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AdSense Retire their Referrals Program and Launch the Google Affiliate Network

logo.gifToday AdSense announced that they are drawing their ‘Referrals’ program to a close and are relaunching a new Google affiliate network. In actual effect the new affiliate network is not ‘new’ – but a rebranded version of DoubleClick’s Performics Affiliate Network which they acquired in March.

This is news that many of us expected – particularly since Google bought DoubleClick earlier in the year. It’s also not surprising as most publishers that I know have had very little success with the Referrals program within AdSense. In fact I’m one of the only people that I know who made much from it – and that almost dried up when they changed the referrals program for AdSense.

If You Promote AdSense Referrals Products…

If you’re a blogger promoting some kind of AdSense Referrals product it’s time to remove the ad and replace it with something else. You can still run the ads but they’ll stop working in the last week of August.

It is not clear whether the referrals that you’ve made that have not converted will also become void in the last week of August also. This is something I’d like to see AdSense clarify as some of their programs have quite long lead times for those that you refer to ‘convert’ and therefore to earn you money.

Google Affiliate Network

The new Google Affiliate Network does not something that everyone will be able to use. They say that they are targeting sites with largely US based traffic – I’m yet to see any clarification on how they’ll be filtering publishers, whether there is a traffic based minimum to get in etc. Time will tell as publishers start applying. At present I know that Performics has accepted me as a publisher (I was previously using it) so it’s not too hard to get into I hope!

No More Google Affiliate Products

Those of you promoting ‘Google Products’ through the current ‘Referrals’ system should know that there are no plans at this point to have these products available to promote through the new affiliate network. They may come later but my sources at Google say that these programs are coming to an end and there will be no immediate way to make money by sending them new AdSense publishers, AdWords advertisers etc.

Blog Your Way to a New Career

Today Chrissy Scivicque from OfficeArrow.com shares her story of building up her blog, selling it and then being hired to keep developing it – many bloggers dream.

There’s no denying it: blogging is now considered a legitimate way to launch the career of your dreams. The opportunities for bloggers are numerous and they only continue to grow. Take it from me: that blog you’re building may lead you in directions you never would have imagined possible.

My story is pretty cool, actually. There I was, a 28 year old Executive Assistant, struggling to find my way in what many view as a thankless career. I started my blog, The Executive Assistant’s Toolbox, in August of 2007 as a way to meet other office professionals and share my experiences in a helpful way. It didn’t hurt that I loved to write and secretly always dreamed of doing it for a living.

Now, less than a year later, my blog has been purchased by a start-up company (at a price tag many would be shocked by) and I’ve been hired by them to manage their entire content strategy and yes, write full-time. Bye bye same old, same old. Hello, career of my dreams!

The Opportunities

My story could have gone in a couple of different directions. I always treated my blog as a business. I had high hopes from the beginning, though I wasn’t quite sure of my ultimate goal. As I saw it, bloggers had the following opportunities:

Become a ProBlogger

In this scenario, I imagined working from home and making a full-time income from my blog (perhaps a few different blogs). I quickly monetized my blog with Google Adsense and Amazon Affiliate marketing and I was making a nice side income within about 4 months. But this route was going to be a long and difficult road for a non-techie like me.

Use the Blog to Promote Services

Bloggers have a huge opportunity to use their platform to promote their personal services such as coaching, consulting or freelance writing. I was considering becoming a Virtual Assistant and Career Coach – services that would have been easily promotable to my audience.

Build Blog, Sell Blog, Repeat

This has been a popular option in the recent past. With sites being auctioned off each day (some for astronomical figures!), this became an interesting possibility for me. The only problem seemed to be the time involved. Building a popular blog isn’t easy – as most of you know. I couldn’t imagine doing it many times over again. And on top of that, I couldn’t bear the thought of selling my baby. I had poured my heart and soul into this thing. The price tag would have to be pretty high…

The option I never really considered is the one that happened: “The Package Deal”

So, yes, blog sales happen all the time these days. Occasionally, the founder stays on for a while through the transition. But typically, the blog becomes under the full control of the new owner within a few months. However, in some instances, the purchaser may have a long-term need for the founder’s expertise. In my case, I had experience as an actual “member” of the target market, credibility with the audience and I loved writing. But I had little technical know-how and close to zero dollars to invest in building the site myself.

