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Chitika’s Response to CPM Ads Concerns

Ryan Travis from Chitika was kind enough to respond to some of the concerns mentioned in my previous post (and it’s comments) about their CPM ads:

“We have seen that there are a LOT of times and situations where a publisher’s ads simply will not get clicked on. In these situations, it makes the most sense to show graphic ads in order to bring in the most revenue possible.

Right now we have rolled out graphic ads to countries where our publishers are currently NOT making revenue. We have done this because we want to ensure that when we fully launch this in the US (and other revenue-generating countries), that we are bringing in the highest-quality ads that are paying the highest rates.

Our only goal here is to make our publishers the maximum amount of revenue possible. As we move forward, we are fully-focuesed on working out the kinks (and filtering out all of the low-quality, “spammy” ads) in order for this program to be a major success and at the end of the day, our publishers will be receiving bigger checks because of this.”

I’ve already seen a few improvements in the CPM ads. It seems that they have a system in place to weed out the lower quality flashing ringtone ads. I’m hoping it’ll continue to improve to the point where we’ll start seeing brand ads that will not only earn more but ‘fit’ more on most blogs.

TheFreeAdForum – I have nothing to do with this Spamming Link Exchange Program

Just a short note to let readers know that in the last 24 hours many bloggers who link to ProBlogger were the target of a spammer who used the ProBlogger name to attempt to get you to do a link exchange with his forum.

I want to make it clear that I have no affiliation with ‘Matt’ from thefreeadforum.com who is behind this spam link exchange and would encourage you not to take him up on his offer of linking to his site in return for ads on his forum.

I’d suggest that exchanging links with him is going to get you nothing more than a penalty from Google.

Skribit – Find Out What Your Readers Want You to Write About

Picture 1-11Thanks to an email from Matt (no url supplied) I’m playing around with a new little widget on my sidebar here at ProBlogger called Skribit.

The idea is that it’s a tool for gathering and prioritizing the topics that readers (ie YOU) want a blogger (ie ME) to write about on a blog.

You’ll see over on the sidebar that there’s already some topics. One suggestion is to write about ‘Why are you using Skribit’ which was asked by the team at Skribit by default. I’m now answering that question and can then link it to this post.

There are a couple of other questions already added by my Twitter Followers.

The idea now is that YOU the readers can add your topics/questions and then vote up the ones that others have added to help me work out which are the main ones that you want addressed.

While I’ve been testing it all of 5 minutes I love the concept behind this tool as it gives bloggers great feedback on what’s on the mind of their readers and the readers control to prioritize their needs.

I’d love to see readers start to add their questions so we can test it out!

update: seems that when you link an answer as being answered it disappears from the list. Not sure where the links appear.

My Top 10 Traffic Sources

This month I’m asking What is the Biggest Source of Traffic to Your Blog in our sidebar poll.

I’m finding the results so far interesting. It’s still early to draw too many conclusions although Google is a clear winner so far with 49% of the vote (in comparison to all other search engines with just 1%).

A number of readers have asked me to answer the question for myself – so I thought I’d do for both ProBlogger and Digital Photography School here in a post. Following is the breakdown according to Google Analytics of the Top 10 Traffic Sources – including the percentages of total traffic.

You can see a few obvious similarities between the two with Google an obvious winner again (although the mix is different in terms of percentages).

Top Traffic Sources to ProBlogger:

1. google / organic – 42.89%
2. (direct) / (none) – 17.59%
3. google.com / referral – 5.10%
4. stumbleupon.com / referral – 2.54%
5. yahoo / organic – 2.05%
6. twitter.com / referral – 1.87%
7. lifehacker.com / referral – 1.74%
8. del.icio.us / referral – 1.65%
9. bloglines.com / referral – 0.81%
10. technorati.com / referral – 0.79%

Top Traffic Sources to DPS:

1. google / organic – 30.54%
2. (direct) / (none) – 23.31%
3. stumbleupon.com / referral – 9.15%
4. google.com / referral – 6.22%
5. yahoo / organic – 2.20%
6. images.google.com / referral – 1.15%
7. mail.google.com / referral – 0.99%
8. lifehacker.com / referral – 0.97%
9. mibrujula.com / referral – 0.71%
10. flickr.com / referral – 0.62%

Don’t forget to vote in the poll and feel free to breakdown your response further in the Poll Announcement Post.

