100 Subscribers in 45 Days!

published on August 18, 2007

I know I don’t normally post on the weekends but I logged in today and saw the Feedburner feed count had hit 100! Blogging Experiment has been online for about 45 days and to have hit 100 subscribers already is, in my opinion, a great sign. Other blogs have certainly grown faster, but countless have never even reached 100 subscriptions either. When you throw in the fact that I’ve not leveraged any of my other websites when launching this one, I’m pretty darn happy with making it to the century mark in only a month and a half. Here’s a look at the count over the last 30 days.

I hope I’ve documented every step I took and every marketing method I’ve used but if I missed something or you have a question about an action I took, please don’t hesitate to ask. In fact, I’ve dedicated Monday’s to answering readers’ questions so seriously, don’t be shy.

In terms of making money with this blog, it’s on it’s way but I’ve also got a long way to go if I am going to reach my goal of a full time income by the end of the year. I’ve had a couple referrals this month to Text Link Ads, which pay $25 each, so I’m about 1/100th of the way there for the month. 😉 Also, I’m still 45 days away from being eligible for programs like ReviewMe or PayPerPost so I’m not too worried about the income level just yet.

Anyway, I should probably get out of here before the wife realizes I’m posting on the weekend. I just couldn’t help it when I saw that nice round number in the feed count. Have a great weekend!


WordPress Plugins: Add Quicktags

published on August 17, 2007

If you’re anything like me, every once in a while you find a task that just drives you nuts. It doesn’t even have to something difficult or time consuming, it’s just something you would love to never have to do again. For me, underlining text in WordPress was one of those things. I don’t do it all that often and lord knows it certainly wasn’t difficult to go into the code view and type out the <u> but it drove me absolutely crazy every time I had to do it. I think that’s mainly because I can’t understand why WP didn’t include that button along side the others up there in the left hand corner. You want to make something bold? No problem. You wanna italicize a word or two? Hey, it’s easy! Hell, even crossing out text that you’ve written is simple with the nice little ABC up there. But, if you should dare to need to underline those same couple of words? Now we’ve got issues. You have to switch views (from Visual to Code) and then you have to go in and type out the code.

That is of course, until I stumbled onto a post over at jakeldaily.com. The post itself was about getting the “magazine” look on your blog using pull quotes. It’s actually a pretty cool idea that I’ll probably try later, but that wasn’t what got me so excited. In that post, Jason linked to a plugin called Add Quicktags that allows you to create your own little quick tag buttons in the WordPress editor. The page for the plugin is in a foreign language (I think Dutch?) but the basic plugin installation steps apply. You upload the file (I actually uploaded the folder not sure if it matters) and activate the plugin. After that, you should see an Add Quicktags link under your Options tab. Simply click on that, and away you go! Here’s a screen shot of the first new tag I added (underlining of course!):


(Click for Full Image)

 

So, now when I want to underline something, I still have to click over to the code view, however, now I’ve got my own custom button to tag the text for me! This may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but if there is any type of code you find yourself entering on a regular basis, consider using this plugin to save you that extra bit of time and effort. Also, if anyone knows of a plugin that would put my beloved underline button on the Visual editor view toolbar, please let me know.

P.S. I’ve received right at 20 entries for the Complete Blogging Package contest. There’s still a couple of weeks to go but that’s pretty good odds if you ask me!


Buy Me a Beer is Internet Panhandling

published on August 16, 2007

“Panhandling – to stop people on the street and ask for food or money ; to beg”
~ Merriam Webster Dictionary

Buy Me A Beer - Internet Panhandling?As I was looking through a list of WordPress plugins earlier, I once again came across the “Buy Me a Beer” plugin. Basically, this plugin is a glorified PayPal button which is supposed to somehow make it seem like you’re not just asking people for money.

Most of the sites that I’ve seen use it phrase it something like “Like this post/site? Buy me a Beer!” followed by some arbitrary suggestion like $3 for a beer and $7 for a pitcher. Some apparently don’t drink beer and have changed it to ask for a cup of coffee or a nice cold soda. No matter which way you say it, I just can’t get past the fact that you’re essentially panhandling. Instead of a busy street corner you’re using your blog. Instead of a hat or a cup of change, you’re using this plugin. Bottom line though, you’re begging for money.

