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How I’d Optimize PerezHilton for Advertising – Case Study

Perez1A few days back the Blogging Times reported that celebrity blog PerezHilton reached 1 million readers in a day this month.

That’s some serious traffic and would be a pretty amazing blog to monetize.

Mario Lavandeira is the blogger behind PerezHilton and by the looks of things his income streams seem to be:

  • AdSense – PerezHilton has AdSense running in multiple positions including in the banner position on most pages, between posts on the front page, between posts and comments on individual pages, under comments on individual pages and in the sidebar (although this one rarely shows). He also has an Adlink unit in the footer of the page. There’s also one AdSense unit and Adlink unit in the ‘Boardroom’ discussion forum.
  • Fastclick – rotating in one of the banner positions.
  • BlogAds – there are a number of positions you can buy BlogAds in including the Reserve A Premium position (top right hand spot) which costs $5000 per week, a second level position ($2500 per week) and a lower position ($202 per week). These seem to be converting reasonably well. Over the last few days there were ads in all positions (up to 15 in the lower ones).
  • Sponsorship – on some impressions I’m seeing a skyscraper in the left hand column for tbs.com

I’m sure PerezHilton is doing reasonably well with their ads – BlogAds seem to be doing particularly well. There are however a few suggestions I’d make if I were consulting with Mario and his team. Some of these would include:

How I’d improve PerezHilton’s Advertising Performance:

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Baptist Minister Interviews Adult Webmaster about Blogging….

One of the aspects of blogging that I love is that it opens up opportunities to connect with people of all walks of life, interests, backgrounds and experiences. In the last year and a half of blogging here at ProBlogger I’ve come into contact with a lot of readers – many of whom have shared their experiences with me. One of these people is ‘Steve’ (not his real name).

Steve emailed me quite a few months back after I’d had a particularly rough few days of blogging – having been pretty viciously attacked as a result of some things I’d written that had been misunderstood. Steve wrote to me to encourage me to hang in there keep on blogging and shared some of his own story of being a webmaster.

The interesting thing was that despite Steve knowing I was a Baptist Minister (I haven’t mentioned that for a while so it could be a shock for some of you) he told me the story of how he’d publishing and making a living from Adult content for a number of years and how he’d recently gotten into mainstream publishing – particularly via blogging.

To be honest – Steve’s involved in an area of the web that I’m not fond of and which I have some ethical problems with – however he’s also a guy that I’ve come to value as a fellow blogger and human being. He’s been incredibly supportive of me and this blog (he’s a regular reader) and has even taught me a thing or two about blogging.

This week I asked him if he’d be willing to be interviewed on ProBlogger – to share some of what he’s learnt about online publishing. This interview doesn’t contain any links to anything Steve publishes (adult or mainstream) and I publish it because while I may not agree with some of what Steve does I do think he’s got some interesting lessons to share and I’m constantly asked by readers of this blog to feature other readers opinions (something Steve has a few of). I’m also fascinated by his story and refocussing towards mainstream publishing. Here’s my interview (warning: it is quite long):

Darren: thanks for agreeing to be interviewed Steve

Steve: No problem Darren. Before I answer the questions I should point out that my wife and I are very much a partnership in everything we do on the Net so you will often see that I talk about ‘we’ rather than just me. For any of the many other adult webmasters that frequent Darren’s blog you may know us as The Other Steve and Marie. For everyone else you will just have to trust me when I tell you that my nickname made a lot of sense at the time I chose it.

Darren: How did you get into web publishing?
Steve: In 1996 we bought a new computer and connected to the Net for the first time. For a little while surfing the Net was great, there were lots of things to do and see but it was only a few weeks before we wanted to build a website.

We started with Geocities and taught ourselves to write HTML – in Notepad. I started a site that looked at trains while Marie was more interested in building something useful like a site that supported women who found themselves in a certain situation. My site is long gone while Marie’s site is still there and will soon be undergoing yet another revamp.

And that was our first shaky start on the Net

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Experimenting with Flickr Groups

Just a quick update on the latest experiment that I’ve been doing at my Digital Photography School blog.

A couple of weeks ago I had a few emails from readers who started to make suggestions about how they’d like to share their photos, work on group projects and meet other readers.

I considered adding comments to the blog but then began to wonder if there might be another option. As a result I started a Flickr group for the blog – you can see it here.

