Written on August 17th, 2005 at 11:08 pm by city of Stanton David Shawver

31 Days to Building a Better Blog - Day 17

31 Days to Building a Better Blog 4 comments

It is day 17 of the 31 Day Project and here are today’s reader submissions which are, as usual, filled with good juicy blog tipping goodness:

Submit your own blog tip by writing it up on your blog and letting me know of the URL so I can link to it in a future daily summary.

This takes the total of articles at the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog HQ to 112 - with 78 reader submissions and 34 of my own. 14 days to go!

Written on August 17th, 2005 at 08:08 pm by city of Stanton David Shawver

Blogger for Hire

Pro Blogging News 2 comments

Arieanna is a Blogger for Hire - ‘I want to jump out into some new blogs. If you are thinking about starting up a corporate blog, I can help get it going or be your permanent blogger. If you are starting a blog network, ask me to join. If you have a multi-author blog and want some more writers, I’m here. If you have an event/conference needing exposure, I can blog it.’

I can vouch for her - she’s quality stuff so if you need in need of a enternetusers she’s worth considering.

Written on August 17th, 2005 at 01:08 pm by city of Stanton David Shawver

Six Figure Blogging - Upcoming Teleclass

enternetusers Site News 11 comments

Six-Figure-BloggingI’ve been alluding to some new projects for a while now and today I’m pleased to announce one of them. Six Figure Blogging - a six week course that Andy Wibbels and I have put together after a podcast we did a few months back on the topic. The six week course kicks off with a free preview call (registration is neccessary) on September 7th and then continues every Wednesday (8pm EST - that’s EST USA time) for the following 6 weeks.

I’ve chosen to work with Andy on this for a number of reasons including his wealth of experience in blogging and putting together successful and helpful courses like this one. He’s also got a range of blogging skills that I don’t possess (and vice versa) and so I think we’ll complement one another well. Lastly I like the way that Andy is not into hype - there are a lot of get rich quick schemes out there which promise the world but are largely all talk. Neither Andy or I are into that type of approach and are putting together some sessions that are for people who are willing to work hard and have patience. If that’s you you might like to join us in September and October for what looks like being a really fun few weeks together.

Get the full details of what the course covers and how you can sign up for the free preview call at Six Figure Blogging.

Update: If you know of someone else that would like to be a part of the Six Figure Blogging course and want to refer them to it you can now earn 50% of the cost of the course in an affiliate program. All you need to do is register at Andy’s affiliate program and follow his instructions on how to participate.

Written on August 17th, 2005 at 10:08 am by city of Stanton David Shawver

Converting One off Visitors to your Blog into Regular Readers

31 Days to Building a Better Blog, Blog Promotion 33 comments

One of the most exciting things about blogging is logging into your blog after a night’s sleep to find that overnight some large site has linked to you and that you’re in the middle of a deluge of visitors. Your statistics package graph (which you check every 13 minutes) has a massive mountain in it in the middle of something that looks like a flat line. Your heart beats faster as you realize how many people are reading your content and if you’ve got Adsense ads on your site you begin to dream of the things you could buy with the income that the influx of visitors might bring - if only you could keep them coming back to your blog….

Of course this is where the problem lies - most influxes of traffic from other sites are usually pretty temporary in nature - they last as long as your link lasts at the top of the other site’s page - a few hours, a day or two perhaps at most - and then things return to normal as your new readers surf off to the next great link put on the site that had linked to you.

Does it have to be this way?

What if you could not only enjoy the influx of visitors but could also convert them to regular and loyal readers of your blog? What if each time you had an big incoming link you had the ability to captivate a percentage of your new readers in such a way that they’d keep coming back?

I’ve been pondering this topic for a couple of years now and whilst I don’t want to pretend I have all the answers (otherwise I’d have 200,000 daily visitors rather than 2,000) I’d like to share a some things that I’ve been working on lately to see if I can convert some of those one off visitors into regular readers.

Create Conversation

One of the first things you can do with any new reader that is likely to pique their interest is to engage them in conversation. Blogs are ideal for this as most have a comments section that invites it - but you need to be willing to interact with your readers - especially new ones. The way you write posts can draw readers into conversation on many levels - ask questions, invite opinions and experiences, leave your readers room to be experts (don’t answer all the questions for yourself all at once) etc. When readers leave a comment email them or reply to the comment wherever you can. I know if there is a robust and interesting conversation happening somewhere on the web I can go back to it numerous times in a day to check for updates and every time I go back I’m a little more likely to add it to my regular daily sites that I visit.

