Written on April 19th, 2007 at 12:04 pm by Darren Rowse

More on Top Aussie Blogs

Blog News 13 comments

Welcome to readers of Melbourne newspaper, The Age, from today’s article on the Top 100 Australian blogs that I mentioned yesterday (the print version also was accompanied by the Top 10 blogs on the list).

A few readers have asked me whether I’m upset by the final paragraph that reads:

“One blogger, who did not want to be named, told The Age that the top blog, Darren Rowse’s enternetusers site, was outperformed by a lot of other top Australian blogs in terms of visitor numbers. He said Ms Tsiamis’ methodology would skew the results towards “extremely geeky” blogs, or blogs with an unusually strong overseas readership.”

I’m not disturbed by it at all. I’m not really sure why the blogger wanted anonymity - I mentioned something similar to the reporter myself - but that’s up to them.

When asked about the list and whether I think I’m ‘the most read blog in the country’ I responded by saying that I didn’t really know. While on any given day enternetusers is read by between 5000 and 15000 unique visitors (that’s been the range over the last month according to my sitemeter stats - my AW stats are higher) and my RSS feed is subscribed to by around 22000 readers I’m never going to claim to be the most visited blog going around. In fact from day to day my other blogs do more traffic than that and I’m sure others are at that type of level too.

A ‘Top blog’ is a pretty difficult thing to define - some would say it’s about traffic, others about incoming links, some might consider it about earnings, others would talk about profile or influence, others might consider how many posts you’ve written, while others would talk about who was ‘first’ and had sustained their blog the longest.

Ultimately - there’s no definitive way to declare any give blog ‘the best’ and to do so when blogs are written on different topics to different audiences is not really fair anyway.

Do I care that I’m listed as #1 on the list?

It’s a nice feeling - it’ll be a nice article to show my parents - it’s always nice to be written about - but in the scheme of things it doesn’t really matter who is at the top of the list. The fact that a list of Australian blogs made it into the paper at all makes me smile - but looking at the numbers of referrals coming in from the online version of the article it’s not that big a deal.

update: Duncan responds to the article here.

Written on April 19th, 2007 at 07:04 am by Darren Rowse

Interview with Gina Trapani of Lifehacker - Part 1

Pro Blogger Interviews 18 comments

Gina-TrapaniToday I have the pleasure of posting the first part of an email interview that I conducted recently with Gina Trapani from one of my favorite blogs - Lifehacker. I’ve divided the interview into two parts because Gina’s put some great ideas into what she’s written and I’d like to give us all the opportunity of digesting it slowly over a couple of days. I hope you enjoy it.

Can you give us a short introduction into who you are and where you blog?

I’m a web programmer and freelance tech writer based in southern California. Primarily I write Lifehacker.com, a weblog about software and productivity which I update several times a day. I also keep a personal “stuff that interests me” tumblelog at Scribbling.net.

My first dead tree book came out in December, which is based on Lifehacker.com. It’s called Lifehacker: 88 Tech Tricks to Turbocharge Your Day, and is available at bookstores and at Amazon.com. More info about the book is available at http://lifehackerbook.com.

How did you get into blogging?

I lived in New York City and worked at an office about 2 miles north of the World Trade Center on September 11th. Like everyone else across the country and around the world, the experience of that day changed me - especially being so close geographically, witnessing the attack as it happened, and losing a family friend who worked in the towers.

Afterwards, reading my co-workers’ and friends’ accounts of that day on their blogs helped me process and deal with what happened more than any mainstream coverage, and they inspired me. That December, in 2001, I began my first personal weblog.

How did you get the gig as a blogger at Lifehacker?

It was luck, great timing, and a hyperActive brain. I had been working for Nick Denton, founder of Lifehacker’s publisher, as a programmer for a couple of years already the day he and I went out to lunch and he mentioned he’d registered the lifehacker.com domain. I think my jaw hit the table in awe of what a great domain name that was, and I started listing all the great stuff he could do on a site named that, right over our Vietnamese food. He asked if I wanted to write it on the spot. Even though I’d never written anything professionally, accepting his offer was a no-brainer.

What tips would you give to someone looking to land a job blogging at a blog network?

Start your own blog on the topic you love, and make every effort to make it great. When you apply for a pro blogging job, tell them about your personal blog and point out posts you’re most proud of - that site will be your interview for the position.

Can you tell us a little about what you’re required to do as part of that blog?

On average I write about 6 posts a weekday, usually pointing to interesting productivity-related items around the web, and two feature-length original articles per week. On a daily basis, most of my time is spent researching and writing posts (obviously), answering email, managing my co-editors, brainstorming site improvements, interacting with readers in the comments, and planning new post series and feature articles. I get paid much the way a writer at a magazine gets paid. At magazines, you get paid per word; blog publishers usually pay per post. Feature posts - like magazine feature stories - require the most work and bring in the most traffic, so we get paid a higher rate for them.

Read Part II of this interview with Gina Trapani

Written on April 18th, 2007 at 10:04 pm by Darren Rowse

Back to Live Blogging - The Month that Was

enternetusers Site News 22 comments

After a month away I’m happy to say that I’m back home again and am attempting to get back into the swing of blogging here at enternetusers.

