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Brainstorming an Out-of-the-Box Approach to Blog Monetization

This Guest Post was written by Wendy Piersall from eMoms at Home.

Last March I attended Elite Retreat – a rather exclusive conference with a small number of participants and 7 big name presenters who taught us much of what they know (including Darren himself!). One of the biggest eye openers I had at the conference was that I had been a bit too hyper-focused on sticky blog content creation. I know – it sounds counter-intuitive! But when you create really good content, your blog readers don’t want to click ads. They stick around to read your stuff and then usually leave the site via a link to other great content.

So it was one of those “DUH” moments when I realized that I had better re-think my monetization strategy on my non-product blog.

A New Advertising Strategy

For blogs that are focused on creating compelling content, AdSense and other CPC (Cost Per Click) ads aren’t the way to go. My blog was building my brand, so it made sense that I shift to an advertising strategy that would build the brands of advertisers as well. This meant a shift into selling advertising directly and charging on a CPM (Cost Per Impression) basis. That way the site would make money based on page views rather than clicks.

Since I started selling advertising on my site (with Darren’s and Yaro’s help), revenue has increased substantially and next month I expect to make over $1000 just from CPM based ads. Because of this I have been able to spend more time writing and driving traffic instead of optimizing ad placements.
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Is Your Blog Template Holding You Back?

This Guest Post was written by Wendy Piersall from eMoms at Home.

In the first few months of blogging, there was SO much to learn. I figured that SEO was one of those battles I would tackle once I was “more established”. But after 9 months or so, I hired a professional designer to develop a custom template for my blog. Quite literally the next day, my search engine traffic doubled. Soon I went from 800 referrals a month to nearly 2400 monthly referrals - just from Google alone.

I realized rather quickly that I had been terribly short sighted on the importance of SEO for a blog. The extra visitors are important, of course, but with more search engine hits came…

  • New readers from outside of the blogging community
  • New advertising opportunities
  • A higher click-through on existing ads
  • Better monetization options for highly ranked posts
  • Mainstream press inquiries

How could a blog template impact search traffic THAT much? My question led me to Chris Pearson of Pearsonified and Sarah Lewis of Blogging Expertise, my template designer. Both of these talented designers know how to put a seriously powerful template together – and I decided to interview them to help you ensure your blog template isn’t holding you back, too.

Interview with Chris Pearson and Sarah Lewis

~Chris, I found a post on your blog in which you had a similar jump in traffic from an SEO perspective. You had recently moved from Movable Type to WordPress – what is it about WordPress that is so search engine friendly? [Read more...]

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Lots of Link Love

This Guest Post was written by Wendy Piersall from eMoms at Home.

Good link love, bad link love, do we really care who links to us? A savvy blogger would say yes and no. Based on the 80-20 rule of business – 80% of your traffic will come from only 20% of your links (by my stats, it’s less than 20%).

Of course, links from A-Listers and high Google Page Rank sites are a worthy pursuit. But why should we care about the 20%, those links from anyone, especially the sites that will likely only send us a couple of visitors a week?

Quite frankly, there are four compelling reasons to care about “little links”:

  • Little links can turn into big links. One of my top referrers of all time, Steve Olson, linked to me in the fourth post he wrote. His blog has grown so big that this post still sends me consistent traffic to this day, and we’ve become great friends in the process.
  • Technorati. If the A-Listers only had links from A-Listers, they wouldn’t BE A-Listers!
  • The long tail of referring domains. If I added up all of the referrals from domains that sent less than 4 people a week to my site, together they would be my fourth largest source of traffic.
  • Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first. (Rather shallow of them don’t you think?!)

I don’t advocate spending tons of time in the pursuit of mass quantities of links from small sites. I do advocate spending a little bit of time each month cultivating links from a wide variety of sources, regardless of the amount of traffic potential.

So without further ado, here is the world’s greatest list of posts dedicated to the fine art of Link Love. Note I didn’t say longest, because there are a lot of long lists out there (which can get quite overwhelming). These are the BEST posts on the subject written within the last year… [Read more...]

5 Ways to Tap Hidden Money Making Opportunities With Your Blog

This Guest Post was written by Wendy Piersall from eMoms at Home.

Although Darren writes frequently on the ways to monetize a blog, it’s no secret that many of his tips work best on a product-focused site such as his Digital Photography Blog. This leaves many of us who write content-focused blogs scratching our heads sometimes, wondering how we can translate the monetary success of a product blog into our own content blogs.