Now hold on, I can already hear people saying “I’m not begging, I’m just offering a way for grateful readers to show their gratitude!” Yeah, and the saxophone player I see every time I leave a St. Louis Cardinals’ game isn’t begging either, he’s just offering us a way to reward him for his great playing, right? Here’s the thing, if your content is of a high enough quality that you think people will be grateful and give you money for sharing it with them, then sell your content! Start offering a paid section of your site. If you offer an ebook for free but welcome donations to help support your writing efforts, sell the darn thing! It’s either valuable or it’s not… period! If you don’t place enough value on it that you don’t think you can sell it, then why in the world would I value it enough to donate money after the fact?

What’s worse is when you see this type of thing on an already successful site. I mean, honestly, when’s the last time you saw a guy in a designer suit standing on the corner asking passersby if they could spare a dollar or two? Or better yet, how would you react if someone asked you for some change, you gave them a few bucks, and they turn around, hop in a brand new BMW and drive off? So why is the online world any different?

Now, there are some people using it basically as a payment system. For example, when I announced the first ever Blogging Experiment Contest, I paid three dollars to the ContestBlogger to get a longer review on his site. These sites have a clearly stated exchange; if pay me this, I’ll do this. To me these people should just use a paypal button and be done with it but hey, at least they are selling their service.

The one thing I’ve noticed through the years about people I’ve seen begging on the street, very few of them are proud of what they’re doing. Even fewer will look you in the eyes and if they do, you almost always see their shame. Now please don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to sound like I’m ripping on people that beg or panhandle on the streets of our cities. But the bottom line is this: you might make some extra money every month from people “buying you beers” but you won’t make a dime from me and you might very well end up looking like an internet panhandler. In my book, that’s not something to be proud of.

Update: I feel I need to clarify one point. Just because something is free doesn’t mean I think it’s worthless or has no value. Things such as ebooks that are given away as a reward or even freely as a marketing tool etc. are often very valuable.

I guess I view blogs similarly to radio shows, newspaper and magazine articles, and even TV shows. Yes, all of those mediums offer up information and entertainment. However, when’s the last time you watched a TV show and at the end they said, hey if you liked the show please send us $5. If your blog offers quality information and you chose to offer it for free, monetize your site in other ways. Sell advertising, display affiliate offers, etc. Don’t offer it for free and then hedge your bet by then asking for donations.


Commenting on John Chow dot Com – A Case Study

published on August 15, 2007

Just about every single person that has ever given advice on blogging has suggested commenting on other blogs and getting involved in your niche. In fact, it’s so important that commenting earns you points towards fulfilling your daily blog score goal. However, one thing I’ve noticed throughout my life is that there are some people out there who absolutely must see something for themselves before they believe it. I know because I’m usually one of them. Anyway, I thought I’d give you “doubting Thomas” types some solid concrete evidence to back up the almost cliche advice to comment on other blogs.

Towards the end of last month, I picked a bit of a fight over on JohnChow.com. While wracking up the comments wasn’t my intent, I did record a new personal best for my daily blog score, as well as earn myself a spot on John’s list of top commentators. So, what did I get out of it? See for yourself. This is a screen shot of my referrals from JohnChow.com for the 15 days after I began commenting on his site.

John Chow dot com Referrals

(Click image for full size version)

As you can see, JohnChow.com sent 272 visitors to this site in 15 days. That’s on pace for more than 500 visitors in a month and an average of about 18 visits a day. Sure that’s only a fraction of John’s traffic numbers, however, there are plenty of sites out there that don’t get that many visitors total, in a month. As with most things that produce results, it does take some work. John’s site has a very active base of commentators, a significant portion of which only leave one line comments (spam in most books) just to pump up their comment count. However, I probably spend less than 20 minutes a day commenting on his site and at this stage in my blog’s development, one minute per visitor is a pretty good exchange. Not only that, but the traffic John sends me is highly targeted as well. People that read his blog are naturally more likely to be interested in the subjects I cover. The stats illustrate that point quite well as the referrals from JohnChow.com are more than twice as likely to subscribe than the average visitor to this site.

