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Tea Guy Asks about Hosting – Blog Case Study

TeaThe following post was submitted by Bill Lengeman as part of the ProBlogger Case Study Series

My question is probably not uncommon for bloggers at beginner to intermediate level. Should I start hosting my own blog and using a proper domain name?

I started blogging in July of 2005 like so many others, more or less on a lark. As a freelance writer trying to get reestablished in the business I found that I was mostly marketing myself and doing very little writing. I start blogging as a way of forcing myself to write something every day.

And promptly proceeded to bore myself to death – and presumably any readers who happened across my site. At about this time I started to develop a keen interest in high quality specialty teas and began writing about that. One thing led to another and soon that I all I was writing about. Soon enough I changed the name of the blog and ditched all content that had nothing to do with tea (you can see it here at Tea Guy Speaks).

I gradually started to take the site a little more seriously and eventually began adding images, making contacts in the tea industry and building up a fair amount of decent content. I also dabble with AdSense and Amazon Affiliates, but to no great effect thus far. And though I’m steadily building up readership my stats are no great shakes.

A few months back I bought teaguyspeaks.com and .net though GoDaddy in anticipation of moving over to that domain. I’m not daunted by the technical aspects of making the move. What I am concerned about is that I’ve done a modest amount of work getting my site’s URL out to various engines, directories and so on.

How will the move to my own domain effect those listings and what’s the best way to go about making such a move without throwing away everything I’ve done so far?

Thanks,
Bill

Blogs: Frequently Asked Questions

What are blogs anyway?

A blog is a regularly updated website consisting of regular article postings. Links to and from other blogs and traditional websites are a prominent feature of most blogs. A blog tends to be focussed on a single topic or issue, and usually invites comments from readers on the posted articles, starting a conversation between writer (called a blogger) and the readers. A blog usually reflects the personality of the writer, and is most often written in a personal and informal style.

Isn’t a blog just an online diary?

An online diary, or personal blog is only one type of blog. Along with personal blogs, there are many types of business, technology, and professional blogs. The personal blog was once the predominate form of blog, but that is definitely no longer the case.

Are there different types of blogs?

Blogs can be in the form of written blogs, hosted on a blog server or on the webmaster’s own site. Blogs can also be found that use audio postings rather than written posts. There are blogs for every type of business, profession, and technological concept. Writers, lawyers, accountants, real estate agents, search engine optimization experts, marketers, and public relations professionals are just a few of the professions making use of blogs in their businesses.

What value does a blog have for a business?

A blog opens up the lines of communication between the blog writer and the reader. By becoming accessible to the public, a business can be seen as more than simply a faceless company, but a group of real people. The blog provides a powerful element of personal contact with the reader, building trust and confidence in the business and its personnel.

What type of businesses could benefit from a blog?

Any type of business that requires communication with potential readers in the general public can benefit from maintaining a blog. The public can be current and potential customers and clients, the news media, other business or professionals in the industry, or simply casual readers interested in the topic.

What business uses does a blog have?

A blog is ideal for opening the lines of communication between the business and the current and future customers. Communications builds trust that goes far in the areas of marketing and public relations. The blog puts a human face on the company and builds the level of trust. People are far more likely to purchase products and services from other people who they know and trust. A blog is also a very powerful tool for improving search engine rankings because of the keyword rich fresh content and the abundant incoming links.

Are blogs a useful networking tool?

Because of the intensive personalization involved with writing blog posts, the blog is a natural networking vehicle. Readers interact with the writer through the blog comments and by e-mail. The contacts often lead eventually to many shared business opportunities. Successful business arrangements formed between two blog owners, and between a blogger and a reader, occur very frequently.

How could I start a blog?
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PC Doctor – Blog Case Study

Pc-DoctorThe following post was submitted by Adrian W Kingsley-Hughes as part of the ProBlogger Case Study Series

PC Doctor blog, a blog designed to help people get more from their PCs, back in April of last year.

I bought it to life after a long period of being asked by people why I didn’t have a blog and a longer period of thinking, worrying (standard stuff like “do I have the time?”, “do I have enough to say?”, “will I ever get any readers?”) and then, finally, some constructive planning. One day I just uploaded WordPress to the server, set it up and within five minutes I had a brand new blog. Admittedly, I’d set up a load of blogs and forums before this so the process wasn’t new to me but I still felt a huge buzz of excitement because this was MY blog! After a few basic tweaks and mods (specifically, I let FeedBurner handle my RSS feed and added SiteMeter stats tracking so I could see what was going on, stats wise) I was ready to blog!

I got going straight away and even used the default WordPress template for quite a few months. I worked on the assumption that it was content that was going to draw readers and not how it looked, and since I’m a writer by trade I wasn’t put off by having to write a lot. I’m glad I did this because I could have spent weeks on the style and have no content. Also, since I knew that it would take weeks for any real traffic to show up on the site (from the search engines) I knew that I had time to tweak the look and fix anything that might be broken (or that I might break).

