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Share A Picture of You with the ProBlogger Book [WIN A PRIZE]

IMG_4013.jpgHave you got a copy of the ProBlogger book yet?

I’ve been overwhelmed by the numbers of people who have emailed, Tweeted and IM’d to say that they got one. A few people have even sent me pictures of them with the book. Thank you to everyone for buying the book and for your excitement about it!

What I thought might be fun is to have a little ‘project’. Here’s how it’ll work:

  1. If you have a copy of the book – take a picture of yourself with it and post the picture somewhere (on your blog, flickr, zoomr or some other image hosting site).
  2. Then leave a link to the picture in comments below. Also include your blog’s link in the URL field so I can link back to your blog.
  3. If you’d also like to leave a one line comment about the book that’d be great. Chris and I are hoping to use some of these on the book site in the ‘quote’ section.

I’ll collect all of the pictures up at the end of the week and make some sort of a collage of them. If more come in after that week I’ll do another one later (so there’s still time to order and be included).

I’d love to see people getting creative with their pics. Show us where you read ProBlogger (I can imagine where some of those shots will be taken)!

Prize – as a little incentive, I’ll be choosing my three favorites to win a free book from Amazon. I’d offer a free copy of the ProBlogger book but to win one you’d have to own it already. You can always select to receive another copy to giveaway on your blog but I’ll let you choose any book to the value of $20.

Building Your Twitter Presence Part 3 – TweetBaiting

Twitterbaiting-1Last week in my 5 Tips to Grow Your Twitter Presence post John suggested that an additional strategy to grow your follower numbers in Twitter is to target bigger Twitter users for conversation.

The logic behind this is that if you can get them to reply to you and even have a multiple part conversation with you then you increase the chances of some of their followers following you also.

This is actually a strategy that works very well – however I didn’t include it in my previous post because it can also be a little risky and lead to two main problems as far as I can see.

Let me explain the risk of TweetBaiting

1. TweetStalking - The first problem with TweetBaiting a bigger Twitter user is the danger of putting them offside. I’ve had a few people target me for this type of thing in a way that I’ve found particularly annoying.

I do enjoy people engaging with me genuinely and attempt to reply to people but when it becomes more of a TweetStalking thing I tend to block people. I’ve even been tempted to call them out for it publicly (something I’ve seen others do). If you engage in spammy/annoying tactics in any medium you need to be prepared for the consequences.

The take home lesson is to engage Twitter users whether they be big or small in a way that adds value to their lives, is genuine and on topics that they’ll be interested in. If you do this you’ll find most are happy to engage in conversation.

2. Unfocused Followers - The other more subtle problem is that you can end up with followers who are less interested in what you’ve got to say. I’m going to talk more about this later in the post but I personally would prefer 500 followers who shared my interests and were focussed upon the things I talk about than 5000 followers who don’t really like what I’m talking about.

For example, lets just say I successfully TweetBaited Heather Armstrong from Dooce. Heather has 9111 followers at the moment so she’d be logical to attempt to engage in conversation however if you look over her Tweets they cover a real range of topics – just like her blog. As a result she’s attracted a followership who are interested in what she’s wearing, how much she pays for bourbon and what songs she hears on the radio. Now I personally enjoy Heather’s tweets and do follow her – however I’m not sure that her readers would necessarily be interested in my tweets on blogging, social media etc.

Sure there will be some overlap – but if you’re looking to effectively use Twitter to grow your profile in a niche then if you’re going to do a little TweetBaiting then you’ll want to target those you ‘bait’ carefully and preferably find those who would have a similarly focused group of followers to you.

Take Home Advice about TweetBaiting

While interacting with larger Twitter users can accelerate the growth of your own Twitter follower numbers it is something to approach with caution. I’ve never strategically done this. While I occasionally interact with a few of the bigger Twitter users I’ve only done it when it’s natural, on topic etc (as I would with any Twitter user). My advice would be just to use Twitter in a natural way. Interact with lots of Twitter users (big and small) and you’ll find that as you do your follower numbers will continue to grow.Have you TweetBaited anyone? Did it work? What would you add to my advice?

