Written on February 12th, 2007 at 03:02 pm by Darren Rowse

Speedlinking - 13 February 2007

Pro Blogging News 13 comments

Written on February 12th, 2007 at 02:02 am by Darren Rowse

5 Pick Up Lines to Get You the Girl - and Why Opening Lines Matter

RSS 25 comments

RssPick Up Lines to get you the girl….

  1. Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I walk by again?
  2. If you stood in front of a mirror and held up 11 roses, you would see 12 of the most beautiful things in the world.
  3. If I could rewrite the alphabet, I would put U and I together.
  4. I’m sure glad I brought my library card, ’cause I’m checking you out!
  5. Inheriting eighty million bucks doesn’t mean much when you have a weak heart.

Ok - these pick up lines (opening lines) will never get you the girl - but in the same way that great titles are vital when it comes to getting the attention of RSS feed readers - the opening lines of your blog posts DO matter - a lot!

The Purpose of Opening Lines

A recurring theme of David Ogilvy’s Ogilvy on Advertising is:

  • the purpose of a title is to get potential readers to read the first line of your content
  • the purpose of the first line is to get people to read the second one
  • the purpose of the second line is to get people to read the third one….

How to Use Opening Lines

Readers will make a judgment upon whether your full post is worth reading based upon how it starts and they will continue reading IF you succeed in connecting with them on one of a number of levels:

  • Does it interest them or pique their curiosity?
  • Does it hook them into the topic?
  • Does it create a need for them to read more?
  • Does it promise a benefit of reading your post?
  • Does it promise to entertain them? etc

You don’t need to do all of these things in the opening sentence of each post you write - but if you want your readers to reach the bottom of your posts and to be persuaded by what you write you’ll need to work hard early on at hooking them on some level.

This is especially important for those bloggers using ‘excerpt feeds’ that don’t give readers a full post to read in their RSS readers. In order to get them to click through to your actual blog you’ll need to give them a reason - and all you’ve got to do it is a title and a few opening words.

Opening lines matter.

Written on February 10th, 2007 at 02:02 pm by Darren Rowse

Speedlinking - 10 February 2007

Pro Blogging News 23 comments

Written on February 10th, 2007 at 05:02 am by Darren Rowse

MyBlogLog Co-Branded Communities

Blogging Tools and Services 17 comments

I just noticed that TechCrunch’s MyBlogLog community page is different to other MyBlogLog communities.

It’s actually been like this for a month or two (I’m not a regular visitor to their MBL page) and is part of MBL’s Co-Branded Communities alpha test.

What are the differences between Co-Branded and Normal MyBlog Logs?

I’m still waiting on an official response from MyBlogLog but here’s how they look different from standard MyBlogLog communities (here are some screen caps of TechCrunch’s community page and enternetusers’s to compare - click to enlarge).

Picture 12-1 Picture 13-1

So lets start at the top of TC’s page - The first change is obviously that the TechCrunch MBL community is on their own domain. They have a MyBlogLog bar at the top with different options linking to the co-branded community page, the user’s MyBlogLog page, the ‘all communities’ page and the ‘all members’ pages.

They also have the TechCrunch logo and navigation/menubar embedded into the page, custom coloring of different elements of the page as well as an extra sidebar which contains TC’s sponsors.

Apart from this the functionality of the pages are pretty much the same (although customized).

My hope with MyBlogLog is that it’ll continue to add new features to it. This sort of co-branded option makes a lot of sense to me. The more integrated it can look and feel with the rest of a blog the better. Co-branded communities will help drive traffic back to the blog itself - which makes it more useful to bloggers - however I want to see more!

ShoeMoney recently wrote a list of MyBlogLog features he’d love to see added:

  • Give me the option to not allow links in comments on my sections.
  • Allow me to moderate comments on my sections.
  • Implement a social voting system on comments and thresholds for negative votes so people are removed when they get to many negatives.
  • On my page show me the last time a person visited in addition to the last visitors.
  • by default make me moderate friends.
  • give me the option to only let friends comment on my community.
  • Fix your report spam so it doesn’t send you a email.
  • Set thresholds on how many friends a user can add in one day.
  • Set thresholds on how many comments a spammer person can leave in a given time.
  • Grab real screen shots use alexa or some service to grab screen shot thumbs.

