Guess the Search Term and Win a Blog Mentoring Prize

update – this competition is now closed. The winner has been announced. Comments are now closed

OK – it’s time for a little ProBlogger reader competition.

It’s called – “Guess the Top Search Term Competition” (or GTTSTC for short)…. catchy isn’t it!

Here’s how it will run. I’m going to offer a prize for the first person to submit the search term (via comments below) that brought in the most traffic to ProBlogger from Google in the month of June.

ONE ENTRY PER PERSON (I’ll check IP addresses to make sure). Your first entry will be taken as your only entry – so be quick but make your entry count by reading what others have already said (first in best dressed).

Note – By search term – it could be a combination of more than one word.

The Prize – A month’s free access to the Blog Mastermind Mentoring Program. It’s a good way to check out Yaro’s great new mentoring program for free – you can unsubscribe at any time to avoid ongoing payments.

Judging – The Winner will be the first person to get the exact term right.

Do note – that my comments are filtered and some comments go to moderation and don’t appear on the post until I’ve given them the go ahead. As a result you might think you’re first for a term but someone else might actually be.

I’ll announce the winner in 24 hours so we can get a nice array of search terms submitted for a little fun. If no one’s got it in 24 hours I’ll start giving a few hints.

update – this competition is now closed. The winner has been announced. Comments are now closed

FeedBurner Offers Blogs Integration

If you’re a blogger and a Feedburner user then you are likely to be pleased to hear today that FeedBurner has now made it possible to redirect your Blogger feed to your Feedburner one.

Just log into your Blogger account and head to your Settings page where you can enter your Feedburner feed address and save it. Done.

The beauty of doing this is that now you get a fuller picture of your Feed stats. Those subscribing to your old blogger feed will now be counted in the overall Feedburner count and you’ll now be able to track what they do with your feed like you can with those who were subscribing via the Feedburner feed previously.

Your feed counter might even go up a little (although in reality the number of subscribers to your blog isn’t really changing – it’s just counting everyone now).

Speedlinking – 12 July 2007

ReviewMe adds Advertorials – My First Impressions

AdvertorialsIt looks like ReviewMe is adding another product to their range – this time it’s Advertorials.

On their Advertisers page they share what they are:

  • You can browse our marketplace of top blogs and choose the blogs to run your message which you remain in full control over.
  • Advertorials also feature full impression and click tracking so you can measure your return on investment.
  • Advertorials are a great way to generate buzz and traffic while controlling the message and measuring your results!

They don’t seen to have officially announced it yet but what it seems like is that instead of the blogger writing the review – advertorials have more input by the advertiser. I’m hoping that they’ll be marked/disclosed as such (as they require for reviews).

OK – so as a blogger, would you use this type of service?

I’ve always had mixed thoughts on review posts. I think if they are on topic, genuine and disclosed they are one option to explore as a blogger – as long as you don’t become obsessed by posting too many of them and as long as they give actual useful information to your readers (and realize that for some readers they can be a turn off).

I personally don’t do paid reviews because I don’t want to put myself in that kind of position with my readers – however some bloggers seem to be doing well with them.

With advertorials I’m feeling similar thoughts – although am probably even further away from running them on my own blogs than running paid reviews. While I guess ReviewMe will give bloggers full control of whether an advertorial is placed on their blog (after seeing the copy) I think there are a couple of downsides to this as a blogger wanting to develop a community and relationships with readers:

  • Disruption of Style/Voice – one of the potential downsides is that the voice that advertorials are written in could well be different to the voice that you write your blog on. I guess this will be a case by case thing that bloggers need to assess – but most advertorials that I read in newspapers and magazines have a certain kind of ‘spin’ on them. I guess to be fair that this disruption of voice is similar to when you put a guest post up on your blog.
  • Loss of Balance – the point of an advertorial is to sell something. Whether it be a product, brand or service – an advertorial is an advertisement of some sort and as a result it is not generally a balanced exploration of the pros and cons of that service. Is this what your blog is about – this is a call that a blogger will need to make for themselves.