PS: there’s another type of TweetBaiting that I’ve seen also. It’s where you ‘bait’ interactions with other Twitter users based upon…. well getting them angry, personal attack, insulting people etc. Of course the risk associated with this is looking like a complete fool and/or getting blocked by those you go after.

How do you Stay Motivated as a Blogger?

ProBlogger-Community-Discussion.jpgHere’s another question from webspear for some discussion:

How do you keep yourself motivated, when your blog is not attracting much traffic.”

Staying motivated is a massive issue for bloggers. Without it a blog really suffers.

How do you keep yourself motivated? Do you have systems or practices that help you? I hope this discussion will be helpful to us all as blogger apathy, burnout or bloggers block is something most of us go through at one time or another!

Should you add Keywords to the Name Field when you Leave Comments on a Blog?

ProBlogger-Community-Discussion.jpgThis weekend is a weekend for discussion here at ProBlogger and I’m posting some questions submitted by readers via Twitter.

jophllips asks:

“should you add keywords to the name field when you leave comments”

So another way to put it – should you leave your name, blog name or some other keywords in the ‘name’ URL when you leave comments on a blog?

This is a question we’ve debated previously here on ProBlogger and it generated some great discussion. Looking forward to hearing your answers.

Migrating your Blog Between Platforms: Pitfalls and Consequences

Today’s guest post is by from Swade from Trollhattan Saab. In it he tells his story of migrating his blog from one blog platform to another.

I’m almost willing to guarantee that anyone who’s been blogging for more than a year has contemplated migrating from one content management system (CMS) to another at some point. The grass always seems greener on the other side.

I started Trollhattan Saab in February 2005 using TypePad but it became clear, fairly quickly, that I had to secure my own domain name, buy some server space and manage my site on a CMS stored there. Many of the bloggers that I read at that time were using Movable Type, so I chose that platform as well. The MT templates were similar to those on Typepad so my setup time was minimal and I was off to a great start.

Within 2 years I was forecasting a 5-figure blog income and as I’d only ever intended this to be a hobby, that was fantastic for me.

Around June of 2007, I started exploring the idea of migrating the site to WordPress. I was pleased with the way the site had grown, but I had a lot of trouble loading plugins in MT, which restricted the experience I could provide for readers. I’d heard great things about WordPress’s plugin system and its architecture in general. When I came across the Cutline theme for WordPress I was finally sold. I planned my migration for July 2007.

A quick and very relevant note about my site. Trollhattan Saab deals with news and ownership of Saab automobiles. Saab’s various models use a numerical nomenclature and all start with a “9″, having a hyphenated suffix. Recent models were called 9-2x, 9-3, 9-5 and 9-7x. Coders who know the two CMS systems may already see where I ran into problems with my migration.

Without getting too bogged down in terminology that I don’t understand, WordPress and MT have different ways of treating hyphens when it comes to post titles and creating the URL for each individual entry. One of them keeps the hyphen and the other inserts an underscore. I had a LOT of post titles with Saab model names included, which meant a LOT of hyphens. Despite our best efforts to manage this in the migration process, I was left with around 1,000 entries that had changed URLs – and Google didn’t like it.

1,000 changed URLs from a total population of around 3,000 entries means that one third of my content was returning a 404 page when Google referred someone. The end resut was that Google stopped sending people my way. I was sandboxed. My part-time four-figure income in June 2007 dried up to a low three-figure trickle by September. I was depressed and almost quit blogging completely.

I had to find a way to rectify the problem. Fortunately, I’d set up an account with Google Webmaster Tools and this account listed all of my dead URLs. It took a long, long time to correct, but eventually I managed to trace all of my corrupted entries and alter the post slugs in WordPress so that they’d match what Google had on file. Slowly but surely, my search returns started to come back to life.

It’s been around 10 months since that migration disaster and around 6 months since I finally got my URLs straightened out. My traffic has finally risen above its pre-migration level, though my Adsense income is still only around two-thirds of what it was. Having recently upgraded to the latest edition of WordPress, I can say that at last, I’m totally happy with the site and the way it’s running.

