Monday, 14 July 2014

Introducing Reddit's /r/BlogExchange - A New Safe Way to Share Your Content


You write a new blog post.

Naturally, you want to share that blog post.

You know that Reddit has a huge community and would love to see your blog on the front page, but you also know that Reddit highly discourages blog spam.

This leads you to an ethical conundrum, what do you do? Do you submit your blog post anyway and hope that the Reddit community likes what they see and upvote you? Do you risk being considered a spammer and potentially harming your reputation?

Wonder no longer, because a group of Reddit users have now set up a new subreddit called /r/BlogExchange. A place where you can submit your blog content without the fear of being labelled a spammer.

However, just because you can submit your content does not mean that you should submit just anything. As the moderators have pointed out:

"There will be a certain bar you must stay above - i.e. nothing offensive or just so God-awful that you clearly aren't taking it seriously - but virtually anything will be accepted, leaving the voting system to do its thing." - tanktronic

Content that is copyrighted or infringed upon may be removed, but more than anything, this place is a safe new community to share your blog post content.

Reddit is a large community that encourages users to share their original content, yet at the same time they have been oddly hostile to users who submit original blog content. Hopefully, with /r/BlogExchange now live, a large user base will follow and there will be a place for blog owners to share their original quality content and drive new traffic back to their website.

As always, write with quality in mind and don't spam. The success of this subreddit will strongly depend on the people who use it.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Blogging for Money: 7 Ways to Get the Most Bang from Your Google Adsense Buck

7 Ways to Get the Most Bang from Your Google Adsense Buck

There comes a point in every bloggers life when they wonder if using Google Adsense is even worth the time and effort.

One day goes by and they make a couple of pennies.

The next day goes by and they make a few cents more.

Day four and... Hallelujah! They just made 25 cents.

Day five... oh, it looks like they're back down to 7 cents again.

What happened? Why is this happening? Is there any point at all whatsoever to using this Google Adsense program and trying to blog for money? Is it even remotely possible to make any real sort of income off of Google's ad revenue platform?

Can you get the most bang from your Google Adsense buck?

Fighting the depression caused by low Google Adsense revenue

Allow me to let you in on a secret: it is frigging hard to make money with Google Adsense, but it is possible. I have been a Google Adsense user since September 21, 2011 and in that time I have made a grand total of $1,281.36 Canadian (to date).

Are you surprised? Over the course of over just four and a half years, $1,281.36 is practically nothing. But what if I told you that nearly half of that income was earned over the last three months? It's starting to sound a little bit better, isn't it?

This chart you are looking at is a lifetime summary of my Google Adsense earnings.

The first big spike was for $36.81 when I made my first blog post go viral.

The second huge spike was for $71.66 when the BBC linked to one of my YouTube videos.

But that third growing graph on the right side is the one you have to pay attention to. That started to go up when I launched my new website, What to Do When Bored, in an experiment to see if it is possible to blog for money.

As it turns out, it is.

The lesson here is that to blog for money, having both persistence and great content are key.

How the heck do you make money with Google Adsense?

Perhaps first and most obviously, in order to actually make money with Google Adsense you will need a Google Adsense account and a place to put ads. This means you need either one of two things (or both). You need a website and/or a YouTube channel.

Any website can do. I recommend getting one hosted by either Google Blogger (free) or Wordpress (about $100 a year). If you need more help deciding on what platform to use, check out the first blog post I wrote on this site.

Once you have all that set up, here are 7 ways to get the most bang from your Google Adsense buck and start blogging for money:

1. Make Sure Your Ads Are Relevant

The first thing you must know about Google Adsense is that what you blog about (or make videos about) matters when it comes to ad placement.

For instance, if you have a blog about food then ads about food are likely to appear on your blog. If you have a blog about video games then gaming and technology ads are likely to appear on your blog. And if you blog about medicine, then ads about various medications are likely to appear on your blog.

The question is, which of these ads are best?

Honestly, if you could pick between the three then you would probably want medical ads to appear on your blog simply because advertisers are likely to pay higher bids for their ads to appear than advertisers who are paying for ads about video games.

However, ads about medicine appearing on a video game blog would be a mismatch, as would ads about video games appearing on a blog about health. Your ads have to match the content.

