Friday, November 30, 2007

Affiliate sites

The first thing you need to do if you intend to set up your website for affiliate marketing is (of course) become affiliated with some good merchants. “Good” means they have attractive merchandise that will sell, they treat their customers right, and, very importantly, they pay you promptly. “Good” also means they offer a reasonable commission percentage on sales, good enough to make it worth your while.

Generally, you have two choices. You can hook up with individual merchants directly, or you can join a managed affiliate program such as Commission Junction or Linkshare. If you become a member of a managed affiliate program, you will be able to get your advertising materials all at one place, your records will be kept for you, and you will be paid by the program management company rather than by individual merchants. That is, all your commissions will be collected from all the individual merchants and you will be sent one total check each month. As this is being written, Commission Junction pays when you exceed the monthly commission minimum of $25 (otherwise it is rolled over to next month) and Linkshare sends out a check each month regardless of how small the amount might be.

If you choose to deal directly with individual merchants, then you will get a check directly from that merchant after you meet that merchant’s required minimum amount. This is often $50 but can be as high as $100. Some merchants have lower minimums, but $50 seems to be average. In all cases, your commissions continue to be rolled over from month to month until you do meet their cumulative minumum for them to cut you a check.

Affiliate programs are free to join for publishers like you. Never pay to join a program.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Affiliate marketing

Many online entrepreneurs have decided that affiliate marketing is the best way to go. There are several things about affiliate marketing that are indeed attractive. The most obvious thing is that you don’t have to keep stocks of merchandise on hand or have a billing or shipping department. You don’t have to deal with complaints.

Affiliate marketing refers to the selling of other people’s products on your website. But it is more than simply setting up a website and placing a bunch of ad banners on it. I’m not sure if that ever really worked, but it sure doesn’t work now.

One thing you will still have in common with regular “store” sites that ship merchandise, is that you still are faced with the problem of getting visitors to your website. All of the things we've already discussed concerning traffic and how to get it still apply with an affiliate marketing site.

Blogs work very well, both in positioning themselves for search engine traffic as well as generating a really good repeat visitor base. Most of the monetized blogs you see are affiliate marking sites. Some make money on pay per click, such as Google Adsense, but primarily they get paid a commission for selling the products of others directly, rather than simply sending others traffic. There is money to be made with both, so don’t neglect pay per click opportunities.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

More backend

Backend sales are different than “point of sale complimentary add-on sales.” I just wanted to clarify that. Offering your customer something else that truly goes with the item she just bought is not rude. It is thoughtful and helpful. Especially if it was your INTENT to be thoughtful and helpful. Complimentary add-on sales is very different than going after the customer relentlessly by sending her more stuffed animal offers every three days just because she once bought a stuffed teddy bear from you.

Here’s the real test: does your action feel like you are trying desperately to squeeze one last drop of blood out of the sale? Or does it feel like a genuinely helpful act?

I do understand that many of these things probably seem puzzling to some of you hot-shot bird-of-prey internet marketers who happen to be reading this little blog, because that is not how you were taught to sell. I get it. And that’s ok. In the long run it just leaves more money for me and my “be helpful” advocates.

We are not in the business of “overcoming objections.” We are in the business of trying to be of service to our buyers.

Here’s a life-hint: whenever you tell a salesman “no” and he continues selling as if you hadn’t said anything--the way he has been taught to do--he is in the act of trying to manipulate you.

Finally, “backend” or “back end” is also a term often used to describe the things that go on to keep your site up and running. This includes the setup and restocking of your store, the maintaining of inventory, the bookkeeping, and the uploading of changes. The back end of a website is the same as the back end of a bricks and morter store, as opposed to the “front end” of the store where the customers are. Back end in this sense simply refers to the ongoing administration of your website, and has nothing to do with what we were talking about above with regard to the “hard sell.”

Monday, November 26, 2007

Backend sales

Some people refer to repeat business as backend sales. I have never liked this term, and mention it only for those who have seen the term and aren’t quite sure what it means.

If someone makes a purchase from your website, you then know what kind of merchandise they are interested in--or so the theory goes--and with that information you can target your marketing to that individual more effectively.

