When Google AdSense Doesn’t Provide Relevant Ads On a Blog

AdSense is a wonderful way to make money from blogs for many bloggers – however it’s not always suitable.

Check out this post looking at the ads that AdSense put up on a blog for women over the age of 40.

Ads included (to name just a few):

MEET MARRIED WOMEN! Married but looking? Meet LOCAL married women right now!
OLDER BLACK WOMEN: Free to join. 1000’s of pictures of beautiful older black singles.
HISPANIC WOMEN ONLINE: Find your interracial match on line.
MARRIED BUT LOOKING: Discreet affairs for men and women have never been easier.

AdSense is great when you have a topic that is focused upon some kind of product or service – or a topic that is directly associated with a type of product or service – however when you have a topic that is a little more open to interpretation or vague (and not I’m not saying Women over 40 are vague!) AdSense often produces ads that are less targeted.

The same is true in my experience with AdSense on religious and political blogs. Their bots look at words like ‘Spiritual’, ‘Christian’, ‘Democrat’, ‘Clinton’, ‘Muslim’ and doesn’t know what you’re saying about these things – it’ll quite often guess wrong and put up something that is completely the opposite to what your blog is about.

When AdSense serves irrelevant ads to your blog it doesn’t mean that your topic is no good, just that you might want to go back to the drawing board and find another way to monetize it.

The take home lesson is that when you’re first using AdSense on a blog to watch the ads that it serves up. Keep in mind though that sometimes the ads will start off un-targeted but that they improve after a day or two (perhaps as it learns what does convert and what doesn’t on your blog).

How to be a Ruthless Blogger (and Become More Productive and Focussed)

Sometimes to grow your blog you need to be ruthless – otherwise you’ll become distracted, unproductive, lazy, unfocused and or lose your passion for blogging. Here’s 7 areas that I’ve found myself becoming more and more ruthless in in my blogging:


Image by LLimllib

1. Declare war on comment spam

Letting comment spam get ahold of your blog’s comments area can really hurt your blog. It has the potential to impact your brand and even how your blog ranks in Search Engines.

2. Set yourself deadlines

At the core of every good blog is regularly posted fresh new content. Sometimes it gets hard to keep yourself motivated so setting yourself posting frequency deadlines can help keep your blog ticking over. I don’t set myself deadlines for particular posts do have a posting frequency and some general times of the day for new posts that I aim for every day.

3. Develop an effective email system

As your blog grows you’ll get a more and more cluttered inbox. As a result it’s really important to think about how you’ll deal with it ahead of time. Develop a system of filtering unimportant emails, highlighting important ones and get a system in place to keep your inbox down. I’ve outlined some of my own email system here.

4. Develop default email responses

Related to managing your email is developing a system to answer the most frequently asked questions and requests that you get. I have 7-8 draft emails stored in Gmail that I am constantly opening up to use as responses to readers. Also helpful to cut down the number of FAQs that you get asked is to develop a FAQ page and link to it from your contact page. Even if people don’t use it before contacting you it’s a useful link to point people to.

5. Develop standards for guest posts

If you choose to go the route of featuring guest posts on your blog (or hiring bloggers to write for you regularly) it’s important that you set some guidelines in place to ensure that the quality of content stays high. This is something that you need to first work out in your own mind and then to communicate to your guest posters. The more guidelines you can give them not only about quality but also how you want posts formatted the less time you’ll need to spend editing posts. I have developed a page for my Guest Posters which has been very helpful.

6. Eliminate distractions from (and protect) your ‘Golden Hours’

I find that there are certain times in my day when I am more productive than others (for me it’s mornings). These times need to be kept as ‘sacred’ times that you reserve for those activities in your life that are core to the running of your blog. I reserve these times for writing the majority of my posts. In these times I switch off Instant Messaging, Twitter, Phone, Email and often get offline and out of the house altogether so that I am able to be completely focussed on the task of writing.