The last month has been an incredible journey of many distinct parts.

Let me attempt some sort of a recap:

16 - 17 March - Melbourne to LA - with a little fear and a lot of excitement V and I packed up and headed for the airport with Xavier. The idea of a 14 hour flight (which turned out to be 17 hours with delays on the tarmac while Qantas searched for 200 missing bags - including mine) with an 8 month old was daunting - but he did remarkably well (we all did).

We were in Beverly Hills while in LA this first time and so my first impression of the USA was Rodeo Drive - not a realistic first impression I know. I only had a morning to get myself adjusted to the time zone before heading up to San Francisco (V, her mum and X stayed in LA for some fun). My missing bag showed up literally 30 seconds before leaving for SF.

18 - 20 March - Elite Retreat - Elite Retreat San Francisco was a blast. I got to meet some long term online friends and learnt a lot from the other speakers. San Francisco as a city was really appealing to me. I only really saw a small part of it (mainly from Taxi’s, in hotels and in restaurants) but the vibe was relaxed (more relaxed than anywhere else we went in the US) and I would really like to get back there for an extended visit.

Elite Retreat

21 - 25 March - Washington DC - after flying back to LA late on the 20th we left bright and early the following morning for Washington DC. While the family saw a lot of DC I only really had a morning of site seeing before needing to get to the conference that I was in town for (Yanik Silver’s Underground Online Seminar). The conference was very different to Elite Retreat. For starters there were 500 in attendance instead of 30 - secondly it was a gathering of internet marketers - thirdly, they had lights and fireworks in the opening ‘ceremony’.

I’m not sure what I was expecting from Underground Seminar but I was a little daunted by the prospect of tackling the audience there as my previous experience of internet marketing was that it could be very hyped, not overly relational and at times spammy. While some speakers did fit this bill - the majority of them were very down to earth, genuine and helpful in their presentations.

Yanik himself is a great guy - very humble and relational. His attendees were also very warm and welcoming to me.

I learned a lot over these days - both from the content presented but also a lot about how to connect with this audience. I had some great feedback from my presentation but think that if I were to do it again that I’d tackle it a little differently.

Overall it was a fun few days - I just wish I had more time to see more of DC which I really enjoyed. The morning of site seeing I did do was one of the best days of the trip as we took in the main sites (we had a gorgeous day and saw the Mall, Whitehouse and a lot of the memorials in that area).


26 March - 3 April - New York - on the 26th we took the train from DC to New York City (a pleasant trip followed by the stress of trying to get all our luggage from the station to our hotel (traveling with a baby means many cases!)

This week or so was largely about vacation. We covered a lot of ground and had a great time. I’ve always wanted to visit NYC and wasn’t disappointed.

Of course there was a little blogging business while in town - particularly the enternetusers meetup which was a real highlight. Also while there I managed to grab breakfast with Steve Rubel and had an afternoon of site seeing with Dan and Sara Blank - all of which was great (I find a city comes alive the more time you spend with people who live and work in it).

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New York City is a wonderful place to visit - there’s always something or someone to see/watch and so much to do. I’m not sure I could ever see myself living in a city like that however. While I love cities NYC was just a little too crazy at times and made me appreciate the city I live in (which had some similarities but is quieter, more open, cleaner and a little less…. crazy).

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While I’m not in a rush to move there I am looking forward to my next visit in June - so much more to see and new friends to catch up with.

4 - 11 April - Toronto - this week was largely about b5media. While we did have a few days off over Easter to see the city it was very cold and difficult to see a lot due to the weather. V had never seen snow before so that was a treat and we did get to see a few museums and to go exploring the maze of undergound tunnels/shops/subways.

The highlight of Toronto for me was meeting some of the new b5media team that we’ve hired in the last 6 months since I was last in Toronto and others which have been with us for a longer time who I’d not yet met (Christina, Chad, Darcie and Gary).

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The main focus of our meetings in Toronto were strategy, review and dreaming. We also spent some good time getting to know each other and building the team spirit. There was also some interviewing of potential team members (there will be some announcements in the coming weeks).

12 - 16 April - Los Angeles - after the cold of Toronto LA was a welcome relief. This last few days was all about relaxing and getting ready for the trip home. We stayed in Santa Monica and had a great time exploring the neighborhood (and shops).

16 - 17 April - LA to Melbourne - once again I was a little daunted by the trip home with Xavier. In the month that we were away he grew up so much and became a lot more Active so the thought of containing him for such a long time was a little scary - but he did really well and slept for 10 hours (as opposed to my 35 minutes sleep).

So now we’re home again and it’s catch up time for me. For starters I need to catchup on sleep (jet lag sucks) but once that’s out of the way email and unread RSS feeds are the order of the week (it’ll take at least a week).

Please have a little patience with me over the coming days as I get things back to normal. There will be a few more ‘reader questions’ coming up and in the next day I’ve got a two part interview with Gina from Lifehacker - but hopefully by the weekend things will be back to normal.

Let me finish this post with a big thank you to my wonderful guest bloggers from the last month. I’ve very much appreciated your posts. Thanks to Neil, Wendy, Glen, Chris, Liz, Aaron, Mark, Karen, Lorelle, David, Chad, Alister, Matthew and Mike.

