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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Solavei Review: Scam or Great Deal?

Solavei ReviewThis Solavei review isn’t written to try to convert you or win you over, but just an objective overview of what Solavei is, cutting through the marketing gimmicks and giving you the bare facts. I came across Solavei through a friend and it seemed like an interesting concept, so I thought I should write a Solavei review and share with my readers.

What is Solavei?

Solavei is a Seattle based start-up backed by some heavy names, led by former former Congressman Rick White and former Motricity CEO Ryan Wuerch. It counts several tech names as investors, including the former CEO of AOL and vice president of Kindle at Amazon.

Essentially, Solavei is a way for you to get mobile service for cheap in the United States (sorry other readers!) and probably soon in Canada. For $49/month, you get unlimited text, calls and data on T-mobile phone service. The best feature? No contract! This is huge for people in the US who know how annoying a two year contract can be. Also, at $49/mo, this is cheaper than most other services. For instance, I pay around $75/mo for my Verizon service.

So far so good. However, this is available as a regular deal on T-mobile as well. You have to pay a one-time fee of $49 if you go through Solavei and not through T-mobile directly. So why would you want to do that? Earning potential.

Solavei works on a multi-level marketing basis which means if you refer friends or others and they join your network, you get paid. This can be great, or at the same time, awful. Personally for me, $49/mo is a great deal for unlimited voice and data, but I don’t want to go out and shout about this to all my friends just yet simply because multi-level marketing has such a shady reputation. I don’t know which category you fall under. However, I don’t want to bias my Solavei review with a multi-level marketing review, so I’ll leave that up for discussion in the comments.

Is Solavei a Pyramid Scheme?

It is actually hard to tell, because the company is so new. However, it has already raised $3.6 million, so I don’t think it is going to the ground anytime soon. The business model actually (and surprisingly) seems pretty legit. $49/month for unlimited talk, text and data is a good deal no matter what. Even if you strip away all the other ‘make money referring your friends’ part of the business, this is still a good deal. Period.

Up to now, it doesn’t seem that Solavei is a pyramid scheme. The main problem with real pyramid schemes is that it is usually very hard to tell until it is too late. However, in this case, your downside risk is very limited – the most you can lose is getting a $49/mo phone connection which isn’t shabby at all. At this point, my Solavei review research doesn’t give me a strong reason to believe that this is a pyramid scheme. There aren’t any ‘obvious red flags’ in my eyes yet.

The above being said, I am not sure how the money is coming into Solavei. If T-mobile offers essentially the same deal directly, then they cannot be making a ton of money off of each deal. They are promising a generous payout for the members which seems to exceed the economic success. I don’t know if they are using the money they got from venture funding to provide this payout – in that case, it is definitely a pyramid scheme and you should steer clear. If you have more information about this, I would love to hear.

Is Solavei Scam?

Solavei doesn’t appear to be a scam. They have raised money and have some good entrepreneurs backing their venture. If this catches up, it can be huge. There is good potential in cheap phones without contracts in the United States and Solavei fills a nice gap that consumers have always wanted. Again, I don’t know how the payout is going to be sustainable – if it is not, then it is a very bad deal but if it is, I think that’s a sweet deal (read the paragraph above).

In my view, if you are serious about MLM or just want to save some money and probably think about referring friends and family in the future, Solavei can actually be a good deal. Remember that this is a T-mobile reseller, so it doesn’t matter if the company fails tomorrow (I hope it doesn’t, but I am just stating your downside risk) because you still have your phone connection (sans the promises of becoming a thousandaire!)

Again, you don’t have to join Solavei for making money. You can just join it to get a good deal on your phone, and if things work out, you might just make some passive income on the side when you refer friends. If not, you got your great bargain anyway. I want to base my Solavei review on the fact that there is limited downside risk and very good upside potential, which is always something to consider as good.

Solavei for Marketers

Like it or not, Solavei is an MLM which means if you are a member, you join under someone. Hopefully, that someone is co-operative and honest with you about the income potential of referring people. I won’t go into the details of the Solavei compensation plan, but you can get the details here. As they advertise, if you refer 3 members, you earn $20/month (this isn’t too hard if you think about the utility of cheap phones without contracts); if you refer 12, you earn $60/month (enough to cover your phone bill and save more). You don’t have to refer them all directly – your referrals can refer their friends and you still get full credit for them. This is just from your immediate network – you earn from your extended network as well. And there are bonuses for signing up people within 90 days.

