How to Start a Blog Partnership

If I had to write a list of ’10 things I love about blogging’ (now there’s a post) – high on the list would be that blogging has opened up some great relationships for me.

While this largely happens on a blogger to reader level – in the last year or so a few of these relationships have progressed to the point where I’ve actually entered into partnerships on certain projects with other bloggers. Most prominent of these is b5media, a collaboration with Jeremy, Shai and Duncan at a partnership level. Similarly SixFigureBlogging has been a working partnership with Andy.

I’ve been particularly fortunate with these partnerships – they have (to this point) been fun, easy going and productive with no real personality issues (unless they are not telling me something). This is all the more odd because I’m yet to meet any of these partners!

I’m a big believer in collaboration as bloggers (or blogging in formation) but have written very little about how to make the decision of who to work with.

While there are definate benefits of working with other bloggers – there can also be real risks, especially when you’re considering working with people you’ve never met! I’m aware of a couple of pretty tragic situations where blogging partnerships have gone sour and the consequences were not pretty. So how should one make the decision?

Here are 10 questions that I’d be pondering before entering into working too deeply with any other bloggers:

1. How long have they been blogging? – While I don’t want to be a blog snob and say that only long term bloggers have potential as partners – I would say that longevity in blogging is a good indicator. Most blog partnerships will be long term and I’d want to see some evidence of the person having stuck to something (even if it’s not blogging related) long term before. There are many people that blow in and out of blogging with lofty ideas – but many of them just don’t have stick-ability. Longevity of blogging should also bring a few web smarts with it which will be handy.

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Basic HTML Tags

Most modern Blog Platforms come very well fitted out with formatting tools to help you to make your posts look and feel just the way you want them to. The way I describe blogging these days to people unsure whether they have what it takes is that if they have the ability to send emails and format word processing documents – then they have most of the basic skills to get a blog post ready to publish (ie filling in fields and basic formatting skills by highlighting text and – hitting buttons to format it).

Of course the easy formatting that we enjoy today with most platforms was not always the way.

As I mentioned last week in a post – I still remember 2 years ago when I started blogging having to ask a more experienced blogger how to make a word bold in my post. Back then it was helpful (and with some platforms essential) to know some basic html tags to get your formatting right.

In fact I still use a lot of these tags today out of habit and think they are useful to know even with all the tools at hand.

What are html tags?

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on this topic but speaking as someone who picked it up as he went along – a tag is a bit of code that web designers/bloggers put into their site to tell their brower how to display what those tags contain.

I like to think of tags as bookends, they have a start to signal the begining of a certain format and an ending to signal the end of the formatting. These bookends/tags are generally put in the angled brackets (<>). The end one’s usually have a slash (/) in them which differentiates them from the opening ones and signals to your browser that it’s the end. So they’ll usually have this basic format – < > </ >. Hopefully you’ll pick it up as you see them outlined below – the way I learned them was by seeing how others used them and then by imitating what I saw on my own blog.

Here are some of the more common tags and what they mean (keep in mind it’s not my strong area – feel free to add your own HTML tips in comments.

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Choosing the Domain Name for your Blog

Warning: Mini Tangent Ahead

Last night my wife came home with a book and started a conversation on a topic which I’d been dreading a little since the time we first found out that we were expecting a baby later in the year. The book was called something along the line of ‘Names for your Baby’.

The thought of giving another human being a name is a task that can be fun but at the same time a little (or a lot) daunting. There are many factors to consider (what could the name be shortened to, who else has that name, what memories does it evoke, is it easy for a child to say, should you name them after someone, etc etc etc) and so many ways to make the decision. What’s more, it’s a task that has some level of responsibility attached to it as a person’s name is something that has an impact upon them for a lifetime.

<sarcasm>Choosing a name (and domain name) for your blog might not be quite as important a decision as naming your firstborn child </sarcasm> but it is something to consider carefully and is therefore something I’d like to flesh out a little in this post.

For the purposes of this post I’m assuming that you have chosen to go with a stand alone blog (see previous post on blog platforms) and will not be relying upon a URL supplied by a blog hosting company AND that your domain name will be the name of your blog (not always the case but usually the case and usually a recommended practice).

Why would you want your own Domain Name?

Having your own domain name is desirable for many bloggers for numerous reasons. For a start if you’re wanting to build credibility and a sense of professionalism around your blog a domain that reflects this can help. Similarly a carefully selected domain name has the ability to enhance the branding of a product, service, business or even person. Domain purchases give the added bonus of email addresses with the same domain (adding to both professionalism and branding) and can enhance your Search Engine Ranking.

Factors to Consider when Choosing a Domain Name

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20 Ideas for a Great Blog

Carson McComas from FrogBody has an good post titled 20 Ideals for a Great Podcast which I enjoyed reading this morning (found via Life Hacker). But as I did I found myself wondering if the tips might actually help bloggers too. So here’s my comments on each of the points to see if we can apply them as bloggers (be warned – I don’t know how this will turn out…. could get a little freaky!)….

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How to Choose a Niche Topic for your Blog

The approach I’ve taken to build a business around blogging has been to build multiple blogs around niche topics. I describe the reasons for this in my post One Blog Many Categories or Many Blogs? but I regularly am asked about how I choose my niche topics to blog about. In this post I’d like to outline a few questions that I tend to ask myself when considering a new topic. I hope it helps:

Are You Interested in the Topic?

A friend of mine explained it this way recently:

“Probably the best place to start thinking about what your blog should be about is to consider what YOU are about.”

Perhaps that’s a slightly awkward way of saying start by identifying your own interests, passions and energy levels for topics. While it might be tempting to start blogs based on what other people are interested in or what makes commercial sense there is little logic in starting a blog on a topic that you have no interest in. There are two main reasons for this.

Firstly if you want to grow a popular and well respected blog it can take considerable time and you’ll be needing to take a long term approach to building it up. As a result it’s well worth asking yourself ‘can I see myself still writing on this topic in 12 months time?’ If you can’t I’d suggest finding another topic.

The second reason is that you readers will quickly discern if you are passionate about your topic or not. Blogs that are dry and passionless don’t tend to grow – it makes sense really as no one wants to read something that the author doesn’t really believe in.

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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.

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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.

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