So, is commenting on other sites in your blog’s niche worth your time and effort? Looking at these numbers, you tell me…


Reader Question Session: Search Engine Submission

published on August 13, 2007

As regular readers of this blog already know, I’m a big fan of having regular features on your blog. However, as many of you also know, I’ve not yet introduced any such feature on this blog. In essence, I’ve not practiced what I preached, so, as of today, that is going to change. From now on, Monday mornings here on Blogging Experiment will feature reader submitted questions and as many answers to them that I can come up with. Some weeks I’ll only answer one, some weeks I’ll hit as many as I can but each and every day, your questions are more than welcome. So, without further ado, here’s the first question in our new feature:

One thing that I’d like to see you cover is your process of submitting to search engines and feed sites such as pinggoat. Have you done that, and if so, what was the process that you went through to make the greater world aware of your site? Did you use Google Webmaster tools? Or, are you commenting on other blogs and letting the links in your profile/signature page be the hint to the search engines and bots that you’re out there, alive, and well?

Thanks!
Jason

I’d like to first start off by saying that I make a conscious effort to explain each and every step I take in promoting and running this blog. However, as we’ve seen a couple of times already, there are some actions or issues that I take for granted due to my search engine optimization background. This is one of those issues. This question is actually quite common and thank you very much, Jason, for pointing out to me that I’ve not yet addressed it.

Search Engine Submission
As for your question, I never bother with submitting my sites to search engines. It’s quite simply, a colossal waste of time. I’ve seen Google index new blogs within hours of the first post and Yahoo and MSN are usually quite quick as well. Any SEO or internet marketing company that offers to submit your site to hundreds or even thousands of search engines is, in my opinion, looking to rip you off. I mean think about it, how many different search engines can you name? I’m an SEO and I can probably only come up with 10 or so. From a traffic standpoint only 3 or 4 really matter (Google, Yahoo, MSN, and Ask) and all of those will find your site without any submissions needed.

Ping Services
I do use the pinging service Ping-o-Matic, that is set as the default setting in WordPress. I’ve used several more services in the past but found pinging too many sites just slows down the time it takes for my post to be published. And, for the most part, Ping-Momatic takes care of the bulk of the site’s I’d want to hit anyway.

Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster tools or Webmaster Central is a very good source of information and can be quite useful as well. Google is famously the Scrooge of information in the search engine world, so any data that they are willing to share with you is worth looking at. The bulk of the benefit from Webmaster tools (at least in terms of making sure Google knows about your site) is the sitemap feature. This is probably a good subject for a future post all on it’s own so I’ll just say having a sitemap that Google can find is often a wise move. However, so far for this site, I’ve not yet created one and I certainly don’t rely on it to make sure Google knows about my website.

Post/Comment
That brings us to Jason’s last question about commenting on forums and other blogs and allowing links to do your talking. This is basically the method I use when creating a new site and the method I used for this blog as well. Links are the backbone of ranking in a search engine and you’re going to need them anyway, why not start right from the get go? Besides that, posting in forums and commenting on other blogs can often bring visitors directly, without having to worry about the search engines. Any link that can do that, is well worth having. As I mentioned in my post about keyword research, relying on search engine traffic early in the game is a recipe for failure. Sure some sites manage to rank well for their target terms seemingly right out of the gate, but most of us are going to have to work for a while before we see any type of payoff with the search engines.

One final method of alerting the search engines, as well as the general public, about your new blog or site, is to leverage your existing site or sites. For this experiment I chose not to use this method since I want to make sure this entire blog is something that anyone can reproduce with a bit of work. Unfortunately, not everyone has a network of existing sites they can promote and more importantly for this discussion, link to their new project from. If you are fortunate enough to have other sites at your disposal, don’t be afraid to use them.

Well, Jason, I hope that answers your question. Thanks very much for asking! For the rest of you, I hope this was at least a little bit helpful and be sure to start thinking about questions for next weeks’ Reader Question Session.


You Sphinn Me Right Round, Baby

published on August 10, 2007

“You spin me right round, baby
Right round like a record, baby
Right round round round”
~ Dead or Alive “You Spin Me Round”

Unless you’ve been under a blogging rock for the past year or so you’ve probably heard of the social bookmarking sites Digg, Reddit, Delicious, and a host of others. These sites have huge followings that, if your content is deemed worthy, will swarm your site devouring bandwidth like locusts and hopefully leaving a few subscribers and a load of new links in their wake. However, unless you’re involved in the search engine marketing industry, you might not have heard about one of the newest socially driven sites, Sphinn.com. Before you ask, it’s pronounced “spin” not “sfin” like you’d think. I’m not a huge fan of the domain name but hey, I can deal.

