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How to Optimize Your AdSense Performance [VIDEO]

Two Australian AdSense team members, Mel Ann and Tim, have put together a good introductory guide to optimizing AdSense.

It’s not advanced but if you’re just starting out with AdSense it’s worth a watch.

Using Facebook Pages to Promote Your Blog

Today Mike Henry explores Facebook pages (as opposed to profiles) and how they can be use to promote their blog, business, product or profile.

Darren wrote a post recently on 12 tips for building relationships with other bloggers. They are all great tips that could be expanded into individual posts or even an entire blog, particularly in the area of social networks.

Using social networks can be a fantastic source of traffic and generating a community around your site. There is a minefield of information on marketing on social networks, so I would just like to write about one technique that has worked for me with Facebook.

Many people have profiles on Facebook and people are quick to put their URL in their profile. This is great for your friends to see what you are doing, but is difficult to expand beyond your networkd of friends. Most people using Facebook try to keep their “friends” to people they have actually met or have some kind of relationship with.

The answer to this is Facebook pages. Facebook pages were created for authors, businesses, politicians and celebrities to build a community around whatever they are promoting. Unlike Myspace, individual profiles can only have a limited number of “friends” in Facebook and there is no way to send email to all of your friends at one time.

Once you have created a page on Facebook, people can then become your “fan” or “supporter”. You don’t have to accept people as a fan and they can’t see your individual profile. On a page you can then easily add relevant pictures and video. You can have a discussion board and add any of the thousands of applications to your page.

One of most powerful features of Facebook pages for marketers is that you can send email updates to all of your fans. For people who limit their friends to just the people they actually know in Facebook, you can expect that the messages they receive in Facebook have a higher chance of being read than emails sent to their regular address. Also there is no chance of messages going to a “junk mail” inbox, your messages are assured of 100 per cent deliverability.

facebook-pages-barack.jpg

Barack Obama has one of the most popular pages on Facebook, with over 800,000 fans. Could there be a better or cost effective way for him to reach his voters?

Facebook has cracked down on people putting up pages to businesses, brands and people that they have no claim to and you may have to provide proof that you are the owner of the business or product that you are promoting.

Facebook pages require little maintenance and if you have good keywords in the title of the page you create, people will find your page naturally. You can promote your page through Facebook’s PPC advertising, but personally I haven’t found it necessary to get decent traffic to my page. Facebook also provides interesting analytics to your pages and you can even see gender and age breakdown of your fans.

As it becomes more difficult to compete in search listings and delivering your messages through email, creating a Facebook page is an easy and effective way to connect to your community

How To Promote Other People’s Content and Drive Traffic to Your Own Blog

Much has been written on the topic of how to utilize social bookmarking and networking sites to promote your own blog posts. Submitting your posts to sites like Digg, StumbleUpon and Reddit – posting about your posts on Twitter and Plurk….

All of these techniques can work to drive significant traffic to your blog – however there’s another tactic that can be quite powerful that I’ve not seen many people write about. It’s similar to the idea of submitting your posts to social media sites:

  • It still involves social media sites
  • It still can result in significant traffic being driven to your blog

However there’s one main difference. It involves submitting other people’s posts to social media sites.

Let me give you a live example of how promoting another blogger’s post drove significant traffic to my blog:

Yesterday I noticed a little traffic coming to my post on my switch to Gmail and using it drastically reduced my email workload. The traffic was coming from another blog who had picked up and extended my ideas. The post was good and the blogger had generously linked back to my own post quite prominently in the opening paragraph.

Many bloggers would see a post like this linking to them and feel happy about it – but leave it at that. But what I decided to do was to promote it heavily via my own social media networks. I immediately dugg it (it had already had a few diggs), voted for it in StumbleUpon (again it had already been submitted) – but then decided to ‘sneeze’ the link out to my networks.

I Twittered and Plurked it and also shot the email to a few other key bloggers who I thought would find the post helpful (one linked up on their blog and another couple Twittered it too).

An hour later the post was on the front page of Digg and had quite a few extra Stumbles. The result was quite a bit of traffic coming over to my post from the link in the first paragraph. By no means was it as much traffic as the post itself would be getting but it was still significant.

