From the category archives:

Entrepreneurial blogging

Wall Street Journal: Darren Rowse Makes $250,000 a Year Blogging and You Can Too

by Steve Broback on January 14, 2008

In the Wall Street Journal article New Services Help Bloggers Bring in Ad Revenue, reporter Kelly K. Spors says “If you’re not making money off your blog, 2008 might be the year.”

Spors profiles several bloggers and the services available to generate revenue. Here are some revenue specifics to inspire you:

Rhett Butler, founder of Mongabay.com, a site with articles on rainforest conservation and other environmental issues, makes $15,000 to $18,000 a month from AdSense, using various types of ads. Mr. Butler says his blog currently gets about 1.3 million unique visitors per month.

He’s planning to eventually experiment with Google’s video player ads and create his own video content for the site. “The rainforest has always been my passion, but I never expected to make a living off of it,” says Mr. Butler, who quit his job as a product manager in 2003 when he realized he could make a living off his site.

Darren Rowse, the Melbourne, Australia-based writer of ProBlogger.net, a popular blog that teaches other bloggers how to make money, earned roughly $250,000 in 2007 off ads on three blogs he writes. Mr. Rowse says he makes the most off traditional display advertising, where advertisers pay a fee to appear, but he also has used affiliate ads and Google AdSense.

The great thing about Problogger.net is that the site is all about how to achieve the kind of success Darren has. Lots of great tips and techniques straight from the horse’s mouth.

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How long does it take to write a good blog post?

by Jason Preston on June 22, 2007

Posts come in all different shapes and sizes. Every blogger is unique in the way they compose and present their posts, which is one of the things that makes the blogosphere such an interesting place. The other interesting thing is all those crazy widgets.

There are people who write in a long, rambling, off-the-cuff style like Bob Lefsetz. There are people who tend to write essays like Tom Evslin. Still more people write somewhere in the middle, like Fred Wilson.

But regardless of your writing style, a good blog post usually happens when you take the time to put it together well. Think about how you want to structure your post. Do you want to jump right in, or are you writing about something that needs an introduction? Should your tone be lighthearted or serious? Does the title include the right keywords? Will your first sentence pique the reader’s curiosity? Will Scoble read your post?

A good blog post doesn’t necessarily escape the rules of good writing just because blogging is a relatively new medium. Don’t get me wrong—personality is important, but you can have a human voice without littering a post with errors. How does the saying go? “To err is human, to proof-read is unusual?” I think I made that one up.

It tends to take me between fifteen minutes to a half-hour to write a post I’m satisfied with, but that’s only after I’ve decided what I want to post about. I’m also including the time I take to re-read before I post.

Taking a little extra time to re-read an entry before you post it will often give you a stronger piece, and one good blog post is worth several poor ones, regardless of its shape or size.

If you want to see topics like this at our next conference, feel free to propose a session for the community to vote on.

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Using PHP to Randomly Generate Adsense Code for your Sidebar

by Teresa Valdez Klein on May 7, 2007

Entrepreneurial bloggers often rely on revenue from Google’s AdSense. But for some bloggers, embedding ads isn’t as simple as pasting a javascript into a sidebar file. When more than one person or company needs to get ad revenue from the same blog, things can get complicated.

One excellent solution is Harley Quinn’s Author AdSense plugin for WordPress. The plugin requires the user to embed a template tag within the WordPress loop. For each post, the plugin randomly enters the AdSense code for the author of the post, or that of the blog’s owner in a pre-determined ratio.

The problem with this plugin is that its template tag relies upon being placed within the WordPress loop. So it’s impossible to place it in the sidebar, or any other location that does not have an author assigned to it.

If you have only two authors to display, a simple if/then statement will accomplish the same thing. Here’s how we recently did it on our blog CS Bloggers.

srand(time()); $random = (rand()%101); if($random <= 50){

Insert first Google AdSense script here.

} else {

Insert second Google Adsesnse script here.

}

Basically, this code asks PHP to generate a random number between 1 and 101. If the number is less than 50, it generates Adsense code for one of the two parties. If the number is greater than 50, it generates code for the other party.

If you would like to divide the revenues among three parties, it can be done as such:

srand(time()); $random = (rand()%101); if($random <= 33){

Insert first Google Adsense script here.

