Written on December 11th, 2004 at 08:12 am by Darren Rowse

The Blogfather? Jason Calacanis expands family

Pro Blogging News 0 comments

Netimperative has an interesting interview with Jason Calacanis whom they label ‘the blogfather’.

‘The term ‘exponential growth’ seems almost an understatement when discussing blogs. But attempts to commercialise this new form remain thin on the ground. New Yorker Jason Calacanis, who has just launched his 62nd commercial blog, tells Alex Tanner how his Weblogs Inc aims to father the number one blog in every niche market there is.’

You couldn’t really find an outlining of Weblogs Inc’s strategy that was much clearer than the way it is laid out in this article….

‘”Clearly there is a weakness, in that any one blog can’t grow into that big a business” he says. “Our response to that weak point is to have 300-500 [blogs] in three years. We should hit 100 in our 4th or 5th quarter as a company, and that’s just fine by me.

“The only threat to us is that somebody comes in and puts all their energy into one blog and does it better. However, if we’re number 1, 2, or 3 in each market we’re in, we have a great business.”‘

Sound like world domination to you? In a sense what they are doing is taking that approach - they recognize that now is an opportune time to establish a foothold in the marketplace and that the window for doing so is closing all the time as new bloggers and competition enter the market every day.

Read more of the interview at Netimperative - The Blogfather? Calacanis expands family

Written on December 10th, 2004 at 06:12 pm by Darren Rowse

Is Contextual Advertising Viable on a Blog?

Advertising, Adsense 5 comments

There has been an increasing amount of debate recently over both the ethics and viability of blogging commercially. The focus of this post is not to enter into the question of ’should bloggers add income streams to their blogs’ - rather I want to examine whether it is a financially viable alternative.

I know of many bloggers who have added contextual ads to their blogs expecting to make a fortune only to discover that it can be a lot harder than it looks - on the other hand I suspect there are a lot of bloggers out there who could actually make some reasonable money from their blogging without too many modifications if they just tried. Let me show you how….

To examine the question of whether blogging for profit is viable I want to focus this post upon contextual advertising (knowing that it is only one of many ways to add an income stream to a blog). By contextual advertising I am referring to programs like Google’s Adsense and Yahoo’s Overture.

3 Keys to Contextual Advertising Success

If you strip down what is needed to have success with contextual advertising there are three main elements that impact your earnings. To put it most simply these three elements are:

- impressions (the number of times ads will be served to your blog - ie the traffic/page views) - I’ve written a number of guides to how to increase your traffic including this one
- click through rate (CTR) - (what percentage of impressions will result in a reader clicking on an ad - and therefore send a micro payment your way). Getting a high CTR is dependent upon a number of things including well designed and positioned ads and getting relevant ads.
- ad value - (the amount that each click generates - which varies depending what the ad is for. This is largely determined by the topic you blog about - eg. blog about match sticks and the ad value will be low - blog about conference calls and it will be higher) - you might like to check out this post on getting high paying ads for Adsense to help you in this area.

To answer the question of whether contextual advertising will be viable on your blog you need to think about each of these areas because they each will impact your earnings. To put it bluntly - if you increase any of these elements it will improve your earnings. Conversely if any of these elements are low it will decrease your earnings.

It makes sense really if you break it down. If your blog has no readership it doesn’t really matter how high your click through rate or ad value is - you’ll not make any money. On the other side if you have heaps of readers but none are clicking on ads you’ll not turn a profit. Likewise if you’ve got high readership who click a lot of ads, but the ads are not valuable you’ll decrease your profits. Its all about balance.

How Much?

Ok - that is the theory - but you’re probably asking - how much traffic, how high a click through rate and what sort of ad value do I need? There is no simple answer to this question as everyone’s blog generates different figures - but it is possible to do some hypothetical calculations.

Anyone can do the sums. I made an excel spreadsheet a while back that helped me think this through - it is too complex to post here - but let me attempt to break some of it down below.

At 1% CTR

This first table is assuming that a blog has an overall Click through rate of 1%. The left hand column shows daily impressions ranging from 1000 to 250,000, the next column shows 1% of these - ie how many daily clicks a blog with a 1% CTR would have. The following columns show how much would be earned if clicks were valued at an average of 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents or 50 cents.

