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Blogstorm – Track Your Blogs’ Most Popular Posts

Tech Crunch today points to a new service for bloggers called Blogstorm which tracks the number of other websites linking to a blog on a post by post basis.

They are already tracking a number of blogs – including ProBlogger (see our stats here) and provide some useful information. The numbers of links are from Yahoo! and as a result it’s not really a real time statistics (as it takes a while for Yahoo to index sites and find the incoming links to your blog) but if you’re more interested in some bigger picture metrics it could be a useful tool.

The downside of the tool is that from what I can tell it tracks all links – including those from splogs and links where content/headlines are re-syndicated etc.

This means that sites from Weblogs Inc (like Engadget) have artificially high counts on their posts because their headlines appear in the footer of all of their other blogs at WIN.

As a result I’m not too interested in using it as a service to work out what’s hot or not in comparing between blogs – however it could be useful as a blogger wanting to track incoming links on your own blog on a post by post level.

For example the graph below (in the extended entry section) shows ProBlogger’s spikes in terms of incoming links over the last month – and shows just how successful the Group Writing Project was at generating incoming links.

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How do you Make Money from Your Blog?

Time for a quick reader survey. I’m sitting here at FOOA and have heard a few presentations today highlighting different ways bloggers make money and how advertisers can target blog readers. These have been from companies like BlogAds, PayPerPost and Federated Media.

It strikes me that these three models are quite varied – but that they only scratch the surface in the different metthods that bloggers are using to make money from their blogs.

So here is my question:

How do you monetize your blog?

What ad networks, affiliate programs, review programs etc do you use?

Feel free to mention the specific services that you use and even give us a review of them if you’d like.

PS: as an example of how you might like to comments – see my post on how I make money from blogs.

Where to Get Product Pictures for your Blog

reader-questionsFrank Johnson (no url provided) asks – “Darren – my question is how you find product photography for your product-related blogs. Do you 1) take photos of the products yourself; 2) grab them off the manufacturers’ websites after asking for permission to use them; 3) grab them off the manufacturers’ websites without asking for permission (assuming it’s fair use); 4) do something else? Thanks!”

I generally take the approach of using a companies product shots without permission (if they’re the original producer of that content). In reality I am generally emailed press releases when a new product is launched which includes a product shot (or a link to one). Most major manufacturers also have press sections on their sites which generally have image galleries specifically designed for use in the press or online media.

The key is to compile a list of the official sites and keep an eye on them (hint: don’t just look at the US sites, often products are released in Europe and Asia before the US).

When I can’t find these I also have relationships with a couple of other blogs and sites in my niche where I have reciprocal agreements to use pictures that they’ve used (and they can use mine).

In a last case resort I’ve asked for permission to use other site’s shots if they’ve specifically taken them but it rarely comes to this – manufacturers are pretty good at getting pictures out pretty quickly once a product is released.

Blogging Workflow

reader-questionsAnthony asks – “Hi Darren, I’m very interested in your work flow and routines. What is a regular day in the life of a ProBlogger like and how is it different from when you were first starting out.”

I’m especially curious about how you split your time between many blogs. Do you work on one blog at a time or do you work on one task (brainstorming, writing, marketing) at a time.

Instead of writing a long post in answer to this question let me start by linking to two posts I’ve previously written on my workflow:

My day is still similar to this in terms of the workflow that I use to actually blog – however these days I’m spending less time actually blogging and more time working with bloggers and thinking strategically in my management role over at b5media.

On the two main blogs that I’m active on (ProBlogger and Digital Photography School) my approach at this time is to work on one blog at a time. I spend most Monday mornings (and usually one other morning a week) in a local cafe where I aim to write 5 posts for each of these two blogs (in fact I’m writing this post there now). These posts are what I consider to be cornerstone posts – generally ‘how to’ in focus and often the longer posts that I write.

Then during the week I’m able to release these posts one per weekday to enable me to focus on my other tasks. I’ll supplement these posts with more newsy items here at ProBlogger each day but the newsy stuff is generally less time consuming.

In terms of marketing and strategy for my own blogs – this is very much still done on the run. I’m a pretty impulsive and spontaneous person who does a lot of this on the fly as ideas come.

I’d love to see what others work flows are like. Tell us how your blogging day looks in comments below.

5 Uncommon Ways to Market Your Blog

The following post has been submitted by Neil Patel from Pronet Advertising and Quick Sprout.

If you are trying to increase the popularity of your blog, chances are you’ve already looked into search engine optimization (seo) or leveraging social media sites. There is nothing wrong with using these methods and you should probably try using them, but if you have already exhausted all the common methods of marketing your blog then here are 5 uncommon methods that work well:

1. Comments – People get lazy when it comes to posting comments on other blog on a regular basis. You may say that you don’t have the time or that you don’t want to post comments on other blogs because the majority are your competitors. It doesn’t matter, if you post comments on other blogs on a regular basis and give valuable advice many of those readers will start looking up to you and start reading your blog. If you do this for months you can get thousands of new readers as well as increase your blogs popularity.

