Category Archives: Statistics

Learning from an experienced blogger

Yesterday I had the opportunity to be part of a Webinar organised by Problogger. Problogger is a website about all aspects of blogging launched by Australian Darren Browse in 2004. The theme of the webinar was ‘monetization’ of a blog. If you are interested in making money from your blog it might be an idea to subscribe to his website and receive notifications of his upcoming webinars. He is one of the earlier bloggers and talks out of experience – and I mean a lot of real life experience!  He is also the founder of a blog called ‘Digital Photography Blog – now called Digital Photography School.

I found the information he shared during this webinar very interesting and worthwhile for anybody who intends to make money out of their blog. Because of this I like to recap some of the content of his webinar.

Treat your blog as a business!

Darren Rowse first tip was to ‘treat your blog as a business’.  If you want your blog to be an income earning entity, you’ll have to start treating it that way. Just as with any other business you’ll have to strategically think on how to increase your traffic and get more advertisers.

He talked about the three foundations of profitable blogging – useful and unique content, effective promotion and an engaging blogging community. Once you have all those in place you are on the road to profitable blogging.

How to make money out of your blog

Apparently Rowse uses 37 ways, at least!  But not every way is suitable for everybody and it takes skill to decide what works best for you. Rowse introduces 7 groups of methods to make money being advertising, affiliate marketing, selling your blog, continuity programs, products, services and other indirect methods.

Currently his blog income derives from over 40% from e-books, 19 % through AdSense, 18% from affiliate programs and around 5% each from direct ad sales, continuity programs and speaking events. This may change on a monthly base depending on the launch of products and services. He uses a combination of monetization methods based on what his readers’ needs and wants. The first rule when deciding on ways to monetize your blog is to get to know what your readers want. You then match the method to these needs.

A bit of history

Darren Rowse first blog ‘Digital Photography Blog’ started out as a photo blog for beginners posting 2-3 articles per week. He remembers thinking that his articles were too simple but reader comments were showing him that he was spot on with his content. Over time he has educated his readers and now he is writing more advanced material and has increased the number of posts to 4-5 per week.

The importance of subscribers

Rowse’ readership grew enormously when he decided to set up an email newsletter.  80% of his subscribers come from this newsletter and only 20% via his RSS feed. He mentioned that a lot of bloggers focus on their RSS feeds to increase the number of subscribers however Rowse found that the real growth of capturing contacts came after he introduced his email newsletter.

When his blog grew he changed his approach. He expanded the type of topics and started hiring writers for very advanced content. He also upgrades his site on a regular base and optimises social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

The Webinar was useful and full of tips. It was presented from the heart and partly as a case study of a successful blog. Rowse ended the session with answering questions from bloggers who attempt to make money out of their blogs.

There were literally hundreds of questions – too much to handle here however I will filter some of the information and publish that in a future post.

Rethinking blog audience and design

I am currently having another go at my future blog about ‘Gourmet and Style‘. And it drives me crazy to have to make important decisions on it appearance and structure. My graphic designer and in the meantime good friend, is in charge of the looks and one of my daughter’s friends is the mind behind the structure.

It has not been easy so far and the two times I have been presented with a new design it has thrown me even more. It is hard to get across how you want your blog to look if you don’t really know yourself if that is structurally possible. Also it is hard to imagine in advance what all the different elements look together when they put on one page.

In my case the first attempt looked like a supermarket recipe card and the second was compared to a “Better Homes and Gardens” article. Both smart and attractive enough but not what I have in mind. The question is now ‘what do I have in mind?’ I was recommended to create my own blog page design with ‘cut and paste’, like children do.  In that way I can create a composition that I like and works.

I actually really like the ‘time-line’ of Facebook and the reason I find it attractive is because of its lay-out. It is the little picture set in the large header and the different columns over the page. It breaks up the monotony of rectangular blocks and lines. Both designs that were offered to me were too blocky and had no little quirky items that break up that sequence.

Who am I writing for?

This is only one of the issues as yesterday I had an interesting exchange regarding target audience with a male from a different age group.  He was the one who compared the design to a “Better Homes and Gardens page. He did ask me why I did not write for his generation. My answer was that he was not my target audience and he replied’ why not?

Really!!! Thorough and pedantic as I may seem I have to admit that this threw me quite a bit and I feel that I need to step back and review my goals for this blog. With the result that my ideas about the design may change.

The pro’s and con’ of creating

It is great to start your own business or website because you are in charge, you can make decisions and you are able to create your own conditions. But this is not as easy as it sounds and you have to be very confident that you make the right decisions. Or you just have to choose which way you go and run with it.

