How I Make Money Blogging

How I Make Money BloggingBelow you’ll find my latest update on how I make money blogging (this is something I post about every few months – although it’s been a over six months since I last did it ).

Also note – I go into a lot of detail on how I make money blogging in ProBlogger the Book.

How Much Money Do I Make from Blogging?

I get asked how much money my blogging makes me on a regular basis. These days I don’t go into specifics about it – all I will say is that it continues to be well over six figures per year (but less than seven figures). What you’ll find below are my top income streams – ranked from highest earnings to lowest.

Keep in mind that this is a summary of all of my blogs (not just ProBlogger). It does not include any income that I earn from b5media where I’m paid a salary as VP Training.

I hope you find it useful to see the mix and variety of ways that I earn a living from blogging.

1. AdSense

AdsenseDespite not using it here at ProBlogger any more I continue to use AdSense with real effect on my other blogs. While I do use AdSense Referrals and their search feature it is their normal ads that work best for me. I have them all set to show image and text based ads and find that 250×300 pixel ads work best (usually with a blended design).

2. Chitika

ChitikaLast time I did this sort of summary Chitika ranked #1. This time around it has been overtaken by AdSense – not because Chitika slipped in how much it earned but because AdSense went up and because I also replaced a few Chitika ad units with WidgetBucks ones. Chitika offers a range of ad units that I experiment with. I find their eMiniMalls work best and that Related Product Units are also good. Their Shoplincs product isn’t performing as well as it once did for me – mainly because I’ve been promoting it less and have driven less traffic to it. Over the time I’ve been using Chitika they’ve now earned me over a quarter of a million dollars!

3. Amazon Associates

This has been one of my big movers in the last 12 months. I used to make a few odd dollars from it – however in recent times it has become a significant earner for me (as I’ve shared previously). This quarter it overtook TLA as my third biggest earner – largely on the back of me directing traffic to Amazon from my product related sites – mainly digital cameras. While the commission on cameras is only 4% this adds up when those that you refer buy higher ticket items.

4. Private Ad Sales/Sponsorships

private-ad-salesThis includes ad sales of the 125 x 125 ads here at ProBlogger as well as a couple of private ad deals that I did with sponsors on my camera blog (including sponsorships with Canon, Kodak and Adobe). This area has jumped up since last time also as a result of the new design here at ProBlogger and our expanded sales team at b5 who now sell ProBlogger’s ads for me.

5. Text Link Ads

TlaThe income from TLA has dipped slightly over the last few months simply because I took the decision to stop selling them here at ProBlogger and most of my other blogs. This was because I wanted to focus more upon selling the 125 pixel ads instead and felt that the ads I was attracting were not as relevant to this site as they could have been. As it turns out this might have been a good move because it seems Google has been penalizing blogs that run them lately.

6. ProBlogger Job Boards

Jobboardheader The job boards here at ProBlogger continue to grow each month in the number of advertisements that are being bought. This enabled me to invest most of the money that they’d earned a while back into getting a new back end for the boards and to redesign them. It hit me today that the boards are now bringing in around $1000 a month in revenue which is pretty nice considering that they are now so low maintenance to run! I’ve just given a development team a new brief to expand the job boards in the coming month so stay tuned for some new features coming soon which could see this revenue increase and more importantly for it to become an even more useful resource to readers.

7. Miscellaneous Affiliate Programs

miscellaneous affiliate programsI run a variety of affiliate programs on my blogs – most of which bring in smaller amounts of money that don’t really justify a category of their own. These include – – Digital Photography Secrets (a camera technique series), Pro Photo Secrets (a great photoshop product) , Yaro’s Blog Mastermind Mentoring Program, SEO Book (Aaron’s legendary resource). This area is set to continue to grow in the current quarter with me having had reasonable conversions from the promotion of the excellent Teaching Sells course.

8. Miscellaneous Advertising Programs

miscellaneous ad networksI also play with a number of other ad networks. Some I run as tests to see if I should review them here – and some are just advertising that run in the background on some of my smaller blogs. These include AuctionAds, Feedburner RSS ads, Vizu (a poll advertising system), Kontera and Bidvertiser. Together these don’t add up to major earnings for me – not because they are not good, but because I don’t use them heavily (a blog can only run so many ads on it).

I think that that covers most of it. Since last quarter I’ve also been experimenting with WidgetBucks as well as one other ad system that is still in a closed beta test. I’m certain that WidgetBucks will feature in next quarter’s list because I am getting good returns on that so far. In fact at it’s current earnings it’ll debut at at least number 4 on the list and perhaps even at number 3.

How Much do I Spend?

As mentioned last time – I don’t spend a lot of money in order to bring in my income. I do have some basic blogging costs (hosting etc) and play around with a limited amount of advertising (AdWords and StumbleUpon) but rely more heavily upon word of mouth and organic ways of drawing income into my blogs. I also have some costs in paying writers on a couple of blogs – but these don’t make up a massive part of the overall earnings each quarter.

Want to Learn More about How to Make Money Blogging?

Check out these resources that have been written specifically for bloggers wanting to make money blogging.

How to Transform Readers Into Raving Fans

Keeping You Posted by Skellie

In this post regular contributer Skellie from explains how you can turn readers into fans.

