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Which Font is Best for Blogging?

Before and After Magazine have a great PDF download on choosing the right typeface (via LifeClever).

It’s actually a topic I’ve been asked about twice today so it is a timely find.

I’m no expert on design but my approach to choosing fonts is two fold:

1. Take on board the advice of designers – I’m lucky enough to be able to afford some quality designers to do my work – they usually make sense on issues such as font.

2. Keep it simple – one of my old teachers once gave me some advice that has stuck in my head with regard to font choice. She said that the best fonts are those that people are used to reading. People become familiar with fonts over time and learn to read them. When they’re confronted with one they’ve not see before that is quite different they tend to find it harder to read. While this might mean you end up choosing ‘boring’ or ‘normal’ fonts – it also means your readers don’t have to strain to read your blog.

Having said that – I’m not the guy to ask questions about with regards to fonts. If you’ve got some expertise (or even just a strongly felt opinion) on the topic have your say in comments.

Also interested to know – what font do you use (ProBlogger uses Arial Narrow)?

Full Stops (Periods) in Titles

Here’s a quick tip for composing the titles of your posts.

Avoid putting full stops (periods) at the end of your titles.

Most bloggers naturally avoid using them in titles (without giving much thought to it). However from time to time I see them.

Why shouldn’t you use full stops at the end of titles? Isn’t it just a stylistic thing?

No – the reason goes beyond how it looks and is more about the signal that it sends to your reader. Full stops, like their name suggests, are something that halts the eye of your reader.

This isn’t something you want at this point in your post. Titles are all about leading your reader into your post and so anyway that you can help this flow is a bonus.

It might seem like something that’s too small to worry about (and in comparison with other things you could do to improve your blog it’s not a biggie) but it is a pretty established copy writing principle that is universally practised (next time you pick up a newspaper see how many periods in titles you can find).

How Much Is a Blog Post Worth? A Formula?

Interesting post over at Steve Pavlina’s which takes up the question that I wrote about last week – How Much Is a Blog Post Worth?

In the post Steve decides that posts on his blog are worth $2400 calculated over a 10 year life span.

He calculates this by taking the total earnings of his site and dividing it by the post numbers and then multiplying it by the lifespan of the post.

It’s actually an interesting formula and one that I used on my own blogs for the first year or so.

The only problem is that after 18-24 months of my own blogging the increase in my own earnings began to slow each month and the post numbers continued to rise at a similar rate.

I’m about to run out the door for the morning but I’ll make a few further brief comments on it (note – Steve and I agree on these things and he says them in his post – but I’ve come across people who take this type of formula to heart for every blog and then a year later ask why it doesn’t work):

  • Not all posts have the same earning potential – as I look at the posts on my sites that get the most visits and the ones that have the most clicks on ads from them I see that there are some posts in my archives that do considerably better than others.
  • Some blogs are more time specific than others - this formula will work better for Steve than others because his topic is more timeless than others. Writing on personal development is a topic that won’t date as fast as writing on a topic like mp3 players (where models become obsolete in 6 months). I find that on many of my more time specific blogs that the traffic drops to very little (if anything) on older posts within 12 months and not 10 years.
  • Remember Non Post Pages – one of the reasons I dropped this type of valuation of posts was because I had the realization that on some of my blogs the most valuable pages were the front page and category pages.
  • Traffic changes everything – I can just see some people reading Steves post and saying that every blog post is worth $2400 (in fact I’ve seen one blogger write this already). The fact is that on Steve’s blog it might be but it won’t be the case on every blog. There are many factors as to why this is (see below) but one of them is traffic. Steve’s blog is very well trafficked and he’s therefore able to earn quite a bit per post. Other sites will be able to earn even more per post (due in part to higher traffic) but the majority bloggers don’t have his type of stats and will struggle to make $10 per post over their lifetime simply because they can’t attract readers.
  • Other Factors to Consider – other reasons why different blogs will earn different amounts will include the topic (some topics are more commercially viable than others), the advertising types used (some blogs convert well with affiliate programs, others with CPC, others with CPM), the type of readers (loyal readers who come back daily tend to be harder to convert in some forms of advertising (CPC especially) than search engine referrals etc.