I don’t want to dilute the Solavei review with details of Solavei compensation plan (May be I’ll it later on) but suffice to say that it is interesting because you get paid every month – it isn’t a one time payment.

Success in making money with Solavei should be interesting as the company grows because it genuinely addresses a problem that people have, which is getting rid of contracts on their phones and getting good deals for their talk, text and data. I think it is well positioned to capture a good segment of the market and seems promising. It is too early in the company’s history to tell, but for marketers, this is actually a perfect time to get started because the market is so open and far from saturated.

What are your thoughts about this? What do you think about this Solavei review and what do you think about Solavei as a company? Do you think it addresses real problems or do you think it is just another scam? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

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5 Strategies for Business Through Internet

Business Through InternetBusiness through internet can be a richly rewarding experience, both in terms of money and general satisfaction. Whether you are a total beginner or a small business looking to establish yourself in the online sphere, these business through internet strategies will prove to be very useful for you.

Business through internet is a rapidly growing market segment and rightly so. As more and more consumers move online in search of purchasing decisions, business has also moved, following the customers. The good thing is, the “little guy” has a lot of value online, so even if you are a complete beginner, you have hope for doing something significant and having an impact, if only in a small niche.

So the first question that I get asked a lot is what I want to answer right off the bat:

Question: Can I make enough money to quit my job?

Answer: Depends!

I can tell you this – if you follow the right strategies that I outline here and don’t fall for scams, you have a good hope of making a good passive income stream online. You should also remember that business through internet can be tough and is highly competitive so it really depends on how well you are able to perform and outsmart your competition by providing something unique and useful to your consumers or visitors. Yes, it is possible to live off the income you make online and no, not everyone who starts off with this intention reaches his goal, so my advice is don’t quit your job just yet.

With that being said, lets delve deeper into this topic, so I can provide you with some useful practical tips.

Business Through Internet Strategy-1: Explore Your Options

When I say explore your options, I mean you should know what you are good at and what interests you. By listing all the things that you might be interested in, you will get a nice list of things that you can do online. There are plenty of ways in which you can do business online. The question is, which ones are you ready to pursue with interest.

Some of the more common ways of business through internet include blogging, selling on eBay, promoting books and products from Amazon, affiliate marketing, eCommerce and selling products you make at home, like crafts and arts and other small items, freelancing like becoming a virtual assistant or writer, consulting, etc. All these are great ideas for different people. Which ones appeal the most to you? These are the ones that you should be looking to pursue.

When you explore all the options, you have more than one way to make money. You don’t need to stick with just one of them. For example, you might be interested in blogging and when your blog is popular, you can promote the books that you like, affiliate products that you use or even your eBay page. You can combine them all. When you know your options well, you can diversify your income sources.

Business Through Internet Strategy-2: Know Your Market

This is very important for any business through internet. Many people try to be all over the place and wonder why they don’t have any success. You should target your market in a specialized way. This is possible only when you know your market inside out, which you should. It doesn’t matter what niche you choose or what method of making money you choose. In the end, you are just like a small offline business catering to the needs of your customers.

There are plenty of analytics tools, like Google Analytics that you should definitely try to look into. These give you deep insights into what your customers are looking for and how they use your site or page.

Business Through Internet Strategy-3: Get Started Soon

The online marketplace is a very fast-changing environment. An year or two can completely alter the online landscape for a product or service. In addition, if you think you have a great idea, waiting longer means you are exposing yourself to the possibility that other small businesses or even larger ones will eat your lunch.

One of the best things that I found personally to do when you have an idea or want to do something is to go right in and do it. You cannot hope to learn 100% of all aspects that are required to run the business. Instead, I would suggest the simple 80-20 rule: If you learn the 80% you need to succeed, the other 20% can be learned on the go as you get personal first-hand experience in running your business through the internet.

Business Through Internet Strategy-4: Learn the Basics of Internet Marketing

No matter what kind of business through internet you want to get into, it will always help to know about internet marketing. The topic is as rich and diverse as traditional marketing itself. It is only going to become more and more powerful as the world gets more connected and millions of others join the internet. Businesses too are moving online and the average time spent on the internet keeps rising. All this means there is immense potential for reaching out to new audiences.

However, the way others get to know your business is through internet marketing. This is a very powerful force that you ignore at your own risk. Of course, anyone who hopes to succeed online will need some amount of knowledge in internet marketing. However, if you keep yourself informed from reliable sources, you can get great ideas that should help you grow your business.

