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AdSense Announce Video Units for Australian and Japanese Publishers

If you live in Australia or Japan you’ll want to check out the AdSense blog today because they’ve just announced that Video Units are now available to you as a publisher. They also mention that you ‘may’ be able to now become a YouTube partner and make money off your own videos (what ‘may’ means I’m about to find out as I’ve just applied).

What are video units?

“video units are embedded, customizable video players which both enrich sites with relevant video content and enable publishers to earn extra revenue. Relevant and non-intrusive companion and text ads accompany the video content.” Read more about AdSense video units.

Playing with Plurk

PlurkJust a very quick post to let readers know that I’m playing with Plurk (another micro blogging/life streaming tool that is a little like Twitter).

At first I only intended to grab my names (problogger and darrenrowse) and use them as placeholders but I’m now starting to find it a really interesting medium. It takes the Twitter experience to the next level with threaded comments, cliques/groups (yet to explore these) and all kinds of other features.

It’s a little quirky and it takes a while to get used to the way updates are displayed (it’s all on a sideways scrolling timeline) but it’s definitely got some potential. Anyway – if you have time in your life for another social media site – check out Plurk. At the least it could be worth reserving your name/s in case it does get popular and you want to use it at some point in the future.

PS – if you’re a ‘Plurker’ tell us what you think about it in comments below. What do you like about it, what don’t you like about it and how would you describe it?

When Guest Posts Become Too Self Centered

I’ve written numerous posts over the last year about how I think that submitting guest posts to other blogs is a great way to promote yourself and to grow the readership of your own blog – however I’ve also noticed a trend in guest posts that could actually hurt you as a guest poster (and as a blogger publishing guest posts on your blog).

The trend that I see is guest posts that seem to have the main objective of finding new readers, driving traffic and self promotion.

This might seem a little odd – in my first paragraph I said that guest posts are a good way of promoting your blog – but in my second paragraph I say that it’s not good to self promote in your post!

Let me explain.

My experience of guest posting both as someone who has written a few and someone who has published quite a few is that constant self linking in guests posts doesn’t pay off. My approach is that my primary concern in writing a guest post is to provide readers with value (and thereby provide the blog that I’m posting on value also). My experience is that if you do this even the smallest mention of your blog with a link in the ‘byline’ will drive the traffic that you need.

However if your post is all about you and drops links quite obviously in the hope of getting traffic then you actually run the risk of alienating readers and the blogger that you’re pitching the post to. I’ve seen this a few times lately on my own blogs where readers gave feedback to me that they felt authors are grandstanding a little too much – this doesn’t do anyone any good.

When is self linking OK in a guest post?

As a blogger assessing guest posts my approach is to allow them when they are relevant and add value to the post. I have no problem with someone linking to an example of what they’re talking about on their own blog (or someone else’s for that matter) however if the relevancy is tenuous I either ask the blogger if they’re willing to remove it or reject the submission. I link prominently in my guest posts to the guest’s blog (in the first paragraph and sometimes the footer as well) links strewn through the post as well don’t do it for me unless they are highly relevant.

If you do want to sell yourself in a guest post I’d much rather someone write a suggested byline with a little more information about themselves than have them include extraneous information and links in the post itself.

What do you think? Do you self link in guest posts? If so – how far is going too far for you?

Further Reading: How to be a Good Guest Blogger

Twitter is a Complete Waste of Time!

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Every time I’ve written about Twitter (or FriendFeed or most other social media) I see comments left saying ‘Twitter is a waste of time’.

My response is simple – yes it is.

Twitter is a waste of time…. unless you use it in a way that isn’t.

  • Twitter can be a waste of time just like blogging can be a waste of time.
  • Twitter can be a waste of time just like going to conferences and talking to people face to face can be a waste of time.
  • Twitter can be a waste of time just like other micro-blogging/life streaming/social messaging tools like Plurk and FriendFeed.
  • Twitter can be a waste of time just like talking on the phone can be a waste of time.

I would argue that there’s never been a type of communication invented that can’t be used in a way that is a waste of time.

The key is the way you use it.

Twitter can be beneficial to bloggers in many ways (I’ve written 9 ways that Twitter benefits me here) but the key is to work out how you want it to benefit you and to go about using the tool (and it’s nothing more than a tool) in a way that takes you a step closer to it paying off in those ways.

If you’re just on Twitter because everyone else is and you’re using it in an unfocused way then you’re unlikely to see it as anything more than a waste of time.

I would also add that I don’t think Twitter is ever going to be something that everyone should use.

The way people talk about Twitter (or any other type of social media tool) sometimes reminds me of how people used to talk about Blogging.

Four or Five years ago I heard people speaking about blogging as though it’s the answer to every problem that a company or individual might have with their online presence. It was claimed that blogging could do almost everything and fix any issue you faced. The truth is that blogging can be great but it’s not right for every situation. The same is true for Twitter.

It takes a certain type of personality to click with Twitter and it will only ever meet some of your needs and even then, only if you’re smart about it.

If not, it could well be a waste of time!

A Question to Ask about Your Use of Any Medium

When looking at Twitter, or any medium for that matter, the question to ponder early on is ‘what are my goals?’ Once you have them nailed down you then have a framework to begin to think about how you’ll use it and how you measure whether it’s a worthwhile medium to use.

