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Meeting Bloggers

I can’t believe how fast this last week has gone. I’m only here in Toronto for another two days (and then have another day sitting on a plane).

After a very long week of b5 meetings with Jeremy and Mark, VCs and other Toronto based web start ups we took yesterday off to relax. After a long sleep in I spent a couple of hours with BJ Wong (Belle) from Working Blogger and Adventures in Net Marketing (among other blogs). Belle’s reflections of our lunch are at Lunch with Darren.

Belle and I have been working together on a couple of blogs for a while now and it was fantastic to finally meet her in person.

It is amazing to meet bloggers like Belle in person. This past week I must have met 10 or so bloggers that I regularly read and on each occasion I’ve found them to be very similar to the way I had imagined them to be.

I often hear friends tell me that people pretend to be someone that they’re not online – but in 99% of cases where I’ve met bloggers the person ends up being very similar to their online persona.

Anyway – today I get to test the theory again when I meet Aaron – something I’m looking forward to!

Blog your Passion

Reader-Quick-TipsBrian Lee from Genius Types sent in the following reader ‘quick tip’.

Blog what you are passionate about. Even if your area of interest is not in Google’s top 100 searches, you will ultimately be more successful when you write from your heart.

A blog is the platform of choice for personal expression in the digital age. The further you get form expressing yourself, the harder it will be to generate excitement. People can sense when you are being insincere. Trust in yourself and write from within.

The beauty of the internet is that it allows people with similar interests (no matter how obscure) to find each other. If your passion is collecting guitar picks, blog about it! Your excitement will attract others and may even help some to discover your hobby.

Blogging gives you and I an opportunity that we may not have had otherwise: to interact with people every day about the things we are passionate about.

Promoting Your Blog With a Series and Articles

Reader-Quick-TipsThis Reader ‘Quick Tip’ was sent in by Michael Moore from Price of Diamonds.

The bottom line is that we all want more people to visit our blog. One successful way I have found that attracts people to mine is by doing a series of articles labelled parts 1,2 and 3.

Part one I distribute around to other sites, such as article sites, and as press releases. In that article I reference parts 2 and 3 on my blog with a link to the site.

This works well and I notice it does increase the vists to the site as, of course, people are keen to read the balance of the article.

Of course one must ensure that the content is interesting so the reader feels they made a worthwhile visit.

How to Optimize a Shoplinc Store

christmasIn my last post I wrote a series of tips on how to use Chitika’s eMiniMalls and RPU ads. Today I want to turn my attention to their Shoplinc product (aff).

I’ve had reasonable (and increasing) success with Shoplinc since it launched a few months back. Once you have people in the Shop it converts very well (high CTR as there is limited other options to click on). The challenge however is getting people INTO your shop in the first place. This is not as simple as adding a ‘shop’ link to your menu (although this is one thing you should do).

One single link into your shop is not enough – consider adding other ‘doorways’ in including:

[Read more...]

18 Lessons in Blogging – Part II

Someone recently asked me what the most popular post was on ProBlogger. There have been quite a few that have done well but one that got (and continues to get) a lot of attention is 18 Lessons I’ve Learnt about Blogging.

Today Valeria Maltoni left a pretty comprehensive comment on it that I thought had some good stuff in it. I thought it’d make a good post in and of itself. Here’s what she had to say (the bolded parts are my subheadings on my 18 lessons and the rest is Vaeria’s):

“Hello Darren:
I’ve been one of the lurkers for a while via Stephanie Quilao’s Back in Skinny Jeans. Congratulations! 3 years in blog time is a long time. And thank you for providing useful links and tips. My blog is a tactic that fits with the integrated marketing communications strategy I adopted to learn exponentially and evolve my career. I’m not looking to make money from it directly. Still, your advice applies:

1. Be Lucky — ever read Fooled by Randomness? That’s what this point is about. All things being equal, right time and right place play a decisive role in making it.

2. Work Hard — I sometimes joke that nothing ever comes easy to me as I seem to prefer hard work. The truth is that practice, attention to detail (attention in general), and discipline (very much a choice) have their own rewards.

3. Use the Power of Exponential Growth
— this is the ‘be patient’ point. Evolution is often gradual and overnight success is a certain length of time in the making (built into this point are making mistakes and learning from them).

4. Differentiate Yourself
— the truth is a blog is a medium, even when it’s a business. What comes out is pretty much you. What’s your voice?

5. Provide Value
– How can you add to the conversation? Do you abide by the ethical standards of filtering the information you pass on? Are you a good host?

6. Target a Niche
— this can be also a very specific space in the professional continuum. A lens, a filter, a unique perspective. For example, I blog about different places in which the conversation takes people (content creators, product/service producers and publics) to the next level. While the topics are different, the space is always the same — the point of interaction, the connection of ideas and people with resulting transformation. My tagline is: connecting ideas and people, how talk can change our lives.

7. Diversify
— absolutely. Also, because we are human and have many ways of expressing our skills, talents and experience, not one single medium will satisfy all of them. Also, you may want to continue exploring other dimensions of work beyond the screen interface.

