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What do you do with your Blog on the Weekend?

The weekend is here and I’m looking forward to some fun. You see today is my Son’s first birthday party (his actual birthday is next Friday) and we’re getting together with family and friends to celebrate his first year as well as doing a dedication ceremony (sort of like a Christening). It’s going to be a great day.

Weekends present bloggers with an interesting challenge when it comes to thinking about what to do with their blogs.

‘What do I do with my blog on the weekend?’ is a question I’m often asked.

  • Do I post less because people are not online as much?
  • Should I post more to try to keep traffic levels up?
  • Should I just take a couple of days off for my own well-being (ie get a life)?
  • Should I write posts in advance and set them to go off automatically?
  • Should I use the weekend to write posts for the next week because I’ve got extra time on my hands?

All of the above strategies are ones that I’ve seen different bloggers use (and most of them I’ve tried myself). There’s no real right or wrong answer I guess – but I’d be interested to know what others do with their blogs on the weekend? Is it blogging as usual or do you change your strategy?

What do you do with your blog on the weekend?

More Tips on Getting Unverified Email Subscribers to Confirm their Subscription

Yesterday I wrote a tip on increasing subscriber numbers to your blog that focussed upon those doing it via Feedburner’s RSS to Email feature emailing unverified subscribers to remind them to confirm their subscription.

The post generated quite a few questions via comments and email – to the point that I thought I’d write the answers as a new post. At the end of this post I’ll include a copy of what I emailed to unverified subscribers.

Does feedburner allow it – doesn’t this break their terms of service?

No – I checked this before doing it with feedburner. Actually, to be more accurate, when I emailed Feedburner’s support team with the problem of over 800 unverified subscribers they actually suggested that one solution would be to email them after exporting the subscriber list. I guess that’s an indication that they don’t mind.

Will Feedburner develop a feature that reminds subscribers instead of having to do it manually?

I’ve asked Feedburner this a couple of times now and on both occasions they said that it’s something they are interested in developing. I’m not sure if this is just a standard reply to keep us users happy, or whether it’s something they’re serious about developing but I do think that it would be something that bloggers would appreciate.

Is there a risk of being labeled a spammer?

Sending out so many emails to subscribers might carry some risks with it. My hope is that I wrote the email in such a way as to be perceived as doing my readers a favor. I won’t be emailing unverified subscribers every week and hope that the occasional reminder won’t be looked upon as an unfavorable practice.

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Speedlinking – 29 June 2007

After a year of blogging Charlene writes some reflections in a post titled Web Site Monetization – A Reality Check

Webconfs has a useful list of SEO basics – arranged with scores next to them ranging from +3 (strategies worth doing) to -3 (things to avoid). Nice list.

DoshDosh shares 15 Feedburner Feedflares for Promoting a Blog

This week’s SEOMoz Whiteboard video has some great stuff to say about branding yourself outside of the search context. I’ve actually been working up a series of posts that I hope will complement this nicely in the coming week or two.

AdSense launch Referrals 2.0

AdSense have today announced that they are expanding the previously closed beta Referrals 2.0 program to be available to all AdSense publishers. This newly expanded Referrals is going to take a while for publishers to get their heads around but the basics of the expansion are that now instead of only being able to recommend and earn money from a handful of Google related products that you’ll now be able to refer your readers to thousands of products on a CPA basis (ie you get paid when your reader takes some action specified by the advertiser (like buy something).

The AdSense blog has more information on referrals 2.0:

Expanded product inventory: While many of you have had success referring one of our Google products, some of you weren’t able to find a product that fit the context of your site. Referrals 2.0 offers products from thousands of AdWords advertisers, so you can find the right ads for your sites.

Category and keyword targeting: With thousands of products available, it can be difficult to decide which ads will perform best on your site. That’s why we give you the option to refer products by category and keyword. You can narrow down the types of ads you want to display and let AdSense figure out which ones will perform best on your site. Whether you want ads for a specific category, advertiser, or product, referrals 2.0 will give you the control to decide.

