Friday, July 6, 2007
Ten steps to a successful blog
- Does it offer RSS feeds?
- Does it allow comments?
- Does it have ‘Categories’ listing for topic-wise navigation?
- Does it have ‘Recent Posts’ listing?
- Does it have timestamps on all of your posts?
- Do the posts show the category in which they were posted?
- Does it offer a newsletter?
- Does the logo/layout match the content of your blog?
- Are your blog posts unique enough to convert your ‘first time visitor’ into a subscriber?
- And last of all, does your blog solve the purpose you gave it birth for?
Posted in : Blogging Tips, Web Design
Make your blog your home — Add a ‘Home’ link
Take your own blog for example. Suppose I land on one of your blog posts via google search for a particular term. If the post is impressive I might want to take a look at other pages of your blog, or in most cases, your home page, which contains the summary of your recent posts. Now, if I don’t find a ‘Home’ link, I’ll click on your blog title. If that doesn’t work (some designers leave the blog’s title or logo ‘unclickable’), I’ll have to click on several ‘newer posts’ links until I reach the latest post written. And if the post I’m currently reading was written months back, I’ll end up editing the address bar to make it read www.yourblogname.com! What a nuisance!
So why present your blog’s readers with such a pain? Add a ‘Home’ link and make your blog more accessible. Here are two ways you can do it -
- Add the text ‘Home’ directly linking to your home page, either on top of page or in the sidebar
- Make your blog header or logo clickable
Posted in : Blogging Tips, Web Design
Thursday, July 5, 2007
The right time to invest in domain names
There is no such things as ‘the right time to invest in domain names’. Log in to Sedo at any time of the day and you will be presented with figures similar to the following:
An interesting thing to notice is that each of these domain names were originally purchased for anything under 50 dollars depending upon the registrar, the time of purchase, and the domain extension! Nowadays domain names are available for as low as 3 dollars. If you are serious about making money online, you should seriously consider jumping into domain name business. Even if you are a blogger, you should have some basic knowledge about the domain name business.
Read about how Darren Rowse from ProBlogger.net waited for 3 years to get ProBlogger.com for over 4000 dollars.
Low investment - As I said, domain names are available for as low as 3 dollars (.info) and you can get the daddy of domain extensions (.com) for around 7 dollars. These rates may fluctuate depending upon the registrar you choose.
Easier than blogging - If you think that blogging is the easiest way to earn money, think again! Professional blogging requires you to spend money on a good domain name, web hosting, additional plug-ins and themes, etc, and of course a lot of time and hard work.
High earning potential / ROI - If you get hold of a premium domain name, you can just set back and relax, without worrying about putting up some content on that domain. You might even get offers as high as 7000 dollars for a domain you just bought for 7 dollars!
Domain business is a kind of lottery - A good domain name might turn you into a millionaire overnight.
And the Bad…
(Almost) all the good domain names are taken - All the dictionary words are taken and several two-word domains are already registered. It requires a high level of creativity, imagination & research to give birth to a new & valuable domain name. But hey, you can still find single word domains with domain spelling piracy.
Domain name investing requires patience - A domain name is not like a blog that will start earning money for you the very first day of it’s launch. This is the darkest side of domain business. You buy names, and then the wait never ends. You really never know when you will be offered some money for the domain names you own.
Domain business is a kind of lottery - Yes! It has negative effects as well. Once you start investing in domain names, there is no way out — you are lured to buy more and more domain names. I’ve seen people shelling out several thousand dollars in the domain name market expecting to turn them into millions. But the sad part is that most of them end up losing money as their domains never sell. Its not about the ‘quantity’ of domain names, but its about the ‘quality’ of domain names you have.
You can learn more about making money with domain names on my previous articles here &here.
Every business has its pros & cons, and it depends entirely upon the investor to make smart use of the resources he has. If you have a couple of hundred dollars, you might consider investing in a few domain names. After all, who knows — you might be the next millionaire?
P.S. I’m accepting offers for the following premium Indian-level domain names I own:
Posted in : Domain Names
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
New Blog? How To Keep Readers Guessing!
