Daily Blog Score 7-26 & My Office

published on July 26, 2007

I finally finished setting up my home office! I’m pretty stoked as for whatever reason, I feel more productive when sitting in front of a desk rather than lounging around with my laptop doing who knows what while trying to blog. Plus, I get to use my 22 inch Apple wide-screen display which I hadn’t hooked up since we moved.

Can you tell we're a Mac family?

Oh, and before you think I’m trying to brag or you start to think I’m already rich or something, you should know I bought that display at an auction for exactly $2.00. A company I was working for had an auction selling off all their old hardware. This one was marked as broken but I figured I’d bid a couple bucks and have some fun tinkering around with it if nothing else. It started up the minute I plugged it in and has worked perfectly ever since. You gotta love the bargains. Ok, back to your regularly scheduled blog post.

When I got around to calculating my daily blogging score I realized I came up WAY short of my daily goal of 50, but setting up the office has got to count for at least 20 points right? Also, I wasn’t sure whether my brainstorming session counted as a plan for a series of articles but I went ahead and threw it in there. While it isn’t a plan per say, I came up with a few solid ideas including two regular blog features I will be trying out here. It was a close call whether that was worth 20 points but I’ll give myself the benefit of the doubt… Anyway here’s a look at my score sheet for today.

How did you do today?

20 Posts on Choosing a Blog Topic

published on July 25, 2007

As I mentioned in my post about choosing which keywords to target, my marketing plan for this site is not dependent on search engine traffic until much later in the game. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised as I’ve already seen some visitors from Google and MSN. Most of the Google visitors have been finding me through my post about Choosing a Blog Topic. I told you in that post, that it was a subject almost every blogger that writes about blogging addresses at one point or another. It struck me though that maybe you’d like more than just my opinion on the subject. To that end, I’d like to present 20 Posts on Choosing a Blog Topic:

  1. Problogger.net
  2. About.com: Web Logs
  3. Dazzlin Donna
  4. Dosh Dosh
  5. Performancing
  6. Pure Blogging
  7. Problogger.net
  8. Better Blogging with Michael Martine
  9. Small Business Blogging Scout
  10. Blog Herald
  11. Dosh Dosh
  12. Blogging Help
  13. Darjan Panic
  14. Blog Success Journal
  15. Suite 101
  16. Passionate Blogger
  17. Advice for Bloggers
  18. Can I Make Big Money Online
  19. Blogging to Fame Part 1 & Part 2
  20. and last but (hopefully) not least, Blogging Experiment

Joining Blog Mastermind

published on July 25, 2007

Update: I’m not quite sure how I missed it the first time but Yaro apparently also has a free Blog Profits Blueprint report. I have no idea what kind of quality it is but it’s free so why not, right?

“I wish there was something like this around when I first started out in making money from Blogs”

I don’t know about you, but usually when I read a testimonial like this on a site that’s trying to sell me something, I dismiss it pretty quickly. Unlike most testimonials, though, this one is from Darren Rowse of Problogging.net talking about Yaro Starak and his new Blog Mastermind program. Darren is probably THE authority about professional blogging and for him to lavish this type of praise on a program carries a lot of weight for me.

Admittedly, I am naturally skeptical of most programs like this. However, Darren’s recommendation combined with the fact that there is a 30 day money back guarantee to finally convince me. Essentially there’s no real risk. If Yaro doesn’t deliver on his promises and I don’t think it’s worth the money, I’ll ask for my refund and won’t be out anything but a bit of my time.

Basically, I don’t want to take the chance that I’d be missing out on something that could improve my blogging or this site. If this program can help me generate just one extra dollar a day from each of my blogs it will more than pay for itself.

I’ll take the next few days to review the information and of course report back with my impression and thoughts on the Blog Mastermind program. If you’re already enrolled in it, I’d love to hear what you think.

