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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.

Make Money off Your Blog

Washington Post has an article today about making money off a blog. Their tips are pretty predictable and basic and centre around Adsense, Blog ads, Affiliates, Donations and Merchandising. Nothing too new there but interesting to see another article about blogging (pro blogging at that) in a bigger news outlet. They write:

‘You pound on the keyboard each day, broadcasting your unalloyed truths to the world (or at least to friends and family) via your blog. Unfortunately, earning such singular authority demands serious time and energy, and what begins as a hobby can quickly start seeming like Job No. 2 — sans paycheck. But haven’t you heard? You can turn your Web log into a digital cash cow. Simply choose among these techniques (but keep in mind that it’s not all free money — come tax season, Uncle Sam gets his fair share).’

Read more at Make Money off Your Blog

Tell me what you want, what you really really want

ProBlogger is entering into a time of change. I’m approaching my 500th post on the blog after a few months of writing and the time has come to up the anti and take things to the next level in terms of design, content and focus.

As part of this I am very interested in hearing your thoughts on how ProBlogger can better serve you in your commercial blogging ventures.
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The Entrepreneurial Blog Glenn Fleishman

Glenn Fleishman over at GlennLog has just posted a link to an audio (and visuals of his powerpoint) at Business Blogging Summit which currently really enjoying listening to. His main headings were.

  • Obsess
  • Exhaust
  • Report
  • Choose
  • Expand
  • Earn
  • Populate
  • Perform

Let me just mention a few points he makes within these topics that resonate with my experience in Entrepreneurial Blogging over the past 18 months. The following is a combo of Glenn’s thoughts which I’m adding to and giving a few examples of:

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The Benefits of having a country Top Level Domain

Lee Johnson has a good article pointing out some of the Benefits of having a country Top Level Domain ie a .uk, or .au domain name:

‘Most of the large search engines will give you a higher search ranking for a site that has the tld of the searchers country. For example, if someone from the United Kingdom is performing a search for widgets, a search engine will often rank widgets.co.uk higher than other sites selling the same product but only have a .com tld.

Having a country specific tld will also allow you to be included in a lot of great country directories that stipulate that your domain name has a certain tld. Getting your site into these directories can be a great way of improving your search engine website rankings as these are 1 way links from authority sites for your chosen subject. These kind of links are graded much higher than reciprocal linking…’

Lee goes on to share other benefits also. It is an interesting question and one that I’ve often considered. My main livingroom.org.au domain now hosts a number of blogs – and there have been some definite advantages of this approach. i do rank very well on google.com.au but on the other side of things there are some costs worth considering of having a more localized URL.

If you’re blogging about a global topic the .au can cause problems both in search engines but also with ‘the look’ of the URL. I’ve had a number of people write off my blogs because they are not a .com or .net or .org. However overall my approach is that if you write good content, interact with other bloggers and optimize your blog well you should do ok no matter what its URL.

I’m interested in others opinions on why you have or haven’t gone for a more localized domain.

Make Money for Recommending Movable Type

It looks like Six Apart are moving toward an affiliate program where people recommending Movable Type will get a commission from anyone buying a license.

‘Many of you recommend Movable Type as the weblog platform of choice to your customers or clients. With our new reseller licenses, you’ll be able to make money each time you sell a copy of Movable Type. We’re planning to offer generous commissions for all of you who offer software and services on top of the Movable Type platform.’

There is no ETA on when the program will go live yet.

Source: Six Apart Professional Network Overview

Bloggers Sell Advertising Space on Ebay

Ebaylogotm

The Mobile Technology Weblog is another blog that is using Ebay to help them earn an income from their blog by selling advertising space on it. They are currently up to $41 for a 120 x 90 banner (for a month) after a couple of days of the auction. I’m sure others have done this (I’ve definitely seen non blog type sites do it) but its a good idea and worth a try.

‘TJ and I came up with a pretty cool idea recently, which I think is unique – but I’m sure we’ll find someone who’ll claim it’s been done before :-)

Why not auction off advertising space on blogs on eBay? So I placed an ad this morning to sell off the ad space you can see on the top right of the blog for a month. You can see it – and bid on it! – here.

It’s a bit of a punt, but if it works, it could be a great way to connect advertisers with bloggers, which is what eBay does so well. And if it enables bloggers to be rewarded for their work, I’d be delighted.

If you’re a blogger reading this, I’d really appreciate a link to this post – the more people see it, the more likely it is to work and the more likely it is that it’ll start something big for all of us.’

I was actually pondering the other day whether an auction type version of BlogAds might be a viable method of selling ads. For example if instead of bloggers setting their prices (guessing at market value) and hoping that an advertiser comes and pays that much – if Blogads added the option to have an auction for your ad space. This way advertisers would have a little more say in the setting of the price as we as the blogger would find the true market value of our sites. Just an idea – one that I hope who ever uses it will give me 10% of the earnings from!

A Professional Bloggers Workflow

Tris has a great post over at Qumana Blog about Qumana and professional blogging. Ok its a bit of a sales pitch for Qumana (which I’ve heard some great things about – just wish they’d release a Mac version) but its an interesting glimpse into the workflow of a Professional Blogger who is actively writing on 10 or so blogs on a variety of topics.

I have an extremely similar workflow – I tend to use Ecto and Bloglines which I suspect works pretty similarly to the system Tris has up and running. I’d love to see a more integrated approach though in the future – imagine a tool like Ecto or Qumana that also tracked RSS! I know Bloglines has a blog feature but its pretty basic. I’m sure we’ll see developments in this direction one day.

After reading what Tris has to say you can come back here and read about my workflow in my A Day in the Life of a Problogger.