Earning Money From Contextual Ads

SEO Roundtable has a nice summary of a session at SES Chicago with Jeremy Schomaker and Jennifer Slegg (notice they both have JS initials – could be something in that!) on the topic of Earning Money From Contextual Ads.

There’s not much in it that experienced contextual advertising publishers won’t already know but it’s a good recap of some sound principles of contextual advertising for beginners.

Performancing Ad Network to Introduce Network Ads

performancingPerformancing Partners Ad Network (aff) has been around for a couple of months now and I’m seeing more and more publishers with ads being bought on their blogs. However for some (especially smaller blogs) it’s harder to get advertisers signed up and so Performancing are introducing a new type of ad to fill unsold ad spaces – they’re called ‘Network Ads‘.

Network Ads are CPA (Cost Per Action/Aquisition) ads which means publishers get paid when a reader clicks the ads and purchases something from the destination site.

This new Network Ad type of ad is in a beta test and so Performancing are saying that ‘features are limited’. If you have Network Ads served to your unsold ad spots they will stop running when a real advertiser purchases an ad.

Publishers can opt out of having Network Ads served to their blogs. I think I’d be happy to have the ads served if they are advertising quality products (I’ll reserve judgement until I see them) and see an added benefit of having them run as giving potential advertisers the impression that your ad space is in demand.

Read more on the new Network Ads as well as a full description of how Performancing ad network pricing works here.

Update: I’ve chatted to Performancing’s Nick Wilson just now and he tells me that initially there will be only a handful (6-10) ads in circulation across the network but that they are planning on rolling out more (as well as more features which will let publishers control and choose ads by category that fit their blog) in future as they learn from the beta implementation of the program.

Ads will have a fairly ‘general’ focus initially but as time goes on expect to see them add features that allow you to get more relevant ads for your blog. This will be key from my experience of CPA ads and affiliate programs which generally rely upon ads relating closely to the content of a site to be successful.

He also tells me that they are partnering with an undisclosed affiliate network to run these network ads.

Revenue from the ads will be split in the same manner as other Performancing ads with 70% going to the publisher and 30% going to Performancing.

The amount paid for each time a reader buys something from the advertisement hasn’t been disclosed yet by Performancing but they will give further details of this before setting the Network to active.

If you’re not using Performancing’s Ad network yet you can sign up here.

Poll of the Week – How much did You Earn from AdSense in November 2006?

Every few days someone asks me when I’m going to do another ‘poll of the week’. The reason I’ve not done any is that the plugin I was using to run them had some security problems and I was waiting for an update. This has recently come through so I’ve added a poll for this week asking readers about their AdSense earnings.

It’s been exactly a year since I asked about AdSense so it will be interesting to compare earnings for November in 2005 with November 2006. Here’s the results from last year.

Next week I’ll do the poll on Chitika earnings (as I did last year) so we can compare those results also and then the following poll will be on total earnings.

Head over to the sidebar and vote now.

PS: am aware that the results version of the plugin is screwing up my sidebar. We’re working on it.

8 Signs it Might Be Time to Take a Break from Blogging

Asleep At The Blog
“English cricketer Jim Young, 57, carried on batting after a heart attack at the crease in Buntingford, Hertfordshire. He scored another 12 for his village team despite crushing chest pains. He collapsed to his knees and was taken off but went back after a glass of water and scored four more to end up on 48 not out.”

Source The Age – Friday September 1, 2006

Sometimes people need to learn when to take a break. Here are 8 times you might need a break from blogging:

  1. bloggers block – one of the first signs to me that I might need a day (or ten) off from blogging is when I run out of things to write about. You know the feeling – you stare blankly at the screen unable to string a sentence together for hour on end. If you’ve got nothing to say – it’s probably best to say nothing.
  2. when everything you do is ‘blogable’ – at the opposite end of the spectrum to bloggers block is where everything you do, say and think becomes a potential post. You start seeing ideas for posts in your breakfast cereal, start blogging about conversations with your wife, write rants on the postman being late….. If this is happening to you it might be time to step back from blogging a little and get a life :-)
  3. when it intrudes on family – it might seem obvious but I’ve come across a number of bloggers whose family life has come close to breaking down as a result of what bordered on blogging addiction. When blogging intrudes upon real life relationships it’s time to take a good long look at things.
  4. when you have unrealistic expectations – one of the problems with the blogosphere is that it can be a place where hype is ‘spun’ and where people develop unrealistic expectations of what blogging can do for them. I see this all the time in the ‘pro’ blogging space and would strongly advise those looking at ‘going pro’ to take their time, not rush into any extreme actions (like quitting jobs) until you’ve got a realistic understanding of what’s involved. If you find the reality of your blogging and the unrealistic expectations don’t match up you might want to take a break to reevaluate.
  5. when it intrudes on your health – sometimes our body has a way of telling us to ‘stop’. I learned the lesson the hard way earlier in the year when my eyes gave out for a week or two and I thought I was going blind. Give your body (and mind) a break every now and again to rest.
  6. at the end of the week – I come across more and more bloggers who blog long hours 7 days a week. Give yourself at least one complete day off from blogging a week – if you can’t bear the thought of not posting for a day write in advance and set posts to go off while you take some time off.
  7. at vacation time – sounds obvious that you’d take vacations – but I know some bloggers who blog while they’re away on holidays from net cafes. Periodic longer periods away from blogging are good for you, your family/relationships and believe it or not they can also be good for your blog and blog readers (here are 7 things to do with your blog while you’re on vacation).
  8. when your sleep suffers – I know I know – bloggers do their best work late at night when they should be sleeping – but when you find yourself lying in bed at night wondering if your server is still up, dreaming up new post ideas, checking your blackberry for incoming comments or scheming up linkbaiting ideas – maybe it’s time for a break from your blog!