Build Anticipation

One of the things that I love about writing a series of posts is that it creates momentum and anticipation on a blog. If your readers know you will be continuing a topic of discussion that they are interested in tomorrow they are likely to make a point of returning. I’ve found this 31 Days Project has also created a lot of anticipation in the wider blogging community and know that many of those reading enternetusers today that were not reading it a fortnight ago have been drawn into the momentum that we’re building here.

Foster Relationship

Relationship goes beyond conversation and is perhaps why some of your most loyal and long term readers keep coming back to your blog. It takes time to build real relationships (after blogging at this domain for 11 months I feel we’re just getting to this stage) but out of it comes some amazing collaborations and partnerships. I’m not just talking about you as the blogger and your readers either - create a space where your readers can meet and interact with one another and grow friendship and you’re even more likely to retain readers. In fact the best people to recruit new regular readers to your blog are those who already are regulars. Find ways for them to evangelise on your behalf and you’ll find they are often much more effective than you’ll ever be. People want to belong to something - give them a place to hang their virtual hat and spend some time.

Get Sensual

Ok, I’m not talking about slipping into something more comfortable - no I’m talking about making your blog a sensory experience. The web is filled with dry, uninteresting, forgettable sites that do little to spark imagination - break the mold with the look of your site a little - do something that will be remembered, something that is a little mysterious, a little fun, a little sensual. Use pictures, spaces, colors - anything you can. One of my favorite books is Lovemarks (affiliate link) which talks (in part) about how marketers engage the senses in their efforts to make us buy products and services these days. Get yourself a copy of that book and read it - I’ve found it incredibly helpful.

Generate Mystery and Intrigue

- This is similar to what I’ve written about being ’sensual’ in that it comes from Lovemarks also which talks about how a lot of marketing messages these days have a sense of mystery about them. This might include the way you design your blog but could also include the way you write and engage readers on a heart level. Here’s a quote from the book that I love - ‘Mystery opens up emotions. Mystery adds to the complexity of relationships and experiences. It lies in the stories, metaphors and iconic characters that give a relationship texture.’ Some of my favorite blogs use story, pictures, anonymity and symbols in ways that keep drawing me back for more.

Involve Others

Get readers Active in your blog. Invite contributions, involve a guest blogger, start a project of some sort. People like to feel like they are a part of making something better or achieving something so give them space to do that.

Obtain Permission

I’ve been writing in the past couple of days about how email newsletters can help you in your blogging - perhaps the best thing that I’ve found about them is that they are great for turning one off visitors into regular readers. I suspect that many blog readers intend to come back to blogs that they find helpful but that in the busyness of life that they just forget. Get permission to remind them.

Create Ownership

Yes you might ‘own’ your blog on one level - but the sooner you realize that your blog is nothing without it’s readership and actually hand over some of the reins in making decisions about where it’s headed to them the better. I’ve let readers make some big decisions over the years about my blogs and always find that in doing so it improves the level of participation and the quality of the blog.

What other tools, methods and strategies have you used to convert one off readers into regular readers of your blog?

Written on August 17th, 2005 at 09:08 am by city of Stanton David Shawver

Jensense on the Radio

Yahoo Publishing Network, Adsense 5 comments

If you’re online right now with nothing to do you might like to log onto Webmaster Radio to hear Jen from Jensense.com Talking YPN & AdSense. Listen to the live radio feed and jump into the online chat room - I’m there now.

Update: It’s all over and it was fun. I’ll include a few titbits from her talking about the Yahoo Publishing Network (YPN).

  • Jen said that EPC (earnings per click) is higher than Adsense - probably due to lack of publishers at present
  • Both CTR and Relevancy of Ads have increased in the past few days
  • YPN Seem to be hand reviewing sites that are on the network at this stage which will be good for attracting advertisers as only best sites will have the ads. This is a great selling point for YPN and will distinguish itself from Adsense which is sadly getting a reputation for having a lot of Scraper sites as publishers.
  • Between the YPN and Adsense they have pretty comparable in earnings potential - but YPN could well be pulling ahead in the last few days
  • .

