Jason Calacanis Gives Advice

John Evans over at Syntagma has just posted a short Interview with Jason Calacanis of Weblogs Inc (well done John – Jason is a hard man to tie down for an interview of any length – I gave up a year ago :-) ).

John asked Jason ‘what’s the single most effective monetization step for a blog network?’ Jason answers:

‘Create world-class content every day for a year. Folks get one to three months into blogging and they’re like “I don’t have an audience.” Uhhh…. well, it’s only been three months.

If you’re going to make it in blogging today you have really be willing to invest a decent amount of time (or money).’

Read the full interview here.

23 Questions for Prospective Bloggers – Is a Blog Right for You?

Before launching further into the Blogging for Beginners series I would like to take a step back from some of the practicalities of setting up a new blog and ask potential bloggers a question…

Is a Blog the Right type of Web Site for you?

While I’m a big fan of blogging as a way to get content online – I’ve seen it built up by some bloggers over the years as being the ultimate way of having a web presence.

In my opinion this is just not true.

While Blogs are great (in my experience) they are not the ultimate type of website. They do not have all of the answers and they do not suit every application or situation.

It may be that after analysing your needs, personality, hopes, experiences and style that you find blogging does fit well for your purposes – but it may also be other web applications fit better with where you’re at. Don’t just rush into blogging and expect the world.

There are probably other people who are much better at selling you some of the other types of web applications out there (look into wikis, static websites, forums etc) so I’ll leave you to do your own research – but here is a list of 23 questions (written in no particular order except that it is the order they came out of my head in) that you might want to ponder before leaping into blogging. I’ve put a few brief comments next to each to get you going.

Please note that these questions are in essence a list of qualities of successful bloggers that I’ve come across over the last few years. If you don’t have some of these qualities it’s not the end of your blogging dreams. The list is idealistic and the questions are there to help potential bloggers enter into blogging with open eyes and making good decisions about whether a blog is right for them. It also might help potential bloggers to think about what type of blog they might start and what type of skills they might need to develop:

Without further ado – here’s my 23 questions: [Read more…]

How to Measure a Blog’s Success?

As I was writing my post a couple of days back on the Conversation Index (comment to post ratio) that some bloggers are talking about as a measure of success for blogging I found myself asking the question:

‘How should a blog’s success be measured?’

As I mentioned in my post, the conversational index might be a useful calculation to make overtime to measure the interactivity on a blog – but this is only one possible element of success that a blogger might choose to evaluate.

Here are a few other measures of success that different bloggers might use to evaluate how their blogs are going. Some will be more or less relevant for different blogs and will depend upon the goals and objectives of the blogger:

1. Traffic – The most common ways that bloggers seem to evaluate a blog are the different measures of traffic. Different bloggers seem to have their own preferences for different aspects of traffic:

  • Unique Visitors – individual IP addresses logged to a page
  • Page Views – the total number of pages viewed (it’s useful to watch the ratio of pages viewed per visitor – the higher it is the stickier your site is)
  • Hits – the number of requests sent for a file to the server

2. Length of Stay – I know some bloggers who watch the time that the average visitor stays on a blog as a measure of stickiness.

3. RSS Subscribers – RSS subscriber levels is increasingly coming into play for many blogs. While it varies greatly from blog to blog in terms to how many readers are utilizing it I’m finding it more and more common to find bloggers who have a pretty good grasp on the numbers of subscribers (something most of us had little idea on even a year ago). Services like Feedburner and Bloglines make it easier to keep an eye on these numbers.

[Read more…]

Selling Text Links

It seems that more and more bloggers are being approached via email by companies seeking to buy text link ads on their blogs. For example one of my readers forwarded me this email yesterday (names have been removed):

Greetings – I am looking to purchase 5 text link ads on your site

I would be willing to pay upfront for 3 months for these ads

Our links could be placed anywhere on your website

Looking forward to your response,


I’ve seen many different variations on this email but most contain pretty similar requests.

The question that I’m getting from many readers are:

  • ‘how do I respond?’
  • ‘have you heard of XXXX company’ (ie the people sending the email)
  • ‘are they legitimate?’
  • ‘how much should I charge for a link?’

Here’s a few reflections on how I’d suggest you move forward in responding to these types of requests.