It takes time for a new blog to acquire a respectable position in the blogosphere - no matter who it’s author is. For a new blog, I strongly suggest to turn off features that reveal that the blog is new. I’m listing below some useful tips for newly launched blogs that will help you (of course if you have a new blog) to avoid creating an impression of being new and inexperienced.
- Switch off Article Count - If you have over 10 categories in your blog and no more than 50 articles, then it is obvious that each category will display a small number like (1), (2), or (5). Leaving it on will make the impression that the blog does not contain enough material to keep the reader hooked. Turning it off will make the reader keep guessing about the ‘volume’ of content and will urge him to explore more areas of your blog. Take a look yourself :
- Stop using widgets that display the number of visitors currently online. Believe me, this is a big turn off for me — as a reader. When I visit blogs that display a low number, I say to myself — «Another blog with no readers!» Sometimes, this number severely degrades a visitor’s opinion. Even blogs with as high as 1500 RSSsubscribers and more than 30,000 pageviews per month sometimes have no readers at a given time. At the time of posting this article, even TechCrunch (it has 433000RSS subscribers) is currently showing a number of around 300 people that are currently viewing the site. TC has no reason to show that widget unless they’re being paid for it
- Turn off the FeedBurner’s feed-count Chiklet. As I mentioned in my previous article - who would subscribe to a blog with low readership? So if you have a new blog, use some sense and switch it off!
- Stop displaying MyBlogLog widget for the first few days of a blog’s launch. TheMBL widget displays the avatars of ‘recent readers’ of your blog. Now since the readership of a new blog is very very low, you might not want your MBL widget to display the same set of boring avatars for hours or days. Frequently changing avatars in a MBL widget give an impression of a ‘famous’ blog, that it, a blog that is visited by different readers one after another. I’m not telling you to completely dropMBL - just install it’s tracking code into your blog template and only start displaying the widget once you start getting a decent traffic.
- Turn off Blog Archive. A majority of you will not agree with this. But there’s no harm, really! Just turn it off for a month or so! This will prevent you from advertising that your blog was launched this month or the month before.
Posted in : Blogging Tips
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
From the toothpaste we use to the choice of underwear we wear, we never let our habits change easily. Even when we know that the only thing that is constant in this world is ‘change’, we find it hard to get accustomed to some things.
So you might be asking what relationship does this have with blogging? Agree or not — we are caged by our own minds and hence we never dare to think out of the box. Just check out the list below and note the number of items you qualify for:
- Using a big (really big) RSS button
- Not having a ‘About Me’ or ‘Contact Me’ page
- Using 3 Adsense ad units, 3 link units and all the referrals offered by Google’sAdsense
- Displaying a calender on your blog
- Using absurd Google widgets on your blog that display IP address, etc
- Using MBL or BlogCatalog or Spicypage or BUMPzee widgets
- Using animations on your blog
- Using background music
- Using large titles that can be read from as far as 10 feet
- Allowing anonymous comments
- Not moderating comments
- Not commenting on comments
Change your habits
Get out of the habit of copying others — dare to be different. Several new bloggers live by the rule of i-see-i-like-i-copy. They are so blinded by some successful blogs and bloggersthat they start copying each and everything they find on them. They start using fancy feed icons, useless widgets, out of control advertising, etc. Spend some time on Google and you’ll definitely find blogs similar (in design) to ProBlogger & JohnChow.
Be inspired, don’t copy!
God has given you a brain. So prove it that you have it! Don’t copy others — be it in content, layout, logo design, colors, widgets used, etc. Its very much possible that a MBL widget that looks cool on some blog might look pathetic on your blog. Use features that contribute in making your blog more useful, and not just because others are using them.
Try and make your blog a wonderful experience for your readers. Remember that people visit your blog not because it is good looking, but because they find useful information. If a visitor likes your blog content, he will come back to check out new articles. But if excess use of widgets, colors and fonts turns him off, you will be at the risk of losing precious traffic.
In simple terms, it’s all about intelligent blogging - using a good and unique blog layout that stands apart from others, creating unique content, networking with other bloggers, etc.