7. Take time off

Being a ruthless blogger is not all about driving yourself harder or making yourself more productive – sometimes it has more to do with when to take a break from blogging. Blogger Burnout is a problem that hits many bloggers when then immerse themselves in blogging. As a result it’s important to take time off. I like to attempt to do this on a number of levels including each day (I take time off for lunch, exercise and in the evenings for family), each week (I have a much much lighter weekend and attempt to have a complete day off on Sundays) and periodically (taking a week or more off blogging every now and again is where I find myself most refreshed).

Each of the above are about developing ‘boundaries’.

Boundaries about what you’ll do (and won’t do), when you’ll do things (and when you won’t) and where you’ll allow your blog to go (and not go). The purpose of the boundaries isn’t to make you more inaccessible or insulated but to make you more productive, focussed and to serve those your blog is for more effectively.

As I write this post I realize that there are plenty of other areas that this ‘ruthlessness’ is important in. Quality of posts, responding to comments/reader questions, spelling/grammar and even the topic of your blog (and when/if you’ll go off topic…. etc

What other areas do you think bloggers need to tighten up, establish boundaries in and become more ruthless in? What rules and practices do you work with in your own blogging?

Six Apart Launch an Ad Network and New Services

SixapartTomorrow Six Apart will launch a new ad network, the acquisition of a social media agency and new ‘services’.

I’ve published the full press release below but tomorrow Six Apart are going public with some major developments.

The main components of the announcements today:

A New Ad Network – for ‘influential bloggers’ Six Apart will now offer a way to monetize their blogs. They’ve long been selling ads for their own services like Vox so it makes sense to extend this and do it for other ‘VIP’ blogs also. They’re doing so through a partnership with Adify on a revenue share basis with bloggers.

The cool thing is that there’s no need to be on one of Six Apart’s platforms to join.

New ‘Services’ – SA are also now offering to sell services to medium to large bloggers including the management of the back end of blogs, SEO, blog design and more. They are also offering consulting services for bloggers of all services. These ‘tune up’ services are available to TypePad bloggers.

Alongside these developments there are a few new business units being announced today by Six Apart to run them. Full details of it all in the following press Release.

Six Apart Press Release

Six Apart Launches New Services as Blogs and Social Media Go Mainstream

New advertising service, acquisition of social media agency, and opening of New York office respond to growing need from customers and advertisers

San Francisco, CA – April 21, 2008 – Six Apart, the world’s leading blogging software and services company, today announced that it is adding a host of social media services to its existing technology offering in response to the growth of blogging into a mainstream communications technology. The company will provide new advertising, design, implementation, development and site optimization services to bloggers and companies of all sizes.

“Our customers have asked us for complete solutions as their blogging and social media efforts grow,” said Chris Alden, CEO of Six Apart. “We’re expanding our business so that our customers can benefit from our years of experience in this space. We can provide them not just with the technology but with the expertise and services to help them succeed.”

To support this growth, Six Apart has acquired leading social media creative agency, Apperceptive, LLC., and established an office in New York City. Apperceptive has worked with Six Apart for the past two years providing cutting edge development and design to leading web properties that include Huffington Post, Washington Post, Gothamist, Serious Eats, Boing Boing, Major League Baseball, and more. The New York team, currently hiring, will play a significant role in the delivery of social media services to customers and advertisers.

Advertising and VIP Services
Six Apart now offers a premium advertising program for influential bloggers and social media web sites as a powerful alternative to current advertising options. Thousands of bloggers on hosted platforms like TypePad and self-hosted tools like Movable Type and have the opportunity to make money from their blogs by participating in advertising solutions created by Six Apart that bring together the best of social media, blogging, and advertising. This new program builds on Six Apart’s years of experience providing innovative, custom media solutions to major brands such as HP, MSN and Universal Studios.

Six Apart’s new advertising services combine the depth of blogging with the breadth of social networks to create engaging, relevant online experiences that connect advertisers with influencers and their audiences. Six Apart is partnering with Adify, the premier technology and media company focused on vertical online advertising, to provide the advertising program to bloggers.

In addition, the Six Apart VIP program will promote and support influential bloggers in building their audiences and visibility. Services for VIPs include blog assessment and optimization, design and template analysis, and educational services and webinars.