I personally am not a believer in this internet store state-of-the-art gospel, even though many successful internet marketers swear by it. Why not?

1. Just because grandma buys a stuffed teddy bear from you doesn’t mean teddy bears are her main interest in life. Or that she is personally interested in them at all in the future.

2. Immediatly jumping on a customer when they have just paid you a compliment by making a purchase on your website is pretty tacky in my book--something a car dealer would do. Dear piece of meat, thanks for buying a car from me. Now how about life insurance? No? Then how about some undercoating spray? No? Then how about...

These are not complimentary sales. They are blood-squeezing.

Why can’t you just say “thank you” and let it go at that? Just keep sending out your attractive catalogs and helpful hints (I’m talking about your monthly newsletters) and stop beating your customer over the head. Do YOU like to be constantly “targeted” like that?--or are you so used to it you are numb to its rudeness?

By all means, do keep sales records and make notes of buying patterns. That's not what I'm talking about exactly. Doing that falls under the category of being helpful. I just don't think you should immediately make assumptions about a person's buying habits after just one sale to them. Yes, I realize Amazon does this constantly, and they are successful. I don't know. I still don't like it.

Concentrate on repeat business, and in doing things to deserve it. That’s what I say. Relax! Don’t be so hyper! Concentrate on being helpful instead of becoming a bird of prey.

Build it right, and they will come.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Newsletter signup

Before you start trying to sign people up to receive your newsletter, take some time to think it through and envision exactly what the newletter will contain. The best way is to create a sample issue and work out the problems as you develop it. Also you should begin paying closer attention to the newletters you already receive, making note of the things in them you find interesting or attractive. You can also get ideas for formatting by reading other newsletters.

When you are clear about how your newsletter will look, and what you intend to be saying, then it is time to begin advertising it on your website. Tell your visitors you have a newsletter. Create a form for them to sign up. Have an autoresponder script set up to acknowledge their signup. Some people go so far as to have them click on a verification link in the autoresponder email. This is to be doubly sure it was the real email address owner who did the signing up. Don’t hesitate to do this. Your goal is to have a nice clean list of real people who want to hear from you and who are interested in the subject you are talking about. If that list doesn’t grow as fast because of your screening procedures, then so be it.

This blog is probably not the place to get into the technical aspects of setting up a newsletter. You can readily learn the actual mechanics about doing newsletters on other specialized “how-to” websites. But do consider putting out a newsletter in an effort to create more of a personal bond with your visitor-customers. If you do it right, you won’t regret the effort it takes.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Keep in touch

Keep in touch
A newsletter is not just an email filled with advertisements and sales pitches. Emails like that are called spam. Instead, a newsletter needs to contain NEWS--news about things related to the subject of your blog or other website.

With the advent of the popularity of blogs, the need to publish a newletter of some kind would seem to be diminished. After all, the news items are already being published in your blog, right? While there is a lot of current news being talked about on your daily blog, there is still room for a newsletter. The real purpose behind a newsletter is to keep in touch with your friends who read your blog, and your customers who have made a purchase from you.

In light of this, be sure and include things in the newsletter which do not appear on your blog. If your website is a store that sells merchandise that you ship out yourself, then be sure and include a few private specials in the newsletter that are not known to the general public, as well as special coupons if you use coupons in your business.

Often, rather than try and fit all this into a short email (these things DO need to be short!) some newsletter authors send only the headlines and subtitiles, or basic info and coupons, in the email itself. They then include links that will take the reader to the actual fancy newsletter, which of course is really simply a dedicated page on your main website.

Not more frequently than monthly, please.

The biggest key in making this work is, as always, finding ways to make it interesting and useful to your commercial family. Don’t send your emails to people who aren’t interested in what you are doing. You will only waste your time. The goal is to have the best list, not the longest list.

I think it was Mark Twain who admonished us not to waste our time trying to teach pigs how to sing: “You’ll waste your time and annoy the pig.”

Your visitors are hardly pigs, of course--it’s only a quote.



Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Newsletters and repeat business

Repeat business is so important, so precious, like a gift and a vote of confidence all rolled into one. Successful small businesses know this very well. It is their very lifeblood. If you own a business on the internet, it won’t take you long to come to realize that repeat customers and repeat visitors are like gold.

Repeat business is like an investment that deposits a dividend into your account each month. Far from being a sporadic thing, or a one-time deal, repeat business should become the very foundation of your business. It is the “base income” or “residual income” that you can depend on each month, to be supplemented by your new sales efforts. Only a fool, such as a car dealer in a large city, would depend upon one-time new business income alone, and forego almost entirely the gold mine of repeat business.

How do you get repeat visitors, repeat customers? You do it just like Mom and Pop at the neighborhood grocery store used to do. You treat people right. You get to know them as well as you can. You make them comfortable. You give them what they’re looking for. You make them part of the family. And most importantly, you treat them as respected people, even when they aren’t buying anything from you.

If you treat your visitors, customers, like a piece of meat--like car dealers do--you may end up making a one-time sale, but you’ll never see them again. When people think about their car-buying experiences, they cringe with disgust. Car dealers make you want to go home and take a shower. You feel dirty when you leave. Car dealers are the spammer equivilent of the retail world. But you knew that.

Yes, I haven’t forgotten--I’m still talking about newsletters. Honest I am.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Always looking for Google loopholes

Did you ever think what might happen if Google stopped worrying about whether the search content returned was truly relevant? I mean, what would happen if some searcher typed in the words “American Civil War” into the search field, and Google simply returned all the websites that claimed to have something to do with those words? If a porn site had a meta description of American Civil War, or had those words in hypertext repeated over and over on the top three lines of their home page, then that site would be returned for the searcher’s consideration.


Of course it’s ridiculous. This illustrates the need for Google to try and verify that the actual site content is relevant to the search.

As with so many other things in this world, it is the bad apples in the barrel who spoil the good thing for the rest of us. As soon as Google tried to do something good, they were immediately confronted with cheaters and charletons and liers and other scum who were determined to do it the easiest way, the dishonest way, rather than the right way. The goal was to get search engine traffic to their sites, and they didn’t care at all how they did it.

Would you like to find out where to track down the spammers that are inundating your email with trash? My guess is that if you find a website cheating for page rank, doing all the things they can think of to “beat” Google’s search algorithm, these are the same people who also send out spam at night. They have no scruples when it comes to getting traffic to their site. Just my opinion, of course.

The next time you visit a website that proudly offers, for a price, to teach you ways to outwit Google, think of the owner of that website as a spammer. He probably is.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wagging the dog

If it weren’t so serious, it would be hilarious. Webmasters who desire to get a high Google page ranking try to comply with what Google wants them to do. If Google lets it be known that links are good, then webmasters will proceed to go out and try to get links to their websites. In a freemarket system, this process can often get creative.

Tomorrow, if Google were to decide that sites should be ranked higher if they have an animation of a black dog on a red background at the upper left hand corner of your header, what do you think would shortly happen?

And later, if Google desides that sites should be ranked lower if webmasters PAY someone to create the doggie animation, then what?

Google ranking means money. Serious money. So I am trying my best not to laugh here. On this blog you are reading right now, it is obvious that I don’t give a rat’s patoot about Google or what they think. I am free to speak my piece and kick sand in their face. Not so on some of my enterprises which turn a profit. So I do feel your pain and exasperation.

More to follow.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Google knows best

We can see that Google has begun a pardigm shift from simply being a search engine that seeks to return relevant content to their searcher-user, to a sort of gatekeeper-ranker. Dare we say “censor?” Of course. How could you NOT say that Google is censoring the content that the searcher sees? Of course, they would probably prefer to call it something like Advanced Algorithm Filtering Service. Be that as it may, when you search for something and Google returns not only relevant content, but only the relevant content they want you to see, that is the dictionary definition of censorship.

The purpose of this post is not really to badger Google about being a big bad censor, but rather trying to clarify the question, “What is Google?” They are no longer a search engine, but are now a rating service as well. That’s really good news for those of you who can’t decide for yourselves, or don’t want to be bothered. Type in some search words, get some content returned to you that Google wants you to see. Choose from among the choices that Google presents to you. No problem.

