Less Options Equal More Clicks? Yes… and No

Paul writes a great post at Less Options Equal More Clicks? where he ponders a number of factors of blog design and how they impact ad performance. He particularly explores the idea that if you give your readers less options to click on (ie links out of your site) that they are more likely to click your ads.

There is some real truth and wisdom to this statement – it’s pretty logical if you think it through.

However when I took a look at my Adsense statistics this afternoon it struck me that the pages that I have that have by far the best CTR are perhaps some of the most cluttered pages that I have on any of my blogs. They are page with other text ads, links into the rest of my site, links to affiliate programs and links to my competitors. Logically speaking these pages should not be performing as well as they are – but they do!

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Wanted – 12 (or more) Good Bloggers

In 15 days I will be on a plane headed for warmer places – a much needed holiday.

It’s been a big year for me – transitioning into full time blogging (although maintaining some other part time research work this past few months) – moving house – exploring new business ideas and making connections with some wonderful people around the world through this blog. Whilst there are a lot of exciting things going on for me at the moment I’m feeling pretty worn out and this holiday has come at just the right time.

I’ll be away for 4 weeks. This of course leads me to ask the question – what do I do with my blogs? I’ve written about this at least once here at ProBlogger and have been pondering what to do. I’ve decided the following:

My main blog Digital Photography Blog will be maintained by a friend who I’m going to pay to run it for me at a lighter level than normal. He should be able to keep it up to date with at least one post per day and to cover any major developments.

I’ve teed up some great bloggers for here at ProBlogger who will each contribute once a week (or more). You might even find this blog is more active than normal. None of these people are getting paid with anything more than a link back to their own blog for each post.

The remainder of my blogs I’d like to invite contributions for. If you’d like to play with one of my blogs while I’m gone then I’d love to have you on board. I’m not expecting heavy posting levels but would love to get at least 2 or 3 posts per week if you can manage it – just to keep the blog up to date and ticking over. The posts can be news, tips or opinion pieces – I’ll suggest a source or two that you might want to keep your eye on if you don’t know where to start. If you’re interested read on and then contact me to let me know which you want to do – I’ll probably limit authors on each to two per blog.

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Does blog design matter?

One of my favorite new bloggers is Peter Flaschner who today asks the question – Does blog design matter?

I first reviewed the design of Technorati’s top 10 blogs a month or so ago. At the time, I came to the conclusion that design didn’t really matter all that much. I figured that within a couple of months though, with the fantastic growth rate of the blog world, design would start to matter. This is based on the belief that given the choice between two sources of equal quality content, people will choose the better designed site.

In a medium where many argue ‘content is king’ I would argue that its queen is design. This is not just the case in blogging but in many aspects of business. I live in a suburb where there is a local strip of shops. There is a huge variety of stores, cafes, restaurants and offices there but most of them are fairly run down with quite a few old ma and pa stores that probably haven’t changed much in the past 15 – 20 years. But things are changing – the suburb is becoming more popular and gradually new shops and cafes are creeping into the strip of shops.

It is amazing to see the difference between the old and new shops – whilst the old one’s are dark and dusty the new ones are well lit, classy, clean and are very 2005.

Both types of shops sell the same stuff – but given the choice of a fresh and hip place or a dingy musty smelling one – I know where most shoppers are now heading. Aesthetics, sensuality and emotion are key in communication and are all things that a well designed blog can evoke.

Update: Interestingly (and perhaps I’m arguing with myself here) I was also reflecting this morning about how News Aggregators have changed the design equation somewhat.

As I surfed through my bloglines feed this morning I realized how much of an equalizer it was to see virtually all of the content presented to me in black quite and blue. The most amazingly designed blogs going around were reduced to the same level as some of the most appallingly designed blogs that I’ve ever seen. Could the news aggregator be quality content’s saviour!?

Update: Flyte has a great comment on this post – ‘The discussion of content versus design in blogs is like discussing what makes a rectangle bigger: height or width?’

Rich Bloggers

Duncan challenges a statement made by Adam L. Penenberg in an article in Wired News that ‘no one has gotten rich off blogs in the West’. I tend to agree with Duncan on this one and wonder if Adam really thought through this statement before sending his article off for publishing. It seems to me to be a bit of a throwaway line at the end of an article – but is something I know not to be true.

I was speaking this morning with a blogger via IM who in a year has built a quality single blog from scratch that now is on track for a $200,000+ year in 2005. This blogger (who wants to remain anonymous for fear of his niche being flooded) is still in his late teens and I’m guessing feels very ‘rich’ right now.