Design, Development and Implementation Services
With the acquisition of Apperceptive, Six Apart will continue to design and develop next-generation social media applications and experiences for major bloggers, large media companies and corporate customers. Six Apart Services will help online publishers that want to power custom communities, encourage user-generated content, and manage web publishing from a single, scalable application. The group will also integrate social publishing platforms with customers’ existing systems to create effective internal collaboration tools.

Blog Optimization and Tune-up Services
Six Apart is offering a set of personal consultation services to bloggers of all sizes that help them get the most out of their blogs. The new “Turbo Tune Up” and “Power Launch” services, designed to improve the marketing impact of their blogs, are now available to all TypePad bloggers. These services are an addition to the existing world class support currently available to TypePad customers.

New Business Units
Six Apart is forming two new business units to provide the new services. Six Apart Media, led by David Tokheim, will provide the premium advertising program to influential bloggers and custom advertising solutions to marketers. This group will also identify, cultivate and support bloggers for the VIP program.

Six Apart Services, led by Marissa Levinson and David Jacobs, will provide design and implementation services to large publishers and corporate customers.

Any blogger can receive a blog tune up or power launch service from Six Apart’s professional support team.

“By adding these services as we continue to invest in our core technologies, Six Apart is ideally positioned to capitalize on the rapid growth in the blogging market and provide complete solutions to our customers,” said Alden.

About Six Apart
Six Apart Ltd. provides award-winning blogging software and services that change the way millions of individuals, organizations, and corporations connect and communicate around the world every day. The company provides the Movable Type social media platform, the TypePad hosted blogging service, Vox, a free blogging service for friends and families, advertising solutions for leading brands and influential bloggers, and services dedicated to making bloggers successful. Founded in 2002, Six Apart is a global company with its headquarters in San Francisco, CA, and offices in Tokyo, Paris and New York City . For more information visit the Six Apart corporate web site at

Here are some examples:

Since Six Apart powers the platform we have the ability to connect the bloggers and the advertiser in fresh, innovative ways no other network or digital media company can. We’ve been providing innovative campaigns to companies like HP, MSN and Universal Studios for the past two years and we’ve learned a lot about how to spark and sustain the conversations between marketers, bloggers, and their readers – in a way that puts the control in the hands of the consumers. Here are some custom examples – You’ll see the MSN Brand integration underneath the LJ Editorial – You’ll see the MSN Brand integration underneath the Vox Editorial – LJ Sponsored Community that was developed for the theatrical release and then revived for the DVD release. – Vox Blog Themes that were developed for the HP campaign.

Another aspect of the campaign that was remarkable, was on Over 330 users submitted designs that they created both to share with others and to enter the contest. The designs were placed in a gallery for users to vote on.

What Are YOU About? [Choosing a Topic for Your Blog]

I was reading through an old notebook last week and came across a quote that leapt out from the page at me. It was partly because it was written in CAPITALS and had arrows pointing at it – but partly because of what it said.

“Probably the best place to start thinking about what your blog should be about is to consider what YOU are about.”

I’m not sure where I picked this one up. I actually think that it was a friend who doesn’t even blog who said it to me.

The reason it stands out to me is that it rings true from my own personal experience of blogging.

I’ve had more blogs than I can remember but it is only those on topics that reflected something of my own passions, loves and interests that I continue to blog. It’s also those blogs that remain profitable.

The temptation is to pick topics based upon profitability first and foremost – however this has a couple of main problems associated with it:

1. passion shines through – you might be an incredibly skillful writer but blog readers are a pretty clued in bunch and if you don’t have energy for your topic it’s likely to be picked up. You might fool them for a post or two – but over the weeks, months and years if you don’t have an interest in your topic you’re not likely to attract those that do.

2. sustainability – the other main problem with blogging on a blog that you have little interest or passion for is that it is incredibly difficult to sustain for the long haul. I’ve tried it and rarely lasted longer than a month or two on a topic that I didn’t enjoy. I probably could have gone longer but in the end realized that even if I’d been able to grow a readership on those topics that it would have been a rather empty experience of blogging and that I’d have likely given up at some point or another.