Ad unit optimization: It can be tricky picking the best ads for your site, so we’ve included ad unit optimization for referrals. When you create a new referral ad unit, simply select the Pick best performing ads option. We’ll then compare your selected ads to other relevant ads, and serve the ads we expect to perform best on your site.

Better targeting for pages with multiple themes: With standard contextual targeting, ads may not match up directly with the text around them if there are a number of themes on the page. With referrals, you can select unique “keywords” for each ad unit to narrow the targeting directly to the theme you want. Better targeting means higher earnings for your site.

Greater compensation for high-quality traffic: Since referrals are paid on a cost-per-action (CPA) basis, your traffic matters. If the traffic you send to advertisers is more likely to turn into a completed sale or lead, you will earn more with referrals.

Add your seal of approval: Unlike AdSense for content ads, our program policies allow you to make specific references to referral ads on your site. If you endorse the product that you are referring, feel free to let your users know. By adding your personal review of the products you refer, you can help your users make more informed choices.

My referrals 2.0 is already activated and an initial look at it is a little overwhelming. Th eother first impression is that for some keywords that I’m interested in there are a severe lack of products listed – I’m sure this will change as more advertisers jump in. I’m going to have to sit down for a couple of hours over the weekend to learn how to use it before I can really make much more comment on it than that.

I am excited that they’ve expanded referrals in this way and suspect it will increase earnings quite significantly if publishers can find products that relate strongly to their topic (always a key).

For more information on referrals 2.0 check out the AdSense Blog and the newly updated Referrals Help area.

ProBlogger Goes Mobile

If you’re a blackberry user you can now follow ProBlogger via that device as a result of the network to which this blog belongs, b5media, Going Mobile. b5media now has over 200 blogs on a variety of topics – all of which can be read on the go from your blackberry. Other platforms will be supported in the future (I’m looking forward to being able to use my Nokia N95 at some point).

If you want to try Viigo to follow ProBlogger’s feed from your Blackberry you can get hooked up with everything you need to do it here. I’d love to hear how you find the experience.

Disclaimer – I’m a VP of b5media

9 Reasons Why I AM An Amazon Affiliate

John Chow today posted a post outlining why he’s not an Amazon Affiliate. It’s a good post in that it gives an insight into his approach to affiliate marketing. The best point John alludes to is that Amazon doesn’t ‘fit’ with his blog. He makes more from other better targeted affiliate programs than Amazon.

However the Amazon Associates Program is well worth considering for some bloggers. I use it and this month it’ll earn me over $2500 USD – not my biggest income stream, but not the ‘pennies and dimes’ that some say it has the potential to earn.

To bring a little balance to the debate over the Amazon Affiliate program I thought I’d give a few reasons that I am an Amazon Affiliate:

1. Amazon is a trusted Brand – I surveyed some of my readers a year back and asked them to give me a list of online stores that they had made purchases from in the last 12 months. Amazon came up number 1 as the most popular shopping destination mentioned. Readers know Amazon and are familiar with it – they trust it and do spend significant money there.

2. Commissions – John writes that he’s not satisfied with a 4% commission. He’s right in some ways, 4% isn’t that much when you’re selling a $10 book – however when you’re selling a Get a Price on the $5000 Camera or a $25,000 Tractor (I know someone who does quite well out of ride on mowers and tractors) it certainly adds up. Not only that, the 4% rate that John talks about is the base rate. Unfortunately it is as high as it goes on consumer electronics – however on most other products there is a sliding scale where the more you sell the higher your commission goes to. Sell more than 6 items in a month and your commission goes to 6% – sell over 630 and you’re up to 8% (the rate I’m on). The 4-Hour work Week that John uses as an example earned me around $1 a book. Still not a lot – but I did sell 100 or so of them (after my interview with it’s author) which not only earned me $100 but also helped push the numbers of sales up for the month, moving me into the next earning bracket.

Us Q107 Pricingtiers Unbox

3. People Buy More than One Item – the great thing about Amazon is that you don’t just earn a commission on the product that you people to, but anything that they buy once they’re at Amazon. I did an experiment earlier in the year where I published a review of a digital photography book on my blog and placed a tracking code in the link to see how much the review earned me specifically. What I found was that the product in the review did quite well – but the sales of other products that people made once they got to Amazon was actually much greater than the sales of the actual book. People went on to buy all manner of products (other books, electronics, cosmetics etc) – I earned a commission on each one of them – now that’s passive income. You earn a commission on anything that a person buys within 24 hours of you sending them to Amazon.

