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Lessons from my Tomato Patch on Pruning ‘Sucker’ Blogs

My-Tomatoes
Warning, Tangent Ahead – One of the best tips I’ve had in my new found hobby of growing vegetables is when it comes to growing Tomatoes (we currently have more than V and I can eat – so the tip is working).

The idea behind the tip is simple.

Tomato bushes grow fast in the right conditions and while they might start as a small seedling, left unchecked they will sprout out into all directions with new stems and can quickly become quite out of control and tangled. The result is that you end up with a very healthy looking bush – but because it is so large a lot of the energy that ideally should be being directed into growing fruit is wasted on growing leaves and stems and as a result your crop suffers.

The tip therefor is to look for ‘suckers’ and to prune them.

A sucker is a little shoot that grows out between two stems that can grow out into yet another stem (see picture below). In pruning them you keep the number of branches down and the bush doesn’t get out of control. Suckers also suck the energy away from your bush’s ability to grow fruit.

When I first heard this advice from my green thumbed friend it seems a little strange – surely one would want a big bush – wouldn’t that produce more fruit than a smaller one?

I decided to do a bit of an experiment. I let one bush go crazy and didn’t prune the suckers while I too the advice and removed them on my other bushes.

The results speak for themselves….

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There’s Gold in Your Archives

John from the Movie Blog just shot me an email with an experience he’s just had which illustrates one of the principles I tend to go on about here at ProBlogger (for example here, and):

Hey Darren,

Just a little piece of information that supports one of the things you talk about a lot here on your site… OLD POST STILL WORKING FOR YOU.

2 spikes in traffic that happend in the last week were both based on old post.

I put up a post a LONG time ago about the Colin Ferrell sex video scandle… when it came up again in the news this week, my old post brought in thousands of visitors.

Then last night… The Golden Globe awards were given out. My post for “Golden Globe Award Results”, which I put up for the 2005 awards show (a year ago) is coming up at #1 on Google and driving huge traffic today.

So there you go… just another illustration about how you’re right about the value of old posts still working for you.

John’s discovered first hand the power of Making Money with the Archives of your Blog. I’ve written numerous times on the topic – another ‘how to’ type post that might be helpful for people wanting to explore this is Increasing the Longevity of your Posts.

Sub-Niche Blogging – Lesson’s from a Baker Named Tom

Tom Otoole

Warning: Tangent Ahead

A few months ago ‘V’ and I took a some time off to go on a weekend road trip to a country town in the North East of our state called Beechworth.

One of the interesting things about the lead up to the trip was the well over half the people we told where we were heading immediately would tell us about the Beechworth Bakery (in fact it was probably closer to 80-90% of people).

I wasn’t surprised by this as I’d come across the bakery a number of times over the past couple of decades. Firstly as a child visiting Beechworth but then in more recent years as someone interested in business and coming across the name of the owner of the bakery (Tom O’Toole) many times as an entrepreneur who does a lot of public speaking and who has written a number of popular books on the topic of how he’s built his business. Tom has a reputation of being a pretty zany kind of guy who has built a multi-million dollar business.

When we got to Beechworth the Bakery was even bigger than I remember it as a child – business has been good for Tom. The Bakery now occupies two levels and is a dominant feature of the main street of what is a reasonably small country town with a big focus on Tourism for it’s Gold Mining History.

We enjoyed a number of good lunches and coffees at the bakery over the weekend (as well as some other very fine restaurants which the town has) but I didn’t think much more about Tom and his bakery until this past weekend when we were traveling through two other rural towns/cities in another part of the state (Echuca and Bendigo) and came across two more ‘Beechworth Bakeries’.

It seems that Tom has gotten into the Franchise business and that there are now 7 ‘Beechworth Bakeries’ across the country.

As I sat having lunch in one of them last Friday I began to ponder what Tom had done.

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Investment Blogging

Nice post by Chris again over at Performancing – Maximise Your Income With Common Sense:

‘Answer this, what is the basic unit of blogging? The blog post. Each post is like an individual worker in your workforce. Some posts might work harder than others. Some attract more attention than others. Each earns you a little revenue, together they are your means of gaining income. So common sense point number one; it makes sense that if you grow your work force, your body of work within your blog, that your income potential will grow.’

I love the ‘posts as workers’ analogy – very cool.

I was talking to someone recently about this very same topic and I used the analogy of each post being like a small deposit into the bank.

When I was a kid my parents would give me 20 cents each week to take up to the teller in the bank (back when banks had humans to serve you) to put into my savings account. They taught me the power of investing from a young age because my 20 cent pieces added up over the years and with the help of some interest and a few gifts from Nana Rowse saved up for that cool dragster bike I’d dreamt of.

20 cents by itself doesn’t get you much but consistent deposits can add up to something quite significant.

The same is true with blogging. Each post by itself might not have much impact in terms of traffic, ad revenue, incoming links (or any other way that you might measure it’s success) but write a few posts a day for a year and you’ll find yourself building something with a higher chance of ‘success’.

9 Ways to Screw Up Your Professional Blog

Today I spent a few hours surfing through this blog’s archives as part of my annual review. One of the many things I noticed is that there are many articles on how to improve your blog and hardly any on how to totally screw it up.

I thought it was time to rectify this and so tonight am proud to present my top 9 ways to screw up your Professional Blogging Career:

1. Ignore Ad Network Rules

Every ad network and most affiliate programs have sort of list of rules, regulations or terms of service that are very helpful for screwing up any hope of making money with them. If I was hell bent on ending my career as a blogger I’d start by flouting these sorts of rules. It’s very difficult to earn a living from blogging if the people who hand out the money boot you out of their networks. Rules like clicking on your own ads, asking others to click on your ads, telling everyone in minute detail all the details of your earnings stats, breaking swearing rules, writing about gambling, explicit content, changing ad codes – all these things and more can quickly ensue your evacuation from ad programs like AdSense, Chitika and YPN. Do this and you’re well on the way to screwing up your ProBlogging Aspirations. PS: an especially good way to kill a few birds with one stone is to run YPN, AdSense and Chitika Contextual Ads all on the one page at once.

