Pros and Cons of Multiple Blogs

Pros and Cons of Multiple Blogs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are the pros and cons of having multiple blogs? As bloggers, we like to create. It is not unusual for bloggers to write in two or more completely different niches because they like both these areas. This is as true of small bloggers as the top names in the industry (Darren Rowse has two blogs, both one of the most popular ones in their niche: ProBlogger and Digital Photography School). There is no reason you can’t do the same. Besides, we all have varied interests and we like to blog about different things.

However, having multiple blogs obviously can spread you too thin – we have limited time and probably cannot do justice to all blogs if there are too many. Here are some pros and cons of having multiple blogs -

Pros of Multiple Blogs

1. Different Topics/Interests

We all have several interests that we would like to blog about. If you have just one blog about fashion and now want to write about cooking, chances are your audience will find the content being diluted because they are on your blog for fashion not cooking (not that this cannot be done, as Cupcakes and Cashmere has shown, but that’s how the blog started off).

When you have something to contribute in two dissimilar fields (think finance and gardening for instance), you’ll need multiple blogs. When you think you can be a pro-blogger in each field, there is all the more incentive to try to create multiple blogs that you can monetize, which can potentially increase your income.

2. Diversification of Income

When you have multiple blogs, it is easier to diversify your income. Investment 101 states that you should diversify. This is also true of your online income opportunities. When you diversify, there is a lower chance of you being affected. For example, one of your blogs could be a great success but most of the traffic is from Google. If Google changes their algorithm, you can literally lose half the traffic overnight. No, bigger sites are not immune to this either – just ask EzineArticles.Or one of the monetization methods might not work anymore (think Amazon affiliates in California) and might affect one blog disproportionately.

By having multiple blogs, you know that such impacts can be limited or minimized. Things that can adversely impact one blog might not do so to the other. You are not putting all your eggs in one basket. Instead, you are relying on a bunch of blogs to provide you with smaller income streams, each of which can potentially be scaled up.

3. Numbers Game

A lot of success stories are numbers’ games. Yes, there is skill but there is also luck. If you have multiple blogs, then there is a higher probability of one of them taking off and becoming highly successful. However, even if you are an expert in one field and start to blog about it, that is no guarantee of success.

Several pro-bloggers manage more than one digital property. If your first blogging experience is a huge success, good for you. If not, you can always start another one and keep trying until one of the blogs becomes immensely popular.

It is always hard to predict success in blogging. The landscape is in a constant state of flux and easily keeps changing form. So if you have more blogs, that increases your odds of success.

4. Out-of-the-Box Problem Solving

As much as I would like to tell you that all blogging is essentially the same – you write something that provides value to readers – the truth is, every niche is very unique in its own way. Once you seriously blog in one niche, you’ll learn all the tricks and techniques that bloggers use to succeed. However, since you own multiple blogs, you can now learn about several different niches.

You can apply things you learn from one blog to another and keep experimenting. Your repertoire of tools to help you succeed have just multiplied. And indeed each niche is unique. Fashion blogs seldom have a lot of written content but are very beautifully created and contain a ton of photographs. The opposite is true for blogs in the niche of internet marketing.

You can learn from every niche and then experiment what might work in a different niche. Remember that you are an insider and outsider at the same time, which is a great position to be in.

5. Learning and Networking Opportunities

Never underestimate the chances of random connections. You might get an opportunity of a lifetime through a source that had nothing to do with your field. May be your travel reader is also a successful entrepreneur who wants to learn more about promoting his business online. You’ll never know.

When you blog in multiple niches, your circle of friends, connections and acquaintances increases and these circles can seem very disparate. However, you will be surprised by how connections are made. If you have your spheres of influence and can act to make connections among these circles, you are already on your way to forming greatly helpful relationships for the future.

Cons of Multiple Blogs

1. Limited Time

You have limited time to spend on your blogs. You probably have other engagements or a full-time job or school to attend. Time is always a constraining factor. If you have multiple blogs, then you get to spend smaller amounts of time on each. This could actually hamper the progress of your blog.

