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The Secret to Becoming a Professional Blogger in Half the Time

The following post has been submitted by Shane Pike from Three: Twenty Interactive.

The secret to becoming a professional blogger in half the time is … doubling your current revenue.

Thank you very much. You guys have been a great audience. Enjoy the rest of the blog.

(Oh. You want to know how to double your revenue? Oh, allllllright.)

What do you think is the fastest way to double the revenue from your blog?

(I’ll give you a minute to think about it.)

(Seriously. Answer the question before you read on.)

(Did you really answer it?)

Alright. Show of hands. How many said a) doubling your traffic or b) finding higher paying advertisers was the fastest way to double your revenue?

If you did, you’re in very good company.

Too often, we get so close to our blogs that we develop tunnel vision. Everything is in place, and we think if we can just keep generating enough content, and growing our readership, and if we can just find some higher paying advertisers, surely, somewhere down the road, we’ll get to the point where we can quit our day jobs and do what we really enjoy. We can see the progress, slowly, day by day, so we know we’ll get there eventually.

Quite likely, though, we’re so close that we can’t see the forest for the trees. Let’s take a big step back for a minute.

What percentage of your readers performs a revenue-generating action? 1%? Half a percent? For the sake of our discussion, let’s suppose that it’s 1%. That’s probably a pretty fair guess.

Now, how easy would it be to raise that 1% to 2%? That’s not a very big jump by any means. Quite likely, you could jump to 2% or even 3% by doing nothing more than tweaking your AdSense colors, ad size and/or placement. Little tweaks. Tiny tweaks. Nothing major at all.

Let’s say you make a few tweaks and get to 2%. What just happened to your revenue? Well, if you go from 1% to 2%, you’ve doubled your revenue—just that easy. Twice the revenue from the same amount of traffic in maybe 30 minutes’ worth of work.

Not bad, huh? In less time than it takes you to go grab some lunch, you’ve suddenly cut the time it will take for you to become a professional blogger in half.

Does it work? Man, yeah. In fact, the last three sites I’ve worked on saw revenues triple or more. And it was never more than just a few minutes’ work.

Better yet, I didn’t lose anything. The users who clicked away were evidently going to leave anyway, because click rates on the rest of the elements of the sites stayed consistent. So, by giving them some options for leaving the site, I actually got paid when they left, rather than just losing them for nothing.

I wish you the best of success in your journey to becoming a Professional Blogger. If you have any questions, please feel free to use the contact form on my site to drop me a line!

Shane is a jack of all trades and master of…well…one or two. He is the founder and principal of Three:Twenty Interactive, a full service Internet consulting firm, and has been providing web development, traffic generation and site effectiveness services since 1995.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. HD Goddess says:

    “Let’s say you make a few tweaks and get to 2%”…
    I’d like to hear what some of these tweaks would look like.

  2. James says:

    HD Goddess, so would I.

    I went from making my ads blend in really well, to making them a LITTLE more obvious, and it did work. I think. It’s only been a couple of days, but I think it’s worked… From 2% to 5% so far.

  3. RC says:

    Yeah on my other site (not the blog) with far less content the CTR is much much higher..I guess people just want to leave soon, like it was mentioned in the article, so they click on the ads related to the site rather than going to google for similar pages.

  4. Chris Howard says:

    HD Goddess – ditto.

    I have a product blog http://www.goplayav.com that gets much much high click thru than my general blog http://www.qwertyrash.com.

    But even if I double click thru, it’s still not enough to get more than a few cuips of coffee a week. I need more traffic more *at this stage* more than more click thru.

    And yes – how do we know what colors will work? Maybe I’m already using the best combo? I have changed them once already and improved things.

    Currently Google is #3 behind Yahoo and Msn on my site for traffic from search engines. And Google is half both of them. Given Google is the most popular search engine, I’m not doing well out of it.

    It all raises an interesting question though… if people don’t find what they want on your site, there is much greater likelihood they’ll click and ad. So are we doing ourselves a disservice by making our sites too good??!!

  5. Truer words have never been written. When I found the sweet spot for ad placement/blending on my site, things absolutely took off. While I spent a good bit of time playing with this, it was far less than required to, say, double or triple my traffic (although ideally you’d do both). ;)

  6. Christian says:

    Try this:

    Blend your Ads and make the link colour the same like the rest of your site. Then obfuscate the link colour. The reader will recognize the ads more then before without getting blind to them.

    Perhaps it effects your CTR in a positive rate

  7. KAshif Raza says:

    No doubt by blending your ads background & boarder colour as same as your blogs background colour effect on CTR

  8. chris says:

    I have done quite a bit of work on the design of my blog(s). I think what the other people who have comented on this post have in common is they are putting there adds to far from there content. Content should be short and snappy! Get to the point. Highlight etc.
    also check out http://www.seasickmedia.com/cellphones and
    http://www.seasickmedia.com/digitalcameras I am just starting these blogs and have not configured my home page yet but look at how my adds are part of my content.

  9. row1 says:

    No matter what I do I can’t get past an average of 50 unique visitors a day!
    Most of them arn’t returning.