I think Steve’s formula is one useful way to help determine how much you should pay (or charge for) blog posts but I’d also advise a little caution on applying it quickly across all blogs.

What I do like about Steve’s valuation is that it highlights the long term earning potential of a blog post. What you write today has the potential to bring revenue for the rest of it’s online life. It may diminish to some extent over time but it’s one of the things I am most excited about when it comes to making money via blogs.

AdSense add Channel Name to Code

I was just making a new ad unit for one of my blogs and have noticed that when generating code for an ad unit in a channel that the channel code is no longer just a number but the name of the channel and the date you created it as well as a numerical code for the channel.

So the code now includes a line like this:

//2006-09-24: ProBlogger Main

I’m not sure why they’ve made this change. The previous numerical channel code is still in the code so they must have added it for some reason.

Unless there’s some pretty good reason for it I’m not sure I would want the code there as I know serious AdSense publishers do at times look at the source code in each others pages and I know some publishers use channel names that can be quite revealing about their AdSense strategy.

How to Make Bloggers Angry in 10 (+1) Steps

Denise writes 10 Things That Make Bloggers Angry when pitching them – as someone who gets pitched a lot of ideas I’d recommend it as essential reading for marketers wanting to interact with bloggers.

In the same vein of #1 (Not spelling the blogger’s name right) I’d add an 11th suggestion.

‘don’t put another blogger’s name on the email’.

I’m amazed how many people send me emails with other bloggers names on them – it screams ‘cut and paste’ emailing.

11 Lies of Professional Blogging Resources

Over the past couple of months I’ve come across a number of ebooks on the topic of making money from blogs. I bought them with the hope of finding some quality products to recommend and in the hope of discovering some new techniques to try out.

My reaction after reading them (I bought and read five) and after perusing the sales pages of others is that there is an increasing amount misinformation circulating on the topic of Professional Blogging.

Here are some of the lies (or half truths) of Professional Blogging Resources:

1. Don’t Get a Job, Get a Blog

Over the years I’ve heard a number of people saying they’re quitting their jobs to become Pro Bloggers without having any actual income from blogging first. Here’s a reality check post on this lie.

2. Reaching the Six Figure Earnings Mark doesn’t take long

Some of the material circulating on blogging for money makes it sound like all you need to do is follow a simple process and you’ll quickly earn your fortune. The truth of the matter is that it takes almost all successful Pro bloggers at least a couple of years to get enough momentum on their blogs to earn much.

3. Blogging for Money is Easy

I’ve heard the words ‘Passive Income’ used to describe Pro Blogging on numerous occasions. Unfortunately this couldn’t be further from the truth. While there is an element of passivity to it once you’ve been going for a while (the way your archives work for you for example) the truth is that blogging is something that needs not only a long period of time but regular effort to keep posting frequency and quantity up.

4. Pick High Paying Keywords

One Blogging for Money resource that I recently read wrote that the key to making money from blogs was to target the highest paying topics to blog about. This is a poor strategy on two fronts. Firstly to sustain a blog for the long term (see #2) it’s much better to be writing about something that you either enjoy, are interested in or have some knowledge of. Secondly the problem with this approach is that the web is flooded with others writing on many of these topics and only a few get to the top of the pile. In my experience it can be just as profitable (if not more so) to pick a smaller niche and dominate it (or be a big fish in a small pond)

5. You Will Make More Money than your Wildest Dreams

I’m not sure what your wildest dreams are but while some bloggers do make reasonably good money from blogging – there are very few who have attained a level of being able to retire to the Bahamas. Perhaps we’re a few years away from this sort of level of achievement for top bloggers – but the reality is that the vast majority of bloggers are barely able to earn enough to keep them in coffee.

6. Starting a Blogging Business Won’t Cost you Anything

This is an interesting one because I actually saw it written on the sales page for a blogging product that cost a considerable amount of money. Now on many levels blogging can be a very low cost thing to get into. There are plenty of options for free hosting, blog platforms etc – however to make money you generally do need to spend it and blogging cost you both in financial terms but also in other ways (time, energy, emotional stress etc). They might not be massive overheads (in fact friends of mine with their own businesses are amazed by my lack of costs) but there are costs (hosting and design for example).

