There’s a new alternative, or supplement, to the Adsense ads on your blog – WidgetBucks.
Once you sign up on the WidgetBucks website, you can select from a number of styles of ad, similar in size and shape to some of the Adsense ads. You can either select a product type for the ads, which should keep you in line with the Adsense terms and conditions, or you can allow the WidgetBucks context sensitive system to determine the best products based on the content of your page.
WidgetBucks also has an affiliate scheme, allowing you to earn 10% of your referrals earnings for 12 months.
Payment has a minimum of $50 and can be by cheque or PayPal. It’s open to anyone, so why not give WidgetBucks a try?
I’ve just installed a new widget on this blog, provided by BlogRush. You can see it in the left sidebar.
When you sign up for BlogRush (it’s free) and submit your blog details, you are provided with code for the widget to put on your page. This will display headlines from the blogs of other members of BlogRush which are relevant to the content of your blog. When a visitor clicks on a header it opens the other blog in a new window.
For every click you get on your widget you have one of your own blog headers displayed on someone else’s BlogRush widget.
In addition, if you refer someone to BlogRush, either by them clicking on the link in your widget, or on your direct referral link such as this one – BlogRush. If they sign up for and use BlogRush then you receive 10% of the traffic they generate.
I’ve used many traffic generators in the past, with mixed success. However, I believe this one could well work as it will mostly be used by bloggers with similar interests to your own. It is a way of having your blog be seen in more places.
How many of you have a secret desire to one day not have to go to an office in a dreary city block, or stand before a bunch of reluctant students and look like you know what you are talking about, or cope with the other crazy drivers as you maneuver your delivery truck through traffic and obstacles looking for a parking space, or drag yourself out of bed before even the birds are up to get the trawler out into the bay or the cows into the milking shed?
Which of you, who having been blogging for a while, reading the wonderful success stories, and envying the amazing page ranks of some of the “pro” bloggers, would also like to have money flowing into your bank account while you sit at home doing what you have already chosen to do because you enjoy it? I know one or two of these pros personally, so I know it can be done.
How can you make this happen for you? Or, more realistically, how can you begin to make this even LOOK like a possibility?
I’m no expert on this, but I have begun, and I am seeing some good results. I’ve been experimenting and trying things that some of the experts write about. Some work for me, some don’t, but all the time I’m learning. And I’m finding that, although it is time consuming, and even hard work, I am enjoying it because it is something I am doing for me!
But I don’t only blog for myself. Some of my blogs are blogs with a message. I believe I have something important to say, and I need ways to get that message read. Perhaps you are in the same situation â€“ part of an organization, church, club, political party, or similar. Perhaps you are a journalist or author who just lives to be read. You might be a poet needing somewhere to wax lyrical. Maybe you are a born teacher or prophet who just has to tell it like it is. Or, perhaps you just have a huge ego and need an audience.
If you are one of these, why would you also want your blog to make money?
Let me tell you a secret. Well, it’s not really a secret, many others know it, but it is an important key. There is an important link between readership and income.
The same techniques that will gain you a readership will also enable your blog to earn money. And if your blog earns you or your organization money, you will be able to afford to do more blogging, and use better tools to do it.
And it isn’t just a case of being able to do both at the same time, and so you may as well do so. No, the truth is that if you do the money earning part well, using appropriate techniques, it can also gain you more traffic. And traffic is what both of these goals need if your blog is to succeed. Success breeds success, and even if you, rightly, don’t equate success only with income, many people do.
Of course, this symbiosis between readership and earnings will not happen if you use inappropriate techniques. For example, we’ve all seen the banner farms where you arrive at a site and are confronted with garish flashing ads, which not only hurt your eyes and offend you with their content, but make it extremely hard to find out what the page is actually about. It still amazes me that even large corporations risk offending their readers with such things. My average stay at such a site is purely determined by how quickly I can get to the next one.
This might be an extreme example, but there are many other counterproductive approaches to traffic building and online marketing. We will look at some of these later in this series.
On the other hand, a well thought out, tastefully designed, appropriately targeted advertisement can actually enhance the content of a page for some readers. You can increase the value the page has for them by providing them with an opportunity to find something they are genuinely looking for. They may leave your page by following the link, which is always a concern, but if they go away in a positive frame of mind, it is likely they will remember your site gratefully and will be back.
If the ads on your site are relevant to your site, and people are clicking on them, and so earning you money, it is clear that your site must also be relevant to those people. This is a useful measure that you are doing something right with your content. If they are not attracted to your site in the first place, and that is entirely driven by the content, then they won’t be there to click on the ads.
You may say, but I can see this just from my page counters. True, you can measure visitors this way, but it does not show you who really engages with your site. But if they do something while they are there, such as post a comment, mention you in their own blog (hopefully with a linkback), send you an email, give you a phone call, fill out a response form, subscribe to your newsletter, buy an e-book, put a link to your site in their blogroll, put your RSS feed in their aggregator, or click on an advertisement, you know that their visit meant something to them. Our aim is to achieve all of these responses, but clicking on an ad is always useful feedback.