A Remedy for Blogger Inferiority Complex

Yesterday I wrote about the problem of blogger inferiority complex and how often as bloggers we can limit our potential by defining ourselves negatively.

Today I want to get a little more constructive and suggest a remedy for this common problem. In doing so I want to help those of us who struggle with a negative self view to make a mind-shift in our thinking.

How do you become more positive in the way that you think about yourself and your blog?

Today I want to suggest two starting points in tackling this problem. Tomorrow I’ll wrap up this mini-series with a third.

1. Identify What You Have:

Identify-What-You-Have.jpg There’s nothing wrong with aspiring to be something that you’re not, learn something that you don’t know or achieve something that you’ve not achieved before – however sometimes when we’re focusing upon what we don’t have we lose sight of the very thing that could be the key to us going to the next level – what we do have.

When I was in my late teens and early 20′s I spent a lot of time worrying about what I didn’t have and comparing myself to others. As I look back on the way that I lived my life at this time I realized that the motivation for many of the things that I did was that I wanted to be like someone else. The result was a complete mess. I ended up spending so much of my time aspiring to be or have something that those around me were or had that I stopped being Darren.

The realization that I came to was that defining myself by what I didn’t have or by what someone else was wasn’t working. What I did find that worked however was defining myself by who actually was and starting with what I already had.

I went through a process with a small group of friends of rediscovering myself, learning what my strengths were, identifying my passions, reflecting upon the experiences that I had had and looking at what I’d learned. I found that as I began to focus more upon these positive things that I became more positive.

As bloggers I think that many of us need to make this same mind-shift and focus less upon what we don’t have and more upon what we do – and then to build from there.

Are You Focusing More Upon What You’re Not than What You Are as a Blogger?

Firstly, let me say that you’re not alone.

Secondly let me suggest a series of questions that you might like to set aside some time to reflect upon to help you rediscover who you are as a blogger:

1. What has Worked On Your Blog? – Sometimes the key to your success is something that you’ve already done that had a spark of energy to it but which still needs a little more work. Look back over the blog posts that you’ve written and identify those that ‘worked’. It might be those that got linked to by another blog or two, it might be a post that got a few extra comments or it could be something that you enjoyed more than other posts even if no one else noticed. Once you’ve identified some of these posts ask yourself why they worked. Is there a common theme or some identifiable lessons that you can learn that you might emulate again?

2. What do you know about? – A great way to answer this one is to think about the questions that people ask you and seek advice from you on. What knowledge and expertise have you gathered in your life so far?

3. What things do you love to talk about? – What topic do your conversations always turn to? Not sure? Ask a close friend what they think your ‘pet topic’ is. What do conversations keep coming back to you no matter how hard they try to change the topic? These topics are obviously things that you have some passion for – perhaps they are what you should be blogging about.

4. What formative experiences have you had? – Often the things that make us most interesting are the things we’ve done in our past. The places you’ve been, the jobs you’ve had, the study that you’ve done, the people that you’ve met etc. Don’t just think about the positive experiences but some of the hard ones too because sometimes it’s through the most painful times of life that we discover purpose and learn lessons that shape our future.

5. Who do you know? – Don’t focus upon the bloggers you don’t know – start with those you do. What have you studied formally? What have you read about? What have you gathered knowledge on in your work, recreation, friendship groups?

6. What readers do you have? – it’s easy to focus upon the thousands of readers that you don’t have, but what about those that you do? Even if you only have 3 and one of them is your Mother – you’ve got people logging into your blog every day to read what you have to say! Not only that, they each have a network of relationships that they could potentially tell about your blog.

7. What problems do you have? What problems have you overcome? – one of the most powerful things that you can do as a blogger is to help people solve problems. The problems that you are best equipped to solve are those that you have had (or have) that you’re overcoming for yourself.

8. What have you achieved? – achievements are not everything but they can certainly be helpful when you’re blogging because you can draw upon them or the lessons you learned in them in your writing. Don’t just focus on the big achievements either – sometimes the small things we’ve done are most important.

9. What sets you apart? – sometimes we focus upon our differences as negatives – but how could they be used for your own good? We operate in a medium where there are millions of others competing for attention – being different is good. It might be how you look, it might be how you live your life, it could be where you live or some other aspect of your life that you’ve been getting down on yourself about. How can you ‘flip it’ to your advantage?