There’s some good ideas there. I wrote on his his post that I’d love to be able to highlight key parts of my blog (co-branded communities seems to offer this) and I’d love to be able to have threaded comments rather than just a big long list of people leaving messages (most seem to be ‘great job - look at my blog type ones).

What features would you love to see MyBlogLog add? What would make it more useful to you?

Written on February 9th, 2007 at 03:02 pm by Darren Rowse

ad Tech Sydney - Day 2

Pro Blogging News 8 comments

Adtech-Sydney
After a full day on the first day of adTech in Sydney I was looking forward to another good day.

I should say that I did finish day 1 off with a bloggers meet up where I met some great people - some of whom I’m sure I’ll continue to keep in touch with and hopefully even work with.

Day 2 of the conference was not as great from my perspective as the preceding day. While there were a few interesting sessions I came away from them feeling a little flat. I suspect that this was partly due to being worn out from a 19 hour day the day before (I had to get up early to make it to Sydney in time for the start) and partly because I’m not really the adTech audience target.

Having said that - I did get some one on one time with a couple of the Australian AdSense team which was really valuable. One of them went through some of the blogs that I’m working with at present and gave some great advice. Even as a 3 year veteran with AdSense there’s always something that can be learnt - most of it was just the result of a fresh pair of eyes looking at things that I stare at everyday.

Absence of the ‘Practical’?
One of the disappointments of the day for me was the way in which some presenters seemed to use their time simply to show attendees why they should engage the services of someone in their area of expertise. The SEO session was an example of this. While no one overtly said ‘hire us’ it was a session where the experts talked a lot about what not to do and the consequences of doing the wrong thing - but talked very little about what people should do.

With a session description like this…

“Learn how to ensure your natural SEO techniques are compliant with Webmaster guidelines issued by search engines and practical tips to optimize Web sites for both Australian and International search engines.”

… I guess I was expecting a few practical tips on optimizing websites for search engines.

There was definitely a time constraint but in the 50 minute long session I wrote down one constructive tip to try. I felt the same thing coming out of a number of sessions yesterday and heard a number of other attendees wondering to each other when they were going to learn something practical that they could actually use for the $1400 (I was lucky enough to be there for free on a media pass).

I guess this is the challenge of all conferences. Everyone has their agenda and vendors don’t always see it in their best interests to share how they work for fear of losing potential customers who might try to do it themselves. I would have thought that potential customers would go to people who generously give tips that work - but maybe I’m a little naive :-)

Great Networking

The real value of conferences like adTech is the people you meet. I was fortunate to spend some quality time with some experienced and knowledgeable people.

Local Presenters?

Another thing that stood out to me about this event was the number of presenters with accents. While there were a good number of Aussies up the front - there was hardly any panels without at least one from overseas. While this at times lent experience and a global perspective to the sessions (after all it’s a global industry) it also at times detracted for me as we had people who didn’t quite seem to get some of nuances of the Aussie market.

I was also really aware of how many men dominated the stage.

Bigger Picture

Another thing that I appreciated about adTech was the glimpse it gave of the bigger picture of the industry that we belong to.

Sometimes as bloggers it’s easy to become quite insular and focused upon our own medium, niches and blogs. In doing so it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that most of us (if not all of us) are small fries when you think about the multi-billion dollar industry that we participate in.

Overall I’m glad I attended Ad Tech this year. Congratulations to the team for putting on such a well attended (600 attendees) and smoothly run event. As a first time it was a real success and I’m looking forward to see how it grows in the years ahead.

PS: thanks to Qantas for the free and unsolicited upgrade to business class on the way home last night - it topped off a nice couple of days for me :-)

Written on February 9th, 2007 at 02:02 am by Darren Rowse

Use Titles with Bling - RSS Feeds that POP

RSS 9 comments

RssHere’s the next part of the How to Make Your RSS Feed POP series.