The notion of ‘raving fans’ brings to mind a screaming crowd at a Beatles concert. For bloggers, a more accurate version of a ‘raving fan’ is someone who raves about you — recommending your stuff to anyone who will listen.

In this post I want to explain how you can use your content to create a kind of friendship between you and your readers. As much as they might love your blog, it’s almost impossible to form a meaningful connection with information and writing alone.

As humans, we connect easily and naturally with other people. Put yourself into what you write and readers will connect with you.

Why having fans of your own is important

  • Readers with a personal affection for you will consistently treat you with respect.
  • Readers who like you will stick by you when times are tough.
  • They’re more likely to speak highly of you to others.
  • They’ll be more accepting of your faults.
  • They’ll come with you when you move on to new things.
  • They’re more likely to trust your recommendations or buy from you. This can help you make money blogging.

How to help readers become fans

A useful starting point for us is to look at how we form relationships with new people in face-to-face situations. One thing you might have noticed is that we tend to like or dislike others based on how they make us feel about ourselves.

We can spend a lot of time with someone but feel very little closeness to them if they make us feel a bit stupid, or boring, or as if our views aren’t important. On the other hand, we can feel quite close to someone very quickly if they give us their undivided attention, entertain us and seem to enjoy what we have to say.

Another key in building relationships of any kind is sharing our experiences and personality: probably because both these things are completely unique to us.

These face-to-face guidelines can easily be translated to blogging.

Sign each post with your signature

Some bloggers do this literally, but I’m referring to other things that, like a signature, are unique to you: your experiences and your personality. You can inject these things into anything you write.

Some simple tips to help you do this:

  • Ask yourself: how does what I’m writing about fit in with my own experiences?
  • If you’re sharing advice, how has what you’re recommending benefited you?
  • If you’re sharing news, how does the news influence you or people you know?

If you do this consistently it won’t be long before your readers start to get a sense of who you are.

Write with humanity

Don’t let your readers forget the content on your blog is produced by a person not so different to them. You have friends, family, hobbies, work, loves and hates. You’ve made mistakes and achieved successes. You occupy a specific place in the world. You’re not just a mind plugged into a keyboard.

Let readers know about the unplugged you — who you are when you’re not online. You can maintain your privacy by using pseudonyms for friends and family and by not getting too specific.

People are good at forming relationships with people. Emphasize that you’re no different to your readers and it will be much easier for them to warm to you.

Some tips to help you do this:

  • Share how your offline life has shaped what you’re writing about.
  • Share how your family and friends have influenced what you’re writing.

Create selfless content

If it’s true that people like you based on how you make them feel about themselves, it follows that your content should always be focused on the reader. The content you produce must answer ‘yes’ to at least one of these questions.

  • Does it inform?
  • Does it entertain?
  • Does it help?
  • Does it teach?
  • Is it useful?

Use content to showcase your readers

If a reader’s comment sparks an idea for your next post, why not quote them at the beginning of the article?

If one of your readers writes a great article on their own blog, why not link to it?

If a reader shares a good tip, why not mention it in the next post you write on the topic?

These are a few simple things you can do to acknowledge and draw attention to your readers, which will make them feel good about themselves and you.

Give more than you take

Pure generosity is rare. Bloggers rarely give without expecting something in return, whether it be payment, or a link, or a review. In my experience, bucking that trend can create incredible goodwill among readers. Here are some things you can do to make a fantastic impression:

  • Hold a competition and allow readers to enter by leaving a comment, rather than blogging about it or performing some other task.
  • Offer to perform a service for your readers and expect nothing in return. I’ve done this on two occasions and both times it allowed me to connect with many readers in a very positive way.
  • Give away a free eBook or report.
  • Write a post showcasing your favorite reader comments of the month.

Points to review

The key to helping readers form an attachment to you is by emphasizing the ways you are similar to them and making them feel good about themselves, often by entertaining, informing or helping.

You can also use your posts as a platform to acknowledge and appreciate your readers. This will help communicate your respect for them and, in doing so, increase their respect for you.

There are a number of direct and indirect benefits to transforming readers into personal fans and friends: more links, more comments, more positive recommendations, more trust and an incredibly rewarding blogging experience.

Give it a try: use your next post to implement a few of these strategies and start building your fan-base.

Skellie is a regular writer for ProBlogger. You’ll find more practical blogging advice at her own blog, Skelliewag.

Would You Blog Differently If You Had Money?


Anne Waymen asks a question that’s got me thinking a little today – Would You Still Write If You Had A Million Dollars?

On Saturday night I was at a party and had a fascinating chat with a guy who had his own business. We were swapping stories about our businesses and out of the blue (and simultaneously) both said something to this effect:

“I’d do it even if I couldn’t earn money from it.”

We then went onto to discuss why we thought that that was probably a secret to the fact that we’d both done reasonably well with our work – it wasn’t about the money.

My new friend told me about his motivations for switching careers to start his business – his reason wasn’t because he wanted to make money but because he found it so interesting that he just couldn’t help but learn more about it. His story reminded me a lot about my own experience of blogging.

Five years ago when I started blogging (5 years this month actually) I did so on a whim to see what would happen. The thought that it’d end up being a full time job (and more) was laughable. The reason I continued blogging was that within days I was hooked. Hooked by the relationships I discovered, the community that I became a part of and the learning that I was engaging in.

The money came years later – much later.