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Two Tips for Increasing RSS Subscriber Numbers

Over the weekend I managed to increase the number of subscribers to my Digital Photography School RSS feed by around 15%. Before Friday it was sitting at around the 20,000 subscriber mark and 3 days later it’s just over 23,000 subscribers.

How did I do it?

I did two things.

1. I Emailed Unverified Email Subscribers

At DPS I actively promote a Feedburner service to my readers that enables them to be emailed at the end of each day that I publish a post with a notification of what I’ve written. I promote this service here. People subscribing to this service are counted as RSS subscribers by Feedburner.

A few weeks ago I was digging around the administration area of my Feedburner account and noticed that while I had around 3500 people subscribed to this service that over 800 of them had not verified their subscription.

Feedburner has a double opt in system in place where subscribers need to give their email address and then confirm it from an email. Over 800 hadn’t clicked the link in the confirmation email! Over 800 people that wanted to me to email them every day to notify of them of my latest posts weren’t getting the emails.

When I realized this I promptly emailed Feedburner to see if they had a way of me reminding these unverified subscribers to confirm their subscription. Feedburner promptly replied to let me know that they didn’t have the ability to do this – but that I could do it manually by exporting my subscriber list, extracting the email addresses and then emailing subscribers myself.

This sounded like a bit of an arduous process so I left it for a few days – but after a little consideration decided it would be worth the effort to do. It took me about an hour to do it (I had a few email issues that day) and since doing so have noticed quite a few of the 800 are now getting the daily emails.

2. I Promoted the Feed

The second thing that I did last week was a special post on the DPS blog titled How to Connect with Digital Photography School.

The post was simply a reminder to readers of the different ways that they can hook into DPS. In the post I highlighted my RSS feed, the daily email updates, the weekly newsletter that I send out, our forums as well as a short blurb on social bookmarking.

The main aim of the blog was to educate readers on how to connect more deeply with the blog.

The response was quite amazing. I received many emails from regular readers thanking me for helping them participate in the community more. It struck me that while I’d been working incredibly hard to provide readers with digital photography tips that I’d not really taken the time to help new readers learn about how to use the blog.

I suspect that many bloggers fall into a similar trap – because most of us deal with RSS every day and have a reasonable idea how forums, newsletters and blogs work we can easily forget that many of those who read our blogs don’t know where to start.

Update: I’ve answered a lot of the questions that readers asked about this post in an update post here.

What Social Networking Sites Do You Use? How Do they Benefit Your Blog?

network.jpg
I’ve noticed over the last month that the numbers of requests to connect (or become friends) on social networking sites has dramatically increased. Every morning when I go through my inbox I find I’m approving more and more of these requests from Facebook and LinkedIn and even when I head over to MySpace I’m finding more and more friend requests (those links are to my profile pages if you’d like to connect).

What interests me is that while Facebook is on an overall growth surge at the moment that LinkedIn is sending me just as many connection requests this month – if not more.

I’m interested to hear what social networking sites people use, how they use them and if they’ve seen any tangible benefits of doing so – particularly for their blogging.

I’ve had a few low level benefits of being involved but am yet to see many tangible results.

One technique that I’ve seen a few friends using on LinkedIn is asking their connections questions through the ‘answers’ feature. While most of the questions I see asked are fairly basic, I wonder if there is some scope there to draw people together in some way that might benefit the blog. I’m still thinking that one through.

Keen to hear the experiences of others.

91% of ProBlogger Readers Don’t Fake It

A few weeks back I asked readers for their opinion on a reader question – Should I Add Fake Comments to My Blog?

125 comments were left and I thought I’d sum it up with a quick graph to help visualize how people answered. I think this speaks for itself:

fake-comments.png

Note – I changed the question slightly because of the way most people answered the question.

Update: If you want to know more about people’s reasons for using fake comments or reasons for not using them – check out the original post on the topic and the comment thread.