25 October 2008

What is Niche Blogging?

What is niche blogging and why should you care anyway? Well, niche blogging is one of the ways to get your blog a focused stream of visitors and it is one of the ways that you can improve your income from blogging and income from ads on your blogs. It's simply about focusing your blogging onto a narrow subject range so that your blog does well in the search engine results.

Niche blogging is not right for every blog of course. Two of my other blogs for example are very wide in their scope. I blog about anything that takes my fancy on them. They get a good readership and I enjoy blogging on them. They even make me money.

Niche blogging though is about focusing the attention of a blog down to a narrower range of things. This blog for example is in the Internet marketing, publisher affiliate and advertising income niche. This blog is still fairly broad within that niche but it is still a niche blog.

Blogs can be focused even more narrowly on a niche of course. If I focused this blog solely on Affiliate programs for example this would be an even narrower niche. I could then go further and focus even more narrowly on one affiliate program.

The advantage of niche blogging is that you may stand a better chance of coming higher in the search engine results when someone searches for something to do with that particular niche. The visitors who come to your site will be very much the ones who are looking for information about that particular niche. This is of course helpful if your advertising inventory is also focused on that niche.

Personally I like narrowly focused niche blogs for their ability to get focused visitors. I do think they sometimes make it harder to get people interested in your blogging and involved in a "conversation". So. I use niche blogs but I also blog more widely on other blogs, including this one.

There is no doubt though that if you choose your niche carefully and match your niche with well selected Advertising inventory then niche blogging can be very rewarding.

This is why some people get obsessed with "high paying keywords" in their quest to maximise their income from adverts. If you know that keywords related to "insurance" for example pay a high rate per click in AdSense then it seems to make sense to make a niche blog about insurance.

The problem with this is that some niches are very crowded. Many people have thought of this before you have and even a narrow niche blog may struggle to get anywhere in the search results.

The secret, if you can really call it a secret, is to find a niche which is not crowded, and , very importantly one which you will enjoy writing about.

23 October 2008

Put AdSense code in a Blogspot Blog

This is basic but it is something that many newbies scratch their heads about when they first get a blog and an AdSense account so here is a walk through on how to put AdSense into your blogspot blog.

First things first. You must have already signed up for a blogspot blog and have some posts on it with some reasonable content. Then you will have signed and been approved for AdSense. In AdSense you will have generated some AdSense code and now you are ready to put it into your blog. OK?

Well first of all you don't actually need to get the code from your AdSense log in.

There is a gadget that you can use in blogger that makes all this very easy. Go to the layout tab in your blog editor. Then look for the "page elements tab". You now see the layout of your blog in graphic form.

Click Add gadget and then look in the list for the AdSense gadget. Click on the + sign and a page comes up as shown in the picture. Choose the format ( size ) of the add that you want and the colors. If you haven't already linked your AdSense account you will need to give your identifying information and thats it. You save the gadget and make sure you have dragged it to somewhere on the page layout where there is room for the ad size that you have selected.

If you want to generate the code in your actual adsense account then you can also do it another way. Simply get the code then add a HTML gadget on your page elements page. When the HTML gadget is open paste the code into it. Save the gadget and you ads will show.

Multiple Domain Unlimited Bandwidth Hosting

Back in August I posted briefly about signing up for a Multiple Domain Hosting Package with unlimited bandwidth. I thought it would be useful to give an update about this and reflect a little more on why Multiple domain hosting on one account is so useful for someone trying to develop income streams on the internet.

Trying to find the right web hosting package with all the services that you need at a good price is the Holy Grail really. I use three webhosting providers at the moment ( leaving aside the free web hosting packages that I use).

Currently I have packages with GoDaddy , Heart Internet and, most recently a multiple domain hosting package with HostMonster.com .

Heart Internet has been a very reliable hosting provider and they were the first paid webhosting service that I signed up for. I have stuck with them because they have been very reliable and their support is very responsive. they are not cheap though and I have been a bit frustrated by the fact that I cant host more than one domain on my account.

As for GoDaddy , I have very mixed views about them. I find that their navigation to control various aspects of your hosting account is not always the easiest to find you way around. Otherwise it's a pretty good and reasonably reliable service.

Both of these packages don't really make it easy though to host an unlimited number of domains on the one account and my Internet activities have reached the stage where I really need multiple site hosting on one account.

When you are running a number of affiliate promotions you will tend to need specific landing pages and sites relating to those promotions. It looks better for visitors and is more effective in terms of generating advertising and affiliate income. It's much easier if you are managing multiple sites like this if you can do it through the one hosting account. It's also important , depending on the kind of sites that you are running, that there shouldn't be too much restriction ( if any) on your Bandwidth usage.

I did a lot of looking about before I settled on HostMonster.com. The account comes with PHP 5+, CGI, MySql and a host of features together with cpanel. And it really does have no limit on the number of domains that can be hosted or the Bandwidth that you can use.