1. Ask Yourself some Questions – Think some of these questions through first:

  • Do I want ads on my site? – It’s quite legit to have a blog with no intention of making money? The interesting thing is that many of these emails are being sent to bloggers with no current ads on their blogs – so while for many readers of a blog like this the question is a no brainer with a ‘yes’ answer – it’s something to think through if this is your first entry into blogging for money. There are implications of putting ads on your blog that you will want to have a think about. What impact will it have upon your design, how will your regular readers respond etc
  • Do I want MORE ads on my site? – If you already have ads, what impact will more have? Are you in danger of clutter? There comes a time when enough is enough.
  • Am I willing to administer the logistics of ads? – Adding multiple revenue streams to your blog is a good thing from the income side of things but there are some costs in terms of your own time. Most of these ad requests are like the above – for a longer period of time and paid every month or quarter but I have heard of a few that have been a little more involved and have required bloggers to chop and change the links every now and again. Also be aware that you’ll need a simple system to keep track of when payments are due. This is simple if you have one blog with one text link running on it but becomes more complicated when you have multiple blogs with a number of campaigns running on each. Keeping track of who has paid can become a bit messy unless you have a system.

[Read more…]

Blog Stalkers – Personal Safety for Bloggers

‘Stalker’ is such a harsh word and one not to be used lightly but in December of last year I realized that I had one.

I’ve hinted at this once or twice in this blog and in my email newsletter and some ProBlogger readers did see a few of the comments that he left on this blog (he was the one that called himself ‘blogkiller’ – but I’ve avoided talking about it up until now for reasons of security and not wanting to agitate the situation further.

It’s been almost two months now since the situation was resolved and I believe it is now safe to talk about it without inflaming things (but hope you’ll forgive me for not going into too many specifics).

What I will say is that the situation arose when someone who lives in my city read a number of posts written on another blog about me. Before he read them I was unknown to him but the posts attacked me, made allegations about me which were untrue and it was written (in my opinion) without fact checking in quite an aggressive tone. Who wrote it and which post it is is irrelevant (in fact I’ve made peace with the blogger and resolved it) – the fact is the person who read it was in a place in their life where they were under extreme pressure and mentally unstable.

The posts were enough to trigger some extreme thought processes and obsessions in this person that led to a chain of escalating events that went from what I initially considered to be a harmless comment troll, to a cyber-nuisance, to a concerning threat maker, to what unfortunately became a situation where there was a physical attack made upon my property.

This process was very unsettling and in the end shook me up quite a bit.

As I’ve written above the situation is now resolved. I do not feel under threat – but in the process I’ve learned a lot and have a somewhat different view of blogging.

I wanted to share this story for a couple of reasons.

[Read more…]

How to Make Your Millions through Blogging???

I just saw a blog post on a blog (I’m not going to link to it because it’s a pretty spammy site that pushes splog software and was filled with lots of affiliate ads) that made me laugh (and feel a little depressed all at once).

The topic of the post was about how to make massive income through AdSense and Affiliate programs through creating ‘niche content sites’. Here were their steps:

1. Set up a Blog – they recommended a variety of free blogging platforms (including – which if you dig even a little you find don’t allow you to use Adsense, YPN, Chitika or most other ad systems on

2. Add your Google Adsense Code – (with affiliate button)

3. Find a related affiliate products (they recommend ClickBank – of course with an affiliate link)

4. Promote your blog (using pinging software – more affiliate links)

Easy isn’t it!

But what’s the missing step in this process to creating massively successful niche content sites?

How about Content?

[Read more…]

Using a Blog Editorial Calendar to Plan Content

Excel Editorial Calendar
If you’re the type of blogger who needs (or likes) a bit of structure and planning in your blogging activities you might like to check out the Editorial Calendar that Andy has put together to help you map a rhythm for your blog.

I will say that this sort of strategy is not for everyone but I do know of a number of bloggers who swear by using this type of tool to keep their blog’s frequently updated with a variety of interesting posts.

Andy was inspired to come up with this calendar by his recent interview with Yvonne from Lipsticking. He describes her suggestion as follows:

“In that call, she suggests bloggers use an editorial calendar to keep their blogging on track throughout the week: pick a topic to cover for each day of the week and stick to it. That way, there’s no friction in figuring out what to post for a given day. You can choose certain topics for each day of the week, a certain category to post in, a certain type of post format (interivew, top 10 list, etc). The important part is that you are removing another brick of potential writer’s block.”

While I don’t find a rigid schedule helpful on any of my blogs I’ve recommended it for a number of bloggers who have suffered from bloggers block. It’s especially good for new bloggers who are not yet in the rhythm of posting regularly and who need a little motivation and inspiration each day to get things going.

The other side benefit that Yvonne spoke about in her recent interview with Andy was that she found that some of her readers loved her weekly cycle and would come to the blog each day knowing what they’d find and enjoying the regular features.

Once again – it’s not for everyone but worth playing with if you struggle with a more random approach.