I started off populating the blog with stuff that I’d wanted to put up on the website for some time but hadn’t found the time. I found that by having a backlog of material to go on the web actually help because after a couple of weeks the blog had a good number of posts and the place didn’t feel empty any more. Traffic was slow to begin with but by using Technorati (I tagged everything back then!), leveraging my existing websites by cross-linking, and stated participating in the blogosphere through comments and trackbacks. Traffic was depressingly slow for the first few weeks but I knew that I’d be basically talking to myself for week and I remained optimistic. I lived by the motto that “if you build it, they will come”, and eventually, come they did! Within a year Google has gone from bringing no one to the blog to now bringing in 85% of my readers.

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Humanity Still Trumps

This post has been submitted by regular contributor – Aaron Brazell

I suppose this is somewhat of a tangent but if you bear with me, I believe this dovetails nicely with the focus of this blog. Last Friday, I went through one of the most terrifying situations a parent can go through – having surgery performed on a child. In my case, my son is two years old.

Sure, in my case, the operation was minor, and the doctors were the best doctors in the world, but nonetheless – no surgery is minor and no doctor is immune from making mistakes.

So after an agonizing period of waiting while specialists, anasthesioloigists, and nurses paraded over to check on him while we waited for the procedure to begin, they finally took him into the back room to sedate him. The poor child had a look of sheer terror on his face while the doctors tried to calm him. One nice inhale of “the gas” and a wide-eyed look put him in a deep sleep.

My wife and I were allowed to go and grab a bite to eat in the cafeteria and were summoned a short time later to come be with our son. He was coming out of his drug-induced sleep and had been numbed from the waist down as well, so he definitely wasn’t feeling pain – we were told.

As parents, we sat there with Devin holding him and stroking his hair. He was miserable and the heart strings were being tugged as we sat watching him in discomfort. As parents, this sort of thing is agonizing. You hate to see your child uncomfortable.

The nurse, who I am sure is very experienced and very knowledgeable, kept trying to calm us and tell us things like “He can’t feel anything”, “This is normal” and “he’ll go back to sleep for a bit”.

At one point, the nurse looked and said, “I’m going to give him another dose of the pain medicine. He shouldn’t be waking up so soon. At another time, the monitor went off because he wasn’t getting enough oxygen. So the nurse fetched him an oxygen mask and made a comment about how it was very odd that he wasn’t getting oxygen.

The point of this very long and windy entry is that people that run an internet business, including bloggers who are monetizing their blogs, can easily fall into a pattern of the expected. It’s relatively easy to read entries here at ProBlogger and other sites that talk about optimizing sites for search engines, how to make title tags efficient or how to garner the most traffic and ad revenue. Like this Johns Hopkins nurse, there are notable experts in fields that will make their wizardry seem easy. And following the advice of experts will usually put you ahead of the crowd.

However, the one factor that cannot be quantified, measured, explained or predicted is the human factor. Despite the fact that our blogs and businesses are internet-based, they are based in humanity – a humanity that is unpredictable, emotional and takes different shapes for different humans. Sometimes all the 10 step processes and tricks don’t work because there are humans in the picture messing the formulas up.

Fortunately for us as bloggers, one size doesn’t fit all and when one formula fails, chances are we can find one that works in our situation with our personalities.

Getting Knickers in a Twist over Blog Sponsorship – Blog Case Study

KnickersThe following post was submitted by Danae Shell as part of the ProBlogger Case Study Series

I’m the editor of a lingerie weblog called Knickers (warning: as Danae says – this is a lingerie blog and could be unsuitable for some workplaces etc – Darren).

Knickers is a product weblog that features beautiful lingerie with advice about what to wear, etc., and also has an ongoing interview series with lingerie designers and other professionals within the industry. I started Knickers because there was no resource like it on the web, no ‘lingerie heaven’ where women could go to find beautiful lingerie and learn about bra-sizing, and what suits their body type.

Knickers has been running for nine months now, and it’s getting to the point where the weblog needs to start monetizing properly, or it’s not going to be worth the amount of time I put into it. The main sources of revenue just now are Google ads and affiliate links, neither of which performing beautifully. I’m now seriously considering sponsorship for Knickers, but am concerned about the implications ‘will I lose credibility? Will I alienate other designers? Will new readers be confused as to whether I’m owned by the sponsor?’

I’ve looked around quite a bit for pro-blogging articles about sponsorship, but it’s usually only mentioned as one possible revenue stream, i.e. ‘or, you can get a sponsorship.’ I’d be really interested to hear from other bloggers who have done sponsorships, and to learn how they decided a price for the sponsorship, what their terms were, and how it’s working for them. I think an ideal sponsorship would be one that brings added value to the readers of the weblog, and would love to hear of creative ways bloggers have teamed up with sponsors to benefit their readers.