It's now been over two months since I signed up with them and I have been very pleased with my new account which is costing me $4.95 a month - excellent value. I have moved and set up five domains now on this account and I will be moving the majority of my domains over during the next few months. The process has been fairly straightforward but for those who are nervous about this I might post about the process of doing this in more detail in the future.

I am not often in the habit of giving glowing recommendations but I can give a hearty thumbs up to Host Monster.com - their multiple domain hosting package has really exceeded my expectations.

20 October 2008

Using Statcounter with blogspot blogger

Statcounter is an excellent free visitor tracker which is perfect for small to medium websites and blogs. It is particularly easy to install Statcounter on a blogspot blog and there are instructions on the Statcounter website. Sometimes it can be useful though to learn a little about such software before you sign up so that you know if it's worth while trying so here is a quick run down on using Statcounter to track page views on a blogger blog.

Once signed up with Statcounter you are able to create a project for each one of your blogs or websites where you want to track visitors. This is very simple and consists mainly of entering the website or blog address.

Stacounter then generates a short piece of Javascript which is what you put into your website or blog. In generating the code you will be able to decide if a visible website visitor counter will be shown. If you wish you can choose to make an invisible visitor counter.

On blogger the simplest way to put the code on your website is to use a HTM/Javascript widget. Then it is simply a case of pasting the Javascript code into the box. In a blog the code is pasted in as a section of script. If you are doing this I would recommend that you place the code in the footer area.

Once the code is in Statcounter will start to track each time someone visits your site. It will record their IP address and which pages they accessed. Statcounter poses no risk to your visitors because it stores no personal information about visitors. However for you as the blog or website owner the information it provides is invaluable.

You will know how many visitors you are getting and where they are coming from. You will learn what searches brought those visitors to your site. You will know which of your pages are popular and how people travel around your pages. This helps considerably if you are trying to target certain pages.

I have never hesitated to recommend Statcounter. There are more sophisticated visitor tracking systems available of course but for a completely free system which is easy to use it's hard to beat Statcounter.

Email posting to your blog

One of the great things about blogging platforms is that they often allow you to e-mail posts to your blog. This of course means that you don'thave to be actually logged in to your blogging software to be able to create a post.

In blogspot blogger blogs it is very simple to set this up. Go into your settings tab and look for the email tab. Thjis will let you set up the email address that you will email your posts to. Then just use this email address when you want to email to your blog.

When setting the email address up in blogger you will also be able to choose if yopur email posts should publish immediately or if they should be held for publishing when you log in to blogger. This ability to email posts can be very useful as a way of making it easier for you to keep your blog fresh and updated. if for example you have a mobile phone capable of semding emails then you can post to your blog wherever you are without having to acess a PC.

Keeping a regular posting schedule to your blog can help keep your blog higher in the search engines. So if you want to keep your blog live with fresh posts but don't want to be tied to a PC it is worth finding a way to use mobile e-mailing to your blog.

13 October 2008

Recession Adsense and Affiliate Marketing

As stock markets around the world show signs today of stabilising and emerging from the utter panic which appeared to have gripped them it is time to lift our eyes from the immediate crisis and look at the consequences of the financial crisis for Internet publishers and marketers and the potential impact on advertising income.

What now seems clear is that Western economies at least are likely to experience a year or two of recession. It is impossible that a reduction of economic activity of this scale will leave Internet businesses untouched.

Although steps are being taken to free up credit markets it is almost a certainty that credit will remain tight for some time. The impact this recession will have on Internet marketers, Publishers and others who rely on AdSense and affiliate income is worth exploring;

1. Reduced credit card availability and activity.
It seems a reasonable bet that banks and other financial institutions will tighten their qualifying criteria for issuing credit cards. It also seems highly likely that consumers, frightened by the credit crisis, will increasingly look to repay credit card debt rather than take out new debt. It is unlikely that these trends have peaked yet. For Internet marketers this means fewer people looking to make Internet purchases and probably fewer people with credit cards to fund such purchases.

2. Consumers looking for essentials.
In times when money is tight we can assume that people will look to maintain the essentials of life and will cut back primarily on inessentials and speculative purchases. Again this trend may not have peaked. Comments on forums would suggest that affiliates in the travel field have not yet seen any universal downtrend. This may not be long in coming though and it might be anticipated that there will be some impact on non-essential purchase niches over the coming months. Those who are marketing in niches for more essential items may be less impacted by a coming recession.

3. Consumers will be looking for value.
When money is easy then differentials in price for the same product may not be that critical sometimes. People may not spend a long time to save a dollar or two because their budgets are not squeezed. But move to a situation where money is tight and price becomes a very critical issue for a consumer. Marketing around value and price may in such a situation be a more critical strategy. When times are good people may pay a premium for Quality. When times are hard those same people may look to strike a firmer balance between quality and price. Internet marketers need to consider this in the way that they pitch their offers to potential consumers.

