Go ahead, jump. Escaping from this advertiser controlled world!

Take back control of customizing your ad units & increase your revenue! How can you take your earnings potential to the next level if you can’t customize your ad service in your own way? You can’t. The most important thing to remember while catering to your visitors and your revenue needs is, you know your viewers better than anyone. With that in mind, what can you do to make sure your giving your visitors what they need to help you purchase a larger wallet? eMiniMalls.

1. Chitika gives you full power to select your own products to display. With this YOU are in control. This is important because your website may be about kitchen appliances, however, YOU KNOW your visitors would be interested in purchasing smaller items for their kitchen, like knives. So you would simply choose products for the knives you would like to offer your readers.

2. Let’s make it even easier, select from a pre-defined set of categories, like: Home and Garden. Let’s face it, you want it all! We don’t blame you, in fact, take it! You want to be able to choose the ads you’d like to display, but you don’t have time to sit and think of them all. Done! There are 45 different pre-made categories, simply click and go!

Building and Engaging Community Around Your Blog -By C.C. Chapman

Expert: C.C. Chapman, crayonville.com

#27 of 30

  

About the Expert

C.C. Chapman is a prominent figure in the community of podcasting and podsafe music. From his home studio in the Boston area, C.C. hosts the independent music-focused podcasts, Accident Hash and U-Turn Cafe in addition to a social marketing and new media show called Managing the Gray. When he’s not busy with his podcasts and his personal blog, C.C. is Vice President of New Marketing at Crayon, a mash-up of consulting, agency, advisory, thought leadership and education worlds specializing in new marketing. C.C. has been invited to speak about subjects such as Second Life, new media topics, as well as podcasting, podsafe music and music licensing at meetings and conferences around th world including Portable Media Expo and Podcast Hotel. Chitika is pleased to have C.C. Contribute to the Blog Bash with a topic near and dear to his heart, writing for others in your blogging and giving back to the blogging community.

I’m a huge fan of building communities and then working with the community for continued growth and success of everyone in it. TheBlogosphere is one large community filled of thousands of smaller ones. When I was asked if I could contribute to this new community about blogging I jumped at the chance. Everyone defines community differently, but I simply view it as any group of like minded individuals gathered together and connected in some way. Sometimes they form around an event, charity, people with similar likes and desires or even around an individual or a company. But, in the end a community is made up of people and they are the most important thing. The minute you post the very first post to a blog, a community will start forming around you. It’s a strange concept at first when complete strangers will react and post comments. You’ll notice that as you link out to other people and sites they more often then not will swing by and say hello right back. Over time through the power of new media more and more people will start reading the content you write and a small or potentially large community will form. I am a fan of the quality over quantity philosophy. You should not write a blog just for the sake of building the community, but rather let it happen. Does it really matter what the number is as long as the people are committed, active and engaged in the conversation with you? I know some would argue that you must have at least xxxxx number of readers to be deemed a success, but I have never bought into that. It’s important that you reach out and get to know your community. After all that is the only way it will grow and expand. Just writing to your blog every day and ignoring the comments and conversation happening around you is not going to work. If you do not want to engage your community then I suggest you stop the idea of a blog right now and return to a paper diary as your not ready to embrace what is ahead of you.

Now, this next point depends on the sort of blog you are writing, but at the same time holds true for them all. You need to determine if you are going to write posts for yourself/company or for the community. What I mean is that when you write about a site, service or topic keep in mind that people are reading your content because they are getting something out of it. Give it to them! Share information and ask for feedback. Engage them and give them a reason to be more active in the conversation with you. If the community around you grows to be very large or very dedicated (it’s amazing when both happens) you’ll also begin to realize that you can make things happen through a simple blog post. I saw this happen last year when I began raising money for a charity walk I was doing. Through a blog post and a mention on my podcast I suddenly hit my goal in one weekend. You need to realize that this is a responsibility that many forget about because if you activate this community too often or for the wrong reason they can turn on you just as fast. The important thing is to just get out there and do it. Write from the heart, be honest, be transparent and keep the conversation going long after you hit the publish button and the post hits the web. People out there want to engage with you and they want to read what you have to say. But, you need to remember that it IS a two way street and they will be expecting to be able to engage with you.

