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Cliquey Blogging – Breaking Down Exclusivity in Blogging

Gomez-1Do you know what it feels like to be the only one in a crowd that doesn’t fit in? Perhaps some of your blog’s readers feel this way too….

Tangent Time – Seeing Gomez

Earlier this month I went to see Gomez perform at the Hi-Fi bar in Melbourne. I wasn’t planning on heading into it, but at the last minute a mate rang and asked me if I wanted a free ticket.

I said yes straight away – for starters I know a few Gomez songs and like them and secondly… it was a free ticket to a sold out show and I’m always up for a freebie!

As I say, I know a few Gomez songs, but would never have called myself a big fan.

This hit home to me a couple of songs into their set when I looked around at the audience of 1000 and saw virtually every other person in the room with their hands in the air, singing screaming along with every word.

These were fanatical fans – they loved Gomez. Not only did they know every word, they knew what song was being played the instant a chord was played, they got all the in jokes that the band said and they were all decked out in Gomez gear.

I loved the show – but as it went on I increasingly felt like something of an impostor – I didn’t fit in and I knew it.

As I drove home from the show in the early hours of he morning (smelling like smoke and with ringing ears) I reflected a little on how I felt as ‘the odd one out’ at the show. It struck me that it’s not an uncommon feeling.

The Odd One Out

Sesame-Street

“One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?”

Almost any place that people gather together around a common interest or activity something happens between them that forms them into some type of community.

[Read more...]

Last Call for ProBlogger Prizes

Late last week I announced that I was looking for some prizes for my next group writing project. Due to the timing of the post calling for them I’ve had feedback that a number of people didn’t get enough notice to put a pitch together. So I’ll extend the deadline for submissions by 24 hours. So at 5pm tomorrow (Tuesday – Melbourne time) I’ll stop taking submissions for prizes.

If you’d like to pitch an idea please do so after reading the following full post at Prizes Needed – Sponsor ProBlogger’s Next Group Writing Project

Thanks to all those who’ve sent in ideas – once again there are some great ones (although no more cash prizes please! Never thought I’d hear myself saying that!).

Choosing a Niche for Your Information Product (or Blog)

Brian’s released a new video over at Tubetorial in his 7 Steps to Creating and Selling Niche Information Products series. This one is on working out what to make your product about.

I like Brian’s approach because he doesn’t go in for the hype that surrounds a lot of information products and emphasizes that you need to produce something that is based upon the need of the customer.

While this is pretty basic business sense I think it’s worth stating over and over again both when thinking about information products but also when it comes to blogging.

Your blog will never be successful unless you’re writing about something that customers need or want.

He then goes on to share some ways to come up with ideas for info products (which can again be applied to choosing a topic for a blog). His main points:

  • Improve on an existing topic
  • Solve a New Problem
  • Share existing expertise

He expands upon each in the video.

More on choosing a blog topic here (and here).

Lesson for the day – Renew Your Domain Name

Don’t let your domain names expire.

Easy to do – especially if you’re changing your email addresses around.

PS: I’ve been going with 10 year domain registrations recently to help with this – but also because a patent released by Google last year indicated that they look at length of domain registration when ranking a domain. I’m not sure what weight it has – but it all adds up (plus it means I only have to embarrassingly explain why I didn’t renew it every decade instead of every year or two)

Prizes Needed – Sponsor ProBlogger’s Next Group Writing Project

The week after next I’ll be holding the next ProBlogger Group Writing Project. I’ll keep the topic a secret until then but after the success of offering prizes for the last project I’d like to do the same again.

If you have a prize you’d like to offer the project in return for some pretty nice exposure I’d like to hear from you (read on to find out what I’m looking for).

Last time we offered five great gifts to five random participants and this time I’d like to do the same. I’ve toyed with the idea of increasing the numbers of prizes but in the hope of keeping the exposure that sponsors get from their offers I’m going to keep it to five this time around.

So I’d like to hear from those wishing to sponsor this group project.

What Type of Prizes?

Last time the prizes included a new PC/LCD combo ($500), digital cash ($500), an eye/brain massager, a premium service to a blog related tool and an Amazon voucher ($100).

That’s the range of prizes that people are offering and I’d like us to hit that type of level (or above) again. Ideally I’d like the prizes to be of some sort of use to bloggers (feel free to be creative – last time the massager wasn’t the most valuable prize offered but it was interesting).

What do you get as a Sponsor?

  • Sponsors will receive links in every post on the project during the week that it runs (last time I think this was on about 7 posts).
  • Last project 300 bloggers participated and many more read the pages associated with the project.
  • ProBlogger is read by 5000 daily readers via the blog and another 8000 via it’s feeds.

Requirements of Sponsors

  • Possible winners are from around the globe and the prize needs to be able to be received internationally (for example one of the prizes above was converted to cash due to it not being able to be sent overseas).
  • Prizes are awarded to random participants in the project.
  • The companies/individuals offering the gift need to take responsibility to getting it to winners.

I choose which prizes to use based on a number of factors including value, usefulness to bloggers, variety (between prizes) and the suitability of the sponsor to my readership (ie I’m not going to offer prizes from adult or gambling sites).

Last time we had offers for prizes from quite a few people – please don’t be offended if your prize isn’t selected.

Submit Your Idea

If you’d like to offer a prize I’ll need to hear from you by Monday at 5pm (Melbourne Time). Submit your pitch including prize value, description and where you want your promotional link to point (and the words you’d want the link to say) via my contact form.