To be continued.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Playing favorites

If you are a search engine, and your goal is to return the most relevant content to your users, what do you do when many, many equally good websites are returned? You might say the only fair thing to do is rotate those top, equally good and equally relevant websites. That would be fair. What Google chose to do, however, was to extend their criteria—lengthen their list of things they feel make one site “better” than another similar site, more relevant, somehow, than another similar site.

Now, the searcher doesn’t really care, or think about, all this rating foolishness. If they are presented with a dozen or so sites that seem to meet their search criteria, they are happy. They choose one of the very good and relevant sites that Google presents to them, and visit a few of those sites. Fine. But they seldom visit number 312 or number 869, which might have really been the best sites for them to visit.

So Google’s list of virtuous things webmasters ought to be doing got longer. And one of the things they came up with was links. That’s right, links. Google reasoned that if many other websites linked to this one website, it must really be good. It must be better than websites who had fewer links to their sites. It must be incredibly better than websites who had no links coming in to them at all.


Why would that be true?

Why would the most popular websites necessarily be “better” or “more relevant” to the searcher’s question than less popular websites?

To be continued.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Finding relevancy

When you look in the telephone yellow pages, certain businesses are shown more prominently than others. This is because the advertisers pay more to be shown larger or more creatively. This has nothing at all to do with the actual value or quality of the advertiser. The advertiser with the smallest line ad in the yellow pages might turn out to be the very best choice. With the telephone yellow pages, then, it’s all about money and nothing else.

What Google is trying to do is very different from the above yellow pages example. Here we are not talking about the paid advertising that Google sells, but rather the free search engine service that Google provides in order to get eyes for its advertisers.

In this regard, Google has an ongoing quest to find ways to return the most relevant content, the most relevant websites about the search subject, to their user-searcher. This is admirable. This is exactly what Google should be doing. The problem arises when a search of a million websites on a particular subject turns up ten thousand sites that are particularly relevant to the search words, and maybe a thousand sites that are really really what the searcher asked for. Now what?

Well, at that point you of course show the searcher the names of all of the thousand really relevant websites. Indeed, you show them the whole million websites, for that matter. The question then becomes in what order do you show the thousand relevant sites? When you have a thousand sites, or certainly several hundred sites, that equally meet your search criteria, and you can only show about a half-dozen on the first page above the fold, which do you choose to be placed in that hugely favored position?

More to follow.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What is Google’s purpose?

Without looking up their official bio, my memory tells me that Google began as one of the early attempts to index the web. The purpose of indexing the web is the same as the purpose for indexing anything else: to point the user toward content they want to look at. That’s why libraries have card catalogs and that’s why big textbooks have those tiny word pages in the back.

The indexing function, or cataloging function, of the internet is considerably more sophisticated today, and is performed by something called a search engine rather than an indexer.The desired result is still to try to take the user to the place he wants to go, or give him the information he wants to see, just do a better job of it.

With so many new websites springing up, traditional indexing really wasn’t feasible for very long. Hence the development of search engines. (Both Google and Yahoo still offer traditional “directories” to the web, though. and If you have the time and patience to drill down through their hierarchy, have at it.)

The trouble is, along with more sophisticated methods came the opportunity to additionally try to tell people what Google thought was “good” content and what they thought was poorer or “less apropos” content. This was under the guise of “providing users with the most relevant content” rather than just providing a list of possibilities and letting the user decide what he wanted to investigate further. Kind of like a librarian recommending a particular book instead of simply pointing you to the section of the library where books on that subject might be found.

More to follow.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The key is already inside you

Did you do the web surfing experiment? If so, did you come up with a list of general subjects that you seem to be quite interested in? You can use this information as clues to what you should be writing about as well as how your site might be monetized.

For example, you might have found yourself searching sites about sewing or about woodworking. Or you might have looked at a lot of sports sites, baseball in particular. To me, this means that you might be happy joining those particular crowds. You might be happy writing about those subjects. Do try and make the niche as narrow as possible so as to somewhat limit the competition for the same readers.

