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Blogkits Announce 7 new Banner Ad Sizes

Blog Kits have just released 7 new sizes of banner advertising – designed specifically for bloggers. Whilst I’m surprised that they haven’t gone for some more standard sizes (eg 468 x 60) which would allow them to be used as alternative ads for Adsense, there are a few nice sized buttons there for sidebars.

I might just have to give some of them a go in the weeks ahead.

How to Find Money Making Blog Ideas – Part 2

More and more people are finding ways to make money from blogging but few pro bloggers are making their money from their personal, general themed blogs. In most cases it takes a blog either with a tight niche or fresh idea to make it big in the blogosphere – but how do you find those ideas? Before reading on you might like to read Part 1 of this series.

3. Dream – Most mornings you can find me at a local cafe for at least for 30 – 60 minutes. The reasons I go there are numerous. For one coffee is an essential ingredient in me thinking creatively (that should almost be a point in and of itself) but secondly I do it to intentionally get out of my ‘Blog HQ’ (my office) and into a different space. I usually leave my laptop at the office and just take a pen and my journal and use the time to dream.

You see I find it easy to fill my head up with wonderful information, observations, predictions and knowledge but unless I put time aside to dream about how blogging could fit with the information I’m gathering the dots may never be joined. Get out that journal again and add to your list of potential topics – what would you love to write about? What would be an outrageous topic to blog on? What type of person would you like to write a blog for? Think outside the box you’ve been living in – open your mind and come up with as many creative ideas as possible. Nothing is too stupid – not until the next stage anyway.

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How to Find Money Making Blog Ideas – Part 1

Susannah linked up to my How to Research a Profitable Blog Topic post and writes:

‘What Darren doesn’t say is just how to come up with those money-making ideas. He’s clearly got the knack of latching onto current issues appropriate for blogs, but not everyone does.’

That got me wondering – how do the ideas come? I started jotting down a few ideas this afternoon about how I coax ideas for new blogs and posts out of my mind and soon found I had more than a single post on my hands. So here is the first part in my mini series on how to find money making blog ideas:

1. Observe – I am an information junkie. I watch too much TV, read too many books (I never make it to the end though), spend way too much time on the internet, squander hours in the news agents flicking through magazines, spend more time at cafes watching people than eating food and am a sucker for any article, website or conversation that is about ‘trends or predictions‘.

If you want to create a blog that is going to be read by as many people as possible you must be in touch with where as many people are at (or will be at). What are they eating, drinking, doing with spare time, watching on TV, thinking about, lusting after, obsessing about etc. Don’t only observe what others are doing – take a look at your own life, look at your spending paterns, TV watching habits, interests and passions and you might just find a great topic in your own life! I also find that stimulating myself with new sights, sounds, tastes, places, people can also help get the creative juices flowing. Keep a journal (I use a whiteboard and a spreadsheet) of your observations which you can come back to later.

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Interview with a link spammer

The Register has an interesting article today titled Interview with a link spammer that gives an insight into the mind and methods of one of the growing number of people that seek to use yours and my blogs for their own gain:

‘So how and why do “link spammers” – as they generically call themselves – do it? Are they the same as the email spammers? What do they think of what they do, ethically? And what can stop them? If you’re affected by this spam, say because you run a blog, or a website, or like the other 99.9 per cent of Net users just come across the stuff, Sam explain the important thing to remember is it’s nothing personal. They’re not targeting you personally. They’re just exploiting a weakness in a system which blossomed just at the time that Google cracked down on the previous method that spammers used, where huge “link farms” of their own web sites pointed circularly to each other to boost each others’ ranking.’

The Rise of Business Blogging – ‘Listening’

Steve’s got a good article on The Rise of Business Blogging which ends with three good solid pieces of advice for those wanting to get into business blogging:

Step One – Listen: The best way to become acquainted with the power of blogs is to read them and see what they’re talking about. Using tools like Google, PubSub and Feedster, you can find easily blogs that are already discussing your company/brand and its industry. Also be sure to check out sites like BusinessBlogConsulting.com and Adrants.com, which include examples of blogs done right and wrong.

Step Two – Reach Out: Once you have identified influential blogs, reach out to them by carefully posting comments on their sites. Let them know you’re listening. Some may invite you to sponsor their blog, which also can often offer a high ROI. Blogs can help your company build awareness among influencers who will talk about you to others. Marqui, a telecommunications company, recently began experimenting paying bloggers $800 per week if they mentioned their product. While the results aren’t known, blog advertising is certainly going to become a lot more prevalent in the years ahead.