So I guess I’d answer Anne’s question with a yes – I’d still write if I had a Million Dollars.

However – her question sparked another one for me – a question I’d like to ask readers.

Would you blog differently if you had a Million Dollars?

The reason I ask this is that a few weeks ago I was listening to a podcast (this one) by the 9Rules team over at 3by9 and it was Thyme that talked about Dave Winer who blogs differently because he is ‘financially secure’ (I am probably misquoting Thyme here as it was a couple of weeks ago that I listened to the podcast).

The gist of her comments was that the blogger could blog more freely because he wasn’t reliant upon advertisers and didn’t need to impress others etc. As a result he has a ‘different mindset’ to other bloggers.

Of course this is just Thyme’s opinion – but her idea has stayed with me this past couple of weeks and I’d love to hear whether others think that they’d blog differently if they had wealth already.

Over to you – what do you think?

Blog Promotion: Are You Preaching to the Converted or Are You Reaching Out to New Readers?

preaching to the convertedToday John Chow just made a post reflecting upon a competition that he ran with Shoemoney to see who could get the most new RSS readers in a month. Over the month both John and Jeremy had some great success at increasing their numbers – both by over 4600 and in the post John explained his strategies.

John and Jeremy’s Competition to find New Subscribers

shoemoney-chowWhen the competition was announced back in October I was quite excited to see how it would pan out. Two very clever blog marketers doing their thing to promote themselves and find new readers. I looked forward to seeing how they’d go about finding their new readers.

However as the month progressed and I watched them work hard at increasing their RSS feed reader numbers something didn’t quite feel right to me about it. I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time – but today in reading John’s post outlining his strategies I realized what was behind it.

Both Jeremy and John did a great job at creating buzz among their readers about the competition, both pulled together some great prizes to act as incentives for people to subscribe and both obviously got some great results – but it struck me today that they’d both focussed most of their efforts on their current readers.

John writes in his post that his ‘Ah Ha’ moment was when he realized that if he could get his current readers to subscribe via Email that they’d be counted every day instead of only the days they checked email. So a lot of his efforts centered around getting people to sign up for his daily email updates. He also emailed all of his newsletter recipients to get them to sign up for the daily email also.

His other strategy was around running competitions through the month by offering some cool prizes to those who were subscribed (something Jeremy also did).

Preaching to the Converted

Now I’ve got nothing against either of these methods. Having people sign up for more than one way of subscribing to you isn’t a bad thing (it increases the places that they’ll come across your content) and having competitions is great (I find that it builds loyalty among readers and creates a sense of fun and momentum) but I come away from John’s latest post wondering how many actual new readers his strategy brought in or was it just preaching to the converted?

Don’t get me wrong – a feed counter that is 4600 higher is nice (and I’m sure some of them were actually new readers) – but if the goal is to grow one’s reach, influence and actual readership (rather than just a number on a chicklet) I wonder if it might have been better to have some strategies that were more focussed off the blog and upon new readers than on current ones.

Turning the Spotlight…

OK – so while this might seem like a bit of a dig at John and Jeremy I’d like to turn the spotlight onto the rest of us – because I think we’re all guilty of it from time to time.

Many bloggers (including myself) spend so much time on their current readers that they forget to put themselves out there and into places where people who don’t yet read their blog are gathering. It’s easy to get complacent – I know because I catch myself doing it all of the time.

While you don’t want to go hunting for new readers at the expense of current readers – if all you ever do is promote yourself to those who are already converted then your blog will stagnate.

How to Find NEW Subscribers for Your Blog

So how does a blogger put themselves out there and find these new readers rather than just keep promoting themselves to those who are already loyal to them?

I’m glad you asked…. because next week I’m going to publish a series of posts that I’ve been working on over the last few days that covers this exact topic. Rather than kick it off on a Friday (as it currently is here) I’ll kick it off on Monday to give us plenty of space to explore it. I’ve got a few techniques that I’ve been experimenting with to share and hope that you’ll share your own experiences as we go.

So make sure that you’re subscribed to the ProBlogger feed (I had to do it) and stay tuned.

11 Tips for Getting Your Comments Noticed on a Popular Blog


One of the comments on this week’s post – The Power of Commenting on Blogs - was from The Great Seducer who asked:

“Do you have any suggestions for commenting in a way that will draw interest to you? Obviously an insightful comment is the best plan…. but when there are 100+ comments sometimes they get over looked.”

In this post I’m going to suggest 11 tips for leaving tips on blogs that not only get noticed but that help build your profile and generate traffic.

1. Be the Early Bird

One of the best ways to stand out from the crowd is to be get in early. I know numerous bloggers who are great at leaving the first comment on a post and generating some good traffic as a result. Of course being first won’t help you if you don’t have anything worthwhile to say – so read on….. (warning: being first all of the time can be quite annoying both for the blogger whose blog you’re commenting on as well as other readers. I know of a few people who’ve actually hurt their reputation by being too eager to comment on every post without actually adding value to conversations.

2. Share an Example

A great way to add value to a post that someone else has written is to give an example that illustrates their main point. Quite often bloggers writing ‘how to’ or ‘instructional’ posts cover the theory of a topic really well but fail to give practical examples of how it works itself out in reality. I find that readers really love to see examples – so if you can give them in comments they’ll often be grateful and will check out who is behind them. The examples could be to your own work – or that of others.