4. PPC will do well - at first
PPC programs like AdSense appear at first sight to offer a much more resilient source of income than Affiliate programs when money is tight. With PPC the publisher is rewarded simply for a visitor expressing interest in a product by clicking through. But the economic squeeze will impact on advertisers as much as it does consumers. Companies will face pressures in their advertising budgets and may begin to opt for Pay Per Action rather than Pay Per Click. This could reduce the demand for AdWords placements and suppress PPC rates. It will be interesting to see if this trend emerges or if advertisers see AdWords as an effective and cheap marketing tool in hard times.

5. Those who stick it out will eventually do well.
There will be casualties in the coming months. Internet businesses which have extended themselves and are making little or no profit may not survive for long. Those businesses which do survive are likely to be much leaner. fitter and focused though as we emerge from a coming recession. They will be well placed to take advantage of a future economic upturn.

The lesson in all this for Internet publishers, AdSense users and affiliate marketers is that you will not escape from a coming recession unscathed. there will be impacts on your business and some may have to re-think their business focus. It will become even more important to focus on what the customer needs and wants and to be aware that this may have changed. It will be important to be nimble and to be able to change what you offer and the way you offer it. This will mean focusing even more on creating a shared dialogue with consumers.

Above all else it will mean having the patience and determination to ride out a difficult time and see your business through to the other side.

12 October 2008

Ten tips for new Bloggers

Can anyone blog? Of course they can but that doesn't mean that all blogs or bloggers will be successful. There are plenty of blogs out there that probably deserve to be put out of their misery and never see the light of day again. There are badly written blogs, boring blogs and just plain pointless blogs. If you haven't been having much success blogging and you don't want your blog to languish in the backwaters of the Internet then here are ten tips for bloggers to think about;

  • 1. Don't just repeat what other bloggers are writing about. Its not easy but you need to try to develop original material for your blog. tell your audience what you think, don't just repeat what others have said. If you have a completely new take on a subject then your blog is much more likely to attract attention

  • 2. Don't be shy and bashful. Hey you are a blogger! people are going to read your stuff so tell them what you think. If you don't agree with the majority view on a subject then say so clearly and loudly. People are as often likely to read and comment on opinions that they don't agree with as those they do. It's better to be controversial than ignored.

  • 3. Link generating schemes. There are all sorts of link building schemes out there but some of them are useless and some can be right harmful. don't bother with free for all link farms. they don't add much weight to your blog and you wont get much useful traffic from them. If you can find a blogroll or link group which is relevant to your topic them this is often worth getting listed in.

  • 4. Don't spray spam comments over the blogosphere. Every blogger gets these spam comments and they are a bloody nuisance. "great blog" is usually the extent of the comment followed by the spammers blog address. Does this make me want to read the spammers blog. Nope. Will my readers want too read the spammers blog? Nope. Has the spam comment done any good for the spammer? Nope. Leaving comments on other blogs is a great way of getting noticed but juts like when yo write a post make sure what you are writing is interesting and worth reading.

  • 5. Don't rush to promote your blog. You want your blog to make a bang don't you? You want people to be impressed with your work. Yes? then don't expect to write two posts in sloppy English and then start asking everyone to read your blog. They will, briefly and then they will probably never return. Its hard to get readers. Its even harder to keep them. make sure there is something interesting and useful for them too read!

  • 6. Bloggers blog so focus your time on blogging. You do need to spend time on other peoples blogs making comments. You do need to spend time on forums and doing other interne things. But the bottom line is that it is the time that you spend creating your content that ultimately makes you and your blog successful.

  • 7. Don't use a shotgun when you need a sniper rifle. The really successful blogs tend to be focused on a particular subject and stick closely to it. The blog has a clear topic and Theme and all the content supports this. Of course there is no law that says that you cant run a blog which covers a wider range of topics. I actually run one of those myself and it is successful but even it tends to revolve around a limited number of themes and topics. if you want to make money from blogging them you need to be more focused and limited in your topics.

  • 8. Post regularly and post often. Many bloggers ( myself included on occasion) have flurries of posting and then we go quiet and don't post for a while. If you want a regular readership it is important that you have regular fresh and interesting content posted at a reasonably predictable rate. In blogspot and other blogging platforms there is usually some way that you can put a future date on a post and it will be held and published on that date. use this to space out your postings.

  • 9. Don't focus on making money. Focus on making a good blog. If you spend all your energies on trying to make money from your blog then you wont be spending time on what really matters -- the quality of your blog and its content. If your blog doesn't have good content then it wont make money. Making money follows from having a good blog. Focusing on making money wont make your blog better. Focusing on making your blog better will make you more money.

  • 10. Be patient. I see messages regularly from people who have slapped up a couple of posts , stuck up a few adsense ads and then moan a week later that they are not making any money. It may take a long time to build up a blog with good reputation and readership. It will be frustrating as you struggle for visitors. Many people give up after a few months. If you stick with it then rewards will follow. If you want to be a really successful blogger you will need a great deal of patience , persistence and determination.