Ways to Keep Blogging

When I talked about picking a blogging niche, one of the tips was to write an article a day about your niche before you even started your blog. This was to make sure you were interested enough in the topic to sustain daily articles.

Fast forward, your blog is now three or four months old. You have some readers, and if you’ve been keeping to a daily posting schedule you have over a hundred posts in your blog.

Is it still fun? Are you still excited about writing that daily post?

It’s easy to get burned out on the routine, especially after the initial glow has faded. Not only writing the posts, but networking on other blogs to keep yourself a part of the community. Here are some tips that have worked for me for keeping everything exciting and interesting in the long-term.

Join MyBlogLog.com

It’s a small thing, but having that widget in your sidebar that shows the MyBlogLog members who recently visited your blog is a great motivator. I like seeing the avatars people have chosen, and love it when a new one shows up. I immediately go out to their blog to take a look, and I leave a message in their MyBlogLog area thanking them for visiting.

While I use MyBlogLog.com, any social website that has a recent visitors widget would work.

Hold Contests

Contests help to break the routine for blog owners, and provide a great excuse to interact with readers in a different way than just writing posts. This latest comment contest has been great for all of that.

Remember Why You’re Blogging

Hopefully you have a reason why you’re blogging. When you start to feel your motivation dwindling, remember why you started blogging in the first place. For me, it was to help newcomers to Internet marketing avoid the typical traps and scams by providing honest reviews. While I’ve branched out into more than just reviews, it’s still the idea that the posts help people that keeps me motivated.

Keep a To Do List

This might sound odd, but I come up with ideas for posts all the time when I’m driving, when I’m in the shower, pretty much anytime I’m away from the computer. Then sometimes I sit down at the computer to write a post, and my mind is blank. So out comes the scrap of paper I’ve written the ideas on, and they go into an unpublished page in my blog that contains all my to do list ideas.

Any time I’m stuck for a post idea, I pull up that to do list page and write about one of the items on the list. The size of the list grows and shrinks, but there are always a good eight to ten items on the list.

Get Away from the Computer

I tend to spend late nights writing posts for the blog, and tweaking this and that. There comes a time when I’m much better off just going to bed and not trying to get that last bit done. When I stay beyond that point, I find myself staring at the screen for minutes at a time.

It’s far better to leave the computer and get some sleep, or relax, or have fun. Then come back to your blog re-energized.

Those are some of the things that work for me. How do you avoid blogging burnout?

Unexpected Keyword Success

A funny observation on ranking for unexpected keywords.

Thanks to my post recently about keywords used to find this blog, I now rank #1 for many of those keywords just on the strength of a single occurrence of each in that post.

The chances are good nobody will ever search using those keywords again, but if they do, I’m ready!

Get Paid to Shop Online?

Getting paid to shop online probably sounds like major scam bait. After all, how could someone afford to pay you to spend money?

This is actually pretty common. The basic setup is that someone creates a website where you can click on links to various online retailers. The owner of the website is signed up as an affiliate for all those online retailers, so when you click their link and buy something, they get a commission. They then give you a portion of the commission as a way of saying, “Thanks for buying through my link”.

Sites like Cash Crate and Inbox Dollars do this in pretty much the simplistic manner I described above.

Other sites get more sophisticated about it. The best of them is Big Crumbs.

The site provides multiple ways of finding what you want to buy, from selecting an online retailer by name to drilling down into product categories. You can clearly see the amount of money you’ll get from buying through a particular retailer’s link. You can even get money back from winning Ebay auctions, just by clicking through Big Crumbs to make your bids.

One of the nicest parts of Big Crumbs is that you can mark retailers as being a favorite, and they’ll show up in a special area. So you don’t have to search through the list again for stores you buy from often.

Another site that offers similar functionality, but without quite the same level of professionalism in the website, is My Power Mall. Click here to see an example of the retail side of My Power Mall.

Both Big Crumbs and My Power Mall provide you with two levels of membership.

Crumb Saver and a Personal Power Mall offer you the maximum money back on your own shopping. With Crumb Saver you also earn a referral commission on any purchases your direct referrals make, while the Personal Power Mall only pays you for your own purchases.

