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What do YOU Do with Your Blog When You Go on Vacation?

Blog-Vacation
There’s four emails in my inbox today which all ask the same question.

‘What do You Do with Your Blog When You Go on Vacation?’

I’ve written about it previously (links below) but I thought it might make a good reader discussion question (and topical too as many of us are on the cusp of taking time off).

So what do you do with your blog when you travel, take a vacation, need to take extended time away from the blog?

Looking forward to seeing the mix of answers.

Once you’ve left your answers – you might like to check out these previous posts on the topic:

What do You Miss about the ‘Good old Days of Blogging’?

Good-Old-Days-Of-Blogging

A recent survey here at ProBlogger showed that 9.4% of you have been blogging for more than 4 years and that almost 25% of you have been blogging for more than 2 years.

So there are some experienced bloggers in our midst who can remember ‘the good old days of blogging’.

Here’s my question to those bloggers.

What do you miss about the ‘good old days of blogging’?

What do you miss about the way the medium was back then? What do you miss about the way you used to blog? What’s changed for the better and worse?

What Blogging Platform Do You Use? [POLL RESULTS]

Last week I asked readers to submit to our poll the blog platform that they use.

The results were similar to last time we ran it with WordPress.org (36%) a clear winner, Blogger.com (25%) coming in second and WordPress.com (15%) coming in third.

That these three platforms take up 76% of responses says something in and of itself with the two varieties of WordPress being used by 51% of ProBlogger readers.

By no means are the results scientific – I originally had the poll set so that readers could add their own options but due to one person abusing it had to go with just 13 platforms. I did invite people to suggest others in comments if they didn’t use one of the 13 and have included them as ‘Other’ in the graph (and I’ve listed them below) – they made up 1%.

Blog-Platforms

The ‘other’ category was made up of the following platforms – each of which had 1 vote.

Nucleus, Pivot, Blogsmith, BlogCFC, Subtext, Typo, Mephisto, phpnuke, Vox and Pmachine.

Thanks to everyone who has voted. Dont’ forget to vote in this week’s poll – ‘How Many RSS Readers Does Your Blog Have?’. You can vote in it in the sidebar of ProBlogger.

How many RSS Readers does your Blog have? [POLL]

How many RSS readers does your blog have? (your biggest blog – if you have more than one)

This is the question for this week’s reader poll currently running in the sidebar.

It’s a question that some won’t be able to answer (so I’ve included an ‘I don’t know’ option if they don’t have access to Feedburner stats – but I figure there are enough blogs running their feeds via Feedburner these days that we should get some decent results.

How Many RSS Readers Does Your Blog Have?
View Results


I am looking forward to seeing the results on this one.

PS: if you’re looking for information on how to increase the number of RSS readers to your blog and how to optimize your feed you might enough my previous series of posts – How to make Your RSS feeds POP!. Also during the next week I’ve got a couple of posts that will extend this series a little further – stay tune.

What Blog Platforms Do You Use? – [POLL]

It’s time for another regular Reader Poll.

This week I’m not running it in my sidebar – because I’m allowing you to add options to it and last time I asked this question in a poll we ended up with 30 or so options and my sidebar was WAY to long by the end of it.

So the question is:

‘What Blog Platform Do You Use Most?’

Are you a WordPress (.com or .org) fan, MovableType, Drupal, Blogger.com, TypePad or do you prefer one of the other many varieties of ways of getting a blog online.

If you run multiple blogs on multiple platforms – just choose the one you use most. If you have two that you use equally – pick your favorite. If your platform is not in the list – feel free to add it. (update: due to one user abusing the ability to add options I’ve disabled this. If your platform isn’t in the list – feel free to leave a comment below indicating which one you use and I’ll include it in the results. To the person who decided to take it upon themselves to have some ‘fun’…. nice IP address – looks rather familiar.

Without any more explanation – here’s the poll:

What Blog Platform Do You Use Most?
View Results


One more thing – for those of you interested in the results from last time I ran this poll (January 2006) here they are.

Would You Blog Differently If You Had Money?

Blogging-Wealth

Anne Waymen asks a question that’s got me thinking a little today – Would You Still Write If You Had A Million Dollars?

On Saturday night I was at a party and had a fascinating chat with a guy who had his own business. We were swapping stories about our businesses and out of the blue (and simultaneously) both said something to this effect:

“I’d do it even if I couldn’t earn money from it.”

We then went onto to discuss why we thought that that was probably a secret to the fact that we’d both done reasonably well with our work – it wasn’t about the money.

My new friend told me about his motivations for switching careers to start his business – his reason wasn’t because he wanted to make money but because he found it so interesting that he just couldn’t help but learn more about it. His story reminded me a lot about my own experience of blogging.

Five years ago when I started blogging (5 years this month actually) I did so on a whim to see what would happen. The thought that it’d end up being a full time job (and more) was laughable. The reason I continued blogging was that within days I was hooked. Hooked by the relationships I discovered, the community that I became a part of and the learning that I was engaging in.

The money came years later – much later.