} else {

srand(time()); $random = (rand()%101); if($random <= 50){

Insert second Google Adsense script here

} else {

Insert third Google Adsense script here

}

}

This says select the first code 1/3 of the time, then divide the remaining two thirds up among the other two codes.

Similarly nested if/then statements can be used to divide up any number of codes, although at some point, the syntax might become a bit confusing.

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Warren Buffet Says Newspaper Owners Should be Motivated by “Noneconomic” Goals — Just Like Bloggers

by Steve Broback on May 6, 2007

The article Pitfalls Ahead for Social Networks? quotes Mark Jung, former chief operating officer at Fox Interactive (emphasis mine:)

At Fox, Jung was responsible for several Internet properties, including what became the wildly successful MySpace. For all the growth in user generated pages, Jung isn’t sure they’ll be sufficiently monetized. He said publishers haven’t quite figured out how to capitalize on the passion of bloggers and other user-generated content sites. “There’s an assumption that the user publisher “thinks like a large publisher and is after profit,” said Jung. “In general, they don’t. It’s not always about money, but ego, personal fame and having an individual voice, not cash flow.”

Align that with today’s Wall Street Journal article World According to Buffett where reporter Karen Richardson discusses how the Sage from Omaha feels about newspapers as a business (emphasis mine:)

Mr. Buffett blamed the decline of sales and circulation in the newspaper industry on technological and cultural changes, and not on the dual-class shareholder structure of some major media companies. “The truth is, the world has changed in a significant way,” Mr. Buffett told shareholders at the annual meeting. “I think Rupert [Murdoch] would even acknowledge that some part of his interest in The Wall Street Journal is noneconomic,” said Mr. Buffett. He said Dow Jones has a high noneconomic value, “second only to the New York Times,” which includes prestige and notoriety, for example, and he suggested other bidders could emerge for the company. “The last chapter is not necessarily written on that,” he said.

True most bloggers are posting for noneconomic reasons, but many have discovered that they can earn a living from their efforts. At our next event, we’ll have sessions focusing on advertising, affiliate programs, and other revenue-generating options for bloggers.

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Blogs Displacing Newspapers: Ad Revenues Shifting

by Steve Broback on April 23, 2007

Sarah Ellison and Suzzane Vranica report today in The Wall Street Journal that for most newspapers, online advertising growth won’t be as strong as predicted. Blogs and other news sources such as myspace are partly to blame:

Media buyers also indicate marketers are beginning to look beyond traditional journalism sites, realizing many news junkies go elsewhere, too. “Advertisers are getting less scared of blogs and newsgroups and now are beginning to take money away from the traditional newspapers’ sites,” says Greg Smith, chief operating officer of Neo@Ogilvy, an interactive ad agency owned by WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather, New York.

Another significant drain profiled is the move toward search-focused ads, which of course is a key source of revenue for many bloggers. FYI that we’ll be hosting sessions contrasting ad networks for bloggers at our next event.

[click to continue...]

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Avoiding the Echo Chamber: How Live Search Can Help You Find Precious “Hidden” Content Nuggets

by Steve Broback on April 15, 2007

At the last Blog Business Summit, I had a nice chat with Mary Hodder where we commiserated on how we longed for a blog search engine that would let us find posts by authors with little to no formally recognized “authority.”

As experienced bloggers know all too well, Technorati and Google easily help us find posts (and authors) that are linked to frequently, but in my mind that just advances the echo-chamber problem. What I’ve wanted is a way to find authors, articles and posts that are largely “undiscovered.”

We have a blog called bigbusinessjet.com that is sponsored by Greenpoint Technologies and covers the rarified space of owning and operating ultra-expensive business aircraft. Today I found a highly relevant article put forth by Dealmaker Magazine (a site with a PR of zero (?!)) that no one else has blogged about, hence has been ignored completely by Google Blog Search and Technorati.

How did I find it? I used the (thankfully under-appreciated!) Live Search from Microsoft. Live Search has some easily accessed parameters that enable you to find unpopular pages that have been recently been updated — and can even provide an RSS feed for that search. The essential parameters are found under the “Advanced” link, and the key settings are within “Results ranking” which brings up 3 sliders (see below.)