The other option is Crumb Earner and Business Power Mall. Both offer you multi-level commissions from your referrals. At Big Crumbs, you get paid down 5 levels, and at My Power Mall, you get paid down 9 levels. Referral commissions are typically small, but as the number of referrals increases those small amounts can add up.

Membership in all these sorts of sites is free.

If you spend much money online, and who doesn’t these days, a site like Big Crumbs or My Power Mall can end up paying you back a fair amount of money over the course of a year.

The Power of a Dollar Update

The Power of a Dollar site was down late last week, due to exceeding their bandwidth. It’s back up now, with a modified plan in place.

They’ve taken the concerns some members have had about the problems of filling up lower levels of the matrix (I posted my analysis on their forum) and adjusted their plan quite a bit.

You can now participate in the traffic exchange for free, or as a paid member. This is typical for traffic exchanges, and their $11 a month for pro membership is on the inexpensive side for most exchanges.

As a free member, you surf your three sites a day and get your site reviewed once in return. They have a set of review questions reviewers must answer, including one you specify yourself. The value of this cannot be stressed enough, since in typical traffic exchanges you have a couple of seconds to catch the surfer’s attention. In this one, they read your site looking for the answer to your review question.

As a paid member, you also surf your three sites a day and get your site reviewed once in return. You get some bonus credits, too, like most pro traffic exchange memberships. After you surf your three sites, you can get a better surfing ratio on additional sites you want to surf.

Both free and paid members get paid commissions on the upgrade fees of their personally referred members (50% for free members, 70% for pro members). You also get paid commissions on various recommended products the traffic exchange features (one per month, 30% for free members, 60% for pro members). These are nice commissions for free members, compared to other exchanges.

The matrix is gone. You have personally referred members, and that’s it. You earn based on the activity of your personally referred members. Anyone who joins the site without a referrer is placed randomly under a pro member.

This change is definitely for the better for The Power of a Dollar. They’ve focused on making a great traffic exchange, and not on building a matrix by earning new positions through surfing. Yet the earnings potential is still there, by referring other members to the exchange.

The traffic exchange should launch in the next week or so, at which point you’ll be able to start having your site reviewed. At first, only free memberships will be available. You can upgrade to pro when that becomes available if you wish, after you’ve had time to try it out for free.

Click here to signup.

Squidoo Case Study

One of the reasons I love Squidoo is the ease with which you can put together a nice landing page. The modules they have allow you to add Amazon links, pull from RSS feeds, and many other cool features.

I’ve been using Squidoo to test out the use of landing pages linking directly to affiliate pages. This was mostly a test of how well Squidoo ranked in search engine results, but also a test of how well that traffic converted. While Squidoo pages are currently not ranking well in Google, I have hopes that this will change as Squidoo clamps down on the amount of spam lenses. Even without Squidoo pages ranking well naturally in Google, you can use Squidoo to easily create a landing page as a target for article marketing.

I want to highlight one of the lenses I wrote as a test, about how to watch satellite TV on your PC. I did no link building to this page other than joining various Squidoo groups to gain some PR.

Over the last 30 days, the lens received 90 visitors from search engine traffic. 16 of those clicked through to the affiliate link, for a click through rate of 17%. I’m amazed at the click through rate, considering that my review of the product is, like all my reviews, honest. Perhaps that was a factor, since the other Squidoo lenses on the topic read like sales pages.

Of those 16 that clicked through, 1 purchased the product, for a conversion rate of 6.25% (or 1% of the total traffic).

While the amount of traffic wasn’t amazing, the click through rate was very good. Perhaps with a better product that had a better converting sales page, the purchase rate from those clicks would have been higher.

Considering that I put the lens together with only a little effort, and did almost no link building on it, this is still a pretty good return on my investment. This particular product probably won’t stand the test of time, but as long as it lasts the Squidoo lens will be there, requiring no maintenance.

Given some effort put into finding products that are worth a positive review, and some link building and article marketing driving traffic to the lens, using Squidoo as a landing page platform could be quite profitable.