Much has been written about the importance of titles of posts in blogging (I have written about it here, here and here for example) - but in your RSS feed title’s power is most notable.

News Aggregators make the title of your posts stand out in larger (and often more colorful) fonts - this makes them the most prominent feature on the screen of those viewing news feeds - their eyes are drawn to this point above all others, but they won’t linger there long. People make a snap decision based upon these few words as to whether to read on - so you’d better make your titles count.

This becomes all the more important with those readers who choose to view their feeds by title only - for these readers titles are everything!

As a result the title becomes a pivotal point that helps readers decide whether they’ll actually read your post or not.

Titles-1

Different bloggers will take different approaches with the titles of their blog posts.

A few random ‘title techniques’ you might like to try include:

Stating the Obvious

Sometimes the most appropriate title is one that states the bleeding obvious. These titles sum up the main point of your post in a concise statement. This is the strategy that many newspapers use when reporting news. The beauty of this approach is that readers know what they are getting and if they are interested in your topic they’ll immediately know that your post is for them.

Shock and Awe

One way of standing out from the many thousands of posts written each day is to shock or surprise those scanning your feeds with a title that pushes the boundaries of what they might normally expect to see in their news aggregator. Of course there is a fine line here somewhere and it can be easy to overstep the line from ’shocking’ readers to ‘offending’ them.

Humor

I still remember driving along a street in Adelaide a few years back and seeing a sign out the front of a pet store with it’s name - ‘Heavy Petting’. It got my attention (a little of the ’shock’ tactic and made me giggle - to the point that despite not being in the market for a pet I parked my car and went to see what the store would be like. Humor in titles can work great - if you’re actually funny. On the other hand it could come off as a little cheesy - use with caution.

Intrigue and Tease

Some bloggers have the ability write titles that give enough information about what their post is about to get people interested, but which leave enough to the imagination to hook them into actually reading the post because they want to know how it will end.

How To

The classic ‘how to’ post is popular with many. Sometimes these post actually start with ‘how to….’ and at other times they are might be in the format of ‘5 techniques for…’ or ‘A Guide to….’. These titles work because they give a reader a reason (or benefit) for reading a post.

There’s plenty more title techniques that people are using (share yours below) but the key is to experiment and see what converts well for your audience. Use a service like feedburner’s stats package and you can see what items people are clicking on to help you work out what people are responding to.

Written on February 8th, 2007 at 12:02 pm by Darren Rowse

Affiliate Marketing - Speedlinking Special

Affiliate Programs 7 comments

There’s been quite a bit of chatter around the blogging for money community about affiliate programs in the last few days. So here’s three of what’s being written on that topic:

Written on February 8th, 2007 at 06:02 am by Darren Rowse

How to Blog With ‘Voice’ and Increase Community and Readership

Writing Content 30 comments

This post has been submitted by Glen Stansberry.

Most bloggers have a great advantage over traditional media: there’s no stingy editorial process to whittle away at our writing. We can say what we want, however we want. Yet many bloggers fail to take advantage of this fact, afraid to voice an opinion or use an entertaining writing style for whatever reason. If you don’t write with voice or opinion, you’re completely tossing away some of the best aspects of blogging.

Anybody can copy and paste. I’m pretty sure they’ve even trained monkeys to do it. If your blogging style consists of “Michael Arrington wrote about X today” and link to his story, theoretically you’re in the same skill category as the primate. Last time I checked, monkeys are still flinging poo at zoo attendees. You don’t want to be compared with that, do you?

Many bloggers will justify not using voice by wanting to take the route of a more traditional media. But to me this is the exact reason why we should be using these tools in our writing: to distinguish ourselves from traditional media. The Daily Show is in one of the most traditional of markets: Televised News. This niche has for years been reserved for standards like bad hair, non-regional diction and terrible puns. Yet the Daily Show’s off-beat, humorous approach has made their show the de-facto news source for many. People are starting to realize that using voice and humor works pretty well for holding an audience.