The fact of the matter is, you can’t. Making money off of a non-product blog takes a completely different approach, and much of the earning potential of this kind of blog is created indirectly.

Darren goes into great detail on the indirect methods of making money from blogging in this rather timeless post. The points he covers include consulting, book deals, business partnerships and speaking opportunities among others.

These opportunities are open to pretty much any writer on the planet. But the way to really leverage them to your advantage takes good blogging skills as well as good old-fashioned business and people skills:

  • The Ability to Sell – The most successful people in business are sales people – but I’m not talking about just selling products. Visionary leaders sell us on ideas, beliefs and indeed they sell us on ourselves, by influencing our thoughts and actions.
  • Solid Networking Skills – Not many people get to the top alone. I’m fond of saying that groups of people function at the level of the ‘lowest common denominator’, meaning that many times we do the bare minimum that we can get away with. Make it a point to know successful people for the simple fact that it will force you to raise your own standards (the doors they can open aren’t bad, too!).
  • The Law of Reciprocity - Add value. Give to get. Successful bloggers know they have something to offer, and ensure that their focus is on giving rather than getting. When you give a lot, the receiving part is a natural part of the cause-effect equation.
  • Get Uncomfortable – Becoming well known is something that many people aspire to, but in actual practice, pushes us to the absolute limits of what we feel we are capable of. Andy Wibbels has said it far more succinctly than I could, “If I don’t feel like a fraud at least once a day then I’m not reaching far enough.”
  • Strong Branding – Developing your own unique voice is critical, because millions of blogs are a dime a dozen. No matter if your readers love you or love to hate you, it is most important that you develop yourself as a “brand” and build on that foundation congruently.
  • Determination – Otherwise known as motivation, inspiration, etc. When it comes right down to it, finishing a big project can get downright boring at times. It’s easy to lose steam when results seem months or years away. Sometimes it takes a good old fashioned pep talk from a friend to stay on track until that book deal is within reach.

How to Leverage the Traffic of an A-List Blog

This Guest Post was written by Wendy Piersall from eMoms at Home.

When I look back over the last 11 months of how my own blog has grown, it’s safe to say that the person who has had the most influence in my traffic and growth has been Darren. Getting to meet him at Elite Retreat was incredibly cool, and at dinner one night we chatted about his Group Writing Projects. I mentioned that they had made a massive impact on creating long-term readers, links, and was the key to several very strong partnerships I have made along the way (especially when I first started out). The conversation got me thinking about all of the ways I have leveraged the audience of this site to grow my own blog.

Big blogs wouldn’t be big if they didn’t have a big audience – and on ProBlogger, Darren has created massive opportunities for you to share his fame, traffic and exposure.

Group Writing Projects are the easiest and best way to tap Darren’s audience. Here are my tips for getting the most out of these week-long traffic festivals:

  • Get your entry in the first day
  • Spend more time on your headline than you do on your post
  • Make a splash by submitting your best work
  • Keep your post on the short side, preferably under 600 words
  • Make it easily scan-able with subheads and bullets
  • Spend 30 minutes or so each day visiting other submissions, and be sure to comment
  • Actively link to the posts that are most relevant to your own blog
  • Stay active in the project the entire week

You don’t need to wait for a Group Writing Project to start tapping each others’ resources. Other ways to leverage the ProBlogger audience are:

  • Visit the bloggers that leave comments here, and consider introducing yourself to them
  • Link to each other frequently – Darren’s readers are a goldmine of knowledge!
  • Join Darren’s MyBlogLog Community, and use his widget to find others in your niche (I ALWAYS click the mom avatars!!)
  • Comment on his readers’ blogs, letting them know you found them through ProBlogger
  • Answer each others’ questions in the comments on this site
  • Praise each other in the comments on this site (I assure you, that will get you noticed!!)
  • Subscribe to the blogs Darren links to and leverage their traffic in the same way

Blogging is one of the few marketing mediums on the planet in which it’s not only ok to try and steal readers, it actually helps everyone when you do. Darren has a vested interest in your success – and has created a community on this site that can help you as much as he can directly. Leverage it to your advantage and watch everything grow.

Edit: Sorry everyone – somehow I turned comments off of this post! I’ve turned them back on now. *sheepish grin* -Wendy