Get a Little Bit Personal

The next post in the b5media 12 Days of Christmas Series (I’m keeping a full list of posts there now) has been submitted by Christina Jones, another of our newly merged blogs fom the About Weblogs Network. Christina blogs for us at eBeautyDaily and the Birthday Blog (which will be merged over onto it’s new domain and design shortly). Here’s Christina’s tip on Getting Personal on your Blog

Hi there – I am Christina Jones, from eBeautyDaily, and I want to offer my thoughts to you about the importance of getting to know your readers. One of the joys of reading other peoples blogs is getting a glimpse into their lives and their personalities. For some reason, this is always fascinating to us as humans. I have blogs ranging from the very serious to the very informal (with eBeautyDaily falling somewhere in between), but in all of them, you can see a personal part of me. I try to write from the heart rather than from the wallet. Without the heart, you might as well be writing a press release.

As a Problogger it can be beneficial to you to encourage your readers to interact with you and express their feelings about your topics so that you can gear your writing and your advertising towards things that they might be interested in. I believe this is the reason that blogs have become so very popular as a method of building a business, and as stand alone businesses themselves. Two things that I can’t stand to see on a blog are a lack of ability to leave comments, and no contact information. These are the very first steps to getting personal with your readers – without them I immediately wonder if I can trust any of the information I am reading, and I usually never return to the blog.

Yes, I know, you will get some spam. There are dozens of scripts to cloak your email address that you can look into, and most blogging platforms have options or plugins that can stop comment spam from overtaking your blog. The few moments of time tending your blog comments are nothing compared to the benefits you will receive from interacting with your readers. Also, don’t slack on responding to your comments, this is the interactive part of blogging, and what makes blogging so much fun. This is also the place where you can really reveal your personality, especially if you are blogging about more serious subjects. And don’t forget to thank your readers for reading occasionally. Ideally you are building a community, and if they don’t believe that you care about them, they might forget to care about you.

I hope you have a joyful holiday season, and thanks for reading!

Fund Your Love of Blogging

Nikki-BioThe next post in the b5media 12 days of Christmas series is from Nikki, one of our newer bloggers who has joined b5 as a result of our merger with the About Weblogs network. Her blog is on fashion accessories and is one of the AW blogs that we’re still to bring across onto a new domain and design. I hope you enjoy what Nikki has to say.

Hi, I’m Nikki from The Fashion Accessories Blog and I’m here to talk to you about the pros and cons of advertising on your blog. The upside is easy – you get to make money doing something you love. The downside is not so pretty – you can lose portions of your readership, you can destroy your design, you can lose your credibility, and more.

So how do you integrate some money-making ideas without losing the focus of your blog? It’s actually pretty easy. Advertise products and services that apply to your blog topic.

Blogging about dogs? Include your favorite collar accessories and link to them with pictures via Commission Junction.

Blogging about the real estate process? Include a Google AdSense banner in your sidebar that will pull up real estate related links.

Your readers won’t be as rebellious if you are including advertising that is applicable and useful to them. Some may speak out against your desire to make a few dollars, but if they’re not willing to help fund your hosting costs with a Paypal contribution, try not to let their comments get to you.

On the other hand, if you’re including distracting ads from a multitude of random companies – and your followers can’t find your blog categories because they’re buried far beneath the fold, don’t be surprised if you find your pageviews beginning to decline.

Happy blogging and happy holidays!

It’s all about the lifestyle

The next post in the b5media 12 days of Christmas is from one of the first bloggers to join b5 – Jayvee Fernandez who is one of our tech bloggers. He’s also one of numerous b5 bloggers from the Philippines. I’ll allow him to share more…

I’m Jayvee Fernandez, editor of Cellphone9. Though I feature a lot of tech news and product reviews, I believe the competence of C9’s content hinges more on buying advice, product comparison and taking product reviews one step further from being more that “matter of

Though it may not seem like an obvious difference, there’s a big shift in focus when people talk about blogging about technology versus blogging about the technology lifestyle. Case in point – when people turn to me for buying advice on what the best gadget there is out there, I always throw back the question – “What are you going to use it for anyway?”

If you take a look at the bigger tech blogs in the blogosphere, you’d notice that they are characterized by a witty pen (err keyboard), pre-press release rumors, and product reviews slash features in various forms. Engadget for instance does the whole Unpacking thing, which is sorta like a geek strip tease and can be, often times, arousing to the geek eye.

There are so many tech blogs around, maintained by enthusiasts like you and me. But how does the small gem outshine the big one? Sometimes it just has to do with the polish. What I’m saying is, if we take tech blogging from the point of view of a gadgeteer’s lifestyle, then I think we’re on to something.

Blogging with the tech lifestyle in mind is a very huge niche that offers several advantages to aspiring bloggers:

[Read more…]

Ethics for Science and Health Bloggers

Our Second post in the b5media 12 Days of Christmas series is by Hsien-Hsien Lei. I’ll let her introduce herself and tell us about the topic of – a topic that might well be worth thinking through for all types of bloggers but which is particularly relevant for some in a field like Hsien-Hsien Lei.

Hi. I’m Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei and I write the Genetics and Public Health Blog. Unlike most of the other blog tips you‚ll be reading about in this series, mine will be geared towards science and health bloggers who, I think, have greater responsibilities to their readership. We’re not just blogging about the next generation of iPods or the latest celebrity to make a fool of himself. We’re blogging about life and death.