Have you had any success with Squidoo pages?

Article Marketing 101, Part 5

At this point in the article marketing series, we’ve pretty much done it all.

If you’ve followed the steps in the previous articles, you’ve generated over a dozen articles promoting your landing page or mini-site and posted them to an article directory. Over time, those articles will get picked up by search engines and you’ll begin to have multiple positions in search engine results that lead to your site. You’ll also have increased the search engine results positioning of your site through the anchor text linking to it in the articles.

What else can you do to maximize your results?

The last step is to write more articles, but this time use a pen name. EzineArticles.com allows you to setup multiple author names in one account. This can be used for pen names, or for authors you are managing. Creating a couple of pen names can help to lend credibility to your articles.

Look at it from the point of view of a typical web searcher. They type a search phrase into Google, and see an article or two come up in the results. All those articles are written by the same person. This does a lot for branding you as an expert, but they may also wonder why nobody else is linking to the same site if it’s any good.

If you’ve created a couple of pen names and written similar articles linking to your site, now a web searcher will see that multiple people are recommending the same site. This can create the perception of authority for the site itself, as opposed to branding you as an expert.

It’s a trade-off, and you’ll have to decide which is the right way for you to go.

When using a pen name, try to not write the same article you wrote under your own name. Write a different sort of article, give it a different style of writing, a different voice. The intent here isn’t to deceive the reader, but to provide the same information in multiple styles, so that you can maximize your chances of building a rapport with whoever your reader happens to be.

Above, all, the key to successful article marketing is the quantity of articles you write, and how widely distributed they are. While EzineArticles.com is the premiere article directory, you shouldn’t submit all of your articles to them. Spread the articles around to different article directories, including ones that regularly get picked up by various ezines and newsletters.

Think of article marketing less like writing a well-crafted love letter, and more like dropping ten thousand leaflets from a plane.

Comment Contest Nearing The End

The July comment contest is nearing its end.

The contest will officially end on midnight (EST), July 31st. I’ll check the top commentators list just after midnight to determine the winner. I’ll also randomly select one of the links to the original contest post as the second winner.

There’s still plenty of time for anyone to win. While 53 comments (as of this writing) may seem unbeatable, there are over 100 posts on the blog and you could comment on each of them. The comments must be substantial, and not simply “Great post” or “Nice article”.

The second prize for a blog that links to the original contest post is also up for grabs, with only three entries so far.

I want to thank everyone who has participated so far. The comments have been great!

Article Marketing 101, Part 4

When using article marketing, we can turn the old saying on its head.

Quantity is definitely better than quality here.

We have to carefully choose the topics of our articles to be most effective. We saw in the last post how to write the article, and now we’ll look at how to choose the topic of each article.

The overall topic of all our articles is determined by the product we want to promote. Let’s say that we wanted to promote a product for watching satellite TV on a PC. That’s the overall topic. In that broad topic, though, are lots of more detailed sub-topics.

We’re primarily interested in sub-topics that other people care about, so we’re going to do basic keyword research. We can go to Overture’s keyword tool to do some brainstorming. We could start by seeing what suggestions it made for the overall topic, “how to watch satellite tv on a pc”.

Unfortunately, Overture is fairly brain dead when what you put in is a long-tail keyword, so you’ll get back only a few fairly nonsensical results. Instead, type in “satellite tv” to see what suggestions it makes. You end up with dozens of keywords suggestions, ranging from those that get half a million searches a month, to those getting only a couple hundred a month.

We want to look through these keywords and try to pick out ones that could be the basis of an article topic. The following list would serve as a first pass:

  • pc satellite tv
  • free satellite tv
  • satellite service tv
  • free pc satellite tv
  • guide satellite tv

I only went through the first dozen to pick these out, you’d actually go through the entire list. Note that Overture also mixes word order up, so you would want to reorder words in the above to a phrase that makes sense. The last one would be “satellite tv guide”, for example.

Do another pass, putting each of the possible keywords you picked back into Overture to pick out more possibles. Eventually you want a list of twenty to thirty keywords that can serve as the basis for an article.