So what are your goals for Twitter?

The Power of Commenting On Other Blogs [VIDEO]

You’ve probably heard the age old ‘how to find readers for your blog’ advice that goes:

Leave Comments on Other Blogs”

It was one of the first tips that I was given on how to find new readers for my blog five years ago and it’s one of the first pieces of advice that I hear most people giving still today. It’s so common in fact that I think that many of us gloss over it looking for a ‘sexier’ way to drive readers to our blogs.

But today as I analyzed the post featured in this video I saw something that drummed home to me the power of leaving relevant comments on blogs as a way of driving traffic.

The tool I’m using in this screencast video is CrazyEgg – a click tracking tool that creates a heatmap of where readers click when on your blog.

I do want to emphasize again – that the strategy of building traffic to your blog by leaving comments on other blogs only works when your comments ad value and are relevant to the post. If you don’t adhere to this you’ll just end up hurting your reputation.

See the Full Sized Video at YouTube, MySpace, Blip.tv and Viddler.

Feedburner AdSense Ads in the Wild

Over the weekend news broke of the coming Feedburner and AdSense Integration.

Since then I’ve chatted to one of the team at Google about the integration and asked if I could see them in the wild somewhere. They shot me a link to this RSS feed where you can view them in Google Reader on each post.

Interestingly in this feed I’m seeing a real variety of ads (both in terms of advertisers and types of as) including:

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So we’re seeing text ads, image ads and at least two sizes.

A little concerning is that the relevancy of the ads are not that contextual as far as I can see. The feed is from a music blog. Some ads are matching – others don’t at all.

He also told me that they’re rolling these out to both existing Feedburner Ad Network publishers and AdSense publishers – a small group initially but it won’t take long for it to be opened up further.

Entrecard Giveaway – Win Your Share of 36,723 Credits

Regular readers to ProBlogger will notice that the advertising campaign that I was running with Entrecard has come to an end and there’s no longer any Entrecard widget on the blog here.

I want to thank Entrecard for their sponsorship and giveaway the credits that I earned from the widget today.

I’ve got a total of 36,723 credits at present and am going to divide them up into three prizes of 12,241 credits for three winners of this quick little competition.

Here’s what you’ve got to do to put yourself in the running to win.

In 250 words or less tell me in comments below tell me about a quality undiscovered blog.

The catch is – it can’t be your own (and it can’t be mine). You will also need to be an Entrecard user to win – otherwise the prize is kind of pointless.

I want to know a URL and up to 250 words on why it’s a great blog in your eyes. I and a secret judge will pick three winners to win the prize in three days time.

A ‘Quick’ Tip on Landing an Interview for Your Blog

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Image by ItzaFineDay

Over the last month since launching the ProBlogger book I’ve done more interviews with other bloggers and sites than I’ve ever done before. It’s been a lot of fun but it’s also taught me a lot about how to approach people for interviews on your blog.

Perhaps the best piece of advice that I could give a blogger wanting to approach another person to be the subject of an interview is to make it a manageable task for the person that you approach.

There is nothing more off putting when you’re asked to do an interview than being sent 20 questions.

Actually – there is one more off putting thing than 20 questions…. It’s being told that there will only be a few questions… which you agree to…. and then getting sent 20 questions.

I’m not against long interviews (and have even done a couple over the last months) but it is important to establish the scope of the interview that you want up front with your potential interview subject.

If you’re looking for something in-depth then let them know this so that they can put the time aside for it (if they say yes). Just be willing to get a ‘no’ if you’re after a long interview as they can take considerable time. As a guide – my 18 question interview with Guy Kawasaki a couple of weeks back took me 6 or so hours (over numerous days) to write up.

To increase the chances of someone saying yes to your interview a shorter interview might work. You can also increase your chances by giving them a brief insight into the topic of your site and how it is relevant to them.

Many people are willing to do interviews with bloggers – but you’ll increase the chances when you make it achievable and realistic to do. An example of this is that the most success I’ve ever had with interviewing other bloggers is with ‘one question interviews‘.

Further ReadingHow to Get and Conduct Interviews for Your Blog

How I Make Money Blogging – Top Income Streams Update

How I Make Money BloggingOnce every 3 months I update my Make Money Blogging page here at ProBlogger with my top income earners for that last quarter. Today I made the update for the last three months (March to May 2008).

My top income earners for the last quarter were:

  1. AdSense (previously #1)
  2. Chitika (previously #2)
  3. Private Ad Sales (previously #4)
  4. Amazon Associates (previously #3)
  5. Miscellaneous Affiliate Programs (previously #7)
  6. Shopzilla (previously not in the list)
  7. ProBlogger Job Board (previously #6)
  8. WidgetBucks (previously not in the list)
  9. Miscellaneous Ad Networks (previously #8)

I’ve included where it was previously ranked in my income streams so you can see how things have changed (and where they have not. AdSense and Chitika continue to dominate although Private Ad Sales have been making a move, as have affiliate programs.

You can read a complete description of each one and how I’ve used it in the Make Money Blogging post.