While if your goal is to make money blogging you do need to analyze your topic for its potential profitability I wouldn’t start with that. As I encouraged students in Six Figure Blogging this week – look at yourself and your own experience.

A few questions to ask:

  • What do I know about?
  • What topics do I read about and seek out information on already?
  • What topics do others come to me for advice on
  • What topics keep coming up in conversation for me?
  • What topics would you write about for free?

Once you’ve come up with a list of topics that reflect YOU it’s then possible to begin to refine them by looking at other factors including profitability.

Do You Write From Your Heart ?

In this post Abhijeet Mukherjee from Jeet Blog (where he writes about tech tweaks, blogging tips and productivity hacks) asks ‘do you write from the heart?’

As professional bloggers, freelancers or writers, sometimes we tend to be skeptical about our own content. We tend to think more about external aspects like marketing etc (which we can always do after we complete the article) even before we start writing and consequently the quality of the article dips down.

However most of us fail to understand that the questions which come to our mind, which bother us when we start writing, are completely unnecessary and doing no good to us. Do the following questions bother you?

1: Will readers like my post ?

Why to worry about this when you are writing something. You just need to give your best shot, thats it. And it is important that you are satisfied with your work before somebody else. Remember these words of Swami Vivekananda:

“Each work has to pass through these stages—ridicule, opposition, and then acceptance. Those who think ahead of their time are sure to be misunderstood.”

Hence your work will be accepted sooner or later if you put your heart and soul into it.

2: Has someone already written about it?

I’ll start with an example. Look at this post in Mashable.Then here’s a post by Amit. So what do you find?. Both posts have similar information about a similar product. Both are A-list blogs.But there is a difference in presentation of post. And thats what you need to understand. If there is something you discover, just write about it.

When you discover something and feel that it could be useful to your readers, don’t think twice. Nothing gets old on the internet. I have seen topics covered way back in 2006 in some blogs being repeated in A-list blogs after 2 years. What matters is the presentation of the topic and your own, original views so that you are not copying stuff and you are creating value for the readers. So just focus on your presentation. (Like Skellie says here, its not a matter of writing, but how you present things online ).

3: What keywords I should use?

This question could be the most distracting while writing.Yes, you want to optimize your post for search engines but lets think about those humans first who will read your post and about keywords after writing the post.When you write a post, it is not about words..its about thoughts…and your thoughts cannot be the slave of few keywords.

And after you unleash your thoughts, you can always try and check if some keywords might fit in the post.

4: Am I writing in good English?

Hmm… that’s a valid question. Not all of us are language experts.So what to do then? Here’s what Seth Godin said in one of his posts:

“Don’t let the words get in the way. If you’re writing online, forget everything you were tortured by in high school English class. You’re not trying to win any awards or get an A. You’re just trying to be real, to make a point, to write something worth reading.”

So as he puts it… Just Say It!

5: Will I become a successful blogger?

Different people have different definitions for success. However to achieve that you need to work from your heart. In fact you’ll find that the only in the work in which you get absorbed, you are able to apply new techniques and new ideas. So its a myth that heart and mind have separate point of views. They both complement each other.

I would conclude this post with a memorable quote from the movie Jerry Maguire, where Tom Cruise explains the importance of playing from heart to Cuba Gooding ,Jr.

Jerry Maguire- “Alright here’s why you don’t have your ten million yet. Right now, you are a paycheck player. You play with your head, not your heart. In your personal life – (points to chest) Heart. But when you get on that field — it’s all about what you didn’t get, who’s to blame, who underthrew the pass, who’s got the contract you don’t, who’s not giving you your love. Well, that is not what inspires people. That’s not what inspires people. Shut up. Play the game. Play it from your heart. And you know what? I will show you the “kwan.” I’m sorry, but that’s the truth. Can you handle it? “

What Jerry (Tom Cruise) said above is true for every profession in the world till date…. believe me.

So do you write from your heart ?

AdSense Secrets 4.0 Launches

AdSense Secretsupdate: please note the update at the bottom of this post.

