick agents randomly probably start at the beginning, so people at the end must not get as much mail.

This experience make me trust the agenting system. It’s not hard to tell the big agents - look at the books they represent. Send your proposal to agents who represent books like yours. If no one likes your proposal, admit that your idea is flawed. Figure out why, fix the problems, and try again with another proposal.

10. Use blog comments to train yourself for rejection.
If there is any way to prepare for the constant rejection from the publishing industry, it’s by answering the negative commenters on your blog. Respond in an even-handed, respectful way. This is how you’ll have to respond to agents and editors who try to poke holes in your proposal. For example, I wrote eleven proposals that my agent said no to before she sold my most recent one.

That’s a lot of work. But, to be honest, it’s not as much work as posting to a blog five days a week.

Written on June 14th, 2007 at 12:06 am by Darren Rowse

How Long Should a Posts Be?

Writing Content, Search Engine Optimization 63 comments

reader-questionsmistergin asks - “I notice most of your blog entries are short. I have a habit of not necessarily being long winded, but very detailed. I want to cover all the bases and make the article “full”.

However, I realize that I start running into posts that scroll through 2 sometimes 3 pages. I keep paragraphs short, try to use to accentuate, and bold/color where possible, but I still can’t help but feeling that while my site is great for content, some folks may not want to read all that.

Any suggestions on the length of my articles? I keep thinking that right now I want to build “pillar articles” as I believe you called them, and then link to them later on. It seems to me that long and detailed articles now will help get me indexed and linked, and then shorter articles may keep the feed readers happy.”

Hmmm - one of the longer questions that I’ve been asked (sorry - couldn’t resist).

Let me answer with six points:

1. Both Can Work

I believe a blog can be successful based around both short and long posts. Check out sites like Engadget or Gizmodo for short post sites (often newsy based ones like short posts) or Read Write Web or Steve Pavlina for longer, deep and/or analytical ones.

I think the key is to develop a rhythm in the style and focus of your blogging so that readers come expecting to get what you offer them.

2. You’ll Attract Readers Who Like Your Style

You’ll probably find that the type of post that you write will attract a certain type of reader also. For example I know with Steve Pavlina that I often hear extreme views expressed about his writing. Some don’t have the patience for his long posts - others thrive on it and wouldn’t have him change at all.

3. Consider the Life Stage of Your Blog

One factor to consider is the age and life stage of your blog. One strategy that many bloggers use in the early days of their blogs is to build up a good number of longer ‘pillar‘ or ‘cornerstone‘ posts on a blog. These can help you to build credibility but will also be articles that link to later on as you blog.

4. A Tip for Long Posts

If you are someone who goes with a longer post strategy I would suggest that you do think about making your posts scannable as most people who read content online don’t read every word. Work hard at drawing people’s eye down the page to ensure they get to the end of your posts.

Overall I’d advise bloggers to be yourself, experiment with different styles of blogging until you find something that works for you and then go with it.

5. Post Length and Links

Your comment about longer posts getting more links is an interesting one. To some extent I think you have a point. I’m sure if I did some analysis of the posts that get linked to most on my blogs I’d find that they tend to be on the medium to longer side - however it’s not always the case. In fact some of the smaller posting blogs that I mentioned above get linked to ALOT (check out the first post in my list of suggest reading below on A-Listers).

6. Post Length and SEO

I’m sure there are a few SEO types lurking around that can give better advice on this - but from those I’ve talked to the recommendation has generally been that very long posts can actually hurt your Search Engine ranking and that a better approach is to have posts well focussed upon one topic and of a length somewhere between 400 - 800 words (although there’s lot of variation on what ‘experts’ say). Having said this - I think most good SEO types will tell you to write posts at the length that it takes you to communicate what you want to say.

Are you a long or short post blogger? What works for you best as a blogger and as a reader?

Read more on this topic at:

• Frequent Short Posts - A Secret of A-List Bloggers
• The Long and Short of Blog Posts
• Post Length - How Long Should a Blog Post Be?

Written on June 13th, 2007 at 04:06 am by Darren Rowse

7 Things That Every Blogger Should Know About Tax

Miscellaneous Blog Tips 43 comments

The following post has been submitted by Kelly Phillips Erb from taxgirl. It is based upon US tax laws and may or may not be applicable in different parts of the world.

1. The US Tax Code is based on the idea of ‘worldwide taxation’ which means that, more or less, if you are a US citizen, you are subject to tax on your global income no matter where you are located or no matter the source. So, if you’re a US citizen blogging for, say, a Canadian company, that income is still taxable in the US. And if you’re lucky enough to be a US citizen blogging from some remote garden spot outside of the country, still taxable. Don’t get fooled into believing that you have to live in the US to be subject to US tax.

2. Income is reportable to the IRS no matter what form you receive and what amount you are paid. Forms W-2 are only issued to employees of a company and most bloggers are freelancers, not employees. It’s more likely that you’ll receive a form 1099 but only if your annual income exceeds $600. However, no matter whether you receive a form or not, you must report payments made you as income - even if it’s only pennies for the year.

3. Expenses related to your blogging are deductible so long as they are ‘ordinary and necessary’ and only then to the extent that the expenses are attributable to your blogging. In other words, if you mix business and personal, you must be able to separate out the business use in order to claim a deduction. Examples of potentially deductible expenses for bloggers include internet connections, hosting fees, cell phone connections, back-up tapes and computer software.

4. You can claim a home office deduction for business which means that you can deduct a percentage of utilities, insurance, and even mortgage interest or rent. However, the part of your home or apartment must be used exclusively and regularly for business. Be smart. No matter how much my brother wanted to claim his recliner as his place of business for his NBA reports, it didn’t count. The space must be exclusively workspace and it must be your actual office and not just at your home for convenience.

5. Telling the world about your blogging business is also deductible. Consider the cost of printing business cards and letterheads or advertising your blog when calculating your expenses.

6. If you’re searching for a new gig, that might also be deductible. Job search expenses may be deductible so long as they are in the same line of work as you normally do (you can’t decide to switch from lawyer to blogger and count those expenses) and the gap between your gigs is not substantial. If you qualify, you may be able to deduct expenses related to resumes (including postage), employment agency fees and reasonable travel expenses.

7. Blogging as a business is different from blogging as a hobby. A business is considered a serious pursuit; a hobby is something that you do for fun. If the IRS believes that your blogging is a hobby and not a business, you may only deduct expenses to the amount that you have income. In other words, if your blogging income was $100 for the year, you can only deduct $100 of expenses. If you’re operating as a bona fide business, you can carry forward expenses that are in excess of your income (that’s a good thing). Generally, to be considered a business, you need to hold yourself out as a business and act with the expectation of making a profit (you don’t have to actually make a profit every year, just expect to make a profit).

You can have fun as a blogger and make money, too. Your specific level of interest and time involved in making it a profitable venture will be reflected in your tax reporting. There’s nothing wrong with being a blog hobbyist - it makes the reporting easy. But if you’re planning to blog for a living, then act like it. Be business-like. You’ll impress those in the blogging community and make the IRS happy at the same time.

Like any good lawyer, I need to add a disclaimer: Unfortunately, it is impossible to give comprehensive tax advice over the internet, no matter how well researched or written. Before relying on any information given on this site, contact a tax professional to discuss your particular situation. If you have a question, ask the taxgirl.

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