Anyway, Sphinn is what I would consider a niche social site, and while it’s still quite young, hitting the front page can expose your site, and more importantly your content, to hundreds of search marketers. While that would only be a drop in the bucket when compared to the wave of traffic a site like Digg will send, it also might be a lot more valuable traffic. Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz created the term “linkerati” which basically means people who are the most likely to link out to your site (read his full definition here). While it might be fun seeing 10,000 Apple fan-boys swarm your site, if they don’t subscribe and they don’t link to your site, how much benefit did you actually gain from it? My point is, the audience at Sphinn is far more likely to be members of the “linkerati” and therefore, exactly the people you want to market to.

You may have noticed I called Sphinn a niche site. By definition that would imply that it’s not for everyone, and in fact, that’s just the case. Sphinn may not fit everyone’s blog. However, with a bit of creative thinking, you might be able to find a way to work your site in. For instance, yesterday I submitted my story (oh, that’s another nice thing about Sphinn as opposed to Digg, they encourage you to submit your own content!) about making money from abandoned blogs. While there is no “make money online” topic, I thought the story fit quite nicely into the “Display Advertising” category. Apparently at least a few others agreed with me as the story hit the front page and now sits at 21 votes. According to Google Analytics, that was good for nearly 100 new visitors to the site.

As I’ve often said in the past, it’s nothing to write home about but it was more than worth my time. In fact, I was so pleased with the outcome I’ve already submitted a second story. I’d encourage you to check the site out, and think of ways you might be able to fit one of your existing posts in or how you can craft a story for future submission. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to give my second submission a Sphinn.


A Guest Blogger on Guest Blogging

published on August 9, 2007

I’m spending most of my time today working on a pretty exciting project for Blogging Experiment but I also didn’t want to disappoint my expectant readers. So, I’ll leave you with a post that first appeared on hmtk.com as a guest post for Beyond the Rhetoric. I’ve gained quite a few subscribers since that post appeared and many of you may have missed it the first time around. I hope you enjoy it and will hopefully have an announcement for you early next week on this exciting project. How’s that for building expectations and anticipation?

When people talk about marketing a blog or driving traffic to a site, most of the conversation revolves around that site. However, one great method of gaining exposure and driving new traffic to your site doesn’t have anything to do with your site at all: Guest Blogging. Unfortunately, the topic remains one of the less talked about topics of blogging. We see it on a fairly regular basis on the larger blogs but it somehow has retained it’s mystical nature. I figured for my first guest blog post on HMTK, I’d go for a bit of irony and discuss some of the common misconceptions about guest blogging.

One of the most common misconceptions is that only the big, wildly popular blogs can get attract guest bloggers. That’s simply not accurate. I’ve had several different people guest blog for me on multiple different blogs I run. None of them are anywhere near the A-list and I am certainly not some sort of online celebrity. So how did I manage to have other writers create content for me? I asked. Just like Steve’s call for guest bloggers, simply writing a post letting your readers know you’re looking for a few guest posts is probably the best method to recruit guest authors. If you’re waiting for people to fill your inbox just begging to write for your blog, you’re going to be waiting a while. Unless you’ve let it be known that you’re actively seeking guest bloggers, your audience won’t know that you’re even open to the idea. The fact is more and more people are beginning to realize the benefits of guest blogging and you might be surprised by the response you get by just asking.

Also, what better place to find a guest author than your own loyal readership? They already know the tone and “personality” of your blog, the type of topics they like to read about, and what stances you’ve taken in the past. Basically if they’re reading your blog, they can’t be all bad, right? Plus, it’s a great way to reward loyal readers that have helped make your blog what it is.

Another common misconception about guest blogging is that the relationship only benefits the host blog. The first time I asked for guest bloggers I received a few comments and even a couple emails claiming that I was trying to exploit my readers. Why would they spend time creating quality content for my site rather than their own? They wouldn’t be the one gaining the traffic or seeing any of the fruits of their labor. The only thing they’d be getting is their name in the byline. Once again, that’s less than accurate.

Not only is a guest blog post a great way to gain all important links to your blog or site, it’s also a fantastic way of gaining exposure in your target audience. As I talked about in my recent post Expose Yourself, the successful launching of a new blog is as much about exposing yourself, getting your name out there, as it is about the content you write. You could be the next Shakespeare but if no one knows you or your blog is out there, you’re not going to have the success you’re hoping for. If that weren’t enough, writing for other blogs builds your credibility as well. It’s one thing to have your own site where you state your opinions or give out advice, but it’s another matter entirely for someone else to trust and respect you enough to allow you to post on their site. If you manage to make “appearances” on multiple blogs in your industry, you’ll be well on your way to establishing yourself as an industry expert.

