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ProBlogger the Book – Sample Chapter Now Available

Problogger-Preview-174X300Last week when I announced the release of ProBlogger the Book I mentioned that we’d be making the first chapter (the Introduction and chapter 1) available as a sampler download.

It took us a few days longer than we anticipated to get it up but it’s now available.

To get it all you need to do is go to the book site, sign up for our weekly blog tips newsletter and you’ll get the opportunity to download the pdf sampler instantly. You’ll also get a weekly blog tip emailed to you – although you’re free to unsubscribe from that at any point.

Those who already subscribed to the list should have received an email in the last few hours with instructions on how to get the pdf.

The download is 37 pages (including a few title ones) and will give you a good taste of what the full book is like (including the table of contents so you can see what else is covered).

Also – I wanted to give a public thank you to another Chris Garrett (it’s confusing that there are two UK bloggers by the same name). This Chris is a blog designer who designed the ProBlogger Book page. Thanks mate!

Lastly – I want to thank the many readers who have already purchased the book and who have been promoting it on their own blogs. On the day we announced it we got into the low 400′s in terms of the highest selling book on Amazon (I wish I’d taken a screen cap) which was pretty exciting seeing as the book wasn’t available for another 3 weeks.

Don’t forget that the book is pretty heavily discounted at Amazon ($16.49) and Barnes and Noble ($18.74) at the moment during the ‘Pre-Order’ phase.

Alexa Announces ‘New’ Rankings

logowebSite.gifAlexa have announced it has overhauled its ranking system. You can see their announcement here via TechCrunch.

They have ditched their toolbar as the sole source of their rankings and are now pulling in data from other sources too. This means that the skew towards tech sites (as their readers are more likely to use the toolbar) has been addressed (or at least they’ve tried to address it).

Those who check their rankings regularly will now see new rankings. For some there will be little change where as others will see increases or decreases.

For example my other blog Digital Photography School now shows up on Alexa with a very similar ranking to ProBlogger. Previously it was much much lower despite having higher daily traffic numbers. It’s still not perfect (DPS ranks at 16561 (i’m not sure it used to be but it was in the 20,000s) and ProBlogger 12917 (previously in the 3000′s despite DPS having more actual traffic) but it’s at least closer.

PS: Amit has tracked how the changes have impacted the rankings of some blogs.

Teaching Sells – $1 Intoductory Offer Ends in 15 Hours

Just a quick note to let you know that TeachingSells (the course that teaches you how to set up a Membership Site) is closing it’s $1 introductory offer in about 15 hours from now (noon on 17 April EST- US time).

The $1 offer gives you 7 days unrestricted access to all of the information in the course. Actually, it’s 9 courses as they’ve produced some amazing teaching in these areas:

  • How to Create Content That Sells
  • How to Effectively Market Interactive Learning Environments
  • How to Create Killer Multimedia Content with Quick and Easy Tools
  • Seven Profitable Business Models for Interactive Content Developers
  • Your Blueprint for Building Membership Sites with Open Source and Low-Cost Software
  • Educational Marketing: Persuasive Promotional Content That Prompts Action
  • Advanced Positioning and Creative Adaptation Strategies
  • Quick, Easy, and Inexpensive Niche-Focused Membership Sites
  • Multimedia Storytelling – When the Medium is NOT the Message

You get all of that for $1 for 7 days – but that offer ends in 15 hours so if you want in sign up today.

The other cool news from TeachingSells is that they’re adding new courses to their syllabus in the coming weeks.

Courses that they are covering next include:

  • Launch Strategies for Membership Sites and Training Programs
  • The “Entreproducer” Model for Online Business Success
  • Under the Radar Affiliate Marketing
  • Quick and Easy Content Strategies
  • How to Explode Profits with Seminars and Workshops

27 Thoughts On Blogging For The Artist

Blogging-For-The-Artist

Guest Post: Robert Bruce is one of the most widely read, linked and reviled poets working on the web today. Grab yourself a free poem every Monday morning, subscribe to Knife Gun Pen.

