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ProBlogger Blog Case Study – Digital Photography School

Last week’s experiment with Vidcasting brought a lot of positive feedback so I’ve decided to make it a regular thing. This week I’m testing blip.tv (still in beta) to host my video. Let me know what you think in comments.

In this week’s vidcast (6 minutes and 23 seconds) I walk you through my latest ‘blog’ Digital Photography School. It’s an experiment on numerous levels and I talk you through some of the theories that I’m testing there.

By no means is this new project finished (it’ll take years to get to where I want to go) – I’m not satisfied with many aspects of it yet but as I say it’s more of an experiment than anything else and I’ll use it as a blog case study both in this vidcast but also in the coming months as I continue to develop it. In this way I hope to give a practical example from startup through to maturity (hopefully) on how I set up a new blog. I’m taking a long term view of this process so settle in for the ride.

Hopefully it will also be a useful blog for some of you who are interested in improving your digital camera technique – if that’s you you might wish to subscribe to it’s weekly email newsletter or RSS feed.

Of course any link love that you can give it will be much appreciated!

Here’s the Vidcast.


Blogs: Frequently Asked Questions

What are blogs anyway?

A blog is a regularly updated website consisting of regular article postings. Links to and from other blogs and traditional websites are a prominent feature of most blogs. A blog tends to be focussed on a single topic or issue, and usually invites comments from readers on the posted articles, starting a conversation between writer (called a blogger) and the readers. A blog usually reflects the personality of the writer, and is most often written in a personal and informal style.

Isn’t a blog just an online diary?

An online diary, or personal blog is only one type of blog. Along with personal blogs, there are many types of business, technology, and professional blogs. The personal blog was once the predominate form of blog, but that is definitely no longer the case.

Are there different types of blogs?

Blogs can be in the form of written blogs, hosted on a blog server or on the webmaster’s own site. Blogs can also be found that use audio postings rather than written posts. There are blogs for every type of business, profession, and technological concept. Writers, lawyers, accountants, real estate agents, search engine optimization experts, marketers, and public relations professionals are just a few of the professions making use of blogs in their businesses.

What value does a blog have for a business?

A blog opens up the lines of communication between the blog writer and the reader. By becoming accessible to the public, a business can be seen as more than simply a faceless company, but a group of real people. The blog provides a powerful element of personal contact with the reader, building trust and confidence in the business and its personnel.

What type of businesses could benefit from a blog?

Any type of business that requires communication with potential readers in the general public can benefit from maintaining a blog. The public can be current and potential customers and clients, the news media, other business or professionals in the industry, or simply casual readers interested in the topic.

What business uses does a blog have?

A blog is ideal for opening the lines of communication between the business and the current and future customers. Communications builds trust that goes far in the areas of marketing and public relations. The blog puts a human face on the company and builds the level of trust. People are far more likely to purchase products and services from other people who they know and trust. A blog is also a very powerful tool for improving search engine rankings because of the keyword rich fresh content and the abundant incoming links.

Are blogs a useful networking tool?

Because of the intensive personalization involved with writing blog posts, the blog is a natural networking vehicle. Readers interact with the writer through the blog comments and by e-mail. The contacts often lead eventually to many shared business opportunities. Successful business arrangements formed between two blog owners, and between a blogger and a reader, occur very frequently.

How could I start a blog?
[Read more...]

Humanity Still Trumps

This post has been submitted by regular contributor – Aaron Brazell

I suppose this is somewhat of a tangent but if you bear with me, I believe this dovetails nicely with the focus of this blog. Last Friday, I went through one of the most terrifying situations a parent can go through – having surgery performed on a child. In my case, my son is two years old.

Sure, in my case, the operation was minor, and the doctors were the best doctors in the world, but nonetheless – no surgery is minor and no doctor is immune from making mistakes.

So after an agonizing period of waiting while specialists, anasthesioloigists, and nurses paraded over to check on him while we waited for the procedure to begin, they finally took him into the back room to sedate him. The poor child had a look of sheer terror on his face while the doctors tried to calm him. One nice inhale of “the gas” and a wide-eyed look put him in a deep sleep.

My wife and I were allowed to go and grab a bite to eat in the cafeteria and were summoned a short time later to come be with our son. He was coming out of his drug-induced sleep and had been numbed from the waist down as well, so he definitely wasn’t feeling pain – we were told.