Now go out to Google and type in one of the keywords, surrounded by quotes. Pay attention to the total number of results shown. For “satellite tv guide”, it’s 53,200 as I write this.

Our ideal keyword would have 10,000 or fewer results when we search it with quotes around it.

We probably won’t find many that low in the satellite TV niche, so we’d choose the 15 keywords with the lowest number of page results.

Then we write a separate article for each keyword. Each article can have much the same information, but slanted so that it makes sense in the context of the keyword. For example, for “satellite tv guide”, I’d write about how the satellite TV on PC technology provides an easy to use guide to channels.

Each article will, in its about the author box, link to our landing page or mini-site with appropriate anchor text. This gives the landing page SEO benefits, and provides extra spots in search engine results that, effectively, lead to the landing page.

Writing those 15 articles should be done in a couple of days, not weeks. You can submit all of them to the same article directory, or spread them around to different directories. Multiple directories makes the most sense, as you’ll get more chances of taking up multiple spots in search engine results for the same keyword.

In part 5 of the series, we’ll see about the use of pen names to make all of this more effective.

Funny Comment Spam

I’ve been getting this spam comment showing up in my Akismet folder lately:

Our young daughter had adopted a stray cat. To my distress, he began to use the back of our new sofa as a scratching post. “Don’t worry,” my husband reassured me. “I’ll have him trained in no time.”

I watched for several days as my husband patiently “trained” our new pet. Whenever the cat scratched, my husband deposited him outdoors to teach him a lesson.

The cat learned quickly. For the next 16 years, whenever he wanted to go outside, he scratched the back of the sofa.

Immediately followed by links to sex sites. I have to admit, if I’m going to get spammed, it’s nice to get a laugh out of it.

On a sad note, the Trackback Submitter comments keep coming like clockwork, always that same one line misspelled comment. You’d think the software would have some way to verify if comments were getting through, and stop submitting them if not.

Ah, the joys of being a blogger!

Article Marketing 101, Part 3

So far we’ve seen what article marketing is good for, and why we need a website for article marketing.

Today we’ll look at the process of writing an article, even if you know nothing about the topic.

What if my article isn’t any good?

First, take a deep breath, relax, and repeat after me…”It doesn’t have to be perfect!”

That’s the biggest lesson to learn when writing articles for article marketing. There are no grades given, nobody to impress, nothing to win. Your articles do not have to be perfect, because the majority of the people reading them write English worse than you do. For many English is not their first language, so they’re happy if you present a topic in a reasonable way. Others have English as a first language, but are still reading at the seventh grade level.

Write simply, and to the point, and don’t worry if it’s a masterpiece.

What if I don’t know anything about the topic?

Most people think you need to know something about a topic before writing an article. And that actually is true, you need to know something about the topic before writing the article, but you don’t have to know anything about the topic before you decide to write the article. The time between deciding to write, and actually writing, can be used to research the topic.

Since you’re writing a short article, you don’t want to read through thick, detailed books for research. In fact, the absolute best place to research for article writing is at article directories. Read what other people have said on the topic, look at the differing opinions, come to your own conclusions and then put it all into your own words.

If you can’t knock out a 500 word article after reading a few other articles on the topic, then use resources like Wikipedia to get more information.

I don’t recommend, though, that you promote a product that you have never used. But once you’ve verified the product works as advertised, you can use other people’s experiences with it as research for your own articles. This saves you a bit of time using the product for weeks to build up your own experiences.

I found lots of great information!

Write down all the ideas you get as you do research on a piece of paper. Then put that paper away and write your article on your original topic only. Do not expand the topic!

Yes, you could neatly tie together several different topics under a broad umbrella, and maybe find a way to monetize each of those topics.

As we’ll see in part 4 of this series, we’ll need all the articles we can write to be effective. So keep each focused, and when possible split topics into separate articles.


Write an article that is focused on a single topic that has a single action that will make you money. Your other ideas you came up with during research will become separate articles. Remember that each article can take up a spot in search engine results. Don’t dilute the effect of that by lumping different topics together under the same article.

I’m the worst offender at this, unfortunately. The winner of the comment contest will need to keep me on track!