So maybe I’m being a little over-dramatic. But it’s true that science and health bloggers need to fully disclose any information that may mislead readers. For instance, I am a doctor, but I’m not that kind of doctor; I hold a PhD, not an MD. That makes a huge difference in how I understand and interpret the latest science and health news.

From the start of the Genetics and Public Health Blog, I made it clear that I wasn’t beholden to any advertisers or sponsors. While ads may appear on my blog, they do not influence my writing in any way. Everything I write is my own opinion. No one tells me what to write.

I encourage all science and health bloggers to write a post answering the following 10 questions posed by The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health:

1. Who runs this site?
2. Who pays for the site?
3. What is the purpose of the site?
4. Where does the information come from?
5. What is the basis of the information?
6. How is the information selected?
7. How current is the information?
8. How does the site choose links to other sites?
9. What information about you does the site collect, and why?
10. How does the site manage interactions with visitors?

My answers are posted at the Genetics and Public Health Blog. If you choose to answer these questions too, leave me a comment!

Blogging for Money and Tax

There’s a useful post by Bill over at BaseBlogging about Accounting for Bloggers where Bill interviews an accountant, Brian Borawski from Tigerblog, about tax implications and financial structures for bloggers. It’s probably more useful for US bloggers but might give those of us from other countries a few hints at the type of questions we should be asking our financial advisers.

Blogging Rhythms – Clearing the Inbox

Every morning when I get up there is a all manner of things waiting for me in my inbox. This morning there were 251 emails (it was about 6 hours between checking them – this number doesn’t include the 200+ emails that came in telling me about deleted comment spam). The morning inbox clearing process is taking an increasing amount of time. It has this strange way of setting the agenda and tone of the day. I always approach it with a mixture of apprehension and excitement at the unknown things it might contain.

In the inbox this morning was:

  • 100 or so comments from my blogs (a few of them spam that got through the spam killer plugins that needed my attention)
  • a couple of blogging opportunities to follow up (I’m always amazed at the array of interesting projects people are working on)
  • two requests for interviews (one podcast one, another via email)
  • a load of b5 correspondence from b5 bloggers and directors
  • 80 or so news alerts and press releases on different keywords that I follow in Google News and Topix (yeah I know they do RSS, but there are a few words I like to follow via email as well)
  • one or two hate emails (unfortunately a daily thing these days)
  • a couple of encouraging emails (I try to focus more on these than the previous category of emails)
  • 15 ‘can you check out my blog/new product’ emails (emails that I find it hard to keep up with these days)
  • a number of suggestions from blog readers on how I might improve my blog or topics they’d like to see me cover
  • quite a few questions from my different blog’s readers (I get a lot of these on my digital camera blog)
  • a few suggestions of links I might like to check out.

Here’s three of the links suggested today from ProBlogger readers:

It was a pretty typical array of email to deal with. In fact it was probably a bit lighter than normal, although since daylight savings came in I find that the first couple of hours of the day tend to bring in the biggest numbers of emails each day.

Dealing with email can be a pretty overwhelming experience so I’m attempting to develop systems for dealing with it. I’ve slowed down the frequency that my email is checked, but also have a triage type system which I’m trying to use to help me deal with it. As it comes in I have three categories. [Read more…]

Ten Rules for Profitable Blog Startups

Evan Williams from Pyra Labs had an interesting post a few days back titled Ten Rules for Web Startups which has some interesting points – some of which might well by relevant to bloggers in start up mode. The bold points are Evan’s – the rest is my attempt to adapt it to blogging.

1: Be Narrow – Evan suggests focusing upon the smallest possible problem to solve – good advice for a start up blog as well as a company. I was asked in an interview today what my advice is to bloggers and one of the first things I said was to think carefully about the niche that you choose. While there are some successful blogs going around that don’t have tight niches, there are many more that choose a narrow niche and work hard at dominating it. It’s old advice that I rabbit on about a fair bit – but the adage of being a large fish in a small pond is probably one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given in this business.

2: Be Different – In this point Evan talks a little about competition (something there is plenty of in blogging these days!). There is loads of useful advice here that’s totally relevant for blog start ups. Yes there is competition – deal with it. Don’t let it get you down because competition can actually be good for your blog. There is always a way to differentiate yourself from the ‘competition’. Find the gaps around the niche that others are missing, be creative, be outrageous, be extravagant – do whatever it takes to stick out of the crowd. [Read more…]

New Perspectives inspire Fresh Content

Shawn emailed me to tell me about a post he’s written Bloggers Block where he simply moves his desk and finds that it gives him a fresh perspective.

Preparing your Blog for the Silly Season

Duncan has a good post unpacking the Blogging silly season a little. The ‘silly season’ traditionally starts the day of US Thanksgiving and extends into the first few weeks of January. It’s silly because traffic levels can vary incredibly. Every blog has it’s own pattern (depending largely upon it’s topic – ie product blogs tend to explode for the next month and die in January) but it’s a good idea to expect the unexpected.

If you’re an Adsense or YPN publisher you can expect variations not only in your impressions over the coming weeks but also in the CPC (cost per click). Advertisers are often willing to pay a bit more in the lead up to Christmas and in some industries in the first weeks of January (to capitalize on new year sales). Some are predicting that it really gets going this coming Monday – which apparently is becoming known as ‘Cyber Monday‘. If this is the case I can’t see what happens on Monday because yesterday was my biggest day ever in terms of earnings.

As Duncan says – in some ways there isn’t much you can do except let the roller-coaster run it’s course although if you have a product related blog I would recommend that this is the time to think about some of the following (in fact a lot of it you should already have been doing for the past month or so):

[Read more…]