The lessons learned:

1) Think hard about whether you really need to migrate. Are there things you can do with your current architecture to make life easier?

2) If you figure you do really want to migrate, then get all the best advice and expertise on board that you can afford. You probably don’t use hyphens like I do, but there’s a number of other migration problems that can arise as well. I thought my migration guy was good and he did it for free as he hosted my site with his server company, but looking back I’d have gladly paid someone more knowledgeable about WordPress migration in order to avoid the hassle and the loss of income that I encountered.

3) Research and make use of good utilities like Google’s Webmaster Tools.

4) Diversify your income sources. A few months after the disaster I began to sell advertising space directly and now have a small band of faithful advertisers that make up the shortfall I’ve experienced in Adsense income.

Would I do the migration all over again? Yes. The new architecture and the functionality it gives me have been worthwhile. If I were to do it again I’d make sure I know more about what was going on and get the best help I can.

Is Syndicating Other People’s Content on Your Blog OK?

ProBlogger-Community-Discussion.jpgThis weekend I’d like to throw open a couple of discussion starters for the ProBlogger community. The questions come from some of my Twitter followers.

flabuless asks the following question to you the ProBlogger community:

“Is syndicating content is kosher or not…ie running someone elses content through rss into ones own blog?”

This is a particularly important question that I see a variety of opinions on in my travels around the blogosphere. Do you syndicate other people’s content? If so, do you have some standards or guidelines around how you do it? What is your reaction to when you see others doing it to your content?

My Book Arrived!

Today there was a little excitement in the Rowse House.

On returning from a morning out there was a parcel sitting on our doorstep. On opening it I found:

IMG_4013.jpg

It’s been fun to watch many of you ordering, receiving and even reviewing the ProBlogger book – but it’s a very strange feeling to hold it in your hands after all this time of working on it.

While blogging and authoring a book have some pretty similar tasks involved in putting them together – a blog is a fairly intangible thing while our little book is… well it’s something that I can hold. I also think it’s probably going to be useful in explaining what I do to friends and family who don’t quite get it.

While I’m on the topic of the book – thanks to those who’ve been reviewing it. If you have the book I’d love to hear your thoughts on it – whether it be as a review on your blog, a review on the Amazon page for it (there’s a few up already) or just a comment below. You might just find your review quoted on the book’s home page if you review it!

update – last night was a surreal experience. My wife went to bed at 10pm as she usually does. Two hours later I went to bed expecting to find her asleep and there she was with a cup of tea reading the book! I wish I’d had my camera with me at that moment!

For those who know ‘V’ (my wife) you’ll know that she’s not really into blogging – she doesn’t read my blogs at all (apart from when I’m traveling to catch up on what I’m doing and to show my son ‘Daddy’ on my latest video). So to see her reading my book was pretty funny.

What surprised me was that she told me that after reading 4 chapters she thought she now ‘got’ blogging. Yep – after all these years of me trying to explain what I do to her I had to write a book so she’d get it!

If that doesn’t convince you to buy it – I don’t know what will!

Ad Positioning: Tactics to Increase Your AdSense Earnings Overnight

increase-adsense-earnings.jpgIn this series I’m examining tactics that can be used to increase AdSense earnings immediately. Read the introduction to this series here.

Today I want to talk about positioning your AdSense ads – something that has a very significant impact upon the amount of money that they are able to earn.

I learned this lesson after I’d been using AdSense for some time – I often wish I’d discovered it earlier – because not thinking it through earlier cost me a significant amount of money!

My Story of Learning about AdSense Positioning

I remember clearly the time that my AdSense earnings almost doubled over night through me simply moving them from one part of my blog to another.

Up until the point where I made this discovery my AdSense ads had been largely in a banner position on my blog. I don’t remember my exact reasoning for putting it there but it was probably because that’s where I saw all the big sites doing. My blog’s post pages looked like the diagram to the right.