Advertising in the blogosphere -By Chris Batty

Expert: Christopher Batty, Gawker Media

#26 of 30

  

About the Expert

Christopher Batty is the VP of Sales and Marketing for Gawker Media, an online media company considered to be one of the most visible and successful blog-oriented media companies with 13 different weblogs under management, including Gawker, Defamer, Fleshbot, Deadspin, Wonkette , Gizmodo. In addition to his current position at Gawker, his prior experience as a business development manager and media analyst makes it clear to Chitika that he is the perfect person to discuss the state of the blogosphere and advertising within it. We are pleased to bring you his insights in this Q&A interview.

An Interview

Q. Advertisers see the Blogosphere as a swamp land but we see the blogosphere as a fertile ground. What are your thoughts on this?

A. Well, apologies in advance for having it both ways (or, every which way!) but the truth is that the blogosphere runs a very wide gamut — from professional journalistic enterprises that have already developed strong brand equity with readers and advertisers all the way to personal websites with readerships that extend no further than the nexus of its creator’s personal relationships (or fewer). Advertisers have two challenges; first, they need to find vehicles that are appropriate to their task and, second, find an efficient way to transact with them. For brand advertisers (who typically define success by lift in metrics like awareness, message association, brand favorability, purchase intent), finding blogs that have real equity with their readerships is first and foremost. Second, and frankly more challenging, is finding a way to transact with these people. There are challenges to validating audience on small sites given the current market for ad research, finding professional counterparts at these publishers with which to engage and frankly getting enough scale (reach) to make it worth their time, agency transaction costs being what they are.

Q. What does the blogosphere need to do to get the same love from advertisers as the mainstream media sites do ?

A. Small publishers need to create advertising solutions that marketers demand that the larger publishing organizations for a variety of reasons cannot execute or can only execute at significant minimum outlay — so things like — custom ad integration, reader contests, promotions, & custom publishing.

Q. Every blogger craves for some link love from Gizmodo or LifeHacker. Can you walk us through the thought process that goes into linking to other blog articles ?

A. Its not really some drawn out thought process: break a story, dig something up no one else has, and present anything in an extremely entertaining fashion.

Q. There is a thin line between product endorsement and product promotion (as has been the topic of heated debate lately). What are you doing to maintain that balance?

A. We make every effort, from every angle, to make sure that our editors have a free hand to speak their minds without any undue influence from our marketing partners (including PR) and so, at this time, we don’t see any role for product endorsement in our advertising mix.

Q. Any advice for budding Gizmodo-wannabes on blog monetization?

A. Honestly taking on the entire consumer electronics category is a big bite so if I were an independent publisher with a passion for consumer electronics and gadget porn, I’d look for a niche to cover with a deep expertise and relentless focus.

What is at the Heart of a Powerful Blog? -By Wendy Piersall

Expert: Wendy Piersall, eMoms At Home

#25 of 30

  

About the Expert

Wendy Piersall is author and owner of eMoms At Home, a site on starting, running and succeeding at home business and blogging and her first entrepreneurial adventure into online marketing. Wendy’s newest blog can be found at Entrepreneur.com, called Inspired Business Growth. Prior to starting her site in 2006, Wendy was Director of Business Development for Socrates.com. Not without a rich myriad of expertise, Wendy has over 6 years of experience working in a home office and is a Certified NLP Practitioner and Coach as well as a Senior Trainer and Coach with Anthony Robbins & Associates.

Speculation abounds about what it takes to create a successful blog. Do you need a huge viral campaign? A hot niche? A top Digger best friend? Quite frankly, many blogs have all of the above – but don’t find lasting success. The reasons for this are as varied as the bloggers themselves. But the one thing I can say that the top blogs have in common is one thing – they haven’t confused the messenger with the message. A blog is just a vehicle. The real heart of a successful blog is in the person or people behind it. These people stand out in the Blogosphere because they would stand out in a crowd. You know what I mean – the kind of person who lights up a room.

So How do You Light up a Blog? Give us the Real You – It sounds like a lesson from a children’s book. You’ll always be a second best someone else, but you can be the number one you. As simple as it sounds, the reality of it isn’t so simple to put into action. And although imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it won’t get you a successful blog. It is important to learn from prominent bloggers you admire, but use their lead to find your own voice. It may take a few weeks or months to develop that voice, but once you’ve got it, you’re automatically ahead of the pack.

Lead by Example – An incongruent leader is one doomed to fail. People are smart and catch onto a phony writer fast. I’m not advocating perfection, nor am I saying that you must be an expert in order to start a blog. Many great blogs are ‘learning’ blogs – the author writes about what they are learning rather than what they already know. But whatever you write about, it’s important to have real-life experience behind your posts. Hollow writing makes for a hollow readership.