This is a story that I’m hearing more and more regularly. The figures vary ($200,000 is the most I’ve heard for a year from a single blog run by a single blogger) but the sentiment is the same – people feeling very ‘rich’ – not just financially but in so many other ways.

Of course Adam is probably looking for blogging millionaires – something no one has really gone public about achieving yet. I guess its early days for ProBlogging – however if someone hasn’t already quietly achieved the 7 figure income I suspect it won’t be that far off.

PS – having said all that – Adam’s article is actually worth a read – its about a young Hong Kong blogger who is building his own network of blogs in the model of Gawker Media.

Building Blogging Relationships

After writing Blogging in Formation – Lessons from a Goose I decided to continue the theme of building blogging relationships with a series of posts on that topic. Here is a central index of the posts I’ve done so far:

Building Blogging Relationships – Attitude
Availability and Accessibility
Be a Good Guest
Be a Good Host
Positioning yourself at the Water Cooler
Using Email
Blog Projects and Memes

Dashboard Widget – Adsense Statistics Checker

When I commented on the new OSX Tiger (for Mac) I commented that I’d love a dashboard widget that would check my Adsense stats. Well it seems someone else had the same idea and has just released one. It’s a great idea that I’m sure many Mac Adsense publishers will use – only problem is that it doesn’t seem to work yet. I’ve given it a go and get the same ‘undefined’ errors that someone else comments about. Anyway – I’m sure there will be a new version soon enough or someone else coming up with a better one.


It looks like Google are releasing something that sounds a lot like MyYahoo! that integrates a lot of their services onto a new personalized home page.

Initally planned for a June 30 launch, the new home page option, part of an internal project called “Fusion” aimed at better integrating Google’s various products, was pushed up for launch during Google’s “Factory Tour” for the press now taking place. As a result, universal RSS support is still a week opr two away. In the meantime, a few sources are getting a boost as the only news/info options beside Google News: Wired News, Slashdot, the New York Times, BBC News. Google exec Marissa Mayer, who introduced the product, said the company had been in touch with some news organizations about it and they are “quite pleased with it.” Users can see up to nine selections from each.

It’s pretty basic looking so far.

Blogging Workflow – Tabbed Browsing

Matthew posts a useful little tip for bloggers who are Firefox users – he’s been experimenting with the tabbed browsing feature to speed up his blogging workflow.

My Blogging WorkFlow – I use Safari as my browser of choice and similarly use tabs in conjunction with Bloglines to speed up my blogging process. In short my blogging workflow goes like this:

  1. Open Safari – open Bloglines in the first tab.
  2. As I work through my RSS feeds if I see something of interest that I might like to post I open it in a new tab
  3. I open up to 10 tabs at a time – usually on a similar theme. ie I have a folder for each blog I write and work through them one at a time.
  4. I then sort through each item – looking at them in each tab and decide if they are blog worthy or not. I close any that don’t make the grade.
  5. With the remaining ‘worthy’ posts I then post them using ecto. Sometimes this might entail grabbing a quote from the open tab (ecto does this with one click – it even automatically includes a link back to the source) and then adding a comment or my own opinion to the piece. Other times it is piece that is totally my own content with a link back to the post that inspired it.
  6. After each post I close down tabs.

This workflow is quick, clean (I only ever have one window open) and a simple process that is hard to mess up.

Other Uses for Tabbed Browsing – I also use tabbed browsing in a couple of other ways. I have a start up/stats folder that I open every month that automatically opens up all of my statistics pages in tabs. This includes a sitemeter counter for each of my blogs, my adsense stats, some overall domain stats pages and affiliate earnings pages. I open this collection of bookmarks in tabs first thing every morning and once or twice per day just to keep a finger on the pulse. It means I only take 4 or 5 minutes to check the performance of every blog and income stream.

I also have a similar collection of bookmarks for all my blogs front pages, another one for all my income streams stats pages and another for my top 10 or so sources of information that don’t use RSS.

What is your Blogging Workflow like?

Australian Blogging

Simon Canning wrote a feature in The Australian that touches a bit of blogging and advertising. It largely focuses upon MSN Spaces which it claims makes up a third of all Australian blogs (estimated at 360,000 in number).

I’m a bit skeptical of these figures and wonder how their source could ever get an accurate figure as so many blogs are run on .com, .net or other domains – and most are hosted outside Australia.

It’s good to see an article on blogging in an Aussie mainstream newspaper though – its just a pity that they focused so heavily upon what MSN are doing to make money off blogging and only got in touch with one of the ‘360,000 Aussie bloggers’ for a quick, end of article comment.

The article is better than nothing however – I need to stop being so cynical.