7. You Don’t need any Experience or Qualifications

This is another one with an element of truth to it. Blogging is a very accessible thing for people of all walks of life, education levels and cultural backgrounds. However I’ve ‘met’ (virtually) quite a few successful Pro bloggers over the last year or two and most do have a certain level of education, many have had another profession and many have a history in some creative or communications industry – either that or they’ve had a long history of blogging and have accumulated a lot of experience along the road. I’m not saying that it’s impossible for the uneducated, young or inexperienced blogger to become successful – however the sad reality is that it’s a fairly rare thing (hopefully this will change).

8. Lots of People are Making Lots of Money

My poll of readers earnings earlier in the year begs to differ with this one. Yes some readers are making some great money – but they are in the minority.

9. Build a blog Network, you’ll sell it for Millions (Weblogs Inc did and so can you!)

Yes WIN did make a lot of money when they sold their network of blogs to AOL – millions even. It’s an example that is regularly pulled out to prove all kinds of things – however Weblogs Inc is one of hundreds of blog networks and in my memory it is the only one to sell for millions. Blog Networks take a lot of hard work and while I’m sure more will be attractive purchases in the future I’m not convinced that the majority of them will attract the big dollars.

10. Follow these Ten ‘Rules’ and You’ll Make Money Blogging

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about teaching people how to blog for money – it is that as soon as you come up with a rule for bloggers to follow you’ll find that it only works on some blogs some of the time. Ten step plans that promise amazing results all of the time don’t really fit with my experience of blogging. I find that blogs often perform best when bloggers break away from the ‘rules’ and find their own way.

11. Just use these ‘tools’ and You’ll get Free Content that Will Make you Money

Unfortunately the majority of promises like this present people with ‘tools’ that are dubious (at best) and downright unethical (at worst). The underbelly of the ProBlogosphere is full of all kinds of ‘tools’ that create blogs with thousands of pages of content in no time at all – unfortunately this isn’t really blogging – it’s called spamming and while it seems to make a small amount of people some money – it seems to leave most users of these tools with little or nothing at all.

Blogging For Chickens – Will You Join Me?

Chickens LrgCan Blogging Make a Difference in this World?

I think so – that’s why this week I’m going to be blogging for Chickens!

Today when I logged onto my computer a Calendar notification popped up at me telling me that it’s ProBlogger’s 2nd birthday. Time flies when you’re having fun.

So how does one celebrate a blog birthday?

Blogging has given a lot to me. It’s helped me meet some great people, it’s given me a more global perspective on life and provided my family with a good income (to name just a few benefits).

But I want more….

I want my blogging to benefit others. Not just in the information that it provides – but I would love blogging to become something that changes the lives of people who through circumstances beyond their control are unable to live to their potential.

The result of this is that instead of having a blog birthday that is all about me and my blog I want to have one that gives something back.

So for the next 7 days I’m going to blog for chickens!

Over the next week V and I have decided to use a percentage of our blogging income to buy Chickens for people in parts of the world who are experiencing poverty.

We’ll be doing this via a charity that I strongly believe in – Oxfam Australia (I know they are global but we’ll be giving through Oxfam Australia).

I’d like to invite you to celebrate with me by considering donating Chickens too (read on to find out how).

Why Chickens?

Oxfam Australia have a great online store where you can buy ‘presents’ for family and friends that actually help fight poverty. One of the items in their store is Chickens.

$10 (Aussie dollars – that’s $7.50 USD) buys a family living in poverty a pair of Chickens. The $10 donation covers:

  • Buy local chickens
  • Train families in how to care for their chickens
  • Provide vaccinations for the chickens
  • Provide market awareness training so families can make the most of their feathered friends

In essence purchasing chickens for these families and their wider communities the potential to provide their families with food (through eggs) and a means of income (through selling the chickens that breed). Chickens break the poverty cycle in a practical and empowering way.

Give Chickens

V and I are going to put a percentage of our week’s income into Chickens this week and would like to invite you (the ProBlogger community) to join us.

I’m going to keep a tally of how many pairs of chickens we buy over the week – (a chook-o-meter) which will help inspire us a little in our giving.