Because so many people are interested in earning from their blogs, a large number of useful tools have been constructed to facilitate doing this well and measuring the results. These measurements are just as useful for gauging and fine-tuning the audience your blog reaches. Best of all, most of the tools are free, and we’ll be introducing them as we go along.
As I mentioned above, I am learning a lot from many other bloggers, and along the way in this series I will give you links to some of the best resources and advice that I have found and am finding every day. The blogosphere is dynamic, so nothing stays the same for long. We need to track with these changes. In fact, by being an effective blogger you become an integral part of the changes.
So, as a brief summary, whatever the aim of your blog, it is worth while implementing some kind of earning scheme on your site.
Of course, you can’t do any of this unless you HAVE a blog or other website, so if you don’t have one you might like to first bookmark this page for later reading and then skip over to Your First Blog.Next time we will begin to look at some of the various types of opportunity that are available for you to make money from your blog.
One of the ways that I have had success in earning money from my blogs is via Google Adsense. This is a system by which, by signing up and adding a small amount of code to your blog, Google can place context sensitive advertisements wherever you wish them to appear.
By context sensitive, I mean that the Adsense system will read the text on your page and determine which ad would be most suitable. In this way more of your readers will find ads that interest them, and are more likely to click on one. Whenever someone clicks on an ad, you get paid!
I will write more about including Google Adsense in your blog shortly, but for now I want to mention a new feature that Google have just released. One of the sections of Adsense is the ability to earn from referring other users to the service, just as I am doing in this post. If someone joins the service by following a link from your site you get paid.
You can join Adsense and be able to refer others by clicking on the link in my Tools menu in the righthand sidebar.
I have been using Google Adsense Referrals for some time with some success. However, Adsense Referrals 2.0 is just being released to the wider public. It now incorporates the context sensitivity of Adsense Ads, and includes a much larger range of products to which you can refer your readers. It sounds like a winner to me.
It is very easy to look at your blog and see that everything seems normal, but underneath the surface problems might be lurking. When was the last time you checked that everything actually works as it should?
To give an example, I have a number of older blogs that use Blogger.com. Yesyerday I was setting up an RSS feed reader on the host site, Beth Tephillah Ministry Centre, of one of these blogs – Mal’s Meanderings. In order to obtain the feed URL I right-clicked on the RSS icon and copied the shortcut, as one does. I pasted this into the code where I was working and discovered that it did not work.
So, back into the blog template to see what was wrong. You guessed it – the feed URL being produced by the Blogger template code was incorrect. The code looked fine, but gave the wrong result. This had me mystified for a while, until I remembered that this blog was started on the old Blogger and later upgraded into the new Blogger. On checkingÂ the help system for the new Blogger I discovered there are now different ways of doing RSS feeds.
It seems pretty poor to me that upgrading should have broken code that used to work fine, with no warnings or error messages, just a wrong feed URL.
It also became clear why I have had no subscribers to that feed – it didn’t work! Apologies to anyone who tried.
Which brings me to the point of this post – how long since you checked all of the links on your site? It isn’t just about the possibility that things might have changed over time and no longer work properly. What about links to other sites that no longer exist, or worse, might now go to somewhere that you would not link to in your wildest dreams?
Why do people blog? People blog for many reasons. If you wish to be seen or heard on the Internet, the easiest way to achieve this is to start a blog.
You might simply wantÂ to publicise interesting sites that you find during your web surfing. You think they deserve a wider audience and want a way to point others to them. This is how blogging began – as website logs or weblogs – lists of websites that were worth visiting.
However, there are many other reasons why people blog:
- You might have a hobby or special interest in a subject. Part of the fascination of a personal interest comes from sharing it with other enthusiasts. You might also want to encourage others who you think might enjoy your hobby to try it. There are thousands of such blogs online. For example, check out my antennablog if you are interested in amateur or ham radio, or a reasonable mystic if youÂ wondered whether someone couldÂ be a Christian mystic without losingÂ their sanity.
- Maybe you are famous, or would like to be famous, and want to tell the world how great you are. Make a blog! Or, you might be a fan of someone famous and love to talk about them with other fans. Think of a famous name, or look one up in Who2.com or Google. I’m sure there will be a fan site about them, if they don’t have their own.
- You might not be famous, but feel that your own life is worth recording. There are many biographical blogs out there to read. If you are active in online marketing then a biographical page can help you to build your own name as a brand. See MalcolmDow.com as the beginning of my own modest example.
- Writers and poets use blogs to publish their own works. Blogging is a good way to practice your art, and who knows, you might even catch the eye of a more traditional publisher!
- Perhaps you have the mind of an information collector. In Australia we call themÂ magpies – others might know them as squirrels – they can’t pass up something bright and shiny. You just never know when it might come in handy! If you have a mass of information about something then why not publish your own personal weblog encyclopaedia? Another possibility is to produce a wiki, the most famous of which is Wikipedia.