8. Don’t spread yourself too thin
— along with your cannot be all things to all people (voice and personality are a must), you cannot be effective if you’re constantly chasing too many projects. Know thyself and respect your own rhythms first.

9. Have a back up plan
— this is good to have in life and certainly applies to blogging. it does not mean you’re not focused. It means you need to stay flexible and adapt to the marketplace while you remain resilient and committed to your value proposition. It may end up looking very different than what you envisioned and still match your vision.

10. Be Light on your Feet
— I think this also means to stay open to opportunities and in listening mode. Sometimes the best advice comes from the most likely source.

11. Relationships are Key
— as your blog mirrors pretty much who you are, others do too. The blogosphere is a relational space that takes advantage of the linked nature of the web, which is modeled after our brain patterns. In relationships it is important to give, and blogging allows you to do so more than static web sites.

12. Establish Boundaries
— this is part of your own contract with yourself as well. What kind of strategy does your blog fulfill?

13. Dont’ Read your Own Press
— and don’t take yourself too seriously or you’ll lose sight of opportunities to learn and grow.

14. Beware of Hype
— blame no one. expect nothing. do something.

15. Get a Life
— before you can tell stories, it is much better is you actually experience them. What is unique about you will need to be nurtured often.

16. Make Mistakes
— in fact, it is better to risk something often than playing it safe all the time. When I look back at my career, I realize that the most productive times where actually the ones where I was improving on something. Kind of Me 2.0.

17. Be Yourself
— transparency is the key to intimacy and the blog is a one-to-one medium. It is much better to be an interested version of yourself than a perfect copy of someone else. Yes, I wrote interested as it beats trying to be interesting in spades. It’s about the conversation with your audience.

18. There are no Rules
— true, we all make it up as we go along. As long as it fits with our overall strategy and reflects who we are. All the existing rules are history, they were created to make sense of and put order to a reality that is part of our past. Blogging is such a fluid activity, because it involves thought and language — they both evolve, ask our forefathers.

It has been fun spending time here. Thank you for asking.”

No thank YOU Valeria!

The Cheaters Way to Add Screencasts to Your Posts

Reader-Quick-TipsThe following reader quick tip was submitted by Jon Symons from Step by Step Blog:

Tired of trying to get the kml flashembed plugin to work and not wanting the standard, pop up window anymore, I decided to figure out a low-tech way to embed Camtasia style screencast videos into a blog post.

Make your screencast in the normal way and upload it to your server. You’ll end up with something like:

http://stepbystepblog.com/howto/video/BasicInstallPlugin/BasicInstallPlugin.html

As the address of the video. Then go to code view, in WordPress for your post that you want the video to show up in and add this:

<iframe width=”430″ height=”500″ FRAMEBORDER=”0″ SCROLLING=”NO”

src=”http://stepbystepblog.com/howto/video/BasicInstallPlugin/BasicInstallPlugin.html“></iframe>

Just swap out the URL in the example with your actual video and tweak the size to fit the size of your video and size of your blog page width and you’re in business.

More Chitika Ad Optimizing Tips

christmasThis post is a continuation of my previous post on optimizing Chitika Ads in which I spoke largely about ad targetting.

Positioning Ads

Good positioning of Chitika ads is similar to that of AdSense in that in general they work well above the fold (with some exceptions – see below) and in areas of your blog where people will naturally look (ie near content).

RPU ads do particularly well at the end of posts and above comments as they are a logical next click once people have finished reading your blog.

SPU (single product units) and MPU ads (multi product units) - my strategy with these two units is to use both on the same page. I generally use a small SPU at the top of posts and MPUs at the bottom of them (where readers might be looking for other options).

Sidebars – I find that Chitika ads don’t tend to work well in sidebars. If you do use them in this position use them at the top of a sidebar where they’ll get more attention than the clutter of the middle of a sidebar.

Cloud Tag Units - These are new units and I’ve not used them but they could be another useful unit to place down the page at the end of posts. I’ve not used them simply because I already have enough ads at the end of my posts and they do not actually earn anything for the first click but instead lead people to your Shoplinc Shop where they earn you money if people click on a product (whereas eMiniMalls, RPUs and AdSense ads earn money on the first click.

Read more on Optimizing Chitika ads in a previous post on the topic here.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series where I’ll talk about using Chitika’s Shoplincs.

This post has been a part of the How to Fine Tune your Blog for Christmas Series.

Be the First to Comment

Reader-Quick-TipsThe following quick tips was submitted by Jarkko Aho from loghomescabin.com.

Be the first to comment on new posts. Just make the post meaningful and everybody who comes to read those comments will see your take on the matter.

People appreciate information that you provide and will visit your site.

MyBlogLog Sold to Yahoo! for a reported $10m

TechCrunch is reporting that MyBlogLog (a social media site for bloggers) has sold to Yahoo! for $10m.

This is a pretty impressive sale as MyBlogLog has transitioned from being a blog metrics package to a social media one in a relatively short time. Congrats to the MyBlogLog team.

Update – TechCrunch have posted that they may have been premature in their claims and that MyBlogLog and Yahoo! are in the early stages of negotiation rather than the end ones.