curtis

Dec 072013
 

Yesterday I shared the story of how back in 2004 I almost losing my business overnight. That big blip made me realise that I had too many eggs in one basket when it came to both traffic and income.

At that time the basket that all my eggs were in was ‘Google’.

I was reliant upon Google for most of my traffic and most of my income (by monetising purely through Google AdSense).

Over the next week, I want to suggest a number of ways I’ve tried to diversify my business since 2004, to build something that isn’t quite so reliant upon any one thing.

My hope was and is to build a business that could survive any one source of traffic, income stream, type of content or trend disappearing.

Today I want to start with the most obvious area and one that was a big problem for me….

Diversifying Sources of Traffic

Rather than a single stream of traffic I’ve been trying to grow multiple streams.

Yesterdays story is the perfect example of why this is important. I was reliant upon Google for around 80% of my traffic so when that traffic all but disappeared – so did my income.

If I’m honest with myself I think I had become a little complacent about traffic in 2004.

Two years earlier I had worked hard to grow my readership. Every day I networked with other bloggers, submitted content to other blogs, engaged in forums on my topics, commented on other blogs, learned about SEO and much more. The result was growth in profile and traffic. All of the above also contributed to a growth in search engine rankings.

So in 2004, when I was getting decent traffic from Google and was making a decent income, rather than pushing to grow my blogs through every avenue available, I’d allowed myself to become reliant upon search traffic and stopped pushing as hard.

That traffic disappearing was a wake up call that I needed. I’m actually grateful for it because it started a sequence of events that led to much faster growth of my blogs.

At the time I decided to do a number of things to grow new traffic streams to my blogs including:

1. Identifying WHO I Wanted to Read my Blogs

Part of this process was paying more attention to thinking about what type of reader I wanted to attract to my blog. This thinking later led me to create

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 Posted by at 2:42 am
Dec 062013
 

Last week I wrote about the experience of almost losing my online business as a result of having too many eggs in one basket and then followed up with a post on what I did to diversify the traffic sources coming into my blog to become less reliant upon Google.

Today I want to continue talking about diversification but to switch our attention to diversifying income streams.

Ways-to-Make-Money-Blogging1

Back in 2004 when I almost went under, I not only was too reliant upon traffic from the Google Search Engine – I was also very reliant upon Google’s AdSense Ad Network as the main source of income for my business.

AdSense had been very good to me up until that point (and it continued to be for years after), but by focusing so much of my efforts upon it I now see that it left me exposed and in a risky position.

As I suggested last week, a great question to ask is:

Is there a single thing that could kill my business right now?

At that time, AdSense accounted for 95% of my income – losing it would have had pretty devastating consequences.

I had already been experimenting with a few extra income streams in 2004 (including Amazon’s Affiliate program, some small time direct ad sales, and some other affiliate programs) but had become a little lazy in these experiments – mainly because Adsense was already doing so well (I was pretty much at a full time income from it).

As a result of almost losing it all in December 2004, I came to my senses and decided it was time to get my act together and to begin to grow some serious extra income streams.

How I Diversified My Blogging Income

Other Ad Networks

My first experiment was to try to find another advertising network that might work like AdSense. I tried a few (Yahoo had one at the time, for example) but none really converted as well as AdSense for me until I found Chitika (aft).

Chitika blew my mind. I remember the day I came across it and was impressed with it because, like AdSense, it was just a matter of copying and pasting code into my blog to show the ad – but unlike AdSense it showed ads with product images IN the ad unit. This was particularly good for me because my blog at the

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 Posted by at 2:31 am
Dec 052013
 

Earlier this week Facebook published a FYI update about more updates that they’ve been making (and are about to make) to what will show in users news feeds (thanks to Jen at FBAdslab for the tipoff).

The information is particularly relevant to those of us with Facebook pages who are sharing links in the hope of driving traffic back to our blogs.

High Quality Content Will Appear More

The ultimate goal of the latest updates to News Feed rankings is to show more relevant news to Facebook users, and Facebook states that they’re continuing to focus their attention upon showing ‘high quality content’ to users.

It seems that they’re going to start giving links to articles a higher ranking than they have been previously – particularly to users using Facebook on mobile devices.

This is great to know as a Facebook Page owner. I’d previously spent more time sharing photos with links in the descriptions of the images but have always put a few direct links into my updates as well – of late I’ve noticed these links doing quite well and now we know why.

Also in Facebook’s FYI update this week is an indication that they’re also focusing their attention upon distinguishing between high quality content vs ‘meme photos’.