As parents, we sat there with Devin holding him and stroking his hair. He was miserable and the heart strings were being tugged as we sat watching him in discomfort. As parents, this sort of thing is agonizing. You hate to see your child uncomfortable.

The nurse, who I am sure is very experienced and very knowledgeable, kept trying to calm us and tell us things like “He can’t feel anything”, “This is normal” and “he’ll go back to sleep for a bit”.

At one point, the nurse looked and said, “I’m going to give him another dose of the pain medicine. He shouldn’t be waking up so soon. At another time, the monitor went off because he wasn’t getting enough oxygen. So the nurse fetched him an oxygen mask and made a comment about how it was very odd that he wasn’t getting oxygen.

The point of this very long and windy entry is that people that run an internet business, including bloggers who are monetizing their blogs, can easily fall into a pattern of the expected. It’s relatively easy to read entries here at ProBlogger and other sites that talk about optimizing sites for search engines, how to make title tags efficient or how to garner the most traffic and ad revenue. Like this Johns Hopkins nurse, there are notable experts in fields that will make their wizardry seem easy. And following the advice of experts will usually put you ahead of the crowd.

However, the one factor that cannot be quantified, measured, explained or predicted is the human factor. Despite the fact that our blogs and businesses are internet-based, they are based in humanity – a humanity that is unpredictable, emotional and takes different shapes for different humans. Sometimes all the 10 step processes and tricks don’t work because there are humans in the picture messing the formulas up.

Fortunately for us as bloggers, one size doesn’t fit all and when one formula fails, chances are we can find one that works in our situation with our personalities.

Australian AdSense Publishers Get Direct Debit Payments

Good news for Aussies today with AdSense notifyig them that they can now be paid by direct deposit! Here’s an excerpt from the email sent:

‘We have recently added a new payment option for Australia and wish to invite you to sign up to receive payments directly to your bank account.

I’m not sure if this is just an Australian thing or whether other countries have now been upgraded to EFT payments also but I know a few other Aussies that will be happy about this one.

Mark Pilgrim Gets Back in the Game

Mark Pilgrim is back. Mark Pilgrim was actually one of the early shapers of my philosophy on blogging and left me somewhat disappointed when he left the game a few years ago. It looks like he’s back though, based on his entertaining (as a parent) entry on bath time with his child, one cannot be sure what shape his blogging will take this time around.

Hat Tip: Blog Herald

Tips for Probloggers from Getting Real – the new e-book by 37 Signals

Rachel CunliffeHi! This is Rachel Cunliffe. I’m a blog designer from New Zealand and I thought I’d share with you some problogger tips from 37 Signals’ new e-book, “Getting Real” (which is selling very well).

If you haven’t come across 37 Signals’ products such as Basecamp, Backpack, Tada, Writeboard and most recently, campfire, it’s worth your time to find out what they offer. I’m finding Basecamp invaluable for managing my blog design clients.

As I read the e-book I realised that there’s also a lot of insight, encouragement and tips for (pro)bloggers. In fact, 37 Signals recommend their book for anyone who is an entrepreneur, designer, programmer or marketer working on a big idea. Their thoughts echo many of Darren’s posts here at Problogger too.

Here are 10 tips from the book along with some comments. [Read more...]

Introduction to Advertising Optimization – Traffic

To round out the Blogging for Beginners section on blogging for an income I want to touch on a few introductory principles for optimising advertising on blogs over the next few posts.

There are many different direct income earning methods (as outlined previously) and each will have it’s own ways of being optimised – but the following are principles that many bloggers find across different forms of advertising programs (for the sake of this post I’ll mainly use blogs using AdSense as examples – but much of what I write can be applied to different ad systems).

The basic factors that I’ll be covering in the following posts are:

  1. Traffic
  2. Ad Position
  3. Ad Design
  4. Ad Relevancy
  5. High Paying Ads

I believe that all five elements are important to running profitable ads on a blog. Take any one of them out of the picture and you decrease the overall earning potential that you have. ie a blog with high traffic but with ads that no one see’s is never going to earn much. Likewise a highly trafficked blog with well positioned ads that are completely irrelevant to the topic of the blog are less likely to perform to their potential… you get the point. Each element should be considered and worked on simultaneously.