There are certain things you really need to do in order to promote your blog. For example, you might want to comment on similar blogs to gain some readers. However, if you have multiple blogs, then the time you can spend doing this decreases for each blog.

2. Not Taking Your Blog Seriously

It is human nature to look for escape routes. This is why cutting off escape routes can actually result in giving your 100% to a project. If you have multiple blogs, you can easily slack off, telling yourself “if this one fails, I have another one to work on”. However, if you don’t have that excuse, then you will spend all your creative energies into making your one blog successful.

—Slack off – if not this blog, then I have another blog that might succeed!

3. Thinking of Costs

Time is not the only cost associated with a blog. There are real costs of being successful as a blogger, depending on the niche. Domain, hosting, images, attending industry events, buying things to review, etc. are all potential costs that can add up based on which industries you blog in. Also, you might want to hire a (logo) designer, programmer or writer to further your blog as a business. All these are costs you should be aware of.

4. Losing Focus is Easy

When you have multiple blogs to write and worry about, you can easily lose focus. There are lots of little things a blog needs to grow beyond the initial cocoon and ultimately make a decent amount of money. It is hard to keep track of all this when you have several blogs. It does get easier with time though – you learn to chalk out a blueprint that works best for you.

Still, sometimes you just need to spend a substantial amount of time on blog, experiment, learn, rinse and repeat to truly make it successful and work.

5. Single Authority Blog is Powerful

Even though there is an advantage of having 10 blogs earning you $100/month instead of 1 blog earning you $1000/month, a bigger blog can have several advantages that a small blog just cannot have. A big, successful blog is a whole business of its own. It has authority. You can be quoted in newspapers and magazines about your blog. You are a brand in yourself. You can get speaking assignments in industry conventions. The potential to grow into something substantial is huge. There are real rewards for wanting to own a blog that is a pioneer in your industry. This is easier to do with one focused blog rather than several smaller blogs.

What are your thoughts on having multiple blogs? Do you have more than one active blog? How many? What was your experience managing them all?

Photo Credit: mosabua

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6 Point Guide to Diversifying your Online Income Streams

Online Income Streams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are plenty of online income streams that bloggers and webmasters employ. Some find great success with one method and stick with it. However, diversification is good. It means you won’t be at the mercy of one corporation or one law to make your living online. That’s not being paranoid though – look at what happened when Amazon closed its affiliate program in California. Thousands of bloggers who made almost all their income online from Amazon affiliates saw their incomes drop overnight from living income to pennies. That’s never a good thing and you ought to make sure such a thing doesn’t happen to you.

Another importance of diversifying your online income that is often overlooked is that you know what works and what doesn’t and you can direct your future efforts in that direction. It is alright to try a method of monetization and fail because that’s not what your readers want. That’s fine – it is always a good learning experience. You’ll realize that not all online income streams work for you, but you’ll get better at guessing which ones are worth the try.

So what are the different ways you can diversify your income online? Here are some ideas. Not all of them are passive, but every method can be lucrative depending on your online presence and your audience.
(write pros and cons below each)

1. Direct Advertising

Direct advertising is when you contact companies relevant to your website or blog directly and let them buy advertising space on your blog. In most cases, this is in the form of a banner, the size of which can vary greatly. Direct advertising gives advertisers a medium to reach out to your audience, and depending on how much value that can add, can be priced accordingly.

Pricing banners can be tricky and varies greatly (I wrote a post previously on how to price banners). In general, the more targeted your niche, the higher you can charge and the more engaged your audience with respect to social media shares and comments, the better you can expect to get paid. Obviously it also depends on how many impressions the banner gets – the higher the better.

Pros: Banners can be a great source of revenue and generally pays better than other advertising (e.g. see pay per click advertising below). Also, you get to form relationships in your industry that can be very useful in the long run.

Cons: Finding businesses that want to buy ad space on your digital property can be time consuming and you need to learn good negotiation skills. It is also a little more active than passive if the businesses don’t want to advertise on your blog for a long time, in which case you have to again go out and look for other businesses. Overall, this can be time consuming.

Example: If your blog is really popular, you can make a good amount of money by this method. Here is the banner pricing for Freelance Switch, the popular online blog and board for freelancers to give you an estimate. Here is John Chow, the famous dot-com blogger and his advertising rates for his blog.