This focus upon delivering high quality content to your Facebook page rather than going for cheap comments or engagement talked about a few weeks ago – but it’s only going to become more important (and this is yet another signal from Facebook that you need to pay attention).

Facebook to Start Showing ‘Related Articles’

The next part of Facebook’s update this week is pretty interesting for us as publishers. If someone clicks a link that you share on your Facebook page they will then see up to three related articles directly below in the newsfeed. Here’s how they show it as looking:

facebook-related-articles.png

THIS is pretty cool and has potential to drive some decent traffic to publishers creating high quality content.

Keeping the Conversation Live Longer

Lastly, Facebook indicates that they are going to be bringing back older posts that people comment on in their new feed to lengthen the life of those conversations, which is pretty good if you’re using Facebook as a community engagement tool.

Read the full article on these recent changes over at the Facebook Newsroom and let us know what you think in comments below.

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 Posted by at 2:26 am
Dec 042013
 

This is a guest contribution from Courtney Gordner.

If you want to maximise the potential of your blog, it’s essential that you interact with your followers. And if you want to interact with your followers, you need to know where to find them.

When they’re online and not reading through your latest post, odds are, they’re engaging with social media.  This is exactly why if you have a blog, you should be interacting with your readers on Twitter.

But hang on just a second.  Before you jump right into linking your blog with Twitter, you should take some time to make your blog “Twitter friendly.”  Here’s how this is done:

Creating a Twitter-Friendly Blog

Be Familiar with Your Target Audience and What Interests Them

It’s tempting to think that your blog should be all about your interests, but in reality, if you want to accrue a consistent readership, it’s essential that you write for your audience.

With this in mind, you should develop a marketing persona to understand the needs and priorities of your audience and a social media persona to know where they gather and interact on social media.

Use a Featured Image

Pictures, infographics, and visual aids draw readers in and grab their interest. Pictures should be properly formatted and appropriate for your content. Also, images of people are especially effective, so they should be used whenever possible.

Twitter Tools to Use with Your Blog

Use the Sidebar

Ask visitors to follow you on Twitter in your sidebar. Maximise the value of your blog by getting readers to interact with you on other social media sites.

It’s likely that visitors are already spending a lot of time on these platforms, and if you want to attract more readers, you need to go where the people go.

Incorporate Social Sharing Icons Above and Below Every Post

This is especially effective with your readers who are visually oriented.

Linking Twitter and Your Blog

Develop a Blog Profile

In your blog profile, you should give information about your blog, along with providing its URL, a current description, and gravatar.  The name you use on Twitter should be consistent with your blog.

Make Your Blog’s Brand Part of Your Twitter Image and Background

Since you’re using social media to enhance your blog’s brand, you should make sure that your Twitter profile uses brand elements that identify with your blog.

Enlist the Help of Your Friends

Share posts from your friends on your Twitter page, and have them return the favor by sharing your posts on theirs.

Keep

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 Posted by at 2:21 am
Dec 032013
 

This is a guest contribution from Nicholas Whitmore, freelance journalist and website content editor.copy

With search engine traffic becoming increasingly difficult to rely on, it’s important for bloggers, like you, to think of different ways to drive people to your website. After all, there’s no point in blogging if no one is going to read what you write, right?

One question I’m asked a lot is whether PPC traffic is a viable alternative to organic search engine traffic, from the point of view of a blogger. It’s something I’ve looked into, experimented with and drawn my own conclusions about.

It’s not free

You didn’t need me to tell you that PPC traffic isn’t free, but I wanted to get it out of the way.

The main different between PPC and SEO is that you pay on a cost per click (CPC) or cost per mile (CPM) basis. Whereas organic traffic is served on a golden platter to your website completely free of charge, PPC traffic costs you real money. 

The fact it costs money isn’t a problem in itself. Hundreds of thousands of websites use PPC, so it is definitely worth it in a lot of situations.

A few merits of PPC

Some people point blank refuse to use PPC because they don’t like the idea of paying per click or impression. Each to their own – but here are a few reasons you might consider using PPC advertising for your blog:

  • Instant traffic: As soon as your site goes online you can drive traffic to it. Whereas organic traffic can take months to arrive, PPC traffic is nigh on instant.
  • Turn it on off like a tap: Going on holiday? No problem! Pause your PPC campaigns and you can pick up where you left off when you get home. You can’t do that with SEO.
  • Highly targeted: Depending on the campaign settings you choose, PPC traffic can be just as targeted as organic traffic if using search networks on Bing or Google.
  • Control: You’ve got control over loads of factors including ad copy, landing pages visitors are directed to and more – it’s a great way to split test pages on your site and optimise them for conversions.
  • You’re billed after the traffic is received: If you’re really good at what you do, you can maintain a positive cash flow from day one – providing you make more money than you pay in costs.