I didn’t ask anyone else to vote for it on Digg – but knew that by promoting it it would naturally get Dugg as the post has a Digg button prominently on it. I also don’t think that it was my efforts alone that got the post popular on Digg – the article was good quality and deserved some attention – I just gave it a little help.

The Benefits

This practice is one that has multiple benefits.

  • Obviously the first one is that you drive some traffic to your own blog indirectly.
  • You also build some good will with the blogger that you’re promoting. Helping someone achieve a front page article on Digg is something people generally get excited about.
  • SEO – there are some secondary and longer terms SEO benefits from being linked to by another blog that gets on the front page of Digg. A post getting to the front page of Digg gets a lot of other blogs linking up to it in addition to the link from Digg. This means that that post gets some good ‘Google Juice’. This of course flows onto your own post. Even if it doesn’t go ‘popular’ even your extra links on Twitter and Plurk can give the page a little ‘juice’ that can have flow on effects.

A Few Words of Advice and Warning

  • I should say that I don’t do this for every post that links to me. I only select the best posts and ones that I think add value to those in my network. I don’t purely do this in the hope of getting traffic – I do it with the goal of linking to good content for my network and building relationships with other bloggers.
  • Don’t just share links to your own posts or posts that link to you via Twitter or Plurk. Regularly share posts that add value to your network from lots of sites. Otherwise you’ll get a reputation as being too self centered and spammy. Your followers and friends will begin to see you as a valuable resource if you provide them with genuine value over time.

Ways to Promote Other People’s Content

There are a variety of things that you can do to promote other people’s posts in this way:

  • Submit them to Social Bookmarking Sites
  • Share the links on Twitter/Plurk/Pownce
  • Share the links on Facebook/Myspace etc
  • Promote the post to other relevant bloggers
  • Blog about their Posts
  • Share the link on Google Reader

Feel free to share some of your own ideas on how you’d go about promoting other people’s content.

Upcoming Interview with The Blog Squad

Hi all, Darren’s still on paternity leave, but will be doing the interview “Blogging for dollars: Can you really make 6-figures?” this Thursday with The Blog Squad. I just wanted to post the details so you can go register!

The Blog Squad Interviews Darren Rowse, Problogger.net
Thursday, June 26, 2008
7 p.m. Eastern Time
Free – Registration Required
http://www.blogsquadteleseminars.com/problogger

Blogging for dollars: Can you really make 6-figures?

You’ll learn:

> How to determine the right monetization method that’s right for you

> The difference between active and passive income

> How to optimize ads for your blog

> The design elements you must have for your blog to be an effective money-maker

> Some of the secrets that make a blog successful

> Plus much more!

Register now at http://www.blogsquadteleseminars.com/problogger

Becoming a Negative Blogger – How to Let Your Blog Go #7

Let-Your-Blog-GoThis week we’re looking at a variety of ways that bloggers let their blogs ‘slip’ over time. So far we’ve looked at mainly things that are pretty easy to identify – but today I want to look at something that creeps into the attitude of many bloggers over time without them realizing it.

This ‘poison’ comes into most of our lives at one point or another and it has the power to bring our blogs (and lives) to a grinding halt if we’re not careful – it’s the poison of ‘negativity’.

Bloggers have a bit of a reputation for being cynical and grumpy types – however I’m not talking about our occasional rants or critique posts – I’m talking about a condition that creeps into the lives of many bloggers from time to time – ‘Grumpy Old Blogger Syndrome‘.

Before I go on – let me give a small disclaimer. You see there are a number of very successful blogs going around that have a perpetually negative or snarky tone to them. These blogs have build this negativity into their brand and people actually read them because of the voice that they’re written in.

However in my opinion these blogs are the exception and are a rare breed.

Negativity can Kill a Blog for Numerous reasons:

1. It can kill your passion for your topic - If all you ever write about your niche has a negative flavor to it then it’s very easy to become overly cynical and to loose your passion for your topic. Blogs are long term ventures, you need to be able to write on a topic for years before you become established. I don’t know about you but if I was to write something negative every day for a year on any topic I’d be ready to throw that blog in at that point.