2. Pay-per-click Advertising

In pay-per-click advertising, you get paid a certain amount of money every time someone clicks on a link. This means the pay is variable, unlike a banner ad. If a lot of your visitors click through to these ads, then you get paid more money.

Although there are alternatives, Google Adsense is the most popular option out there. The way it works it that you plug in a small code in your site and Google takes care of the rest – you don’t have to worry about issues like getting advertisers, pricing, etc. Ads can be configured to be text links, images, videos.

Pros: Very easy to set up and doesn’t require any work from you except the initial posting of the code on your blog. If your click through rate is high and you have a good amount of traffic, you can make good income through this method. It is one of the most passive online income streams you’ll find.

Cons: You don’t have control over what links are being displayed. Your pay is dependent on how your audience reacts to advertising – if less people click on ads, you get paid less. A lot of people use software to block ads in which case they won’t even see the advertising.

Example: Plenty of popular sites use Adsense to monetize their websites. Think of sites like EzineArticles that make hundreds of thousands of dollars through Adsense.

3. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is both the blessing and scourge of the internet. You need to do this absolutely right to make it sustainable and for it to add any real value without driving away your visitors. Affiliate marketing is promoting products to your readers that might appeal to them. You get paid only when they complete a purchase and you get paid a certain percentage of the sale.

For digital products, ClickBank is one of the best sources of finding products to promote. Commission Junction has a lot of businesses in the online and offline world.

Amazon Affiliates is a special category in itself, being a program from Amazon, the largest online retailer. Amazon affiliates has the lowest percentage commissions per sale, but the conversions are usually very good owing to its brand popularity. Also, Amazon affiliates is a great way to promote a book you’ve been reading.

Before you involve yourself in affiliate marketing, it is absolutely necessary that you promote the right products. Since there can be a conflict of interest with your role as a blogger who wants to provide accurate information and the marketer who wants to complete a sale, you need to tread this area very carefully. Promote only the products that you have personally used and can vouch for. Never ever try to promote something that will turn out to be bad for your readers but gives you good commissions. Remember, it is all about building relationships with your readers. They need to find great value in what you promote.

Pros: Can be a potential goldmine depending on how well your recommendations work and how much your audience trusts you. Many bloggers make the major chunk of their income from affiliate marketing and can be far more effective than pay per click or banner advertising.

Cons: If you recommend bad products, you’ll lose your authority. Also, you don’t get paid until the sale is completed, which means you get nothing for impressions and clicks, which can be frustrating especially for beginners.

Example: Pat from Smart Passive Income shares his income reports every month. For October 2012, you can see his income report which shows affiliate sales at just under $39,000. Yes, that’s for one month alone. Yes, affiliate marketing can be lucrative. No, it isn’t typical (unfortunately!)

4. Freelancing on the Side

This isn’t passive income, but can be good income nevertheless. Generating significant passive income from your blog can take time and isn’t something everyone can do. However, taking your blog as a starting point, it is much easier to enter the freelancing world which can mean very lucrative assignments if you do it right.

You can work as a freelancer for specific skills, like a web-programmer, writer or graphic designer. However, don’t feel limited by these. If you are really good at something that doesn’t fit the traditional job routes, you can always consult for some of the bigger names in your industry and help them understand the market and position themselves better.

Pros: Higher pay for a lot of bloggers than waiting on passive income, immediate income stream. It is also a great way to brand yourself and your blog and get your name out there.

Cons: It isn’t passive and getting freelance assignments isn’t always trivial. Depending on what you do, it can be tough at times.

Example: Oni of YoungPrePro easily earns a 5 figure income just from freelance writing, mostly supported through his blog which is quite popular as well. It is a great way to leverage your skills.

5. Paid Social Media Campaigns

If you have a huge social media following, brands and businesses will be willing to spend money to promote to your list. It is not just about the numbers though, although numbers certainly help. If you write in a very targeted niche and your followers are passionate about what you write and show a level of engagement, you don’t need tens of thousands of followers to make a decent amount of money through this method. Twitter is the favored medium of social media advertising, although feel free to break such rules.