Have a Strong Message – A message is not just great posts – it’s also the message that you send in between the lines. People pick up on little details – sometimes not even consciously. Make your blog an “experience” by creating and fostering community and interactivity, keeping your template in line with your topic, and writing posts that stick to your niche. Too much randomness can create confusion and undermine your outcome.

Build a Strong Brand – You wouldn’t show up to a networking meeting in a torn up pair of jeans and plain white t-shirt. Yet your blog is your “outfit” that people see and they will immediately make snap judgments – in about 2 seconds or less. Great content is crucial to a successful blog, but if your site is difficult to navigate, ugly, or doesn’t work properly, people won’t stick around to find it. It also says to your visitors, “I don’t really care about my site” – if you don’t, your readers sure won’t, either.

Be Human – Blog readers don’t want to know that you are super-human – they want be entertained or learn something that you can teach them. Not every blog is personal, but the more you get to know the people behind the words, the more your readers can relate to the content. The more they can relate, the more they want to read.

Mingle with the Masses – A successful blog is not a successful person – it is a successful community of smart people who know how to add to the conversation with great insights, great questions, and great blogs in their own right. Responding to reader comments, links and questions tells blog readers that they are important – which they are.

Put the Readers First – If you study the great copywriters of our time, you’ll find that they use a few words very sparingly, especially “Me, Myself and I”. It’s important to remember the golden rule of marketing, which is to constantly answer the question, “What’s In It For Me?”. Blog readers are a super-savvy audience – let them know you value their time by adding value in your posts.

Make Your Readers Famous – I first heard this from Darren Rowse at the San Francisco Elite Retreat – and he is the master at putting his site visitors front and center. By linking out frequently, giving readers control (by suggesting topics) and through his group writing projects, Darren proves that there is plenty of room to share the spotlight at the top.

Rapport, Rapport, Rapport – In many ways, your blog is a constant sales pitch – you’re either pitching products or pitching ideas. Great sales people don’t sell to leads and prospects – they sell to friends. Building a relationship with your readers takes time, but without it, you’ll never ‘close the deal’.

Write from the Heart – Although last, this is the most important of all. Passionate people are infectious – they are the ones that bounce into a room filled with energy. They are the ones who make a difference just by showing up. People who come from the heart can touch lives through a computer screen – even if they are just talking about blogging. And it’s this kind of person who will be successful no matter what they do – because their message from the heart is more important than the messenger.

“Help me, my mom is my blog’s only reader!”-By Darren Rowse

Expert: Darren Rowse, Problogger.net

#24 of 30

  

About the Expert

Darren Rowse is author and owner of ProBlogger, a site dedicated to helping other bloggers learn skills, share their own experiences, add income streams and promote the blogging medium as well as Digital Photography Blog, a source of news, reviews and tips for digital cameras. Darren started blogging as a hobby back in 2002 and quickly grew to love it. Today he has more than 15 sites and is a co-founder of b5 media. Today, Darren splits his time between his blogs, blog consulting, speaking engagements and running a teleclass for bloggers entitled Six Figure Blogging. Chitika is thrilled to have Darren, one of today’s best and most renowned bloggers, write on increasing your blog audience.

How do I get my blog beyond the initial launch phase and actually find readers beyond my mum, girlfriend and work mates? Launching a blog and getting a few regular readers (usually friends and family) isn’t the hard part of blogging (although it’s not ‘easy’) – the challenge comes in trying to find a way to take things up a notch and hit some sort of ‘tipping point’ where you hit a new level of readership. In this post I’d like to explore some basic techniques on how to grow your readership beyond your circle of friends and family.

Before we begin – One little ‘secret’ for you before I give some ideas on how to grow your readership – no matter how big your blog gets, there’s always another ‘next level’ that bloggers strive for. I spoke to a blogger this week who has 70,000 daily readers who asked me how to go to the ‘next level’. Blog readership is like money – no matter how much you’ve got, most people seem to always thirst for more.

So how do you get out of the plateau that your blog is in (whatever that level is)? There are many answers that could be given to this (for example I wrote 19 tips for finding new readers previously) – but as I’ve pondered the question today two main ideas came to mind.