Ad-Positioning 1.jpg

Performance with this positioning was OK – but then again, I didn’t know any different so while I was earning enough on my blog at this point to make a day or two a week of earnings I was blissfully unaware of the potential that my blog had to take me a step closer to going full time as a blogger.

I’m not sure of why I decided to experiment with my ad positioning but after a while of positioning my AdSense ads this way I decided to have a ‘play’ with other positions. I began to think about where on my page my readers would give their full attention and decided at the top left hand side of the content area would probably be the most logical position for people to look at a web page (as that’s where they start reading). This was at a time before AdSense brought out their ‘heatmap’ which confirmed that this was a wise move.

So late one afternoon I decided to move my ad unit from the banner position to this spot at the top left hand side of my post area.

My ads now looked like the diagram to the left.

Ad-Positioning 2.jpg

I was actually a little nervous about making this move. What if my earnings went down and I started going backwards?

I decided to give the new position a couple of days testing. I could afford to lose earnings for two days but if they didn’t at least match the previous positioning I’d switch it back.

That night just before I went to bed I decided to log into AdSense to see what the results were like after a few hours.

Imagine my surprise when I saw my CTR 40%!

40% more readers were clicking my ads and this was obviously already impacting my overall earnings!

I didn’t sleep too well that night as I realized the power of what I’d discovered. I could potentially see a 40% increase in my earnings with a simple move of my ads.

The next morning I awoke earlier and logged into AdSense and found that the CTR was now up by just under 50%.

That day I’d increased my earnings enough to dedicate at least another day a week to blogging by simply changing the position of an ad unit!

Tips on Ad Positioning

general_sm_en.jpgAd positioning is vitally important to the performance of ad units like AdSense.

In general – the positions that are ‘hot’ can be seen on the heatmap to the right (this is the official AdSense heatmap which they put together from their own research and observations of where ads work best. You can see how anywhere at the top of content can work best (the brightest orange area) but that in general above the fold and to the left seems to be the ‘hotter areas’.

This does vary from blog to blog and there are some specific spots that work best on blogs (I’ll show them below). The key is to try different things and to find what works best on your blog.

Further Reading on Ad Positioning:

Next week I’ll continue this series of tips for increasing your AdSense earnings overnight with the continuation of my own story of learning to use AdSense and some more tactics that took my earnings to even higher levels!

Tactics to Increase Your AdSense Earnings Overnight

increase-adsense-earnings.jpgWhat would you say if I told you that there are things that many bloggers could do on their blogs that could bring about large increases in their AdSense earnings in 24 hours or less?

One of the misconceptions about making money from blogging that is out there is that the best way to increase your blog’s earnings is to increase the traffic to your blog.

“Double your traffic and you’ll double your income” I heard one speaker say at a conference earlier in the year.

Well that speaker is right…. increased traffic generally does lead to increased advertising income…. but doubling your traffic can be a massive task one that could take months or even years to achieve.

Growing readership is something every entrepreneurial blogger needs to be working on as it does help with income levels but…

What if there’s a faster way to grow your AdSense earnings?

Over the next week I want to look at a few methods of increasing the revenue from AdSense on your blog that can have immediate impact upon earnings.

Before We Begin:

I should say before I go any further that these won’t work on every blog – if you’ve already optimized your blog well they’ll have less impact – but if you have a blog like I did a few years ago you could see some significant improvements. These tips will be more basic for some readers than others – so if you consider yourself to be at an advanced level you might want to just scan over the posts (although a refresher can’t hurt).

I also should say that these principles don’t just apply to Adsense. The same can be said about Chitika, ShoppingAds, WidgetBucks, Shopzilla and other ad networks.

Lastly – I want to say that I’m not usually one to use claims like ‘increase your earnings overnight’ – as we all know, blogging for money is a long term thing. However these lessons did have immediate impact upon my own earnings. I had already been blogging for some time – but together what I share increased my own earnings by over 100% very quickly.

The Series So Far

1. Ad Positioning Tactics for AdSense
2. Putting More AdSense Ads on Your Page
3. Ad Design Tactics for AdSense