When you are doing this, be sure that you don’t alienate your audience and sound hypocritical. This is very important – there are enough such gaffes already in the celebrity world, the most recent being when Oprah pitched Microsoft Surface, tweeting from her iPad! Please avoid such blatant mishaps, else you’ll lose your credibility – that’s more important for bloggers than celebrities. This can be a good addition to your online income streams even if you don’t have a huge following like Oprah because it is so simple to do.

Pros: Once you have followers, you can promote multiple products without overdoing it.

Cons: You don’t want to lose your followers by pushing it too much and sounding like a salesman. It can also reduce your overall quality of engagement with your audience. You need a strong number of followers to really make decent money.

Example: Freelance Switch has about 40,000 Twitter followers and they charge $200 for a sponsored Tweet (http://buysellads.com/buy/detail/107/zone/1272970). My best guess is their followers are semi-targeted in the niche. If your blog is more targeted, you can get away with fewer followers.

6. Creating your own Product and Selling Online

Creating your own product that helps people solve their problems is a highly rewarding thing in itself. Every creator feels great when their brainchild is being used by people and provides them with helpful solutions. It isn’t easy to do though. However, if you can sell your own product to your audience who find value in it, that can be a source of great online passive income.

What you create will be up to you, but most people prefer a digital version of their knowledge and expertise. This can be in the form of an eBook that people can purchase or an online course or forum where you personally help people out. You can sweeten the deal by scheduling an online Skype call with your members for a set amount of time (though it isn’t completely passive again, but that shouldn’t deter you) where you can directly speak with them and help them out.

Pros: It is highly satisfying and something you create yourself and can be a nice source of passive income. It is also possible to let others promote this for you through affiliate marketing so you pay them a commission on every sale they make for you. Once you have enough engaged readers, this can scale up nicely.

Cons: Needs a lot of initial work and the quality needs to be top-notch. You need to genuinely know what you are talking about.

Example: Carol Tice of Make A Living Writing does this very well. She’s an expert in her field and has created digital properties that she sells through The Freelance Writers Den.

Update: Darren Rowse of ProBlogger has written a really nice article about whether it is practical/realistic to make money blogging and there are ideas about how others do it. Read it here.

Photo Credit: Newton Free Library

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Ideal Blog Post Length: Long vs. Short

Ideal Blog Post LengthWhat’s the ideal blog post length? There are as many answers to this question as there are blogs in the blogosphere. However, is there a ballpark how long your blog posts should be? Instead of giving you a number, let me give you some guidelines which will help you determine whether your blog posts should be long or short, and how long or short.

Factors that Determine Blog Post Length

Every blog is unique. Every blogger is unique. Here are some factors that strongly influence the ideal blog post length.

  • Personal Style: Some bloggers just prefer shorter or longer blog posts. Some blogs are known for their short, crispy, to-the-point posts while others are known for their long, detailed, juicy posts. If you fall in one of these categories, you probably want to stick to it. A blog can build an identity around length of the post (remember though that length is NEVER a substitute for quality. This should be obvious by now).
  • Examples:

    Short Posts: Seth Godin’s blog. This is by far the best example I can think of. He’s an expert at what he writes and is able to deliver great value in 100 words or less.

    Long Posts: Self Made Chick is one of the blogs that is known for long, detailed posts. Regular readers expect the posts to be long – more than a 1000 words in most cases.

    Conclusion: Depending on your style, your blog posts can be long or short, especially if you want to build your reputation around the length of your posts. Either way is good.

  • Pillar Articles: A pillar article is usually some piece of content that provides a great value to the readers and attracts repeated visitors again and again to your blog. Pillar articles attract new readers to the blog who find these articles satisfying a need and stick with your blog. Every blog should have some pillar articles that establish your blog’s authority. Pillar articles usually tend to be long. If you are writing a pillar article, then you’re an expert in that area and you would want to share as much as possible with your readers about that topic in one post. It is also a good idea for pillar articles to be comprehensive and complete within themselves.
  • Example: A pillar article about pillar articles written by Yaro Starak of Entrepreneurs Journey. Notice the long, detailed post explaining most aspects of what a pillar article should be like.

