29 April 2007

Branding your blog with merchandise

I wrote about some Adsense alternatives in a previous post and we have also looked at other ways of making money from the web.
One thing I didnt mention is that you can of course sell your own blog-branded merchandise. Now there is no point in doing this until you have gained a reasonable level of readership and I would also suggest that your blog needs to have a fairly distinctive "personality" before you can consider going down this rout - but it is an option. Branded T-Shirts, mugs, coasters and other items can be ordered via the internet with your own logo.

A site such as CafePress.com for example offers over 50 products which can be personalised with your own logo and you can price each product for sale yourself. CafePress gets back the original base price ($13.99 for T-shirts, $10.99 for mugs) and you keep any markup.

I'll be on the look out for more sites like this and will note them here so check back.

28 April 2007

To blend or not to blend? That is the question

The choices you make about your website and AdSense colours and the positioning of your Ads are not minor matters when it comes to maximising your AdSense revenue.

The best way to approach this is to take a long cool look at your site from the point of view of the reader. Ask yourself why have come to your site and what they are likely to be looking for.

Now examine how the AdSense ads which are showing fit with this. Here are some useful questions to think about;

1) Are my AdSense Ads actually visible? If they are way down the page then a high proportion of visitors may not even see them.

2) Are the AdSense Ads too visible? The Internet is covered in Ads and Internet users are increasingly developing "ad blindness". Without even being conscious of it we all learn to mentally screen out Ads from our awareness as we browse. You have probably done that with this page!

Ad blindness can happen particularly where the colour and or positioning of an Ad makes it immediately apparent that it is an Ad. The reader unconsciously ignores the Advert.

You Ads should be positioned in visible parts of the page but you should also make sure that do not interfere with the reasonable design of your page. Some pages you will come across have been so highly "optimized" for adverts that you are hard pushed to find what you came looking for. I don't know about you but my immediate reaction is - this is just a site for Adverts and I am put off and don't hang around.

The other issue is color for your adverts. The usual advice is that you should make sure that your Adverts colours blend with the design of your site. Ideally you should use the same colours for background links and so on for your adverts that you do for your site.

I have a slight variation on this. I do like to blend the colours but I also like to tweak them slightly. That way my adverts don't blend into the background completely and they have a little more prominence. Don't however use very different or contrasting colours. What you are aiming for is that your Adverts should look like an integral part of the site, almost like part of the content.

There are also some things you should think about when using color on your site more generally and I'll cover that in a future post.

22 April 2007

Remember your Blog basics

I thought a little mnemonic to help you remember some key points might be helpful. I am going to write a post in the near future on each of these points so it would be nice to see you back here. This should help you remember some key points as you blog.


C - Create great content
O - Optimize your site
N - Nourish your Niche
T - To write is to earn.
E - Engage your readers.
N - Never click your own links.
T - Tools tell all.

R - Regular posts pay.
U - Understand your readers.
L - Love Links.
E - Every Post shall have a Theme.
S - Shy bloggers stay poor.

Work at Home, earn income - but be focussed!

One of the perks of running an Internet website or blog and earning money from it is that you work from home and you save yourself all that travel to work time. If like me you have previously had a job that involves a lot of dead time travelling back and forward to work then you will know the frustrations of this. You think to yourself "I could be doing something much more useful with this time!".

Running a website or blogs means of course you don't have to be tied to an office. You will get tied to your computer but you'll get so involved in what you are doing that this won't seem like down time - its earning time.

I want to take a brief look at how you should organise yourself at home to help you be as efficient as you can and get the most benefit from your home working arrangement.

To get the most benefit from working at home you should be both organised and flexible in your approach. This may sound like a contradiction but its not.

You should be organised with your working environment. Try to make sure that your computer and desk are away from the main run of activity in the house. Make sure you have arrangements for paper filing of important copies of things like receipts etc. Also make sure right at the start that you set up a system whether on paper or electronically for keeping a record of your websites, blogs, hosts, passwords etc. If you are running more that one site or blog these things can quickly become very disorganised if you don't do this at the start.