3. Add a Point

Did the blogger miss a point on their post? Extending the post by adding another argument or point can improve the conversation and show yourself off to be someone who knows what they’re talking about. Some bloggers will even highlight your comment in an update to the post.

4. Disagree

One way to stand out from the crowd is to disagree with the post and/or what others are writing in comments. This isn’t something you will want to do on every comment that you leave (and it could be something that gets you into trouble) but it can be quite refreshing to see someone who dares to put forward a different idea to everyone else. Of course you don’t need to do it in an argumentative or attacking way – but respectfully and politely disagree (where you actually do) and you can actually create a real impressions on others.

5. Write with conviction, passion and personality

Sometimes when I read the comments left on blogs I wonder if there is anyone with personality behind them or whether they’re written by some sort of zombie like half human half robotic bloggers. Inject some feeling, passion, conviction and emotion into your posts. This doesn’t mean you need to write everything in CAPS or use lots of EXPLANATION MARKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! – but when a post excites you, let that feeling enter your comments, when you are happy, let your comment be cheery, when a post evokes anger – don’t be afraid to comment with a little edge.

6. Use Humor

As a blogger who has a blog with posts that can get hundreds of comments I know just how mind numbing it can be to read through them all. One type of comment that snaps me out of this state when I’m in moderation mode is a comment that makes me laugh. Of course humor can also be misinterpreted and cause offense – so be a little careful :-)

7. Ask a Question

I notice here on ProBlogger that it is often comments that ask questions that get the most responses from other commenters. I guess it makes sense – asking a question calls for a response – we’re all wired to answer them – so they do stop people in their tracks a little and cause them to at least stop and think about how they’d answer it (whether they do or not).

8. Formatting Comments

I want to say right up front that this one should be done with caution (and could make you look like a try hard spammer) – but a subtle and clever use of formatting in comments can actually draw the eye to your comment. Scan through the comments left on a highly commented upon post and see what you notice. In most cases it’s only broken up by the names of commenters. Many blogs will allow you to use html in comments – allowing you to bold words, use italics and more (for example here at ProBlogger using ‘blockquotes’ in comments will change the formatting. Do this too much and you can actually find yourself in trouble – but bolding the occasional word for emphasis, using a little white space, using a symbol etc can give those viewing the page a subtle visual cue to look at your comment. Like I say – this should be done with caution.

An example of this is to bullet your comments with different symbols. A number of readers of ProBlogger do this using symbols like ‘**’ or ‘–>’

9. Helpful Links

We’ve debated whether leaving links in posts is good practice previously – but my opinion is that when a link is helpful to those reading and when it adds value to the conversation in some way that it’s OK. I personally don’t like signature links in comments – but links as examples not only will potentially send people to your blog – they actually act as a visual cue (web users are wired to be on the look out for them).

10. Comment Length

Are all the comments on a post long? Leave a short one – it’ll stand out. Are all the other comments short? Leave a long one – again, it’ll stand out.

11. Lists/Break it down

A big turn off with comments can be when someone leaves a long detailed comment that has massive blocks of text. This can often be made to look worse than it is when the comments area is actually narrower than the area given to posts (as in here at ProBlogger). One way to break up the amount of text is to break your comment down into a list of short posts.

Keep in mind that while leaving comments on other people’s blogs can be a great way to draw traffic to your blog – that it can also hurt your reputation/brand. Read more on this in my post – 10 Ways to Hurt Your Blog’s Brand by Commenting on Other Blogs.

PS: I just noticed that Caroline just posted on a similar topic and outlined some suggestions for a blog commenting strategy.

Grip Your Readers With These 7 Knock-out Opening Sentences

Keeping you posted, by Skellie.

In this post regular contributer Skellie from explains how a great opening sentence can draw readers into your blog posts.

You might not want to hear this, but a killer headline simply isn’t enough.

To be effective, every great headline — like the punch of any legendary boxer — needs follow-through.

In this post, I want to suggest seven tried-and-tested methods to craft a gripping opening sentence.

This could mean the difference between someone reading your post from start to finish or skipping to the next item in their feed reader (or browsing to another blog).

These seven methods should also be a source of inspiration when you’re unsure how to start your next post. In that sense, they have the potential to benefit both you and your blog.

#1 — The tempting offer

A simple and effective way to grip readers in your first sentence is to tell them what you’re going to tell them.


This is why news broadcasts always begin with a preview of the stories to come. It’s why the commercial for a TV show will, as a rule, highlight the best bits. People are always more likely to stick with you if they know what they stand to gain.

A fictional example:

If you’ve ever wanted to get fit, save money and work less… this post is for you.

When using this method it can be useful to think of your first sentence as an advertisement for what’s to follow. What could you say that would entice readers to keep reading? How could you make reading the post seem as attractive as possible?

#2 — The irresistible question

Questions are powerful because they coax the reader into giving an internal answer. Another effective way to start a blog post is to ask a question you’re confident most readers will answer yes to. An example:

Want to convince your readers to do something or agree with your point of view? [Source]

After answering “yes, I do want that,” the next logical step is to continue reading.

#3 — The curious connection

This model appeals to the reader’s sense of curiosity. It links two seemingly unconnected ideas together and invites the reader to stick with the post and see how the connection was made. An example:

What do Thom Yorke, Tim Ferriss and successful new media publishers have in common? [Source]

By linking together a famous author and a famous musician the reader’s curiosity is piqued. She or he will want to know what these two very different figures have in common, and will (hopefully) keep reading in order to find out.

