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How to Attract Readers? – Blog Case Study

The following post was submitted by Carolyn Goodwin as part of the ProBlogger Case Study Series

I hadn’t even read a blog until my brother introduced me to English Cut and explained the benefits of blogging for business. I recently began my career as a professional gift consultant for Whirled Events, and joined the land of bloggers shortly thereafter. I’m not a “computer person”, nor are many of my clients, at least to the extent that most people in the blogosphere tend to be.

As the primary intention of my posts is to inform people about what I am doing and where my company is going, I ask of you all the following: How do I attract readers when my primary market doesn’t know much about blogs? I specifically wonder how those of you out there with blogs that don’t relate to technology, science or news issues originally attracted your readers.

The standard suggestions of commenting on others’ blogs or submitting articles doesn’t seem to be as effective here, since I’m catering to an audience that is less hi-tech and more traditional in nature. I’ve been writing for a little over a month now, but don’t seem to get any readers that stick on my site and read through several posts, indicating to me that my target market isn’t reaching my site (or perhaps my writing just stinks, but I’ve asked my most confrontational friends and they assure me that isn’t the case).

I am in the process of setting up a company website to which I will link my blog into, which I am hoping will help. Because I believe that blogging will only grow as a means of informative, customer-centric advertising, I also hope to gain somewhat of a “first mover” advantage in my industry, since the gift and home decorative industry is relatively absent in blogging. How have some of you dealt with a similar situation? I extend my sincere gratitude in advance for your suggestions and comments.

Back in Skinny Jeans – Blog Case Study

Skinny-JeansThe following post was submitted by Stephanie Quilao as part of the ProBlogger Case Study Series

I am a new blogger, and published my first blog November 1, 2005. I got so excited about the potential of being a six-figure blogger that I decided to create a mini network consisting of four blogs. In no particular order, the blogs I created and why:

- Noshtopia: a blog celebrating little food: snacks, appetizers, and hors devours. Americans eat $13 billion a year on snack food, and I love food especially snacks.
- Style from the Couch: a blog featuring web only deals at Target.com. I’m an avid Target shopper, and wanted to highlight their web only deals.
- The Great Munchkin: a blog about computers and electronics for kids. There isn’t one place for adults to go find and buy what’s new and cool in electronics for kids.
- Back in Skinny Jeans: a blog about coping with society’s high standards of beauty and body image through hope and laughter. This blog was just an outlet for me to share my personal experiences to help other women.

Because I wanted to be serious, I got the urls and joined a paid blog service like you suggested. I use TypePad Pro because I wanted something robust yet fairly simple. I like TypePad because I do not do code. I know enough to cut and paste affiliate link codes and frankly, that is all I want to know. I care more to build my creative muscles than geek muscles. I have a friend who helps me with the techie stuff.

Noshtopia, Style from the Couch, and The Great Munchkin were designed to be revenue-generating blogs. I signed up with Linkshare, Performics, and Commission Junction. I also signed up with Google AdSense and the Amazon affiliate program. I applied for Chikita and got denied. I planned to go after paid advertisers as soon as I had some decent traffic, and to add on some merchandising using Zazzle or Cafe Press.

After 3 months of blogging, I noticed something that shook me up. The stats were showing that the traffic for Back in Skinny Jeans was more than all of the other 3 blogs put together, AND it was generating the most revenue despite the fact that I had no intention of monetizing it at all. The Back in Skinny Jeans blog was just supposed to be my creative outlet. I slapped in some Google Adsense and a tip jar for fun, and boom, money was coming in more than the other three.
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Tea Guy Asks about Hosting – Blog Case Study

TeaThe following post was submitted by Bill Lengeman as part of the ProBlogger Case Study Series

My question is probably not uncommon for bloggers at beginner to intermediate level. Should I start hosting my own blog and using a proper domain name?

I started blogging in July of 2005 like so many others, more or less on a lark. As a freelance writer trying to get reestablished in the business I found that I was mostly marketing myself and doing very little writing. I start blogging as a way of forcing myself to write something every day.

And promptly proceeded to bore myself to death – and presumably any readers who happened across my site. At about this time I started to develop a keen interest in high quality specialty teas and began writing about that. One thing led to another and soon that I all I was writing about. Soon enough I changed the name of the blog and ditched all content that had nothing to do with tea (you can see it here at Tea Guy Speaks).

I gradually started to take the site a little more seriously and eventually began adding images, making contacts in the tea industry and building up a fair amount of decent content. I also dabble with AdSense and Amazon Affiliates, but to no great effect thus far. And though I’m steadily building up readership my stats are no great shakes.

A few months back I bought teaguyspeaks.com and .net though GoDaddy in anticipation of moving over to that domain. I’m not daunted by the technical aspects of making the move. What I am concerned about is that I’ve done a modest amount of work getting my site’s URL out to various engines, directories and so on.

How will the move to my own domain effect those listings and what’s the best way to go about making such a move without throwing away everything I’ve done so far?