You should also be flexible though. You don't need to run yourself to a rigid time schedule if you work at home. So if someone visits or something else comes up you can respond and deal with it. But don't be too flexible - set yourself some core hours and stick to them.

You may be running your Internet activities part time. If so you should still work out what time commitment you want to give to them and try to schedule this - then stick to your schedule.

This can be particularly important if you are running a blog. Readers will not return to your site if the update frequency of your Blog is too infrequent. So decide early on if you are going to have new posts every day, or every week, or monthly. ( It can be difficult to create momentum with less than a couple of posts weekly so I wouldn't recommend anything less frequent).

One tip that may help is that you should always have a few blog posts in draft form that you are working on and tightening up. This helps because there will be times when you hit a dry patch and feel you have nothing fresh to add. If you have drafts in progress then you will have quality material that you can finish of and post to get you over these blank periods.

I am pleased to be able to recommend a great value web hosting service that also offers FREE web hosting. This is a great way to get started on expanding your adsense empire!

17 April 2007

This advice really works

I know what its like. You read a site that gives you tips and you wonder to yourself - is this just bull, does this really work? Yes - I do that too. I know when you are reading my posts you might wonder - well he says these things work but do they?

Well just to give you some evidence I have copied a graph into this post which shows the performance of one of my blogs ( not this one). Its a graph of my logs and shows page loads, returning visitors and new visitors.

This was a blog that I started some time ago and I hadn't really given it much attention until earlier this year. Then I decide that I needed to give it some tender loving care and put into practice the things that I am writing about on here.
You will notice that apart from a burst around Aug Sept the activity was pretty steady. ( It looks lower than it is because of the way the graph scales to accommodate later results. )

However you can see that in Feb things start to move as I sort the blog out and attend to content, promotion and other AdSense improving factors. Notice how from a previously steady rate the blog bursts into new life as I get a tremendous percentage improvement in page loads, new visitors and returning visitors.This translates into revenue for me and that blog is now performing nicely.

Dont get kicked from Adsense

The first rule? Don't get yourself kicked of the AdSense program. the second rule - don't get yourself kicked of the AdSense program. The third rule? Well you get my drift.

If you follow Googles terms of service you should not be faced with being kicked out of the AdSense program. The problem is that many people ( and I count myself one of them) have a habit of skimming terms of service documents and not really taking in what they are saying. Most times this is not a great problem but if you do get kicked of the AdSense program it may not be easy to get back on. So read those Terms of Service!

The major don ts are as follows;

1) Don't be tempted to click your own Ads. Google will monitor this and your AdSense career will be over before it starts. If you see an interesting Ad then don't click it. Take a note of the URL and open a separate browser window and put the URL in there. Clicking your own Ads is a real big no no. They will count these as Invalid clicks.

(Note: After I wrote an published this I noticed a News article that says that Google has been withholding the value of invalid clicks from the payements to Webmasters. I have only scanned this so far so I am not clear if this is an alternative to suspending your accouunt fro this infringement. I wil read more and note it here. The information is in a digital point forums thread.)

2) Don't get your pals to sit and click your Ads! Google is smart and will be able to monitor unusual click patterns so don't be tempted to try to distort your earnings in this way.

3) Don't be tempted to try to use some Software robot to make automatic clicks. Again you will have Google on our back - and that's not what we want is it?

4) Google has rules about the number and type of its Ads that you can have on its pages. From memory its three text/image ads and one link ad unit. Don't put more on your site. Apart from the fact that your site may well end up looking cluttered and tacky its against the TOS - so don't do it.

5) Google has rules about not putting up empty pages just for Google Ads. You'll be unlikely to earn any income from doing this anyway - so why bother? Also don't try slapping the Javascript code for the Ads in emails - they don't like that either. Google did have a beta scheme for RSS for feeds but on my last look this wasn't taking new applications and I am not sure that it is still active. Generally just stick to using the Ads where they were intended top go - on web site and blog pages.