And monetization? That should be pretty obvious: send people to sports sites, baseball sites, sewing sites, crafts sites, woodworking sites. Sell, on commission, products that you are interested in yourself: sports products and equipment, baseball fanware and memorabilia; sewing patterns and fabrics, woodworking books. You get it. If you are interested in the subject yourself, it should be pretty easy to write reviews for the products you are trying to sell, as well as blogging about the latest information regarding the subject.

Your blog should be fun for you, not work. Start out on the right foot by not trying to write about something you don’t personally care about. That’s too hard to do.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

That's interesting

Although your main writing focus will be on the niche subject that you are interested in, what your blog is about, don’t forget that your primary goal is writing in a manner that brings visitors to your site, and creates long-term readers who come back again and again.

If you have something you want to share, and it doesn’t really have anything to do with the niche subject of your blog, go ahead and write about it anyway. People will visit your site because it is informative and has useful information, but they also visit because your writing is interesting and entertaining—regardless of the subject of the post.

Are you traveling, or on vacation, blogging by email from your laptop? Share your experiences along the way with your readers. If it has something to do with your niche subject, fine. If not, also fine.

Writing about your niche subject every single day is not your goal. Making your blog interesting is your goal.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Take it slower

I read a lot of blogs about making money on the internet. I’m sure you do too. I am always looking for new ideas, and always trying to imitate success. Anyway, one of the most common things I see is the advice to take this blogging business more slowly. Take time to get your feet wet and learn. Writing is the most important thing in the beginning. You need to attach yourself to a subject you like and begin writing about it. That's the advice I see coming from the big boys and girls in the blogging world.

Only later should you begin to monetize your site, they say. Work on being a good writer and getting people to come to your site for the writing you do and the information you provide. Later, monetization will become a natural transition. At least that’s the way many of the very successful bloggers say they did it. They began blogging because they loved it and because they felt they had something to say. Only later, after the audience was fairly large did the money-making part begin.

I think that is most likely true. It is like taking the time to get an education before your go out into the working world to earn a living. It is frustrating to make yourself wait when you want to start making money right now, but, really, how can you do it without the audience? Also, there is something about starting a blog for the primary purpose of making money that people seem to pick up on, and the feeling turns them off.

Consider starting a “pure” blog when you first start out. That is, just write about something you are really interested in. Build up a readership following over a few months. Then, if you still want to, that is the time to slowly make the moves toward monetization. If you don’t love to investigate things and write reports about them, this may not be the right job for you anyway.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Surfing for passion

If all you ever had to do was surf the internet, what sites would you look for?

There are all kinds of books written about right livelihood and how to find your true passion. It occurs to me that surfing the internet might be the latest modern-day way to find your passion instead of reading self-help books for clues.

I can’t imagine anyone surfing the internet looking for sites on subjects they don’t care about. Try an experiment: make a list or log of the general subjects of the sites you visit, or of the subjects of the searches you find yourself running frequently.

The results will probably not surprise you—we all know what we like and want much more clearly than we think we do. But the list should also serve as a guide to what subjects you are are most interested in, even passionate about.

What does this have to do with making money on the internet with a blog? Simple. You make money by finding ways to attract a lot of readers to your site. You attract readers, in large part, by good writing. Interesting and entertaining writing. Writing about a subject you are passionate about will be interesting and entertaining without even conciously trying.

Try the experiment.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Speaking of pictures...

The webpages of successful bloggers always seem to be covered with pictures. A picture goes a long way when you are trying to describe something. A picture is worth a thousand words. A picture explains like nothing else can.

This is not only true in situations where you are blogging “off topic” about some personal trip or event you have taken. Pictures which illustrate and support the writing in your “regular” posts really create more interest with your viewers. At least they do with me.

As for me, I'm going to start taking my own advice about pictures. I've been concentrating only on writing too much.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Great bloggers get personal

Successful bloggers take time off from writing about their niche subject from time to time, to blog about personal subjects. They put up lots of pictures. After a while, you start to get to know who they are, who the person is behind the writing on the website.