1. Learn to Leverage Big Traffic When I first started blogging, I had romantic notions of an incoming rush of traffic hitting my blog. A couple of months in I began to realize that that wasn’t going to happen. I remember the light going on in my mind one day – the rush of traffic just wasn’t going to ‘appear’. Of course there was a trickle of traffic that did just ‘appear’ – but if I wanted traffic in large numbers I was going to have to find some way of going and getting it. I began to ask myself a question: ‘where is my potential traffic?’ At any given moment, millions of people are using the Internet – a certain percentage of them were interested in and even searching for the information that I had written – so where were they and how was I going to get them?

So where are your potential readers? I can’t answer that question for each of you (because it varies, depending upon your blog’s topic) but here are a few suggestions of where your readers may already be gathering:

1. Forums – yep, they are Web 1.0 (or 1.3 maybe) in many ways – but the reality is that people are probably discussing your topic every day already on a forum somewhere in large numbers.

2. Social Sites – sites like Digg, Reddit, Flickr, YouTube and MySpace are generating massive traffic at the moment. Many of them won’t have the kind of traffic that will naturally relate to your site – but increasingly social networking and bookmarking sites are arranging themselves around specific topics and verticals.

3. Bigger Blogs – on most topics there is already a blog that is at least covering a related topic.

4. Bigger Sites – don’t just look at the blogosphere – doing so will limit yourself so much. Ok – the above list is pretty general but it’s hard to be more specific without knowing the topic at hand. The key is to find those places where your potential traffic is already gathering and then to think about how you can become a part of those sites/communities in a way that draws traffic to your blog. In general I find that other site owners are more than willing to share a little link love around IF you provide them with some value too. Notice I said IF you provide them with value. It doesn’t mean:

  • sending an email asking for a link or offering to trade links
  • spamming their site’s comments/forum
  • manipulating their site or readers into coming to your site

Find out a way of genuinely enhancing their site and becoming a valued part of their community.

  • Write them free content
  • Genuinely participate in comments in ways that add value to the conversation
  • Use a signature in your communications with people in the community (as long as it’s within the rules to do so)
  • Provide them with some link love (even if it’s not returned)
  • Get to know the authors – thank them for anything that they do do for you

Over time (and this isn’t usually an overnight process) you’ll find that the more you add to and participate in larger sites, the more you’ll personally get out of it.

2. Get discovered one reader at a time The second piece of advice I’ll give is to not get caught up in finding the big incoming link that will bring a rush of traffic. Yes you should be on the lookout for these opportunities – but don’t forget the readers you’ve currently got and don’t forget the small trickles of traffic that you already have from smaller sources.

Google and other Search Engines – millions of people start their search for information here every day – while it’s a long term thing to grow SE traffic it does add up over time. Learn some basic search engine optimization techniques and incorporate it into the way you blog. While search engines like Google will only ever send you one reader at a time – they can do so in very large numbers over time.

Reader Recommendations – one of the most powerful forces at your disposal as a blogger is your current reader. 10 readers who each find two new readers for your blog each month who each find two new readers for your blog each month will see you end up with a readership of over 40,000 within 12 months. While that might not be a reasonable expectation – the fact remains that blogging is by its nature a viral medium. Tap into this – concentrate on providing value to your current readers and you will find over time that you could be on the receiving end of some viral growth.

Smaller Blogs – Getting a link from a larger blog or website can be a huge rush (for example last week I got a link from the front page of Yahoo.com as a featured article and it was a fun thing to watch) but sometimes it’s the links from smaller blogs that have a more lasting impact upon your blog. Build relationships with other blogs in your niche (not just the powerful ones) and over time you’ll find that the traffic that they send will not only bring you new loyal readers but that the links will help your search engine ranking.

Bonus Tip – Live with an Attitude of Openness to Opportunity A few years ago I had a business coach. The main thing I took home from the time I spent with him was that he was someone that was constantly on the lookout for synergy and opportunity with those that he met. He didn’t do it in a manipulative way – but he had this ability to connect with people and spot potential connecting points between what he did and what the other person did. Almost as if every conversation he had led to a new mutually beneficial business partnership, customer or product idea. The result was that his business grew. As bloggers, I think this is an attitude that all of us could learn from. Don’t expect the large rush of traffic to land in your lap – it rarely comes. DO look for opportunities and DO be willing to act quickly upon them and in time you’ll find the growth will come.

  • This post was inspired by a question that one of my readers (thatedeguy) recently asked at ProBlogger.

Did Chitika actually give away a Nintendo Wii?