Step Three – Launch Your Own Blogs: Finally, once you feel you have a firm grasp on the medium, roll your own weblogs. This can range from everything from a CEO blog to a product team site and more. Figure out first who you’re trying to reach, who will have the most time and what people in your organization are willing to be the most transparent. ‘

I really appreciate Steve’s advice – whilst a couple of posts back I advised the ‘just do it’ method of researching a new blog topic – I was writing more for the experienced blogger wanting to start new entrepreneurial blogs. There is a danger when blogging of rushing into a niche topic without really thinking ahead. I know that if I’d just spent a little more time thinking about some of the blogs that I’ve started that I would have done one or two of them quite differently. I needed to spend a bit more time in the ‘Listen’ phase. Of course there is only so much listening that one should do – there comes a time when you have to move past that and actually bite the bullet and start that blog you’ve always wondered about.

New Gawker Media Blogs Launch

Gawker Media today are releasing two new blogs (currently password protected but about to go live). They are Gridskipper, a travel related blog, and Lifehacker, a blog about software downloading and time saving.

Both of these new blogs already have corporate sponsorship (Sony for Lifehacker and Cheaptickets for Gridskipper).

MediaDailyNews writes: ‘Lifehacker will include software download recommendations and content about spam filters, virus killers, spyware, search engines, e-mail applications, Internet phones, and general productivity tips. It’s a counterpart to Gizmodo, Gawker Media’s blog that reviews consumer electronics, but will be written in a less snarky style than sister blogs Gawker, Defamer, and Wonkette, said Gawker Media Publisher Nick Denton….

‘In a statement on its Web site, Gridskipper proclaims itself “the decadent travel guide,” and describes its mission as: “Scouring the world for discount flights, chic hotels–and pretty people.” Andrew Krucoff, a former guest writer on Gawker and Fleshbot, will edit the site, which will focus on urban travel.’

Making chunks of change from Blogging

There is a good basic article over at Emerging Technology – Discover Magazine about how people are making money from their blogs. Its a good summary of the emerging trend of bloggers to monetize their blogs and largely focuses upon the Adsense method and whilst most ProBloggers won’t learn much from it it will probably wet the appetite of bloggers wanting to experiment with this growing desktop industry.

‘Why should we care about such small change? Because most of us, whether we recognize it or not, have a passion about something. Maybe you’re an armchair astronomer or a guy who restores 1964–65 Corvettes. Maybe you follow cricket religiously or know more about the Battle of Antietam than academic historians. Or maybe you can wire a home theater system in your sleep. That wisdom may be genuinely useful or interesting to other people, yet chances are you’ve never shared it with more than family and friends.

Now that expertise has a place to go. Bit by bit over the past 10 years, the Web has erected a global platform for personal wisdom. Services like AdSense—along with other advertising outfits, including one called Blogads, which focuses exclusively on blogs—are simply the final plank. You can now compose, design, publish, promote, and make money from your writing without ever leaving your desk.’

Read more at This is not a dream: You can make a chunk of change by writing a Web log

How to Research a Profitable Blog Topic

A while back when I asked you what you’d like to ask professional bloggers in my upcoming interview series MM asked:

‘I want to know what kind of research they did before they jumpstart a new blog. How do they gauge the “marketability” or earning potential of a new topic?’

I’ll ask the question when I start my interview series (first interview will be released this week) – but thought it was worth attempting an answer here also from my own perspective.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. The best research that I’ve ever done on a topic for a potential blog is this…
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Search Engine Optimization for Blogger Blogs

Wayne has been posing hard til it hurts over at Search Engine Journal where he’s just written a series of excellent Seach Engine Optimization (SEO) posts on optimizing your Blogger Blog. It is a series in four parts (so far):

- Search Engine Optimization and Blogger Blogs Part One

- SEO & Blogger Part 2 – Search Engine Power of Blogs

- SEO & Blogger Part 3 – On Page Blog Optimization Techniques

- SEO & Blogger Part 4 – The Link Power of Blogs

The techniques that Wayne talks about and observations that he makes are good solid SEO strategies that are proven to work – not only on Blogger blogs but on other blogging formats and normal websites. It is easy to be overwhelmed by SEO strategy – I know when I first started looking into it I was totally confused but it is well worth doing a little research and having some of the basics in your mind as you blog. Don’t become obsessed by it – but be informed and where you can use the basics to enhance your chances of being ranked highly by the search engines.

Update: Wayne has also posted this series in full on his own blog at Optimization for Blogger Hosted Blogs

Third Party Blogging – Charge Out Rates

Today I received another email from a company wanting to know how much I would charge to write a blog for them. It seems to be a semi regular (and increasing request that I get). I’m very interested in developing and maintaining blogs for others but am at a bit of a loss as to know how much such a service is worth. I know a number of readers of this blog do this type of work and was wondering if you’d be kind enough to give the rest of us (or just me via email) a hint at what the going rate is for this type of work?

Do you work it out per hour, per post, per week, per visitors generated, per % of revenue generated or some combination of the above?

I know how much I can make from one of my blogs but how much would you charge to blog for someone else? Feel free to leave a comment below either anonymously or with your details or shoot me an email with anything (specific or general) you’d like.