While guest blogging is certainly nothing to be taken lightly (both parties need to work to ensure the quality of the blog does not suffer), it’s not nearly as difficult or mystical as many people seem to believe. There are significant advantages for both the guest blogger and the host blog. Not only will the host blog receive new fresh content from a fresh and unique perspective, the guest blogger will gain a link and the all important exposure to their target audience. It really is a win-win situation.


WordPress Plugins: Related Posts

published on August 8, 2007

As I was struggling to update WordPress yesterday (I made it a lot harder than it should have been… it’s a talent), I figured why not add another plugin to the mix, just to kick up the difficulty level a bit. To be honest, the update really shouldn’t have been difficult AT ALL but hey, what good is it if I don’t have something to complain about right? Anyway, as I said, I’m now using the Related Posts Plugin from w-a-s-a-b-i.com (quite possibly the most obnoxious domain name I have ever had to type into my browser). The plugin was crazy easy to install and in fact, the theme I’m using already had a spot for the related posts commented out. Even I can’t manage to screw that up.

It also provides two key benefits that will help your blog grow. Not only does this plugin give interested readers yet another way to access your content, it will also help interlink your content for search engine purposes. The more links each of your posts has (including links from your own site) the more likely they will be to show up in the search results.

Bottom line, it’s easy to use, and it’s helpful to your site. What more could you ask for from a plugin?


Make Money from Abandoned Blogs

published on August 7, 2007

“Hi everybody, my name is Ben, and while it’s a bit difficult
for me to admit, I am a serial blogger.”

I probably shouldn’t mock the recovery process but my point is this: I have a few blogs I post to on a weekly basis. If you count the blogs I update once a month or so, that number doubles. If you then count the number of blogs I’ve started, written for, and have since abandoned, that number makes the space shuttle look like a bottle rocket. The thing is, I know I’m not alone. Technorati released a study earlier this year that said 79% of the 15.5 million blogs out there are no longer active. That’s something like 12.2 million inactive blogs out there. Now I can probably claim 30 or 40 thousand of those but that tells me there are quite a few others out there like me. So, are those poor orphaned blogs worthless and just taking up space? Well, that depends on what you do with ’em.

Text Link AdsI logged into my Text Link Ads (TLA) account today to approve an ad sale and much to my surprise, it was for another ad on one of my all but forgotten blogs! This thing has been sitting there inactive for almost a year now and it only had about 20 posts on it to begin with. However, I had managed to get it up to a PageRank of 4 and today, someone purchased a link from it. For the past three months I’ve been earning about $10 a month from it for one of the Post Level Ads that TLA offers and it looks like that total will more than double for this month. While $30 a month is certainly not something to write home about, it’s not a bad price for doing absolutely nothing. I mean, if I made that off every one of my abandoned blogs, I could pay my house payment every month and then some.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m not just telling you this out of the goodness of my own heart. Not only does TLA offer a great way to monetize your blog by selling links, they also have an affiliate program that can be another significant source of income. In fact, last month, John Chow earned more from the affiliate program than he did selling links on his site. That might not blow you away but when you consider the fact that he made over $2,000 from selling links, all of the sudden that affiliate program seems like something worth looking into.

Bottom line, Text Link Ads doesn’t cost a cent to join, their affiliate program pays $25 for every person you refer that signs up and, through their text link ad marketplace, they offer a great way for you to make money off your old abandoned blogs and sites. If you’re interested in joining, I’d appreciate it if you did so by way of my affiliate link (or the new banner over to the right). Thanks!

In the context of today’s information technology revolution, various huge companies have made billions of dollars by selling a wide range of hardware and software and have reaped emerging markets of world. Software like data recovery programs and disaster recovery plans helps to take back ups of hard disk files. Hardware like computer backup device and data recovery manuals have contributed a large sales volumes in the hardware market. These devices have proved to be one of major sources of making money in the area of hardware and software. Due to high internet sales through affiliate programs windows backup software have played a vital role in management of sales data on regular basis. Moreover due to online file sharing facility new money making businesses has emerged in the past few years allowing visitors to download songs, software and games.