So be good. Be an Angel. Be nice to Google Adsense and it will be nice to you. Break the rules and you are going to have to go looking for another advertising program. Its a lot of hassle and hassle that you don't need if you get kicked out of the Adsense program.

Domain setup and the importance of domain names

I am going to describe a general setup issue here that relates both to blogs and websites - the issue of choosing your domain name or website name.

If you are going to set up a web presence you have two main options;

1) Obtain your own domain name with web-hosting.
2) Obtain a sub domain of an existing domain with web hosting.

Now I describe them this way because a number of the more specific ways of having a web presence can in fact be seen as variations on these two themes.

If you think of the communities that are currently so popular - sites such as myspace, blogspot and so on you can view these as essentially offering you a web presence in the form of a subdomain of their domain.

You may be able to obtain a more flexible form of web hosted sub-domain. If you use a blogspot account for example you are essentially tied to Googles blogging software ( although this can be addressed to point to your own domain space if you have one).

If you obtain a more flexible subdomain package however you may be able to use more flexible content management software (CMS) or alternative blogging software which gives you a wider range of choices.

The importance of domain names
The most flexible arrangement is of course to purchase your own domain name and hosting package. This will often allow you to create additional subdomains of your own name and is likely to come with things like FTP accounts, webmail and other resources.

The main advantage of this route is that you have more control over the name of your web site. With a subdomain you only have control over the subdomain element of the name but with a purchased domain name you have the choice of the domain name which reflects your site.

Choice of domain name is by no means a minor matter. The choices you make at this stage will have a potential impact on your Internet visibility further down the line - so choose your domain name or your blog address with care.

The name you choose should be catchy and if possible reflect the nature and purpose of your website. This may not be easy as many of the best web site names have already been taken. So be prepared to search for variations of the name you are seeking. Develop a list of potential names before you search to see if they are available.

The domain name is important because it can have some influence on your search ranking. Search ranking is something we will be returning to frequently and is one of the most critical factors that will affect your web site earnings.

You need to put yourselves in the mind of your potential customers or readers. What words are they likely to be using when searching for a service like that provided by your site. What words will they use when searching for the information you are offering. Try to incorporate the most important of these words into the name that you choose for your domain. This will help you as you try to develop " brand recognition" for your site.

When searching for a good domain name remember that single words are best ( but very very difficult to find) or short memorable two or three word phrases. The advice is that usually you should avoid hyphens in a phrase. Remember also that dot com names are the most highly sought after.

Of course I didn't think much about these matters when I first started this blog. I wasn't even sure I was going to continue blogging for long then. I had followed this advice for domains that I owned but not for this blog. Ah Well we all live and learn!

Your domain name and your email address
If you have your own domain name, you also usually can have multiple email aliases of the form someone@website.com. With this you are able to use different email aliases for different purposes. For example for enquiries about your products and services you could use an email address such as sales@website.com. For customer feedback you could use an email address such as feedback@website.com.

Having different email addresses makes it easier for you to filter your email using your email client program and but gives customers the sense that yours is more than a one person operation.

Your domain name and the search engines
If you develop a site hosted by some of the free web hosts using a sub-domain, you will find that it is hard to get it listed in a major directory like Yahoo!. It can be very difficult anyway to get listed by Yahoo! so its best not to give yourself extra problems.

Some search engines may not even spider your sites if you are using a free hosting service and a sub-domain. Search engines are the lifeblood of traffic for most websites so again why give yourself extra problems? Its best to get a proper domain name and have it hosted if you want to be sure of search engine inclusion.

Even if you get listed using a hosted sub-domain you may find that it is harder to get a high search engine ranking. The search engines seem to give a lot of weight to the root or home page of a domain so again having your own domain name means that you are going to increase your chances of getting a good listing.