2. Social NetworksMySpace, Facebook, and Bebo and some of the most popular websites on the Internet, so why not leverage them? They get millions of visitors a day and there’s no reason not to create profiles on every one of these sites. When building your profiles you can talk about your blog as well as link to it which will cause more visitors to flood into your website.

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A Fireside Chat with Darren and Aziz

reader-questionsAziz asked:

  1. Have you ever had a thought about quitting to blog?
  2. Did you put in more hours of work at the beginning of your blogging career or now?
  3. What changes do you expect in the blogosphere 5 years and 10 years down the line.
  4. What do you think about the future of podcasting? Can you give some useful tips for beginners?
  5. Do you plan to retire? If so, when?

Wow – lots of questions Aziz, this is a nice little interview with a few questions I’ve not been asked before. Ok, let me try answer these quickly in one batch.

1. Have you ever had a thought about quitting blogging?
Yes, many times but usually the thoughts of quitting are fleeting and the result of stressful days. Bloggers can at times be pretty spiteful, uncaring and unkind (sort of like all people) and when you’re on the end of that type of attitude and attack it can be tempting to run away or throw in the towel. However I’m learning to have a thicker skin, to let other people’s snark be their problem not mine and to mind my own business a little more.

2. Did you put in more hours of work at the beginning of your blogging career or now?
I think it’d be pretty similar. The focus has changed though. In the early days it was more focused upon actually blogging. These days I spend a lot of time managing other bloggers, networking, answering emails and working on blog related projects.

3. What changes do you expect in the blogosphere 5 years and 10 years down the line?
I think I’ve previously covered this in a few places – but perhaps you might like to read my previous post on The Future of Blogging? which has a few of my thoughts on the topic to save me rehashing too much here..

4. What do you think about the future of podcasting? Can you give some useful tips for beginners?
I’ve never really gotten into podcasting. Perhaps I’m more of a text based person but I find that listening to people on a podcast (or even in video) takes me a lot longer (it’s hard to scan a podcast) and takes my full attention for longer. I know some people can listen while they do other things but I’m more single focussed.

Having said that I think podcasting will continue to grow. I think video will be bigger though.

My tips for podcasters starting out would be similar to bloggers starting out and include picking a good niche, providing useful and unique content, being yourself, being interactive with listeners and having fun with it.

Perhaps some of my podcasting readers will have a little more to say on this?

5. Do you plan to retire? If so, when?
I can’t ever see myself fully retiring. I think I’ll always work in some way. Whether or not it is in online activities I’m not so sure but at least in the short to medium term I see myself working on blogging and online forms of new media. I have no plans to get out of blogging any time soon.

Speedlinking – 6 June 2007

Movable Type 4 is in beta and lots of people have been commenting. Here are some of the better reflections on the release:

Blogging for Yourself vs. Blogging for Others

This post on Blogging for Yourself vs. Blogging for Others has been submitted by Deborah Ng who blogs at About Weblogs (for about.com), Simply Thrifty (for b5media) and Work From Home Momma (for Know More Media). I think she’s qualified for talking about blogging for others!

While it started out as an enjoyable hobby, blogging is now a full time means of earning an income. I generate a fairly decent salary from one of my blogs, but it’s not enough to pay the bills. Thankfully, there are individuals and businesses that are happy to pay me to blog for them. Though I enjoy the creative outlet blogging provides, there’s a big difference between blogging for myself and blogging for others.

Blogging for Myself

With my own blogs, I can discuss whatever I want, when I want, without having to worry about nuisances such as deadlines and word counts. My blogs do fall within particular niches, but if I feel like straying off topic, I can certainly do so. There’s a lot more to blogging than posting and forgetting. I have to figure out ways to bring in traffic and revenue. I’m always checking stats and playing around with ads. It takes a few hours each day to maintain my own blogs, and only one is a big income generator. I have to handle my own design issues too, not a big deal unless you’re technically challenged, and I am.

Blogging for Others

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AdSense Policy updates

AdSense have updated their policies today. Here’s a quick summary of the changes:

The main change is for those who send traffic to their pages with AdSense on them via Advertising. You now have to adhere to the same guidelines that AdWords users do with their Landing pages.

The other noteable change is that they now allow publishers to have 3 ‘link units’ per page instead of the previous 1. These link units are an interesting monetization strategy. I find that they do work quite well on some blogs (although on others they’re very low in their conversion) so I suspect that some publishers will be happy to be able to add a second and even a third unit to their pages.

Read more on the changes at the AdSense blog.