It was a match made in heaven: OfficeArrow purchased my site, merged it with theirs, and brought me on to help guide the growing business. A win-win for all. And with a hefty sum of future stock units included in that deal, I don’t feel as if I’ve completely given up my ownership interest.

Of course, I still had a touch of emotional separation anxiety as I watched my baby become a part of another family. It was exciting and scary all at once. Now I’m watching my baby grow up, living the life she always deserved. And thankfully, since I’m a part of her new family, I still get a say in her upbringing! “The Package Deal” offers the best of all worlds.

These are just some of the opportunities available for bloggers. To take advantage of any of these however, your blog needs to be something special. There are several strategies you can employ to stand out from the crowd. Tomorrow, in Part 2 of this article, I’ll share some of the things I did and why they helped me achieve “The Package Deal”.

Chrissy Scivicque is the Senior Content Manager at OfficeArrow.com – the world’s first online community created for office professionals, by office professionals. She writes a wide variety of articles to help people do their jobs more effectively and with less frustration. You can follow her journey by joining the OfficeArrow Community today – membership is free!

The Importance of ‘Pause Points’ On Your Blog

Over the last week I’ve run some Crazy Egg heat map tracking on two posts on Digital Photography School (both of which got to the front page of Digg and got a lot of traffic) that both highlight to me a very simple method of increasing the number of pages that people view when they visit your blog.

Let me illustrate with a screen capture of the heat map from my post – How to Avoid Camera Shake:

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What you’re looking at above is the ‘hottest’ zone on the post. It is the most clicked upon part of the page. This section of the page was clicked on just under 2000 times over the duration of this test. The full page had just under 6000 clicks.

What stands out for me is that the section of the page you’re viewing above is a long way from the top of the post. While the general rule is that people click more on links at the tops of posts – this section of the page is only viewable once you’ve hit ‘page down’ 7 times!

The first two links in the section are links to my subscription page and a byline link to the author of the post – but the other five are all internal links to other articles on the blog. This means 1800 or so of the visitors to this page viewed at least one other page on the blog.

The ‘Further Reading on Camera Shake’ links were ones that I manually added to the post and the ‘Read more posts like ‘How to….’ links were automated links generated with a WP Plugin.

Lets look at another example

In this test (on a post on ‘Jowling‘) I’m showing you the same section of the page. This time I had to hit ‘page down’ 5 times to get to it. Again it’s low on the page and again I’ve got the automated links as well as two others in the ‘A Couple of other things….’ section.

Once again – this is the hottest part of the page in terms of clicks with around 1600 clicks (all internal) out of 6500 clicks on the full page.

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Why do readers click links so far down the page?

It might seem a little odd that links so far down a page would be clicked on at such a high rate – but the reason that it happens is quite logical. These points on the page are what I call ‘pause points’. They are parts of a page where readers pause and make a decision on what to do next.

These sections are all at the end of articles – a point where readers end one activity and look to do another one. Many readers simply hit ‘back’ at this point or head to Google to search for something else – however when you give them something else to do or read you have a decent chance of convincing them to stay on your site.

Other Things to Do at Pause Points

There are of course other things that you can do in these ‘pause points’ on a blog including:

  • Advertising – this is a ‘hot zone’ in terms of CPC ads
  • Affiliate Programs – I don’t find they convert as well as CPC ads here but they can work
  • Social Bookmarking – many bloggers run social bookmark buttons in this spot to encourage readers to vote for the post
  • Subscription Invitations – this is a great place to get conversions from first time readers to subscribe to your blog

Really any key conversion goals that you want to achieve can work in a ‘Pause Point’ – although when you put too many options in that point for readers you probably dilute the conversion rate. What else do you put in ‘pause points’?