Here are a few things I’d suggest you, my fellow bloggers, to follow and make the world wide web a better place:
- Use small RSS icons. I don’t understand why some bloggers use big RSS icons. It looks as if the blogger is saying — ‘subscribe! or else you’re finished…’ If casual visitors like your blog, they will subscribe to it no matter if you just provide a text-link pointing to your RSS feed.
- Use minimum Adsense ad units. Google is kind enough to provide us with several ad layouts and types, but that does not mean you should use each and every ad layout/type possible. Keep it limited to just 2 or 3 units but don’t give your blog the look of a newspaper by using all 3 ad units, 3 link units, and 4-5 referrals offered byAdsense. Keep in mind — minimum ads sometime result in maximum readership.
- Don’t allow anonymous comments. If a commentator is serious about what he is saying, then he will definitely take up the responsibility of his comments by providing his name and a link to his blog or email address. Anonymous comments are mostly spam. People comment anonymously especially when they want to express their anger on the blogger or what he just blogged about.
- Use descriptive titles. If you think that by using 2-3 word titles that do not hint about the content of the post will attract your RSS readers, you are wrong. By doing this, you are losing a huge amount of potential traffic that is served by search engines like google. You must make it a habit of using at least 2-3 words from your post’s content in it’s title.
- Get rid of stupid widgets. I’m pretty sure you’re not here to check out what today’s date is, what the weather gurus are saying, or what is your IP address. Then why use those stupid widgets that display time, temperature, IP address, visitor location, or other crappy stuff?
- Socialize, but don’t overdo it. Does social networking widgets from MyBlogLog,BlogCatalog, BUMPzee, SpicyPage serve anything good on your blog apart from making it look jazzy? Displaying just one of the widgets mentioned will make your blog look good without damaging it’s decency. Displaying more than one widget is a big no-no. If you love checking out statistics again and again, then I’d suggest you to install the tracking code in your blog’s template but don’t display the widgets on your blog. I just use MBL, and I’d suggest you too go for it.
- Use the right font sizes. I’ve noticed several blogs using inappropriate font sizes. Sometimes they’re so small its just impossible to read them, and sometimes they’re so big that the blog appears cluttered. I personally prefer using no more than three sizes on any of my blog. The title should appear big and bold, followed by a smaller size for blog posts. Since the sidebar is used for navigation, it’s font size can be reduced to 80% or 90% of that of the blog’s posts.
- Don’t forget to add ‘About’ & ‘Contact’ pages. Blogosphere is a place where people love talking about their favorite blogs and bloggers. I don’t find a reason why some people don’t have these pages in their blogs. Just use some common sense and add these, if you haven’t done it yet!
- Check your spellings. It doesn’t really matter if your grammar is bad. What really turns of your readers are spelling mistakes! Every blog platform nowadays provide us with a feature called ‘spell-check’. Use it — its not going to cost you anything.
- Cross check your blog on different browsers. This is the biggest mistake I did when I jumped into template tweaking. I optimized several of my blogs for Firefox, but accidentally when I browsed my blogs on a friend’s computer using Internet Explorer, I was shocked to see that the sidebar, header, buttons, posts were overlapping with each other.
- Don’t advertise your loneliness. Stop spamming other’s blogs or social networking sites with comments like «Please visit my blog / add me to your blogroll / lets have link exchanged» Trust me, the impression you create with these messages will bring irreversible damage to your blog’s reputation. Also avoid using FeedBurner’s feed-count chicklet on your blog if you’re having a low reader count. I’ve seen blog displaying feedcounts lower than 10. Now why would someone be interested in subscribing to a blog which has no readers?
Human nature is hardwired to find shortcomings in its environment. If there’s a power cut, it is all to easy to complain about it — but it’s a different thing to permanently do something about it. The choice to effect change lies within each of us. Its the same with blogs — everyone talks about spam blogs, crappy layouts, plagiarized content, but they forget what they themselves are doing with their blogs.
The moral of the story?
«YOU must be the change you want to see in the blogosphere»
Posted in : Blogging Tips
Monday, July 2, 2007
Why John Chow should drop Adsense from his blog
Anyway lets get back to the point. JC today posted his blog’s income for the month of June 2007.
