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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...]

The Undocumented Tools of a Blogger’s Trade

The Undocumented Tools of a Blogger’s Trade

I’m John Evans and I write Windows Vista and Microsoft Weblog for b5media. My personal blog is SYNTAGMA.

Medieval monks had their scriptoriums for the laborious task of illuminating manuscripts. Do modern bloggers have an equivalent nook?

A blogorium, ideally, would be a room set apart from the daily round. Quiet, even to the point of meditative in mood, it would contain the tools of the blogger’s art, plus a few indispensable extras. No, not a minibar. I was thinking more of a trampoline (see below).

The blogorium would be the focus of any serious blogger’s household. Children would pass the hallowed entrance in awe and perpetual silence. The dog would refuse to bark when padding by. Wives would remove suggestive clothing; husbands stop clanging their tools around. In short, it would be a place of retreat, devoted to blogativity.

My blogorium is a snappy space with a bay window which overlooks a rest-home for the elderly. I can gaze down and contemplate my future. Coincidentally, the room has become a repository for furniture nobody knows what to do with. Thus it has developed an old world colonial charm of decaying opulence, rounded off by the aroma of ancient books and polished oak. And that’s only the blogger.

All bloggers deserve a blogorium, I believe, if they are to do their best work undisturbed by the trivia that passes for life. A short verse written about the writer Rupert Brooke catches the mood : [Read more...]

Preventing Blog Burnout

The following post has been submitted by Dan Zarrella from TomKatCrazy! (one of the new celeb blogs over at b5media).

We’ve all heard the normal tips about establishing a regular posting frequency and finding a tight niche to focus on, but as we start posting to more and more blogs it becomes important to prevent blogging burnout when posting to 5 blogs a day. The best way to do this is to plan for sustainability.

When picking a topic or niche most general wisdom indicates that you should focus as tightly as possible to really cover the subject well, but it is easy to select a micro-niche that won’t provide much material and will leave you hovering over the keyboard or scouring your feeds trying to figure out what to post. This was something I thought about when planning my TomKatCrazy blog, but it soon became obvious that between the baby, the wedding and all the gossip I would have plenty to write about. On another blog of mine, GuerillaScience, I started out with a more general anti-authoritarian focus which proved to be too wide of a topic for me to cover comprehensibly without dedicating all of my time to it. I tried narrowing it down to only Boston-specific anarchist news but this was way to tight of a niche and I found I had nothing to post most days. I’m in the process of finding a nice balance between locally relevant stuff and a more wide range of news. [Read more...]