Of course none of this is from personal experience…. (lets hope V doesn’t read this).

I’m pretty sure, knowing the blog addiction suffered by ProBlogger readers, that together you’ll be able to add another 10 or so points to this list in comments!

update: Robert Scoble updates the list with another 8

The Argument Against CAPTCHAs

CaptchaMark Styles has posted over at Weblog Tools a post on CAPTCHAs (wikipedia’s page on them here) which makes some good points about why they might not be the best solution for stopping comment spam on a blog. Here’s a few of his main points:

  • Any extra work required to comment is likely to deter some people from commenting at all.
  • Sometimes the images are so distorted they’re almost impossible to read, even with perfect eyesight.
  • CAPTCHAs are hackable. Spammers are smart, they can get past many of our barriers.
  • Visually impaired users are completely excluded (although there are audio CAPTCHAs available now).
  • Dyslexics have a hard time too.
  • There are better and less intrusive solutions.

Online Consumers Spending Up these Holidays – How are Your Earnings?

Clickz reports on the latest stats of online spending this holiday season.

Spending online is up 24% (with last month totaling $11.75 billion) on last year and traffic is up 13% (it seems people are buying more per visit this year).

Obviously those taking the majority of this income are the big online retailers – but I’m wondering how many entrepreneurial bloggers are enjoying an increase in traffic and earnings?

As I analyze my own earnings for the last couple of weeks I’d estimate that they are up about 50% on two months ago. Particularly performing for me are Amazon Affiliates (up by about 70%) and Chitika’s eMinimalls and Shoplinc (up by as much as double across Chitika’s different ad types) (aff) and to a lesser extent AdSense (up around 20%).

How have others earnings been going in the last few weeks of this holiday period? What’s working for you? What’s not?

What People Searched Yahoo! for in 2006

Searching for a topic for a new blog? One approach is to look at what people are searching the web for and Yahoo! has helped out today by providing us all with a series of Top Ten Lists of 2006 in different categories. Of course there are only so many Britney Spears, WWE, Shakira and Jessica Simpson blogs that the world needs – but it does give you some hints at where the world we live in is currently at (warning – some will find the lists pretty depressing).

Also in the list is the 10 most searched for blogs of 2006 in Yahoo (with a few similar themes in it).

Thanks to everyone for emailing me about this list – Kris was the first.

PS: don’t forget that Google has a similar tool that updates weekly at Zeitgeist where as of writing this you’ll see that ‘Christmas’ terms are starting to climb the rankings (hope you’ve optimized your blog for Christmas!). No doubt they’ll release their 2006 summary Zeitgeist in the coming weeks.

Speedlinking – 6 December 2006

Two announcements are echoing around the blogosphere today:

  • Jason Calacanis today announced he’s taken up a new job after leaving AOL Entrepreneur in Action (EIA) at Sequoia Capital.
  • The Blog Herald’s new owners have been announced as a network called the Bloggy Network Ltd – not to be confused with the previously established Bloggy Network LLC. I’ve been aware of the BN LLC for a year or so now but the BN Ltd only came on my radar a little while ago and caused me some confusion as to whether they were the same thing. Why anyone would choose a name already established is just strange. The comments of the announcement post show others feel similarly.

7 Reasons Why Personal Blogs Rock

I am regularly asked how I started blogging and whether I’ve always been into making money from them.

My first entry into blogging around four years ago was on a free blogspot blog which was largely a personal blog in which I reflected upon many aspects of life including spirituality, movies, politics, my church, work and miscellaneous ramblings from the various hobbies that I have.

While some entrepreneurial bloggers seem to look down a little on ‘personal blogs’ as being second rate – I think that it was my years of using blogs in this personal way that actually made me a better blogger.

If you like – my personal blogging was a great training ground for my current blogging on an entrepreneurial level.

Here are a few ways that come to mind that personal blogging can actually improve your entrepreneurial blogging efforts. Personal Blogs:

1. teach you the skills of blogging

When I started blogging I had no idea what I was doing. In fact I often tell new bloggers that when I started out I didn’t even know how to make text bold. This slowly changed over time – not from reading any books or online resources – but simply by blogging.

2. familiarize you with the tools of blogging

Within a month or two of blogging I not only learned a lot of skills but I also had a pretty good idea about what blog tools and platforms that suited my needs. As a result I moved on from my blog for MovableType where I continued to blog on a personal level. I also experimented with plenty of other services and widgets that continue to serve me well to this day.

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