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Tickling Your Readers Funny Bone – Using Humor in Blogging

200612112158I’ll admit right up front that I’m not the best at this – in fact on almost every occasion that I’ve attempted to inject humor into blog posts I’ve managed to offend, confuse or mislead one reader or another. Do as I say – not as I do and proceed with caution!

Humor is a powerful thing when it comes to communication and has the potential to engage your reader on an emotional level.

Not everyone will succeed with it – but if you’ve got something funny to share don’t be afraid to share it.

A Word (or four) of Warning:
Of course – keep in mind that everything that goes up on your blog has the potential to add to or detract from your blog. As a result – when using humor consider asking yourself:

  • is it relevant to your topic? – telling a joke just for the sake of it might not add anything (in fact it could be a distraction)
  • could it be misunderstood? – blogging is global medium – is your humor global in it’s appeal? Could it do more harm than good to your reputation?
  • is it actually funny? – I’ve just become a Dad – as a result my humor has apparently gone to the dogs (Dad jokes now abound). Perhaps it’s worth running your joke by someone before hitting publish
  • use sarcasm with caution – while I love sarcasm (and use it a lot in real life) I’ve discovered it generally doesn’t translate in a written form and is consistently misinterpreted. Use it with caution.

I hope that doesn’t dissuade you from using humor in your posts completely as it does have a place in blogging and can be a powerful way of engaging with readers.

Using Stories to Add a Personal Touch to Your Blog

200612112158I’ve recently been reading The Story Factor by Annette Simmons and am convinced that stories are one of the most powerful ways of engaging and impacting readers.

I’ve written previously on using stories in blogging (and will probably again) but am a firm believer in using stories as they:

  • engage the imagination of readers
  • go beyond facts and theories
  • reveal something about yourself as a blogger
  • trigger emotions and the senses
  • provide hooks for readers to latch onto in your blogging
  • are relatable to readers
  • illustrate your points in ways that can be much more convincing (and convicting) than other types of information

Will Affiliate Disclosures Become Required by Law?

Copyblogger points to an article that indicates that Affiliate Marketing Disclosure may become Mandatory by law. This will be a fascinating one to watch and could have implications for bloggers on many levels.

The article states:

“The Federal Trade Commission yesterday said that companies engaging in word-of-mouth marketing, in which people are compensated to promote products to their peers, must disclose those relationships….

Word-of-mouth marketing can take any form of peer-to-peer communication, such as a post on a Web blog, a MySpace.com page for a movie character, or the comments of a stranger on a bus.”

Questions it leaves me with include:

  • How they’ll police it?
  • Whether this will only apply to US bloggers (I’m presuming so)?
  • How it will impact sites that have many tens thousands of pages with deep link affiliate promotions already in their archives? Will it be retrospective?
  • how they’ll define what is and isn’t a disclosure?

There’s more on this over at Tony Hung’s blog.

Don’t know what Affiliate Marketing is? Read What is Affiliate Marketing?

Get Exposure by Sponsoring ProBlogger’s Next Group Writing Project

I’m getting ready to run the last ProBlogger Group Writing Project for 2006 but before announcing the topic I’m looking for some amazing Prizes to tempt participants with (if you don’t know what a group writing project is you can see the last one here).

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).

Previously I’ve limited prizes to 5 – this time I’d like to give participants an extra treat and offer 10!

What Type of Prizes?

Last time the prizes included a week’s stay in an apartment on Spain’s Costa del Sol (valued at 1000 euros), $100 Cash, a $200 voucher from Amazon, a license for Expression Engine ($150) and a gift voucher to iTunes ($150).

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.

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 just under 350 bloggers participated and many more read the pages associated with the project.
  • Most participants linked to pages with the sponsors listed. Some of these bloggers linked not only to the project but to the sponsors of it directly.
  • 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 – I will take a maximum of 10.

Submit Your Idea

If you’d like to offer a prize I’ll need to hear from you in the next 48 hours – by Friday at 9am (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.

Google Confirms ‘Ads by Goooooogle’ Changes are a Test

Yesterday we reported that AdSense were testing new ways of showing the ‘Ads by Goooogle’ links on their ad units.

Today there’s confirmation that it is indeed a test which is being done on a minimal number of impressions of publishers ads. The following was the response from AdSense to one publisher asking about the new images in ads:

“Thanks for your email – as you’ve mentioned, the change that you saw was part of ongoing testing to improve our ad formats. Such variations are a normal part of our testing process and generally run for short periods of time only. No permanent changes are planned at this time.

To maintain the integrity of ongoing testing, we do not permit publishers to opt out. However, please rest assured that such variations should impact only a very small percentage of your impressions.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work to improve our program.

Sincerely,

Stephanie

The Google AdSense Team ”

Source: Response from Google: Changes to Ad Units

How to Give Your Blogging Soul by Using Emotion

200612112158This is post 3 in the Adding a Personal Touch to Your Blog Series

I can hardly believe that I’m encouraging bloggers to be more emotional in their blogging (blogging is a medium that is sometimes accused of being too emotionally based) but I think quite a few entrepreneurial blogs could add a new dimension to their blogging if they injected a little feeling into what can be terribly dry and one dimensional posts.