YUP. In celebration of our Blog Bash right here on the Chitika Blog, we created our own “Match The Expert” flash game and picked one luckly winner among those who matched the experts correctly to win their very own Nintendo Wii!

Jason Griffin from Washington, USA is the winner of the Nintendo Wii!  

So, does Chitika give out things often? Yup. Win a Chitika tee-shirt in our newest contest!

So who’s Jason & why do we think he rocks? He has been using Chitika eMiniMalls since October 2005, after reading about us at Darren Rowse’s Problogger. He has a handful of small websites/blogs including TVaholic and Guide to Golf Equipment.

Jason says, “I have found eMiniMalls to be very successful, especially on the golf site now that golf season has arrived again. I am always looking for ways to integrate them into my sites and can’t wait for the day my numbers have grown large enough to qualify for RPU and other Chitika offerings. Many of the great expert tips from the 30 Days Blog Bash should hopefully help me reach that goal. Thanks again for the Wii, I still can’t believe I won it.”

Finding Your Direction with Google Analytics -By Dan Allen

Expert: Dan Allen, LoveAccess.com

#23 of 30

  

About the Expert

Dan Allen is CTO of Love Access, an innovative companion matching system that has been helping singles find love online since 2002 and the first dating site to offer privacy ensured instant messaging/web cam chat. In addition to managing the technology and development of Love Access, Dan spends his time developing his not quite ready for prime time, review and article site, contributing to the Boston chapter of Ubuntu, creating artwork, reading and writing. Dan’s engineering experience and savvy with just about everything tech made him an obvious choice for the bash and we are pleased to bring our readers his post on using Google Analytics.

So you’ve created a website or started a blog, but do you know who’s visiting it, or more importantly, why they’re visiting it? With the help of Google Analytics, you’ll be able to answer those questions and many others. It’s free, quick and easy to set up, and provides information that you probably won’t find anywhere else. So what’s the big deal? Why should you use it? Here are a few ways you can use it to improve your content:

Overview When you log into Google Analytics, the first thing you’ll see is the Executive Overview. This page gives you a quick glance at four useful pieces of information:

  • Visits and Pageviews – this section shows you how many visitors you had for the week, and their average amount of pageviews. This is a good way to watch your site/blog’s performance over time.
  • Visits by New and Returning – with this section, you can see the balance between people coming back to your site and people coming to your site for the first time. As your site/blog grows over time, you want to see your New Visitor percentage slowly decrease and Returning Visitor percentage increase. This will show that as you’re getting new visitors, many older visitors keep coming back for more.
  • Geo Map Overlay – this section shows a small map of the world, with yellow dots to show where your traffic is coming from. Knowing where your visitors are coming from can help you with marketing and keywords if you write about local or global content.
  • Visits by Source – this section is a great way to see how your visitors found you. This will let you see the balance between new organic traffic, returning visitors, people that found you by word of mouth, and marketing campaigns if you have any.

Marketing Optimization This section has more in-depth reports than the overview. While they are all useful in their own ways, here are the ones you’ll want to check:

  • Visitor Loyalty – you can find the Visitor Loyalty report under the Unique Visitor Tracking section. This page will give you a better idea of how many visitors keep coming back to your site/blog. Remember, SEO is a good way to get traffic, but you need good content to keep them coming back for more.
  • Visitor Recency – you’ll find this report right below the Visitor Loyalty one. Of the returning visitors you saw above, this page will tell you how often they’re coming back.
  • Referring Source – this report is under the Visitor Segment Performance section. This page will show where your traffic found you, how many visits you got from each, and their average number of page hits. This can be a great way to get an idea of the types of sites you want linking to you.
  • Overall Keyword Conversion – this report can be found under the Search Engine Marketing section. This is probably the most important page for checking how your keywords are performing. This page shows how many clicks you got for each of the search terms shown, and the average number of page hits for those visits. This will give you an idea to the importance of each of your keywords, and how they relate to the rest of your content.

Content Optimization This section will give you a good idea of how visitors are spending their time on your site/blog.

  • Top Content – you can find this report under the Content Performance section. This page shows how many times each of your pages are visited, the average amount of time someone spends on that particular page, and how often people leave your site/blog from that particular page.
  • Length of Visit – this report can also be found under the Content Performance section. This page simply shows the average amount of time people spend on your site/blog.
  • Entrance Bounce Rates – this report is under the Visits by Source section, and will show you not only the first pages that your visitors are seeing, but also how often they’re viewing that one page and then leaving. This can let you know if you need to improve your site/blog’s navigation.
  • Top Exit Points – this report is right beneath the Entrance Bounce Rates page, and will also show you how often visitors are leaving your site from particular pages. This can give you a heads up on pages that may need improvement.

