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Feedvertising RSS Advertising Review

FeedvertisingSix Weeks ago TLA announced their new RSS Advertising system – Feedvertising (aff). I was one of the publishers who had already been beta testing it for a couple of weeks and so have now been using it for two months.

I thought it was time for an updated review of it.

Since starting out with Feedvertising I am happy to report that it is the best performing and most effective RSS advertising system that I’ve come across.

I’ve been testing it solely on ProBlogger’s feed for the time being but in the coming weeks will add it to a couple of my other WordPress based blogs (to this point it’s only available to WP 2.0 publishers – one of it’s few weak points).

A quick recap on what Feedvertising is:

  • It’s a WP plugin based system
  • It inserts text ads into your blog’s RSS (at the base of each post)
  • It allows you to either sell ads yourself privately, run your own ads (ie to promote your other sites) or to sell ads through TLA’s marketplace

I’ve opted to run a few of my own ads and let TLA sell the rest to the advertisers already in their system.

Initially I set it to sell just two ads and ran six of my own (to promote my job boards etc) but once the first two sold in a matter of days released two more ad slots to advertisers. These two also have been filled and so now I’ve released two more spots for advertisers today.

The price of ads is determined by a combination of the category of your blog, your blog’s alexa ranking and bloglines subscriber numbers. As a result ProBlogger does pretty well at bringing in a decent amount that far exceeds anything I’ve managed to earn from RSS advertising using other systems like AdSense or Feedburner.

Obviously the number of ads that you sell will depend upon the profile of your blog – but for me so far it’s been quite worthwhile.

A couple of weaknesses or suggestions for how Feedvertising could improve:

  • stats on how the ads are performing – I’ve no way to know if my own internal ads convert at all
  • it is only available to WP 2.0 users (I’m sure they’re working on expanding – I know I’d love to run it on my MT blogs also)
  • demand of advertisers to impact pricing – ie when ads sell out it’d be nice to see the ad rate go up or for publishers to be able to override TLA’s pricing (similar to what Performancing’s Partners system allows). While there is scope to build your ad revenue by building the ranking of your blog and bloglines subscriber numbers it would also be nice to make more if there is demand.
  • I’d love to be able to automate the ability to fill empty slots with your own ads. At present you nominate how many ads are for sale in the market place and how many are your own ads. If the ads in the marketplace don’t sell there’s no way to fill that ad rotation with an extra one of your own.

Overall the strengths of this system far outweigh the weaknesses. It’s easy to install, it’s very low maintenance to run and I really like the option to run your own ads through the rotation. They also don’t seem to have a minimum level of traffic for you to join up for it as a blogger – unlike AdSense and Feedburner’s RSS advertising options which are only for more highly trafficked blogs.

If you’re a WP blogger looking for a way to monetize your RSS feed I’d definitely recommend giving Feedvertising a go.

Blogging in Bunches

Reader-Quick-TipsThe following reader quick tip was written by Mike Murray:

For bloggers just starting out, the hardest thing is to maintain the consistency that allows you to build an audience. The most helpful thing I have found that I do (which most successful bloggers do also) is to write a bunch of posts at a time, and queue them spread out over the coming week or so. It ensures that even if you have a bad day or two, your blog’s readers won’t go elsewhere, and you’ll continue to see readership stay, even if you take a few days off from blogging.

Now, if only that worked on going to the gym.

How to Improve AdSense Ad Relevancy

christmas

There is nothing more frustrating than getting your AdSense ads well positioned and designed and then having ads served up that have nothing to do with the topic that you’re writing about.

The importance of relevancy

- AdSense is a ‘contextual advertising’ program and when it is working at its best it is highly effective because it serves up ads that are highly relevant to the content on your site – this results (ideally) in a higher CTR (click through rate) (the way I describe it to friends is that if people come to your site looking for information on a particular product they are more likely to click an ad for that product than if they’d come looking for something else that is unrelated to the ad).

The problem is that AdSense doesn’t always get it right when assessing what your content is about and it will from time to time serve up irrelevant ads (although I’ve noticed less problems with this over the past 12 months in comparison to when I started out with AdSense).

There are a number of things you can do to increase the relevancy of your AdSense ads:

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Toronto in the Autumn

Just a short note to say that last night I arrived in Toronto safely after 24 hours of flying and transit time. It’s going to take me a while to adjust to the new time zone, the ‘crisp’ weather and driving on the wrong side of the road but my first impressions of Toronto are positive.

I’ve already met some nice people including meeting Jeremy which was a surreal experience. It’s odd to meet someone for the first time that you’ve been working so closely with for 18 months).