2. It creates a culture that readers pick up on – look at the comments section of any successful blog and you’ll learn something about the blogger/s behind the blog. You won’t learn it from the comments that the bloggers leave themselves, but the tone of the comments from readers. Readers pick up on the tone that bloggers write in and mirror it. If you write a negative, angry, snarky blog – expect to see your readers mimic this. Not only this – you’ll find other bloggers pick up the same tone when they write about you. Sure, you’ll get the occasional angry comment on a positively written blog but in the main YOU as the blogger will set the tone for your blog’s community.

3. It can hurt your reputation in your niche – if you are blogging to build your own profile and reputation in your chosen field of expertise then you need to seriously consider the voice that you write in. While the occasional rant can enhance your reputation as a someone who is not afraid to say things like it is – if your blog ‘turns’ and continually take a negative view of the world this can impact the way you’re viewed by others. Personally I look up to and admire those who are constructive with what they say and do more than those who just moan, tear down others and complain.

Tips for Overcoming Negative Blogger Syndrome:

Please don’t hear me as arguing for all bloggers to suddenly become cheesy, sweet, optimistic sorts who only view the world through rose colored glasses. I’m not. What I’m really arguing for is balance. Do write in your own voice, do say things as they are and do not be afraid to critique or rant when the time is right for it – however don’t let your blog become a cesspool of negativity. A few last tips:

Say Something Constructive – before you hit publish on your next post, ask yourself if you’ve said anything constructive that your readers can take away? It doesn’t have to be a happy optimistic post – but have you given your readers something that they can go away and apply? Have you give a solution? Have you added value to their lives in some way? I find that blogs that enhance the lives of their readers are the blogs people keep coming back to again and again.

Have an Accountability Buddy – I have a couple of bloggers that I’ve given permission to pull me up on my own bad behavior on my blogs. Occasionally they’ll email or IM me and ask me about a post that I’ve written on a comment that I’ve made which signaled to them that I’m exhibiting Grumpy Old Blogger Syndrome. More often than not they pick up that I’m in a rut before I do myself.

Take Breaks - My own grumpiness is cyclical and usually is in the inverse to the time off that I have as a blogger. Take vacations, take days off, don’t work all night – look after yourself.

Get it Out – Still feeling negative? Can’t hold it in? Why not have a post once in a while that gets it off your chest. There’s nothing wrong with an occasional negative Rant. In fact when done well they can actually stimulate some great discussion and buzz on your blog. The key is to not let your normally positive blog get all rant like in every post. Focus your negative energy into an occasional rant and then let the rest of your blogging be in your normal style.

Further Reading: For a few more thoughts on how NOT to be a grumpy old blogger.

Do You Suffer from Blogger Imposter Syndrome?

imposterThis post on Imposter Syndrome and Bloggers was written by Clarke Scott from Positive Blogger a blog about leveraging Positive Psychology to improve your blog. Image by Steffe

Do you suffer from Impostor Syndrome (or IS)?

Those who suffer Impostor Syndrome are convinced that friends or colleagues grossly overestimate their abilities. The ‘impostor’ feels they don’t deserve the accomplishments they have achieved, and fear that eventually they will be unmasked as a fraud.

Age is not a factor, but Joseph Ferrari, a psychologist at DePaul University, reports that most ‘impostors’ are women. According to Young, women internalize negative feedback much more readily than men.

So how does that effect you? Well, there are many good and even great writers blogging. But, blogging is not just about being able to craft a well structured sentence. It is also about building a community, providing value for readers, and humanistic things like communication. So, even if you are the kind of person that doesn’t suffer from Impostor Syndrome it is useful to know that there are people out there that do.