You do have some control over what type of ads appear on your blog. In your Adsense dashboard, at the very top you can click on "Allow and block ads" and then on "general categories." There, you should get a screen that sort of looks like this:

Blogging for Money: 7 Ways to Get the Most Bang from Your Google Adsense Buck

Basically what you want to look for is a mismatch between the % of ad impressions in the last 30 days and the % of earnings that correspond to those ads. If an ad is displaying frequently but the % of earnings is quite low, then you might want to consider blocking that category because it isn't earning you much money.

Fine-tuning your Google Adsense revenue is like detailing a car, it takes a close a eye and attention to detail.

2. Make Sure Your Content Is King

Content Is King! Content Is King! Content Is King!

Say it with me now!

What the heck am I going on about? The concept is simple. Your Google Adsense revenue is fully based on the amount of page views you are getting for your ads. If you don't get many page views, you won't make much money. This means one thing and one thing only:

Content Is King! Content Is King! Content Is King!

Your content needs to be likable. It needs to be readable. Most importantly, it needs to be shareable.

How do you make your content shareable?

The only way to do that is by making your readers want to share it, and that is a can of worms on its own altogether. For anyone who is interested in learning more, I recommend signing up for my free online marketing course.

In short though, it is similar to an old proverb that has to do with communication. My own twist on it is that in the online blogging world, effective communication is 93% in how you say it. Only 7% of effective blogging communication is what your message actually is.

3. Don't be a Spammy Spammer

There are plenty of ways to get yourself blacklisted from Google and let's face it, do you really want that?

Of course you don't. You're smarter than that.

There are black hat "marketers" out there that use all sorts of schemey tactics to try to trick Google and turn a quick buck. Creating fake social media accounts, bombarding Reddit with their content and using group forums to massive upvote their friends are only the beginning.

The thing is, Google is smart.

They don't like spammers and they certainly don't like people who abuse their systems.

Google is kind of like the Internet police when it comes to moderating who gets to the top of their search rankings. In fact, Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing recently reported that the Guardian Liberty Voice who was using spammy, black-hat tactics had all of their articles removed from Google News - their former main source of Internet traffic.

The question is, would you rather make a friend or a foe of Google?

The answer is simple. Don't be a spammy spammer.

4. Keep an Eye on Things and Track Your Results

Fortunately Google's Adsense dashboard is pretty thorough and gives you a good idea of how well you are performing on a day-by-day basis. That doesn't mean you shouldn't keep an eye on things.

Remember in item #1 where I talked about the importance of making sure your ads are relevant? Here is a quick way to get a good idea of if your displayed ads are the best they can be.

On the Google Adsense dashboard, there is an item called "RPM" on the middle-right side. This number is an estimation of the amount of money you make per every 1,000 views your ad gets. An amount between $0.50 to $1.00 in my experience is about average. Anything higher is quite good and if your RPM is lower than that then you might want to take another look at your "Allow and block ads" panel.

Keep track of how much money you make each day and how those numbers relate to how much you made the same day of the previous week or the previous month.

Also watch your revenue optimization and your site health. On the main page of your Google Adsense dashboard, Google will tell you if you are having any problems. Issues here could mean lower earnings.

In summary, keep track of:

  • Your daily earnings
  • Your earnings from the same day last week
  • Your earnings from the same day last month
  • Your allow/block ads
  • Your revenue optimization
  • Your site health
  • Your RPM
  • Days of the week where you seem to do better or worse

5. Follow the Law! Google Style

We have already talked about how Google is essentially the Internet police.

Would it surprise you that they have a long list of policies that you must abide by when using Google Adsense?

Probably not.

In case you are wondering, here is that list and here is their beginners guide to understanding that list.

Now here is my quick and easy guide to understanding Google's Adsense policies:

1. Don't be deceptive with your ad placement.
2. Don't click your own ads or encourage others to click your ads.
3. Only 3 ads per page max.
4. Follow the other guidelines in this post.

6. Set Performance Goals for Yourself

Right now I only have one performance goal for my Google Adsense.

Make more this month than I did last month and make more next month than I will make this month.

So far I'm batting three for three since I set this up.

The question is what kind of performance goal will you set for yourself? It can be an arbitrary number, it can be a certain percentage increase, or it can be a minimum threshold that you have to meet for yourself every day.

Whatever performance goal you set for yourself, do what you have to do to remember it. Write it down on a post-it and stick it to the front of your monitor. Tell it to your mom, spouse or kid and make them hold you accountable. Print it out on a giant poster and hang it above your bed so it's the first thing you see when you open your eyes.

Do what you have to do, but hold yourself accountable dang it.

By setting Google Adsense performance goals, not only will it give you something realistic you can track, but meeting those goals will lead you right into point number seven on this list, which is...