I have decided to do the following: I really hoped my blog would be finished by the end of June 2012. I am planning a trip to Europe and wanted to kick-start my blog with articles about gourmet and style from a European perspective.  I will still do that but I will start with a hosted site and template just like ‘Blogexercise’. When I get back from Europe in August I will re-assess the self-hosted version.

Not much new today however common issues for other bloggers as well!

Discovering, writing and believing!

Every time when you publish an article in WordPress, there is a little saying in the side column. This one below took my fancy:

“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe” (Gustave Flaubert).

I like writing, I like researching a topic and I like sharing my enthusiasm about something with others. I would make a good reviewer because I like to spread the news about good things. Unfortunately I can’t keep quiet about bad things either – I am therefore also a great whinger – a quality that may annoy some, but I feel that certain things need to be said and known so there is scope for improvement.

I generally believe in good standards and I honestly feel that people should not be able to get away with shoddy methods. Many do though! I don’t like it and I will very likely object. In the past I may have objected too harsh but I am practising the art of more gentle criticism and I get good results. And I am not the only one! Apparently an unhappy customer will tell between 9 and 15 people about their experience and 13% dissatisfied customers will tell more than 20 people! Only 4-6 people get to hear about a positive experience.

Social media have impacted these figures more than anything and word of mouth has been called ‘world of mouth’ as about a third of people who have experienced bad service will share it on the internet. The average reach of social media is 45 people. Pretty powerful stuff!

What do I believe in?

Aiming for high standards has to do with what I believe in. I believe that you have to give it your best otherwise do not bother. I try to write my blog posts in such a way that it is a pleasure to read them. I aim for interesting content that is new and not repeating itself and I attempt to achieve a professional image.

Since I have been blogging I have learned many new things but I also feel that the boundaries of the ‘blogosphere’ expand with every little bit of knowledge I acquire. A couple of weeks ago I almost felt overwhelmed by the extent of things I did not know. Is that what Flaubert means by his saying? Am I on the way to discovery when it comes to blogging? Is it more than sheer knowledge that makes a believable writer?

I suppose I am discovering what there is to know about blogging but more importantly I am finding out what are my beliefs regarding this topic. According to Flaubert I will have acquired the art of writing once I have become aware of my discoveries and know how to internalise them.

Complicated stuff? Surely, but also intriguing and I will continue to have a go at it. The topic that is ‘hot’ for me at the moment is SEO as mentioned in my most recent post. I need to learn about SEO in order to believe in it and consequently write about it. A worthy goal and I think my confidence may sky rocket after I know enough about SEO to feel confident enough to start educating others.

What a vicious circle and catch 22!


The road to SEO perfection

Looking at the type of comments I got on past posts about ranking and Search Engine Optimisation, I have to draw the conclusion that I do not know much about these topics. To be honest, so far I have written all my posts out of interest and I have never thought much about how to increase my traffic and readership. It is not that I am not interested; it is more the result of a lack of time. Furthermore so far it hasn’t really mattered that much to me.

Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy writing about my chosen topics and I am really flattered when people read my posts. However I don’t expect it as I have not yet committed to wanting to improve my ranking. I don’t know what to make out of it to be honest. First of all I am not sure whether it is possible to climb the ‘ranking ladder’ without paying for it.  I really know too little about it to have an educated opinion about it. If, and that is – if at all, I am interested in paying to get my blog higher in the rankings I feel I will have to educate myself first.

So far I have had a variety of comments about SEO. Some were helpful, informative and thought provoking while others were awkward, intrusive, belittling or condescending. I still have all of them and I like to evaluate them a little more to see which one could hold value for me and which ones are ready for dismissal.

So maybe in a month or so I know exactly what needs to be done, what keywords to use and whether they are supposed to be bold, Italics or a different colour. Interesting challenge… Some comments I received were about things I never heard of such as ‘H tags’. What on earth are they? I have read quite a bit about blogging, may not understand all of it, and there are obvious words and terms out here that are totally new to me.

Specialist or novice?

That makes it even more challenging. One thing I have noticed – it seems that many people who have a website or blog seem to know about SEO or ‘pretend’ to do so. When I get a comment with a link to a site that supposedly can assist me, it would be interesting to see where these sites are actually ranking. Their credibility would increase enormously if they have been able to reach the first page.

For now I accept defeat that I am a novice when it comes to SEO. Fortunately I have never pretended to be an expert on the topic and I won’t advice others until I am. Unless I manage to find my way to the top I keep on searching, filtering and sifting through the countless sites full of well-meant advice. Only then when I have mastered the art of successful SEO I will start telling others what may help.

Hope you stay with me!

Help, my ranking is low!