Two boxers in the ring.

Photography by neurmadic aesthetic

#4 — The controversial claim

Confronting or strong statements engage readers because they’re curious to see how the author will justify their claim. An example:

Chances are I’m not reading your blog. [Source]

Strong statements work, but they need to be carefully justified and qualified within a few paragraphs. You don’t want to risk putting any readers offside by not explaining yourself properly.

#5 — The engaging anecdote

Anecdotes are miniature stories you tell about your experiences. The best anecdotes, apart from being entertaining, are enlightening for the reader. They don’t just say something about you: they speak to the experiences and struggles of the person listening or reading, too. A fictional example:

Yesterday, after 35 years working in the PR industry, I came within an inch of quitting my job in order to write the novel I’ve always wanted to write.

If used on a blog about writing this anecdotal sentence would appeal to most readers because it speaks to a common concern: how much should we be willing to sacrifice in order to achieve our goals?

Anecdotes help readers get to know you. They appeal to our natural love of stories. They also encourage readers to keep reading and find out how the story ends.

#6 — The problem solver

Everyone has certain things they struggle with, and we’re always willing to lend an ear to anyone who might help us resolve one of those struggles.

When bloggers highlight a problem this is often followed by an attempt at a solution. Readers know this. Here’s an example of this method in action:

We all know that .com domains are the best option, but it is also difficult to find good ones that have not been registered yet. [Source]

That statement will probably draw nods of agreement from many, prompting readers to continue with the post in the hope that a workable solution is offered.

#7 — The tricky question

This one’s a twist on the ‘problem solver’ model above.

Everyone has unanswered questions, and particular niches attract readers with certain types of questions.

ProBlogger readers might come here because they want answers to the following: how can I create a popular blog? How can I generate a full-time income online? Or, an example from another niche:

Should I wait until I’m rich to give back? [Source]

Beginning with a tough question works because, even if you don’t have a complete answer, you’ll probably have some advice or useful thoughts on the matter. Readers are always eager to get help with tough questions they struggle with.

Skellie is a regular writer for ProBlogger. You’ll find more practical blogging advice at her own blog,

Reasons to Have a Vanity Folder in Your News Aggregator

VanityOne of the important features of my daily blogging routine is to check my ‘Vanity Folder’ in Google Reader (my news aggregator of choice).

The reason I call it my Vanity folder is that it’s a folder that is absolutely and completely dedicated to…. well me. The purpose of the folder is to track any mention of me or my blogs around the blogosphere (and in mainstream media). I’ll tell you how I do it below – but first a little on the WHY.

Why Having a Vanity Folder is Important

Having a Vanity Folder in your news aggregator sounds like a fairly egotistical thing to do (and I’ll admit that the reasons I started it were probably more ego driven than the reasons I continue to use it) – however there are actually a number of great reasons to have one that go beyond stroking your ego:

  • Engage in Conversation- Perhaps the best reason to track what others are writing about you is that it helps you to engage in the conversations that others are having that relate to you and the things you’ve written about. Some of these conversations will be positive and some will be negative – but all are opportunities – IF you’re aware of them and willing to participate.
  • Build Relationships – Engaging in conversations (which end in time) can lead to ongoing relationships. Some of the bloggers that I now engage with on a daily basis (and who I work with) I first ‘met’ as a result of finding something that they’d written that referred to me or my blog. It’s amazing to see what happens when someone writes about you and then suddenly you ‘appear’ (as if out of nowhere) to make a comment on what they’ve written. It really makes an impression and shows that you’re willing to engage with people. You never know what might come from things when you do this.
  • Track Success of Posts – One exercise that I do from time to time is to look back at the posts that I’ve written over a period of time and to think about which were the most ‘successful’. There are a number of ways of measuring success but one for bloggers is to see if the post actually caused anyone else to write about it on their blog. By having a vanity folder you to see how ‘successful’ a post has been at generating conversation on other blogs very quickly.
  • Correcting Errors and Damage Control – This is really important. Sometimes the things that people write about you are negative, attacking, damaging and even false. This is one of the parts of blogging that many of us don’t enjoy – but it’s something that a blogger shouldn’t ignore. If someone’s writing this type of stuff about me then I want to know it – because I want to be a part of that conversation. This might be to correct an error that the other blogger has made, to make an apology where I’ve messed up, to answer a question or to defend myself where I’ve been unfairly written about. While it’s sometimes tempting to leave such posts unanswered (in fact sometimes it’s wise not to respond) it’s good to at least be monitoring them.
  • Find Plagiarists – Another part of blogging that is increasingly frustrating for many bloggers is when others use your content for their own purposes without permission and without credit back to you as the source of the content. Not a day goes by when I don’t find someone scraping my RSS feeds in this way and it’s almost always through my vanity folder that I find them doing it. I’m always surprised by how many of these scrapers republish everything in my feed – including links to other posts that I’ve written and even my copyright notice (which contains the word ProBlogger). All of this triggers an item in my Vanity Folder and enables me to start the process of getting the other blog to stop republishing my content in this way.

