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31 Days to Building a Better Blog – Day 31!

Well we’ve finally made it to the end of the 31 day Project. What an amazing experience it’s been. Including tonight’s last group of submissions we’ve now got 179 blog tip posts on the central 31 day Project page in addition to my own 48 tip posts. That’s 227 blog tips for your use. Some of the tips in the bunch are excellent value and have taught me a lot.

Here are the last reader submissions:

Thanks to all who have contributed to this project. I’m planning to do a summary post on the project tomorrow where I’ll try to make some sense of it all but right now at one minute to midnight I’d like to declare the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog project officially Closed!

T-Shirt Competition Debrief – Was it Successful?

Quite a few readers have asked how successful the T-Shirt competition has been. How many shirts have we sold? Is it worth it?

I’m not going to go into specifics about which shirt sold how many or even what the total sales have been in the ProBlogger shop – but I will say that overall this venture has not been my most profitable one and I don’t think I’ll be retiring any time soon on my earnings from ProBlogger’s T-Shirt range.

After CafePress takes their cut each item brings in only a few dollars and while there was quite a lot of interest in the competition and quite a few have gone to the shop for a look – sales have been very low. Lets just say that ProBlogger T-Shirts are collectors items due to the limited print runs at this stage – some of the designs are yet to have any sales at all. I don’t think that this is the fault of the designers – rather there are other factors at play (see below).

The cost of having the shop has been covered but the prize ($100 from Amazon) could take quite a few months to earn back from sales.

Why hasn’t this project been a raging success? Let me offer a few suggestions:

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Advertising on blogs

Rachel has an interesting post on Advertising on blogs where she compares how much advertising takes up on TV, in the Newspapers and on a pretty well known blog:

‘While online ads are on the increase, are we being bombarded by online ads like we are offline?

I had a look at what TV would look like if it were a computer screen. How much of the screen would be covered in advertisements? I then had a look at our local newspaper’s first section last Saturday. If it were a computer screen, how much would be plastered in advertisements? Finally, I had a look at Engadget, a blog renouned for its revenue made via advertising. How much of the screen* was taken up by advertisements?’

Interesting comparisons.

Niche Top Blog Lists

I think Robert Scoble is onto something when he says that having a single ‘top blog’ type list is pretty useless. He writes:

‘The whole concept of a single list is just stupid and doesn’t add any value.

The thing is there isn’t a single blogosphere. There are thousands of blogospheres. What I want is a list for each blogosphere. For instance, scrapbooking is a big deal, according to Technorati. There are 36,218 posts about scrapbooking. Tons of ads too.

But, quick, look at Technorati for Scrapbooking and tell me who the most linked-to blog is in that blogosphere. Or, tell me who has the most traffic. Or tell me which link has been clicked the most times….’

While I wouldn’t say it doesn’t add ANY value (on a big picture level it shows where the activity in blogging is and its helped me find some pretty interesting new blogs) – I agree that one single list isn’t as useful as many smaller lists would be. I know if someone were to put together the type of lists that Robert is talking about I’d be frequenting them quite a bit – not just to know who is ‘hot’ – but as a source of information.

Of course I’m the most un-techie person you’ll ever meet and don’t know what such lists would involve to code – but as an idea it’s something I’d love to see happen.

I’m still not going to argue against lists like technorati’s top 100 or feedster’s top 500 but I think a variety of lists would be great.

What lists would you like to see? – Add yours (serious and humerous) in comments below.

The Power of the Link

On of the aspects of blogging that I love is the way in which a link can change a persons life in so many ways (some of them big, others small). This is illustrated pretty well over at Solution Watch which was the first blog mentioned at Blog Herald’s 100 Blogs in 100 Days series. That link led to a chain of events that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside:

As I have said, this last week has been the biggest week for Solution Watch yet. I was lucky to be the first mentioned on The Blog Herald, 100 Blogs in 100 Days. His mass amount of visitors scavenged my page, left nice comments, and was very supportive. Thanks, Duncan. Not much later, TechCrunch mentioned my Social Bookmarking List. This brought even more visitors. Because of this, the Social Bookmarking List was posted to Del.icio.us many times and quickly made it to the Del.icio.us Popular and Populicio.us pages which got Solution Watch even more noticed. Then, on top of that, Paul Scrivens dropped me an email inviting me into the 9rules Network! It has been a crazy week and I am still rubbing my eyes because I must be dreaming about all this hype going on. I owe a thank you to everyone who has supported Solution Watch, all my visitors, Del.icio.us users, and everyone else.

