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AdSense Earnings for November 2006

Last week I surveyed readers on their AdSense earnings for the month of November. I was hoping to run the poll for a full week but due to some problems with the plugin I was using only got around two days of data (732 respondents).

The results were quite similar to last years version of this same poll. Here’s a visual breakdown of numbers of respondents in each of the categories:

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As with previous years, the largest group of bloggers using with AdSense earn under $10 a month (28% of of all who use AdSense).

Interestingly – the second largest category wasn’t the $10 – $29 category – but the $100-$499 one (21%).

The top category of over $10,000 in a month was reached by 23 bloggers (4%). 16% are earning over the magical $1000 per month mark.

Here’s a pie chart with all the percentages (note, I’ve taken out the ‘don’t use AdSense’ category).

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Use Reader’s Previous Amazon Purchases to Drive Future Sales

Reader-Quick-TipsThis reader ‘quick tip’ is from David from Strobist (one of my favorite digital photography blogs that focusses upon the sub-niche of ‘lighting’.

I have gotten so much from your blog that I wanted to pass along a tip that might help your readers.

My primary income streams on Strobist have evolved from the initial typical Adsense structure to about 50:50 CPM banners and Amazon affiliate sales.

My traffic is still in the high growth phase, and shows no signs of levelling off anytime soon.

But even that does not explain the growth I am seeing in the Amazon affiliate sales. My core is a series of specially selected books on the right sidebar – this works far better than the computer-generated ads.

But the best idea I have come up with yet is to feature a monthly “Hot List” of the top ten items purchased by readers. I list it at the beginning of each month, as compiled from the previous month. See the October Hot List here.

The publication of that list has the effect of sending my Amazon sales through the roof for a few days. And it happens each month.

I do some minor commentary on the month’s new list entries and such, and archive the latest on an aggregation page.

It’s a simple thing, but it really works for me.

From Darren: David’s tip is actually something I’ve done from time to time in different ways. For example I recently put together this Digital Camera and Photography Gift Ideas list based upon reader purchases at Amazon.

Chitika ShopCloud$

Chitika have announced a new product today – ShopCloud$

You can see an example of it below – but basically it is a tag cloud that highlights ‘hot products’ as well as a search box with an AJAX option that suggests products as people add letters into the search field.

When readers click on one of the links in the cloud readers are taken to a shoplinc page (if you have one it’ll take readers to yours, if not it’ll go to Chitika’s own shoplinc) where readers are given information on the product and opportunities to click on CPC ads.

There’s nothing actually in this ad unit that directly generates money but it is an interesting way to get people into your Shoplinc and I can see it working well at the bottom of posts/blogs.

Below is an example of a live ShopCloud (hopefully it will fit here on ProBlogger). If it’s not working in your browser (seems to be some issue for some with the way WP displays this) you can see one live in action here.

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Google Gadgets Available for Webpages

Google today announced Google Gadgets are now available for webpage owners.

Previously they were only available for Google Desktop or Homepage but now publishers can add them. In a sense they are widgets which will sit in your side bar and they range from Google Maps, to the Current Moon Phase, to games, translation and time and date.

I’m not about to rush out and add any of them to my blogs but there might be some worth using depening upon the nature of your blog.

found via Duncan

How to turn a normal WordPress installation into a working online shop

Ever thought of adding a shop to your blog? I know some of you have as you’ve asked me how to do it. There are a few options emerging for bloggers. We’ve seen Chitika launch Shoplinc and Amazon launch aStores – but both don’t really give you a heap of control over how your shop runs and looks.

Another option that does give you more control is to make your own store. There are lots of ways to do this. I’m not expert enough to really outline them all (if there is anyone who is that would like to do a guest post on the options please let me know) however I came across a post today that could be useful for some looking at these options.

It appealed to me because it uses a tool that many of us know and love – WordPress.

Serial Deviant is the one who wrote the post and you can read it at How to turn a normal WordPress installation into a working online shop.

It does assume some knowledge of HTML and CMS but as many of you are more than proficient with them I though I’d share it. Give it a go and let us know what your results are like!

found via Andy

Lists Group Writing Project – Categorized

During the Last Group Writing Project (on the topic of Lists) I was quite overwhelmed by the number of entries. The list that we ended up with had a total of 301 lists.

The main problem with the final list of entries was that despite containing a lot of great posts – it was difficult to find posts that would interest you as they were in no way classified.

As a result I decided that I’d commission a fellow blogger, Christina Jones from eBeauty Daily, to see if she’d come up with a way of making some sense of it.

Here’s how she’s done it (thanks Christina!)
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Meez

A little weekend fun….

What do you think of the likeness?