There is a lot more info available than the sections that I mentioned, and you should decide for yourself whether or not they’re relevant to you. The sections above will not only show you how your site/blog is performing over time, it will also give you hints as to which keywords to expand on or drop, and which pages out perform others. This can point you in a direction that will make your site/blog stand out from the others. Rather than molding your writing style after someone else’s, it lets you see how your own writing style works and how to improve it. Remember, keep your content unique, easy to read, and most importantly, keep it interesting.

Give Your Blog An Edge – Get the Scoop! -By Tom Foremski

Expert: Tom Foremski, SiliconValleyWatcher

#22 of 30

  

About the Expert

Tom Foremski is publisher of SiliconValleyWatcher, a blog that reports on the business and culture of Silicon Valley. A 20 + year veteran of news reporting and a Silicon Valley columnist for the Financial Times, in May 2004 he became the first journalist from a leading newspaper to resign and become a full-time blogger. Within months of its initial post, Silicon Valley Watcher was named by Bacon’s, the top media-tracking group, as one of the most influential and credible blogs in the US. In addition to contributing stories, Tom speaks to tech companies, PR firms, and corporate communications teams, and at conferences on the subject of blogging and the enterprise. Chitika believes Tom is a pioneer in this unique but growing industry. For the journalist and aspiring journalist bloggers out there, we are excited to have Tom lend his expertise and insights in getting the scoop in business news.

Getting a scoop in the news business is extremely difficult and extremely desirable. If I have a scoop I have news that is completely unique, nobody else has it, and that creates a distinction that very few others can match. In the increasingly crowded online space you need exclusive content to distinguish yourself and rise above the white noise.

Here are some of the benefits in going after scoops:

•A scoop is one of the best ways of building readership. People will want to come back again and again to see if you have anything new that nobody else has.

•Scoops are a type of exclusive content and exclusive content builds on itself. Journalists or bloggers who have developed a reputation for scoops become magnets for exclusive content.

•Companies and individuals with news to release will often release it exclusively to that person or organization with a reputation for exclusive content because it becomes a highly effective distribution platform. You can see that happen with sites such as the Drudge Report, and in sectors such as Web 2.0 where Mike Arrington from TechCrunch will often have exclusive content because companies release it to him first, knowing that he has the reach and readership to distribute their news. But being pre-briefed by a company on their news is not the same as a scoop. A scoop is news information that has been gained by hard work and through experience.

So how do you get a scoop? And how do you continue getting scoops? The answer is in knowing your subject matter. If you write about the medical industry then:

•You know the companies.

•You know the individuals.

•You have established relationships with people in that industry.

•You are known by people in that industry.

•You have established trust in that community.

•You spend time in the industry and understand the dynamics of that industry.

•You talk to people in the industry on a regular basis.

Scoops are found by:

•Following leads or tips from contacts.

•By noticing something that others haven’t noticed in public information.

•By following a unique angle in news stories.

•By trading exclusive information with your contacts.

•Sometimes a contact has information that they don’t know is a scoop. That’s why you have to know your subject matter extremely well. Sometimes you will be told information that makes a great scoop but could get your contact into big trouble, they could lose their job. Or they will never speak with you again. You need to be careful in those situations because if you “burn” your contact you will lose the opportunity to gain future scoops from that person. But sometimes, the scoop is so important, or so huge that you may have no choice but to burn your contact. In the newspaper world, when someone is talking with a journalist, everything is on the record unless agreed otherwise. Everyone knows the rules of the conversation and knows the consequences. But in the “blogosphere” the rules are much grayer and the consequences of saying the wrong thing are less well understood. So the blogger has to be aware of this and act in a fair and proper manner with their contacts.