1. There’s never been a better time to be a working artist. Ever.

2. There’s never been a worse time to be a working artist (if you’re not truly dedicated to your craft).

3. Social Media will not help you if you’re sending folks to sniff out a pile of crap.

4. If you’re thinking about SEO while writing your digital novel, you’re already screwed. Quit now.

5. The tech tools do not make the artist.

6. If you’re spending more time on Twitter than on your novel/painting/film/poem/play/sculpture, you’re dead.

7. The creation of great art has nothing to do with Community.

8. You will never have as many readers/listeners/viewers as TechCrunch. Get over it.

9. If you’re the real thing, you’ll be around in 30 years, still working. Most of these services and sites you now admire will not.

10. Your Technorati rank is not as important as you think it is.

11. Do not try to please an “audience”. They will ultimately hate you for it.

12. Income isn’t proof of anything. Ask Van Gogh.

13. Aim for Greatness, not the front page of Digg.

14. If you have a fall back plan, you will, inevitably, fall back onto it.

15. Though tempting, you’ll never crush your own mediocrity working only four hours a week.

16. If success finds you, please resist the urge to open a restaurant or start a line of clothing.

17. You do not need the middleman anymore. Quit begging.

18. If you wouldn’t do it without an audience, don’t do it all.

19. Ultimately, nobody really cares about your work. It may seem “negative” but trust me, this knowledge will serve you well.

20. Artists don’t outsource. Unless you’re Andy Warhol.

21. Make the technology work for you. Not the other way around.

22. Remember that the mainstream culture has yet to catch on to the power of the individual artist online. Keep working.

23. Consider getting a second job instead of slapping another Adsense unit next to the .jpg of your latest painting. Contrary to popular belief, work won’t kill you.

24. You no longer need to live in New York or Los Angeles. See: Hugh.

25. Do not work for the good opinion of anyone. Work for joy, wonder and the Lord God Almighty.

26. You do not need a signed letter from The American Academy of Arts and Letters to begin.

27. Blogging is easy. Art is not.

Killer Domains: a Resource for Finding the Perfect Domain Name for Your Blog

Killer-domainsI am really excited today because Daniel Scocco, regular contributer to ProBlogger and a wonderful blogger in his own right, has today launched his first ebook. It’s called Killer Domains.

Daniel sent me a copy of it a few days back and I think it’ll prove to be a very useful resource for quite a few bloggers who want to learn how to select the perfect domain name for their new blog.

The chapters/areas that Daniel covers include:

  • The 7 Characteristics Of Good Domain Names
  • The Process Of Researching Domain Names
  • Keyword Research
  • Prefixes And Suffixes
  • Tools And Resources
  • Registering And Managing Domain Names

I’m constantly asked for information on how to choose a great domain name (and name) for a blog – Wendy wrote about her struggle with it in an interview earlier in the week – this ebook will save a lot of people the pain that she went through.

The information and suggestions that Daniel gives are solid. Anyone who knows him from his blogging will know that he’s a thorough, genuine and sincere blogger – this caries over into his ebook.

Daniel isn’t into fluff or hype and the result is a simple, easy to read and to the point resource for those looking to learn a thing or two about how to choose a great domain for a new blog.

There’s a full money back guarantee on the product also and Daniel is someone I trust to honor that.

See Daniel’s launch post for Killer Domains here or buy it directly here for $17.

Meme13 – Thoughts of a Featured Blogger

Meme13There’s been considerable talk today of a new site by the name of Meme13 which has been developed to work against the ‘Tech Meme Echo-Chamber’ among tech blogs. Meme13′s developer, Rogers Cadenhead, announced it here today.

ProBlogger is included in the list of 13 blogs that Rogers is starting off with and as a result I’ve been asked many times today what I think about it.

While it’s always nice to be included in these types of lists a few thoughts do come to mind:

1. Admirable Idea - I do admire any service that attempts to dig deeper into the blogosphere and discover ‘up-and-coming bloggers who are still working in the sweet spot that lies between obscure and insufferable’ (Rogers words).

2. Whose Echo-Chamber? – While flattered, I’m not convinced that republishing and highlighting ProBlogger’s content is exactly helping to defeat any sort of echo-chamber. While I don’t appear a whole lot on Techmeme I’m sure there are plenty more deserving up-and-coming blogs that could do with some attention. Ironically today I had emails from a few bloggers complaining to me that they find me mentioned too regularly on other people’s blogs. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do about that – but I guess my point is that while there might be a Tech-Meme echo chamber there’s also plenty of other ones in different niches.

