Some Perspective on the Opportunities for Blogging

Today I had an interesting time with an experienced business person that I meet with from time to time as a business coach.

I love catching up with him for a number of reasons – for one he’s got some wonderful experience and has built himself a successful business that is doing some fascinating work – but the main reason being that whilst he has a good understanding of blogging he is not enmeshed in it like I am and as an outsider with some business smarts he always has some useful perspective on what I’m doing.

Today as we chatted about the business that I’m building and the opportunities (and frustrations) before me I was amazed by the potential that blogging has in so many contexts. The more we chatted the more ideas came – not only for new blogs that I could run but particularly for ways in which to use the knowledge I have gathered of blogging to apply it to a vast array of other contexts and businesses (some of which for profit, others for the good of others – and some for both).

The problem is not that there are not enough possibilities but instead that they are virtually unlimited. The mind boggles as the myriad of ways blogging can be used.

The task ahead for us in the month or two ahead is to start mapping out some different scenarios and then placing some strategies in place to see the best of them come to be. I’m looking forward to sharing more as we move ahead with the tasks at hand.

Commercial blogs entering Finland

Interesting post over at StarGeek on the Commercialization of blogs in Finland.

WordPress 1.5 first impressions

Michael gives his first impressions of WordPress 1.5.

Jason Calacanis on an ‘Aloof’ Weblogs Inc

Jason Calacanis responded to a comment on this blog by Ray saying that Weblogs Inc come across as ‘aloof’ with the following comment which I thought has some interesting tidbits in it worth highlighting here on the main page.

‘The aloof is probably due to the fact that we are getting crushed with requests to partner on things, and partnerships take a loooooooooong time to close.

We’ve found that closing a partnership deal with someone could be thousands in legal costs and lot more of that in my time… so, we’re focusing on hiring bloggers to work on the blogs we’ve started and have on the launch pad right now.

a lot of folks come to me with an idea, but they don’t want to do the work–that is, they don’t want to blog every day for a year or two to build it. We really don’t need ideas… ideas mean nothing in this business, it’s all about execution of the idea. We have a list of 700 blog topics… chances are no good idea isn’t on it (in fact it has a bunch of bad ideas at the bottom!).

we work with bloggers–people who blog… i think there are a lot of “idea people” out there–whatever that means. we really don’t need idea people.

best j’

I can imagine the requests and ideas that must come across Jason and his team’s desks/inboxes each day – and the ensuing nightmare in sorting them all through. In the few instances when I’ve negotiated partnerships with other bloggers I know that it can be very time consuming – especially when you’re doing via email. I also can relate to his comments on ‘ideas people’ vs bloggers who are willing to actually put the work in over time – this a massive key to profitable blogging and such people can be difficult to find.

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Jason Kottke Speaks about his Fund Drive

After quitting his job to become a Professional Blogger, Jason Kottke has just published a post updating his readership on how his 3 week fund drive went. Looks like he make his goal (almost) although he doesn’t give actual figures:

‘As I mentioned in my initial post about all this, my goal was to make “about 1/3 to 1/2 of my former yearly salary to support my efforts here for a year” and I very nearly reached that goal, although not quite as you can see from the graph. But it’s close enough that I’m not going to worry too much about it and I won’t need to supplement my income with any freelance work, which means I can focus on the site full-time, something I’m very pleased about. I probably could have made more had I pushed harder or guilted people into giving a little more to “put me over the top”.’

In answering the question – ‘is this a sustainable business model for independent media on the Web?’ he writes:

‘The short answer is probably no, with a few caveats. I did make enough to support myself for a year, but I’m already worried about next year (if I decide to ask for contributions again at that point) because there’s going to be the inevitable drop-off in year-over-year contributions. I think several people who contributed this time around did so as an experiment or as “back payment” for the previous 6-7 years of content and may not be so likely to contribute next time. And some are going to decide it’s not worth it to them to keep up their “subscription”.’