Thanks in advance for your insights!

Danae Shell
Editor
Knickers www.knickersblog.com

10 Steps to Guarantee You’ll Never Make More than 0.14 cents per month with AdSense

Every day I come across and courses which promise to teach people how to make thousands of dollars a day with AdSense by following a few easy steps – so I thought it was time for one that shows you how to guarantee to keep your blog from making money with AdSense. Here’s my top 10 tips for a guaranteed earning of 0.14 cents or less per month from your blog:

Placement-11. Position Ads Out of Sight – Ensure that you put any ad units that you put on your blog below the fold where they’ll be sure not to annoy your readers. If you do choose to put your ads above the fold (why you would I’ll never know) make sure they are placed in the white zones in the diagram to the right. Obviously the bottom of the page is best but the top right corner and right hand skyscraper positions can also work against you very well. Do your best to keep the ads away from the areas that people’s eyes will be drawn to (ie away from content, pictures etc). This helps keep the money from rolling in quite well.

2. Only post to your blog once every few weeks - Lull your readers into a hypnotic trance decrease the chances of them ever visiting your blog.

3. Unclear Post Topics – If and when you do choose to post make sure that your posts have as little focus as possible in terms of topic. Write about multiple topics in every post in an attempt to confuse the AdSense bots. Never blog about anything with a commercial aspect to it and attempt to keep your posts as uninteresting, unoriginal and as useless to readers as you possibly can.

4. Poor Post Titles - Never use the keywords that relate to your post in your post’s title. In order to get lower paying (and irrelevant) ads use the word ‘blog’ as much as possible both in your titles and posts. Also try to find topics to write about that AdSense has no ads in their inventory for. Do this by simply adding keywords into Google.com until no ads come up next to the search results.

5. Never set your ads to show Alternative Ads – If you do your readers will see ads that might make you money when Google can’t find any of their own to show (something that ideally you will have if you get #4 above right). A much better strategy is to just allow the PSA (public service ads) to appear which will guarantee you earn nothing at all.

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Gaining a Top Google Ranking in Two Weeks – Blog Case Study

The following post was submitted by Martin Roth as part of the ProBlogger Case Study Series

An excellent way to jump-start a new blog is to write a lively and authoritative article about your particular topic, then alert other bloggers in the hope that some of them will link to you. I’ve done it for two of my blogs, with good results.

The first time was with Bird Flu Update, which I launched last October. I decided to try to write an article that would appeal to bloggers. And what sort of theme would most appeal to bloggers? Something on blogging, I reasoned.

I posted my article, “The Bird Flu Bloggers” – a review of all the best blogs covering bird flu – late in October, then sent polite emails to 50-or-so of the most popular writers in the blogosphere, suggesting they might be interested in it. A couple of them mentioned it on their sites, bringing me several thousand hits over a few days.
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Jill’s Story – Blog Case Study

The following post was submitted by Jill Manty as part of the ProBlogger Case Study Series

My husband convinced me to start a blog related to my organic baby business. He had been interested in blogging for over a year and had been trying to get me interested for most of that time. I kind of felt like it was a waste of time and didn’t really see the potential for profit. My organic business blog relates to news of interest to parents who are interested in organics, alternative energy, attachment parenting, etc. It’s made a little money. It pays for itself, plus a tiny bit extra, but it certainly wasn’t enough to make a living.

Then, in December I was reading on ProBlogger, and I read that Darren had written a blog on the Summer Olympics in 2004. The Winter Olympics were coming up, and I thought we should write about them. My husband wasn’t sure that it was a money making idea, but I convinced him that it would be, so we bought www.2006turinolympics.com. I started writing at least one post daily at the end of December. By February, I was writing 5-6 posts per day. During the Olympics, I was sometimes writing closer to 10 posts per day.

I consider the site a success for a number of reasons. One, it made money. Not enough to retire on, but enough to buy a used car, which we desperately needed. Two, I was interviewed by several media sources and was even quoted for a front page story in The Washington Post. That was pretty exciting, as that sort of thing doesn’t usually happen to a stay-at-home wife and mom to five children. Finally, I consider it a success because it has finally gotten me to see what my husband has said along– you can make a living from blogging. We’re in the process of trying out several new blogging ideas. Some of them have been more successful than others. I have no doubt we will drop some of them in time, or convert them to something different.

What have I learned from this experience that I’m taking into our new blogs?
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Australian AdSense Publishers Get Direct Debit Payments

Good news for Aussies today with AdSense notifyig them that they can now be paid by direct deposit! Here’s an excerpt from the email sent:

‘We have recently added a new payment option for Australia and wish to invite you to sign up to receive payments directly to your bank account.

I’m not sure if this is just an Australian thing or whether other countries have now been upgraded to EFT payments also but I know a few other Aussies that will be happy about this one.