For those who do, it is equally reassuring to know that others experience the same fear as you. But how do those that experience IS overcome it? Below is it list that you can check to see if you suffer from IS, with another list below that on methods to overcome Impostor Syndrome

Taking the Impostor Syndrome Test

Answer Yes or No to the following questions:

  1. Do you worry about other bloggers finding out that you are not as smart as they seem to think you are?
  2. Does self-doubt stop you from challenges, writing longer posts or using social media like Tweeter?
  3. Are your accomplishments written off as a fluke, sheer luck, or that people just like you?
  4. Are you obsessive about doing things absolutely perfectly, so much so a normal post can take days to finish?
  5. Do you feel it was your lack of ability to do something right the first time round?
  6. Even your achievements are meant with the feeling that you may not be so lucky next time.
  7. Do you feel less capable than other bloggers?
  8. Does the fear of bad comments stop you from blogging?
  9. Do you ever think. I would love to be a blogger but, who would want to listen to me?
  10. Do you ever think. Maybe when I have something to say, then I will start that blog!

If you answered Yes to any of these questions than you probably suffer from IS.

Methods for overcoming Impostor Syndrome

  1. Stop living in denial. Acknowledgment will go along way to fixing the underlining issues, therefore if you suffer from IS tell yourself, that it is IS and not reality.
  2. Next time you feel IS kicking in stop and assess the situation. Try and separate overly critical thoughts and feelings from factual ones. This step is critical because you want to make sure that you can evaluate your performance without bias. Simply changing your habits to the other extreme, that is, thinking that you are the best at everything you do is simply the flip side of the same egocentric coin.
  3. At the beginning, place more emphasis on overcoming the tendency to be overly critical by assuming that you are being overly critical. By assuming that this will far more likely to investigate what is going on under the covers.
  4. Be sure to point out the times that you achieve something worthwhile. Learn to hear positive feedback. When you achieve something, perhaps a goal you’d previously set for yourself. Pat yourself on the back.
  5. Allow yourself to hear praise from others without letting ego takeover. Something IS suffers can completely disregard positive feedback. But know that this self-deprecating attitude can actually be pride, albeit a reverse pride. Nonetheless it is ego getting in the way. Truly humble people can hear positive feedback without ego taking over.
  6. Setup rules for how you will engage that inner voice when IS becomes manifest. You are trying to break old habits. Habits can sometimes be difficult to change, so rules on how you react when an IS problem occurs can be very useful.
  7. As part of the rules you follow, and by way of helping yourself break habitual tendencies, build standard phrases or affirmations that help implement these changes. For example, when an IS thought or feeling arises tell yourself it is just SI. That these feelings and thoughts are not inherently real, and that you have the capacity of change. Moreover, you WILL change!
  8. Imagine yourself overcoming IS. Feel that you have already over IS. Once you can do this with success, you have probably overcome IS.
  9. Given yourself a reward when you succeed in changing habits. Shout yourself a latte.
  10. Fake it till you make it: An old cliche but it is worth repeating. The process of overcoming any personal problems is about training yourself to react in an entirely different way. It is therefore a process, and the better you can fake it, the more quickly it will become part of who you are i.e. Not faking it. Try not to let IS overwhelm you by telling yourself you can do these challenging things, even if at first you don’t really believe it.

To sum up then, Impostor Syndrome is the habitual tendency to underestimate yourself. To believe that even the success you have you did not deserve. It can be generated from low self-esteem or other related issues. It can stop bloggers from finding their ‘voice’. It can stop you from becoming the blogger you want to become and therefore it is worth some investigation.

Excuse Posts – How to Let Your Blog Go #6

Let-Your-Blog-GoHave you ever come across a blog that posts more about why they don’t post than anything else?

I hesitate to write about this method of ‘letting your blog go’ because I know that most bloggers do go through stages when they struggle to post to their blog due to legitimate reasons (sickness, death in family or some other life crisis).

I’ve gone through periods myself when I’ve been unable to keep my blogs posted to regularly (sometimes without any reason other than I struggled to find something to say). In my early days of blogging it seemed that there were weeks in which all I could muster to say was ‘I’ve got nothing to say’ or ‘I’m sick again… posting will return to normal next week’ etc.

The problem is that when you post a few posts like in a row it has an impact upon your readers and any sort of momentum that you might have created on your blog.