It has been a big week for bloggers launching products and making special offers.

AdSense guru Joel Comm has this week also announced a new product (or rather an update of an old one) called AdSense Secrets 4.0.

Joe’s written many resources for those wanting to improve their AdSense earnings and his book on the topic has been a best seller on Amazon.

This week he’s launched his 4th version of the product.

Before you visit his sales page – take a deep breath. It’s long, its full of sales talk…. but the product is only $9.95 (his previous ones have been $97).

Joe’s AdSense resources are always a great resource for those starting out with AdSense – so if you’re wanting to improve your AdSense performance or want a good introduction to it a $9.95 investment is definitely worth it.

If that’s you just scroll to the bottom of his sales page, skip the sale and click purchase – you’ll save yourself 15 minutes of reading an watching videos in the process!

update: friends I want to make a couple of clarifications to this post after reading the comments left so far.

1. I have bought the product and believe it contains useful information to those starting out with AdSense.
2. Joel Comm’s previous versions of this product were helpful in my own journey with learning about AdSense. Yes I learned some of what I now know about AdSense through my own experimenting and the reading of free information online about it but his books have helped me – as a result I am mentioning this latest version.
3. In signing up for this product there are a few ‘catches’ that I didn’t realize. As I mentioned in the post the long page is very salesy and as I encouraged you to skip through it – I skipped through it. This was a mistake on my part and I apologize for this. Please do read the sales copy and understand that there’s a membership program/monthly report with this that costs $29.95 a month which you are subscribed to when you sign up for this. You can unsubscribe at any time if you don’t want to be in it. I’m a little surprised and disappointed to see Joel doing this to be honest but it is mentioned in the sales page (see the ‘free’ bonuses).

I am sorry for not pointing this subscription cost out in my original post. It was a dumb mistake from me. Having said this I think Joel’s product here remains a worthwhile resource for those starting out with AdSense.

update 2 – Joel’s seen the error of his ways and has changed the process again meaning you’re not automatically subscribed to the ongoing reports. All seems to be good now.

How do You Know When You’ve Finished a Post?

Today I’m posting a reader question as a discussion starter. It comes from Richard King:

Hey Darren – I blog casually and largely for my own benefit but I read your blog because I occasionally flirt with the idea of “doing things properly” and I think you post some great advice. Recently I’ve come across a problem that I think you and your readers would have some valuable opinions on:

how do you know when you’ve finished a post?

Let me explain. Often, my draft posts are not much more than a few links to something I want to blog about. As I work, I continually add sentences, revise them, move them around, follow new trains of thought and throw other bits away. Gradually the post takes shape until eventually it’s in a fit state to be published. So far so good, but I can’t seem to stop myself spotting ways to improve the text even after it’s been published, pinged round to both my readers’ RSS feeds, and generally indexed by all and sundry.

  • Is it good practice to continue to make improvements after I’ve hit the magic publish button?
  • If so, should it be obvious to readers that’s what I’ve done?
  • What about simply re-wording a sentence or changing the order of content around?
  • Should new related ideas always go in new posts, or be added as “updates” at the bottom of existing ones?
  • What’s the best strategy for generating traffic, and does that conflict with the best strategy for ensuring quality content?

In short – what’s your advice on post-publish editing?

So that’s Richard’s question (or 5-6 questions). Who has some answers, experiences, suggestions, stories or ideas to share??? Leave them in comments below or if you’d rather write it up as a post on your own blog just leave a link in comments so we can all benefit from your wisdom.

How to Deal with Negative Comments On Your Blog

Gala-Darling-9In this post Gala Darling from iCiNG tackles the question of how to handle negative emails on your blog.

“How do you deal with hateful comments? For my blog I keep all comments moderated so I get a chance to see what people say on my site. I’m glad I did this because I got a rather rude comment mainly saying I have poor grammar for an English major. Oh and that I’m ‘pretty down on the world’. I tracked the ip address and realized it’s someone from my area! How awkward.”