3. ‘Scraping’ – While the stated goal of Meme13 does seem admirable I do worry a little that while it might be aiming to help ‘up-and-coming’ blogs find their voice that the method that is being used could end up harming them. The problem as I see it is that the site is highlighting posts that it’s tracking by scraping republishing the full posts from those blogs. Actually that’s not completely true – as I look over the front page of Meme13 I see 11 ProBlogger posts on it, 7 of which are republished in their entirety.

What is republished is obviously taken from my RSS feed as it includes all the feed flare information from my Feedburner feed (including a copyright notice ironically). It also includes images which are still hosted on my own server/domain.

4. Duplicate Content? – OK – so there’s debate among bloggers about the republishing of the full feeds of others. Some argue against it from an ethical point and others from a Search Engine Optimization point of view. I’m probably more concerned about it from an SEO point of view in that this will look like duplicate content in the eyes of Google. I’m not so worried about it for me as I think I probably have enough Google ranking for Google to rank me as the original source but what if Meme13 starts tracking an ‘up-and-coming’ blogger with less ranking and starts seeing the republished content as the primary one.

This might sound a little far fetched but early on in my blogging here at ProBlogger I allowed some of my posts to be republished on WebProNews. After a couple of months I found that WPN outranked me for my own content in Google – some of my posts didn’t even appear in Google at all and the feedback I got from SEO types was that it was because Google was saw WPN as the primary source of the content and ProBlogger’s actual posts were seen as the duplicates.

5. Does it Help Featured Blogs Grow Traffic? - Lastly, if Rogers truly wants to highlight new voices and eliminate the echo-chamber why not do everything he can to actually send all the traffic that he can to those blog’s he’s highlighting? In my mind at least it would make sense to do this not by republishing their full posts but actually highlighting the posts with titles and/or short excerpts and then encouraging readers to go and interact with the up-and-coming blogger at their own blog. I’m not sure how long ProBlogger’s been featured on M13 but despite all the attention they are getting in the blogosphere today I’m yet to see a person visit my blog from Meme13 in my metrics package – but why would anyone visit when they can get most of my posts fully on that site?

What do you think?

More discussion on Meme13 at – DeepJiveInterests, ReadWriteWeb, BlogHerald, Winextra, Mathew Ingram, SheGeeks, TechDirt and The Last Podcast.

Chitika Add Interactive Premium Listing Ads Into the Mix

Here’s a piece of news that slipped through without me noticing while I was traveling last month – Chitika have announce a program to serve ‘graphic ads’ in your Chitika ad units when they feel that a CPM would earn you more than a CPC ad.

The announced it back in March here and here:

“This new graphic ads service has one goal: maximize your revenue. The Chitika ad on your page will display a relevant and targeted banner/graphic ad on your page only when it makes sense – when it will earn you more revenue.

Graphic ads will pay per impression (CPM) and will be shown only when they can earn you more revenue than a CPC-based ad. Our ad targeting system will intelligently find and display relevant graphic (CPM) ads for your pages when appropriate.”

I wouldn’t mind seeing these ads in action before I pass comment on them. For me it’ll all come down to the relevancy of ads as to whether I’d opt out of this program (they are giving publishers a choice to opt out). While the ads will definitely increase revenue on pages that are not generating clicks if the ads are ugly/irrelevant then they could hurt the look and feel of the page and reader experience.

Also today I received an email from Chitika announcing another ad unit - Interactive Premium Listing ads. Here’s how they look:

Chitika-Premium-Interactive

These ad units are not focused upon any one specific product and Chitika say that they work best when you ‘have mostly US traffic and are looking for a Chitika ad unit that is NOT product centric!’

Once again – these ads are going to be rotated in through all publishers ad units when Chitika feel that this ad unit will pay more than regular ad units. The exception is when you opt out of the program. What is displayed in the ads seems to be dependent upon what a reader searched for in a search engine when arriving on your site – so in a sense the are still targeted/contextually relevant but to the search terms of your reader and not necessarily your content.

It’s a good concept and one to watch to see how they perform.

Not yet a Chitika Publisher? Sign Up here.

The Choice of Associating Your Name with Your Blog

Do you associate your name with your blog?

One of the choices that face bloggers when starting out is one around their own name and whether they will use it on their blog (and to what extent).