So I guess I’d answer Anne’s question with a yes – I’d still write if I had a Million Dollars.

However – her question sparked another one for me – a question I’d like to ask readers.

Would you blog differently if you had a Million Dollars?

The reason I ask this is that a few weeks ago I was listening to a podcast (this one) by the 9Rules team over at 3by9 and it was Thyme that talked about Dave Winer who blogs differently because he is ‘financially secure’ (I am probably misquoting Thyme here as it was a couple of weeks ago that I listened to the podcast).

The gist of her comments was that the blogger could blog more freely because he wasn’t reliant upon advertisers and didn’t need to impress others etc. As a result he has a ‘different mindset’ to other bloggers.

Of course this is just Thyme’s opinion – but her idea has stayed with me this past couple of weeks and I’d love to hear whether others think that they’d blog differently if they had wealth already.

Over to you – what do you think?

Paid Reviews On Blogs – [POLL RESULTS]

In last week’s Reader Poll I asked bloggers whether they had ever written a paid review on their blog.

Paid reviews on blogs have been something that have been going on for numerous years – however it’s only been in the last 18 months that they’ve become more mainstream as a result of the launch of numerous paid review services (including PayPerPost and ReviewMe).

The launch of these services (particularly PPP) caused a lot of controversy around the blogosphere – particularly because PPP launched with a policy which stopped bloggers disclosing that their post was a paid review) – but also because some bloggers didn’t see how a paid review fit on a blog at all.

PayPerPost and ReviewMe have both evolved in their services, changed policies and added features and many bloggers have made considerable money from the writing of reviews – however the debate continues (although has perhaps become less prominent.

My hope with this poll was to look at Paid Reviews 18 or so months after they rose to prominence to see how many bloggers had experimented with them.

The Poll Results

The results were illuminating (read below for both the opinion of 10 ProBlogger readers and myself):

Picture 2-17

Keep in mind that this is just a survey of ProBlogger readers (just over 500 of them) and will not be representative of the whole blogosphere (I’d say that the ‘yes’ vote is probably higher here than in the wider blogging community as this blog is read by people actively experimenting with different ways to make money blogging).

More interesting to me than the actual results of votes was the conversation around the poll. Let me pick out a few of the common themes mentioned in the comments thread there that highlight some of the debate:

Readers Pro Paid Reviews

“I see no problem in doing a “paid” review as long as you’re actually honest and upfront about whether you liked the product or not. And of course state in your post that it is a paid review.” – Sue

“I would write about products and services anyway so I’m happy to get paid for them. I’ve never done one yet that I wasn’t allowed to disclose as a paid review though. That sounds underhand to me.” – ChisB

“I make a significant amount of money doing paid reviews. It also helps me brush on my writing skills. I want my review to be accepted well among my readers, as well as, the sponsor. This has made my writing skills progress in a positive direction. My reputation for honest reviews is starting to take off too. All this equals respect, which is why I started doing reviews in the first place.” – Lori

“They allow me, as a mother of three, to work from home – and have more control over my working life. So I would say that – yes, I love them!” – Lisa Marie Mary

“I write paid reviews occasionally but I ‘bury’ them in between good, relevant posts so I will not scare readers off. The ratio is maybe at least 7:1. Seven good posts and one paid review.” Grace

Readers Anti Paid Reviews

“I think in the grand scheme of things, there is uncertainty about a blogger being paid to review items. Really, the uncertainty comes from the unscrupulous few that write anything to make the product presenter happy, rather than writing honest reviews, though sometimes the payment is based upon the writing writing what the prodcut present wishes them to write.” – Bill

“I do not do paid reviews. I worry that if I started doing them, it would taint the perceived credibility of my other posts. Even though I would not write falsely positive review, and even with full disclosure, I think that credibility questions remains for many readers.” – Carleenp

“I think paid reviews are biased, bloggers just write to please the who is paying, and hardly touch the truth on things. but heck; if you can please the shepherd, why would you care about the sheeps right?” – Nelson

“Just a hypothetical question: Would you want to eat at a restaurant where the reviewer/recommender was paid by said restaurant? Not saying I wouldn’t do them, just….” – Mark

My Thoughts on Paid Reviews

My own opinion on paid reviews has not really changed in 18 months. Here’s how I quickly summarize it.

  • I’m not anti paid reviews – but I choose not to do them (and never have).
  • I don’t mind other bloggers doing them as long as they disclose that they are paid and as long as they are free to give a true opinion of the product or service being reviewed.
  • I would advise bloggers who do paid reviews to be aware that there are potential ‘costs’ of doing paid reviews on a blog. As mentioned above in numerous places by others – the issue of trust and credibility come into play. Some readers will not appreciate them and some will even react against them. This is of course the same for other ways of monetizing a blog (ie some bloggers react against advertising and affiliate programs too). I see some bloggers particularly hurting their reputation with paid posts by either writing too many of them, writing obviously biased reviews and/or writing reviews of products and services that are not particularly relevant to the normal content of their blog.