Today we’ve got a slightly lighter day than normal before getting into a pretty heavy schedule of meetings.

Not much else to report at this stage – except to say that as usual – when I go away my blog traffic seems to go up. I should do this more often. Glad everyone seems to be enjoying the series of posts I’d prepared.

Building Faithful Readership

Reader-Quick-TipsThe following reader ‘quick tip’ was submitted by Shawn Blanc from Fighting to Stay Awake

Something I’ve done and still try to do if I can is to send an email to those leaving comments for the first time.

When someone comments on my site for the first time I send them a thank-you email.

I say something like:

“Thanks for the comment on such-and-such post. I don’t know if you’re new to the site or if you’ve been reading for a while and this is your first comment but either way your feedback is apprecated and always welcome.”

This helps them feel noticed and part of the community; like someone is paying attention to what they have to say.

How to Design Your AdSense Ads

christmasThere is always debate about how to design your AdSense ads. Over the last few years there has been a real shift in thinking of what type of ads work best:

Grab Attention – When I first started using AdSense there was a school of thought going around that the best performing ads were those that stand out ALOT from the rest of your blog. The result was that there were a lot of jarring, headache inducing ads out there (I remember experimenting with bright red backgrounds and yellow titles – I’m getting dizzy just thinking about them).

Blend – In more recent times ‘blended’ ads have become all the range. This is predominantly what people are doing these days and the ads involve borders and backgrounds that are the same color as the background of your site and links and text that match the site as much as possible. In this way ads don’t attract a lot of attention but merge (in a sense) with content.

Integrate – In the last 6 months I’ve noticed another shift in the design of AdSense ads being used by some publishers. It’s a fairly subtle shift from the ‘blend’ approach and one where the ad units are integrated further into the site using visual elements around them that both ‘blend’ and ‘grab attention’. This has largely happened in two ways:

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How to Position AdSense Ads

christmasAdSense remains one of the main tools that Blogger use to earn money from blogging (although as I’ve written previously numerous other ways are emerging as alternatives and secondary methods).

However despite it’s popularity, many bloggers are using it in a ways that mean it is not earning them as much as it could.

Here are some of the AdSense mistakes that I see bloggers regularly making (some of which can be applied to other types of ads also):

Poorly Positioned Ads – the placement of AdSense ads will always be a somewhat personal thing and will emerge out of a variety of factors (and I want to be careful not to impose my own preferences and ethics on others in this post) – however one of the things that I see a lot of bloggers continue to do is put their AdSense ads in positions that are hidden away from the eyes of their readers. Two positions come to mind particularly:

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Add a Technorati Avatar to Promote Your Blog

Reader-Quick-TipsZen Bliss submitted the following reader quick tip (in fact this email from Zen Bliss inspired me to do this ‘reader quick tip series’):

Hi Darren. I read your site regularly – it’s a great resource for tips. Here’s one of my own, along the lines of getting more traffic to your blog.

It’s a very simple tip that will take mere seconds to implement, and can really benefit you in the long run. Ready for it? … upload an avatar to your Technorati profile. Many, many site authors who ping Technorati do not have an avatar. When a Technorati reader is scanning through pages of blog headlines, the avatars are so few and far between that the blog posts that are accompanied by them really jump out at you.

PS from Darren: I think this is a good simple tip that I’ve found to work also. I know when I added an icon to my Technorati account that I noticed a jump in visitors from the site. Nice one Zen Bliss.

How to Fine Tune Your Blog for Christmas

christmas“What are you doing for Christmas?”

I was a little shocked to be asked that question last week by a friend. It’s usually a question that gets asked in the last week or two leading up to 25 December as plans are made with family and friends for the day’s celebrations. I’m not sure if my friend is just super organised – but the question got me thinking not only about what I was personally doing for Christmas and the end of the year but what I was doing on my blogs.

You see there are only 42 days til Christmas and when you’re running an entrepreneurial blog on a topic with some sort of a consumer focus 42 days isn’t that long to make sure you’re ready if you need to make significant changes to your blog.

Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to run a series to help readers fine tune their blog for the holiday season.

But before I get into the ‘how to stuff’ – let me explore the ‘why’.

Why would you need to tweak your blog for the holidays?

Let me start by saying that you may not need to do so. Some blogs will already be well optimised for the holidays (either intentionally or by accident) while others won’t have a commercial nature that could be capitalised at this time of year. But for those of you who do do have entrepreneurial blogs read on for two reasons why this time of year can be more profitable for some bloggers:

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