Quick, useful radio interview with Darren Rowse

Standard

If you’re looking to blog for money, Darren Rowse should definitely be on your feed reader list. He’s the founder and publisher of the phenomenally popular Problogger.net, which offers daily tips on how to grow your blog audience and earn a good income from your efforts.

Here’s a link to a recent radio interview Darren had with an Australian radio show (Darren lives Down Under). It’s a quick listen (about 14 minutes), so grab a cup of coffee or your favorite tea and have a go.

My takeaways:

a) Network, network, network.

b) Create useful content.

c) Post regularly.

d) Find a niche.

e) Repeat ad nauseam.

Goodbye, AdSense

Standard

A year or so ago, I removed Amazon.com’s links on my site because of growing concern of their obvious attempts to monopolize the publishing sphere, both off- and online. I will admit that I still do purchase from the site; the current state of the economy means lots of penny-pinching where we can do it, regardless of the source. Heck, I might start going to Wal-Mart again. (But probably not.)

Now I’m removing Google AdSense from my blog pages. An email sent to all Google AdSense partners yesterday announced that the search engine giant will now begin to track the sites that blog readers visit so that the ads will be tailored to their “interests,” e.g., “sports enthusiast.” (That’s an example Google mentioned in the email.) The letter informed us that we must now change our privacy policies to reflect these new changes.

Welllllll. No. I have one privacy policy on all my blogs: Any information you send via this blog (e.g., your email address if you choose to subscribe via email) is used solely for the purpose for which you gave that info, and nothing more. I don’t use the info to send anything other than updates to this blog; if you send me a direct email, I use that address only to respond to you personally, not to bombard you with even a single page of spam. And I certainly don’t want any visitors to this blog to have to worry about any tracking service that follows them around the Internet.

So I’ve removed all Google AdSense ads from this blog and will do the same for the others that I maintain. Eventually I want to create advertiser space for companies/individuals to buy directly, but for now, whatever advertising is on this page is from non-Google networks with which I’m affiliated but which don’t [yet?] use tracking services.

My definition of compensation vs. their definition of compensation

Standard

I applied for a blogger position with a career/college site the other day (or was it last week?), and the following is a little sample from their automatically generated response:

We would like contributors to blog about career and job topics and as compensation, we will be giving away 4 $50 American express [sic] gift cards to four bloggers who will be selected at random at the end of the month. Each month, every blogger will be eligible to win even if you were a winner in a previous month.

Eh…hold the phone. Since when has compensation been determined by a random raffle drawing?

Yeah, I didn’t apply for that one. And I hope no one else who responded to this stupid ad will either.

Plurk plurk plurk (I just like to hear the word in my head)

Standard

I was using Twitter for awhile but not really getting into it much. Like a lot of people who make their first foray into that micro-blogging service, I wasn’t really sure how to use it. I used to have one Twitter on my RSS feed reader who was really good at it, but then he traveled constantly, had presentations about fascinating tech stuff like software developments, and knew lots of interesting people in his field, people whose names even I recognized. So he made for some very good Tweeting.

Me? I’m an unknown freelance writer who mostly works from home and considers herself lucky if she could travel overseas at least once a year. At least my Dallas trips have some cool shopping reports.

PLURKING

Anyway, I’ve recently found Plurk, the great blogger and artist Shai Coggins having first introduced me to it. B. laughs at the name, and yes, the name is pretty weird, not to mention the logo. (I mean, what the hell is that? An elephant with its head chopped off and a bone sticking through it? Creeeeepy.) Still, it’s so much more fun and interactive than Twitter, as you have all your friends hanging out on the same open space, and you can watch the conversations all at once rather than having to scroll down to catch older ones.

Also, it’s easier (to me, anyway) to find new friends on Plurk, as you can check out conversations your current friends have with their friends and decide if they’re people you want to get to know as well. It can be hard to find new friends on Twitter, not just because of the sheer number of people using it but also because of the awkward interface.

TWITTER’S LOSSES, PLURK’S GAINS

Oh, and did I mention that Twitter’s rapid growth has resulted in some pretty frequent slowdowns and service interruptions? At one point their Replies function was shut down entirely for days on end, which resulted in quite a few Twitter folks writing angry posts on their respective blogs about abandoning Twitter entirely and finding a more robust service. Several times a day I’ll also try and post something on Twitter, only to get an Oops! page letting me know that heavy usage at that moment won’t allow me to update and that I should try again shortly. Yeah, right. I have that much time to twiddle my thumbs while I wait for Twitter to get its act together.

So if you’re interested in checking out this new, real-time social networking medium, now’s the time to do it. Play around and see how many friends you can find in this small community. You can find my Plurk widget on the right hand side of this page, and you can see the kind of stuff people like to post. And feel free to visit my profile and add me on as a friend. Would love to see you there!

USING MICRO-BLOGGING FOR PROMOTION & MARKETING

Lots of bloggers (Darren Rowse comes to mind) use these micro-blogging media as a means to promote their blogs and products, network with like-minded souls, and just hang out while taking a break from their jobs. The nature of the medium (maximum of 140 characters — not words — means that you can carry on quick, casual conversations without worrying about it taking up too much of your time. (Although I warn you that Plurk can be very addictive, even more so than Twitter.) If you’re a writer always on the lookout for ways to promote your work, your latest novel or e-Book or consulting services, this might be a good, easy option.

If, for example, you wrote a book about phobias, you can poll fellow Plurkers about their individual fears or phobias or ways that they’ve dealt with them. You can link to your blog posts about the subject, although I strongly recommend against using Plurk to do nothing but link to your blog. Otherwise, people will see through your blatant marketing push and ignore you. After all, this is supposed to be about building community, not a marketplace.

