Which Bloggers Would You Love to Meet?

Phil has a post that got me chuckling a little. It’s called Get global – literally and it bounces off b5’s VC funding that we announced earlier in the week and mentions the way we as a founders team of four (Jeremy, Duncan, Shai and myself) are yet to meet.

I reflect in comments what a bizarre journey it has been.

Telling your friends and family that you’re a full time blogger is a strange enough experience (you wouldn’t believe the looks I’ve received) but telling people that you just secured investment in a company that you started a year ago with people you’ve never met before leaves the ‘I’m a full time blogger’ remark for dead.

It’s got me thinking about the nature of blogging/new media and the way it opens up all kinds of connections with people you’d never have had reason to bump into otherwise. The connections can range from business partners, to those who leave comments on your blog (including those you wish wouldn’t leave comments on your blog) to those whose blogs you read etc. Some of them become daily connections and a few become close friends – most you’ll never meet.

So who would you love to meet from your experience of blogging?

Jeremy, Duncan, Shai and myself will hopefully meet in the next month or two for the first time (yet another surreal experience to add to the list). They’re obviously at the top of my list of people to meet from my blogging experience – but there are so many more that I’d love to sit down and have a beer (or a coffee) with.

If you could meet five or so bloggers in real life who would they be – and Why?

Leave a comment or write a post and let us know about it in comments below. It’ll be interesting to look over the lists that people come up with.

Excluding Jeremy, Duncan and Shai – here are the first five bloggers that came to mind for me (and the more I think about it the more I think I could come up with a list of 100 or so):

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Speedlinking 7 October 2006

Lifehacker’s Gina Trapani writes a great post on her analysis of Bloglines as compared to the newly improved Google Reader. Has anyone else switched like Gina?

Andy Wibbels (my co Six Figure Blogging presenter) is starting his latest course – Keyword Essentials (aff). He’s done a free preview call which you can listen to to give you a feel for whether the course is for you or not. I’ve got the call ready to listen to later today. (PS: Andy’s just extended the discount until Monday especially for ProBlogger readers).

Adrian at the PC Doctor publishes a letter from YPN banning him from the ad network for sending non US traffic – the strange thing is that he’s never sent them any traffic as he’s never used their ads at all!?

James writes a post on the topic of 10 things to consider when choosing a Site Meter

Is AdSense Dead?

You might have noticed over the past few weeks that in some forums and between some e-book writers that there is debate over whether AdSense is everything it’s cracked up to be. Some are saying that it’s dead, others are saying it’s dead if you use it for Arbitrage and others are saying it’s the best thing since sliced bread.

I’ve been emailed to ask what I think numerous times this week and have been pondering how to respond.

Here are a few random thoughts:

Speaking Personally

Let me start on a personal note – I still make a lot of money from AdSense on my personal blogs. While there have been times where I’ve had bigger months than the one that is ending now – I’m still very pleased with my own AdSense earnings.

Yes numbers are down a little but that has more to do with a number of other factors rather than AdSense being ‘dead’. Some of these factors include:

  • Coming out of a slow period (summer in the northern hemisphere is traditionally slow)
  • Adding other Ad programs (for example when I added Chitika my AdSense went down a little (not as much as the extra money that was brought in) due to AdSense ads having a little less prominence)
  • Being Hacked (I lost a full few of days income from my recent hacking)

Having said this – AdSense is still my equal largest earner and isn’t WAY down (in fact over the first few days of October I’ve seen a small upswing again).

AdWords Changes

A lot of the complaints against AdSense over the last few months have probably got more to do with changes to AdWords than anything. Arbitrage publishers were rocked a couple of months back when changes were made to AdWords that made it more expensive to send readers to landing pages in the hope of getting them to click AdSense ads that earned more than the AdWords ads that got them there. It’s no wonder that people are complaining about AdSense as a way to Monetize Arbitrage with the changes that were made.

However if you’re not into Arbitrage and are a publisher who develops quality sites that grow a natural readership via SE traffic or loyal readers then I think AdSense is still a great way to go – particularly if you have a blog with some commercial edge to it (ie AdSense doesn’t tend to work well on religious, political or personal sites).

AdSense Alternatives

The last 12 months have seen a lot more competition for AdSense. I have noticed a slight drop off in bloggers raving about AdSense partly because they’re now raving about other ad systems.

In my chats with bloggers I’m seeing a number of other income streams mentioned again and again. Here’s a few:

1. Text Link Ads (aff) – the team at TLA have gradually built a loyal publisher list over the past few months but providing an ad system that may not be as flashy or spectacular as AdSense in some senses but which works. Interestingly – I’ve chatted with a number of smaller bloggers over the past few weeks who say that TLA actually is their biggest earner. This is because it is not reliant upon clicks or traffic at all and is a very passive income for a blog that over time grows as more advertisers buy links. I spoke to an owner of a lesser known blog network recently and he told me that his network is earning five figures a month with TLA.

2. Amazon Associates – some publishers laugh off Amazon as not being worth the effort because the payouts are so small (4-6% in post cases) but I’ve chatted with a few publishers this week who are doing very well from Amazon. The advantage of Amazon over many affiliate programs is that they are a trusted brand. If you pick the right products to promote you can actually do quite well from them. I chatted with a publisher this week who is promoting lawn mowers and power tools on Amazon. Sell a $2000 tractor/mower a few times a week and it certainly adds up.

3. Chitika (aff) – as unpopular as they became with some publishers in their early days of launching they continue to be a big earner for some bloggers. They continue to be neck and neck with AdSense for me in the earnings they bring in. They continue to improve their products and expand what they offer in terms of channels, their recent launch of shoplinc etc and I know of a few product oriented bloggers who make more from them than anything else. Can’t say too much but expect their range of advertising methods to continue to increase in the coming months.