7. Be Brave Like Harry Potter Facing the Basilisk

Keep checking back on your Google Adsense earnings every single day and STAY MOTIVATED! Celebrate the victories, large and small. Treat yourself to something you enjoy. Do whatever you have to do to keep yourself motivated and celebrate your milestones!

Blogging for Money: 7 Ways to Get the Most Bang from Your Google Adsense Buck

Last week I had three days in a row where I was making over $30 a day on my Google Adsense.

Yesterday I didn't even hit $10.

Should I punch myself in the foot out of frustration?

Of course not, there will be good days and the there will be bad. Several months ago I would have killed to make at least $1 dollar a day on Google Adsense. Now, not a day goes by where I don't make at least $5.

And if that's not motivation then I don't know what is.

Isn't successful blogging awesome?

I certainly think it is! If you do too then I highly recommend signing up for my free online marketing course where I'll personally delve into advanced blogging and Internet marketing topics with you. It's the perfect small business marketing strategy for busy entrepreneurs and bloggers. Keep your eyes open for upcoming webinars!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Writing Viral Content That Gets Traffic and 3 Simple Ways to Do It Yourself

Writing Viral Content

Everyone who owns a website wants to write articles that are actually going to go viral and get tons of traffic. But what does it take to actually make such a thing happen? Under 30 CEO recently published an article on how to write amazing content that goes viral and gets links.

The information here is dead-on and will definitely help get you results with your articles. Let us follow their advice for the duration of this article and at the same time, take a look and break it down even further.

Write With SEO in Mind

It is super easy to write an article with the best SEO value in mind. You can easily write quality articles and at the same time, abide by Google's guidelines that are guaranteed to help you rank first on Google for the keywords you intend. In fact, by following these simple concepts you are incredibly likely to do a lot better:

1. Begin your article titles with the keyword(s) you want to rank for.
2. Include your keywords within your article body.
3. Embed an image into your post that uses your keyword(s) in the ALT text.
4. Make sure your keyword(s) are in your article URL.
5. Ensure your keyword(s) are in your article description meta tag.

In the most simple terms, your article title gives an impression as to what your article is going to be about. Make sure that your article delivers on that promise. For instance, this article is about writing viral content that is going to help you get traffic to your website. If I talked about the migration habits of elephants, this article would not perform too hot. But I am talking about how to write viral content and am also using those keywords within the article, which additionally helps. Here are additional resources on how you can use SEO efficiently within Wordpress.

Make Your Content Easy to Read

Under 30 CEO talks about several points related to this and I am going to emphasize and break them down into one simple subject. Make your content bloody well easy to read! Use charts, graphs, images, lists, different text sizes and just about everything you can to avoid writing "walls of text." Attention spans are increasingly shorter these days and walls of texts are just not all that appealing.

Writing Viral Content

Embed images into the body of your posts that reflect what you are trying to say. Google image search can provide you with a plethora of copyright-free images and Getty Images recently opened up their stocks so that they can be freely used as well. As I just did above, use Bitstrips to embed images into your posts. These are already comical in nature and are meant to be shared. Why not take advantage of them and use them as you best see fit?

Write Titles that Stand Out

One of the most effective and simple ways to get traffic to an article is to write titles that stand out from the crowd. Depending on the genre you are writing for, different titles are bound to generate more traffic than others although in the end, there are certain types of titles that just tend to outperform the competition. For instance, titles that tend to do well often:

1) Suggest content will be provided in the form of a list (ie. Top 10 ways to ensure you have clean teeth)
2) Instill a "yeah-right" or sense of skepticism into their reader (ie. These reasons are why your dating life is an epic fail)
3) Evoke some other powerful emotion (ie. So You Want to Work in Sports? These Pros Tell How They Made It) - from Mashable

In Closing

Yes, powerful title's often persuade the viewer to click on them. Once they are opened; insightful and interesting content that is easy to read can ensure that the article gets shared. If everything is written in a way that fits in with SEO guidelines and the article is built for the content to go viral, then it is more likely to be discovered on Google as well. In short, "build it and they will come" is not necessarily the right answer. "Build it well and they will come" is significantly more accurate.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Writing a Novel Is Like Building a House

Writing a Novel Is Like Building a House

It was back in December of 2013 when I finished writing my first ever novel and just like what anyone who is enthusiastic about their most recent accomplishment would do, I rushed onto Facebook to make a status update. It was not until later when I would think about just how much writing a novel is like building a house.