2. Make Big Claims that Won’t Follow Through on

Once you’ve pissed off the advertisers it’s time to start messing with the minds with your readers. One great way to get them offside and leaving your blogs in droves is to constantly make massive claims and promises that you never follow up on. Constant announcements about your grand visions and plans that never eventuate, biting off much more than you can chew and generally big noting yourself and your achievements as a blogger when you’ve got nothing more to brag about than the fact that you know how to make words bold or in italics – yep all these things are sure to make your readers not only leave – but do so angrily.

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Guidelines for Teen Pro Bloggers

I’ve had a growing number of emails from teenagers in the last couple of months – all asking about how they can get into blogging for an income.

In a general sense I think blogging can be brilliant for teens (and even children) for a number of reasons as I’ll explain below, I also recommend to those that email me that they should proceed with a little caution as well.

Blogging is something that all ages can engage in (young and old). Many teens do it on a personal level (not for profit) and increasingly schools are using blogs in their curriculums as part of their assessment methods. Recent studies showed that 1 in 5 teens had blogs – whether you think it’s a good idea or not for teens (and some people do argue strongly against it) the fact is that they are doing it and perhaps rather than fighting against we should attempt to build awareness about how they can do it more safely and responsibly.

Teen ProBloggers
Over the last year I’ve seen a number of teenagers (and even one or two younger than that) doing blogging with a more professional intent.

There are some really great things about this. Here are a couple that come to mind:

PocketmoneyPocket Money (and more) – when I was 16 I worked in a supermarket stacking shelves (I referred to myself as a ‘shelf technician’). While it was nice to have some extra money in my pocket I would have loved to earn the same sort of money while surfing the web (if there had been a ‘web’ back then – gee I’m old). I know of a few teens who are making pocket money levels of income from blogging and think this will become more common. Of course just because you’re young doesn’t mean you can only earn small amounts of money from blogging. The cool thing about the web is that it has the ability to even things out for people on many fronts including that of age. I know of a couple of teens who actually make VERY good money from blogging. It’s taken them time to build up – but they’ll graduate high school with money to go to college (and more) from their micro businesses.

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The Secret to Becoming a Professional Blogger in Half the Time

The following post has been submitted by Shane Pike from Three: Twenty Interactive.

The secret to becoming a professional blogger in half the time is … doubling your current revenue.

Thank you very much. You guys have been a great audience. Enjoy the rest of the blog.

(Oh. You want to know how to double your revenue? Oh, allllllright.)

What do you think is the fastest way to double the revenue from your blog?

(I’ll give you a minute to think about it.)

(Seriously. Answer the question before you read on.)

(Did you really answer it?)

Alright. Show of hands. How many said a) doubling your traffic or b) finding higher paying advertisers was the fastest way to double your revenue?

If you did, you’re in very good company.

Too often, we get so close to our blogs that we develop tunnel vision. Everything is in place, and we think if we can just keep generating enough content, and growing our readership, and if we can just find some higher paying advertisers, surely, somewhere down the road, we’ll get to the point where we can quit our day jobs and do what we really enjoy. We can see the progress, slowly, day by day, so we know we’ll get there eventually.
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In Case of Security – Planning for Blogging Disasters

I’m Michael Hampton, principal author of Homeland Stupidity, a U.S. politics blog. Today I want to address the issue of business continuity, that is, have you planned what to do if a disaster strikes your professional blogging operation?

Over the past few months I’ve had some all-too-common computer emergencies arise, and had to move fast to recover from them. In October, filesystem corruption ate about two weeks worth of e-mail, critical files such as all of my RSS feeds, and a few works in progress. I didn’t have up to date backups, and without them I’m only getting by as best I can without the missing materials.

And late Monday night my computer decided, during a round of system updates, to uninstall my feed reader, and then refused to reinstall it on Tuesday.

These are just two examples of things that can go wrong in pro blogging, but there are others. Have you planned what to do if your Web host suddenly goes down, as TypePad did recently, goes out of business entirely, or is hit by a natural disaster?

It’s one thing to simply address crises as they arise. About eight months ago, when my blog was still a small site running on my home computer, I needed to reinstall the entire operating system due to severe filesystem corruption. I pulled out an old Pentium 166 which I had laying around and pressed it into service as a temporary Web server to host my site while I was making repairs to my main computer. It was incredibly slow, but it served for the nearly full day it took to get the main computer running again.
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Keeping it Legal

This post was submitted by Stephanie Patag from Beyond Adobo, Asian Cuisine – The Asian Food Blog and Stefoodie.net.

Recently, two of my fellow food bloggers were plagiarized. In response, some of us decided to launch a protest blogging event. While preparing for the launch, it hit us just how much plagiarism goes on all the time. Sometimes it’s because people are simply unaware of what’s legal and what’s not. Sometimes they’re aware of what’s legal but just don’t care or take an attitude that “everyone else is doing it“. Sometimes it’s because the information that’s out there is ambiguous and confusing, which is to be expected since some of the rules/laws regarding fair use, linking (controversial to this day), etc. are still being written. Right now, though, if you stick to some basic rules, you should be fine.

Consider this before you read on: most of the laws/rules I outline here are applicable to US residents only. Because blogging is a worldwide phenomenon, there are not only different countries’ laws to consider, there are cultural and individual differences as well, hence variations on what’s deemed acceptable behavior on the ‘net and what’s not. [Read more...]