Daily Score 7-24

published on July 24, 2007

Today was my first day using the blog scoring system I highlighted yesterday and I must say, I’m pretty pleased. When I sat down to score things up I was 3 points short of my daily goal of 50 points. My first thought was “Oh well, that leaves room for improvement.” Then my competitive nature kicked in and I forced myself to sit down and write another post to put me 2 points over. I could have undone the change I made to the values (lowered the value of commenting on my own blog) but just like cheating in golf, even if no one else would have known, I would have known. (Sometimes that accountability thing really is annoying). And, looking back at it, that’s exactly what I’m hoping it will do for me. As I’ve discussed before, I sometimes struggle to create quality content when I’m not “in the mood” to write. So, while there will be some days that I rack up 75 points or more, I’m hoping to avoid having many 30 or 40 point days. I’m including a screen shot below so you can get an idea what my spreadsheet looked like.

Daily Blog Score 7-24

How’d you do? Do you use this or a similar scoring system? If you so, what kind of experiences have you had with it? Does it help motivate you? What kind of tweaks or changes have you made to your scoring system?

Biblical Advice on Blogging

published on July 24, 2007

Growing up, I went through the 2nd-8th grades at a private Lutheran school. I also happened to go to a Methodist church every Sunday so between the two, I managed to fill up large sections of my memory with scripture verses. Whether you find that useful (I personally do) or whether you think it’s waste of space, the passages are pretty much burned into my memory right next to baseball statistics, my high school locker combination (36-5-24), and entirely too many song lyrics.

Right about now I’m sure you’re wondering what the hell this has to do with blogging and to be honest, if you’re not, you should worry. This IS a post about blogging, though, I promise. I’m not sure whether I should blame my religious background or my strange heavily sarcastic sense of humor but when I stumbled onto the Ten Commandments of Blog Commenting while researching a future post, I simply couldn’t help myself. Without further ado, I give you Biblical Advice on Blogging.

    • Ask, and it shall be given, seek and ye shall find – I sort of covered this issue in my guest post on hmtk.com, but the point is this: if you want something, whether it’s a favor, a link, a guest post, whatever, just ask. People spend so much time these days coming up with elaborate schemes and automated methods of doing this and that when in reality, just talking with someone can often net you the results you were hoping for. Need a guest blogger? Ask your readers! Want to interview a high profile person in your niche? Ask them! While you certainly won’t get everything you ask for, you definitely should not stop asking.
    • Seek ye first, the quality content and all these things shall be given unto you – Yeah, I realize my translation might not match yours, but the point is, so many bloggers and webmasters spend their time scheming ways to game Google, Technorati, Alexa, and who knows what else. If those same bloggers put that effort into creating high quality, linkable content (also known as linkbait), all those things they are scheming for would come to them. Links, Google PageRank, Technorati and Alexa rankings, they all can be accomplished by leveraging high quality content. Sure you might need the help of some social bookmarking sites such as Digg, Delicious, or StumbleUpon, but in the end, the content is what will make your blog a success.
    • Thou shalt not covet – Alright look, spending your time worrying about the number of subscribers another blog has, the amount of traffic a competing site gets, or the amount of money another blogger makes just isn’t a good use of your time. Sure you should keep track of what others in your niche are doing but don’t let their actions define your blog. Part of blogging is giving your blog it’s own unique voice and if you’re tied up in trying to mimic or one up another blog, you’ll lose that crucial aspect of your site. Be yourself, be original, and success will come.
    • Whoever sows sparingly shall reap sparingly; and whoever sows bountifully shall reap bountifully – This goes for pretty much all aspects of blogging. Whether it’s some link love, comments and feedback, or maybe support on the social sites, the more you give, the more you’ll get. It’s just human nature.
    • Go ye therefore, making subscribers of all nations – Ok, ok, so this one’s not a direct quote either but hey, the early Christian church was the king of viral content and word of mouth marketing. I mean think about it, the whole resurrection thing… if that’s not buzz marketing I don’t know what is.