Written on April 18th, 2007 at 07:04 pm by Darren Rowse

Top Australian Blogs

Pro Blogging News 16 comments

One of the questions that I’m asked on a semi-regular basis from Australian friends, journalists and others is for a list of top Australian Blogs. While there have been attempts at such lists in the past and even competitions to find Australia’s ‘best blog’ on numerous occasions they’ve generally been popularity competitions (not that there’s anything wrong with being popular).

Over the last few weeks I’ve had a number of emails from Australian bloggers telling me of a couple of attempts to get a good list of top Australian blogs.

The first was one compiled using Technorati’s rankings list at Craig Harper. His list is in his blog’s sidebar and is going to be updated regularly.

The other list builds on Craig’s one and is compiled by Meg from Dipping into the Blogpond. Meg’s Top 100 takes into account Technorati’s ranking but also Alexa’s global and Australian rankings.

While both lists (and their methodology) can be refined (and Meg’s asking for feedback on hers) what excites me about them is that surfing the list helped me find some great new blogs that I wasn’t previously aware of. I’m also pretty happy to see that featuring prominently in the list is a number of blogs that I’m a daily reader of - bloggers writing about new media like Yaro Starak, Alister Cameron, Duncan Riley, Meg herself, Ben Barren, Trevor Cook, Des Walsh, Shai Coggins and more.

Written on April 18th, 2007 at 10:04 am by Darren Rowse

How Google Blogsearch ranks your Posts… In their own words!

Search Engine Optimization 90 comments

The following guest post was submitted by Alister Cameron. Read his blog at Alister Cameron - Blogologist.

I was reading through the Google Blogsearch patent application today. It was filed back in September 2005 and never mentions Blogsearch by name, of course. In reading through all the convoluted legaleze, I discovered what I think are some rather intriguing statements, that give us a tantalizing insight into how the architects of Google’s “secret recipe” think…

Now, this post is probably not going to answer as many questions of yours as it may raise new ones. But the point I want to make here is this: Google determines a quality score for every blog post you write based on more factors that most of us have ever really understood. Indeed, the range of measurements contributing to Google’s quality score applied to your blog posts is nothing short of amazing.

Truthfully, I found myself thinking of Big Brother as I tried to grasp the magnitude of Google’s data-gathering capabilities. You’ll see what I mean as we dig deep into the bowels of this patent application. Along the way, I will consider some ramifications for how you blog and how you approach the marketing of your blog.

We need to dive into the text of the patent application here, specifically a section titled Determining a Quality Score for a Blog Document, starting with a summary of what Google will take into consideration when looking at the “positive indicators” of a blog post (we will not look at the negative indicators today):

[0037] Positive indicators as to the quality of the blog document may be identified (act 620). Such indicators may include a popularity of the blog document, an implied popularity of the blog document, the existence of the blog document in blogrolls, the existence of the blog document in a high quality blogroll, tagging of the blog document, references to the blog document by other sources, and a pagerank of the blog document. It will be appreciated that other indicators may also be used.

Each of the “indicators” listed above are now detailed in turn, and it’s here that Google start to be more revealing about their methods and intentions…

A Key Indicator: Feed Readership

[0038] The popularity of the blog document may be a positive indication of the quality of that blog document. A number of news aggregator sites (commonly called “news readers” or “feed readers”) exist where individuals can subscribe to a blog document (through its feed). Such aggregators store information describing how many individuals have subscribed to given blog documents. A blog document having a high number of subscriptions implies a higher quality for the blog document. Also, subscriptions can be validated against “subscriptions spam” (where spammers subscribe to their own blog documents in an attempt to make them “more popular”) by validating unique users who subscribed, or by filtering unique Internet Protocol (IP) addresses of the subscribers.

I’m intrigued that in this section Google seems to suggest that their main way of determining the popularity of a blog is the number of feed subscribers. This is an acknowledgement that a subscription to a blog feed is a much clearer indicator of a reader’s commitment to your blog than inbound traffic, which can be manipulated in all sorts of (e.g. black hat) ways.

However, the really important question to ask here is: How does Google know how many people are subscribed to your feed? Answer: Google Reader, the most popular feedreader at the moment, with a (loosely) estimated 30%+ share or the newsreader market. With this kind of marketshare, Google has 100% accurate data on what feeds 30% of people are subscribed to, and can make a very accurate “educated guess” on the other 70%. It’s an enviable and powerful position to hold.

So for starters — thanks to Reader — Google has a very accurate read on how many people are subscribed to your blog feed. But beyond just subscriber numbers, Google is using Reader to analyze the clicking and reading behaviour of feed subscribers. Google doesn’t just know if I’m subscribed to your blog feed; Google knows how often I actually show up to read your posts, when, where and how often I click through to your site, and so forth. And again, Google can make accurate extrapolations from how people interact with your feed on Reader, to how users of other newsreaders are doing the same.

And all this to derive a popularity rating of your blog and individual posts!

It makes me wonder: if Google sees themselves first and foremost as a search company, then Google Reader may exist, in their minds, first and foremost to measure feed readership accurately and thus derive an accurate quality score for Blogsearch… not (just) to give you and me another funky web-based newsreader to use. Think about it.