- If you are a member of a society or organisation, such as a school, club, church or service organisation, then a blog is an ideal medium for publicising news and event, the aims of your group, and for communicating with members. I run the Healing Prayer Ministries Network website, blog and Google groups for this purpose. Many pastors are now publishing their thoughts and teaching notes in blogs on their church websites. My Mal’s Meanderings is an example of this.
- Businesses use blogs to publicise new products and to post customer reviews as part of their strategy to make more sales and provide customer service. This is particularly effective for products such as software or books which can be downloaded, but any business can benefit from a blog. Some blogs are businesses.
- Blogs are used to disseminate a message that the blogger thinks the world needs to hear. Evangelists, social reformers, lobbyists and politicians are appearing online in ever increasing numbers. especially during times of crisis or when an election is imminent. Critics and conspiracy theorists also abound at such times.
- Many blogs are used simply as personal (but very public) diaries. people dream, philosophize,fantasize and reminisce online. Others record their travels, or document their home town in a blog, often accompanied by photos and even video clips. Others talk about their kids or pets, or post their family history.
- Some people with expertise in a subject like to teach. A blog is a great way to present a subject in serial form. (You might be beginning to think that THIS post should be in serial form!) Perhaps you don’t know as much about something as you would like to, but wish to learn. Then why not write a tutorial blog as you discover facts about the subject? In my university lecturing days I was often only a day or two ahead of the students – at least most of them. Tutorial blogs are excellent if you also provide a means by which readers can provide feedback, ask questions, and engage in discussion with you and other readers.
- Interviews with people make for good blog posts. In fact, any of the traditional approaches to journalism may be considered as the basis for a blog. If you’d like to hone your journalistic skills, then why not take a writing course. My friend Nenia has one you could try at Pen2Print.
- Blogs are often used to review books, plays, films and websites. Start your own niche review site.
- Anywhere that an email list is used might be a candidate for a blog instead, or do both together. Chris Garrett has writen a good post on this called Should you build a blog or an email newsletter list?
- And if you are still desperate, don’t go to a ‘Dear Dorothy’ or ‘Ask the Professor’Â website for help – start your own. Readers could submit questions which would then be answered in your blog posts.
So, why do you blog? This is a question worth thinking about if you want your blogging to have focus. I was particularly impressed by well known blogger Liz Strauss’ answers when asked why she blogs. I’ll summarise her answers here, but see her blog post for more:
- I blog because I said I would.
- I blog because people need a friend.
- I blog because I am an entrepreneur in the 21st century.
- I blog because I value the wealth of the blogosphere.
- I blog because I believe words canÂ change the world.
Do you know why you blog? Why not post a comment now to tell us about it?
Here at The Blog Works we are running an experiment to determine the value of submitting blogs to directories. We will discover which directories are easiest to gain an entry in, and watch the effect of those links on pagerank and traffic.
We have begun with a number of general and niche directories, some of which require reciprocal links and some don’t. We have a running list of directories submitted to and the results of directory submissions here for you to check.
Initially we are focussing on free directories.
Blogger, a part of Google, is a free hosted blogging service which lets you post and manage your weblog from within your web browser. It is probably the simplest way to get started in blogging, yet still allows room for moving on to a more sophisticated self-hosted blogging system, as we will describe later.
Blogger provides a choice of a number of templates upon which to build your blog, and these can be edited by someone with a little HTML knowledge to personalise the features to their own liking.
- The first step in using Blogger is to set up a Google account, if you don’t already have one. You will already have a Google account if you use one of Google’s other services such as Gmail, Google Groups, Adsense, Google Analytics, etc.Â Otherwise, go to Blogger homepage, and click the “Create Your Blog Now” button. You will beÂ prompted to create a Google Account, or sign in with your existing account.
- Then you choose a display name and accept Blogger’s Terms of Service.
- Next, you will be taken to your Dashboard, where you will mange your blog. Click on Create a Blog. Enter a title for your blog, and select the address you want as a subdomain of blogspot.com. This will become the URL (Internet address) of your blog - e.g. myblog.blogspot.com.
- You are now ready to make your first post. In the Dashboard, under the entry for your blog, you will find + New Post. Click this and you will be taken to the Create New Post page. This is a WYSIWYG (What Yoe See Is What You Get) editor where you can type your post and give it a title.
- Once you have typed in your post you can Preview it to see if you are happy with it, or you can Save as Draft if you want to finish it later.
- If you are happy with the post then click on Publish Post. This will send the post to your blog to appear on the web. If you now point your browser to the URL of the blog setup in point 4, you will be able to see it. You can also click on View Blog in the Dashboard.
In the Dashboard you can also manage and edit your posts, by clicking on Posts, and change Settings such as the blog’s description, formatting, how comments are handled, who can write to it, and much more. You can also click on Template to change or edit the template which gives your blog its appearance on the web. Don’t be afraid to explore these features. We will discuss them further in future posts.
It allows you to edit posts for your blogs while you are offline and publish them later.
“Computers are incredibly fast, accurate and stupid; humans are incredibly slow, inaccurate and brilliant; together they are powerful beyond imagination.” — Albert Einstein