How to Create a Vanity Folder

Creating a Vanity Folder in your News Aggregator of Choice isn’t difficult to do. Here’s how you do it:

1. Create a Folder in your feed reader and name it ‘Vanity Folder’ (or anything else you want to call it)
2. Fill it with ‘watch feeds’. These feeds might include:

  • Technorati Watchlists – a ‘watchlist’ is a tool that Technorati offers for you to watch different keywords or URLs. Simply login to Technorati and go to their Watchlist page ( and enter the keyword or URL you want to monitor. It will then give you an RSS feed that you can subscribe to for each term or URL. Subscribe to it and add it to your Vanity Folder. Tip: make a watchlist for your name, your blog’s URL and even your blog’s name (if it’s unique).
  • Google News – Google News allows you to track different search terms via RSS also. Simply go to Google News and do a search for the term you want to track. You’ll get the latest appearance of that term in the results – but at the bottom of the left hand sidebar are some feed options including an ‘RSS’ link. This link is to a feed for the search term you’ve just entered. Subscribe to it and you’ll see any time that anyone’s mentioned that term in a mainstream news article.
  • Google Blog Search - the same service is available to you Google’s Blog Search ( The only difference is that Google Blog Search tracks blogs only whereas Goolge News tracks mainstream media (and some blogs). As a result if you use subscribe to the same terms in Google News and Google Blog Search you’ll get some double up – however you’ll see some results in each that are different from one another.
  • Bloglines Search – if you use Bloglines as your news reader it has a nifty little search feature that allows you to be notified of any mention of certain keywords. When I used Bloglines I used this. It would usually give similar results to the above methods – but occasionally picked up something that the other tools didn’t.

Other ways of Keeping Track of What Others Blog about You:

There are of course other non RSS related ways to keep track of what others are writing about you or your blogs. Here are a few:

Google News Alerts - Google News ( allows you to set up ‘News Alerts’ which allow you to track keywords via either email or RSS. You can track words in a number of categories:

  • ‘news’ – which tracks mainstream media and some blogs
  • ‘blogs’ – which tracks blogs
  • ‘web’ – which tracks other web pages
  • ‘video’ – which tracks videos
  • ‘groups’ – tracking Google Groups
  • ‘comprehensive’ – which tracks News, Web and Blogs

Note: the ‘news’ and ‘blog’ options will give you the same results that you’ll get if you’re using the RSS methods outlined above – but the ‘web’, ‘video’ and ‘groups’ options are not available via RSS anywhere that I can see them.

Trackbacks – perhaps the easiest way to see when people have blogged about you is to keep an eye on ‘trackbacks’ to your posts (if you have them enabled). Read our introduction to Trackbacks for more on what they are

Metrics Referrals - most stats packages will have an option to view where people have arrived from when they get to your blog. This will reveal the URL of any site that has sent you traffic and is useful to keep an eye on.

A Final Warning

The title of this post encourages you to be more Vain. In actual fact I don’t really encourage any of us to be Vain – but instead to monitor what’s being written about you. In fact the main problem with Vanity Folders is that they can in fact lead to egos inflated and time being wasted on fairly self indulgent activities. As a result, my final piece of advice on vanity folders is to keep things balanced and to not get obsessed.

While I do see this as an important part of my blogging – I really only spend a few minutes each day monitoring these types of feeds. Like with any aspect of blogging – it’s when you get obsessed that your blogging gets out of balance and your blogging will begin to suffer.

Value Blogging: A New Model For Success?

SkellieIn this post regular contributer Skellie from explores the idea of building successful blogs by giving readers value.

What do ProBlogger, Lifehacker, Seth Godin’s Blog, Copyblogger, Dosh Dosh,, MAKE blog, Zen Habits, 43 Folders, Pronet Advertising and Coding Horror all have in common?

Yes, they’re all in the Technorati 100, but there’s something else, too.

Each of the above blogs is dedicated to maximizing value for the reader. Rather than reporting news, or covering an industry, or attempting to persuade, the above blogs are primarily dedicated to making readers more skillful at what they do, whether that skill is blogging, marketing or software coding.

I call this approach value-blogging, and in this post, I want to explain how it can be a powerful model for bloggers to adopt, either fully or partially. I want to suggest that this approach has a number of distinct advantages for the average blogger. Most importantly, I want to outline how you can get started with value-blogging.

Why value-blogging is a powerful strategy

Unlike news or time-sensitive posts, value-blogging helps readers to improve in ways that are continually relevant. Every time you add another value-blogging post to your archives, you’re building up a database of knowledge that should still be as relevant in future as the day it was written.

Value-blogging, by its nature, encourages original and differentiated content. Though two bloggers might both write a post on quick ways to increase your email productivity, those two posts are likely to contain very different advice, influenced by the individual blogger’s personality, experience and writing style. The advice you give and the way you deliver it will help to brand both you and your blog.

The quality over quantity model is well-suited to a one-blogger show. The upper echelons of the world’s most highly trafficked blogs are updated dozens of times a day, often by full-time editorial teams. The average blogger simply can’t hope to compete in terms of volume (at least, not if any shred of quality is to be maintained).

Value-blogging emphasizes quality over quantity every time, and many of the world’s most respected value blogs update only a few times a week. This flexibility is invaluable to anyone who leads a busy life outside blogging.