Ok – so it might not be an earth shattering event or change the course of history – but it does illustrate the power of a link and is one of the reasons I continue to ignore the advice of many SEO experts who tell me I have too many outbound links on this blog and thereby decrease my chances in the Search Engines. Frankly I’d rather have a blog here that plays a part in processes like the one above than one that just accumulates readers for myself to enjoy.

31 Days to Building a Better Blog – Day 30

This is the second last daily wrap up of the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog Project and readers are making the most of their last chances to be included in what is turning out to be a pretty good collection of Blog Tips.

You’ve got 24 hours to get your own submission on – don’t miss out!

ProBlogger T-Shirt Competition Winner

28123851 F Tn-1It’s been such a long time since I started the ProBlogger T-Shirt Design competition that when it finally ended a few days back it had completely slipped my mind!!!

Apologies to the finalists for not announcing this sooner but I’m getting a absent minded in my middle age.

Anyway – the finalists in the competition were Abe, Chris, Ray (no blog), Retz and Stan and I’m really happy to announce that the design that sold the most items in the ProBlogger Shop was the one submitted by Retz (see picture left for the design) Retz wins:

1. $100 (USD) worth of products from Amazon
2. A free T-Shirt of his design
3. 1 hour of blog consultation for his blog
4. A link to your blog on my side bar for free for 1 month (starting today)
5. A highlight your blog in this ‘winners’ post (consider it done)
6. Being added as the number one blog on my RSS feed which will mean I’ll check it multiple times per day.

Not sure how much worth the last few are but if nothing else he can buy himself something nice from Amazon. Congratulations Retz and thanks to the other finalists.

Buy your ProBlogger T-shirt (all five designs are still available) at the ProBlogger Shop

Judith on Managing a Blog Network

I really appreciate Judith Meskill’s blogging as it gives an insight into some of the mechanics of running a blog network which go beyond some of the big picture posts, squabbling and boasting that some others from the big networks (no names mentioned – or probably needed here) go on with on their blogs. She has been a bit quiet recently but today posts an update that shows some of the inner workings (if you read between the lines) of WIN but also shows her love for blogging/bloggers (and grilled cheese). She writes:

‘Since there is nothing rigid about the deals we make with our bloggers here at WIN – end of month activities are insanely detailed and last for about a week! But fun is key, as our WIN bloggers are team players one and all. Our model of having anywhere from 3 to 20 bloggers posting on any given blog wouldn’t really work without the full cooperation of our ‘team’ spirited writers….”

I can’t imagine the process of keeping track of 120 bloggers – I have trouble keeping up with one – me!

Blog Apprenticeships

I normally work at home alone but today I have company – two ‘work-mates’. They are not really working WITH me (they are electricians – rewiring our house) but it’s nice to have people around.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed watching today is the interaction between these two guys. One is around my age – he’s the owner of the business and the other is a young guy – 16 I’d guess – who has just started as the apprentice.

He’s a wide eyed young guy who is just soaking in information about his new trade. Every step along the way the boss points out what he’s doing and then stops to allow the young guy to have a go for himself. I can see learning happen right in front of my eyes and it’s kind of cool to watch. He’s obviously benefitting from the relationship – but so too is the boss who now has an extra set of hands, someone to climb into the dirty roof etc. It is a win win situation for both parties.

As I observe this interaction I find myself wondering what it would be like to have blogging apprentices. I’m dreaming out loud here – so don’t be too harsh – but lets see where this leads us.

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