10. What type of personality do you have? – you are wired a certain way – so identify how that is and learn to work to it’s strengths. If you’re a quiet, introverted and reflective person, let your blogging reflect this with posts that are a little more reflective and thoughtful. If you’re loud, brash and opinionated – go with that too! If you can make people laugh – do that in your blogging! Don’t try to be someone that you’re not – start with who you are.

11. What Resources do you have? – what do you have at your disposal that you can use in your blogging? I started out blogging on a 10 year old PC that crashed after 30 minutes of running and dial-up internet connection… and that’s a lot more than many bloggers have. I know bloggers who would answer this question with the answer that they have a membership in a local library that gives them 30 minutes internet connection every weekday. Rather than looking at what you don’t have in terms of tools and resources – start with what you do have and build from there. It might be a computer, internet connection, video or digital camera, a MP3 recorder… or it could be friendship with people who do.

Identifying some of the things that you DO have can be an uplifting experience. While we might be naturally drawn to answer the above questions with negativity – force yourself to look at the positives for a little bit and make a list of what you have. But it doesn’t end there….

2. Build upon what you have

filename.jpg

Identifying what you do have is a very worthwhile exercise – but it’s not enough if you want to grow to your potential.

The key to the lives of many successful people that I’ve met is that they take what they do have (as meager as that may be) and turn it into something worthwhile by building it.

  • It might be taking a simple skill and doing it until they’re blue in the face
  • It might be taking a passion and hunch and following it to see where it leads
  • It might be taking a simple resource and using it for all it’s worth

For me as a blogger is was like this:

I started out with:

  • a dodgy computer and dialup internet access
  • an interest and a little knowledge in photography (I’d studied it as a 16 year old for a semester)
  • some spare time in the evenings when I wasn’t working one of my 3 part time jobs or studying
  • a little experience in communicating
  • half a degree in Marketing (I quit half way – my only other training was in Theology)
  • a little experience of blogging on a personal blog

I took that muddled collection of things and began to blog about digital cameras. I made a lot of mistakes but I became more and more determined to take what I did have and to build upon it. As a result things began to grow.

The Story Continues – But First…. Some Homework

As I said above – tomorrow I’m going to finish this series with one more tip for overcoming Blogger Inferiority Complex. I was going to include it in this post but I think that before getting to the last suggestion it’d be well worth pondering the first two steps.

While you wait for the last part in the series take a little time out today to work through them – particularly the series of 11 questions that I suggested and pondering how you can build on them. I’d love to hear what you discover!

Chitika Roll Out CPM Filler Ads for Unsupported Countries

Chitika have been rolling out their new CPM ads over the last few days. These impression based ads will appear mainly on sites with a lot of traffic from non supported countries (they only serve their own ads to traffic from USA, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, UK).

In a sense these CPM ads are ‘alternative ads’ – so if a reader comes from Japan for instance they see the new CPM ad instead of a default ad or a Public Service Announcement. The theory is that at least you’ll earn something from the ad.

I can understand why Chitika are doing this and why it’d be attractive to many publishers. Most sites get at least some decent traffic from the countries that Chitika (and other ad networks) don’t support and to not monetize it is a pity. However….

What concerns me a little about these ads is that the announcement post says that it’s not just when someone from a non supported country visits your site but rather they say they serve them ‘when it makes sense’ to do so and give this example:

“if you are in Canada, and viewing a page with a Chitika ad on it, we will most likely show you a CPM Graphic banner because we are seeing more revenue from graphic ads for Canadian traffic.”

This is all well and good if you’re just looking at the bottom line (who wouldn’t want the most profitable ad served?) but the banner ads that I’ve seen so far are not what I’d consider to be of a high quality. They’re not relevant to sites (ie they are not contextual) and they look cheap and nasty. I hope that Chitika will work to attract premium brand advertisers – but in the mean time I’m considering opting out of the CPM ads at this point. Steve from UMPCPortal tells me he saw cheesy Ringtone ads on his blog and other bloggers are reporting similar low grade ads.

Opting out of the program (it is set to ‘ON’ by default) means you’re likely to take a hit financially so don’t do it without thinking it through but if you have a site where you don’t want banner ads appearing then you might want to consider this.

