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Dating Tips for Bloggers and Advertisers – Presentation and Notes

fooa.jpgFor those unable to get to the Future of Online Advertising but wanting a bit more of a glimpse of what took place – you might be interested in seeing the powerpoint and keynote presentations from those presenting.

They have now been added to main page underneath the names of each speaker. Mine is here (pdf) – I hope you can make some sense of it! Here’s a short (ish) summary of what I said for each slide:

1. Title Slide – made a few excuses for my terrible flu-ish voice.

2. Dating Tips – I get asked by bloggers how to find advertisers for their blogs and get asked by advertisers how to interact with bloggers. Sometimes I feel like a dating consultant – hence the title of my presentation – dating tips for bloggers and advertisers.

3. How Much do Bloggers Earn? – to put the talk in context I thought it worth sharing this graph of how much bloggers earn (taken from a survey of ProBlogger readers)

4. Direct Methods vs Indirect Methods of Earning Money from Blogs – another slide to help put the tips that I share in context. Selling advertising on a blog is just one of many methods of monetizing a blog. Bloggers need to know that they have a variety of options open to them. Advertisers need to know that they’re not bloggers only option and that they might need to compete to get their attention.

5. Tips for Bloggers Looking to ‘pickup’ Advertisers – subtitle page

6. Tips for Bloggers:

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Speedlinking – 27 June 2007

  • Shoemoney has a good post on the value of speaking at conferences. He’s asked some key bloggers what they think about the topic. I think that it can be a valuable way of reinforcing your brand and have written more in the post.
  • Raj shares 7 Suggestions for Making Your Blog Writing More Accessible for your readers with some good suggestions.
  • PC World has written a piece that someone more cynical than me would call pretty smart linkbait – 100 Blogs we Love.
  • Blog Tutorials asks if Link Trains are the Chain Letters of the Blogging Age? I’m not really into them – my approach is to invest your time into quality content and the links will come – it’s a much more sustainable way to build a blog up. I’ve seen a few bloggers get into serious trouble issues with disappearing from Google for engaging in link building strategies – why take the risk?
  • The Contest Blogger is a blog about all the blogging competitions going on around the blogosphere.
  • Martin writes a guide to Alexa – will a blog ever make it to number 1? Highly unlikely.
  • Beth has a good Screencast which Demystifies Google Analytics. It’s not blog specific but a good introduction.
  • Avinash has more metrics talk with his post on Bounce Rate (he asks if it’s the Sexiest Web Metric Ever? – I’m not quite sure if it’s sexy – but it is useful).

AdSense add Corner Styling Options to Ad Unit Setup

If you log into AdSense today and create a new ad unit you’ll be given the choice of creating ad units with rounded corners.

You’ll now have three choices:

Square

Square-Corners-Adsense-1

Slightly Rounded

Slightly-Rounded Corners

Very Rounded

Rounded Corners

Access the different options through the ‘Setup Tab’ of AdSense but keep in mind that if you have a blended approach to creating ads (your borders being the same color as the background of the ad and your blog) that having square or rounded corners doesn’t matter in the slightest as you don’t see them.

PS: see full sized versions of the new AdSense ad unit styling options here.

10 Ways to Maximize The Value Of A Product Review

The following guest post has been submitted by Trent Hamm from The Simple Dollar

Most serious bloggers occasionally find opportunities to review some sort of product related to their blog niche, whether it be a book, a piece of equipment related to their blog’s area of expertise, or so on. I often see these used as off-the-cuff posts with at best an affiliate link to Amazon. These posts are usually quite forgettable, and for good reason.

I’ve found, however, that I can often use a well-written review in a large number of ways that can drive traffic to my blog over a long period of time. Here’s the procedure I usually follow when writing a killer review that will excite and entertain my regular readers, bring in new ones, and also earn some money via affiliate sales at Amazon. To illustrate this, I’m going to give an additional shout out to a friend and another ProBlogger guest blogger, Penelope Trunk, and discuss how I wrote and then utilized my review of her book, Brazen Careerist.

1. Focus on a product that you’re passionate about that also relates to your blog

I’m the author of a personal finance and personal development blog and I’m also an avid reader, so the big products that I usually find that I’m passionate about are books on those topics. Before you even start thinking about putting forth the effort to writing and marketing a really killer review on your blog, you need to ask yourself if the item in question really stirs something inside of you. If it doesn’t, it’s going to be hard to convey any sort of feeling or emotion about the product, and it is that sense of emotion that really captures readers and makes for a killer post. If you’re not feeling it, you can still write a review, but don’t invest the time in turning it into a real anchor post.

2. Write the review

When you write a review that you intend to use as anchor content, you should make sure that it covers the product in detail (I usually move through a book chapter by chapter), clearly relates your own views on the title, and also ties into some of the content you’ve already written. Since the piece will probably have some length to it, you should also use bold to highlight the main points. Another useful tip: I often link back to my own anchor articles when writing reviews of products so I can highlight specific points and illustrate how the item I’m reviewing is connected to the overall message of my blog. Want an example? Here’s my review of Brazen Careerist.

3. Include affiliate links in the review

When you’re reviewing an item, including affiliate links that enable the person to buy the item is mutually beneficial: your readers have the opportunity to investigate and buy the item, and if they choose to purchase it, you get a portion of that purchase price. I typically just stick with Amazon’s affiliate program on my blog because of the book selection (my primary review area) and the ubiquity of Amazon – everyone seems to have an account there so it’s easier for people to order the item if they want it. Within the review, I usually just link every instance of the book title to the Amazon page for that book.
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Should Links Open in a New Window?