Picture 1-10

The main aims of the group where:

  1. A place to share photos that readers are taking
  2. A place where I can set ‘assignments’ that relate to the tips I’m writing about on the blog
  3. A place where readers can discuss what they are learning and ask questions about their cameras/photography

I considered starting my own forum for it but decided to go with a Flickr group in the mean time for a number of reasons:

  • I’m pushed for time at the moment and will be for the next month or so and thought this was a quicker/more immediate solution.
  • Many of my readers already hang out in Flickr and I suspected that the pick up rate would be much higher this way than trying to convert them to a forum that they were unfamiliar with.
  • Flickr is an amazing place which is filled with many many thousands of digital camera users. It makes sense to become a part of that community because they are the type of people I am writing DPS for. I’m interested to see what flow on impact getting involved in that community will have.
  • Hosting pictures can be expensive and I’d rather let Flickr pay for it.

On the downside:

  • It means sending people away from my site
  • It’s not a very customizable setting for either photo sharing or discussion
  • I can’t monetize it (it’s against Flickr’s rules to set up commercial Flickr groups that directly monetize the group)

Ultimately I think I’ll move towards a forum and try to get users to host their pictures on Flickr (or another photo sharing site) but in the mean time it’s an experiment that is working very well.

The Flickr group has 289 members who have shared 187 photos so far and who are really getting involved in the discussion and assignments. I’m particularly amazed by the numbers of people who are doing the assignments I’ve set. This takes blogging into a new and more interactive direction than I’ve gone before and I’m really enjoying the interactions.

The other benefit of the group is that it’s actually driving traffic to the blog. I mentioned above that one downside is that having it off the blog’s domain means I send people away – but I’ve also noticed that some of the new readers for the blog are finding it through the group itself as new users talk it up in other Flickr groups.

My Digital Photography School Goals

Canon-Rebel-Xt-1-1-1Since I’ve set the topic for this week’s group writing project I thought I’d better submit an entry myself on Blogging Goals.

It’s a fairly wide topic, especially if I was to tackle it on a macro level thinking across all of my blogs, so I’ll just focus on one of them, my newest one, Digital Photography School.

Before getting into goals I’ll give a little update on how it’s been going (something I promised I’d do).

Digital Photography School – So Far

  • I started posting on DPS in earnest on 17 April of this year so it’s still relatively new (53 days old).
  • I’ve written 48 posts in that time – most of which are fairly instructional in nature.
  • April saw the page get around 2500 unique visitors for the month, May hit 65,000 and so far in june we’re at around 52,000 visitors.
  • Most traffic has come from a number of links it’s had on sites like Lifehacker, Engadget and Gizmodo as well as the flow on effects of being picked up on social bookmarking sites.
  • This week it’s averaging around 3000 RSS readers (this number goes up and down significantly)
  • My DPS newsletter subscriber list has grown to around 1800 subscribers
  • Earnings vary considerably from day to day but are averaging around $25 per day this month. I know I could do much better than this with more aggressive ad positioning but this is not my priority at this point.

Originally when I started DPS my goal was to leverage traffic that I already had on my other blogs, particularly those with a digital imaging focus. While there was some traction in this idea (I do interlink the blogs and use my other blog’s newsletters to send traffic) the majority of traffic has come via other sources (as mentioned above). As a result my goals have changed a little….

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Digital Photography School Progress Report

It’s been just over a couple of weeks now since I launched my last blogging experiment (Digital Photography School) and as I said in my vidcast last week I want to periodically report on how it’s going and what I’ve been working on as I go along.

It’s early days but so far I’m reasonably happy with Digital Photography School’s progress. By no means is it a launch on the scale of some of the big blog network’s launches that get tends of thousands of hits on their first days – but it’s promising. So far it’s averaging about 600 daily visitors and is earning around $10 per day (through a combination of AdSense and Affiliate links).

What have I been Focussing On?

DPS is still in it’s launch phase and as a result I’ve been working hard on the following elements this week:

Writing Content – The writing of quality content was my primary task in the lead up to launching this blog and it has continued to be my main focus since. My topic is ‘helping people get the most out of their digital cameras’ and so I’ve set myself a goal of writing on post on that topic each weekday. So far I’ve not had any problems with keeping to this goal as I have a list of 200 or so topics that I want to cover over the next few months and have plenty of experience on the topic to draw on.

I’m attempting to keep the tips at a pretty accessible level (aiming at beginners through to medium level users) and am drawing as much as I can upon my own story and experiences. The feedback that I’ve had from some readers (via email as I don’t have comments) has been quite positive and I’ve had a few emails asking me to cover specific tips.

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$10,000 per Day – Interview

A couple of months ago I wrote a post titled Do Ugly Blogs Convert Better? which was based upon the revelation that a Canadian dating site by the name of ‘Plenty of Fish‘ was reportedly earning more than $10,000 a day via AdSense and affiliate programs.