Business Through Internet Strategy-5: Study your Competition

There are several advantages of studying your competition. It is possible that your competition is much better established than you, in which case you can learn important tips from looking at their business model and what things they do right. In addition, you can always pick up nuances and ideas when you scan through businesses and websites that are similar to yours (of course I don’t mean plagiarize, which you should never ever do). Ideas can be powerful movers and the way to get more ideas is to expose yourself to a diverse set of ideas and strategies.

There are plenty of very successful businesses operating through internet. You can study and look at what they do right, and then emulate them to some extent. You can also improve upon what they do wrong. For example, a competitor might lack a good social media strategy, so you can capitalize on it by having an active Facebook and Twitter presence.

There is plenty to learn in business through internet but once you do, you can have great successes. It is not easy but if done right, is worth every single minute of the time you put in during the initial stages.

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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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What is BitCoin: The Future, and Why You Should Care

BitCoinWhat is BitCoin? Have you ever heard of BitCoin? If not, it is high time that you do. BitCoin exchange might revolutionize the way money is exchanged on the internet. It is no longer just a concept and is very much in use today. BitCoin comes from the intriguing field of CryptoCurrency. BitCoin is different from anything you might have heard before and is a complete novelty. No, it is not another payment processor. It is a whole new way of looking at money.

So What Exactly is BitCoin?

Satoshi Nakamoto wrote a paper on CryptoCurrenty in 2008 and published it to an email list. That is the humble origins of BitCoin. BitCoin is not an issued currency i.e. there is no central authority who issues it, quite unlike the Dollar or Euro or Yen. However, it can be used to make and accept payments. It is not backed by any physical metal. Just like fiat currency is backed by nothing but the power of the government standing behind the issued currency, BitCoin is backed by a spread out network, cryptography and some enthusiastic innovators.

There is no way to cheat the system. No one can steal your BitCoins (unless they get access to a private key) and they cannot be created. Yes, they cannot be created. This is weird, because all the Fed needs to do to create dollars is to print more of it. Of course, they weren’t in existence since time immemorial and therefore they need to be created now, but that’ the point – there is already a definite scheme.

As of today, there are 6.2 million BitCoins created. The BitCoin economy is designed in such a way that the limit of BitCoins will be 21 million, which will be reached at least a decade from now. No, not even the founder can create or control this economy. It is all programmed and there are secure networks which anyone can join that authorize BitCoin transactions.

How Does BitCoin Work?

The BitCoin economy is quite unlike what we are used to in a fiat currency monetary system. BitCoins are global and based on the principles of cryptography for transferring money. Everything is already programmed and it is almost impossible to manipulate the system.

So here is how BitCoin economy works today – directly over the internet without any third party like banks or Paypal or anything else.

The basics of BitCoin are the basics of cryptography. If you want to use BitCoin, you will need to install BitCoin software. Then, like in cryptography, a pair or keys are produced, one private and one public. The public key is, public, and you will have to give it to the person who wants to send you the money. This can be publicly displayed without a problem. The private key is private and should be kept a secret.

Every BitCoin transaction or BitCoin exchange is verified by other BitCoin clients which are running and not involved in the particular transaction. There are many safeguards in place to ensure that the transfer is completed quickly, smoothly and without trouble. Most importantly, the system cannot be cheated.

How are BitCoins Generated Today?

That is a good question. Like I mentioned earlier, it is a virtual currency that cannot be centrally controlled or created but in the initial stages, it needs to be created. So how are BitCoins created? Well, the BitCoin client will mine for BitCoins every time it competes to update the public log of transactions. This adds 50 BitCoins to the system. This is called mining and it creates BitCoins now. As the system grows, the “miners” will be rewarded not through the addition of new BitCoins but with the help of a small transaction fee. Remember that BitCoin is a virtual currency, so it can be divided into very very tiny divisions and the fees can be determined by supply-demand principles depending on how big the BitCoin economy can grow.

Is There Really a BitCoin Economy Today?

Yes! There are a whole lot of small businesses that use BitCoin. It is definitely not mainstream but you can trade BitCoins for a host of small goods and services. It does have a very loyal fan following though, so don’t be surprised if BitCoin indeed becomes common a half decade down the line.

If you want to know the full BitCoin exchange economy, visit this link for a complete list.

Can BitCoin Challenge the Dollar?