Negative comments are a funny thing. I’ve noticed that on iCiNG, typically the rude comments come from someone who’s never commented before. This tells you something about them — namely, that they never contribute anything positive & are really only interested in pointing out a flaw or perceived problem. With these people, I say, have no mercy! Delete their comment & if what they’ve said is really nasty, just ban them. You don’t need the strife!

The way I see it, having a blog is like giving birth or doing a new piece of art every day. People don’t realise how much work goes into them — how much we love them, sweat & toil over them, & analyse everything about them. So when someone swings by & tries to take a shot at you, it’s kind of like them urinating all over your new-born, or slashing at your painting. It’s rude & vulgar, & not to be tolerated. They can say what they like, but not on your site. If they want to spew vitriol, they can do it somewhere else. I mean, would you invite someone like that into your house? To my mind, it’s exactly the same thing.

Another thing to keep in mind is not to feed the trolls! When someone comes by & tells you your blog sucks, you suck, your dog sucks & man, has anyone ever told you you suck?, don’t take the bait! Most of the time, these are just bitter people looking for a fight. It’s just like with bullies in school — all they want is a reaction. So don’t give it to them. There is nothing more infuriating than going out of your way to annoy someone & getting no response. They will fume like mad, & might have another go, but then they will go away. The game gets old. & you can do a little celebratory dance in your living room.

I guess what happens is that people’s egos get in the way, so we feel like we have to defend ourselves, or make the troll look stupid, or something like that. How many of you just love to have the last word? Yeah, I see a few bashful hands raised in the back! The thing is, having to have the last word just creates drama. If your life is boring & you love turmoil, then go ahead, be my guest. Have a flame war with a 14 year old kid in Hoboken. Enjoy! But mostly, it’s a waste of time & energy, & detracts from what you’re trying to do with your blog. (Plus, if your name is attached to your site, or you want to turn it into a business some day, it’s about the most unprofessional thing you can do.)

But it’s not all trolls & hormonal teenagers. Sometimes a long-standing reader will take a turn for the worst. Someone who was initially supportive & friendly might start leaving more & more negative comments, or being downright angry at other members of your community. When this happens, it can be tempting to be intolerant; to be negative in return & slam the door — but it’s not always the right thing to do. I have had this happen to me a few times, & after the initial confusion & annoyance, I start to feel more compassionate.

A Good Rule of Thumb

A good rule of thumb is that nasty or negative comments are never about you or what you’ve written, they are always about the person who wrote them. (Even if people disagree with what you’ve said, most of them can do it in a sane & respectful fashion.) So, when one of my regular commenters starts to go down a less happy path, I take notice.

I’ve written a few emails that go like this.

“Hi, cutie!

I hope everything’s okay with you. I noticed that your most recent comments have sounded a bit negative, & I wanted to check that you’re alright. Let me know if you’d ever like to talk, or anything like that.

Big kisses,

Want to know what happens? Every time I do it, I get an email back that includes the following pieces of information.

1) They are amazed I emailed them, & incredibly grateful.
2) They’re sorry for their negative comments & start leaving happier, more positive messages.
3) Their negative comments were a symptom of their mood. They have been feeling absolutely, mind-blowingly miserable — often my email arrives as they’re bawling their eyes out — & don’t know who to talk to or what to do about it.

Making kind, compassionate contact is 100% worth doing. There is always something more going on than you might initially think.

Sending a sweet email where you treat them as your friend, not just an anonymous reader, works absolute wonders — & helps people feel less alone. Might be something to try!

Take-home points:
* Your blog is like your home. Don’t invite anyone angry to tea!
* Realise that comments are always about the person who left them, & not you. Don’t be tempted to take things personally.
* A little care & love goes a long way.

Why I Love Twitter

Two days ago I asked my followers on Twitter why they loved Twitter.

There were over 100 responses within 2 hours and some of them were really good – I wasn’t sure what to do with them all but just yesterday I’d seen a video with a whole lot of screen caps of Tweets at Rocketboom. The idea was still fresh in my mind so I decided to make my own with the responses from readers.

The above video is a compilation of the responses from followers. I hope I got them all!

You can see a full sized version of it on it’s YouTube page or a slightly better quality one at Revver.