Business School for Bloggers: How to Make Money With Your Blog

Sobcon 2007 conference meeting with attendees - photography by Lorelle VanFossen

I am frequently asked about how to make money on the web, especially how to make money with your blog. I find a wide variety of answers around the web, some of them get rich quick schemes, PageRank games, and SEO illusions, but there is only one answer that I want to shout to the roofs, but few people listen.

Blogging as a business is business. It takes business training and skills to make money with your blog.

That’s it. That’s the secret. John Chow, Guy Kawawasaki, Darren Rowse, Seth Godin, these princes of blogging didn’t get rich with their blogs by just having blogs. They used their business sense and know how to make their blogs work for them. They understood that a blog is just another tool in the business arsenal, a business card and resume all wrapped up in one, offering a business a powerful communications tool. In order to make your blog work for you, you have to understand how business works.

To have a “successful” blog and to make your blog work for you, you have to have skills and training in advertising, marketing, economics, finance, writing ability and language skills, public relations, networking, everything any business needs. These are the skills you bring it to your blog to make it a success, earning the money you deserve.
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Is there a deliberate effort to hack a large number of blogs for SEO and cash?

Tony Hung, former editor here at The Blog Herald, believes that there is. He writes:

Some enterprising hackers have put together a scheme whereby they hack a number of blogs, so that they can create their own network pages and links back to a few select blogs, to pages that are not easily visible. It takes advantage of the organic and real page rank of all of the sites in question, and probably makes some bucks for the hacker involved.

Tony has been able to use the “river of news” feature on memetracking site Tailrank to find a number of blogs that appear to have been hacked in this method.

I have seen something similar occur on my company’s website over at Bryghtpath LLC. We were contacted last month by Google informing us that links to spyware/malware were detected on our company blog – and then we were being delisted until we had notified them that it had been removed. We’d been hacked.

I’m sure this news will evolve throughout the day – I suggest that you ensure that your sites are clean and fully patched with the latest versions of your blogging software of choice.

Blogging is About Writing – and Not

Business of Blogging graphic - copyright Lorelle VanFossen

Blogging is about writing. That is a fact. You can video blog, podcast, and do all kinds of fun things with your blog, but it is the writing that makes or breaks a blog. What you say in the blog posts, descriptions of visual and audio elements, and what words you offer search engines for their indexing to help people find your blog.

However, blogging is not just about the writing, albeit it is a large part. Blogging today is about so much more. Are you ready? Do you know all the things you have to know about blogging before you start blogging? Or after?

Whether you are a new blogger or long time blogger, these are the things you are going to have to learn about in order to blog in today’s world.
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Micropatrons, Welcome!

A few months back, Jim Kukral (whom I know to be an avid Blog Herald reader) wrote to us about a new ad/tipping system he has developed, ScratchBack, which basically allowed people to send small amounts of money to a publisher in exchange for a text link or image. I thought of it as a mix between text links and tagboards. But the more important question I had was whether micro-tipping systems like these were viable.

So here we are trying it out. As announced by our Marketing guru, David Peralty, on XFEP and as shared by Jim Kukral himself on the ScratchBack blog, we are implementing ScratchBack widgets on several Splashpress Media blogs. We’re initially starting out with a few sites, such as Blogging Pro, Forever Geek, 901am, Blog Search Engine and Gadzooki–actually those sites where it’s easy enough to add the 200px-wide widgets. The Blog Herald is included. You might notice the widget on the middle sidebar of the site, labeled Patrons, right below the News column.

So if you’d like to tip us, please feel free to do so. For $5 you get a Google-friendly (as they say) link from us, and you get that warm fuzzy feeling that you’ve helped us Splashpress Media folks spread the good news about new media.

It’s a bit like advertising with us, but at less expense. Do consider, of course, that direct advertising has its benefits. For one, our current ScratchBack setup is an auto-scroll one. This means that older links are pushed down as new ones come. So you’re not assured of how long your link stays there. Also, we’ve set it up such that there are only five slots, so link space is limited.

This brings me to the question whether to go for fixed duration vs. auto-scroll. And there’s also the issue of whether to stick to five spots or increase to accommodate more tippers. Then there’s also the question of whether $5 is a good price point to start with, or to vary it depending on the popularity of each site. And then there’s the placement of the widget itself. Too high up on the site and it can be too obtrusive. Too low and it would be practically invisible.

The big consideration is to find a balance such that the tipping system doesn’t dilute the value of the direct advertisements (so we don’t piss off our advertisers) but still be valuabe enough for micropatrons to send in tips. Any ideas or suggestions would be welcome.

So again, micropatrons are welcome!

What Are You Not Doing With Your Blog

When Aaron Brazell put his blog up for sale, he got a rude awakening of what he was not doing with his blog that would have made his blog more marketable, thus worth buying.