Take a look at his June 2007 earnings:
- ReviewMe: $3,800.00
- Affiliate Sales: $3,213.02
- Text Link Ads: $1,506.71
- Private Ad Sales: $1,440.00
- Kontera: $1,000.00
- Google AdSense: $778.90
- TTZ Media: $339.85
- Buy Me a Beer: $219.39
- FeedBurner: $201.74
- Subscription: $70.00
- Grand Total: $12,569.61
Here are JC’s May 2007 earnings:
- Affiliate Sales: $2,485.74
- ReviewMe: $2,000
- Direct Ad Sales: $1,650.00
- Text Link Ads: $1,521.07
- Google AdSense: $1,246.50
- Kontera: $1,000.00
- FeedBurner: $300.53
- Buy Me A Beer: $194.65
- Subscription: $110.00
- TTZ Media: $50.90
- Grand Total: $10,559.40
Some interesting observations -
- The jump in his earnings from ReviewMe (1800$) in one month is very close to his total earnings from Adsense for both the months combined (2000$)
- His Adsense earnings are down — almost 38% while the blog has shown growth in it’s traffic
- Adsense contribution in May earnings — 11.8%
- Adsense contribution in June earnings — 6.2%
- ReviewMe & Affiliate sales make up 42.5% of his May earnings
- ReviewMe & Affiliate sales make up 55.8% of his June earnings
Most of you will agree that using Adsense on your blog cheapens it’s look and feel, no matter how beautifully they’re blended with your blog’s layout. Even I sometimes feel that its interfering with my blog’s quality content. But the amount of money it brings for many publishers cannot be overlooked! Check out CopyBlogger.com- the site has over 18,000 RSS readers, but no Adsense. Do you dare?
While pocketing around 1000$ per month from Adsense is a big dream for many publishers, it shouldn’t really matter for JC. With Adsense earnings contributing to just about 6%-10% of his total income from his blog, he should seriously consider dropping Adsense completely off his blog as he can make much more from the other sources that he uses to monetize his blog. This will definitely enhance his blog readers’ experience. Believe me, blogs with least ads look cool!
I know this post will not make any difference to JC. He does what he wants!
Posted in : Blogging Tips
Saturday, June 30, 2007
What Celebrities Never Taught Me About Blogging
What is the trick?
When you visit Technorati, you will find a tag cloud of currently hot topics (the most searched keywords on Technorati) You will notice that most of these keywords are celebrity names. The reason being obvious — fans keep searching for stuff related to their favorite celebrities. This stuff can be anything — jokes, news, photos, gossip, etc.
How does this trick help?
This tag cloud gives you an idea of what hot and being searched for. Now what some bloggers do, they just digg around Technorati’s tag cloud, pick a random celebrity name (like Paris Hilton or Britney Spears), and start blogging about them to gain (un)targetted traffic from Technorati’s search.
There are several celebrity-based news and blogging sites who use this trick to gain traffic. And there’s nothing wrong with this as they deliver what their visitors want — gossip, news, pictures, etc.
What I find funny is the way some bloggers use this trick to attract visitors to their blogs that target entirely different set of audience. Most of these bloggers teach about making money online. Now what relation does Britney Spears or Paris Hilton have with making money online?
Take a look at some titles used by bloggers to gain traffic from Technorati’s search:
- What Paris hilton taught me about blogging
- Lessons Britney Spears Can Teach You About Blogging
- What Ron Paul Could’ve Taught me about Blogging
Why (un)targeted traffic?
The reason I used the term ‘(un)targeted traffic’ is due to the following reasons:
- A blogger (who blogs about money making) visits Technorati
- Picks up the celebrity in news
- Blogs about him/her with titles mentioned above
- People search on technorati and happen to visit these ‘money making’ blogs expecting some pics, news, gossip, etc
- The stuff the visitor is presented with pisses him off
- The visitor closes the window and never returns!
I’ve collected some stuff for you to read — only if they interest you!
- Darren Rowse talks about ‘What McDonalds Taught me about Blogging’
- Jane May talks about ‘What Bloggers Can Learn From Paris Hilton’
- DesiNotes talks about ‘What Ron Paul Could’ve Taught me about Blogging’
- CashQuests talks about ’6 Lessons Britney Spears Can Teach You About Blogging’
Posted in : Blogging Tips