Return on Investment (ROI)

Some bloggers I know cram their

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 Posted by at 2:14 am
Nov 272013
 

It was 17 December 2004 and my dream was falling apart, right before my eyes.

I had just celebrated the 2nd anniversary since I started to blog and I was on the tipping point of my part-time earnings becoming a full-time income.

I’d quit my only other employment to devote 100% of my time to blogging and had recently started ProBlogger to share what I knew about blogging for money. I had just been interviewed in a national paper about my business and all in all, I was pretty happy with how my dreams were progressing.

Then it happened. Most of my traffic disappeared, almost overnight.

I had been averaging 12,000 visitors per day to my main blog (a camera review blog that no longer exists) – around 80% of which came from great Google Search Engine rankings.

That level of traffic was enough to make a living from using the Google AdSense program (which accounted for 95% of my income).

I woke up on the morning of the 17th December 2004 to discover that my blog’s healthy Google rankings had disappeared overnight.

The result was that I was dropped to 2000 visitors a day (from nearly 14000) on my main blog and my other blogs lost even larger amounts of traffic.

Here’s how my traffic looked on my main blog at that time.

Statsdpb 1 2

Of course, with only a sixth of the traffic I previously had I also saw my income from AdSense take a similar tumble. Rather than a full time income, I was looking at earning enough money to call it a 1 day per week job.

I was devastated.

I was confused.

I was angry.

I was also deeply embarrassed.

Not only did my friends and family know that I’d quit my job to become a blogger… so did the world because I’d talked about it here on ProBlogger.

Falling from the rankings in Google was the single biggest challenge I faced as a blogger. I didn’t understand why it had happened and I came very close to giving up blogging altogether.

Thankfully I didn’t give up.

I’m glad I hung in there because just under 2 months later I began to rank in Google again and saw most of the traffic that I’d lost return. I’m also glad because that that really tough period taught me a lot about blogging, and about business.

The Biggest Lesson Learned: Diversification

That experience taught me many things but one of

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 Posted by at 1:34 am
Nov 262013
 

This is a guest contribution from Tim Soulo.

This year I’ve managed to grow a photography blog by 500% in about 6 months and I think I’ve learned something along the way.

I was following five fundamental things that you can learn from any marketing blog, but I like to think that I’ve made a few personal discoveries about each of them.

And the most important of all the discoveries is how these five fundamentals unite into one solid strategy. Once you comprehend it ­ your blog will start growing.

So let’s see if I’m good enough in sharing what I’ve learned.

1. Write Mind Blowing Content

Writer's warm-ups

Image copyright Robert Kneschke – Fotolia.com

I know it’s been said thousands (if not millions) of times how much the quality of your content matters. But let me try and give you a deeper understanding of this matter.

Poor content doesn’t get shared on social networks.

Of course you can always trick people into sharing your articles with all these “Social Locker” plugins (those will hide the content from readers unless they click on social sharing buttons). But this will only get you so far.

If your content is poor ­ there’s no motivation for visitors to click the “tweet” button.

Unless of course you have a raving community of fans, who will support just about anything you do. But…

Poor content doesn’t attract fans.

How can you expect a person to stick with your blog if he can hardly make himself read the first few paragraphs of your boring article?

Remember this: every time you allow yourself to publish a mediocre article, you lose a few potential fans (and maybe a few existing ones as well).

Most free content is poor content.

I think many blog owners will support me on this one. How many guest post offers do you guys get per week? And how many of them are actually worth being published at your blog? Hardly a few.

And that is one of the reasons everybody hates SEO guys.

They order cheap content from freelance copywriters (like $5 for a 500 words article) and then send out canned emails to every blog they’re able to find, offering this poor content.

In their turn, lazy blog owners are often tempted by the chance to publish a ready­made article on their blog. Somehow many of them still think that the more posts you publish, the better your blog performs.

And, to

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 Posted by at 1:30 am
Nov 242013
 

Image by Jonathan Cohen

Image by Jonathan Cohen

Earlier today I was asked for tips on how to speed up the writing process when writing longer posts.

I don’t know that I have an answer that will help everyone with that one as I think it partly comes down to personal style, experience level and skill – but two thoughts did come to mind based upon my own experience.

And before I share them – one quick note/disclaimer…. sometimes slow is best.

While I will talk about my process for writing that has helped me get a little quicker as a writer I do think that it is important not to rush your posts. Slow blogging can lead to posts which have more depth and that are more useful to your readers.