Posting lots of pictures increases the bond, the personality of the site. And anything that can bring the readers and the blogger closer together is a good thing.

So, if you are looking to find ways to increase your traffic, always be looking for ways to get more personal with your readers, and find ways to increase your rapport with them.

Posting visuals is one good way to do that.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

It's not against the law to have fun

Another thing you will notice if you visit several of the “superblogs” every day is that these bloggers are constantly working on projects that will somehow get ther readers to interact with the site. They concoct contests and giveaways and various competitions, and they ask their readers to participate in these.

As a recent example, I noticed that John Chow and ShoeMoney had a friendly competition going on throughout the month of October to see which one of them could increase their RSS feed readership members the most. Ok, that’s kind of silly (not for them, of course, but for their site visitors. I mean, it is obvious what Chow and Shoe get out of it, but why would their blog readers care about signing up? Most of them read both sites regularly anyway.) But that’s not the point. It was just fun for the readers to get involved, to interact. To be asked to DO something.

The event or contest or whatever doesn’t have to be that big of a production, or cost you anything. It just has to have some semblance of fun or excitement about it, and it must somehow get the readers involved in the process.

Are YOU asking your readers to interact with you and the others? What have you asked them to do lately?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Have a conversation

Successful bloggers always respect their readers.They treat them as equals, as friends; they don’t try to talk down to them. They value their comments, their input. Blogging is s two-way street. The content must be interesting, of course, but it is the comments that are often even more entertaining and enlightening.

Do everything you can to encourage your visitors to comment. You will get a lot of visitors who stop by and just lurk in the shadows. Think of ways to include these people and make them feel comfortable enough to make a comment to a post.

Think of things you can do and say to make your visitors feel at home on your site. If you can get them involved, if you can get them to participate in the conversation, they are almost sure to return again and maybe even become a regular reader.

Always keep your readers foremost in your mind when you write. Try to write in such a way so as to draw them into the subject. Ask questions. Lots of questions. After all, you don’t know it all.

Do you?

Try not to write as if you were on a platform giving a speech to an audience. Instead, pretend you are sitting in a circle, just having a conversation. Give your opinion. Then ask for their views. It is surprising how many blog posts seem like sermons instead of conversations. I am guilty of being like that—I get so enthusiastic about what I am saying, I forget to shut up every once and a while and listen to others.

I think if you can find a way to turn your blog into more of a conversation, you will be on the right track of making some good friends of your visitors.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Making the connection

What are some of the things the “superbloggers” do to connect with their readers?

I’m not sure you could get an immediate cut-and-dried answer if you were to ask that question directly to the big-time bloggers, face to face. That’s because, first of all, we are talking about something that is very subtle. Gaining that certain raport with your readers is not usually some tangible list of things you set out to do “on purpose.” It’s more of a personality thing, a compatibility thing. I think it has a lot to do with how you treat people in real life on a daily basis.

If you have a genuine passion for your blogging niche subject, it comes through in your writing. If you are, instead, pandering to your audience, I think that comes through loud and clear as well.

So the first thing that successful bloggers seem to have in common is that they are truly passionate about what they are talking about. They are not just writing a “report” on some subject or event. Even if they ARE writing an occasional report, their own personality is infused in the words they write, and that makes it interesting to the readers.

Bottom line? Bloggers who are successful on a large scale are honest with their readers.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Secret lives of successful bloggers

Is there a big secret?

There must be. There has to be. There is. You have suspected this for a long time now, but let’s finally get it out in the open:

“There is more to blogging than just writing a lot of stuff and setting up your blog to suit the search engines.”

There. I said it. I feel better already.

As always, you can find the clues to the “secret” things that successful bloggers do by simply reading their blogs on a regular basis. Perhaps you have had a sneaking suspicion all along that these people were doing something you weren’t doing. You were right. If you don’t have tons of traffic, you were right: they ARE doing something you aren’t doing. Or at least you are not doing it as well as they are.