The more relevant question is, will BitCoin replace the dollar or other fiat currencies. Well, that is a hard question to answer but it is very unlikely. Remember that BitCoin is a peer to peer virtual currency so it works because there is a market created for it through a group. It is highly unlikely that the whole world will be on this network. What about half the world without access to internet connection? They are out of this economy right away.

That being said, BitCoin is revolutionary in its own way. It is a very good alternative to fiat currency and it has a small group of loyal followers who trade in BitCoins already. This is how any currency gains acceptance, as more and more people join the group. Also, at a very fundamental level, that is what money should be about. The fiat currency is very easy to manipulate and there are many ills associated with it – just ask an Austrian economist, or just ask Ron Paul!

Potential Pitfalls of BitCoin

Well, the one I can think off the top of my head is that the system is based on the same cryptographic principle of impossibility of prime decomposition in linear time. In practical terms, you will need a super-duper computer to crack the private key from the public key that just cannot happen with today’s technology. However, that might not be the case in the future. Quantum computing, if it becomes a reality in the future, can break the cryptographic codes in minutes and that will be the end of RSA and cryptography as we know it. If a whole monetary system depends on it, that is not going to be pleasant with such disruptive technologies.

BitCoin is still in its nascent stage and it shows a promise to be an alternate currency, not a replacement for more traditional currencies. It is exciting and its future is uncertain but promising. What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you!

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Selling Banners on your Blog

How to Sell Banners on Website or BlogHow do you sell banner space on your website or blog? This is a common question that is asked by people who have relatively new blogs and want to generate some extra cash with it. On my blog, I sell banner ads for a good amount of money which generates a nice passive income stream for me. That blog is almost an year old and it gets some decent traffic, so it was only natural for me to try to monetize it.

However, when I first started off, I had no idea how to sell banners on my blog. I didn’t know where to start, whom to contact, if anyone would be interested at all or even how to price them. These questions are not easy to answer, so I’ll give you a guide on how to do it. Hopefully, it will help you sell banners on your own blog or website.

Why Banners?

There are many ways in which you can monetize your blog. Banner ads are a very good start especially for blogs that are relatively new and starting out. Banner ads bring a guaranteed income, unlike other monetization methods like affiliate marketing. If you want to promote your affiliate marketing products, you will only be paid when you make a sale. This is not easy for new blogs to accomplish. Also, the blogger might prefer a steady income stream instead of the possibility of getting paid. It might also happen that the blog or website is in a niche that is not really well suited for affiliate marketing.

Banners are sold directly to advertisers and thus they usually bring in a higher revenue than cost-per-click programs like Google Adsense. On my blog, I make about 3-4 times selling ads directly than through Adsense. This is not surprising because I negotiate a deal directly with my advertisers and they find value in what I have to offer.

If your blog gets a decent amount of traffic, you can always negotiate a deal with an advertiser and provide them value.

How to Find Advertisers

This is perhaps the biggest challenge that bloggers and site owners face and also the main reason why they don’t advertise using banners. So what is the solution? There are many ways to find companies that might be interested in advertising with you. Some of the techniques that I use are as follows –

  • Search for Google Advertisers: Do a quick Google search for your niche and a few keywords that you are targeting. You will find sponsored links which shows which sites are advertising on Google Adwords. Now, you know a few companies that have the cash and the inclination to advertise and you can now contact those companies directly. Do the same with other ad networks as well.
  • Look for Similar Blogs: If you go to blogs or websites in your area which have more traffic than you get, you might see some advertisers putting their banners. You can contact them directly to see if they would be interested in advertising on your blog as well.
  • Find New Companies: If there are companies that are starting out in your industry, they would like to gain more exposure and they could be very well interested in advertising with you, so they can reach a wide relevant audience.

Is it Easy?

Truth be told, it is not. You do need to work your way through many emails and contacting many companies before you can land a good deal. It is definitely going to be more work than say putting Google Adsense code in your blog. That being said, you will reap long term relationships and rich dividends in terms of making money from your blog right away.

How Much Traffic is Good?

It really again depends on the niche and type of blog or website that you own. If you command an authority over your readers, even if you have less traffic, you can bag some good deals. It is hard to give you an estimate off hand, but 50-100 unique visits a day should be a good starting point. Of course you should also price your banner in a relevant way. If you get 50 unique visits a day, you may just make $20-25 per month (again, really depends on the niche and blog, but just as a rough estimate) so you might want to sell multiple ad spots.

In my next post, I will discuss pricing, how to write the email and what you can offer additionally to bag your advertising deals.

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