Any questions? Shoot me an email via my contact form.

Interview with Text Link Ads President – Patrick Gavin

Jamsi has a nice interview with the chief of Text Link Ads (aff), Patrick Gavin. In it Patrick answers some FAQs about TLA and hints at a new product launch in the coming weeks (keep an eye on ProBlogger for more details on that one).

A few of the highlights of the interview:

On why people get rejected from TLA - “it is a combination of: traffic (derived from Alexa data), back links (from Yahoo’s site explorer), and the theme of your website.”

Is Page Rank a factor in TLA prices? - “No. The days of pricing by PR are long gone in my opinion. Buyers pay premiums for quality placement on niche sites. Theme plays the biggest factor with many of the finance, travel, real estate, and law sites drawing the highest prices. Link popularity is a factor but it is not taken from PR.”

On the difference between having 6 and 10 ads – “This is not exact but it would change about 15% up if you dropped to 6 so in many cases it is best for the publisher to use the maximum 10 link spots for sale.”

Read the full interview.

CPC Ads Vs Affiliate Programs

Robyn writes a thought provoking post with the title of Why Use Affiliate Ads Rather Than AdSense or YPN?

In it she points out the benefits of going with affiliate programs that pay larger amounts when people purchase a product in comparison to CPC (cost per click) ad programs like AdSense which generally pay a smaller amount for a click on the ad.

She writes:

“One advertiser recently sent me an email reminding me of their current affiliate promotion. It was roughly (details changed to protect my hide):

1. 10 Subscriptions – Get $50 Home Depot or Best Buy Gift Card
2. 50 Subscriptions – 2G iPod Nano
3. 150 Subscriptions – XBox 360
4. 275 – Home Theater System ($1000 value)
5. 500 – Tickets to the Affiliate Summit, $500 airfare and 3 days lodging
6. 1000 – Serious renumeration

Now, this was for a service that costs between $10 and $20 dollars, depending on plan, and it’s a really popular service at that. And, remember, this is, in addition to the $15 lead spiff. So, in essence, for option #6 you would make around $5K for the above bonus and $15K for the lead spiff.”

It’s an interesting topic and one that I’ve seen fans of both CPC and Affiliate programs argue over many times.

While the above argument is logical and seems to make sense I would argue that while 1000 subscribers to a service seems like an easy enough thing – I’ve never managed to get that type of hit rate in my three years of blogging (despite using affiliate programs on many of my blogs).

My own opinion on there is no clear winner in the CPC/Affiliate program debate on a big picture level and it’s a question that needs to be asked on a topic by topic basis.

Some blogs are naturally suited to CPC whereas others do much better with affiliate programs. This depends on many factors including the topic (ie my gadget blogs tend to do better with CPC and blogs like ProBlogger do better with affiliate programs), the voice/style of the blogger, the type of readers (ie loyal readers seem to respond better to affiliate programs where as search traffic does better with CPC) and other factors.

Where do you focus most of you online money making attention? CPC ads, Affiliate programs or a combination of both?

Blog Security – Tips on Keeping Your Blog from being Hacked

Quite a few people have asked me questions about ProBlogger being hacked last week. Questions have ranged from ‘do you know who did it?’ to ‘have you found out how they did it?’ to ‘how can we protect ourselves from being hacked?’

By the way – my blogging buddy Andy Wibbels has had his blog hacked in the last couple of days also and his blog is currently down. This is unfortunately becoming more common.

I’m not going to go into great detail of what happened, how or who it was (I’m not sure how wise it is to get into those details for a variety of reasons) but I will make a few general comments and give a few pieces of advice when it comes to blog security and protection.

Disclaimer – I am not (and never will be) an expert in web security. Don’t take my advice as gospel for all systems/set ups and seek professional advice if in doubt.

1. Update your Blog Software - blog platforms periodically update their versions for a variety of reasons one of which is security. Old versions of some platforms expose your blog and server to being hacked.

2. Keep an Eye on Dead Blogs – I suspect that of the 50 million or so blogs that technorati are tracking that many of them are non active blogs on old blogging platforms. One of the dangers of retiring a blog and not updating it is that you can have old and un-updated blogging platforms sitting on your server which could prove to be a vulnerability in your set up. Even if you’re not actively updating a ‘dead blog’ you should consider updating it’s version.

3. Backup your Blog – being hacked does happen, even to the smartest bloggers from time to time. When it does happen you need to have some way of getting your blog back up and running and a backup is an essential part of this.

4. Protect Your Passwords – this goes without saying but I’m constantly surprised by the stories I hear of people using obvious passwords or giving them out. Basic password protection strategies and common sense should prevail.

5. Choose Your Host Carefully - I am in the fortunate position of having a quality host who offers me personal and comprehensive help in those times when things go wrong. Without this I don’t know what I’d have done.

As I say above, I’m no blog security expert and I would invite those that have expertise and experience in this area to comment below for the benefit of the wider blogging community.

If you’ve written or know of posts on this topic with good solid advice please feel free to give us links to them below as it’d be helpful to have a bit of a collection of advice on the topic.

reddit buttons

Redditreddit have released reddit buttons for webmasters and bloggers to put on their sites to help spread the word about their posts.

They come in three styles. Give them a go and let us know how you find them. Do you actively promote social bookmarking options to your readers? Do you find they work or are readers becoming blind to them?