Archive for July 2009

Using Forums to Promote Your Blog: Part 5

I was fairly new to using forums for traffic when I first wrote this series.  It's been a few months and I'll like to share something else I have noticed:


Forums are a great place to get content and ideas for content.

I'm not suggesting you use other people's posts/articles without their permission--I've never done that and never will.  But here are some ways forums help you write/generate content:

Questions:  You can see some of the most commonly asked questions about your topic.

Videos, pictures, etc: You may find a youtube video or other free content that you didn't know existed.

Guest posts: Other forum members are often good candidates for writing guest posts for your blog.

News/Announcements: News articles, research and events related to your topic are often posted on forums.

These are a few ways forums have helped me with content.  

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Yahoo Changes Homepage

Anyone else notice this?  Cool!

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Facebook Pictures, Third Party Advertisers, and Viral Messages


I've been seeing this viral message spread on facebook:


Facebook has agreed to let third party advertisers use your posted pictures without your permission. . . .

I decided to do a little investigation.  Here's a quote from the Facebook blog:

The advertisements that started these rumors were not from Facebook but placed within applications by third parties. Those ads violated our policies by misusing profile photos, and we already required the removal of those deceptive ads from third-party applications before this rumor began spreading.

We are as concerned as many of you are about any potential threat to your experience on Facebook and the protection of your privacy. That's why we prohibit ads on Facebook Platform that cause a bad user experience, are misleading, or otherwise violate our policies. Along with removing ads, we've recently prohibited two entire advertising networks from providing services to applications on Facebook Platform because they were not compliant with our policies and failed to correct their practices.


So Facebook has already gotten rid of the networks/ads that caused these problems.  And according to this article, changing the ad settings (as prescribed in the viral message)  will not help one bit.  



Keep something else in mind: if someone really wants to use your picture, there's not much you can do to stop it.  Grabbing up pictures is as easy as doing a google image search. 

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Entrecard: Goodbye, Paid Ads

Just as I leave EC, paid ads disappear.  They announced it on their blog a few days ago. 

So should I put all those widgets back on my blog?  I'm not planning on it right now.  I'm open to the idea of using EC again, but I'd really like to see what the new management does first. 

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SEO Experiment

Hey guys,

Have any of you ever done an SEO experiment?  Have you ever written a post or started a blog just to see if the search engines will give it a high rank?  I'm trying it--I've started a blog based on one of the more popular search terms that brings traffic to my strength and fitness blog. 

I'll let you know how it turns out. 

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Entrecard has been Acquired by Ziprunner

Got this in my email:


Dear Entrecarders,
It is with great excitement that I announce Entrecard.com, Inc. has
been acquired by Los Angeles based ZipRunner Inc.

ZipRunner has the resources, vision, and dedication to Entrecard that
will allow it to grow in pursuit of the vision I laid out nearly two
years ago.

Moving forward, my relationship to Entrecard will be that of an
adviser, and I will help the good folks at ZipRunner take the whole
project to the next level. Expect a follow up communication from them very soon.

ZipRunner Inc. was chosen out of a number of potential suitors because
of the resources they can dedicate to the project, their exciting
vision for the company's future, and their understanding of social
media and the blogosphere.

I urge you all to look forward to a bigger, better Entrecard, and I
couldn't be more proud to bring it to this point before passing the
torch. I've heard first hand all the great things that are in store
for the company and it's members, and needless to say it has me quite
excited.

If you would like to keep in touch with me in the future, your can
find me at my new blog Ontrapranore.com where I look forward to
sharing my stories of entrepreneurship and starting/running internet
companies.

Whether you love or hate the decisions I've made for Entrecard in the
past, I always did the best I could to move the company forward given
the resources I had, and I always had the best interest of the members
in mind. Now, with new management and ownership stepping in, I urge
anyone who has left the service to give it another chance, and I urge
those who have been loyal members for days, weeks, months, or years to
look forward to a brighter future, a reliable and stable service, and
great new features and strategic direction.

Signing Off,
Graham Langdon
Founder of Entrecard
Ontrapranore 

So what does this mean for EC?   I have no idea.  I'll try to keep checking their website.  If any really good changes come about, I'll consider rejoining (not holding my breath). 

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Problogger.net: Darren Rowse's Extraordinary Blog

One of my favorite blogs is Darren Rowse's Problogger.net.  I follow his blog on my igoogle page.

One of the main things I've learned from him is to be persistent and don't expect huge traffic/profit overnight.  There's a wealth of information over at his site, so check it out.

Will you ever come back here after visiting his site?  I hope so.  Beginnerbloggertips.com is not really meant to be an exhaustive pro blogging site--it's just some simple articles about things I've learned through trial and error.

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Goodbye, Entrecard

Well, I've officially said "goodbye" to Entrecard--at least for now.

This is not a rant against Entrecard--I still think it is a pretty good (free) way to get some extra traffic if you are a new blogger or don't yet have much of a following.   I also appreciate the blogs I found through EC.   
 
I tried to be optimistic about the changes.  I thought the paid ads would mean we'd keep more of our credits.  But it just seems I'm getting less and less from EC. 

I'll give you an example:

My fitness blog now gets between 800-1000 hits a day. My ad value never seemed to go up with the traffic.

Speaking of traffic, here's a sample of some of the clicks I got from advertising:


30-40 hits per ad just doesn't seem like a good exchange for a premier spot on all of my blogs (especially when you don't get to run an ad every day).

Here's a sample of "organic clicks"--clicks received directly from the EC website:
Again--not very high.

I'll admit that some of this is my fault--I have done very little clicking lately.  But that's another reason I'm leaving EC--I don't have time to click and earn points.

In short, using EC was feeling too much like working for someone else's profit.  I completely understand why they started running paid ads, but the changes haven't been good for me.