What You Say is What You Are – The Problem of Blogger Inferiority Complex

Blogger-Inferiority-ComplexImage by JettGirl

Today I was scanning through some emails from readers and it struck me that so many of those that I hear from are suffering from a similar ailment. Let me share a few excerpts from emails I received today and see if you can spot what it is:

“Darren, I’m just a small blogger but was wondering….”
I’m no A-list blogger but I wanted to let you know…..”
“I’ve only got 70 readers a day….”
“My RSS reader counter is embarrassing….”
“I don’t know any HTML…. I feel like I have so much to learn….”
“I’m just starting out and don’t know much about blogging…..”
“In comparison to others I’m just a small fry….”
“I don’t write as well as they do….”

Notice something about all of these emails?

They all define themselves by something that they are not achieving, that they don’t know, that they don’t have….

Many of them are also based upon a comparison with others.

While I understand why they do this (many are emailing asking for advice and it’s logical to present a problem in such an instance) I wonder if it is also a little more than that.

My suspicion is that many of us as bloggers think of ourselves in similar ways and have “blogger inferiority complex“.

There’s are 3 problems with this type of thinking:

1. The impact it has on You

The main problem with defining yourself with words that describe what you are NOT is that it impacts the way that you think about yourself. I strongly believe that the words we use to talk about ourselves (spoken and thought) impact us.

No I’m not going to get you chanting positive mantras about yourself with the promise of it magically transforming your life but I do think that if you’re continually thinking of yourself in terms of what you are NOT that it has an impact and can be a limiting factor on what you ARE.

Also when your view of yourself is tied to what others do and achieve it can also be very limiting and stop you from actually be something that distracts you from your own true potential (more on this later).

My wife often encourages her friends to be more positive about themselves by using the concept of ‘self fulfilling prophecy’. Sometimes when all we can see is what we can’t do or have not achieved it’s too difficult to move past it and these things not only are our present but they become our future also.

“If we did all of the things that we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” – Thomas Edison

Edison is right – each of us has amazing potential, however unless we learn to see what we have and can do rather than focus upon what we can’t or what others are doing we’re likely to even catch a glimpse of what we can do let alone ever achieve it.

2. The impact that it has on your Readers

While most of the negative definitions of ourselves are generally kept to ourselves or are only spoken about in private – at times they do creep into our blogging and can impact our readers.

Sometimes this happens explicitly (I regularly see people apologizing to readers about the things that they don’t do well) and sometimes it happens more subtly.

I’m not arguing that we should pretend to be something that we’re not and to only talk about the positives in our lives (I think being transparent and honest with readers about our failures can actually be powerful) however when the negative self view becomes the dominating one it can’t help but impact readers.

If you can’t be positive about yourself why would your readers be?

3. The impact it has on other Bloggers

In a similar way – when you talk about yourself in terms of what you’re yet to do, achieve or become your words can impact other bloggers also. I noticed this particularly at the recent SXSW conference where there was a wonderful room set up specifically for bloggers.

As I interacted with bloggers I noticed three groups of people:

  1. Those who pumped up themselves and their blogs beyond the reality of them. The ego and arrogance of this group (a real minority of those I met I should add) was something to behold!
  2. Those who defined themselves by what they are not. Just like the email excerpts above this group quite often introduced themselves with a ‘I’m just a small blogger….’
  3. Those who seemed to have a healthy blend of positivity and humility

It was interesting to see how these three groups of bloggers were received by other bloggers that were in the room. Group one was sniggered about, Group two tended to be talked to politely but people quickly moved on and Group 3 tended to be the ones that people gravitated towards. This third group was also the ones that seemed to get a lot of links after SXSW from other bloggers who were there.

If you want to grow your profile with other bloggers in your niche then I think it’s really important to get the balance right.

How to Define Yourself More Positively

Ironically this post has become a little negative hasn’t it! I’ve just spent the last 850 words talking pointing out how many of us have the problem of pointing out the problems in our lives….

Yes I do see the irony in this, however before I offer some more positives suggestions on how to dig yourself out of a negative framework it’s important to talk about the problem itself (the purpose of this post).

So how do you turn your negativity around and become a more positive blogger in the way that you think about yourself and your blog? I’ve got a post lined up for tomorrow with some of my ideas on the question but in the mean time I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Update: Here’s the 2nd Part in this series of posts.