    Conclusion: Pillar articles are long. I would suggest posts over 1000 words for pillar articles.

  • Idea Generation: Lots of bloggers use short blog posts to paint an initial idea and ask for reader feedback. Perhaps you want to test a new idea and see how people react to it. You don’t want it to be too long because you want your readers to think from all angles and not just in a direction that you lead them to. In those cases, keep your posts short. These can make for terribly interesting reads!
  • Example: The Atlantic wants readers views on what an entrepreneur-first platform looks like. What do they do? Write a short blurp and let the readers pitch in their ideas. The Economist does that very well too.

    Conclusion: Keep posts that explicitly ask for reader feedback short.

  • Reviews: Reviews are usually detailed posts. For readers to derive value from these reviews, it is essential that you’re an expert yourself and know what you are talking about. You need to research further, look at the pros and cons and lay them all out so that your readers can make an educated decision about the product or service you are reviewing. In most cases, the ideal blog post length of reviews is at least twice as long as your average post.
  • Example: oDesk Review at GeeksMakeMoney. This is a detailed review of oDesk that lays out the pros and cons and lets the reader decide for themselves if they want to join the site.

    Conclusion: Reviews in general should be long, over 1000 words ideally, especially if they form pillar articles for your blog.

  • News: There are many times when you want to let your readers know about an event or news. For instance, if you run a blog on SEO, you might want your readers to know about a huge upcoming change in Google’s algorithm. In that case, you might just link to the main Google blog post and keep your post short. All the information the reader needs is on the other link. However, you can add your subjective thoughts to the issue. In general though, you want to keep these posts short. This happens a lot in certain niches, like technology.
  • Example: There are plenty of blogs on HuffPo that fall into this category. If they are talking about a news released by CNN, they will just link to that news item and provide only a brief write-up leading to that.

    Conclusion: News based articles should be short and link to the source. Detailed analysis can follow in another post. Ideal blog post length of news articles is less than 250 words.

Ideal Blog Post Length for SEO

The ideal blog post length for SEO is hard to determine because Google and other search engines don’t publish this data. There are however several unofficial reports. Many SEO experts believe that blog posts should be of “ideal length” which is usually 250-1000 words. Anything shorter/longer can get penalized. However, this wisdom is old, before all the algorithm changes by Google last year. I am not sure if Google penalizes longer content but it is definitely possible. I know some SEO experts think bigger is better.

As you probably realize, for this blog, I like to write longer blog posts. What’s your average length of a blog post?

Photo Credit: DailyMail

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7 Online Writing Tips

Online Writing TipsOnline writing tips help both beginners and professionals to captivate an online audience. The type of writing that attracts an online audience can be very different from what traditional publishing media is used to, which is why even very good writers sometimes have trouble holding on to their visitors. Understanding the psyche of the online visitor is very important.

Online Writing Tip-1: Don’t be a White Swan
There are billions of websites and blogs out there on the internet. Chances are, the broad topic that you wish to write about, still has millions of articles online. How are you different? Why should someone read what you write over the million other pages?

Bringing something unique to the table is universal in all forms of writing but is especially so for online writing. Whenever you sit down to write something, always think about how you can be different.

There are many ways in which you can distinguish your writing from others. One way is through personal stories, which is what blogs are for. Make sure to research well what you write, so that you not only know the facts right but also know the competition. Try to approach the same problem from a different angle and point of view. Be creative and think different.

Online Writing Tip-2: Don’t be Greedy
I am talking about links. Yes, it doesn’t cost you money to link to other, authoritative websites and you shouldn’t be greedy with respect to the links going out from your article. Many writers shy away from linking to others because they are afraid that they may lose readers to the other site. However, if you have a good collection of these links, chances are, your readers will come back just for your references! Also, it greatly improves your credibility online when you link to relevant articles and pages (think Wikipedia).

People are always looking to read a helpful article. If you are the one who leads them to discover another great website, they will remember you. Sharing is the key on the internet, so don’t be afraid to point your readers to good websites, even if sometimes these come in direct competition with your own writing.