I’m not about to reject the idea of an advertorial completely for all blogs – but I would suggest bloggers think carefully about running them or not (as I would encourage bloggers to do with any type of ad on their blog. Remember that everything that goes up on your blog either adds to or takes away from how readers perceive it – particularly those things that appear in the content areas of your blog.

They are my initial thoughts, having not seen many details of what the service entails. What do you think about advertorials on blogs?

PS: one last question that I have about this – will advertorials be unique from blog to blog? Seeing the same advertorial numerous times around a niche could become annoying to readers but also could have implications when it comes to SEO both of the advertiser and blogger – ie duplicate content. Knowing the smart SEO types behind ReviewMe I suspect they’ve given this some consideration and will be interested to see what they’ve come up with.

Update: Thanks to Patrick from ReviewMe who has made the following clarifications for us:

– all links within Advertorials are redirects, no direct links (this means they have no SEO benefit)
– all Advertorials BY DEFAULT are clearly marked at the beginning of the post as a “SPONSOR POST:” (good on the disclosure front).

Here in Australia if an article is an advertiorial they are actually marked with that word – I wonder whether this might be something to consider or stop confusion with readers wondering if it’s actually written by the blogger themselves. While I’m happy they are disclosing I think it worth pointing out to readers that a blogger did not write the post for fear of it being confused with a paid review that readers might think is unbiased. Just my two cents worth.

Amazon Updates User Interface for Associate

AmazonI just logged into my Amazon Associates account and they’ve done an update to their user interface.

There’s nothing particularly new to what they’ve done that isn’t cosmetic – but it is nice and will make checking daily stats a lot easier.

For starters you now don’t need to scroll through paragraphs of notices to get your daily stats. Now you see the table (pictured left) on the top right hand side of your reports page. It gives you a quick summary of your stats for the last day (or month – depending which you select).

Amazon-2On the top left hand side you see another little table (pictured right) – this one has your tracking IDs all in a drop down menu so that you can quickly swap from one to another (again, much easier than the previous method which was quite convoluted).

By the way – many Amazon affiliates don’t know about tracking IDs – they are the equivalent of channels in AdSense and help you track specific affiliate links (or groups of them).

One other change is that in the top right hand corner you can now select different locations – if you are an Amazon affiliate for their different geographical stores. You can’t swap from one to the other without logging in – but it could be handy for some.

Other report pages and the ‘build links’ pages seem to have been tweaked also – but there are not really substantial changes that I can see so far in them.

This is a nice fresh new look that makes the back end of Amazon’s Affiliate program a little more functional. My wish now is that they update some of their banners, search boxes etc to bring them into a more modern look and not like they’re something from a few years back.

Do you like the new user interface?

ProBlogger Job Board vs Craigslist – Guess Who Wins?

JobboardheaderLast week I was saying to myself that I needed to get a testimonials page together for the ProBlogger Job Board. It’s on my to-do list (along with 60 or so other things) but today Michael Gray over at GrayWolf posted a post that I think will make a great start. In his post he compared the results of advertising for Bloggers ProBlogger Job Board vs Craigslist.

I think it’s safe to say that ProBlogger’s Job Board won out.

“I started getting responses from both websites almost immediately. Once 24 hours had gone by I started evaluating the applications, and the results were pretty clear. The job applications I got from ProBlogger were consistently higher quality than the ones from Craigslist. The applicants had more experience and were better qualified. At the end of the process, 6 of the 7 bloggers I hired came from the Problogger Job Board.”

Add to that that Craigslist costs $75 per region that you want to advertise in and our Job Boards cost $50 to our global audience of bloggers and you’ve got some decent reasons to try the ProBlogger Job Board if you’re looking for an experienced and qualified blogger!

Also – just a note for bloggers and advertisers – we’re in the process of updating the back end and adding a few small features. There shouldn’t be too many noticeable differences in this next update from the front end but stay tuned for a few ideas that will make the boards more useful.

Finding Domain Names – Bust a Name

DomainsI’ve never really been a big domain name collector – but in the last few weeks I’ve enjoyed seeing what names are out there and even picking up a few for a rainy day (for the distant future as I have no time for new ventures at the moment).