Impressions Clicks $0.01 $0.05 $0.10 $0.50
1,000 10 0.10 $0.50 $1.00 $5.00
2,000 20 0.20 $1.00 $2.00 $10.00
3,000 30 0.30 $1.50 $3.00 $15.00
4,000 40 0.40 $2.00 $4.00 $20.00
5,000 50 0.50 $2.50 $5.00 $25.00
10,000 100 1.00 $5.00 $10.00 $50.00
50,000 500 5.00 $25.00 $50.00 $250.00
100,000 1000 10.00 $50.00 $100.00 $500.00
250,000 2500 25.00 $125.00 $250.00 $1,250.00

At 2% CTR

The next table is the same except for a blog with a 2% Click Through Rate (which is generally accepted as around the average for most sites displaying Contextual ads).

Impressions Clicks $0.01 $0.05 $0.10 $0.50
1,000 20 0.20 $1.00 $2.00 $10.00
2,000 40 0.40 $2.00 $4.00 $20.00
3,000 60 0.60 $3.00 $6.00 $30.00
4,000 80 0.80 $4.00 $8.00 $40.00
5,000 100 1.00 $5.00 $10.00 $50.00
10,000 200 2.00 $10.00 $20.00 $100.00
50,000 1000 10.00 $50.00 $100.00 $500.00
100,000 2000 20.00 $100.00 $200.00 $1,000.00
250,000 5000 50.00 $250.00 $500.00 $2,500.00

So a blog with a CTR of 2% that has 5000 daily impressions and ad value averaging at 10 cents per click will earn $10 a day whilst one with 50,000 impressions at 5 cents per click will earn $50.

At 5% CTR

Lastly we’ll do the same exercise for a blog of 5% CTR. It might sound high but its not unheard of for highly targeted sites to achieve this sort of rate or higher.

Impressions Clicks $0.01 $0.05 $0.10 $0.50
1,000 50 0.50 $2.50 $5.00 $25.00
2,000 100 1.00 $5.00 $10.00 $50.00
3,000 150 1.50 $7.50 $15.00 $75.00
4,000 200 2.00 $10.00 $20.00 $100.00
5,000 250 2.50 $12.50 $25.00 $125.00
10,000 500 5.00 $25.00 $50.00 $250.00
50,000 2500 25.00 $125.00 $250.00 $1,250.00
100,000 5000 50.00 $250.00 $500.00 $2,500.00
250,000 12500 125.00 $625.00 $1,250.00 $6,250.00

Hopefully these tables will give you some idea of the potential of Contextual advertising like Adsense and Overture. One of the cool things about looking at it this way is that you can see a variety of ways of making good money. You can actually make as much money with a small readership on a good paying highly targeted blog as you can on a site with massive readership but a low paying topic. Of course without giving it a go you’ll never really know what sort of CTR or Click Value you’ll get.

A common question people ask in Adsense forums is ‘how much is your average click value?’ Unfortunately to answer this question would violate Adsense regulations - all I can really say is that it varies greatly between sites depending upon the topic being blogged about. It can range anything from a cent right through to dollars (some report clicks of $50+). Of course the higher the click value the harder it is to get impressions due to competition - so sometimes medium ad value terms can be a better bet unless you have a very high page rank.

The tables above should hopefully provide a little inspiration for some but also a reality check for others. Making money using contextual advertising is NOT easy money. To have a blog with a high level of impressions, good CTR and ad value takes a lot of time, energy, patience and a bit of luck (you might like to use my Adsense for Bloggers Series to help you improve these different aspects of your blog’s performance.

So is it worth it?

All in all my advice to people wanting to experiment with Contextual advertising is that its worth a shot. You’ll never know what sort of return it will bring unless you apply and add the code to your site. Don’t go into it expecting the world - when it comes down to whether it is viable it all comes down to your own opinion of the value of your time - the purpose of your blog - your willingness to put in the hard work and time to grow it. Each of us can only answer that question for themselves - and I answer the question of whether blogging is profitable using contextual advertising with a ‘YES’.

Written on December 10th, 2004 at 04:12 pm by Darren Rowse

InsideBlogging - The Blog Inside InsideBlogging

Pro Blogging News 0 comments


Bloggers Darren Barefoot and have joined forces in a blogging consultancy relationship going by the name of ‘Inside Blogging’. Of course all good blog consultants can never have enough blogs so they’ve stared an InsideBlogging Blog to give readers the inside word on their new venture. Should be an interesting read - especially if they keep up their high quality linking policy (I found it because they referred to enternetusers).