Online Writing Tip-3: Bullets are Deadly
Chances are, you are skimming through this article and you just want to see what all I have to say. Great! Now you know why lists, like a list of N things is so effective online.

The attention span of an online reader is far less than that of the reader of say a book or a magazine offline. Breaking down the article into points helps the reader grasp what you are trying to say quickly and efficiently. There are some forms of writing, like essays, that can never be broken down into lists, which is good. However, whenever feasible, consider bullet points and lists. They also have a better chance of going viral.

Online Writing Tip-4: Know Thyself … and Thy Reader
This is oft repeated, but simply because it is so important. You should know what your audience wants. Sometimes, it is just a single piece of information (the score was 14-31). Sometimes they want the inner details. Sometimes they want an analysis. If you deliver what your audience is looking for, you should do great with your readers.

The same goes with blogging or having your own website. If you deviate too much away from your niche, you are only going to alienate your readers because they don’t want what you are writing. Personal stories are fine, but don’t go on about fitness and technology in a blog dedicated to pets. Be relevant.

Online Writing Tip-5: Speed Thrills but Kills
It is almost always a trade-off between covering something fast and covering something accurately. When a new piece of information arrives, everyone today has access to it at almost the same time. However, how you analyze and interpret it is going to be very different. You need to strike a balance between how fast you want to cover something and how detailed you want the analysis to be.

For example, lets say Google releases another change and modification to their algorithm. How is it going to affect bloggers? The actual algorithm change will probably be mentioned in Google’s blog but your thoughts on how it is going to impact bloggers is going to be an analysis. If you want too long, say a week or two, you can probably get more concrete data and make some fancy graphs. However, that is probably best done as a follow-up article.

It is important to be fast and accurate when you report something new.

Online Writing Tip-6: Read to Write
If you wish to really succeed at online writing, you should read a lot. The reason is simple – if you read, you are aware of a number of different things and you can connect different events and happenings. You can get the big picture which your competitors can miss. You can connect social memes and write a comprehensive report on a given topic. In addition, reading more helps you get more ideas for whatever it is that you wish to write.

Online Writing Tip-7: Creatively Different
Always look to hold your reader’s attention with stories, personal accounts, case studies, etc. Malcolm Gladwell does this well with most of his essays. He is a great storyteller, which makes him able to put his point across in a clear, strong manner, backing up his argument with his case studies. Writing online can be a creative challenge for writers, and that should be enough to motivate you to be different.

What are your online writing tips? Do share!

 

 

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Guest Post on ProBlogger

My guest post on ProBlogger

Problogger logoI started this blog only a little more than a month ago, but I am not new to blogging. I am documenting my journey and providing my readers with valuable tips on blogging and how to monetize their blogs/sites.

It seemed only natural that I should share my story, which I did. I have written on How I Make Money from my Blog but as you can imagine, my blog gets only a few visitors every day, being very new. I wanted a wider audience with whom I can share my story (and obviously also to promote my blog!) and what better way than to publish on the best of the best – ProBlogger!

It is almost always suggested that you should start small with guest posting. Get a few posts published in smaller sites and then look for the big fish. However, I didn’t want to take that approach because I wanted the best of my work to be published on the best of the sites.

So I got down and documented my journey that should be interesting to read to the readers of ProBlogger. I submitted my guest post and waited for them to get back. After about 4 days, I got a reply stating it was a great addition to ProBlogger. What an honor! Anyway, they gave me a date and scheduled it almost a month after I submitted – I think they already have a huge pipeline of guest posts so they will not appear immediately as soon as you publish your post. This is not surprising, considering the popularity of the site.

I naturally got a spike in traffic to my blog as well. I have given links to both my blogs – this one and the one that is the primary source of my income. I have observed that apart from the visitors coming through ProBlogger, Google Analytics shows a spike in (direct) visits as well, which in all probability is due to the guest post. How much spike? I’ll leave that for the end of the month when I report my full monthly stats :)

Till that time, adios and don’t forget to check out my first Guest Post on ProBlogger.