Clickety Click Click

[0039] An implied popularity may be identified for the blog document. This implied popularity may be identified by, for example, examining the click stream of search results. For example, if a certain blog document is clicked more than other blog documents when the blog document appears in result sets, this may be an indication that the blog document is popular and, thus, a positive indicator of the quality of the blog document.

Another indicator of the popularity of your blog (and of individual posts) is gleaned from a study of how people click on Google’s search results. For sure, Google records these outbound clicks, and somehow rewards the blogs that get the most clicks. Google will be looking for a lower-ranked blog post on a given page of search results that keeps getting more clicks than a higher-ranked listing. To Google, this would suggest that they need to honour the lower-ranked blog with a higher position in the search results, given that it’s getting more of the clicks.

Of course, the important question to ask here is: What can I do to increase the likelihood that a searcher will click on my link when it appears on a page of Google search results? The answer has been well covered, and has to do with search engine optimization (SEO) techniques related to your blog post’s title and the snippet Google displays under the title of your listing in the search results.

Google’s Verdict: Blogrolls Matter

The Google Blogsearch patent application includes a full three paragraphs dedicated to blogrolls and the significance Google ascribes to them in determining the quality of a blog. So we better not miss this:

[0040] The existence of the blog document in blogrolls may be a positive indication of the quality of the blog document. It will be appreciated that blog documents often contain not only recent entries (i.e., posts), but also “blogrolls,” which are a dense collection of links to external sites (usually other blogs) in which the author/blogger is interested. A blogroll link to a blog document is an indication of popularity of that blog document, so aggregated blogroll links to a blog document can be counted and used to infer magnitude of popularity for the blog document.

Google counts how many other blogs’ blogrolls include a link to your blog, and assigns your blog a score accordingly. This implies that Google knows about blogrolls and respects the fact that bloggers use them to indicate respect/trust/honour for/to other blogs. Blogrolls matter.

[0041] The existence of the blog document in a high quality blogroll may be a positive indication of the quality of the blog document. A high quality blogroll is a blogroll that links to well-known or trusted bloggers. Therefore, a high quality blogroll that also links to the blog document is a positive indicator of the quality of the blog document.

If your humble C-list blog is listed on someone else’s blogroll that otherwise contains only A-list blog links… you’re going to get lots of lovin’ from Google! That’s the point of this paragraph, anyway: Google looks at the kind of company your link keeps on blogrolls.

[0042] Simlarly, the existence of the blog document in a blogroll of a well-known or trusted blogger may also be a positive indication of the quality of the blog document. In this situation, it is assumed that the well-known or trusted blogger would not link to a spamming blogger.

If you’re on Scoble’s blogroll, Google assumes you’re a) not a spam site and b) immediately worthy of respect… Scoble said so.

The critical question here is obvious: How can I get a link to my blog on more and better blogrolls? And again, the answers are many and varied but (I think) all come down to one key point: you have to earn a place on someone’s blogroll… with good content and consistency. Sure, you’ll get a few blogroll links from buddies and work associates perhaps, but if you want an ever growing number of blogroll links, you need to endear yourself to people you’ve never met, who have grown into committed readers over time, and will (perhaps) reward you with a blogroll link, just coz they want to.

Social Bookmarking is Good for Your Blog Rank!

[0043] Tagging of the blog document may be a positive indication of the quality of the blog document. Some existing sites allow users to add “tags” to (i.e., to “categorize”) a blog document. These custom categorizations are an indicator that an individual has evaluated the content of the blog document and determined that one or more categories appropriately describe its content, and as such are a positive indicator of the quality of the blog document.

The shift away from local/desktop URL bookmarking to online services like Technorati, del.icio.us, Stumbleupon, ma.gnolia, reddit (and a ton of others) has created an entirely new “social” experience of shared bookmarks, affinity/interest groups and voting systems (like Digg). And for Google and other search engines, this has meant the ability to compare on-page and link-text keyword analysis with a new third factor: tagging.

So now there are three ways Google can do the keyword analysis to work out what your page is about (and rank you accordingly): a) on-page factors, b) inbound link-text, and c) tagging/categorization on social bookmarking sites. And Google respects tagging because it reflects people’s idea of what you’re blog (or post) is about.

Further, I’m guessing Google is very sophisticated in how they analyze the content of social bookmarking sites. (I bet they have a bot and analytical apparatus purpose-built for this purpose.) Rest assured they factor in the number of times a given post of yours has been bookmarked, and how frequently a given tag is used.

Here, the important question for fellow bloggers is: How can I get my blog posts properly and extensively tagged across the verious social bookmarking sites?

The terms Social Media Optimization (SMO) has been coined to, in part, encompass the various answers to this question. Rohit Bhargava is credited with coining this term and it was he who first suggested a number of rules or goals for SMO. I suggest you start there.

My personal challenge to you would be to see this SMO thing as an exercise in establishing and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships. It’s in the mutuality of these online friendships that people bookmark, tag, vote for and in other ways express support of each other’s blogging efforts. But that’s subject deserves a post of its own.