Let’s touch on two of natural and easy ways to inject some voice into your blog, and get noticed in an already saturated blogosphere:

1. Opinions

Your opinion matters. No really, it does. If you have no opinion, than what is the point of blogging? Whatever the niche, a blog without opinion is like a movie without a storyline: the actors can be awesome, but without a storyline the movie will still suck. And nobody likes watching a crappy movie.

Opinions are fantastic for blogging because your views spark discussions, which means your blog is alive. The real learning takes place when people contribute to your writing by participating in the discussions. When a reader contributes to a discussion, he/she is now invested in the blog, and most likely will become a regular reader. This community is yet another leg up that blogs have on traditional media.

2. Humor

“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” - Victor Borge

Writing with humor is (in my opinion) the most severely under-utilized aspect in blogging today. (Well, maybe second to spelling and grammer checking. But who needs that?) If you can make someone laugh, you have just found an incredibly effective way to gain a faithful subscriber to your content. Why? Because you’ve made the reader respond physically to what you’ve written. A hearty guffaw generated from a motionless piece of text on a screen is something very special. Laughter can even boost your reader’s health!

Also, one of the best forms of viral marketing is laughter. Think about it. How many videos have been emailed to you because they were sooo stinkin’ funny? I know I don’t need to tell smart bloggers like you that viral content is priceless for your blog (IE. Digg, Del.icio.us popular, Reddit). Wherever laughter goes, links always follow.

Wrapping It Up

One word of caution for writers wanting to add a little pizazz to their writing, either with humor or opinions: don’t overdo it. Think of these devices as literal spices in your blogging. A little can go a long way. You don’t want to overuse them.

If you’ve decided to start incorporating some voice to your blogging, my advice is to start small. This ensures that you and your readers both will comfortably adjust to your improved writing style.

Getting noticed as a blogger is all about being unique. That’s what draws readers to a blog in an already-cluttered niche. Personal voice in your writing will make the reader look to you for the things that a newspaper can’t give them: personality and opinions.

This is the second part in the series Cutting Above the Rest, a series focusing on how to use creativity, productivity and organization to improve your blogging skills. Part 1 was here. Check out Glen Stansberry’s blog LifeDev (feed) for more tips to improve your creativity.

Written on February 8th, 2007 at 02:02 am by Darren Rowse

How I Make Money from Blogs - My Top Earners

enternetusers Site News 111 comments

Top-Income-StreamsIt’s been a fair while since I talked specifically about my blogging earnings. I decided a year or so ago that I wasn’t going to put specific dollar figures to my income any more in public - however as I get a lot of questions from readers asking for updates I thought I’d share where my blogging income has been coming from lately.

All I will say in terms of dollar figures is that I am still well and truly earning over six figures per year from the following income streams.

The following is a ranking of my top 9 income streams for the fourth Quarter of 2006. It is a summary of the income from my own personal blogs - ie income from b5media (where I am an employee as well as a shareholder) is not included - either is income from Six Figure Blogging (which continues to sell at a reasonable rate) or any speaking or consulting work that I do (very little these days anyway).

I’ve also included a little information on how I use each of these income streams and which products that they offer work best for me which I hope is helpful for others looking to monetize their blogs or websites. Note - Some of the following links are affiliate links.

1. Chitika

Chitika
While they don’t work on every blog (for example I don’t use them here at enternetusers) and there is a traffic minimum to be accepted by them Chitika continue to be my highest earner. They offer a variety of ad units and income streams - the top three for me are eMiniMalls, Related Product Units and Shoplincs. They continue to work best on product related sites. Place RPU units at the end of posts (they give a good option for people to click on when they finish reading and experiment with linking directly to products in your shoplinc from product reviews (of the same products) on your blogs. I’ve written plenty of Chitika Optimization tips here and here.

2. AdSense

Adsense
The most popular form of advertising on blogs is AdSense (according to a few studies that I’ve seen) and for me it’s a reliable earner that brings in a significant level of income (just under what Chitika pulls in each month). While I use referrals and their search product on some of my sites I find that normal ad units are producing the best income for me - particularly rectangle (250 x 300 pixels) ones placed close to content with a blended design. For tips on optimizing AdSense on your blog check out this 8 part series.