Joanna asks – “I’d find it useful to hear your views Darren on the question of links opening in a new window. I was tutored to set them up to open in a new window so I didn’t lose visitors, but I see other people think it’s ‘spammy’.”

The old ‘should I make links open in a new window’ question – an oldie but a goodie.

My personal preference as a web surfer is that if I want to see a link in a new window (or tab – I’m a big tabbed browser fan) I’ll open it in one (and I do – regularly). I find it incredibly annoying when a new window opens up without me asking for it to. I have enough windows open on my desktop at any one time without needing more!

This personal preference has shaped my own practice as a web developer and blogger – I let readers choose how they wish to open the link. Yes, in doing so I’m sure some leave my blog, never to return, but I’m sure in not forcing new windows on readers that I also retain a few that would become annoyed by new windows opening all the time.

My priority as a blogger is to develop communities of readers who have positive user experiences. While keeping people on a blog by opening new windows for links might seem to make a blog stickier – I’d rather keep people engaged with content that they just can’t live without coming back to. If they do leave the site and want to come back they’ll use the back button.

From what I can tell – the two main reasons that it is legit to have links open in new windows is when you’re linking to a document (PDF) or a large image.

IF I ever decided I had a good reason to open something in a new window I’d make a note of it so the reader knew what to expect.

What Do You Think?

I’d be interested to open this up for a discussion though as I’m sure there are a variety of opinions on the topic. Perhaps others with different kinds of goals for their blogs see things differently.

Do you open links in new windows? Why or Why not?

How to Sell Products Through Your Blog – Business Blogging

Dave at Red Fly Marketing asks: “You mentioned that you would probably not sell problogger because it sells YOU so well. What advice do you have for business bloggers wishing to use blogging to increase their exposure and leverage that exposure to sell THEIR products?

Thanks for the question – it’s one that I’ve got a few thoughts on – as well as a short case study to illustrate.

The first advice I’d give to business bloggers looking to ‘sell’ through their blog is to be careful.

While blogs can be used as a tool for selling they are at their best when they are relational, conversational and offer their readers something useful that will enhance their lives in some way. Ask most blog subscribers why they follow a particular blog and you’ll find out that in almost every case they get something out of the blog (whether it be entertainment, advice, research, ideas etc).

Every company will have customers who will subscribe to a purely sales oriented blog because they are fans of the products that that company makes and want to keep up to date – however in most cases this will be a fairly small group of people.

Most people will not react overly positively to a blog that is just sales spin. We get it all day, on the radio, on tv, in our inbox, in our real mailbox etc.

So what is a business blogger wanting to ‘sell’ to do?

If I were a business blogger (and I guess I am in a way – but that’s another discussion) I would spend more time actively engaging with and enhancing the lives of my readers (and potential readers) than selling to them.

Make your primary focus to build trust, credibility, profile and perception of expertise while doing everything you can to develop a large, loyal and engaging community around your blog and you’ll find that on those occasions you do sell that your message will be all the more effective.

You’ll also find that instead of pushing your products on readers that they’ll push themselves on your products.

A Case Study as Illustration

I did a little work a year or so back with a company that was selling jewelry. Their blog had largely been a sales blog – mainly announcing new products and announcing specials. While they did have a small loyal readership they were not drawing in new customers.

I advised them that they write a series of articles that didn’t mention their products at all but that helped their readers in some way. The articles that they wrote were along these lines (I’ve changed them slightly as they wish to remain anonymous):

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Why Affiliate Links are the best Form of Blog Advertising

This Post was submitted by Matt Jones, the author of Blogging Fingers

With bloggers looking for alternatives to AdSense, which is renowned for it’s low click-though rates on blogs with ‘web-savvy’ readers, one of the golden oldies of Internet advertising has been making a comeback. Namely, using affiliate links.

Out of all forms of advertising affiliate links are the least obtrusive to the reader. Long lists of affiliate links are unnecessary because the key to affiliate marketing with blogs is pre-selling and so other than ‘top 5 affiliate programs’ in a sidebar there is little use for listing large numbers of affiliate links.

Pre-selling is content for your blog! Writing a fair review of an affiliate program or of a product (from a certain affiliate program) is both useful for your readers, while being fantastic for the search engines.

Fresh Organic Traffic

Normally the name of the affiliate program/product will naturally be in the posts’ title and throughout the main text of the post. If people link to the post they will probably use something like E.g. “Matt’s review of – insert name of affiliate program” – in the anchor text, which also helps that individual post rank very highly in the search engines.

In other words, reviewing a post about a specific affiliate program/product automatically adds a keyword phrase (usually the name of the affiliate program/product) to your sites ‘long-tail’ of keywords and provides prolonged low levels of organic traffic.

This screenshot of part of my long-tail traffic helps illustrate this:

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What do You Know Now About Blogging that You Wish You Knew When You Started?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it?

While I’m the kind of guy that spends more time looking forward than dwelling on the past – I’m a firm believer that from time to time it can be a worthwhile exercise to look back on our experiences and let them help shape our future.

So today’s reader question asks you to do just that:

What do You Know Now About Blogging that You Wish You Knew When You Started?

Perhaps it’s some method of finding traffic, perhaps it’s about your writing style, it could be more about how you interact with readers, maybe it could even be something to do with a blogging tool that you’ve discovered or it could even be that you wish you’d never started.

I guess another way to ask the question would be – name one thing you’d do differently if you could start over?

Looking forward to your answers either in comments below or as a post on your own blog (if you do post it – just leave the link below so we can check it out).

Speedlinking – 23 June 2007