There’s a range of options open to bloggers:

  • Blog under your personal name and promote it prominently on your blog (this is what I’ve done here on ProBlogger)
  • Blog under your personal name but don’t really promote yourself (this is what I’ve done on DPS – my name is on the about page but not much more)
  • Blog under an alias and promote that name (Skellie does this on Skelliewag)
  • Blog without any name on your blog at all – letting the content speak for itself

I’m sure there are other options – but these would be the most common.

So which is the best option?

I heard a speaker recently answer this question and they argued strongly that the best way to build a blog is to associate your name with it. In answering the question they used me and ProBlogger as an example saying something like ‘when you think of blogging for money, who do you think of? Darren Rowse’.

It’s nice to have you name associated with a niche and it certainly can be a smart move – but it’s not the only way to build a successful blog.

Let me use myself as an example of this.

Here on ProBlogger I’ve always blogging under my name, included it in the byline of my posts, had a prominent about page, written in a personal tone, included personal details of my life and included video and pictures of myself in numerous places.

As the blogger I mentioned earlier suggests – it’s paid off. Having my name associated with the blog has opened opportunities for me to speak at conferences, pick up consulting work, meet partners to start a business and write a book. Some of these things might have come to be without promoting my name – but I suspect less so than they did.

PbBut what impact has it had on traffic? Let’s look at the stats:

  • ProBlogger has had just over 7 million readers since it started a three and a half years ago. It currently averages around 14,000 unique visitors a day.
  • RSS readers osilate between 43,000 – 46,000 depending upon the day of the week.

The growth has been steady since I began blogging with different peaks and and troughs along the way.

But what about my other blog Digital Photography School

DPS is a blog that I don’t really associate my name with very much. Like I mentioned above I mention myself on my About page and use it in passing on weekly newsletter emails but my approach on this blog is much less about aligning my name with it and letting content speak for itself. It is a step up from anonymous blogging – but it’s much much less than I do here on ProBlogger.

If anything these days the names of other writers (those who I employ to write weekly posts) are more associated with DPS than my own name.

DpsWhat impact has this had on traffic? Lets go to the stats (note, these are just for the blog and don’t include the forum stats):

  • DPS started almost exactly two years ago (it’ll be our 2nd birthday later this week).
  • As you can see from the Sitemeter stats it’s now over taken ProBlogger in it’s visitor levels with 8.5 million uniques in that time.
  • It currently averages 20,000 readers a day
  • It’s RSS feed subscriber numbers hovers between 41,000 – 44,000 readers a day

So despite it being a a younger blog with no one name behind it DPS has overtaken ProBlogger and continues to pull away.

Some might argue that if I’d associated my name more with DPS that it could have grown faster but I’m not so sure. My feeling is that some topics and styles of blogging probably do lend themselves more to associating your name with them.

I guess the point of this post is really to present the options and to point out that there’s no one way to building a successful blog in terms of aligning your own personal brand with your writing.

A Couple of After Thoughts:

As I go to hit publish on this post a few other thoughts come to mind.

An Advantage of Not Aligning Your Name with Your Blog – one of the advantages of not associating your name with your blog prominently that springs to mind is that if you ever choose to step away from your blog and sell it it can be quite helpful. One of the challenges facing many blog purchasers is that to buy a blog written by someone else is to transition the audience from one blogger to another. Obviously not having your name associated with a blog makes this easier.

A less Glamorous Pursuit – I always have to chuckle when I hear myself introduced as the guy behind ProBlogger. While this is true and I’m very proud of this blog DPS is obviously a blog that is doing better when it comes to traffic and readership. Choosing not to associate your name with your blog is not a glamorous approach. You might never appear on the top list of bloggers for your work or get written up in mainstream media… but then again that is something that I know is attractive to many.

Do You Associate Your Name with Your Blog?

I’d love to hear your approach to whether you associate your name with your blog. What do you do? How did you come to your decision? What are the Pros and Cons of the approach you’ve taken in your experience?

AdSense Introduce Reports for Link Units

I just logged into my AdSense account to check my nightly stats and found a new reporting option in the ‘Advance Reports’ section (pictured below).

Now you can choose to view ‘Ad Units’ or ‘Link Units’ or ‘Both’.

Ad Units are all of your normal ad units (text ads, image ads, video ads) and ‘Link Units’ are those little adlink unit ads that many bloggers use around their navigational areas that take readers to a second page of ads.

it’s good to see these stats as they were previously all mixed into one in the advance reports unless you’d set them up in channels.

Adsense-Link-Unit-Reports