Obviously my ranking is low because I get targeted by all kind of miracle workers who are willing to boost my popularity for a price. It is interesting and intriguing as I really do not know much about it – the so-called SEO or Search Engine Optimisation.

It must be every site owner’s worst nightmare – this phenomenon of ranking. How does one go about it and what makes your page go to the top? To be realistic there is only one space at the top and there is only one first page. Usually the sites that are at the top of page 1 ‘buy’ their space. At the moment I am not interested in that so I’ll leave that option.

What is SEO?

Let’s step back and explore SEO a bit further. “The process of improving webpages so they rank higher in search engines for your targeted key words”, are the words Shimon Chandler uses when he introduces his PowerPoint about SEO. He is one of the many links to SEO on the first page. It is hard for novices to know which one to read, believe and try. As with many sources of information nowadays, it is not easy to educate yourself – there is just too much information available.

Another specialist on the first page presented his daughter who, after hearing about monetisation of blogs, decided to create her own blog, put AdSense on it and managed to make $1000 per month in no time. When you are 16 this is no doubt a much better income earner than dog walking, babysitting or selling fast food. But I don’t believe it is that easy, although for her it might have been as her father is a SEO specialist.

Unfortunately I do not have SEO gurus in my circle of friends so I have to figure it out myself or pay for it. “Pay for what?” I say immediately as I don’t know what needs to be done. I heard that the majority of people who browse the web do not go past the first page. That is tough, the first page! To be one of the ‘chosen’ ones on page one of all those ‘wannabees’ must come with a huge price – excuse me for being cynical!

SEO marketing…..

I bet this article will attract a large number of SEO specialists which may be good for me. I will be able to have a look at their offerings before I decide what it is that I need to do to get to that coveted number 1 spot. The unfortunate thing is though that I do not really understand their technical jargon, too specialised for me. As always the same issue – unless you are computer savvy it is beyond my ‘technical’ comprehension!

In one of my previous post I wrote about ‘simplifying’ information. That is my aim with this blog – to simplify the blogging phenomenon for the less technical savvy user. I am one of them myself but I take the effort to learn, sift through the available material and act somehow as a filter. Regarding SEO I need to find someone who can be the filter I need. All these sites about SEO offer the best results and claim that your blog can’t exist without their latest Plug-in or Widget.

Unfortunately I don’t know what they are talking about and I never spend money on something I do not understand. It’s a vicious circle, I am afraid!

Number crunching…

With so many blogs around you wonder who finds and reads your blog. We are overwhelmed with information and yet we love spending time seeking out more. The number of people who write blogs is growing steadily and the reasons for blogging are numerous. I thought it might be interesting to explore this a bit further and I came across the following.

Technorati, an internet search engine for searching blogs, releases every year a report called the State of the Blogosphere. Since 2004 they have followed trends and measured growth in the blogosphere.  The 2011 study reports on topics such as media, branding, marketing, monetisation and changes within the blogosphere,

It’s interesting reading especially if you are a number cruncher. The report shows some remarkable figures displayed in easy graphs. Technorati used to follow blogs worldwide but seem to concentrate nowadays only on English blogs.

Some interesting findings

Technorati divides bloggers into various categories – hobbyist, professional part time and full time, corporate and entrepreneurs. Most bloggers are between 25 and 45 year of age and in this group the part time professional writers are represented the best. More than three quarters of the world’s bloggers are from the USA, Canada and Europe.

People spend 1-3 hours per week blogging and write between 2-3 posts. Professional full time bloggers spend over 35 hours per week and post 1-2 per day. And believe it or not there are some who post up to ten times per day!

The largest percentage of bloggers gets their inspiration from other blogs. Against my expectations as I would have thought that people tend to blog because they have this burning desire to write about something that is important or of interest to them. The second source of inspiration is conversations with friends. I can relate to that. Once you have started blogging, many everyday discussions with friends have the potential of becoming the subject of your next blog post.

The increasing impact of blogs

Blogs are seen more and more as a serious source of information. They will keep on growing in popularity and bloggers believe that more people will be getting their ‘news fix’ from blogs than from traditional media sources over the next 5 years.

To me blogs represent a source of information with a ‘human element’. I find myself looking for blog communities and forums when I need ‘brainstorm’ information. I am aware this type of info could be subjective but if you read various sources you will get a fair idea. People who talk about something out of experience can make you aware of the benefits or lack of benefits of a product or service.

Traditional media or advertising tends to concentrate on the features of a product and service. It may be considered more’ objective’ but I can’t tell from features what the potential benefits could be. Seeing someone elaborating in a blog may well help me decide. Then I like to add that I am not so sure about the traditional media sources being that ‘objective’ either but that is a different subject altogether!