Having said that – I think there are times where bloggers spend so long on tweaking and perfecting their posts that perhaps they could do with some speeding up.

OK – enough disclaimers – here are my two tips!

1. It takes Practice

I remember in my early days when I’d spend hours writing even the shortest of posts. While there are still some posts that are more of a grind to write and can take time (for example three days ago I spent most of the day working on the Ultimate Guide to Writing Comments on Blogs) I do think that my writing has sped up when I compare it to how I used to write.

Related to this idea of practice is that when I write regularly I find that I write faster. If I write every day I get into a groove but if I take a couple of weeks off for a vacation I often find it really difficult to get going again.

While I don’t think every blog needs to publish a post every day – I do see this as a good argument for bloggers to write something every day – just to keep your writing flowing.

2. Break it Down: How I do It

The second thing that comes to mind is that when I approach a larger topic and sit down to write what I think will be a longer post I tend write in a different way to when I write shorter posts.

Knowing that the topic is big I will often try to come up with an outline for the post before

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 Posted by at 1:17 am
Nov 232013
 

This is a guest contribution from Gary Newell.

guest-post-mistakes.jpg

I started blogging almost two years ago and since then, my blog has grown considerably.

I have learned a lot in a relatively short period of time and I want to share five of my biggest mistakes so you can avoid falling into the same traps.

1. I didn’t link to my own articles

For well over a year, I would write articles and post them on various news sites and social media networks.

This isn’t a bad thing to do but I never linked to other articles I’d written so people bounced off my website very quickly.

For a while I couldn’t understand why people wouldn’t click on the menus at the top or click on the links in the “most popular posts” section in the side bar of my blog.

The truth is people clicked on my article in the first place because they may have been mildly interested in the title. I needed to give them a reason to stick around. And so do you.

It is up to you to sell your blog posts with great titles but then you need to try and sell other blog posts on your site. By not linking to your own articles you are just giving readers an excuse to leave.

2. I sold an outbound link to another site

There are various ways to make money from blogging but selling outbound links is not one of them.

There are a huge number of sites that provide lists of how to make money from your blog and some of them suggest selling links. I think this is bad advice.

Selling links is a sure fire way of annoying Google so selling one link for $10 isn’t worth plummeting to the bottom of Google’s rankings.

Another danger I discovered when I sold outbound links is other sites selling the same link, reducing the value of the link. I also realised the site I was linking to had a dozen pages of bad reviews. I quickly retracted the link and refunded the purchaser!

3. I spammed social networks with links

If you read the get-hits-quick guides for getting visitors to your blog, they will often say that you should embrace the social networks. I posted all my blog posts on social media before I realised the “trick”.

The “trick” behind

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 Posted by at 1:10 am
Nov 222013
 

This is a guest contribution from Ness.

Everyone wants more traffic to their blog, don’t they?

Image courtesy Moyan_Brenn, licensed under Creative Commons

Image courtesy Moyan_Brenn, licensed under Creative Commons

If you’ve been staring at your analytics wondering what’s going wrong, you might be making a few mistakes that are holding you back.

Not Having a Marketing Strategy

The first thing that should be thought about when blogging is how you will be marketing it. There are so many different ways to promote and market your blog, but without a good strategy or plan, you won’t be successful. This is extremely important at the start of your blog because you won’t have many viewers, so you won’t get any word of mouth visitors. All of the people you will be attracting are from your marketing efforts.

Rushing Content

Content that is rushed will always get very few viewers. Other blogs provide their viewers with quality content, so why would people want to stay and read a rushed post that isn’t as valuable? They won’t.

Take your time and create the best content as possible. You will attract more people and you will also be ranked higher (long term). The better the content, the more chance you have at ranking higher.

Improper Branding

Branding your blog can have some major effects on your traffic. Everything that you post for the public to see can be used to benefit your brand or the reverse. Bad branding will decrease your chances of attracting traffic, drastically.

Remember, branding your blog is more than the look and feel - it’s the tone of voice and the content too. You should be doing everything in your power to try and help your image and increase your authority.

Not Using Keywords

Keywords should play a big part in every blog post that you create because if you don’t know the phrases people are using to search, how can you expect to match those searches? Start by doing keyword research to find the keywords that will attract reasonable traffic for your topic. Keyword research can also help you find great blog ideas!

No SEO

If you want to rank higher, you need to apply search engine optimisation. Although I mentioned a few aspects of SEO so far, there are plenty of other techniques that you will need

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 Posted by at 1:06 am