Value-blogging is ideal for building a loyal and enthusiastic readership. Though I might respect a blogger for updating me with news or sharing her eloquent opinions, I will probably have an even greater fondness for someone who helps me become better at something I love. It’s hard to think of a more powerful way to leave an impression on a reader.

Value-blogging can boost your personal brand and open up direct and indirect sources of income. Value-bloggers are presented with unique opportunities to make money online. As they have proven their expertise on a topic time and time again, they can be in demand for speaking engagements, consulting work, and freelancing. There is also the possibility of producing and selling an eBook. A number of value-bloggers also make good money through affiliate sales because their recommendations are so well-respected.

Sounds great, but how do I start?

A teacher addresses her classPhotography: My Hobo Soul

Value-blogging is, at its core, about focusing your energy on helping readers. There are dozens of ways you can do this, but the most common approaches are as follows:

  • Provide tips and advice on an important skill in your niche.
  • Answer a key question your readers might have.
  • Share lessons you’ve learned.
  • Provide useful information and resources.
  • Write a tutorial or guide.
  • Answer the who, where, what, when and why of something.

There are plenty of examples of value-blogging you can use for reference. ProBlogger, for example, is a value-based blog, though the value-blogging is supplemented by some news and commentary. This article is an example of value-blogging, in that it attempts to describe not just why value-blogging is important, but how you can add it to your raft of blogging skills.

The best way to boost your value-blogging skills is to learn by example. Subscribe to value-blogs and pay attention to their most popular articles. Could you transfer that format to your own niche?

For example, one of the most popular posts at ProBlogger is Blogging Tips For Beginners. Could you write: ‘Cooking Tips For Beginners’? Or ‘Karate Tips For Beginners’? Whatever your niche, the idea behind many great posts can be translated over to a topic of interest to your audience, resulting in something very different but (hopefully) equally appreciated.

Give value-blogging a try!

It’s not necessary that value-blogging become the whole focus of your blog, but it can be a useful thing to add to your content mix.

If you’d like some homework, make the next blog post you write a value-post. Teach your readers something, give them some tips, or advice, or share some resources. You might be surprised at the results!

Skellie is a regular writer for ProBlogger. She runs her own blog about blogging at Come by and say hello :)

How to Pitch to Bloggers – 21 Tips

How-To-Pitch-To-BloggersOne of the challenges that many bloggers face once they become established and grow a profile in their niche is that they become the target of ‘pitches’ – or people emailing to ask them to do ‘stuff’.

These ‘pitches’ can be on any number of fronts including:

  • announcing new products/services in the hope of being linked to or reviewed
  • link exchanges
  • asking for permission to use content
  • exploring potential partnerships
  • suggesting links to posts on other blogs
  • story ideas
  • asking for books to be reviewed
  • asking for guest posts
  • asking questions
  • request for an interview

The list goes on. Some bloggers get ‘pitched to’ hundreds of times each week (some get hundreds per day!) and so if you’re looking to approach a blogger with some kind of pitch it is worth thinking carefully about how you do it.

Here are a number of things to consider when pitching to bloggers. Some will relate more to pitching around product releases, others are more relevant to those looking to suggest links/stories for other bloggers to look at:

1. Comment First Pitch Later

Become a genuine and active member of the blog that you are pitching to before you make personal contact. Yes this doesn’t help if you have something to pitch today – but I find bloggers are much more willing to interact with you if they can see that you’ve gone to the effort of interacting with the content that they’ve written. Be genuine in these interactions, add value to the conversation happening on the blog and show that you’re not just there to ‘take’ but to ‘give’. If a blogger has a genuine connection with you they are much more willing to respond positively to you than if you approach them cold. The longer you interact with them the better.

2. Personalize it

Nothing is a bigger turn off to most bloggers than an auto generated email (or one that lacks any personal touches). This is a turn off in most aspects of life – but blogging is a personal and relational medium so tailor your first point of contact to the blogger you’re writing to. Use their name, mention their blog, show that you’re not sending out an email to thousands of people but are talking directly to them.

3. Get their Details Right

Another turn off for bloggers is being pitched to by someone who gets the personal details wrong. I’ve been on the end of many of these – where the person pitching the idea has gone to the trouble of copying and pasting unique details into an email – only to forget to change a detail from the last email on some important part – like my name. Get the person’s name and URL spelling right for starters.

4. Show You Know Who they Are

This is really going beyond adding a personalized detail or two (anyone can really do that) and showing that you really do know who you’re pitching the idea to. Mention something that they’ve recently written, compliment them on something unique to them, ask them a question that shows you’ve dug a little deeper than finding their name and email address in preparing your pitch.

5. Introduce Yourself

Quickly introduce yourself with your email. This might sound too basic for a post like this – but I’m amazed by the ‘out of the blue’ nature of many pitches. Us bloggers are generally relational beasts and like to know who we’re talking to. This doesn’t mean you need to give a full bio – just a sentence saying who you are and what you do would be fine. Also consider reminding people who you are and how you’ve interacted with them before if you’ve had contact with them previously. They may remember – but they may not.

6. Keep it Brief

I know that if I open an email from a stranger that is longer than 2-3 paragraphs that in most case I’ll mark it for ‘later’ (and sometimes later never comes) unless I’m given some real reason for reading on in the opening paragraph or two. Get to the point, ask your question or pitch your idea quickly and if more detail is needed give it in a followup email (or provide a link in the email where the person can go to find more).