Staying connected: The secret to keeping those loyal readers –By Liz Strauss

Expert: Liz Strauss, Successful-Blog.com

#21 of 30

  

About the Expert

Liz Strauss is owner and author of Successful Blog and Liz Strauss, sites devoted to thinking, writing and ideas on business and blogging. In addition to these, she maintains a personal blog, Letting me be . . . random wondering and philosophy, a site for stories that relight memories and for the way it inspires readers to join her as she wonders about crayons, idiosyncracies, and things that don’t fit. Prior to becoming a full-time blogger, Liz spent more than 20 years in print, software and online publishing. Her expertise extends from product development and marketing into business-startups and long-term strategic planning. Today, Liz is a writer, career coach, and strategic planner with a focus on corporate blogging and strategic marketing. Chitika was delighted to get an interview with Liz and we’re excited to bring you her thoughts on blogging, writing with passion and tips on interacting with and engaging readers.

Chitika: You have 20 years of experience in print, online publishing, and you’ve worked for various companies, out of all the career paths you could have chosen, why did you pick blogging to showcase your writing talent?

Liz: Why not? Blogging is wonderful. I have this blog post that I’m using for my presentation and it’s called “Why Every Blogger Is An Entrepreneur” and why every blogger is a business person whether they monetize or not. Because blogging is publishing. There is a reason that button is called “Publish” not “Go”, “Send” or any other number of words it could say. It really is publishing. I started blogging because I wanted to leave education publishing and not stay a product person. I was standing in an education publishing conference talking to a friend of mine who is the vice president of a very good educational publisher. He asked why are you blogging? And I said, “There are three product jobs in this whole industry that are left and I don’t want any of them. I have all this marketing experience and I don’t want to be in product job anymore. But if I handed you my resume, you would tell me I’m a product person.” He said “I think you’re right.” So my response was, “Now I have a 1600-page resume on the Internet that says I am a marketing person. So, that’s what my blog does for me.”

Chitika: Your blog encourages such a warm relationship with your readers and you really know how to get them glued to your site. Since cyberspace can be such a difficult medium to communicate in, what is your secret to keeping them coming back for more?

Liz: When I changed the blog design, it was really important to me how my blog was designed. If you can see behind me in my picture, the blinds were closed, and I thought to myself, I would like to open the blinds so that the outside would show, this would give the impression that you were “inside” my house, giving a very warm, personal feeling. There is also is a harbor behind me outside that I wanted to show but it didn’t work. So I chose a picture of the stars, but it has the same effect of making users feel like they are inside. One of the things I did before I settled on the blog design, I went around and looked at other blog designs and I thought I wanted one of those AJAX designs with a lot of white, and I love those. But when I went to the comments, I felt like I was in a truck stop at 4am, and the last thing you want to do when you are in a truck stop, is give a person comment. Right now at the top of my blog post there’s a header in handwriting, I decided to do this because I wanted to climb down from the podium and talk more personally instead of like a teacher. I put the handwritten headings there as a reminder to myself and as a visual reminder to my readers that I am going to say what I am thinking. So they would think of this as more of a conversation.

Chitika: How do you go about consistently maintaining such a personal tone in your posts?

Liz: When you write a blog, you have to be yourself. You can’t write a blog and try to be Darren Rowse, and Darren can’t write your blog either. You have to know who you are. Bring yourself into what your passion is. It may take some time to sort that out the same way it takes time to find out who you are. I don’t walk in a straight line, but I do have enough consistency that readers know that if they come to my blog on Friday, they will know that it will be something to take them into the weekend. If they come on Friday afternoon they will find the SOB Cafe. And if they come on a Saturday they’ll find the successful blogs of the week and it will be the blogging questions because a little bit of structure is good for the both of us and makes life easier. There’s a pattern to what I do that kind of keeps me going. If I send you to the world’s biggest mall to buy a white shirt, you will be stunned, because there are so many different choices. But if you put a few rules on it, it makes it a lot easier. So I do put a hand full of rules on every day just to make it easier to breathe.

Chitika: After reading your blog, I noticed one of your posts from August 2006 where you talked about “10 Reasons Readers Don’t Leave Comments”. You have 167 comments on that post! Should bloggers worry if they receive comments or not? How should they go about handling getting readers to participate in their blog?