Taking everything into consideration the best route is to buy a domain name and have it hosted ( you can of course use free hosting for that and you still get the advantages of having a domain name). Even if you are going to use one of the pre-packaged arrangements such a blogspot or some other form of sudomain arrangement you should still choose the name carefully. You may not have control over the main domain part of your website name but you can and should still choose a good name for the sub-domain part.

11 April 2007

Drawing it all together

If you have followed these posts from the beginning you will now understand how Adsense works as a good way to make money from your website or blog. You should also have a realistic understanding of what can be achieved using Adsense. I have also described some general alternative strategies for making money from the Internet. ( I will come back to them in more detail later).

The big advantage with Adsense of course is that you don't need to do any direct selling yourself. Adsense deals with all of that. It arranges the contracts with advertisers and their payments and you just deal with placing your ads and attracting visors to your site. I am going to return to the subject of attracting visitors to your site in a later post and take you through the main strategies you should use.

So your main job is to concentrate on your site - its content and its promotion.

I'll be back early next week as I need to take some time to work on my main site!

However even with good content and promotion there are details that you need to know about Adsense if you are going to maximise your earnings. These things aren't necessarily hard to understand. Most of them also are not very secret. These pieces of advice are however scattered all over the web and my intention here is to bring all this together in an easily digestible way for you. If it saves you some time searching the internet then I've done my job right and hopefully you will come back again.

Some of the tips I will cover will quickly boost your Adsense earnings and whether you are doing it as a spare time activity or making a full time business of it you should see better returns on your time.

In the next post I am going to take you through the basic set-up you should establish to get yourself and your site ready for Adsense. This will include not just Adsense issues but also issues about your website and its content that can greatly effect your Adsense earnings.

10 April 2007

Adsense? - Give me the money!

Ok so you read my post on the money some guys make from Adsense and you are going to make a website or a blog to put Adsense on and ... and ...

Whoa there! This is not a good reason to start a website or a blog. Starting your thinking with Google AdSense is not the right way to go about it. Your efforts will just look like exactly what they are - an attempt to earn money through Adsense. You will come across such sites. They have no useful information or advice and what happens? Usually you don't read anything on the site and you move on. What is the point of that?

So don’t just launch a website because you think you can earn cash from Google AdSense. You may end up with a website that earns an income of a $1000 or so in a few years. If you want to earn a proper income you should have a good reason to launch a website. It could be that you can think of a valuable service, or that you have valuable knowledge to share or a good product to sell. Of course you can just launch sites for the Adsense income but without good content you will struggle to make good earnings.

So before you go any further think about your motivation for using Adsense and how it fits with your overall plans. Whatever your reasons for having a web site or a blog I'll give you some further tips in future posts.

And make sure you read the Adsense primer so you understand how contextual advertising works!

Other ways of making cash from the web

If you have been following our posts from the start you should by now have a good understanding of how Adsense works and its role in earning you income for your internet activities.
Before we get on to some more detailed issues about the best ways to generate income from Adsense though I thought it would be useful to remind ourselves that there are of course other ways to earn income not only from advertising but from other internet money making ventures as well. I am not going to go into great detail about these at this stage. I just want to outline a few of these approaches and some aspects of them.

Adult sites and Adult affiliates
It's true that sex sells, and when it comes to the internet it probably outsells all other actvities put together. If you are not put of by the thought of making your money in this way then there are various ways that you can get into the Adult market.

First you can sign up as an affiliate with an existing company. Some companies sell a full set up and go package including the web hosting and content for your site. You wont get this cheap or for nothing of course. You'll also need to remember that the bigger the market and the more money in that market the more existing competition there will be. You will need to expend energies and money promoting your site. With so many Adult sites already set up it can be difficult to find a market niche that's not already full. Anyone for sex with anteaters?