7. Highlight Benefits

Whatever you are pitching – it’ll have more chance of success if there’s something in it for the blogger you’re pitching to. Clearly outline what you’re asking for and how it will benefit the blogger, their blog, their readers etc

8. Keep it Simple

I had an email recently where the person asked me if they could chat with me on the phone. They needed ‘just two hours’ of my time and required that I ring them (paying for the call myself) at a specific time (which just happened to be at 3am my time here in Australia). Needless to say – I passed. If you are asking for someone to do something for you – provide them with some simple, achievable and clear steps to respond.

9. Research Your Question

- many of the questions that people ask bloggers could be answered by simply taking a moment or two to look around their blog. Look on their about page – see if they have a FAQ page and do a search of their blog to see if they’ve written on the topic that your question is on. You don’t need to spend hours on this – but you might just save yourself (and the blogger concerned) some time with just a quick search for answers. Similarly – if you’re pitching a story idea – check to see that they haven’t already written about it by scanning their last few weeks archives.

10. Consider Time Zones When Calling

If you’re calling the blogger concerned – check to see where in the world they are and what time it would be in their time zone. Also consider that it might be the weekend where they are while it could be business hours for you. Also consider this when you’re emailing – I’ve had a few people email me just as I was going to sleep and sending rude emails 8 or so hours later complaining that I’d not responded.

11. Don’t Stalk

Obsessively emailing a person multiple times in a short period of time to ask question after question doesn’t tend to go over well. If you think you’ll have multiple things to ask – hold off on sending an email until you have them all in the one place.

12. Be Persistent

On the flip side of the obsessive stalking is the pitcher who gives up too quickly. Don’t be afraid to send a reminder email asking if they got your first one. I don’t mind getting these myself as I do find it difficult to respond to everyone on the first try.

13. Avoid Press Releases

I must have hit ‘delete’ on thousands of press releases over the last few years. While I do occasionally use them – it is generally only when they are right on target for my niche and quite often when I go searching for them. I’d much rather be pitched a story idea that is tailored to my blog. This need not be long or detailed (in fact it’s best if it’s not) but if someone shoots me an email that says ‘here’s a story you might be interested in and here’s why it’s relevant to your blog’s readers’ I’m much more likely to read it. If you do have a press release it might be more effective to not send it – but to give a link to where it is hosted online so that if the blogger wants to refer to it (and link to it) they can.

14. Keep on Topic

If you’re pitching story ideas you can do yourself a lot of damage by pitching irrelevant stories to bloggers. If their blog is about digital cameras, don’t send them information on TiVO (you know who you are).

15. Be Polite and Courteous

Making demands, assumptions and being overly familiar can sometimes lead to people binning your pitch. I’ve been left shaking my head numerous times of late at the arrogance and demands of some. On the flip-side though – some pitches come across as so polite that they seem sterile. I guess there’s a fine line to walk here. Keep in mind that cultural differences come into play on this too.

16. Free Stuff Works, But….

Sending schwaag, review copies, samples etc can work well with bloggers – however you need to be a little careful and learn from the mistakes that others have made in this area. My personal preference would be to require bloggers to disclose any benefit that they’ve received from you (particularly if it’s of any high value). Transparency matters. I would also recommend asking the blogger if they want to receive what you’re sending them before you send it.

17. Mention Your Blog

Most bloggers are wired to be on the look out for other bloggers. If you have a blog, mention it in your pitch (your introduction). If you don’t have a blog – why not?

18. Link Up

One quick way to get on many blogger’s radars is to link to them on your own blog or website. This shows that you know who they are, might send them some traffic and is a show of good will that can help to break down those initial walls that can be hard to get through with a blogger. Keep in mind that larger bloggers get a lot of links from other sites and blogs so this may not have a massive impact in all circumstances – but it can’t hurt.

19. Give an exclusive

Bloggers love to break stories. It helps them build traffic, establish credibility and profile and gives them the perception of being more connected in their niche. Offering some sort of exclusive angle on a story, access to interview a key person or even given them the exclusive rights to be first with a story is something that might help you get your story featured on a blog. A quick warning though – if you tell someone that they have an exclusive but in fact end up offering it to numerous others you could end up doing more harm than good.

20. Don’t Include Anything You Don’t Want Blogged in your Communications

I’ve seen a number of companies burnt by sending emails out to bloggers that included both the official press release and pitch – as well as other information that they didn’t want to go out – the whole lot got blogged about. This can happen either because the blogger didn’t realize and just copied and pasted everything OR because the information that wasn’t meant to be blogged was too juicy for the blogger to resist publishing (even though they knew they probably shouldn’t have).

21. A word on Embargoes

Some companies approach bloggers with information in advance of product launches on the condition that the story can’t be broken before a certain time. This enables the blogger to digest the information before launch and have something prepared to write about that goes beyond rehashing a press release. The downside of this is that some bloggers either don’t understand embargoes or don’t like them – some blatantly break them to get the exclusive. I personally respect them – but would rather a company approach me in a relational way and work with me on a coordinated release of information that isn’t a hard and fast embargo – but a more relational and trusting exchange of information.

Obviously incorporating all 21 points into your next pitch of a blogger might be a little too much to ask – but as both a blogger and someone has done my fair share of pitching I would recommend at least attempting to incorporate some of the above.