  • Seems to be more corporation ads and less Mom and Pop type ads on YPN (perhaps explaining the higher EPC also?)
  • YPN is a little slower in getting ads up on new pages than Adsense - but its early days
  • YPN doesn’t have any alternate ad serving yet which is a big disadvantage - so you get Public Service Ads or Blank spots on your site.

Written on August 17th, 2005 at 07:08 am by city of Stanton David Shawver

What to do if Suspended from Adsense

Adsense 7 comments

Jen has written some great advice for those who are suspended from the Adsense program:

‘First, don’t claim that you are innocent - they know why you were suspended, and you will have a better shot if you confess your sins and promise to be a law abiding AdSense publisher. If they know you made a habit of clicking an ad or two every single morning, thinking they would never notice the odd click here and there, trying to deny it will get you nowhere.

And if you happen to get suspended and you really are innocent? Offer to provide any raw logs to aid in their investigation, although it may take a couple of tries once you are suspended to get them to respond about it….’

Great advice (as is the rest of her post) which I echo. The long and short of dealing with the Adsense team in my experience is to be as calm, polite and friendly, honest and accommodating as possible. Remember they have ALOT of publishers to deal with, they tend not to work weekends (or not all of them do) and they want you to make money from Adsense (because if you do they do).

Of course if you’re clicking your own ads or doing something dishonest you’ll be caught eventually (and deserve to be).

Written on August 17th, 2005 at 03:08 am by city of Stanton David Shawver

Blogspot Blogs to be Deleted from some Search Engines to combat Spam Blogs?

Pro Blogging News 27 comments

Mark Cuban, owner of Ice Rocket, writes that blogs hosted on free blogspot domains are getting close to being eliminated from Ice Rocket and other search engines because o the increasing problem of Spam Blogs (or Splogs as they’ve been called a lot more lately). Mark also puts the finger onto Google for not doing enough about Splogs:

‘Blogger is by far the worst offender. Google seems to be working hard to adjust their relevancy indexes to exclude splog from having influence on search rankings, but they dont seem to be doing anything more than removing reported splogs. Kind of like going after the zombies one at a time with a shovel. Can we get some help on this Google?…

If you are an individual blogger whose blog is hosted on blogspot.com, every day the chances of you being excluded from icerocket.com’s, and other search engines’ indexes increases. Its not just blogspot.com, pretty much 90plus percent of blogs hosted on.info sites are splogs as well.’

I’m sure there will be plenty of legitimate blogspot.com blogs and.info bloggers out there who will have something to say about this.

Written on August 17th, 2005 at 01:08 am by city of Stanton David Shawver

Email Newsletters Tips for Bloggers

31 Days to Building a Better Blog, Miscellaneous Blog Tips 11 comments

Yesterday I talked about Why Email Newsletters might be a good companion tool for a blog - today I want to get a bit more practical and talk about how to use them. As I’ve researched the topic I’ve realized that this could be quite a long series of posts in itself but have decided to pull all the tips together here. I will follow this post up tomorrow with one last one with suggestions of tools that you might want to use in putting an email newsletter together.

So in putting together an email newsletter you probably want to consider some of the following:

Define the Purpose of your Newsletter - As with any tool it is important to know what you wish to achieve with it before setting out to use it. I mentioned yesterday that newsletters can have many benefits, some of which you’ll be aiming towards, others of which won’t suit your overall blogging strategy. So sit down and work out what you want to get our of your newsletter. For example you may wish it to:

  • Drive Traffic to your Blog
  • Generate your own Sales or Consulting Leads
  • Generate advertising revenue
  • Be a direct income maker through affiliate programs
  • Generate a subscription revenue (ie charge for the newsletter)
  • Create community among your readers
  • Make announcements about you and your blog
  • Build your personal profile
  • Upsell Readers

Or maybe there is some other objective or a combination of the above. Whatever it is it’s important to define what success means for your email newsletter (nb: your email newsletter strategy should probably emerge from your overall strategy for your blogging).