Live Search For Bloggers

What I asked for was newer results that are relatively unpopular but match closely the search string “bbj3″ — which is the industry term for the Boeing Business Jet Version 3. Note how I could just as easily have entered the parameters as text.

Without Live Search, I don’t know if/when I would have found this article. Probably after some other blogger picked it up I guess…

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Making Money from Your Cell Phone: Blogs that Earn Directly vs. Indirectly

by Teresa Valdez Klein on April 10, 2007

Blog Business Summit ’07 speaker Kevin O’Keefe has a fantastic quote this morning: “you don’t make money from a blog anymore than you make money from your cell phone.” That’s pretty much true for legal bloggers, who blog in order to establish themselves as thoughtful professionals who can help their clients.

Kevin is responding to a post by ProBlogger’s Chris Garrett this morning. Chris argues that in addition to direct methods like advertising, professional bloggers can monetize their content indirectly. My favorite is his profile of David Krug:

As well as being a means to earn money, blogs also have value as assets which can be sold. I think the best known person who makes money by buying and selling blogs has to be David. You can earn money by building up your own blog and selling it, or you can buy up under-valued blogs and selling them after giving them a little TLC.

He’s got a great list of other ways that professionals have indirectly monetized their blogs.

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A Long Tail Lesson From Charlie Rose and Conan O’Brien

by Steve Broback on August 24, 2006

Conan O’Brien was on the Charlie Rose show tonight, and I felt some of the discussion correlated strongly to entrepreneurial blogging.

O’Brien commented on the success of programs like the daily show, and how late night hosts now have the luxury to be much more specialized in their approach and content.

Rose agreed and expanded by discussing how over the years he’d been skeptical when highly topical channels like the Food Network and Golf Network etc. emerged. Rose originally thought that niche networks couldn’t make it, but is now a believer. He commented that for all the networks he doubted “In every case, specialization has succeeded.”

I’m working on a panel to be held our next event right now, and am bringing in some niche bloggers to discuss how specialized sites can get and still make money.

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No Major Hits This Summer: Book Publishers Living The Reality of the Long Tail

by Steve Broback on July 8, 2006

In the Wall Street Journal Article, Can ‘The Long Tail’ Wag the Dog? Reporter Jeffrey Trachtenberg says that the Summer book season has not produced a blockbuster as in previous years.

“‘There’s no single major book that is just doing significantly better than everything else,’ says Carole Horne, head buyer for The Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass.”

Instead, Trachtenberg claims that perhaps due to the Long Tail phenomenon, we’re seeing many different titles occupying the space that a single home run title did in the past.

An ironic twist is that Walt Disney Co.’s Hyperion book-publishing division is expecting big sales (150,000 plus) for the forthcoming “The Long Tail” by Chris Anderson, (which, by the way is yet another book that morphed into being from humble blog origins)

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Microfinance Recipients Update Investors via Blogosphere

by Teresa Valdez Klein on July 3, 2006

As my fiancÚ and I were drifting off to sleep a couple of nights ago, we started talking about giving money to charities. Neither one of us is a big fan of giving impoverished people handouts, because it’s not self-sustaining and doesn’t really help them long-term.

I’ve always understood that the real way to pull people out of poverty was to invest in businesses that stimulate local economies in the third world. I believed that this was the job of major corporations, because what could individuals hope to accomplish by investing only $20,000 or $40,000 in third-world business ventures?

Then I learned about microfinance when I read that eBay founder Pierre Omidyar uses his foundation to give microfinance loans to third-world entrepreneurs in Newsweek. “If I ever have enough money to start a foundation,” I thought, “that’s the kind of work I’ll do.”

But that was before I read about Kiva while reading Dav Yaginuma’s blog.

Obviously Kiva is really cool because it hooks up third-world entrepreneurs with loans from small investors in wealthy countries. The loans requested are often less than the cost of a plane ticket, and they’re paid back 99% of the time. Finally, average working people in the US can opt to share their tremendous wealth (relative to the rest of the world) in an economically sound way.

One thing that I really like about Kiva is that it allows entrepreneurs to keep their investors updated on what’s going on with their businesses by blogging. The blogs aren’t updated all that often, but they do give a glimpse into how the businesses are faring. A quick RSS subscription and you can keep track of how your investment is changing someone’s life, and helping his community.

This is the business blogosphere at its best.

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