How to Give

There are two ways that you can give to this project:

1. Head to Oxfam Australia and Donate Directly – Here’s their chicken page where you can buy as many Chickens as you’d like. Remember $10AU is $7.50US. If you want your chooks to be included in the chook-o-meter send me an electronic card as part of the purchase process – please include in your message in the card how many pairs of chickens you bought (email it to darren AT problogger DOT net (replace the AT with a @ and the DOT with a .)

2. Shoot me your donation via PayPal and I’ll buy as many Chickens as we can afford with our accumulated donations at the end of the week - I’ll collect any money deposited into my paypal account (via the ‘Make a Donation’ button at the top of my sidebar) with a note saying it’s for the ‘chickens project’ and will purchase an equivalent amount of chickens with that money at then end of the week. I’ll add the equivalent amount of chickens as they’re donated to the tally.

How Much Give?

Ultimately this is completely up to you. A pair of Chickens cost $10AU and I’ll count them in $10 units. If you’d like to give one then that’s great – if you want to give 10 that’s great too, if you want to give a percentage of your earnings then that’s much appreciated also – I’ll leave it up to you and won’t be publishing a list of donators or how much people give.

In my opinion this type of giving is a private thing – if you want to publicize how much you give you’re welcome to do it on your own blog but here we’ll just add up the totals as a way of inspiring each other in our giving.

If you can’t afford to give $10 then there’s no pressure to. You can support the project by spreading the news about it and/or giving a smaller donation if you wish.

I’m not sure how many pairs of Chickens we’ll raise but hopefully together we can get a nice flock peep of them going!

PS: the chook-o-meter in the sidebar will be updated every 12 or so hours so if you make a donation and don’t see it go up please know that I’m doing this manually and will periodically update it. Thanks for your patience on this.

Update: This project is now over – the receipt for the donation is posted here.

Are Delicious Bookmarks or Digg Traffic Better?

Thoughtful post by Brian over at Performancing on 3 Reasons Why Delicious Bookmarks Beat Digg Traffic Hands Down.

I have to say I’d never really given it much thought before – but Brian makes some good points.

I guess I’d take a link on the popular page of either one. I find that Digg leads to a lot more secondary link ups which is useful after that initial rush of traffic – but apart from that I think Brian makes some good points.

What do you think?

Do you write for Individuals or the Masses?

Individuals-2

The Blogosphere is Big!

  • Blogs are read by millions of people every day
  • Blogs have a global audience
  • A popular blog post can be read by hundreds of thousands of people over its lifetime

It’s very easy to get caught up in the size of the blogosphere and picture your blogs readers as a crowd.

However the reality is that when people read your blog they are alone.

Forgive me if I’m wrong but while it’s likely that a few thousand people are reading this post today, very few of you are doing it in the physical company of anyone else.

While you might be aware that others are reading this blog most of you are probably sitting in your work cubical, your home office, on a couch, in bed, in a cafe…. alone (have I depressed us all yet?).

While blogging has some wonderfully communal aspects to it we need to remember that it’s also about individuals connecting with other individuals.

I get the feeling when I read some blogs that the blogger sees themselves as standing before a large crowd. They use language and have attitude that backs this up. I don’t know about you but I’d much prefer to be spoken to like I was an individual.

The Challenge to Write for the Individual

So when you sit down to write on your blog next time I challenge you to push aside the image of the crowd and focus on the individual.

  • Personalise your writing
  • Use ‘you’ language (it’s much more engaging and personal)
  • Tell stories (especially personal relatable ones)
  • Show photos (include some of yourself from time to time – it gives your blog a more personal touch)
  • Use singular language (make the person reading your blog feel like they have your complete focus)
  • Pretend you’re having a conversation with one person rather than giving a speech
  • Keep a level of informality
  • Make it accessible by using everyday words (don’t use big words to impress – write words that people use in everyday language)
  • Respond to individuals (in comments respond to individual comments, send emails to readers)

It’s not always easy to do all these things. I know that I’ve been guilty of getting sucked into the ‘crowd mentality’ as much as anyone – it’s easy to do (and at times it might even be appropriate) – however remind yourself of the individuals that read your blogs from time to time and you’ll inject something into your blog that could just take it to a new level.