Goodbye for now, Entrecard.  Maybe some day I'll come back. 

Soon I'll try to do a post comparing several of the 125 banner exchange programs.

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Traffic is Traffic (part 2): The Bounce Rate


I recently commented on Entrecard's plan to cut down on users' bounce rates.  For those unfamiliar with the term, bounce rate is the rate at which users "bounce" to another site instead of staying and visiting more posts within your blog.  Having too high of a bounce rate can apparently have a negative affect on your page rankings.

So what I think about banner exchange programs and bounce rate?  I still think traffic is traffic.  Here's what I mean:  you are probably not going to get a huge number of hits from banner exchange programs.   If banner exchange is giving you a really high bounce rate, then you probably don't have that much traffic in the first place and need all the help you can get.

Let me give you an example.  I've been using Adgitize for my fitness blog for a few months now.  I get an average of about 50 hits a day on that blog from Adgitize campaigns.  Does it affect my bounce rate?  I doubt it, since my fitness blog has been averaging 700-1,000 hits a day.  In other words, those 50 extra hits just don't make that much difference.

This blog, on the other hand, is a different story.  I get around the same number of daily hits from Adgitize (maybe a little less), but this blog gets under a hundred hits a day overall.  The bounce rate may hurt this blog's rankings, but its either high-bounce traffic or no traffic for now.  I'll take the high bounce traffic over no traffic. 

I'm not an expert on this kind of thing, but this is what I'm thinking for now. 

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Using Feedblitz for Email Newsletters to Promote Your Blog


I use Feedblitz to send email updates for my blogs.  I've been using it for years, and I see no reason to switch to another service (yes, I've looked into other rss to email newsletter services).

Here are some of the things I like about Feedblitz:

*You get to choose when and how often your newletter goes out.

I don't see the point in sending out daily emails with updates--those who want daily updates will usually just ad your feed to their google page (or whatever option they use to follow feeds).

Feedburner may have this option, but I never could figure out how to set up anything other than daily emails. 

*You can send out "newsflash"--a mass email to all of your subscribers.

Occasionally I'll want to send an announcement to all of my subscribers.  I don't do this very often (people don't like to have their email boxes cluttered), but this feature is really helpful when you need to send a message to all your subscribers.

*You can manually ad subscribers.

I have the opportunity to meet thousands of new people every year through speaking engagements.  Sometimes I collect the email addresses of those who are interested in following my blog.  Feedblitz gives you the option of manually adding/importing addresses.

*It's pretty simple to set up.

You just create an account and ad the code to your blog.  You'll end up with a nifty little form on your blog where folks can enter their email address.

*It's automatic.

Once you've set it up, Feedblitz will automatically send out emails with your latest posts according to the schedule you set.


These are just a few of the reasons I use Feedblitz.

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Entrecard to "Take Action Against the Bounce Rate"


One thing that's always been a concern with EC is the high "bounce rate"--people stopping by your blog just long enough to earn a click.  Entrecard has just made this announcent on their blog:

Starting soon, “dropping and running” will no longer give you credit. We are developing a proprietary algorithm to determine whether or not you engaged in the blog you visitied in some way. If you did not engage in the blog, you will not get credit. We won’t be disclosing exactly the algorithm we use, so that people can’t game it easily.

You can read the whole post here.

I'm not really sure what to think of this.  As I've mentioned before, traffic is traffic--I don't think it is EC's job to make sure people hang around one of my blogs.  I'm afraid this technological intervention is going to cause more problems than it resolves.

I'm still not sure how much longer I'll keep using EC.  I thought all the changes would mean we (the bloggers) would be able to keep more of our credits.  It still hasn't happened.  Right now I don't really see that I'm getting much traffic out of EC.

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Three Reasons You're Not Making Money on Adsense


1. Low Traffic

Generally speaking, the more traffic you have, the more profitable your website will be—it’s a simple numbers game.  Only a small percentage of visitors will click ads, and you’re not going to make big money per click.  If you want to make more money through adsense, one of your primary goals should be to increase your traffic. 

2. Poorly placed ads

Obscure ad placements will also hurt your chances of making money through adsense.  Below is a graph from the adsense help page.  The darker the color, the better the ad placement:


I’ve also read that large rectangles tend to outperform other ad sizes. 

Let’s put this together: you should put a large rectangle ad directly over your content.  The next ad or two can be placed alongside or under the content.

By the way: blend the colors with your blog—making the ads too gaudy will just irritate your readers.

Here’s how this looks on my fitness blog (strongandfit.net):




The ad above my content always makes the most money.  Ads on the side also make some money (that "5 Tips To" is another adsense rectangle), but the top rectangle out-performs all other placements. 

3.  The topic/theme of your blog just isn’t conducive to making money on adsense.

This one is a little harder to explain, but I’ll try.   I’ll give to you a personal example.  My first blog (KuyaKevin.com) has now received over 400,000 hits (I’ve been writing post on it since 2006).   But it isn’t profitable, and probably never will be.  Adsense only helped slightly offset some of my advertising costs.   

Here are a couple reasons KuyaKevin.com isn’t great for adsense:

1. It tends to draw ads from religious websites, which don’t seem to pay that well.
2. The content tends to be a bit random since it is my personal blog.

I basically just gave up using adsense on KuyaKevin.com.  It was more trouble than it was worth (I found myself having to block all kinds of religious whacko websites). 

It doesn’t mean I stopped blogging—I just gave up on using adsense for my personal blog.

Here’s where I’m going with all of this: if you have a personal blog that just isn’t profitable (despite decent traffic and well-placed ads), you may want to consider starting up another, more focused blog.  Perhaps you have a hobby you could start blogging about.  The possibilities are endless, so feel free to experiment. 

I hope this article helps you with more profitable blogging.

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