I’ll start briefly with the first one in this post and will follow in the next day or two with a post on each of the following four:

Principle 1 – Traffic

The frustrating thing about blogging for an income is that you can have perfectly positioned, designed and relevant ads that would pay a fortune but still be not making any money at all because your blog has no traffic. So while I encourage publishers to work on design, placement and ad relevancy, it’s worth remembering that you shouldn’t do any of it at the expense of developing a quality blog that people will come and read.

This isn’t the post for talking about traffic building strategies (try here and here for some strategies on that) – but a holistic approach to building an online income will definitely factor traffic building as a primary objective.

Speaking from personal experience – I know how easy it is to get sidetracked by the other factors mentioned – but if you simultaneously work on building a readership you’ll build a much more profitable blog.

Next in this series we’ll examine Positioning Ads

Qumana – First Impression Review

Well rather than procrastinating I thought I’d download Qumana straight away and am writing this post from it as a first impression review.

Downloading was simple (is it ever not on a Mac?) with the file only 8.7MB. Installation was a breeze as was configuring Qumana to blog to ProBlogger. It, like other desktop editors, has an auto set up where it will search for your blog and settings once you type in it’s URL. I was ready to post within 30 seconds.

My first impression of the layout of the tool is that it looks pretty professional and at a glance seems to have all the features I’m used to using my normal desktop editor ecto. There are also a few extra buttons and features that I’m not used to including the ‘insert Ad’ button which is the interface that Qumana has with Adgenta ads (an ad network run by the same people). Following is a screen shot of the post window that I’m currently looking at

Qumana

Inserting an image like that is a drag and drop deal and resizing the image can be done either by right clicking it and entering the ‘image properties’ option or by clicking on the image and resizing it by dragging it in a similar way to the way you’d do it in a Word Document.

I’m unsure if this image will appear as a thumbnail in my actual post (I use thumbnails a lot via ecto) and cannot see a ‘preview’ option which is something else I’m used to. update: as it turned out there were problems uploading the pictures so I’ve uploaded the image using another method and have made it a thumbnail. I’m not sure what the problem with the images was – it could have been at my end or theirs.

[Read more...]

How to Get Your Blog to 100,000 Visitors and Beyond

This post has been submitted by ‘FMF’ from Free Money Finance. It’s actually the first post in a series he’s going to start on FMF in the coming week by the same title.

How to Get Your Blog to 100,000 Visitors and Beyond – Step 1: Pick the Right Topic

I’ve had a lot of requests to detail how I got 100,000 visitors (now past 150k as I write this) to Free Money Finance. While the topic is not clearly in the subject area of personal finances, it can be part of how you increase your income (and thus improve your net worth), so I’ll cover it. Plus, this will serve to help out other bloggers as well as remind me of what else I need to do to grow this blog. If this isn’t your cup of tea, simply ignore these posts. I post frequently enough that a new, money-related post is not far behind this one.

I’ll over this topic in a series of “steps”, each one presenting a simple, unique step I took to get to 100,000 visitors. I’ll also try to keep the steps in the order I did them, though several happened simultaneously, so that won’t be easy.

That said, here we go.

Step 1 to getting to 100,000 visitors and beyond: Pick the right topic.

This might seem to be a simple step (and maybe even counter blogging — can’t I just blog about what I want?), but it’s critical. To me, the right topic is one that:

You’re passionate about — If you’re not passionate about it, you won’t post regularly, you’ll lose interest, and your readers will be able to tell your heart isn’t really in it (and they’ll go away). If you are, your readers will identify with you and get to “love” your personality. And they’ll come back. And tell their friends to stop by.

You’re knowledgeable about — You don’t have to be an expert on the topic, but you need to know more than most people to get a lot of people to your site. Otherwise, why would they stop by (or come back)?

Is it popular — Let’s face it, if you want to write about the exercise habits of your hamster, not many people are likely to visit your blog. You have to have a topic that many, many people want to read about if you want to get to 100k. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t write about your hamster (or anything else a large group wouldn’t want to read about). If you blog for your own pleasure, then go for it — make Hammy a star. But if you want to get to 100,000 visitors, you need a topic (like personal finances) that many people what to know more about.

Watch out for the rest of FMF’s series later in the week at Free Money Finance.