His post has a lot of interesting tidbits – especially when you get further down to the lessons that he’s learned from the experience where he actually suggests

  • consider advertising (its easier, more stable and more lucrative)
  • work on community (people are more willing to invest in you if they are part of it
  • work on growing traffic (pretty obvious but its true)
  • keep costs low (again obvious stuff but its the beauty of blogging)

Read more at Micropatron follow-up report: how things went (

Cats, Dogs and Adsense

Ted Rheingold has a good summary of the recent Adsense Publisher’s Forum (I’m still waiting for my invitation – with airline tickets – to the next one). Ted has a couple of sites (Dogster and Catster) that use Adsense. He writes that between the two sites they serve 6 million ads per month and that they earn around $850 per month (total). He gives his CTR (which I won’t publish here because I believe it to be against Google’s guidelines – even with the recent relaxation of the rules which now allow publishers to share total earnings but not other factors like CTR).

I’m a little surprised by his numbers – by my calculations his ads must not be paying too much per click to be earning that much with that many impressions and that sort of CTR.

Maybe there isn’t much money in Cats and Dogs but looking at my own stats I would expect 6,000,000 ad impressions to do significantly more than $850 in a month – in fact if I could get that kind of traffic in my direction I’d be bringing in as much as the team at Weblogs Inc with their $1000 per day!

I’m not quite sure where the issue is though – maybe its just really low ad value. None the less the information about the Adsense Publishers Forum is interesting.

The $100 a Day in 12 Weeks Challenge

Just stumbled upon WebSiteNights – a blog dedicated to a 12 week challenge to make $100 per day via Adsense and Affiliate programs. So far the bloggers that have joined the challenge are:

It is an interesting concept that I wish I’d known about a bit earlier even though i’ve already reached the $100 per day level myself as it sounds like fun to be involved with a group of people working on a similar project. Anyway check out what these bloggers are doing as I’m sure they have some interesting ideas.

The Complexity of Advertising on a Blog

Are you a media buyer or seller that wants some work? This might be a good post for you to read to the bottom of.

One of my biggest frustrations as a single practitioner blogger is that I have to get my head around multiple areas of expertise. I’m a writer, an editor, designer (I do outsource a lot of this), PR person, marketer, tech person (I outsource some of this) media seller, search engine optimizer and strategist – all wrapped into one.

I’m becoming more confident in most of these roles but am aware that I have a lot to learn in most of them – particularly in the area of selling advertising space on my blogs.

I now have a blog that is attracting semi-regular requests from large companies, ad agencies and media buying groups about advertising with me. This is both an exciting prospect (the money involved in these transactions is great) but also incredibly frustrating and stressful. You see I have little experience in selling advertising on this scale.

The most recent of these requests was for a two month campaign, the figure I could quote up to was five figures, with a large multinational company. I was dealing with a media buying company who were very encouraging. However the negotiations broke down simply because of my inability to get my head around the complexity of what was require to make the campaign happen – to put it most simply it was out of my league.

It was complex on some of these levels:

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News network to pay ‘citizen journalists’

John just pointed me to an interesting article on how is moving towards a revenue sharing model with its thousands of volunteer writers., a nationwide network of 6,000 local news sites, is planning to share its advertising revenue with thousands of volunteer writers.

The idea is to reward and motivate contributors whose stories and photos generate the most traffic, which in turn fuels ad revenue, said Edgar Canon, chief executive of the San Francisco company. He hopes the quality of contributions improves, too….

Now the company will pay writers half the net ad sales their stories garner, Canon said. That figure is based on each story’s “page views,” or the number of times visitors view its Web page. Canon expects it to work out to about $2 to $5 per 1,000 page views. The company will send checks quarterly to all writers that rack up $25 or more in payments, he said.’

Read more at News network to pay ‘citizen journalists’

Download MP3 Interview with ProBlogger

Andy over at Easy Bake Weblogs has just posted an audio file of the interview that he did with me last week. So if you want to hear my Aussie accent and learn a little bit more about my blogging strategy download it and let me know what you think. It goes for about 40 minutes in total.

Andy and his listeners ask questions like:

– what would you do differently if you were to start it all again
– is there too much competition for new bloggers to start niche blogs?
– what traffic volume do you need before using ads?
– which is better, individual blogging or writing for a network of blogs?
– what is the biggest mistake of beginner bloggers?

We talked heaps about Adsense.

See a full running sheet of what the interview covered here.

Hope you can understand me – my phone line wasn’t the best and I have a cold.