(Note: it would be remiss of me not to make one more point on tagging: tag your post content properly. That’s the love Technorati, in particular, is looking for. When people bookmark your site to, say del.icio.us, they tag as they see fit. When you tag your own post content, your get the chance to cover all the bases you want covered. So get it right!)

Is Google Reading Your Mail?!

Read this carefully:

[0044] References to the blog document by other sources may be a positive indication of the quality of the blog document. For example, content of emails or chat transcripts can contain URLs of blog documents. Email or chat discussions that include references to the blog document is a positive indicator of the quality of the blog document.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?! Google has a massively popular hosted email service - GMail. They also have Google Talk, a chat service. You probably knew that. But did you know Google has intentions of crawling the content of your GMail emails and Google Talk chat sessions?! Now, I don’t know if they actually do that or not, and I haven’t gone hunting thru their terms of service seeking clarity, but their stated aim is clear: to find URLs in two key forms of personal online communications (email and chats), and to use these discoveries to further rank blogs and blog posts.

I have to say it makes perfect sense. Why? Because Google is looking to build a more and more accurate profile of your and my blog. And to do this Google wants to see corroborating evidence of popularity across as many different “media” as possible: web pages, blog posts, search results click patterns, blogrolls, social bookmarking services, and now email and chat session content. Wow… that’s called being thorough.

(Note: Google will no doubt also be analyzing chat content from other services where the “transcripts” are indexed. Twitter immediately comes to mind, here.)

So what’s the big question to be asking? I think it’s this: What can I do as a blog author to ensure that my posts are being linked to, in email and chat conversations? And my answer remains the same: consistently write compelling (sometimes controversial) content that people will want to point others to. You just can’t get past this one… you need your own high-quality content pumped out on a regular basis.

Some Concluding Questions

I’ve quoted just a few paragraphs from a much longer (and largely boring) patent application for a product that ended up being called Google Blogsearch. Reading through the bits of the application that made any sense to my non-legal mind, and comparing that to what I know of Google Blogsearch, I was left with a few questions I thought I’d bring to the enternetusers community:

  1. Does it make sense to have Blogsearch separate from the main Google search engine? I’m not sure about that, but in dedicating a unique search service to blog content, Google is telling us that in some sense it’s a different kind of content with a different indexing algorithm applied to it.
  2. As Google Blogsearch gains in popularity, will new (or adjusted) SEO strategies emerge along with it? Is Blogsearch different enough to warrant different strategies? How different are the search results compared to the same query in the main Google search engine?
  3. How many people actually use Google Blogsearch (http://blogsearch.google.com)? I haven’t seen any data out there on the popularity of that service.
  4. Do you use it? Why? What do you like about it? Anything you don’t like about it?
  5. How do you find Google Blogsearch compares with Technorati? What are the major differences you have observed in their search results? Do you have a preference?

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Written on April 17th, 2007 at 01:04 am by Darren Rowse

What Makes You a enternetusers?

Miscellaneous Blog Tips 22 comments

The following post was submitted by David Wilkinson from Techzi who previously wrote a post here titled How to Drive Traffic to Your Blog - The Advice of a 12 Year Old.

Something that alot of people have asked me these past few days is “David, what makes you a enternetusers?” and truth be told, I’m not entirely sure. What does make someone a enternetusers? Is it the fact that somebody blogs for another person, getting paid per post? Is it someone who blogs alongside others, sharing the revenue between them? Is it somebody who maintains their own blog, making an partial, or substantial income from their blogging activities?

Heck… In my opinion, it’s all of them! So how can you become a enternetusers? Well, contrary to popular belief, it’s actually very, very simple, and I’m going to do my best to show you exactly how to do so yourself, and start churning out a profit within the shortest amount of time possible. Why? A commonly known factor here on the net is “Give, and you will get.” In other words, helping others can often hold a valuable return, much more than what you originally gave, or the time you spent on something.

Blog for yourself.

Possibly the most popular option on the drawing board, is blogging for yourself. Why? Because anybody can do this, with any interest, any field of expertise, or anything at all to say. You don’t need to be a super-writer, a genius or a crafty marketer, you simply write about what you enjoy, developing your writing style all the way. Writing style? What’s this got to do with earning money? Gradually, your writing will improve, progress, leap and bound, from one type to another. As a blog reader & writer, I often skim through people’s archives month-by-month seeing how much someone’s writing has changed. I know that from looking at my own, I started off as a truly terrible writer, and have gradually improved, even if my grammar still isn’t spot on. So how will this earn you money? Your changing writing, that adapts to how you see your audience (whether it be big or small), often entices visitors, and interests them into what you’re doing & who you are. Many people, after reading a blog several times, will often make an attempt to find out more about the author. As a blogger, I know this, after tracking my statistics, I can tell you that my personal “About Us” page receives a substantial amount of hits.

This is where personalization comes in. I believe that personalizing your content helps define your blog better than anything else… Including your own added-touches, whether it be a story that’s happened to you in the past, your own quirky sense of humor, or a link to a site that reminded you of something you’d meant to add earlier, can all help build the reader/writer relationship. At the end of the day, this is very similar to the 3Cs, enhancing the community & trust within it.

