Google Launches Hot Trends

Google today launched a new feature – Hot Trends.

The page shows what people are searching for in great numbers in almost real time (or at least it shows the top 100).

Click on a hot search term and it’ll take you to a page (like this one on dancing with the stars finale) which shows a graph of search volume as well as result from Google News, Blog Posts and Web Results.

This should be exciting bloggers on at least two fronts.

1. It’s another chance to be found once you’re in their Blog Search system.
2. It could be a useful tool for those writing blogs on current hot topics.

I just wish it had an RSS feed of some kind or an alerts service to help monitor what’s moving up the ranks at any given time.

Lessons on Blogging

If there’s one post you’re going to read today about how to take a new blog to the next level then I’d recommend it be:

27 Lessons Learned on the Way to 3000 Visits a Day and 2200 RSS Subscribers by John Wesley from Pick the Brain (found via Alister).

27 lessons might sound like a little too many – but they’re all short and all really worthwhile. Here are 4 from John’s list that stood out (with a few of my own comments).

1. “Don’t write every post for the social sites. It isn’t genuine and people get tired of it.”– Write for your readers first. Create useful content that builds the momentum of your blog and takes your readers on a journey. From time to time you’ll find an idea will come to you while you’re in this process that will work on the social bookmarking sites – but your main priority needs to be building momentum with your readership.

2. “Don’t participate in every meme or trade links with everyone who asks.” – Preach it brother! If you participate in every meme that comes your way (or every time you’re tagged) then you could find your blog goes so far off topic that you lose readership (not to mention your own focus). Be selective in what you participate in and choose those that have relevancy in terms of topic and add value to your blog.

3. If you aren’t sure a post is good, sit on it for a day. If you still aren’t convinced, delete it. A bad post is worse than no post.” – Oh this is good – it fits in with my mantra that everything you do on your blog either adds to or takes away from what you’re trying to achieve with your blog.

4. “Be prepared to completely run out of ideas after the first 3-4 months.” – Do your best to stick it out and refrain from posting anything that’s absolutely lame. The inspiration does come back.” – I think most experienced bloggers have been through this at least once or twice. It’s a real test but if you can come through it then you’ll find you learn a lot about yourself, blogging and your niche.

John writes another 23 tips that are well worth reading. Great post John.

For a few of my own Lessons from blogging check out 18 Lessons that I wrote after 3 years of blogging.

New York Bloggers Meetup – 9 June

Calling All New York Bloggers!

If you’re in or near NY or are willing to travel to get there I want to invite you to come have a great night with me and other fellow bloggers on Saturday 9 June.

The night is purely about meeting other bloggers, having some fun over a few drinks and perhaps giving a few prizes away to those in attendance. Last time we did this is was a blast with about 70-80 showing up – this time we’ve got a room that will hold a few more (so bring a friend) and are looking forward to a great time!

The Details:

Date – Saturday 9th June
Time – 7pm – 10pm (we might go on somewhere afterwards)
VenueThe Speakeasy (a party room at 442 Amsterdam Ave between 81st and 82nd St)
Cost – Free – thanks to our generous sponsors Chitika (they are providing some finger food snacks and a free drink to the first 100 people to arrive – don’t be late). All we ask is that you tip the bar staff and ‘be merry’!

I’m really looking forward to the night. It’ll be pretty informal – although this time I’d like to pause at some point during the evening to give out a few prizes and say a few words.

I hope you will be able to come along to network with other bloggers.

Please feel to invite other bloggers, partners or friends with you and to link up to the announcement post that I’m about to write on ProBlogger. It’d be great to get a big crowd along for a fun evening!

Thanks to Lara, Dan and Alex for their help in organizing the night.

Thanks also to Chitika who are sponsoring the event. If you’re a publisher you really should check them out as a potential income stream for your blog.

If you’ve got any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Loofah Your Blog

Andy Wibbels – topless – with a loofah – giving blog tips….

Scary, but fun and right on the money.

Get Scrubbing.

Let Your Readers Do the Selling For You

Sometimes it’s best to let the readers of your blog recommend affiliate products instead of doing it yourself.

As much as I often talk about blogs being a great way to build credibility and trust with your readers and how that credibility and trust can lead to nice returns when you recommend affiliate products – sometimes a stranger’s recommendation can carry a lot of weight.

Let me explain with a short story.

Since starting Digital Photography School I’ve recommended one digital photography book more than any other (The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby – aff). I’ve talked about this book on a number of occasions in different posts and in different ways and as a result have seen a reasonable number affiliate sales for it at Amazon.

However this week I published a reader review of the same book. The review was originally posted in the DPS forums and I simply republished it on the blog where it would get a little more attention.

The review was written by a junior member of the forum (‘ny156uk’ – they’ve posted 28 times) and not from someone with any real profile or credibility (I don’t even know if they’re male or female).