You Don’t Need a Product of Your Own to Have a Successful Product Blog

As we wrap up this short series of posts on product blogging, let’s take a look at a strategy for those who may not have a product of their own to sell. We’ve looked at selling information and niche e-commerce, and you can obviously use those strategies with products that you sell on behalf of others.

Two Ways to Work on Commission

Selling for others online basically boils down to two options:

  1. Affiliate programs are a logical choice. They’re easy to find and join via various affiliate program directories, and tracking and payment systems are already in place. However, you have competition. The key to successful affiliate product blogs is to add independent value, as we’ll discuss below.
  2. Joint ventures or representation agreements are another option, and can be hugely profitable if structured and executed properly. In this case, you find a product that is not currently being marketed online, and strike a deal with the owner that allows you to sell the item on a negotiated commission basis. You’ll also need to be familiar with affiliate program software, as you’ll likely be advising the seller on how to set up a way to track your sales.

Add Value and Build Credibility

With the crack down on the “Google Cash” method of sending searchers directly to affiliate merchant sites via pay-per-click, plus the most recent AdWords landing page shake-up, the situation is clear — the pressure is on to actually add value, rather than simply drive traffic. Plus, as the Internet itself makes consumers more savvy then ever, some of the older affiliate marketing techniques have become less effective.

  1. Adding value means offering something to the potential buyer beyond a link to the merchant site. This could be free bonuses you deliver with a purchase, or even a rebate that comes from your commission. But it need not be anything like that. Creating content that caters to the lifestyle surrounding the product, or that shows how a product solves a problem, is a value-add strategy that is perfectly suited for blogs.
  2. Creating “review” sites monetized by affiliate links is a strategy that goes way back, but it may not work very well going forward. Savvy consumers can sniff out your profit motive, and discount your review and go looking elsewhere. Blogs like Engadget and Darren’s own digital camera review blog forego hard selling of the product and rely mostly on advertising instead. You’ll want to be transparent about wanting to sell the product if that’s your model, and by no means be ashamed of it.

Learn the Product, and Don’t be Afraid to SELL It!

It’s impossible to truly add value and maintain credibility without really understanding what you’re selling. In-house copywriters live and breathe the details of the company products, and the first thing freelance copywriters do when starting a new assignment is become exhaustively familiar with everything they can get their hands on about the item to be sold.

Once you really understand a product, and believe in it, selling becomes much easier. Your enthusiasm is genuine, and people can pick up on that in your writing. Combine your knowledge and that excitement with good copywriting, and you’re on your way.

If you’re interested in learning more about copywriting for product blogs, affiliate marketing and joint ventures, I’ll be digging in deeper over at my place.

Otherwise, thanks to Darren for letting me guest post during his paternity leave — his biggest adventure is only just beginning. :)

How to Sell Niche Products With Your Blog

Back when my wife and I lived in a hip loft on the east side of downtown Dallas (read: back before the kids came), I used to take the dog for walks in our funky little neighborhood just north of Deep Ellum. There resided an artist who worked and lived out of his studio, where he crafted eccentric sculptures out of recycled iron and steel scrap.

I’d often wonder as I walked by his place if it was worth his while to have a website to gain a wider audience for his work. Back at that time, just after a monumental Internet bust that resulted from outrageous amounts of money being spent to promote sock puppets, I wasn’t sure if the guy could attract enough traffic from a web presence to actually make sales, no matter how good his work was.

Fast forward to 2006.

The Rise of the “Catablog”

John Unger is an artist in rural Michigan who works and lives out of his studio along a lonely highway, or as he puts it, “dead center of the middle of nowhere”. John makes eccentric art and sculptures out of recycled scrap materials, such as propane tanks, old cars, rivets, and bottle caps.

Here’s the cool thing. John sells quite a bit of his work thanks to his blog.

Why? Well, when other little blogs like Boing Boing (and many others) take notice, amazing things start happening in terms of traffic and sales. That’s something that the e-commerce people of the late 90s just never got — it’s the little guy with the unique product that can gain the most benefit from worldwide exposure.

Basically, anything that can be sold by catalog is a perfect candidate for Internet sales. And when you create a “catablog,” you have no worries about printing, distribution, copy space, or often even advertising costs. You don’t even need a fancy $10,000 ecommerce site or a merchant account thanks to PayPal.

Why John Unger’s Product Blog Works

John Unger basically uses a “two blog” structure powered by TypePad. One blog is more of a general nature about what’s going on with his studio, and the other is his catablog of items for sale.

John not only makes unique products, but he knows how to present those products via photography and copy that sells. Let’s take a look at one of his items and how he presents it.

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