4. YPN – Yahoo’s contextual advertising system is still in beta (it has been a longer process than many expected) and is yet to fully compete with AdSense. I’ve given it a go (via b5’s account) and wasn’t too impressed with how it converted here at ProBlogger but do know of some bloggers who continue to find that it does well for them. I think it’s a blog by blog proposition but is definitely an ad network to consider if you can get into the beta test.

5. Direct Ad Sales – another emerging trend among bloggers (and networks of them) is the increased focus upon direct deals that are being done between bloggers and advertisers (and their representatives). This month I had a sponsorship with Canon on one of my blogs that has been well worth while and I know at b5media we are finding more and more advertisers willing to do deals as the word gets out that blogs are online real estate that converts pretty well for them. It’s not always easy to negotiate these deals as a single blogger with a relatively small readership but we’re now seeing networks of bloggers banding together which makes it much easier to negotiate such deals.

6. Product Bloggers – while there are not a lot of examples of this yet I suspect that 2007 will be a year that quite a few bloggers will launch products in their niches. Bloggers are starting to switch onto the fact that after a year or two of blogging on a topic that they are sitting upon a goldmine of information and expertise that can be reused in other forums. While this past year saw a number of bloggers release books I know of quite a few who are working up to releasing online information products, membership sites and coaching services in their areas of expertise. Whether they succeed or not is yet to be seen but it’s a logical next step for many bloggers.

Of course there are many other AdSense Alternatives out there for publishers also (with more coming I’m told). The variety of systems open to publishers surely is having some impact upon AdSense and what people are earning with it.

What do you think? Is AdSense dead? What has your experience of AdSense (and other ad systems) been over the past 6 or so months? Are you finding it easier or more difficult to earn money from your blogging?

Google Blog Search Offers Pinging to Get Your Blog Indexed

Google today announced that you can now ping their blog search service to let them know when you’ve updated.

You can manually ping it here or do it automatically if you’re a WP user by adding to your ‘update services’ (under options/writing).

They will continue to watch other ping services so if you’re already listed in blog search you’ll probably be fine but it never hurts to ping them directly.

How to Target US Traffic for YPN Ads

If you’re a YPN publisher but are worried about having too much non US traffic (they don’t let YPN be used on sites with too many non US readers) then you might find a tip written by Erik helpful on Saving Your Yahoo Publisher Network (YPN) Account from being BANNED.

In it Erik outlines how to show YPN ads only to US traffic and serve AdSense ads to non US traffic using a WP plugin.

PS: I can’t see similar principles in this tutorial couldn’t be used for using Chitika ads (they don’t pay for Asian traffic at this point).

Chitika extends referral program to 15 months

Here’s some good news for Chitika publishers who have referred other publishers to the system – they’ve extended the referral program to 15 months instead of 12!

This means that those who started referring people from the first month that it was possible to do so (around 12 months ago) now will continue to earn 10% of the earnings of those that they referred until the end of the year instead of having it end around now. Not bad considering the next three months are traditionally bumper months for online advertising.

Now if we can just get them to make it an ongoing indefinite deal….

Full details at Chitika Blog

b5media Takes Funding

Just a short post to point to some exciting news for me and the blog network that I’ve been a part of building over the past 12 months – b5media.

Today we closed a deal with two Canadian VC companies (Brightspark and JL Albright) for a round of financing.

You can read about it more at our main blog and from the VC’s perspective over at Rick’s blog.

It’s an exciting time for us as a network. While I can’t believe how fast we’ve grown in our 12 months (we’ve been so busy with this deal and the network that we didn’t even have time to post acknowledging our birthday) this injection of investment will allow us to ramp up what we’re able to do an extra few notches.

To use a Spinal Tap analogy – we’ve been growing at a volume of 10 but this takes us up to 11 (or more).

The money allows us to do a number of things for the network and our bloggers. This isn’t the post to outline them all – but I thought I’d share the news with you as it’s both something I’m excited about but also is somewhat relevant to our topic here.

How does it impact me directly?

The main thing is that from today I’m the VP of Training and Development at b5media. This is something that over the next few months I’ll be transitioning into in a full time capacity.

My role will largely be working with our wonderful team of bloggers in a capacity that will help them to take their blogging to the next level. In a sense I’ll be doing a lot of what I do here at Problogger and have done consulting with bloggers but focussing more upon our team.

As part of my role I’ll continue to develop ProBlogger (as it is part of the network) but some of my other blogs will be transitioned into others writing on them to allow me more time to work on b5 directly.

I’m sure a lot more will be said about b5 taking this step – but I’ll leave my two cents worth at this for the time being.

Advertisers Target Key Blogs with personalized AdWords Ads

I just spotted the ad below running over at TechCrunch.

It’s an AdSense ad (image ad) that is obviously being targeted to the blog it appears on as it quotes it’s blogger.

I’ve seen a few people taking out similar ads like this over the past few months and suspect it’ll become more and more common place on blogs.

Here’s the ad (in the extended entry due to it’s size).

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Google Gadgets Available for Webpages

Google today announced Google Gadgets are now available for webpage owners.

Previously they were only available for Google Desktop or Homepage but now publishers can add them. In a sense they are widgets which will sit in your side bar and they range from Google Maps, to the Current Moon Phase, to games, translation and time and date.

I’m not about to rush out and add any of them to my blogs but there might be some worth using depening upon the nature of your blog.

found via Duncan