However despite their anonymity their review sold triple the number of copies of the book that I’ve managed to sell over a 12 month period.

While I topped and tailed the review with my own very brief recommendation – it was the relatively anonymous review of a reader (as well as some positive supportive comments from other readers in the comments section) that seems to have struck a chord and generated some nice result.

Tips for Building Online Communities

Matthew Haughey from Fortuitous has posted some good tips for building online communities. He does this out of his experience with mega-community site – MetaFilter. The main points were as follows (bold is their points – the rest is some of my reflections as it applies to blogging – some fits better than others):

  1. Take emotion out of decisions – I love his suggestion about the usefulness of having people to bounce ideas off when one’s emotions get a little out of control. It’s a useful thing to do when responding to crazed troll comments.
  2. Talk like a human, not a robot – With blogging I think bloggers do need to create their own voice and style – however in my experience the more you inject your own personality into a blog the better it tends to go over with readers. The remark ‘Be the best member of your site’ is sound advice.
  3. Give people something they can be proud of – This one gives me a little food for thought – giving readers/commenters a space to be creative with. Interesting.
  4. Bring users in during community decisions – it’s amazing how readers of a blog will feel ownership over it and how making radical changes can have a real impact upon them. Changes on a blog need to be managed – involving your readers and giving them an opportunity to give feedback is a smart thing to do.
  5. Moderation is a full-time job – Yep, so can be running a blog! If only there were more hours in the day.
  6. Metrics spread the work out – I’m not quite sure if this applies to blogging strongly, however I find that the blog reader community has a great way of moderating itself.
  7. Guidelines not rules – I like this one. Rules can get you into real trouble. My own approach is to try to create a culture in a place that you want readers to embody. I find that readers generally take their lead from the blogger – the tone that you blog in is generally picked up by others and if it’s not you’ll find that your regular readers will often step in to situations and police them for you.

Matthew’s post is well worth a read – even though it’s written more about forum style communities than blogging ones.

Pressures of Blogging (and Is there an EASY Way?)

Nate has posted an article titled The Pressures of Blogging Consistently which outlines four pressures that bloggers face:

  • Pressure #1: Regularly posting articles
  • Pressure #2. Ever-increasing expectations
  • Pressure #3. Catering to a larger audience
  • Pressure #4. Lacking confidence

All very true points and some worthwhile things to ponder before getting into the blogging for money game.

Nate’s post reminds me of a conversation I had with a blogger who IM’d me asking if I would be involved in helping him start up a new blog. When I asked why he’d want to do that he told me that if he could just get me to recommend him as a good blogger that he’d ‘make it’ and be able to earn money from it fast.

I spent the next 15 minutes trying to show the guy that there’s so much more work behind starting a successful blog than just by having another well known blogger link up or even be involved.

What this blogger didn’t seem to get was that successful, money making blogs almost always are the result of daily posting over years. While you might get lucky with a big incoming link to something you’ve written, unless you can back up your linked to post with another of a high quality you’ll loose 99% of the visitors that come your way.

Yes some blogs do seem to be on a fast track as a result of exceptional quality, luck or very smart marketing – but these are the exceptions rather than the rule.

My recommendation to the blogger was that he either take a ‘long term’ and ‘hard work’ view of blogging or that he find a ‘real’ job to help him get the cash he needed. I’m not sure the advice went down that well – sometimes the dollar signs floating in front of our eyes block our view of reality – but it’s a hard truth that needs to be repeated.

The Secret to Increasing Amazon Associate Earnings – Time

Amazon-Logo-1-1One of the income streams that I’ve been using lately that’s really starting to prove to be a worthwhile one is the Amazon Associates Program.

I’ve noticed an upswing in the earnings from the program over the last few months and have been a little confused as to why there’s been a continued increase in earnings.

At first I thought maybe it was as a result of some unknown page on one of my blogs getting and then sending extra traffic to Amazon – but after analyzing the types of products that people are buying and by doing a little tracking of outbound traffic I was still unable to identify any single reason that explains the increase in performance.

But then it struck me – the reason is actually quite simple.

The reason for the increase in Amazon earnings is simply that I’ve been using the program for four or so years now and that over time I continue to add new doorways into the Amazon site.

Everyday I continue to add new pages to my blogs and while I don’t link to Amazon in every single post I do link to products there each week and every time that I do it I create another pathway for readers into the Amazon store.

Over the last four or five years I guess I’ve added 1000 or more Amazon links to my blogs (in fact it could be 2000 or even more) and while in the early days I was lucky to earn see a sale on any given day it’s now not unusual to see 50 sales in a day.

Overall income isn’t quite as spectacular as some of the other income streams that I’ve got running but it’s coming close to make me have to update the rankings on my How I Make Money from Blogs post.

Speedlinking – 20 May 2007