Use an Opt In - Opt Out system - The last few years have seen the rise of email SPAM or unsolicited email and as a result it has become law in many parts of the world to make any newsletters ‘Opt In’. This means you must ensure that those who receive your emails have signed up to do so personally. Even better than Opt In is ‘double opt in’ which means that after a reader signs up for your newsletter they are sent an email asking them to confirm that they agree to receive it. This means that they themselves must sign up for it. ‘Opt Out’ simple means you need to give your readers a way of unsubscribing from your newsletter. Most newsletter software, scripts and plug-ins these days have these features. NEVER add subscribers to your newsletter list without their permission - you not only run the risk of breaking the law but are likely to put a lot of your readers offside if you do.

Please note that in some parts of the world there are stronger laws than simply having ‘Opt In and Out’ options. John from Synastry has said he’ll be posting more information on these laws in the next few days - I’ll let you know when they go live.

Subscription Page - If you want to develop an email newsletter you’ll have to have some sort of subscription page/form to collect information from subscribers. Here are a few tips to make this page more effective:

  • Make it as easy to subscribe as possible. Don’t make your readers jump through too many hoops to subscribe. Whilst it might be tempting to get loads of information from your readers at this point (name, age, gender, location, star sign, income, favorite food…) all you really need to get is their email address and perhaps a first name if you wish to personalize your emails a little. Ask for too much information and you run the risk of scaring potential readers off.
  • >Make it clear up front what the newsletter is about - There is nothing worse than signing up for one thing and getting another. Tell potential subscribers what type of content they should expect, how they’ll benefit from it, how often they’ll get an email and what you’ll do with their information (a privacy statement is essential in my books). If you’re going to be sending HTML emails tell people this up front also and try to give them an option to receive plain text emails if you can as some people don’t like HTML emails.
  • Position invitations to subscribe strategically on your blog - I put an invitation to subscribe to my newsletter on each page of my blog - in fact I have two of them on many - one is in the footer of each post above comments and the other is a mini form at the top of my sidebar. Think about where you readers look and utilize this space wisely. With first time readers to your blog this may be the one and only chance you get to make them loyal readers so make the most of the opportunity.
  • Offer Incentives for Subscriptions - I haven’t tried this but know of numerous people who’ve used prizes for subscribers to get them to sign up and stay signed up to newsletters. Of course you want them to think the newsletter is more valuable than just the prize - but it might be a good foot in the door.

Writing Email Newsletters - Writing blogs and writing newsletters are similar skills but some of the following tips might be helpful when composing your first few newsletters:

  • Establish a Voice and Personality and stick to it - It’s important to be consistent in your newsletter (and blogging too) as readers become loyal to you when they consistently find quality content in your newsletter. On the flip side they often get frustrated when one week you have one tone and the next week another in your writing. This doesn’t mean you have to be monotonous - just establish a pattern up front. If you want to throw in some curve balls do it right from the start. You might like to identify some segments of your newsletter that you’ll try to use from week to week to help your readers get used to navigating them.
  • Make your content Scannable - this is important with blogs but even more so with emails. Most people don’t read in an in depth way when it comes to reading from a screen - so use lists and formatting techniques to grab the eye of your reader. Use empty space wisely also - you don’t have to fill up every line with loads of text.
  • Get to the Point - People get impatient in online interactions - don’t waste their time with long rambling emails. Get in and out quickly and concisely having said what you need to say.
  • Remind People they’ve subscribed - I have had a newsletter at my Digital Camera Blog for 18 months and in that time I’ve found some people forge they opted in and think I’m spamming them. Sometimes I incorporate a subtle reminder in my intro that they subscribed to my emails and point out that they are free to unsubscribe at any point. I’d rather have happy unsubscribed readers than unhappy subscribed ones.
  • Use your title/Subscription Line wisely - Your title is important (I need to work on mine) - in the same way that it draws people in on your blog the subject of your emails is what often gets your subscribers to open your emails before hitting delete. Don’t be misleading with subject lines (this is actually illegal in some part of the world). Try to be short with your titles also - I’ve read a study recently that said short email subjects get better responses than medium to long ones. Ideally you want a subject line that is informing, inviting and intriguing. Good luck with that :-)
  • Be consistent with Frequency of Newsletters - this can be difficult but if you tell subscribers you’ll email them weekly, email them weekly. You’ll find some complain if you email them less frequently and others if you email them more frequently. Email Newsletter experts recommend that your readers get into a rhythm of getting your newsletters where they could set their clock by them. I’m not quite that consistent but try to stick to a weekly cycle where I send emails early in the week on a weekday.
  • Give subscribers value - People love to get something for nothing - so give them something valuable with your newsletter that no one else gets. Give exclusive tips, information, interviews, prizes, advice etc to your subscribers. I often hold tidbits back from my blogs to give to newsletter subscribers because I want them to know that they are special to me. They’ve gone to the effort of signing up and have given me permission to contact them with information about my blog - so I want to repay them with something of value.
  • Be Transparent - if you’re getting something out of a recommendation in your email (ie if its an ad or an affiliate program) be honest about it.
  • Don’t Hype it Up - So many email newsletters are full of hype - stand out from the crowd by personal, genuine, warm and helpful newsletters. Your subscribers will love you for it.