A simpler route if you have a site is to sign up for affiliate advertising. This way you will be taking adverts and promoting specific adult oriented sites and you may get either a click fee or a percentage of join up and on going fees when people sign up on sites.

Other pay per click advertising
There are other general pay per click schemes out there other than Adsense. Some of them may well be worth checking out. I haven't used any of these for a while so if you find a good one - let me know!

Affiliate programmes
These are a bit more specific usually than general pay per click schemes and may link you to a particular market niche or company or website. There's no reason you have to only sign up with one!

Completing surveys
There are sites were you can sign up and get paid for completing surveys.

There are arbitrage schemes out there and in a future post I'll tell you a bit more about these.

Trading Online

There are various ways of trading online .
One of the potentially most lucrative is FOREX trading. This is trading in Foreign currency. This is a huge and very profitable markets but there can also be risks so this is only suitable for using your risk capital ( money you can afford to lose if currency movements do not move favourably for you). You can learn more about this at Income from Forex where there is information about trading in this market with as little as $25 starting capital.

09 April 2007

How not to do Adsense

Some people try a strategy with Adsense where they just create "empty" websites and blogs simply so they can show Adsense adverts. I am going to refer to this as "Adsense Farming".

Those who do this tend to use software "bots" to create thousands of such sites. They will work on the principle that if they get only a tiny percentage of "hits" but have thousands of these sites then they will gain income by the very scale of the operation.

Now Adsense farming is quite objectionable and I would discourage you from going anywhere near it. My reasons arise from being both an internet consumer and a user of Adsense myself.

From the Internet users point of view coming across one of these empty sites that have been farmed in this way is not a useful experience. I am highly highly unlikely to click one of the adverts if the site is empty and I suspect most surfers are like me.

Think for a moment about your own internet experience - how likely are you to follow adverts on a site that has been useful to you and presents you with useful relevant information? Now think how likely you are to follow adverts on a site who's content really is only those adverts? See what I mean. So the Adsense farmers have to create thousands and thousands of sites to get income and mostly they just end up pissing people of.

Of course there is another and more important reason not to follow this strategy. Google is pretty smart and has a history of taking action against those who abuse its Terms of Service. Putting up empty sites simply to show Adsense ads is most definitely against their terms of service and could lead to an account being terminated. Google takes measures to weed out those who use this approach. So I don't advise that you do it.

04 April 2007

Adsense alternatives

Google Adsense is of course not the only game in town when it comes to advertising.You might want to check out some of these Adsense alternatives for example;

24/7 RealMedia
Burst Media
Link Share
Yahoo Publisher Network
Accelerator Media
Ad Agency 1
Ad Dynamix
ADServing Network
Affiliate Future
Affiliate Sensor
Affiliate Fuel
Auction Ads
AV Nads
Azoogle Ads
Banner Boxes
Banner Connect
Bardzo Media
Casale Media
Click Booth
Click Share
Click Xchange
Cyber Bounty
Cover Clicks
CPX Interactive
Direct Networks
Enhance Interactive
Esource Media
FastClick/ ValueClick
Incenta Click
Industry Brains
LookSmart Adcenter
Mamma Media Solutions
MSN adCenter
MIVA AdRevenue Xpress
Max Advertising Income
Popup Traffic
RealTech Network
Revenue Pilot
Sponsered Reviews
Top Adsense Alternative
Text Link Ads
TMP Express
Tremor Network
Tribal Fusion
Vibrant Media IntelliTXT

Also for FREE web hosting check out

This list contains a range of AdSense alternatives and there should be something in it for most people who are looking for an Alternative to AdSense.

Contextual Advertising 101

To really understand Adsense and how it can work for you on your content rich sites it is important that you understand a little about how Adsense works.

It isnt necessary to go into every technical detail and the basic concept is really very simple.

You as the "publisher" or the "webmaster" or the blogger are given an individualised java script which you place in your website. Every time the page with the Java script is accessed, the script "pulls" advertisements from the Adsense program. The software that runs the Adsense program examines the content on the web page and targets Ads that are related to that content.