3. Text Link Ads

Tla
Perhaps the biggest mover for me over the last 12 months in terms of my earnings has come from TLA. While they have a ceiling in what they earn per site they are another good solid earner for me - particularly now that they’ve added feedvertising (RSS ads) which out performs any other type of RSS ad that I’ve tried. I’m hearing from many bloggers that TLA is their biggest earner now. It works best on sites that have been around for a while - you don’t need big traffic to be accepted - but having a page rank and some search engine presence helps.

4. Amazon Associates

Amazon-Logo-1The forth Quarter of each year tends to be a good one for me when it comes to commissions from Amazon. The last quarter is a time that people are in a buying mood in the lead up to Christmas - smart placement (deep linking inside posts) can bring great conversions. The key is picking relevant products to promote. Read more tips on affiliate programs for blogs for a few other tips on optimizing Amazon.

5. Private Ad Deals

I don’t do a lot of private ad deals (it’s something I should focus upon more but there are only so many hours in the day) but when they come in they can be significant (if you have decent traffic). I’ve just signed two deals on my digital photography blog with Apple and Adobe for the next couple of months so I suspect this one will leap up next quarter.

6. Miscellaneous Affiliate Programs

My blogs have a variety of smaller affiliate programs running from them. I try to find quality products that relate to my topics that I can genuinely recommend - often via reviews. Some of the better converting products that I’ve recommended this last quarter included - Digital Photography Secrets (a camera technique series), Pro Photo Secrets (a photoshop product) and SEO Book (Aaron’s legendary resource).

7. enternetusers Job Boards

Jobboardheader
Not spectacular earnings but growing. I see this more as a service to readers than an income stream at this point - however it does pay for itself and bring in a few hundred dollars each month.

8.Performancing’s Partners Network

The now defunct ad network did bring in a few hundred dollars last quarter. I was sad to see this close as it offered an interesting alternative.

9. BlogAds

Blog-Ads
I don’t use them much these days but they do bring in a little each month. I noticed BlogAds decrease in performance for me around the time they went to the new version. I’m not sure if it’s my problem or theirs but apart from one blog I rarely see any sales these days.

How Much Do I Spend?

A question that I’m regularly asked when I do such posts is ‘how much do you spend’ to earn what you earn?

The answer is ‘very little’.

I do experiment occasionally with using AdWords to promote my blogs - but don’t have the time or patience to get into it heavily (the biggest month I’ve had with AdWords ever is $100 - just over $3 a day). Other than that I don’t do any paid promotional activities and my costs are really just hosting related and the normal ISP and office costs.

Written on February 7th, 2007 at 04:02 pm by Darren Rowse

adTech Sydney Day 1

Pro Blogging News 10 comments

Adtech-SydneyToday I’m fortunate enough to be in Sydney in the blogging contingent at adTech.

As usual at these things there is a lot of content to listen to and many people to meet so I’ll keep my impressions so far (three quarters of the way through day 1) brief.

Myspace - Shawn Gold Session

Shawn Gold, CMO of Myspace, was interviewed in the keynote space this morning and while there wasn’t a great deal of ‘new’ information it was I was fascinated by the glimpse at the whirlwind journey of the last three years that has been Myspace.

His reflections upon the keys to social media sites resonated with me. They included (and this is a bringing together of many of the wide variety of things that he covered):

  • Letting Users define the direction of the Site
  • Giving Users the tools to express themselves as individuals
  • Build something that empowers people and makes their lives more efficient

He also reflected upon two aspects of young people (teens and young adults) that Myspace taps into:

  1. Identity Production (or personal branding) - one of the things that most teens go through (and have always been through) is asking questions about identity. They ask questions about who they are, how they’re different from their parents, how they connect with wider culture etc. Myspace (and other social networking sites) is a space that young people explore who they are and express that journey.
  2. Down Time - between school, sports, part time work and other extra curricula activities (combined with the fear of many parents that doesn’t allow some kids to get out as much) there is less ‘down time’ or ‘hanging out’ going on in teen years. Myspace is being used by many young people as a ‘down time’ medium. Instead of hanging at the ‘mall’ they hang online.

