After some big problems with their voting system the Business Blogging Awards are back up and running. This time around it seems that the voting is working nicely. You can place a vote for my little site here in the Best Overall Blog category if you so desire – although the competition is pretty good from some of my favorite blogs.
I’m going to open up the comments on this post for anyone to say anything they like on the topic of blog design.
I spent half an hour or so today looking through the blogs nominated for this year’s Bloggies awards. I was particularly looking through them with an eye for the way that these blogs were designed. By no means am I a blog designer (as you can no doubt tell from this blog – which is about to receive a facelift) but I do appreciate good design. There were some beautifully designed blogs in the collection – especially some of the photoblogs which I love surf through.
I was particularly surprised when going through the nominated blogs by the number of them that used very basic template designed blogs – particularly of the blogger variety. They were by no means the majority of blogs – (there was around 10) but for some reason it left me a little surprised. Whilst I have nothing against templated blogs I am someone who is drawn to sites which people have made look a little different.
I was left wondering if perhaps I’m a snob – whilst I always talk about how content is the number one thing a person should work on my reaction to templated blogs perhaps exposes a bias. Of course the bias doesn’t stop me reading templated blogs – there are quite a few on my daily RSS feed list (althouth RSS does tend to cut out the design issues).
I was wondering if I’m alone in my blog snobbery? How important is blog design to you in finding quality blogs? Are aesthetics and design something you look at when you go to a new blog or are you someone who is drawn in by content…or something else? Am I a snob? What is good blog design? What is your favorite blog in terms of design? The floor is yours.
It seems that Google is doing a back link update. I noticed it last night with a rise in my SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and a corresponding rise in traffic on a couple of my sites. The increased traffic was coming from Google which is usually an indication that an update is underway. Its not back up to the levels of traffic that I had after the pre Christmas update (which knocked off two thirds of my traffic overnight) but its a step in the right direction and something of a relief for me.
Read more of what people are saying about the update at Digital Point: Google is updating and Webmaster World: Major changes in Google Update Starting.
Have you noticed any difference in your google referrals in the last 24 hours?
It looks like Google Adsense are now using a referral affiliate type program whereby if you refer an advertiser that spends at least $20 to Adwords or a publisher that earns $75 with Adsense that you earn a commission ($20). They describe the program as follows:
‘The Google referral program is designed to help businesses make money by referring small to medium-sized businesses to Google. You simply apply and once you’re approved, place links (or graphics) on your site, and then every time you refer a company that spends at least $20 with Google AdWords or earns $75 with AdSense, you earn a commission.’
They say in their FAQ that they are currently only accepting US bases sites in this program (doh!).
This program will probably suit sites that have an audience of readers who have websites that are commercial in nature.
Learn more at:
A couple of days ago we mentioned that Gawker had launched two new blogs including Lifehacker – a blog about downloading software and time saving that has been sponsored by Sony. Today Adage (subscription required) announced that that sponsorship is worth around $25,000 per month! Now that is some serious sponsorship which is a lot higher than most blog sponsorship deals that I’ve been privy to the details of. The article goes on to say that the deal includes some exposure on Gizmodo and will run for around 3 months.
$25,000 a month is pretty good for an untested new blog – although it being a Gawker blog almost guarantees some pretty serious readership.
I’ve recently been negotiating with an Ad Agency for one of my blogs. They have a client interested in a sponsorship deal for a month long test period. I’m keen to give it a go – not just because its potentially worth a few thousand dollars (I’m not in Gawker’s league but a guy has to start somewhere) but also because I’m interested in testing the effectiveness of this type of campaign. I will of course keep you updated here.
The article from Adage is worth the read. Here is a snippet:
‘And Gawker blog readers, even if there’s only a million who flock to a site, are considered “prime influencers” in the niche they frequent. “They are connectors — people who are into technology and are influencing people about the technology they are into,” said Brad Bowers, co-founder of BlackInc. Ventures, an agency that provides outsourced business development and revenue generation to small- and mid-size Internet companies.
It looks like Yahoo! have been getting into the blogging thing with the launch of Yahoo! Japan’s Blogs beta. I wonder if we’ll see this rolled out world wide at some point from Yahoo!? The features of what they are offering look pretty comprehensive with them coming complete with RSS feeds, accepting trackbacks, statistics, a favorites system, guest book etc.
Coming up with creative and profitable Ideas for blogs sometimes feels more about luck than anything else. But in my experience there is a number of steps you can do to better your chances. This is the third and final part of a series on finding Money making blog ideas. Also see part 1 and part 2 for the full picture.
5. Collaborate – Blogging doesn’t have to be a lonely introspective task – in fact I’ve found that when you share your ideas and passions with other bloggers it can come alive. Pick a few trusted bloggers to run your ideas past. You may just use them as a sounding board to critique and give ideas or you may actually open your idea up and invite them to become a partner in your blog project. This is especially worthwhile if you’ve picked a topic that is big or outside of your expertise. The wonderful thing about collaboration is that if you choose your partners carefully you’ll end up with a blog that is so much better than what you could have done alone. I’ve seen this happen on a number of occasions in the past year, starting mainly with the Olympics Blog which I involved a number of others in. Had I kept the idea to myself I doubt it would have been anything near the success that it was – the topic was just too big and my technical expertise with databases and other aspects of that blog were well beyond me.
So grab a partner and see what comes together when you put your heads together.
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.
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.