I’m not saying you need to rant in every post – but to allow readers to see what you feel (and not just think) about the things you post on and join you in that can have a powerful impact upon readership.

If something excites you – let your post convey that, if you’re angry – express it (read below for some perspective/balance on this), if you’re confused, hurt, freaked out, passionate etc finding an appropriate way to show it can actually add a lot to your blogging.

Perhaps I’m more of an emotionally based person than some but I know that many of the bloggers that I read on a daily basis are those that show their heart a little and are quite transparent about their feelings towards the topics that they write on. On the flip side there’s not much that will turn me off faster than a blog without soul (dry, passionless and one dimensional where it might as well be a machine writing the content).

Balance – Of course on many blogs it is important to keep a balance in how much you share in this way. I’ve seen a number of bloggers over the years destroy their reputations and blogging projects by allowing every post to become very angry or negative (to a destructive point) – however injecting a little feeling into your posts will give readers something to relate to and a hook that will draw them into the conversation and keep coming back for more.

First Person Blogging about ‘You’

200612112158This is post 2 in the Adding a Personal Touch to Your Blog Series

2. First Person vs Third Person

While there is definitely a place for third person writing in blogging – I know that I am much more drawn bloggers who place themselves inside their posts by writing in the first person. Don’t just report on the facts – let yourself engage in them and talk about how they impact you, what you feel about them, how you discovered them and how you’ll respond to them and you will find your readers respond in a similar way.

For example – next time a story like ‘Google buys YouTube’ breaks, rather than just reporting on the sale and talking about the details of the deal (like thousands of other bloggers), tell your readers how the sale could impact you (and as a result them), talk about your own feelings about the deal etc.

3. Using ‘You’ to create a more personal Blog

In a similar way that using ‘I’ language adds a personal touch to a blog – using ‘you’ language can also draw your reader into your blogging.

Brian from Copyblogger has a great post on the importance of ‘you’ in your copywriting which says it better than I could.

“When it comes to writing engaging content, “you” is the most powerful word in the English language, because people are ultimately interested in fulfilling their own needs. It may sound harsh, but the fact is your readers won’t start to actually care about you at all until you’ve repeatedly offered them exceptional value with your blog.”

When you start using ‘you’ in your blogging and you immediately force readers to consider how what you write impacts them. This means your writing leaves the realm of ‘theory’ and becomes personal.

AdSense Testing a New Type of ‘Ads by Goooooogle’

There’s lots of discussion at Digital Point forums today on A New Type Of Ads By Goooogle that AdSense seem to be besting on their ads. Previously they’ve had ‘Ads by Gooooooogle’ in text above or below each ad unit – but now they seem to be experimenting with images with the ‘Google’ symbol like this (click to enlarge):

Newtypeis8

Some are also seeing the ‘G’ Google symbol on sometypes of ad units.

Attachment

I have to say that I’m not really a fan – particularly of having a white background on a colored ad unit. It seems to go against everything that Google teaches of blending your ads.

While some have done tests on the ‘Ads by Gooooogle’ and believe it increases click throughs on ads I’m not convinced by it. Of course if AdSense are willing to make the links ‘referral links’ (like some other ad networks are starting to do) then I wouldn’t mind as much them making the links to their own ad program stand out more – but even then I’d like the option to be able to switch them off as in my mind they take something away from the blended look that I try to achieve with my ads.

What do you think of them?

Interview with Jim Kukral about BlogKits

BlogKits has launched it’s long awaited Affiliate Marketing Network for bloggers.

So I thought I’d ask it’s founder, Jim Kukral, a few questions about it and what he’s learnt along the road in developing it.

Logo Blogkits 1

What is BlogKits? (give us your elevator pitch)

Our business model is simple… Help 99% of 50-70 million low-traffic bloggers make a few extra bucks by giving them easy to implement tools and partnerships with large-named brands that lets them keep blogging, instead of trying to be an expert marketer. We’re an alternative blog revenue generating solution to things like Google Adsense, although, specifically, we operate non-contextually, and we follow the cost-per-sale (cpa) model.

Why have you developed it?

99% or more of all bloggers are low-traffic, meaning 100 visitors a day or much less. If you have a blog like that, your options for making money are not very good. You can’t sell cost per thousand (cpm) because you don’t have enough traffic. You can’t sell decent revenue earning sponsorships on your blog because you have low-traffic. Nobody wants to spend any real money for a link on your blog with low-traffic. Adsense pays to little with too little clicks. And so on…

On top of those facts, those same bloggers are just that… bloggers, not marketers. BlogKits takes away all the confusion of trying to make money with your blog, and gives you easy to use tools and partnerships with big name brands, all in one easy solution.

[Read more...]