$10,000 a day – that’s $3.65 million per year….

Richard Giles and Duncan Riley have interviewed the creator of Plenty of Fish, Marcus Frind on a fascinating podcast here.

Despite growing many times over in the last year he’s still a one man band competing with companies with big money and loads of employees. Quite an inspiring story.

Optimizing PBS’s AdSense Ads

Paid Content had an interesting piece last week on a move by PBS to start running AdSense ads on 2% of the the pages on their site. It caused a bit of a stir in some circles about whether it was within their charter to run ads on their site like this (something I don’t know enough about to comment on).

What DID interest me about the announcement was not an analyisis on WHY they’ve done it or whether it’s right or wrong – but rather an analysis of HOW PBS have positioned their ads.

Here’s an example of a page with the ads in which you’ll see them positioned towards the top right of the page (as below – click to enlarge). Here’s another one.

Pbs-Adsense

PBS is obviously wanting to make their ads quite distinct from their content by clearly labeling them ‘Sponsored Links’ and by designing them to have a white background and with colors that don’t really match anything else on their page at all. I completely understand why they have done this but it’s worth saying that the results that they will get from these ad’s performance will almost definitely mean a lower earning capacity.

While I doubt they’ll do anything to make the ads a little more subtle the following are a number of suggestions that I’d make to increase performance of these ads:

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Lessons from a Celebrity Blogger

Celebrity-Blog-2The following blog case study was submitted by Derek – a celebrity blogger. In it he reflects upon 7 lessons he’s learned in building his blog from 50 to 1500 uniques per day since March.

Derek Hail – stealing celebrity dignity and fame was launched on March 13th of 2006. The first two weeks the Derek Hail.com staff focused on producing content. The only promotion for our blog was through our friends. We would ask our friends for feedback on our writing. After the two weeks were over we decided to start aggressively promoting our blog.

The first two weeks, Derek Hail.com received on average 50-60 unique hits per day. Now, as of April 23, 2006, the past two weeks we have received 20,000 unique visits which averages to around 1500 hits per day.

Here are lessons I have learned along the way while trying to promote blogs:

1. Blog Traffic Exchanges are worthless.

The amount of time spent surfing to earn credits is not worth it. Instead of wasting 3 hours a day surfing for credits, write content. Most people surf these blogs for credits and they do not read anything. They are only at your blog for a credit.

2. Collect a list of all the links possibly available in your niche:

This was originally mentioned on Darren Rowseâ•˙s Blog Promotion tips post which can be found here.

The list of links was the blogs I would regularly attend during the week to leave insightful and funny comments. This was successful because the less popular blogs would make the author of the blog interested in viewing my website. On the more popular blogs that received a significant amount of traffic, some of the readers from the popular blogs would then stop by my blog

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Blogs as a Profile Builder – Blog Case Study

The following post was submitted by one of ProBlogger’s Dutch readers, Bertrand, as part of the ProBlogger Case Study Series

Hello fellow bloggers, I’m glad Darren gave me the opportunity to tell you my story. Unfortanetly the blogs I maintain are Dutch, so I will describe the background, the way it came about what the strategy is.

When I started blogging 2 years ago I wanted to experience this new way of expressing myself and writing. I picked a subject which interested me and that I can talk about for a long time (this is my first tip).

So it started with a free web-log.nl account managementboek.web-log.nl (tip. 2, it doesn’t has to cost you anything).

After a year I had a lot of content, a lot of free books from publishers (my second goal with the blog to get the things I like to read for free) and with my already started personal and much more professional weblog www.blogmania.nl (based on WordPress) a great personal marketingtool.

Not much money though, not one dollar on amazon-income. (tip 3: make micro-money with a lot of public or find a sponsor, but make a choice) .

So I went to the biggest online businessbook seller in the Netherlands managementboek.nl (much like the US 800ceoread.com) and offered them the weblog as a tool to extent their customer relation (tip 4: to get the bigger money search for a strategic partner which you can offer something new with your blog, but not to far off his imagination).

So starting from March 1st experiences with businessbooks is live. It gets â≠¬ 500 every month, and probably earnings from sold books. My maintask is to start an editorial team, get them up to speed and start new themeblogs soon. So I think it’s a success. It gets attention now from the publishers, who see me as an strategic advisor and experienced blogger. New changes are on their way.

My last tip for all new bloggers: although you can read a lot about blogging (mostly on marketingsites) there is a lot to experience, try, learn and win. But be realistic, not everybody can win and not evrybody is a good writer. But you won’t know before you try and your fellowbloggers can give you advise whenever you like.