Include your Plurk widget on your blog or Web site so that visitors can check out your profile and add you on as a friend. You can begin to build your audience for your book or writing services, not to mention a community whom you can engage on the subjects you know best.

Again, though, Plurk can be terribly addictive, which can only mean one thing for working writers: time away from your writing. Still, it’s a great way to chat with friends and find out what’s going on in their day or in their part of the world without taking too much time out of your schedule.

News flash! Corporate blogs are freakin' dull!

Standard

No duh.

I rarely, rarely read corporate blogs. The only ones I have in my Google Reader at the moment are those belonging to Red Hat and Soft Skull Press (although I doubt the latter would look too kindly at my referring to their blog as “corporate” in nature). I like Red Hat’s not just because it’s related to some work I do for an online IT publication, but also because they just have really interesting notes about their programming. They’re not just regurgitated press releases or self-serving news (although in essence, that’s what they are). They obviously put a lot of effort into ensuring that they provide useful info on their blogs for their readers, and I appreciate that.

Otherwise, corporate blogs are so tired, most often it’s in the company’s best interest to just get rid of them. I associate boring corporate blogs with a boring, non-innovative corporate structure. If they’re not willing to invest in the resources to engage actively with their customers and fans in the most user-friendly way possible, then how could I possibly think that they’d be willing to make any effort in ensuring that my business with them will be pleasant and productive for me?

So if any corporate entities are reading this post (or that article I linked to above) and are wondering what they can do to ensure that their blog reflects the dynamism and customer service-orientation of their company, ask me. I’d love to help you figure out if your communications/marketing efforts in your blog(s) are optimized and reaching your target audience.

News flash! Corporate blogs are freakin’ dull!

Standard

No duh.

I rarely, rarely read corporate blogs. The only ones I have in my Google Reader at the moment are those belonging to Red Hat and Soft Skull Press (although I doubt the latter would look too kindly at my referring to their blog as “corporate” in nature). I like Red Hat’s not just because it’s related to some work I do for an online IT publication, but also because they just have really interesting notes about their programming. They’re not just regurgitated press releases or self-serving news (although in essence, that’s what they are). They obviously put a lot of effort into ensuring that they provide useful info on their blogs for their readers, and I appreciate that.

Otherwise, corporate blogs are so tired, most often it’s in the company’s best interest to just get rid of them. I associate boring corporate blogs with a boring, non-innovative corporate structure. If they’re not willing to invest in the resources to engage actively with their customers and fans in the most user-friendly way possible, then how could I possibly think that they’d be willing to make any effort in ensuring that my business with them will be pleasant and productive for me?

So if any corporate entities are reading this post (or that article I linked to above) and are wondering what they can do to ensure that their blog reflects the dynamism and customer service-orientation of their company, ask me. I’d love to help you figure out if your communications/marketing efforts in your blog(s) are optimized and reaching your target audience.

Fantastic contest/giveaway over at Essential Keystrokes

Standard

FYI for those of you interested in optimizing your blog but haven’t the resources to upgrade from the free tools you’re using to do so:

Essential Keystrokes is holding a great giveaway with a bunch of cool prizes, including a 6-month subscription to a content management system, an online invoicing system, and even copies of the great Darren Rowse’s book Problogger: Secrets of Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income.

Deadline for entries is July 13, 2008. You can find out more on how to enter (it’s super easy and involves leaving a comment) by heading on over to the post announcing the contest.

Good luck!

Interview with Darren Rowse by The Blog Squad

Standard

Did you hear the podcast interview with the Problogger himself, Darren Rowse? Very interesting, although there really wasn’t much that one who is familiar with Darren and/or ProBlogger wouldn’t have already known.

What I most got out of the interview were these 5 critical tips on becoming a successful blogger:

  1. Find a need and work tirelessly to fill it.
  2. Don’t be afraid of self-promotion.
  3. Experiment, experiment, experiment.
  4. Look for ways to extend your blog, e.g., forums, social networking, newsletters, audio and/or video files.
  5. Content is king.

That pretty much sums up Darren’s philosophy about becoming a Problogger. The plan looks awfully simple, but ask anyone who has made any significant amount of money by blogging, and they’ll tell you that, like any other small business, it’s damn hard work. I run two blogs but have had as much as six at a time. That’s nothing compared to the thirty that Darren once juggled all at once in his attempt to find the most profitable, but still such a mind-boggling exercise that I’m now focusing largely on two major blogs. The other four are dormant at the moment, although I keep them on the back burner just in case I decide to reinvigorate them again.

Blogging for money isn’t for the weak-hearted and definitely not for the lazy. If you want to become a professional blogger, you really need to hustle hustle hustle and learn from the experts. I for one am not especially interested in becoming a full-time or even part-time blogger, but as a creative professional, I’m always keen on listening the success stories of people who’ve made their living from creating and maintaining good content.

If you want to really make a go at becoming a problogger, I suggest that you head on over to Darren’s site and learn from the master. Sure, you could go all cynical and say, Well, it seems the only people making money off of blogs are those who write about how to make money off of blogs.

Fair enough. But if you read through Darren’s work, you’ll realize that he doesn’t offer pie-in-the-sky dreams, the kind you’re seduced with by those awful late-night infomercials about the bajillions of passive income you could make off of real estate. (Yawn.) He’s talking about starting a business. And like every other entrepreneurial endeavor, you have to work really, really, really hard in order to see any measure of success. Blogging is no different, whether you maintain a Make Money off Blogs site or one that pontificates on the political and social issues of the day.