What to Do when Your Blog is Attacked


‘Blogging would be great if it wasn’t for the people.’

This is the comment of one blogger that I spoke with recently after they’d had a particularly hard week of blogging. He had come under quite intense criticism from a number of other bloggers in his niche who had attacked him after he’d rather unwisely picked a fight with one of them. Some of the attack he received was fair enough (he deserved it in part) but other parts got personal and spiteful and left a sour taste in the mouth of all concerned. To say there was a ‘blog fight’ would be an understatement.

There comes a time in most blogger’s experience when blogging just sucks. When you communicate in a public forum you are automatically put under scrutiny – when you communicate online there seems to be an added pressure as there is an anonymity on the web that seems to cause some people to loose all sense of reasonableness, curtsey and inhibitions (a dangerous combination).

So what should you do when it all gets too much and blogging begins to suck because of the actions of others? Here are a few thoughts that come from my own experience of sucky blogging days over the past few years.

1. Thicken Your Skin – For starters, and even before you start a blog, you need to prepare yourself for the day that ‘one of those days’ comes along in your blogging. As I say, it will happen if you blog for long enough so you might as well start preparing yourself for it sooner than later. In fact while some people don’t like criticism and sometimes it’s not much fun to see the weaknesses in your work pointed out – it’s actually one of the strengths of blogging and a certain level of critique should be expected and will help to make you a better blogger. Having said this you might like to also prepare for how you might deal with it before it happens rather than reacting in the heat of the moment in a way that might do more damage than good.

2. Establish Boundaries – This is another thing you should do before a conflict to help preempt them. I’ve talked about setting boundaries on many occasions on this blog in terms of deciding what you will and won’t blog about – but another type of boundary to consider is the type of things that you’ll allow in the interactive areas of your blog. For instance, what level of language will you allow? Will you delete comments that engage in flaming? What tolerance will you have for trolls? What will you do if someone leaves a comment that could be defamatory towards someone else? What types of comments will and won’t you respond to? Once again, thinking about these things before a conflict is helpful once it actually happens. While I know that some people have problems with editing the comments of others on their blog, I do not. If someone leaves a comment that I think goes beyond what I’m comfortable with take approapriate action. While this has happened to me on only a handful of occassions in three years – it does occassionally happen (usually when I feel someone’s comments are defamatory, racist and/or very offensive).

[Read more…]

Most Blog Readers Don’t Care they are Reading a Blog

One of the problems of immersing yourself in any one sub-group of people is that it’s very easy to lose the bigger picture.

This happens in many areas of life but is true for bloggers and more specifically for those who are active in the ‘Pro Blogging’ part of the overall blogging community.

One of the traps that it’s easy to fall into as a blogger is to think that your readers care that they are reading a blog.

While there is definitely a growing percentage of the wider population that know what a blog is and that would intentionally seek them out to read – the vast majority of web users either are blissfully unaware of blogs or if they do know about them couldn’t give two hoots about them.

In my experience what web users DO care about is getting relevant and quality information quickly.

Whether they find it on a forum, a static web page or on a blog doesn’t concern them.

What worries me as I surf through many blogs each day is that there seem to be quite a few bloggers (and some blog networks) who in my mind are a little obsessed with reminding their readers that they are on a blog. While there is nothing wrong with educating readers about blogging occasionally I suspect in most cases readers don’t really care and that constantly reminding them of the fact that they are on a blog is something that can actually work against you.

This was illustrated to me a few months ago when after being Slashdotted I read the comments thread on the post that had linked to me there and was very amused by the fact that quite a few readers were paying out blogs but were completely unaware that their beloved Slashdot was in fact a blog itself. When some pointed this out to them there was a shock among some who said that they’d never considered Slashdot to be a blog because it had never promoted itself as such.

Instead of promoting itself as a blog as such, Slashdot works hard at presenting itself as a space where nerds get news about ‘stuff that matters’.

I listened to an interesting podcast this morning with Jeremy Wright and Tyme White where they picked up on this theme for a few minutes towards the end of their conversation. In it they talked a little about how many blogs and blog networks seem to be writing for other bloggers but are perhaps missing the bigger market of ‘non-bloggers’ who are not as technologically minded or web savvy but who just want information about the stuff they love.

I think their observation is correct. While I’m not suggesting bloggers need to dumb down their blogging I think the mind-shift of moving from writing for other bloggers to writing for ‘normal people’ (I can see bloggers everywhere scrolling down to the comments section after that phrase) is one worth making for most bloggers.

This means getting out of our own little Pro Blogging Ghetto and learning to communicate with others in ways that are accessible and smart – otherwise we limit the potential for our success.