Unsure about monetization? It’s best to play it safe and go with tried & tested methods of money-making. CPC (Cost Per Click) programs such as YPN (Yahoo Publisher Network) and Google AdSense are often some of the best if you’re just starting out, but over the past few months, I’m sure most bloggers will agree with me when I say that earning from CPC has become a lot harder, and can now require copious amounts of work in order to keep your readers clicking. This is not so much the readers fault, or the companies behind the schemes, but more a sign that the times are changing. Sure, the end-users are getting used to the adverts popping up in their current forms all over the net, but at the same time the industry is bumping down prices, meaning that when clicks are met, the payout is lower. This makes it very difficult to point the finger at anybody in particular and is a sign that perhaps the market is becoming over-saturated.

Another popular method is affiliate programs. There are many stories of run-away successes, just as with CPC, however the major difference with affiliate marketing is that publishers are only paid per conversion, or ‘lead’ as they are called. This also often requires the user to shell out money for a product or service, which they then may, or may not like. This can be a risky business, as if a reader is unimpressed, and feels their money has gone to waste, you’d be surprised how fast they snap the door shut on you & your blog. Generally, for affiliate marketing to work, a user or reader has to trust you enough to buy a product, which often requires alot of work. All that aside, if you can pull it off, the pay for affiliate programs are handsome.

Text Links. In my opinion, these ads are the least obtrusive, most acceptable to readers, and also churn in a healthy profit. How can you get started? The most popular option out there is most likely TLA (Text-Link-Ads), however many bloggers, including myself are experimenting with our own alternatives. Often programs such as TLA deduct large portions of the money earned (50% in most cases), and in many cases, people are having their websites under-rated and under-priced. For this reason, many people are offering their own privatized advertising deals, including my own website, Techzi.net. On the whole, this has been a great success, with people flocking in to buy adverts, costing over 40x what TLA was offering me in one case. Advertisers also seem more willing to do these privatized ad deals, as they know they’ll be getting one-on-one support with the webmaster rather than having a company such as TLA acting as a middle man. Of course, as with most opportunities, there are some snags to consider when going private. Many people may be unwilling to co-operate with you, wihtout using a middleman, as they feel more secure using a service where they know that a company has been monitoring the activities of both parties to make sure that nobody is ripping anyone off. If however, an advertiser sees a good reader/writer relationship, and sees trust in there, it is far more likely that they will consider doing such a deal, without using a middleman.

The final method, that recently seems to have really taken off in the blogosphere, is sponsored posts. Whether you’re with PayPerPost, ReviewMe, or some other new service, chances are that the offers are either flooding in, or running dry. Pricing your blog effectively is important, as often, new bloggers over-estimate the worth of their blogs on such schemes, and charge the same prices, or just shy, of what the big time bloggers like John Chow charge. Setting your price too low though, can often make you look desperate, even if in the long run, the return is great. So what’s the problem with paid reviews, sponsored posts and all that jazz? Well on the reader/writer side of things, it really is a black mark against your name. Often readers will feel annoyed, or ‘Sold Out’, as some have phrased it, and are unlikely to come back. On the other hand, if the article is relevant enough, people will treat it like a normal post, and read through it, clicking on the links all the same.

Each of these methods has it’s own pros and cons, so I advise you weigh them up for yourself based on your own website’s criteria. Different things work for different people, and trying a combination of the above, or simply asking your readers what they’d most prefer & find least intrusive can often provide you with invaluable insights into your readers mind, and what they’re most likely to participate in, in order to make you enough to keep you going.

Blogging for someone else.

Sometimes, this can be very tiring, but often, if you’re not having much success at creating your own community, or simply want to earn a bit of extra cash blogging about what you like, this can be the ideal way forward. I both maintain my personal blog network and blog for a few other companies. So who might be interested in hiring you? Well, for starters, it’s important to understand that unless you have a good grasp of language, wording and the subject your writing about, you’re never going to become successful. If you’re simply looking to earn some cash, you’re never going to be successful. You have to be a team player, and you have to be passionate about what you’re writing about. From the NBA to SEO, fine dining experiences to Britney Spears’ latest haircut, you’re going to have to give it your all if you plan to make progress. Many large blog networks Actively hire bloggers to write on new niches, topics & events, so whether you’re up for a quick spin, or a more long-term project, there’s bound to be something that suits you. So how can you find a blogging job? One of my personal favorite places to check, is the enternetusers jobs board, as this is updated regularly with listings from most of the major blogging companies. If you believe you have found a new niche that could be explored & profited from, you can also try contacting blogging media companies such as b5media, Weblogs Inc and other through their official websites.

Pay for such companies is often generous and ranges from $5 per post, all the way up to several hundred dollars per post, based on the frequency of the blogger in question, the quality of the article and the successful monetization of the blog at hand. Being part of a major blogging network has to be taken one step further, and treated like a proper job. Often these media companies will set a minimum amount of posts that are required to be published each and every week, and the posting frequency is expected to be consistent, and the articles of high-quality.

If you don’t fancy yourself as being a professional online journalist, and aren’t ready to treat the Internet seriously, as a job, this isn’t for you. If you know you’re busy, and your business might call you over at any moment, making you unable to blog, this isn’t for you. This is for the more serious-minded amongst you, and if you have a streak for journalism or a passionate flare for writing, then it’s a career worth considering.