  10. JErm says:

    I agree and don’t agree at the same time. I guess it all comes down to what kind of blog you have. For example, my personal blog at http://jermexpress.com has the highest PR of all my blogs (PR5) and it’s not making sh*t. I just started a new blog (ad-laden) at http://kicksaholic.com and in my first month I made around $50 just like that. Of course that blog was designed for AdSense and it only talks about one thing, that’s why it’s making money. My point is, sometimes doubling, triping or even multiplying your traffic by 1000x doesn’t work if your content isn’t consistent (you don’t have a niche blog).

    BTW I quit my dayjob in December and I’m a struggling blogger now, but Darren inspires me and I know I can make it.

  11. Chris Howard says:

    JErm – Impressive design on your jermexpress site!

    I’m not doubting you, but am very interested to know how did you made “$50 just like that” in your first month on Kicksaholic? More to the point, where/how did you get the traffic to generate that? In the first month of a site, you wont get much search engine traffic, so you’re depending on promotion and cross links.

    How/where did you promote? Did you do a media release?

  12. JErm says:

    Chris, thanks man. I shouldn’t have said “I” in my previous comment, it should’ve been “we” instead. jermexpress.com is my personal site, but kicksaholic.com is a collaborative project with a good friend. There’s no secret, really. We just cross-linked from our other blogs and my friend posted comments and posted our links on similar blogs and websites, and we just wrote entries like nuts. I think the old adage that content is king is still true and will always be true. I’m personally having a hard time coming up with good content, and keeping up with all our blogs. That’s why I started a “network” with my friend so we can kick each other’s ass.

    LOL on the media release though! :-P

  13. Shane says:

    HD Goddess,

    Some of those tweaks would include:
    1. Making your ads look less like ads.
    a. Using sizes that mesh better with your content.
    b. Using colors that look more like the colors in your content.
    2. Better integrating the ads with your content, e.g. rather than having a skyscraper segregated off in a colored sidebar, use a rectangle in the text of your blog entry instead.
    3. Use ads that more people click on. This often isn’t a problem if you’re using contextual advertising, since the ads are usually very relevant to the content, but you’ll want to play around with lots of different ads if you’re using image ads. You’ll often be suprised which ones perform the best.

  14. Casey says:

    I just started http://www.gear6.net and i’m seeing a decent amount of traffic but my click thru rate isn’t great espicillay for the Chitika ad’s. I’m thinking about changing the design of the site to be less ‘dark’ any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated. I’m starting to see some really good search engine traffic and would like to capitalize on it!

  15. Chris Howard says:

    JErm – I’m tempted to go “we” on the blogging… I’ll set up the blogs and get my wife to do all the posting!! :D (I hope she doesn’t read this blog! Just kiddin’ dear!)

  16. Sabine says:

    “1. Making your ads look less like ads.”
    It’s this type of thing that I, as a reader, object to. It’s a ploy to trick me into clicking. When I do that, I never come back to that blog.

    Never.

  17. Veridicus says:

    In my opinion traffic comes first. As long as you have a good design steady traffic is most important. Then tweaking the ads comes into play. Without a good flow of steady traffic the site can’t go very far anyway. I’m trying to build up traffic for my new site http://www.docforge.com and I’m debating if the design is good enough. I don’t have any significant number of return visitors yet.

  18. Shane says:

    Sabine,

    I’m definitely not talking about tricking anyone. As I wrote in The Three Basics of Growing Your Website: you don’t build a long-term business by prostituting your customers. What I’m saying is that you want ad units that aren’t so obviously ads that they create “ad blindness” among your users–the condition where users completely tune out sections of the site that appear to be advertisements.

    There are a ton of shifty…ahem…creative strategies for making AdSense ads blend in completely. I’m definitely not advocating those, but you don’t want to go to the other extreme, either.

    Shane

  19. Shane says:

    Veridicus, I couldn’t find any content on your site. Just links to pages with ads that then linked to content on other sites. I may have misunderstood it, but I wouldn’t have been a return visitor just based on my initial impression.

    You’re absolutely right, though, about traffic. You can have a site making $1,000/visitor, but if you don’t actually have any visitors, it’s a moot point :)

  20. Shane says:

    Casey, your site looks great to me–definitely not too dark (unless you’ve changed it since your comments).

    What definitely would help your click-through rate, though, is getting the ads out of that sidebar and integrated into your content more. Right now, I could do everything I wanted to on your site without looking at that tan sidebar even once.

    You might want to try something as simple as changing the background color of the sidebar to match your content and removing the white gutter space between the two. Maybe just put a thin blue line between the two. That would encourage left-to-right visual scanning of the page to continue over into that column where the ads will then be seen. Seems like you could make that change with very little pain and see what it did to your CTR’s.

  21. Senor Limey says:

    Over at http://www.getstuft.com we settled on a site design and incorporated ads throughout the content only. Our CTR isn’t what we’d like and we are considering restructuring the layout of the ads rather than the placement. I think the 2 or 4 in a vertical layout causes people to scroll right by them.

    Also you may notice that a lot of the ads google is serving are related to coca-cola for some reason. We are a technotainment blog that has never made any reference to coke but keep getting these ads, primarily on our category pages and the individual post pages.

    Any input or suggestions would be appreciated.

Trackbacks

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