"FINISHING at 131,000 words, 24 chapters plus a prologue and an epilogue, I have written my first ever novel! Now the journey of edits, revisions and rewriting begins. After that, it's on to seeking publication!!!"

Needless to say, the comments while congratulatory also were curious as to what the novel was about. Some people knew I had been working on one and others had no idea. But I had been awfully quiet about what the novel is actually about as I had been advised to keep things "under wraps" until it is at a point where it was ready to be published. Anyone who has written a novel understands that while finishing your first draft is a huge accomplishment in and of itself, it is also nowhere near being finished. How to explain this to someone who has not written a novel while not coming off as sounding pretentious, is the challenge.

While I did not give any concrete answers on this Facebook post, friends and family continued (and still continue) to probe me for more information. I am happy to talk about it and wish I could be more open, but until it is at a point further down the road, the advice I am following is to keep things quiet. When explaining to people why this is what I am doing, I came up with a metaphor of how writing a novel is like building a house. Here is how it works.

Blueprints and Mapping it Out
When a house gets built, it all begins with urban planning and blueprints. Before anything is actually physically constructed, everything gets mapped out. This is similar to how some authors are referred to as "architects" where they pretty much plan every single aspect of their story out before it gets written. Of course, other authors are "gardeners" that just start writing and see how the story grows and progresses. Other authors fall somewhere in-between.

Building the House and Writing the Novel
After a house has its blueprints created and all the pre-planning is done, it is time for the construction workers to come along and physically build it. Once a house has been initially constructed, it looks something like the image below.

Concrete Housing Construction in Chile
Writing your novel's first draft is like this house, "under construction."

Appealing, right?

Before a house gets its walls, ceilings, plumbing and electrical work all put into place, it must first actually be constructed. The result is sort of like a wire-frame. Technically it is a house, but it is certainly not ready to be shown off to the public. If a Realtor attempted to sell a house in this state to a client, the Realtor would be looked at as if he or she were certifiably insane. And rightfully so because in no way is a house in this state ready to be presented to anyone. There is still tons of work that has to be done to make it look nice.

Well, that is basically what the first draft of a novel is.

It is rough, unpleasant to look at and most certainly not worth showing to anyone. If a literary agent was shown a first draft of a novel they would toss it in the trash (or well, drag it to the recycling bin icon on their desktop) before they finished the first chapter. A first draft of a novel is filled to the brim with errors ranging from simple items such as spelling, grammar and interchanging tenses to major issues like giant plot holes and sentences that would make both the reader and writer cringe.

Putting the Walls up and Making Revisions
Once the house has been constructed, all of the niceties can be put into place to make it transform from being a representation of a home into an actual full-fledged livable residence. Not only are the walls, ceilings, plumbing and electrical work going to be added but so are the carpets, paint, wallpaper, cabinets and so forth. Essentially, everything that can be introduced to turn this house into a home that is worth showing off is being done.

This is what revising a novel is like and it is in most cases it is literally going to be just as tedious as writing the initial draft if not even more so. There is a lot of work to be done here that goes far beyond making simple spelling and grammar changes. Entire sections or even chapters may end up having to be rewritten for various reasons.

In my case, I pretty much ended up rewriting my first two chapters because I had improved so much as a writer from the time I had started that those chapters made me cringe. I had also changed some major elements, which made it so that those chapters did not make too much sense anymore. I am going to have to go back and change them AGAIN now because I made even more changes later in the novel so those first chapters do not add them the way they were supposed to even after the first set of revisions.

Concrete Housing Construction in Chile
The finished home is now much more like a novel that has been revised.
Home Inspections and Editing
By this point, the house is pretty much ready for sale but not quite. It still needs to have a home inspection done and a cleaning crew should probably come along and give the place a nice solid vacuum and scrub. After all, the people that have building it so far have done a great job but when they look at their creation with the same set of eyes, things tend to get missed. "Flaws" may end being overlooked either because the original builders either did not notice them or did not think they were worth fixing. No problem though! They have done a great job to this point and the inspectors and cleaning staff can handle the finer details so the place positively radiates.

Of course, this final process is like getting an editor to look over the final draft presented to them by the author. The editor has a trained eye for all things spelling, grammar, punctuation and pretty much every other fine little detail that the author might have accidentally missed. Once all of this has been looked after, then just like building a house, writing a novel is finally complete and the final product is ready to be presented to the public. Now, the ball is in their hands and the author can only hope the public likes it as much as they do.