It stands to reason that if you’re making money using your blog or someone else’s in any of these methods, you can call yourself a enternetusers. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch Battlestar Galactica. It’s important to have a break from blogging once in a while, and maintain a healthy balanced life. Go take a run in the park, sit down with your family and play a game, or go out and have a meal. Even bloggers take breaks. What’s the most important thing to remember when blogging, in my opinion? Stay on your feet, and never expect it to be an easy ride. If in your first month, your blog rakes in $50,000, don’t expect it to the next month. Prepare for the worst, take in all the factors and possibilities. To some, blogging would be the dream job, but in reality to some, it can be hard both mentally and physically, willing yourself to stay up that little bit later and finishing the article that was due in last Saturday. The fact is, in every profession, you need time off. You need to relax. Consider ALL the possibilities, the net’s a big place.

Written on April 16th, 2007 at 06:04 pm by Darren Rowse

Code of Conduct - Your Say

Pro Blogging News 68 comments

One of the stories that’s been appearing throughout the blogosphere this past couple of weeks is the ‘Code of Conduct’ discussion that was started by Tim O’Reilly.

As I’ve been traveling (we’re heading home tonight) I’ve not been in a position to read the full range of discussions that took place as a result of his post - so to help me catch up - I’d be interested to hear readers thoughts on it.

  • Do you think bloggers need a code of conduct?
  • What do you think of Tim’s draft one?
  • What would you add or subtract?

My personal thoughts (and I’ve given this very little thought): The idea of a code of conduct don’t sit well with me. While I find some of what Tim suggests resonates with my own personal approach to blogging (not all of it) one of the things I love about blogging the most is the diversity of approaches that people bring to it.

While I wish and hope for a blogosphere that is constructive, respectful and positive in nature - I don’t think any centralized list of do’s and don’ts will really fix anything.

Ultimately these types of decisions on how bloggers will or won’t behave need to come from individual bloggers after examining their own personal values, style and goals.

But then again - that’s just me. What do you think?

Written on April 16th, 2007 at 06:04 am by Darren Rowse

How Reading can Improve your Blogging

Pro Blogging News 27 comments

“Temporarily moonlighting from her current occupation of mother-to-two, Karen Andrews is going to talk about two of her favourite subjects: reading and blogging. If you’d like to read more of her work - with perhaps a bit of talk of bodily functions and toddler antics included - you can find her at www.miscmum.com

I don’t play poker well, so I am going to show my hand early: I like to think I know a bit about writing and reading. ‘Hang on, so do I!’ may say you. Certainly if you are blogging, you already know the importance of content, of exacting the best of your knowledge and putting it out in the bloggersphere, hopefully to be respected and successful.

But are you doing this at the expense of reading? Does it even matter? I think so, and so does Francis Bacon,

‘Reading maketh a full man’

Reading is an education

Before you start squirming, believing I am going to offer a teaspoon of icky medicine, consider this - education is increasingly being seen as a commodity: something you buy and discard. It’s less Dead Poets Society than it is ‘How to get perfect grades’. Knowledge isn’t retained. We’ve forgotten what we learned at school as soon as the bell rings for summer.

Blogging can change this. You research; you search for the right words. You recognise your audience and their needs. In a way, you are becoming an educator yourself so isn’t it important to be the best you can be? Further, wider, reading can improve your grammar (an area most of us are unsure about, let’s be honest) and expands your vocabulary. If you recognise various types of writing style or authorial voice, you are less likely to imitate them. Because the point is to develop your own, isn’t it? There’s nothing more frustrating for a reader than a self-conscious writer.

Take a look at your blog. Are you overly apologetic? Do you always sit on the fence? Is your language bland? Do you overuse graphics and photos to compensate for language failings?

Tip: Read a blog you admire, and pick a post you particularly like. Imagine the author sitting at the keyboard and forming the keystrokes as they type. This is an adapted exercise many writing students are asked to complete (usually substituting keystrokes for pen strokes) in order to get a sense of rhythm and pace.

Reading affirms self

We are bombarded with images everyday: via television, billboards, even our mobile phones. When we do read, it’s usually without joy. We plough through websites or our RSS feeders, scanning for titbits of gossip, or breaking news, or scandal - things which create a momentary thrill but nothing lasting. And when reading becomes a chore, our eyes being to glaze; we question why we’re on the computer to begin with.

Tip: Get off the chair and turn off the computer. It will be there in the morning. Pick up a magazine. Go to bed early with a novel you’ve had on your ‘must read’ list for a while. ‘De-plugging’ is a good option for those of us on the point of burnout. Standing back from your own words may give you a better perspective than if you are crouched over a desk.

Turning to another subject you have passion for may just be an opportunity to tie together those parts of your self you are happy with; and overlook those bad ones we judge ourselves harshly for. What better reason than to read?

You have power as a reader

The skill of critically evaluating a text is commonly taught today. It is not enough to simply say you like (or don’t like) something anymore. You need to back up your claims and once properly done so you can debate a subject at a greater depth than you otherwise would have.

Writing for business and pleasure rarely congregate and the same can be said about reading. Those of us (myself included) who have to pen words for dollars often lose sight of the reasons why we wanted to blog in the first place: for passion, pride, love, ambition. If we read a bit more, lose ourselves to the pleasures of words once again, these same words may find us at times of blocked thought or starting at a white screen.