 

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8 Places to Get Ideas for Blogging

Blogging IdeasWell, you did it! You put in your hours and now you have a blog started. You have chosen from dozens of domain names, tracked down reliable hosting, wrote a post or two, and now you are clueless as to what to do. How do you get ideas for blogging?How do you get ideas for blogging? Every blogger must have asked this question at one point or another. If you choose a niche you are passionate about, you are bound to have a lot of ideas in mind. Off the top of your head, you can probably write down 50 or 100 ideas for blogging. However, what after that? Blogs are wonderful in the sense of providing an evergreen supply of ideas. People visit your blog hoping to get something new, something you have never said before. Every blogger needs fresh ideas for blogging from sources other than what he can directly come up with.

Here are some sources for blogging ideas that should help jog your grey cells. By following some or all of them, you should have a supply of never-ending ideas for blogging on your niche. If you ever get into a dry spell, these will certainly help you get out.

Blogging Idea-1. Read, Read, Read

Reading is an important part any authority blog. It is through general reading that you get several ideas for blogging and you know what you can write about. You don’t write what you read – just by knowing about the topic at hand, you can get a lot of ideas.

Here, I am not talking just about reading other blogs, but reading in general. Do you blog about dogs? How about reading an encyclopedia article on dogs and their types? You can get an infinite supply of articles from there and then you can branch out – pick a topic which seems interesting and then do further research. You can read whitepapers or even published journal and conference papers for the ultimate authority in which you write. You can read biographies or stories of successful people in your niche. All these will give you good ideas to get started.

Blogging Idea-2: Know What Other Bloggers are Saying

It really helps to know what others bloggers are talking about. No, I don’t mean copy their ideas or “rewrite” their content – it is actually the worst thing that you can do. However, by reading other blogs in your niche, you will get very good ideas and an overall sense of things, especially if you look at highly successful bloggers.

In the niche of internet marketing/blogging/making money online, there are some really amazing blogs, like ProBlogger. By reading some of the posts in this blog, you can get some good ideas.

Blogging Idea-3: Find out What People Want Through Forums

Forums are an excellent platform to really know what people want and what they are looking for. If they are having some trouble and you are able to answer it, your blog is going to be the authority source in that niche. Unfortunately, however well versed you may personally be, people will never know it or visit your blog unless you put it out there. For this, forums are a great starting place.

Forums allow you to follow a discussion and see what people think, what their needs are and what they might want in the future. Being ahead in your niche is one of the best tools to build authority – if you can stay ahead of the crowd, you are a sure winner.

Of late, places like Yahoo Answers or Wiki Answers can also provide some good ideas about what to write about.

Blogging Idea-4: Browsing Through Article Directories

Browsing through article directories can give you some very good information about what you want to write. In addition, it is a treasure-trove of potential ideas. However, don’t follow the format of an article directory for a blog – articles in these directories are just a marketing ploy to have people visit their websites, so it is more of an advertising material than providing valuable information. In your blog, you can take the same idea and explore it in-depth, far more than what others do. Of course you can always visit the contributor’s website to know more about the topic, if you feel the need to. However, even just browsing through all the topics present in a niche in an article directory should get some creative juices flowing.

Blogging Idea-5: Take Help from Google Adwords Tool

Google Adwords keyword tool is a powerful tool that lets you search for ideas if you type in any word or phrase. The Adwords tool is designed for advertisers to know what people are searching for and bid accordingly on PPC advertisements. However, you can use it to get some blogging ideas, all the while knowing how many people have actually searched for this phrase. It is a very powerful SEO tool so you can try to incorporate the keyword in your post.

Blogging Idea-6: Look for the Latest News

The news is a great source for new and fresh blog ideas and blog content. You can also come across as an authority in the niche. An additional advantage is that if you cover the news well, you can get a good spike in traffic while people are searching for what is hot. These will be targeted people and you can convert them into permanent readers.

You can create alerts using Google News in your niche. Almost every niche will have something in the news which is interesting to talk about. If you are blogging about something that changes rapidly, like politics or technology, this should be your main goldmine for ideas to blog about.

Blogging Idea-7: Just Ask!