Solution: Here’s the conclusion that I’ve come to (and it’s a work in progress). I attempt to build blogs that build momentum on my topics and that stay largely ‘on topic’. While I occasionally include a little personal information in my posts this information is generally shared in a ‘by the way’ type form or as an illustration to an ‘on topic’ post. As a result if something happens in my life that prevents me from blogging then I generally don’t post a post about it (unless it’s a very major thing – something that hasn’t happened yet thankfully).

However: Of course this will vary from blog to blog and situation to situation and I do (and would) break this ‘rule’ on occasion. For example if something happened that would mean that I would not be able to update my blog for an extended period of time I would probably post a short note to explain my absence and to let people know what would happen to the blog while I was gone (see some strategies below). This would likely be a one off post and a short one and it would also attempt to provide readers some sort of alternative for them to do/read in my absence (linking to key posts in my archives, asking a question, suggestion a few other blogs to read).

Tips for When You Can’t Blog:

If faced with a situation which takes you away from your blog for an extended period there are a variety of strategies that you might like to employ:

1. Guest Posts - this is easier if you have a blog with a larger readership and profile but having others (either one person or a group of them) to come in an d post to your blog in your absence can be a good way to keep it ticking over.

2. Decrease Your Post Frequency - not able to keep up your normal frequency of posting? How about decreasing it for a period of time? Even just a post a week gives readers a sense that you’ve not abandoned them. One short on topic post a week is much better in mind than a few ‘I can’t blog because….’ posts.

3. Revisit Archives – how about repost an old post or at least point back to some of your best posts? Many of your newer readers won’t have read your ‘old stuff’ so give them a taste.

4. Polls and Reader Questions – you can’t do this every day but one of the quickest types of posts to write is a question or poll. Ask your readers something about their experience of your topic and throw things open to them for some discussion.

5. Rainy Day Posts - it’s wise to have a post or three in reserve at any given point in time. I try to keep at lest one in my drafts section at any time so that I can throw it up if in a spot of bother. In addition to this I have an ‘ideas’ document on my desktop that has titles of posts, questions to ask readers, half written posts etc – these are half baked ideas that I can quickly turn into posts on days that I’m struggling.

6. Prepare for Known Events that Might Disrupt Your Blogging – while some things to happen to us out of the blue that stop our blogging in it’s tracks – there are many other things in life that we have some control over or advanced warning of. In these instances plan ahead and either get a guest blogger in and/or pre-prepare some posts. For example, as you read this I’m taking two weeks paternity leave on this blog. I started planning this ‘letting your blog go’ series a month ago and wrote all of the posts over the weeks before our baby arrived. I also arranged for a handful of guest posts over these two weeks. This meant a little extra work in preparation for my break but it’s worth it!

I guess in summing up – my strategy is to attempt to keep a balance between:

  • keeping momentum of the blog going/adding value to readers
  • resisting the temptation to keep posting ‘excuse’ posts
  • keeping readers informed of what’s happening on the blog

What’s your strategy when you can’t post on your blog?

6 Lessons a Barista Taught Me About Building Community on a Blog

This week my guest post at ScribeFire is all about building community and conversation into your blog.

It struck me today that the barista in my local cafe is not only one of the best coffee makers that I know – but is also really great at building community (albeit temporary community) in the cafe that she works in.

This inspired me to write Secrets to Good Community and Conversation on Your Blog. It probably also could have been called 6 Lessons My Barista Taught Me About Building Community on a Blog.

When Should I Put Advertising on My Blog?

In this post Daniel Scocco answers to a question by Warren:

I started a blog about Professional Lifestyle a little over a month ago. It already has gotten 16,000 visits, has almost 100 subscribers and has a google page rank of 4 (somehow). Should I put up advertisements at this early stage?

Ah, the ever controversial question of when should one start to monetize his blog. If you ask 100 bloggers what they think about it, I am sure you will get 101 different answers.

Instead of trying to come up with a definitive answer, or a fixed number of months that you should wait for before bringing up some ads, let’s just evaluate the Pros and Cons of monetizing a blog early in the game as opposed to waiting a longer period.

Before getting on with the arguments, though, we need to define what is early and what is not, right? I would say that an early monetization strategy is one that inserts ads on the blog from day 1, up to 6 months of its existence. That is, if you plan to insert ads after 5 months, that would still be considered an early monetization strategy for the sake of our discussion. Anything over than 6 months will be considered a long term monetization plan.