Quote of the day - ‘it’s a great time to be lonely on the internet.’

Blogging Session

Des Walsh, Mark Jones, Ross Dawson and Fred Schebesta were on the ‘blogs as a marketing tool’ panel and covered a variety of topics including blogging ethics, advertising on blogs, approaching bloggers and astro turfing.

These sessions are always difficult as there is such a variety of people there (there must have been 150+) from so many different backgrounds (and blogging is such a massive topic to cover that there are full conferences dedicated to it) but they pulled off a good discussion and it was great to meet them each having seen their blogs online and yet never having met any of them (except Mark) in real life.

I also got to meet enternetusers reader Paul Woods.

Looking forward to connecting with more bloggers at the bloggers meetup tonight.

Social Networking and Consumer Generated Media Session

This session was a little difficult as it was attempting to cover so much ground so quickly but it contained a few gems. Speakers were from and/or covered Bebo, Second Life and Habbo Hotel (a strange mix).

It also featured Edelman PR’s Marcus Bottay who had some interesing things to say about youth culture (a topic that has long fascinated me). This might not relate tightly to blogging (although for some it will - depending upon what type of blogs you run) but his statement - ‘everyone wants to be known as a superstar’ probably sums it up well.

He talked about how Baby Boomers taught their kids that they could be anything that they want and have anything that they want and that their kids grew up believing it.

A whole lot could be said about the good and bad of this but his comment was that virtual worlds and social networking sites are tapping into this and are creating spaces for people to actually be the superstars that they were told that they could be (sometimes actual superstars and more often virtual ones).

I’ve been talking about ‘making readers famous’ for a while now (as one way to build a readership) and I think that we’ll see more and more online spaces built on this.

Trends in Online Travel and Hospitality Session

I’m not sure quite why I went to this session (it was a time slot where nothing much appealed) but one quote that remains in my mind was from Cameron Holland from Lonely Planet who was reflecting upon user generated content (mainly people submitting reviews of hotels and travel destinations) when he said that at the moment people are willing to generate content for sites for free but that he felt that increasingly users will expect to get something back (either money, prizes, recognition) in return for their content.

Also in this session someone from Tourism Australia (no name in the adTech program) answered questions about how to generate traffic from Web 2.0 sites by advising companies against starting up social networking sites - but instead engaging in current ones. While I think there’s definitely a place for people to keep developing new social media tools I think our nameless Tourism Australia speaker was onto something.

Recently I’ve been talking with people about identifying where your potential readers currently gather online and participating in those communities. Note - I didn’t say ’spam those communities’ or ‘manipulate those communities’ - but participate in them. Out of this genuine participation and engagement opportunities often flow.

Where’s the Bookmarking?

One more quick reflection. Perhaps the blogosphere is a little obsessed with social bookmarking sites like Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon and Reddit - but in 5 sessions of presentations on online technology I’m yet to hear any reference to social bookmarking or any of these services. The buzz here is social networking (probably because the Myspace Keynote set the tone) and video (YouTube) but I wonder if the Aussie tech space is missing some of the story.

The other word that is completely absent so far is ‘Linkbait’. While I’m not really disappointed that the word isn’t present (I’m not a big fan) the idea behind it (quality content that causes people to link to it) has not been mentioned despite there being sessions on search engine marketing and search engine optimization.

Apologies if this is a little rushed and for my jumbled collection of thoughts - but I’m on the run. More tomorrow.



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. Get get paid to travel with get paid to travel. The battery life of the iPhone 6 promised to be a lot better, as it comes with a 25% longer lasting battery and, according to Apple's literature.

And we just found out about SnapMedia. When your phone rings or you receive an email or receive a text message then you get paid. Could it be that my groom’s fantasies might actually be wilder than the site of me perfectly coiffed, bustled, and veiled?

You have to have a 1cecilia310 for your iPhone. It's all the extra power that you will need.

Introducing the Mojo Refuel I9300 USB Charger kids flip flop It's an external USB battery module charger for your Refuel battery case. You should get a Skate Shop to keep your iPhone 5s dry.