I’ve used a couple of tools for finding new domain names over the years – two of my previous favorites have been Domains Bot and Name Boy.

Today LifeHacker linked to a new tool which takes over as my new all time favorite – Bust a Name.

Warning – this tool is not only useful, it’s kind of fun. I just spent an hour on it and bought five domain names!

How to Make Money Blogging – What We Wish We Knew

This post on how to make money blogging is part of the ‘What I wish I knew when I first started Blogging’ Series. In this post I’ll share readers comments on the topic of making money from blogs as well as some of my own experiences and advice.

When I asked readers for their regrets when it comes to making money there was a variety of responses – from bloggers wishing that they’d started experimenting with ads and affiliate programs earlier to others wishing that they’d never started monetizing blogs at all because it was a distraction from what they actually liked doing – writing about their topic of interest.

My Own Experience with Making Money from Blogging

I sometimes look back on my blogging with a twinge of regret that I didn’t get into blogging earlier and establish myself in my niches before ‘competitors’ did. I dabbled in making websites about 10 years ago (5 years before I started my first blog) and blogged for a full year on a personal blog before even considering that I could make money from blogging or starting blogs on any focused topic.

If only someone had told me what I now know – getting a foot in the door in my niches back then could have had some amazing payoffs.

Having said that – part of me is very glad that I didn’t ‘Go Pro’ or start commercializing my blogging too early. That first 12-18 months of blogging on a personal blog was very formative. I learned so much about communicating online, building community, writing and the way that blogs operate – to the point that when I began to blog on a commercial level I had a lot of skills that helped me grow those new blogs faster.

The other great thing about that first year or so was that it gave me a love for blogging. I blogged because I enjoyed it and not with dollars in my eyes. As a result I wrote about things that interested me and not what would make money.

In a sense, that first blogging experience was an apprenticeship or training ground for what came later.

I see a lot of bloggers rushing into commercial type blogs that I think could learn a thing or two from starting a personal blog for a few months (or longer). These blogs quite often are on topics that they think will make money (rather than things they know about and love), they quite often have ads slapped all over them (instead of presenting their content as the prime thing on the blog) and they quite often have content that is regurgitated from elsewhere, uninspiring and uninteresting.

These blogs rarely survive longer than a few months because the blogger gets frustrated by the lack of initial earnings (remember it takes a year or so for a blog to ‘hit its straps’) and has no real interest in the topic to keep them blogging.

Should a blog Be Monetized from Day 1?

[Read more…]

Page Views – Are they Dead?

One of the popular stories going around today is that of Nielsen/NetRatings (an online measurement service) scrapping the basing of their ratings being based upon page views and moving to tracking how long people spend on a site. This is as a result of the increased use of video and tools like Ajax which mean people are not refreshing pages all the time.

There’s been some interesting observations being made around the blogosphere and Richard MacManus gives a few observations as it relates to blogging:

“Blogs are a good case where ‘time spent’ is more meaningful than page views. Especially since the blogosphere is particularly prone to the ‘quantity over quality’ problem. It’s easy to pump out 20+ posts a day – and that tactic garners a lot of page views. But are those blogs actually writing for their readers, or writing to get page views? In other words, check the ‘time spent on site’ figures for those blogs and I think you’d find it is very low – because users click through, find nothing of value, and quickly leave. Is that good for advertisers on those sites? No it isn’t. So in the case of blogs, I’d argue that ‘time spent on site’ is a better measure than the easily gamed (or at least cynically exploited) page view model.”

It’s interesting that he says this because I’ve noticed in tracking my own blog’s statistics over the last six months that I’ve been looking less at the page views count and more at stats like bounce rate (how many people leave the site without surfing deeper into it) and time spent on blog.

Page views still are something I do like to build in that they are still related to income (many of the income streams still have an impression based focus) – but I think we’ll see more changes in what the ad networks are doing also. Google’s been moving more focus to ‘Cost per Action’ and I still think we’ll see some attempts at some sort of an ‘Cost per Time’ ad network – or at least an ad network that refreshes ads over time.

So page views are not completely dead for me – but they’re definitely less important than they once were.

What metrics do you look at? Are page views still important to you?