The ads that are targeted therefore relate to the content on the web page serving the ad.
Now if a visitor clicks on an advertisement, the webmaster on whose page the ad appeared earns a portion of the money that the advertiser has paid to the search engine for the click.

Google handes all tracking and payments and so this is a very easy hassle free way for website owners and bloggers to display content-sensitive, targeted ads.

If the process was not automated this way you would have to find advertisers for your own site, negotiate their rates. collect funds from them, monitor clicks on their ads and check statistics - all at the same time you are trying to run your business or website.

Google acts as a "man in the middle". It offers the adsense program to website owners who get targeted ads served onto their pages which can earn them income when clicked by visitors. For the Advertisers Google runs the Adwords program and this allows the advertisers to design their own advertising campaigns and bid for adverts on websites and searches.

How much income from Adsense?

Do you want to make money from Adsense? I suppose any of us that have a website or a blog have thought about using Adsense to make some extra cash. But just how much can you make from Adsense? Well its like any type of business - how much can you make from selling retail goods? The guy at the corner shop makes a living to get by on - but the guys who own Wal-Mart earn a bundle.

Adsense can be a bit like that. Some people earn an odd dollar here and there but for some there is a real treasure chest of money to be made from Adsense. Now for a blog like this the earnings from Adsense wont add up to much of an hourly rate. So I am not going to earn even a tiny percentage of what some website owners routinely earn from Adsense.

That doesnt mean its not worthwhile to get some return from your efforts but you need to understand that it takes work, good content and a measure of luck to get into the bigger bucks. Oh and spotting a good market opportunity of course.

Now the dating game is of course as old as human kind. Marcus Frind of PlentyofFish, knew this. It's the “world’s largest singles site”.

Now PlentyofFish has an Alexa ranking of 710 and homepage Page Ranking of 6.

The site is said to have 500 million page-views a month producing earnings of around $10,000 a day.

Jeremy Shoemaker of ShoeMoney earns money from ringtones and is a top earner from Google AdSense reportedly making nearly $140,000 a month.

Former Weblogs, Inc. owner Jason Calacanis sold Weblogs to AOL for $25 million and used to reportedly earn around $4000 a day from AdSense in his network of blogs. He also wrote a book: The AdSense Code: What Google Never Told You About Making Money with AdSense)
which no doubt also earned him a tidy sum.

So it can be done. These guys of course worked hard at what they did. They developed good content and platforms and Adsense was not their only income stream. Indeed for some Adsense was at first only a side stream of income but as the scale of their operations increased so did the scale of their Adsense income.

Can the likes of you and I get into this league? Well I've made a start and I am happy to let you know about some of things that I have picked up and am still picking up on the way.

Technorati Tags: , , , , adsense earni

OK What is Adsense?

While there are other advertising programs available on the internet Googles Adsense is by far the best known and the easiest place to start for the website owner or blogger just starting out.

If you are running a website or a blog and you haven't yet considered using Adsense to generate income then now is the time to give this serious thought.

First I have to make sure that you are going to be realistic about what Adsense can do for you. You will see websites and adverts that promise you untold riches if only you will sign up to their particular scheme. Now these can be worth checking out if only to understand what your range of options are. There can be pitfalls to some of these though and I'll tell you about them later.

So theres a lot of things to look at look at in future posts but now just remember one thing - like anything else in this world you will only get out of your Adsense activities what you put into them. Sure you can earn income from Adsense and some people earn a very very good income. But you are not going to earn a significant income without putting some work in - even if it is in your spare hours.

In this Blog I hope to help you save yourself some time on the Adsense learning curve so that you will be up and running with your Adsense income quickly. Remember to bookmark this site so you can find it again easily for further tips. (Check the add to favourites link at the top right).

I guess you'll want to know how much money you can make from Adsense then?