      What’s the Score? Setting Daily Goals for Blogging

      published on July 23, 2007

      In the midst of scrolling through my list of post drafts trying to figure out which topic I’d write about first, I got a bit side tracked by a thread over in the Authority Blogger forum (join up and help me get Chris Garrett over here for a guest blog post!). The thread, started by Eve of DillyDesigns, covered a fantastic post over at Problogger.net that outlined a point system to help keep yourself on task throughout the day. The concept is pretty simple; you assign point values to your daily tasks such as posting, emailing, commenting, etc and set a point total to shoot for each and every day. For example, if you award yourself 10 points for a blog post and your daily goal is 50 points, you’d need to write 5 posts in a day to achieve your goal. Of course a typical day would be made up of several different activities all with varying point totals but the end result is the same; you get work done!

      Whether you’re blogging as your full time job (as I hope to be doing in less than 346 more days), or you’re posting as a part time hobby, it can be difficult at times to sit down and make yourself work. Most of the people experiencing great success blogging or making their living online share one trait, the ability to motivate themselves. Whether it’s the goal they are striving for, or they are naturally fantastic at focusing, they are able to keep themselves motivated enough to get the work done when it needs to be done. Personally, I tend to go in spurts. When I’m excited about something or “in the mood” I can get a lot of things done in a very short period of time. Unfortunately, when I’m bored or a bit burnt out on something, I can milk a simple task for hours if not days. I go from being a picture of productivity, to a portrait on procrastination.

      Alliteration aside, I don’t think I’m alone in that. Just look at the number of blogs that have been abandoned after a few months when the initial fire and excitement died down and the “real work” began. However, setting daily goals for yourself, whether it’s with the help of a score at the end of each day, or not, is a GREAT way to keep yourself motivated. Not only will it help you keep track of where all your time went, it will also create a sort of competitive excitement about completing some of the most mundane daily tasks. At the end of the day today (not a terribly productive day for me in terms of blogging), I’ll tally up my score and keep that in front of me tomorrow. I can guarantee you my competitive nature will make sure I’m more productive tomorrow (and on and on).

      So how about you, what’s your daily blog score? How do you keep yourself motivated over the weeks and months of work that blogging requires? Share your experiences in a comment below… after all you’ll earn up to 5 points!

      My First Dollar & Yahoo Publisher Network

      published on July 23, 2007

      I’m sure you’ve all be on the edge of your seat waiting for the day I’d make my first dollar from this blogging experiment. Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, it’s my pleasure to announce the fact I have indeed earned my first cent. In fact, I’ve made $2.39 off of 3 clicks since placing Yahoo ads on the site. Unfortunately, all three clicks were from the first day I had the new ads on the site and I wouldn’t expect the click through rate to remain that high. In my experience, it doesn’t take long for people to develop ad blindness, not to mention the click curiosity factor of any new ads placed on a site.

      Normally in a post like this, I’d link you to their signup process and walk you through the steps required to register and begin serving ads. Unfortunately, Yahoo still has their Publisher Network in beta testing and I know a lot of people who have been waiting for quite a while to get approved. When you throw in the fact that Yahoo does not currently have an affiliate program to compete with Google’s (which pays publishers for new referrals) and it’s no wonder Yahoo hasn’t managed to keep up with Google in any area of search.

      That being said, the setup and installation of the ads was quite simple. You choose the size, shape, and color and plug it in where you’d like the ads to display. I’m hoping the contextual nature of the ads will help generate more clicks than the AuctionAds did. Once again I’ll be testing these ads out for a couple of weeks or so, relating my thoughts and experiences with it, and then moving on to the next network. Once I’ve reviewed a handful of networks, I’ll consolidate them into a nice easy to read series and maybe offer it as a download for subscribers or something.

      Introduce Regular Features

      published on July 20, 2007

      Whether it’s a Weekend Wrap Up, Free Shirt Fridays, or Top 10 Tuesday, I’ve found it’s often very helpful to introduce a regular feature on your blog. Now, a lot of people use the quick link posts as their regular feature and that’s fine, but in my opinion that’s selling yourself short and I’ll tell you why. A regular feature or “column” type post will do few different things for your blog. It will create anticipation amongst your readers, help develop accountability in your blogging, and, if done well, become something your blog is known for. It doesn’t take a genius to realize those are all things you want, the question is, how do you make sure your regular feature accomplishes all those things?