Read. Be inspired. For it may be the difference between blogging and giving it up altogether.

Read more of Karen’s work at Miscellaneous Adventures of an Aussie Mum Blog.

Written on April 15th, 2007 at 01:04 am by Darren Rowse

Do You Have Blog Goals?

Miscellaneous Blog Tips 34 comments

Reader QuestionsStuart asks - ‘I would love to know what type of goals you set yourself in terms of future earnings, readership, subscribers, commenters and even SEO growth. Mainly because I’m just really nosey but also because I like to know how the BIG boys play the game.’

Hi Stuart - good question and one I’ve not really written about for a while now. It’s time for a bit of an update on it because my goal setting practices here have changed somewhat.

In my early days of moving towards ‘going Pro’ (or full time) as a blogger I used to set a lot more goals than I currently do for my blogs.

When my wife and I decided to give blogging for an income a go we set me a six month deadline to be earning enough income to justify the time I was putting into my blogging (at this stage I’d already been blogging part time as a hobby for a year or so). At this time I set myself some goals in these areas:

  • posting frequency - it was in this time that I set myself the goal of posting 20 times a day (less on weekends). I was working on almost 20 blogs at the time so 20 was the minimum number of posts that I wanted to write - some days I’d do up to 40.
  • ptraffic targets - my goal for a while there was to see traffic grow by 10% per month.
  • pincome targets - similarly I aimed for 10% growth in income

I didn’t really many more specific goals than that. Of course I wanted to increase comment levels, subscriber levels and my search engine rankings - but I didn’t really put any measures on these things (in fact subscriber levels couldn’t be measured at this time as it was Pre-Feedburner Counter days).

These days I still track all of these metrics - but I don’t set myself hard and fast goals in them on the majority of my blogs. Instead, my goals are a lot more broad (ie - I want reader numbers to increase - no numbers or set targets).

There are a few main reasons why I don’t get so worked up about goals:

  1. I’m more established - By no means have I ‘made it’ as a blogger - but things are now at a level where I’m now not needing to see high levels of growth in order to survive financially. In the early days it was very much about needing to grow to justify the copious amounts of time that i blogged for :-). Most of my blogs were also in startup phases where I find setting measurable goals essential (in fact the only blog I currently have more specific goals on is DPS which is sill in it’s first year).
  2. Metrics Can be Distracting - I also got to a point after a year of blogging full time where I found that I was spending a lot of time analyzing my stats, tracking goals and getting pretty narrow in my focus (eg focussing too much on SEO). I was spending time that I could have just been blogging doing metrics stuff and the goals (and the way I reviewed them) were actually stifling my blogs.
  3. Time - I am ‘time poor’ these days and unfortunately one of the things that has slipped from my priorities has been planning and goals. While points 1 and 2 above are true - the truth is that I’d like to put more time into thinking strategically about my own blogs - however time doesn’t allow it. I’m now working full time with b5media and the blogs I do still write on (only really 2) take up quite a bit of my spare time.

Goals are Important

Having said all of that - I think goals are very important for bloggers - particularly those starting out with a new blog.

Putting aside time to think strategically, set some boundaries around topics, putting some targets out there for posting frequency, traffic and income are all useful things to do. (here’s a framework for thinking strategically about a blog’s direction)

However don’t get obsessed by your goals. The problem that I’ve seen a number of bloggers have over the last few months is that they set pretty tough goals for themselves that they were not able to achieve - and as a result of falling short they lost motivation for blogging at all.

  • Do set specific goals
  • Do make them realistic
  • Do set yourself some rewards for reaching milestones
  • Don’t punish yourself for falling short - instead readjust your next goals and keep on blogging

Do you have blogging goals? What are they? How do you set them? Do they help?

Written on April 14th, 2007 at 06:04 am by Glen

Blogging’s Most Underused Feature: Future Posts

Blogging Tools and Services 56 comments

This post was written by Glen Stansberry of LifeDev (feed). Check out LifeDev for more tips on using tools to make your life more productive.

Creating posts for the future is an extremely valuable and overlooked feature in most blogging platforms. Interestingly, the majority of people don’t even know that this feature exists in most blogging tools. Yet I’d argue that it’s one of the most important features, at least in terms of being productive.

Basic productivity is aided by dividing up your tasks by the tools that are used to complete them. For example, if you’re going to be on the phone, make all of your calls in one sitting. By grouping together your tasks by tools, you can complete the tasks quicker. If you’ve heard anything about GTD (Getting Things Done), this will sound familiar to you.

For our purposes, the tasks are blog posts and the tool is your blogging platform (IE Wordpress, Blogger, Drupal, etc.). So if you want to be uber-productive, this means writing multiple posts in one sitting. In fact, you could even crank out some/most of your posts for the week in one sitting, depending on the type of blog you have. (This method doesn’t work well for news breaking blogs.) Just write them up, and set your post to publish in the future. Easy peasy.

Try it out and see how much time you’ll save with blogging in the future. And for that matter, if you’re interested in learning more about GTD, check out my GTD Cheatsheet Series for a head start.

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