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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.

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Time for a summary

If you like to become a blogebrity, a problogger or a blogstar and aspire to be on the A-list of bloggers you will have to enter the blogosphere and start blogging yourself.

Before you start…

You start with creating a blog. You need to choose a hosting service and decide whether you like to get a hosted platform or use a multi-user platform and self-host. Beginners usually start with a hosted service such as WordPress, Blogger and TypePadall examples of hosted platforms. Just go into any of them, create an account and follow their instructions.

If you like to self-host, you need to register a domain and buy a hosting service. The next step is to point your registered domain name to your blog, a process called domain mapping. Unless you are a bit of a computer whizz you may need help with this!

Start blogging…

A blog usually has a main column where you write your story and sidebar(s) where you can put links and ads, also called blog verts or blogvertising. Apart from the page where your blog will appear there is usually a profile page that tells something about yourself and your reasons for blogging. Your readers like to know who you are so don’t under-estimate this.

Once you have decided on your topic you can post content on your site. Most bloggers publish posts on a regular base, ideally 3 times per week or more. Many bloggers are niche bloggers and they focus on a specialised topic. When giving your blog a name, keep it simple and broad enough to expand your topic!

When blogging you have to make sure you abide by copyright rules and give credit to other blogger or websites when you refer to them. Someone who plagiarises the content of another blogger is sometimes called a doppelblogger. If you like to uses pictures in your blog you can subscribe to sites such as Flickr where you can find countless pictures that are free to use. Alternatively you can take them yourself if you want to stay clear of copyright.

Posts are added in chronological order and stored in archives on the side bar of your blog. You can allocate categories and tags to your blog. This makes it easier for your readers to find posts written on specific topics. As a blogger you have access to the dash board or admin side of your blog. This is where you find all the controls and functions to manage your blog.

Your readers..

People who read your blog are your audience. They can leave comments on what you have posted. Unfortunately they can also leave comment spam but there are ways to minimise this evil. You can add filtering software and verification images such as CAPTCHA that pick up spamming comments and stop them from being published. Hosted services do this for you but when you choose to self host, you will have to install this yourself.

Your readers can follow or subscribe to your blog. By clicking on the RSS feed link, usually on the side bar, they can get automated notification from additional posts. You can create reciprocal links to other bloggers and ways to get notification are link backs such as refbacks, trackbacks and pingbacks all with their own specific functions. Don’t worry too much about this as you can blog without knowing what they are. They can be helpful once you get more serious and you’ll learn to use them when you are ready!

How to find you…

A search engine allows people to find information on the web. Popular search engines are Google and Yahoo and you may find web pages, blogs, images and other types of files on there. If you like people to find your blog you have to make sure that you optimise it with SEO or Search Engine optimisation. Your content ideally contains keywords that are relevant to search engines and the HTML code of your site should be optimised for that purpose as well. Savvy IT friends or in general young people seem to understand this innately!

A blog can consist of text but also of a mixture of pictures, videos, music, pod casts and many other things. Such media files are accessible through web feeds and can make you blog more interesting and interactive.

If you manage to read through the above and I haven’t lost you, you will have all the ingredients to successfully start up a blog.

Have fun blogging!