      Obviously if you want to achieve anticipation among your audience, your regular feature needs to be either very entertaining, very controversial, or extraordinarily informative. A perfect example of this is NBC’s Must See TV. In the mid 90′s NBC ruled supreme as the top network on TV. Much of their success was driven by their fantastic lineup on Thursday nights which was dubbed, Must See TV. Propelled by Friends, Seinfeld, and ER, the lineup created a night of TV that many in fact felt they must see. Now, with Friends and Seinfeld both gone and ER on its 153rd new cast member, Thursdays on NBC, while still called Must See TV, don’t even approach their former success. So how does this all pertain to blogging? My point is, it doesn’t matter how regular your feature or column is, if it’s not of the highest quality, it won’t be something your readers look forward to. On the other hand, if you succeed in making it something your readers just can’t wait for, it can propel your entire site to success.

      Continuing to use the TV analogy, whether it’s a good one or not, can you imagine if in the middle of sweeps week, NBC just couldn’t get a show on the air? Maybe they were busy, maybe the shows didn’t come together just the way they had hoped, or maybe somebody had gone on strike. Whatever the cause, it would have been a disaster, and even more importantly, everyone at NBC knew it would have been a disaster. They did whatever it took to get those shows on the air. Now of course they film TV shows well in advance of actually airing them but that’s not really my point here. If you establish a regular feature that your readers are looking forward to, you’d better deliver. Tying your feature to a day such as White Board Fridays, gives you a clear deadline. Your readers know when it should be posted, and you know they know it. That kind of back up against a wall, gotta get this post out no matter what, is exactly what creates the accountability factor. It’s one thing to set goals for yourself or deadlines for yourself and then miss them. No one else but you knows you blew it. There’s just something about other people (namely your readers) knowing that you blew a deadline, or didn’t deliver on a promise, or missed your goal that will help propel you forward and make you work that much harder to come through in the clutch.

      David Letterman's Top 10Last but certainly not least, is the branding opportunity a regular feature presents. For whatever reason I’ve apparently got television on my mind (I don’t even watch that much TV, so I’m not sure what this is about) but it presents another great example. How many people can tell me who does the nightly Top 10 List? If you have any sense of humor at all you’ll immediately smile as David Letterman comes to mind. For online examples, anyone in the SEO industry automatically knows White Board Fridays are a feature of SEOmoz. The same with affiliates and Free T-Shirt Friday… Shoemoney and his big bald head immediately come to mind.

      So, whether your regular feature is something fun, entertaining, or just more informative than usual, just make sure it’s something that your readers will look forward to. Not only will you have a preset topic to write about but you’ll be developing your accountability in terms of your blog, and hopefully improve and expand your blogging efforts, all by simply introducing a regular feature to your blog.

      Now get to work!

      Getting in the Groove

      published on July 19, 2007

      After three days of reading brilliant posts in the Rediscover Your Blogging Groove series over at Problogger.net, I finally decided to join in. I don’t really feel like I’ve lost my groove, but I wanted to highlight this series and I figured actually participating would be a great way to do so. I’ll go back and hit the first three assignments over the next day or two but today’s assignment is to write a link post. As I mentioned in my post on How to Cure Bloggers’ Block, link posts are great ways to pass along useful information to your readers. No blogger will cover every angle or every topic in their niche so linking out to other blogs often helps provide your readers with more complete information. Another great use of link posts is to reward you readers. For my assignment today, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

      As of this writing, this blog is only about 16 days old, however, there has already been 36 comments! Granted, several of those were me, but I’d like to take a minute and thank everyone who’s taken the time to comment on the blog so far. More importantly for this assignment, I’m going to link to their site. If you have a minute or two, I highly encourage you to drop in and see what they’re up to.

      Thanks again everyone for taking the time to contribute to this blog! If you’d like to contribute to the conversation on this blog, I’d encourage you to leave a comment on any post letting me know what your thoughts on the issue.