Track your Results - Some email newsletter software allow you to do this by inserting little bits of code into your email - but even if you don’t have and advanced system you should attempt to track your results by watching your blog’s stats to see what impact your newsletter has. Do you notice a bump in traffic? What times of the day seem to work best? Which links in your email seem to be clicked on most? Track your results as best you can and keep doing what works well and improve what doesn’t.

HTML or Plain Text Newsletters? - Both have their advantages and disadvantages. HTML ones look great and utilize visual tools to help draw your readers eye into your content where as Plain text emails are very basic to look at and difficult to make scannable and visually pleasing. On the flip side HTML newsletters are larger file sizes, they can have email client incompatibility issues and are more likely to be blocked by spam filters. I personally prefer plain text emails as they are simple to use and force me to be brief and smart with my formatting.

I’m certain that the readership of this blog has a great collective knowledge of how to use email newsletters effectively - both from experience of writing and subscribing to them. So share your knowledge, tips, experiences and suggestions of them below in comments so we can all learn.

Written on August 16th, 2005 at 11:08 pm by city of Stanton David Shawver

31 Days to Building a Better Blog - Day 16

31 Days to Building a Better Blog 3 comments

I thought yesterday’s 9 submissions to the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog project was a lot but today we’re got 12 reader submissions - and there are some good ones too. Thanks to all who have been submitting tips so far (15 days to go so there is still time to participate). Here’s today’s links for your reading pleasure:

Written on August 16th, 2005 at 09:08 pm by city of Stanton David Shawver

Feedster Top 500 Blogs List Reflections

Pro Blogging News 9 comments

Feedster has come up with a Top 500 blogs list arranged by incoming links in response to Jason’s call for such a list.

I’m not a big believer in lists and rankings of blogs except that they give some indication of what is happening in the blogosphere. To me it’s less about which blog is best but more about trends that might be observable both in the list at any point in time but also what happens to the list over time.

Not sure if that makes much sense, it’s been a long day, but I’m interested in what people notice about the list? See any themes or trends? See any blogs or types of blogs missing?

One last note on the list - the press release announcing it says its a list of the ‘most interesting and important blogs in the US’.

In addition to this being a pretty arrogant statement (as if anyone could say the most interesting and important blog could be contained in any list of 500 blogs - the fact is that quite a few blogs in the list are not US blogs - I can see a few, including this enternetusers.

Maybe it’s time that there was a press release that blogs outside of the US exist and can be important and interesting too. Anyway - interested in others thoughts and if I have anything more sensible to say tomorrow after a good night’s sleep I’ll update this post.

Update: Yep - I did notice that they’ve included my comments RSS feed in the list - go figure! Weird.

Update II - I’ve just spoken to a Feedster person - Scott Johnson - the one who authored the code behind the list- and he said that the press release was poorly worded and should not have mentioned ‘US Blogs’ but rather is a measure of ‘blogs written in English’.

Update III - Buzz Machine isn’t too impressed by the list:

‘Making a universal top n00 list, however it is made, continues to engage in old-media thing, big-media, mass-market think: The guys on top win.

No, in this new world of choice and control at the edges, it’s the niches, and those who can pull them together, who win. And it’s those who can demonstrate influence and engagement who will win — as soon as somebody figures out how to demonstrate it.’

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