Some things are hard to explain, hard to define. On the one hand, you have what I call the “mechanics” of running a blog: things like good and interesting and helpful writing; good monetization techniques; advertising; commenting on other people’s blogs, and so forth. On the surface it seems like you are doing every single thing that the “big boys and girls” are doing on their blogs. That must not be true.

Like I said, it’s hard to put this intangible thing into words. But at the heart of the matter is the fact that the really successfull bloggers have found a way, somehow, to CONNECT with their readers. They are on the same wavelength, the same side of the street. They have discovered what their readers are looking for, and they give it to them.

For the next few posts, let’s explore that “secret” in more detail.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Britney Spears and your blog

I heard on the evening news today that Britney Spears has a monthy income of over $700,000 now. Her biggest expenses are two mortgages for $50,000 a month. I guess I was surprised when I heard this, because I still haven’t been able to get over the belief that high earnings is somehow tied to high value, or high usefulness to other people. If you compare the fairness of this to the wages of coal miners or schoolteachers or field laborors, it might make you crazy, so don’t compare.

This is not meant to be a slam against Britney Spears, because people make money in relation to the perceived value others see in them, plain and simple. Fairness doesn’t enter into the earnings equation. Britney is no exception. She earns what people perceive her value to them is. Put another way, it isn’t the noteriety, it’s the publicity.

What does all this have to do with your blog?

Self-promotion. Public relations. Publicity. That’s how Britney gets traffic, and that is how YOU are going to have to get traffic. You must not only do what you do well, you must attract attention to what you are doing. Some people think Britney Spears is a singer. Maybe she thinks so, too. She can sing, but first and foremost, she is an entertainer, and she has learned how to draw attention to what she does.

I am not saying that you need to do outrageous things to get your blog URL on TV or in the newspapers, but you DO need to go out and drum up some publicity. If you want to have a lot of people visit your website, this publicity activity must be ongoing.

If you are smart enough to write good stuff every day, then you are smart enough to be inventive. Again, go out and get them!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Why do you have a blog?

Did you create your blog as a way to make money? Or did you blog for quite a while before you began to monetize your site? If you were never able to make money at it, would you still blog?

Speaking for myself, I think I would still blog even if I made no money at all from it. At least I know I would still write—I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write or keep a journal of some kind.

Another main interest of mine is photography. It occurs to me that the two (photography and writing) are very much related. At least they are for me. Both let me capture thoughts and examples of the world around me. Both let me analyze things and learn about things. Both are records of a sort—little snippets of time that I can refer back to and improve upon, edit, from time to time.

I hope you blog because you love to blog. Of course, I also hope you are beginning to make some money doing it, too. There is no better feeling than to do something you would probably do for free, but make money doing it.

In order to make money with your blog, there are many things you need to constantly pay attention to. But at the same time, try not to lose the joy of writing about things, the joy that probably brought you to blogging in the first place.

I won’t.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Go out and get them!

I know you’re a good writer. Your blog is beautiful and well-laid-out. It is interesting and entertaining. You’ve got something to say, and it shows! Your blog is clear and properly monetized. So what’s the problem?

The problem is you are all alone.

You are writing classic stuff for nobody but yourself. No traffic. No visitors. No readers. Nada. No wonder you’re discouraged. Who needs this? You can walk downtown and get ignored with less work.

Psst. Listen.

GO OUT AND GET THEM! Stop sitting there staring at the screen and waiting for them to show up. DO SOMETHING! Hello?

Let me be more specific. Search the web for people who are interested in the niche subject you are blogging about. There are hundreds and hundreds of “communites” out there. Forums. Chat rooms. Kindred blogs. More than you could ever peruse and exhaust in a lifetime.

GO GET INVOLVED! Yes. I’m shouting at you. It’s called “networking.” It’s like asking someone to dance instead of just sitting there at the party. Get out there and expose yourself to your fellow bloggers. No, not that way. I mean get out there and talk to them. Ask questions. Answer questions. Make comments. Get a virtual life. Invite people home (to your website, that is.)

The choice is yours. You can continue blogging to the wind, or you can get out there and start dragging them back to your site! Why not?

Why not today?