As I’ve written previously on the topic:

“The key with successful paid reviews is similar to the key to successful content of any sort – make it worthwhile for your readers and you’ll not only earn a few extra dollars for your review but also help grow your blog into something worthwhile.”

I’m sure the debate will rage on though – if you’ve not yet had your say – you’re welcome to continue to discuss the issue below.

How Much Did You Earn from Blogging In October? [POLL]

This week’s Reader Poll asks bloggers how much they earned from blogging in October.

This is a poll that I ran in 2006 and I’m interested to see whether there has been much of a change in the results.

Before you vote – here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • I’m asking about ALL forms of income from your blog – from direct income earners like Advertising, Selling products, writing Paid Reviews and using Affiliate programs through to indirect earners like consulting or speaking work that you might have picked up BECAUSE of your blog (more on the distinction between direct and indirect earnings here).
  • I’m also talking on a personal level – what YOU personally earnt from ALL of the blogs you work on.
  • Don’t answer straight away – tally it up, give it some thought and then let us know.
  • If you didn’t earn any money from your blog in October either because you tried and didn’t have any success or because you don’t try to then there is an option for you in the poll also.
  • If you’d like to comment on your vote or on the poll in general feel free to do so on this post.

Here’s the poll.

In October, How Much Did You Earn from Blogging?
Total Votes: 3211 Started: 11/8/2007 Back to Vote Screen


I will be posting about the results of last week’s poll on whether you’ve done paid reviews on your blog in the coming 24 hours.

Disclosing Affiliate Links on Blogs [POLL RESULTS]

A couple of weeks back I asked readers to respond to a Poll with the question – ‘Do You Disclose Affiliate Links?

Over 800 readers responded. 19% said that they didn’t use affiliate links – but of those that do use them the break down was as follows:

Disclose-Affiliate-Links

It’s a fairly even breakdown isn’t it?

The discussion on the post was fascinating also with a real range of opinion shared.

Below I’ve included a few quotes that highlight some of the threads of conversation, diverse opinions and practices. My hope in sharing them is that the conversation will continue to develop.

What do you think?

Those that Don’t Disclose:

“I mask them using a php redirect. I find it’s better to hide the URL, because people who don’t want to give me the affiliate sale could just mouse over the link and see the actual domain and go straight there on their own. If it’s hidden, they’re almost always forced to click.” – Chris Jacobson

“I don’t for the simple fact that I think that people assume that they are anyways. And just because I have an affiliate link to the place doesn’t mean my opinion is biased…. I do php redirects, but not for the reason of masking, but for the ease of changing those links that it affords.” – thatedeguy

“I don’t hide affiliate links. I also don’t publicly broadcast them either. In all honestly most people don’t realize they’re affiliate links (or don’t care) and I can’t be bothered with the effort to hide them.” – Staphane Grenier

“When you go to a bookstore, employees don’t run around to all the customers, “I should let you know that we’re going to make a profit if you buy that magazine.”” – Dave C

Those that Do Disclose:

“All my aff links are clearly marked. If your neighbor suggested you buy a certain type of insurance and you later found out that he received a commission for suggesting it, how would you feel? Deceived? Used?” – Michael

“I have a disclosure policy that I link to from within every article, but in general I don’t disclose each individual link. I am more inclined to disclose whether I purchased the product or received a free sample, which I think makes more of a difference, or even whether I am writing about something I haven’t purchased.” – Andy Beard

“People who try to hide affiliate links are scum, IMO. It is absolutely unethical to go around accepting money and trying to hide that fact. As far as disclosure goes – I think it is a bit foolish to not inform your readers you’re getting paid (a simple “this post contains affiliate links” is enough for me) – but it isn’t as bad as purposely hiding them.” – Jeremy Steele

“I disclose affiliate links, but I only really think this is an issue if you are recommending the product being linked to. The reason is twofold. One, if I’ve said anything positive about the product, I feel like I am ethically obliged to disclose this to readers, because the disclosure gives them the opportunity to decide for themselves whether they feel their was any sense of bias. Second reason – to me, it almost makes me more inclined to buy if I see that the affiliate link has been disclosed, because it makes me feel that the recommender is so comfortable with the integrity of his advice that disclosing his economic interest would not negatively dissuade me from buying. It’s a weird bit of reverse psychology, but it actually works for me, at least as a consumer.” – Jonathan Fields

Those that Sometimes Do and Sometimes Don’t:

“I don’t always explicitly label affiliate links as such at the actual link, but I don’t go out of my way to hide that they are affiliate links either and I try to make clear on my sites that I do have affiliate or referral links….. I suppose a real internet newbie might be surprised to find out that when I link to a book on Amazon, I get a nickel if they buy it, but I think most people recognize an Amazon affiliate ad by now and most readers are more than happy to use one when they want to buy something at Amazon.” – Tom Hanna

“Yes, if I write a review of a program, product or service and it’s obvious that I am promoting it. Then I mention that the links are affiliate links. No, if I just write an article about a topic of internet marketing or blogging; then I include affiliate links to products and don’t mention them.” - Tomaz Mencinger