This method works very well for blogs that are active and have some active commentators. You will need some authority and traffic before you can pull this off, but it is a great way to know what you should blog about. Just ask your readers and take their suggestions. You will know what people want and what your readers are looking to read on your blog. All this for free!

Today, you can use social media like Facebook or Twitter to accomplish the same and people are more likely to give out suggestions through Facebook than through comments. You can always just use them together.

Blogging Idea-8: Look Through Your Analytics

You will be surprised how many ways people using search engines can find your blog! If you have decent traffic, a thorough analysis of your analytics, more specifically the keywords used in search engines to find your blog, can prove an invaluable resource. By targeting these keywords more directly, you might rank even higher and thus get loads of higher traffic.

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How to Price Banners on your Site/Blog

Banner PricingHow do you price banners on your blog or site? This is a complicated question and there isn’t a straightforward answer. However, let me attempt to answer it with certain examples and cases which can provide a useful guideline to get started. If you have an idea of how much banners cost on other sites, you might get an idea how to price banners on your own blog or site.

I have previously written about how to sell banners on your blog and it gives a useful guide to know how you can find advertisers and how you can get started. In this post, I attempt to answer another important question – how to price the banners. Once you have selected a list of companies, businesses or websites whom you wish to contact for an offer for banner, the next step is to let them know the price. Here are a few guidelines to follow -

Tip-1: Try to Find Similar Sites

This is a simple advice which actually helps a lot. If you can find sites that are similar to you and see how much they charge for a banner, you can get a fair estimate of how much you might want to charge.

This of course depends on the niche, traffic, Alexa rank and a host of other factors, but it still gives you a fair idea.

In the niche of internet marketing and blogging, here are a couple of banner advertising prices that I could find:

1. Wassup Blog: This blog charges $30/month for a 125×125 banner. The site has an Alexa of 67k at the time of writing this. No idea about other stats.

2. John Chow: John Chow is one of the best known bloggers in this niche and it shouldn’t surprise you that it will be very expensive to advertise on his blog. For the same 125×125 banner, he charges $500/month. There are several other banners available with his blog as well. At the time of writing this, his Alexa is 5711 and his RSS followers are 100,000+ !

This of course is just for an idea.

Tip-2: It is all about the Niche

Yes, it is all about the niche. On my Penny Auction Blog, I sell several banner advertisements (somehow I started with 250×250 and stuck with it ever since). My traffic stats are far less impressive: 373k Alexa, ~350UV/day. However, I charge a minimum of $50/month for advertising on my blog (that is for old advertisers. For new ones, I charge higher).

So why is that? The first reason is, it is all about the niche. I write about entertainment auctions and it is generally a niche with not too many bloggers. A banner from my blog will give the sites a very regular highly interested stream of potential members. If the niche is lucrative, you should charge higher.

Tip-3: Look to Provide Value

Advertising is all about value. If you are John Chow, you can charge money simply for an advertiser to connect to your brand. However, not all of us are that lucky to have such a huge branding. So what do you do? You should provide value in other ways. I give my advertisers an option for featured blog posts to reach my readers. This provides them with great value.

Also, when a new site opens, by advertising on my blog, they are able to reach out to a very interested group of people who might want to join their site. Even if they get 100 interested visitors from my blog, the price I charge is justified (they get more). It is all about how your blog can provide value.

Tip-4: Let Advertisers Come to You

You won’t find this on my blog but this is something which you should know. It helps to have an “Advertise Here” link which advertisers can click and then reach a page that lists your pricing. This is a good strategy to let advertisers come to you. Chances are, several of your potential advertisers have at least visited your blog once. By giving them an option to advertise, you are looking for conversions. Also, make the process easy for them.

Tip-5: Learn and Adapt

Pricing advertising banners is not straightforward and you and the advertiser will seldom agree to the value of your blog or site. This is why you need to learn and change with your experience. If you get feedback from an advertiser you wrote to, learn from the feedback. Perhaps you charged too much. Or may be you should have offered a better space for the banner.

As you write out to more and more advertisers and get feedback, you will start to learn how to charge the right price for the banners on your blog.

Do you have experience selling banner space on your own site? Do you plan to do so in the future? I would love to hear from you!

Photo Credit: Peter Blanchard

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