Pros of Monetizing Early

1. Your readers will know what to expect
If you bring ads early in the game, all the readers will know that apart from the joy of writing, you also expect to earn some money along the way.

2. Might contribute to the credibility
If you manage to get some respected companies as sponsors, or if your banner ads look really professional, the credibility of your blog might increase. All the major portals and mainstream websites have ads around, so a first time visitor might even think that your blog is more established that what it really is after seeing the ads.

3. Increased motivation
Different people get motivated by different factors, but you can’t deny that getting some money for expressing your ideas and sharing your knowledge on the Web is pretty exciting. Sitting in front of your computer day after day with the need of coming up with quality content might become a burden for some people, and the money factor might help them to stay consistent and engaged with the blog.

Cons of Monetizing Early

1. Some readers will get annoyed
Whether you like it or not, most Internet surfers hate ads. Sometimes they will bear with the annoyance: if the content is really good, and if they have been visiting a site for a long time. Guess what, with a new blog you probably don’t have that many loyal readers, so the ads could actually make you lose potential ones. Even if your content is top notch, some first time visitors will not give you the benefit of the doubt. As soon as they see the ads jammed around they will go somewhere else.

2. Might hinder your success with social media
Users of social media sites like Digg or StumbleUpon can sniffle a “let me load this with ads to make some bucks” websites from miles away. If you are planning to use social media to promote your website on the early stages, the presence of ads, especially too much of them, might hinder this strategy.

3. More difficult to find your voice
Blogs are all about conversations. Many people read blogs, as opposed to traditional mainstream media, because they want to see the facts from a different angle, with some clear opinions mixed once in a while. That is, they want to see the voice of the author of the blog. Defining your own voice is particularly important on the first few months, and bring advertisements might work against this objective. Some people, for example, might conclude (wrongly or not) that because you are running ads right from the start, your goal is mainly to make money, and that you will write whatever you need to in order to achieve this goal.

Pros of Monetizing in the Long Term

1. Focus on growing the blog exclusively
As soon as you bring sponsors or AdSense on your blog, you will start spending time and energy tweaking the ads, thinking about how to increase your earnings, managing the advertisers and so on. If you decide to go ad free for the first few months, on the other hand, you will be able to focus exclusively on the content of the blog and on its promotion.

2. More time to figure what monetization method will work better
If you start playing with advertising and sponsors after 6 months or so, you will be in a better position to evaluate which monetization methods will work, and which are not suitable for your audience or content type. Bloggers that start with ads early in the game, on the other hand, constantly switch between AdSense, CPM ads, direct sponsors and what not, mainly because they don’t know their audience well enough.

3. More monetization options
Apart from having more time to understand your audience, a long term plan will also open the doors to more and better monetization options. With a new blog that has small to average traffic levels, for instance, it would be difficult to find direct sponsors or to get accepted inside high paying ad networks.

Cons of of Monetizing in the Long Term

1. Some readers might react down the road
If you start your blog without ads and keep it that way for a long time, some readers might think that they finally found a pure soul that does not to want to get corrupted by the bloody moolah. Guess what, once the ads start popping in they might consider that you sold out, and some criticism will appear (Robert Scoble knows a thing or two about this…).

2. Money left on the table
If you decide to go without ads in the beginning, and after a while your traffic starts to grow consistently, you will inevitably wonder how much money you are leaving on the table.

3. Design problems down the road
Bloggers that start using ads from the beginning will probably design their blog or choose a template that is suitable for their monetization strategy. Bloggers that use a long term monetization strategy, on the other hand, might find down the road that their layout is not really compatible with ads. As a result they will either be forced to redesign or be limited in the monetization options.

Over to the readers

When do you think a blogger should start monetizing his blog? Is there a rule of thumb for all blogs, or it must be evaluated on a case by case basis?

Daniel Scocco is the author of Daily Blog Tips, and he is currently running a Blogging Idol contest. If you want to compete with fellow bloggers to increase your RSS count, check it out.