Recently, I started thinking about what I’m not doing with my blog that I should. I do a lot already, and I also am an advocate of organic marketing, natural marketing and viral techniques rather than grasping and desperate. So what more could I do to increase the diversity of those who read my blog, keep readers happy, and continue to be a source for information on blogging and WordPress?
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Website Owners Unite on Adroll to Make Money

The concept of Adroll simple: bloggers sharing a specific topic band together to lure advertisers. Bloggers win because they can attract larger clients; advertisers win because they can spread their message across a niche with a single ad purchase.

The site has been in beta for quite some time and recently opened to the public.

Advertisers can search the Adroll directory for specific blogs or communities, or bloggers can solicit advertisers by sharing their profile link (you can view mine here).

Signing up is simple. Just input your blog URL, enter some basic traffic and demographic information, indicate the size/location where ads can appear and you could be enjoying a new revenue stream.

If you haven’t stopped by Adroll recently, there have been some improvements:

* Links from your ad space now go directly to your Public Profile

* Other publishers can connect with you using your Public Profile

* The marketplace is open, so advertisers can buy

* Any advertiser can buy on your website using Adroll – no registration required

* Updated campaign tool permits geo-targeting on your site

There is also a referral program. Tier 1 publishers earn 30% of every dollar Adroll earns (for 6 months) from any publisher you invite or direct into Adroll. Earn 10% of every dollar Adroll earns (for 6 months) from any new publisher invited or directed into Adroll by a publisher you invited or directed into Adroll.

Looks promising. I’ve set up a career and employment community. If you’re interested, sign up! I’ll keep you updated if I have any luck with the program.

Lifestream All of Your Social Network Activity With New Widget

So many social networks, so little time. Even if I wanted to follow the online trials and tribulations of my favorite Web personalities, with the birth of new online communities everyday, keeping up is a full-time job.

Registered users of, a social network for bloggers, has just released a widget that will indicate all of your social networking activities in one place. Or, in fancy Web 2.0 terms, you can set up a “lifestream.”

Among the major networks currently available on the widget: Digg, Facebook, MySpace, StumbleUpon, Twitter and YouTube. A handful of others are also options, and more are expected to be added on a regular basis.

The BlogCatalog social network aggregator can be displayed anywhere and is completely neutral, not favoring any one network over another.

Just in case you have information that is the same across several networks, you can manually remove items.

Over 100,000 approved bloggers interact on BlogCatalog every day.

Petite Anglaise: couldn’t live from money made directly from blogging

Catherine Sanderson, better known to thousands under her pseudonym Petite Anglaise, is currently doing a run of media interviews to promote her blog-inspired book.

She gave an short but interesting interview on the BBC Breakfast programme this morning. As well as talking about what a blog is, the background to her particular blog, dismissal from her job and winning the French tribunal, she also answered the question that many people ask about blogging and money:

Interviewer (Bill Turnbull): Is there any money in blogging?

Catherine: Not really in blogging itself. You know, obviously if you get a book deal that’s quite nice. Some people put advertising on their blogs, but I don’t think you could live from that, really.

While it’s certainly not true that you can’t live off the direct earnings of a blog (or a series of blogs), it’s rarely easy. It also raises the interesting subject of making money directly versus indirectly from your blog (links point to two excellent articles by Darren Rowse).

If you’re in the UK, you should be able to catch Ms Sanderson’s Breakfast interview later on today on the BBC web site.

Banging the Pots and Pans on Your Blog

During the new year’s resolution fervor, I heard a lot of people talk about “taking my blog to the next level” and “putting more energy into my blog” which basically boils down to either fixing up the look and feel of the blog’s design and interaction, or making a lot of noise to get the attention you think your blog deserves.

Let’s look at the latter: banging the pots and pans together on your blog.

In order to get attention to your blog, you have to publish something worth attracting attention. It must inspire, motivate, educate, entertain, and give us something interesting to talk about. The latter is the key. You can write the most brilliant exposé but if it doesn’t compel readers to talk about it, to tell friends and strangers, to make bloggers link, then it isn’t an attention-getting post. An attention-getting post is a viral post, one that begs to be spread around.
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Do You Monitor Your Online Reputation?

The greater your success, the larger your number of enemies. That means, as your blog grows in visitors and subscribers, you will need to spend more time monitoring what others are saying about you. Of course, like most bloggers, this is probably the last thing you want to waste time on. Thanks to new online reputation monitoring tool Trackur, you can follow what others are saying, while not taking time away from content creation.

Web attacks can have serious consequences and you need to protect what you’ve worked hard to build. However, starting at $88 a month (14-day free trial), Trackur sure sounds expensive. I love the idea that you’re up and running in five minutes, but do I need to spend that much coinage to track news and social media Websites?

Users of the tool submit keywords that apply to their blog, name or product, then, any blogoshphere or social media mention will be reported and tracked.

Trackur offers three different levels of service, each including options to save searches, bookmark and forward items, and receive alerts via e-mail or RSS.

I haven’t tried the product yet, but I think the price tag will scare away many small and mid-size bloggers and businesses. However, I understand that you can’t put a price on defending your honor. What do you think?