Another blog goes on the old News Aggregator!

Written on December 10th, 2004 at 04:12 pm by Darren Rowse

2005 Australian Blogging Conference - more details released

Pro Blogging News 0 comments

The 2005 Australian Blogging Conference website has updated a few more details of the event to be held in Melbourne on either 18 or 25 February at a venue still to be confirmed.

The cost will be $150 for a full day including lunch and refreshments. Its a bit more than I was expecting but I guess if they are flying in a guest speaker they have some big costs to cover.

The schedule of the day covers the basic topics you’d expect - I was expecting a few electives or workshops to choose between but that is probably a bit optimistic if its just a small crowd coming. I’d of course like to see a session on blogging for dollars with some discussion around models for making money from blogs - but perhaps I’ll have to save up and go to one of the US conferences next year to get that kind of topic.

Still not sure if I’ll be going to the Aussie conference - I think its a good idea but I guess I’ll wait and see if the content/speakers are worth the $150 cost.

Written on December 10th, 2004 at 09:12 am by Darren Rowse

Should You Use Targeted Keywords in URLs

Search Engine Optimization 3 comments

‘Should You Use Targeted Keywords In URLs?’ - This is actually a question I’ve been asked on numerous occassions by bloggers wanting to optimize their blogs for Search Engines. The theory is that if you are writing a blog about matchsticks that your ranking will be higher if you domain name has ‘matchsticks’ in the URL.

Nice theory - but does it work? Has anyone tested it?

It seems that now we can back the theory up with a test run by WebProNews who found that at least in the case of the major search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN that keywords in URL do help.

So how does this impact the way we blog? In my mind there are a number of take home messages in this:

1. Pick your domain name wisely when starting up a blog. I learned this the hard way with one of my blogs which I started on the run one day and later changed the focus of. I now have a blog with a domain name that barely relates to my site - DOH!

2. Try to configure your blog so that keywords of individual posts feature in the permalinks of each page. For example you’ll see that this blog uses the title of each individual post in the URL. When I swapped to this method of setting up my URLs I noticed a 30% increase in traffic inside of a week to my blogs - it really does work.

3. Keywords in URLs are not the be all and end all. I mentioned in point 1 that I have a blog that doesn’t have appropriate keywords in its URL - I should also mention here that that blog is my most highly visited blog and earns more than all of my other blogs put together. The message therefore is to take a balanced approach to Search Engine Optimization. Keywords in URLs are just one of many (some say hundreds) of factors in getting your blog ranked highly on google.

Written on December 9th, 2004 at 03:12 pm by Darren Rowse

Web Design in 2005 - Predictions

Blog Design 1 comment

I’ve been very aware since starting this blog that the design I’ve got here is terrible. One knows by looking at it that whilst I might make a living from blogging that my skills do not lie in the design area (I usually get someone else to do it). However this blog was started purely as an experiment and on the spur of the moment. As a result of the growing readership here I’ve decided that I’m going to do a design update in the month ahead - any volunteers wanting some free publicity for their design work are free to submit their ideas - but in the mean time I might check out this article from Forty Media that has a great article making some predictions about Web Design in 2005.

Some of the predictions they make include:

- Minimalism is out; detail is in.

- Retro/Swiss/Euro is out

- The pure 5-piece website (header, menu, sidebar, content, footer) has worn out its welcome; designers are more willing to vary from the standard.

- Color of the year - Brown. Lots of bold colors this year (maybe my color choice is ok after all?)

- Arial dominates as the body text typeface for the year; despite much disdain for this overused font, it provides some needed relief from the overuse of Verdana.

- The chronological aspect of blogs is downplayed; new ways to search content become popular.

Written on December 9th, 2004 at 08:12 am by Darren Rowse

The Definitive Secret to SEO Revealed

Search Engine Optimization 0 comments

Whilst the last article focused upon what NOT to do in SEO ‘The Definitive Secret to SEO Revealed is a much more positive article that focusses upon what one SHOULD do. It is a comprehensive article and well worth the read if you’re interested in climbing the Search Engine results rankings.

I don’t much go in for hype, and heaven knows the title to this article smacks badly of it, but I honestly believe the title is nonetheless accurate. There really is a Secret to SEO. And I’m going to tell you what it is. I doubt it’s going to set the world on fire, however, because knowing the secret probably won’t give you immediate mastery of search engine optimization. Knowing and mastering are two different things.’