Thanks,
Bill

PC Doctor – Blog Case Study

Pc-DoctorThe following post was submitted by Adrian W Kingsley-Hughes as part of the ProBlogger Case Study Series

PC Doctor blog, a blog designed to help people get more from their PCs, back in April of last year.

I bought it to life after a long period of being asked by people why I didn’t have a blog and a longer period of thinking, worrying (standard stuff like “do I have the time?”, “do I have enough to say?”, “will I ever get any readers?”) and then, finally, some constructive planning. One day I just uploaded WordPress to the server, set it up and within five minutes I had a brand new blog. Admittedly, I’d set up a load of blogs and forums before this so the process wasn’t new to me but I still felt a huge buzz of excitement because this was MY blog! After a few basic tweaks and mods (specifically, I let FeedBurner handle my RSS feed and added SiteMeter stats tracking so I could see what was going on, stats wise) I was ready to blog!

I got going straight away and even used the default WordPress template for quite a few months. I worked on the assumption that it was content that was going to draw readers and not how it looked, and since I’m a writer by trade I wasn’t put off by having to write a lot. I’m glad I did this because I could have spent weeks on the style and have no content. Also, since I knew that it would take weeks for any real traffic to show up on the site (from the search engines) I knew that I had time to tweak the look and fix anything that might be broken (or that I might break).

I started off populating the blog with stuff that I’d wanted to put up on the website for some time but hadn’t found the time. I found that by having a backlog of material to go on the web actually help because after a couple of weeks the blog had a good number of posts and the place didn’t feel empty any more. Traffic was slow to begin with but by using Technorati (I tagged everything back then!), leveraging my existing websites by cross-linking, and stated participating in the blogosphere through comments and trackbacks. Traffic was depressingly slow for the first few weeks but I knew that I’d be basically talking to myself for week and I remained optimistic. I lived by the motto that “if you build it, they will come”, and eventually, come they did! Within a year Google has gone from bringing no one to the blog to now bringing in 85% of my readers.

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Getting Knickers in a Twist over Blog Sponsorship – Blog Case Study

KnickersThe following post was submitted by Danae Shell as part of the ProBlogger Case Study Series

I’m the editor of a lingerie weblog called Knickers (warning: as Danae says – this is a lingerie blog and could be unsuitable for some workplaces etc – Darren).

Knickers is a product weblog that features beautiful lingerie with advice about what to wear, etc., and also has an ongoing interview series with lingerie designers and other professionals within the industry. I started Knickers because there was no resource like it on the web, no ‘lingerie heaven’ where women could go to find beautiful lingerie and learn about bra-sizing, and what suits their body type.

Knickers has been running for nine months now, and it’s getting to the point where the weblog needs to start monetizing properly, or it’s not going to be worth the amount of time I put into it. The main sources of revenue just now are Google ads and affiliate links, neither of which performing beautifully. I’m now seriously considering sponsorship for Knickers, but am concerned about the implications ‘will I lose credibility? Will I alienate other designers? Will new readers be confused as to whether I’m owned by the sponsor?’

I’ve looked around quite a bit for pro-blogging articles about sponsorship, but it’s usually only mentioned as one possible revenue stream, i.e. ‘or, you can get a sponsorship.’ I’d be really interested to hear from other bloggers who have done sponsorships, and to learn how they decided a price for the sponsorship, what their terms were, and how it’s working for them. I think an ideal sponsorship would be one that brings added value to the readers of the weblog, and would love to hear of creative ways bloggers have teamed up with sponsors to benefit their readers.

Thanks in advance for your insights!

Danae Shell
Editor
Knickers www.knickersblog.com

Gaining a Top Google Ranking in Two Weeks – Blog Case Study

The following post was submitted by Martin Roth as part of the ProBlogger Case Study Series

An excellent way to jump-start a new blog is to write a lively and authoritative article about your particular topic, then alert other bloggers in the hope that some of them will link to you. I’ve done it for two of my blogs, with good results.

The first time was with Bird Flu Update, which I launched last October. I decided to try to write an article that would appeal to bloggers. And what sort of theme would most appeal to bloggers? Something on blogging, I reasoned.

I posted my article, “The Bird Flu Bloggers” – a review of all the best blogs covering bird flu – late in October, then sent polite emails to 50-or-so of the most popular writers in the blogosphere, suggesting they might be interested in it. A couple of them mentioned it on their sites, bringing me several thousand hits over a few days.
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Jill’s Story – Blog Case Study

The following post was submitted by Jill Manty as part of the ProBlogger Case Study Series

My husband convinced me to start a blog related to my organic baby business. He had been interested in blogging for over a year and had been trying to get me interested for most of that time. I kind of felt like it was a waste of time and didn’t really see the potential for profit. My organic business blog relates to news of interest to parents who are interested in organics, alternative energy, attachment parenting, etc. It’s made a little money. It pays for itself, plus a tiny bit extra, but it certainly wasn’t enough to make a living.