Read more at The Definitive Secret to SEO Revealed

Written on December 9th, 2004 at 08:12 am by Darren Rowse

Eight worst search optimization techniques

Search Engine Optimization 0 comments

SEO Chat has another good article today outlining eight of the worst SEO techniques:

‘Some webmasters and SEO companies will use any means they can think of to get a high rank in search engine listings. That’s not always a good idea. Krissi Danielsson gives a detailed list of eight search engine optimization techniques you shouldn’t use, and why you shouldn’t use them.’

Read more at Eight worst search optimization techniques

Written on December 8th, 2004 at 11:12 pm by Darren Rowse

Who is Your Blog’s Customer?

Pro Blogging News 1 comment

I have a business coach who is helping me think through my blogging business. Its actually been very helpful so far even though he has very little experience of blogging. Part of the process has been me teaching him about the medium so that he’s able to help me structure what I do for maximum profit.

Last time we caught up he asked me a question that to this day I’ve not been able to fully answer.

‘Who is your customer?’

If we are to treat blogging as a business this is a question worth pondering. Who is your blog’s customer?

There are a number of ways of answering this question - and it may be that all are partially true….

1. Readers - the first answer that sprang to my mind was that I was aiming my blog at readers. Without them any blog aiming to make a few dollars would soon go out of business. They are an essential ingredient for blogging for dollars - however in most examples of blogs that make money the reader actually parts with no money of their own - or not directly anyway. A few blogs rely upon readers making donations or paying subscriptions for access to certain areas - but by and large the reader need not and does not part with any cash. So in their purest form they are not necessarily a customer.

2. Advertisers - Well if we’re looking for people that give us money in order to define customers then advertisers are perhaps the most obvious choice. Most bloggers making money directly from their blogs utilize some sort of advertising system whether it be a pay per click system, an affiliate program, private sponsorship or impression based banner ad systems. Without the incoming cheques, gift certificates, direct debits etc from these organizations we would also lose the ability to blog for dollars. However in most instances the relationship between advertisers and bloggers is rather non dynamic. In my mind a customer relationship is usually a little more initiated by the customer than is my experience with advertisers like Google. Google doesn’t really tell me what it wants - I simply give it a bit of space on my page and let it do the rest.

3. Other Bloggers - Another key relationship for many pro bloggers is actually other bloggers or news sources. As I’ve pondered this question over the past few weeks I have realized that these relationships are perhaps as important as the ones we have with our readers and advertisers. In a sense my fellow bloggers are customers - and also perhaps suppliers (I never promised this article would be easy to read did I?). How so? Well an exchange happens when you link to another blogger or news source. You get information (a quote, an idea, content) and they get readers.

For instance earlier in the week when I linked to a Business Week article about Blogging (along with virtually every other blogger I read) I quoted the article and in a sense got myself a little free content from my site. In exchange I linked to Business Week and hopefully sent them a few readers and gave their page rank a boost (maybe). The same was true (in reverse) a week or so back when Slashdot linked to one of my posts and sent me tens of thousands of visitors in a few hours and in the process used a little of my content to provide their readers with something to read also.

I’m increasingly seeing strategic relationships form between bloggers that look a lot like customer/supplier relationships. I can think of one blog in particularly that has fairly exclusive and mutually beneficial relationships with a handful of other blogs - I suspect this will become more common in the future.

I’m not sure that ‘customer’ is the best description of any of the above parties. I think I’d rather see them as ‘key relationships’. Similarly Search Engines are another party worth developing a relationship with. Of course I’m using the world relationship pretty loosely here - its hard to get buddy buddy with a monster like Google or Yahoo - but they are defiantly worth considering as one thinks through strategy. In a sense they are something of a ’supplier’ - supplier of that precious commodity of readership.

Enough Rambling from me - your turn now. Who do you see as your Blog’s Customer - or Key Relationships?

Written on December 8th, 2004 at 08:12 am by Darren Rowse

Google Testing Animated Ads

Adsense 6 comments

Yesterday I missed another change to Adsense - it seems they will be testing animated image ads - here is what they say on their site:

‘We’ll be accepting animated GIFs from a small test group of advertisers, and you’ll be able to display these ads on your pages! The new ads will still adhere to the 50KB size limit…’


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