Then, in December I was reading on ProBlogger, and I read that Darren had written a blog on the Summer Olympics in 2004. The Winter Olympics were coming up, and I thought we should write about them. My husband wasn’t sure that it was a money making idea, but I convinced him that it would be, so we bought www.2006turinolympics.com. I started writing at least one post daily at the end of December. By February, I was writing 5-6 posts per day. During the Olympics, I was sometimes writing closer to 10 posts per day.

I consider the site a success for a number of reasons. One, it made money. Not enough to retire on, but enough to buy a used car, which we desperately needed. Two, I was interviewed by several media sources and was even quoted for a front page story in The Washington Post. That was pretty exciting, as that sort of thing doesn’t usually happen to a stay-at-home wife and mom to five children. Finally, I consider it a success because it has finally gotten me to see what my husband has said along– you can make a living from blogging. We’re in the process of trying out several new blogging ideas. Some of them have been more successful than others. I have no doubt we will drop some of them in time, or convert them to something different.

What have I learned from this experience that I’m taking into our new blogs?
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15 Blogging Tips and Tools – Blog Case Study

The following post was submitted by Easton Ellsworth as part of the ProBlogger Case Study Series

Hello! I’m Easton Ellsworth, associate editor for the Know More Media network of blogs about business. I blog at Business Blog Wire about corporate blogging. I live in Salt Lake City, Utah with my wife and baby.

Know More Media launched in December 2005, using the publishing power and search-engine-friendly nature of blogging to establish an online network offering business news and information on a wide range of topics. Blogging makes it incredibly easy to publish on the Web, and has done wonders for our organic traffic (traffic from search engine results and other links instead of from paid advertising).

Business Blog Wire was one of the first six KMM blogs. There are now more than 45 KMM authors publishing about 100 posts daily to 50-plus blogs!

I published my first post on October 17, 2005 and immediately found blogging extremely enjoyable.

We currently monetize our blogs using a mix of Google AdSense and affiliate programs. So far, so good. Blogging is like farming: You typically must spend months of arduous labor before you can finally reap the fruits of your work.

Since I began tracking my blog’s traffic a couple months ago, I’ve averaged about 70 unique visitors and about 130 page views per day. You can see my Sitemeter stats here. Note: Since I began posting three times a day instead of one, my traffic has approximately doubled.

My future ambitions for Business Blog Wire include more reviews of corporate blogs, more interviews with corporate bloggers and more collaborative projects with my readers. I believe that the Web has tremendous potential as a tool for human collaboration – the Wikipedia is a shining example of that. And I hope to invite more of my readers to work with me to help other business bloggers be successful.

My favorite part of blogging is the fine people I have come to know in the blogosphere. I find it pleasantly ironic that the biggest names in blogging are typically the easiest to talk to – that is, they answer your emails and even your calls, and are almost always willing to help you. Lesson learned: ASK AND YE SHALL RECEIVE. Do not be afraid to ask big questions and big favors of bigtime bloggers. Just remember to do unto others as you would have them do to you, and you’ll reap what you sow. “Enough preaching, Easton,” I hear you saying. Okay, enough – but I promise that following these simple ideals will bless your blogging experience tremendously.

Eight excellent tools I use:
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Celebrity Blogging – Blog Case Study

Celebrity-Blog-1The following post was submitted by Matt as part of the ProBlogger Case Study Series

Hello, my name is Matt and I run a number of blogs, let me tell you how I have gone from a money sucking website to multiple blogs bringing in the cash.

I originally started off with a fan site www.aliciakeysfan.com for the artist Alicia Keys in January 2002, but in April of the same year was heading off to University and realised I would no longer be able to update my site as there would be no FTP access. So I looked in to a news type of system and stumbled across b2 (the origins of the popular WordPress blogging system). That was the birth of my very first ‘blog’, the idea and system worked great enabling me and others to easily update the site from anywhere.

Over the next few years the site continued to grow well, but nothing much changed with how the site was run and the increasing hosting costs were putting a strain on my student finances, due to this I considered closing down the site on more than one occasion.

I will now bring you right up to January 2005 (my blog has now been running nearly 3 years). I was just about to close the site down due to financial strain, when my girlfriend found and suggested Google Adsense. I was always against ads, but Adsense was very different. I signed up and added a ‘skyscraper’ ad down the right hand side of the blog, and the next day was excited to see I had already earned $8 or so. I quickly realised that in just a few days the blog would earn enough to cover the cost of the hosting and more. Having now seen the potential earning power of my blog I worked hard on improving the Google Ads on the blog. I moved the skyscraper on the right higher up to a more prominent position, I added a ‘banner’ sized Google Ad to the top centre position of my blog, right above the news, and also changed the Ad colours to blend in with my blog design colours. This had a dramatic improvement on my earnings (+200%), and the banner ad was well out performing the skyscraper, as it was closer to the action.
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