Liz: Getting comments is a real art form and it has a lot to do with forming a relationship with your readers. Your first comment in your blog is the most important. The one who posts the first comment is the brave one, being the second to comment is easy. I put up a post the other night, the entire post was simply a question, and it was, “What are you afraid of?” and the one who put in the first comment, I believe the reason he wrote the comment was to get the conversation going, because his comment was “what are you waiting for?” After that followed about 42 comments, but I believe that if he hadn’t put in that first comment, there may have been none. I am really sensitive to what the atmosphere is on my blog. My sense will be like, “oh gee it’s been about 3 days since someone has been here, and that happened last year around this time, and I knew something was little bit off. I wrote a post called, ‘An open thought, take the keys’.” It was Sunday afternoon, it pointed to someone who had made a comment, a good reader, a good friend, and he told me that the reason he sometimes won’t leave a comment on my blog is because “I was such a beautiful writer” the only thing he really had to say was “wow that’s great.” In that post I asked questions about what I did wrong and right — if I tied up my stories too tight, and after that I got comments telling me, “no your articles are great.” So I asked “What am I doing wrong?” and a good friend of mine, wrote me 5 bullet points, which kind of broke the ice for others to add more bullet points. Eventually it came down to “leave a little room for us to talk, don’t play the whole blog post out” and “gave us a point to give out.” They just came right out and told me what I was doing wrong in 42 comments. Basically get down off the pedestal and start talking to us. That changed a whole lot about the blog, I stopped being an instructor and started being a member of the community.

Chitika: I found something unique about your posts; sometimes you share your personal life with your readers. When do you draw the line between becoming too personal?

Liz: That’s interesting. I don’t tell anything that would actually embarrass my husband, I don’t use actual names, the stories that I tell are stories that I would share with anyone. And if anything they are at my expense. They are stories of human life, usually.

Chitika: You are such a great writer, are you planning on publishing your own book?

Liz: Well no, since I came from publishing, I have contributed to many books.. I am just having so much fun blogging, my thoughts and exploring the conversation and having real conversations on the blog. I’ve turned my blog into such an event in which sometimes, there is no blog post but its just conversations. Why write a book?

Chitika: If you were to give one tip to the average blogger who wants to be at your level, what would that be?

Liz: Be yourself. That’s really got to be it. Know who you are, add value to who you are. Because the internet has no eraser. If you put too much out there, or the wrong stuff out there, you’ll be handing it to your grandchildren, or your future self, and its always better not to. The more you feel like you want to run, you should walk.

7 Ways to Make your Content Search Engine Friendly -By Daniel Scocco

Expert: Daniel Scocco, Daily Blog Tips

#20 of 30

  

About the Expert

Daniel Scocco is owner and author of Daily Blog Tips, a blogger resource for simple but effective search engine optimization and promotion tips. Daniel started blogging as a hobby more than a year and a half ago and quickly found his voice and passion for it. Soon after, he quit his job inside a multinational company to dedicate himself exclusively to blogging and other Internet related projects. Daily Blog Tips, now five months old, is already generating 10,000 daily page views and 2,000+ subscribers and has been nominated for a 2007 Weblog Award under the “Best Web Development Blog” category. Daniel writes in such a clear, friendly and accessible manner that it is no wonder he has quickly become a popular read for many bloggers and web publishers. Chitika is pleased to have Daniel give seven tips for making content search engine friendly..

Content is surely king, but if people can not find your great content through search engines you might have trouble over the long run. Like it or not the majority of the Internet users start their navigation on Google; that is how they find most of the information they are looking for. Don’t get me wrong here, you should firstly write your content with humans in mind; people that write for search engines exclusively end up having very poor articles that are boring to read. That being said if you are aware of some basic SEO principles you can tweak your articles without affecting their quality.

Below you will find 7 ways to make your content more search engine friendly, check it out:

1. Use searched keywords: suppose you are writing an article about a funny picture that you found across the Internet. Would you rather title the article “What a funny image” or “What a funny picture”? From the reader point of view it is probably the same, but if you pick the second option you will maximize your chances of receiving search engine traffic since the term “funny picture” is 39 times more searched than “funny image”. You can research about keywords with Yahoo’s Overture service.

2. Focus on few keywords: it would be nice if you could write about several topics on a single article and rank well on search engines for all those topics. The reality if quite different. Make sure to focus on a single topic with every post; this will ensure that your are using keywords with consistency.

3. Use keywords on the title: the title of your posts is one of the most important factors on search engine algorithms. Ideally your title will contain the main keywords of your text and it will also be short and descriptive.

4. Use keywords on the right places: apart from using the keywords on the title of your posts you can also place them on strategical spots. Usually search engines give a higher weight to keywords positioned on those spots. Two strategical places that you can use are the beginning and the end of your posts.

5. Use the Alt and Title tags: whenever using images you should include both the ALT and the TITLE attributes. Those tags are used from search engines not only to identify images but also for keyword density purposes.

6. Make keywords bold and italic: if used correctly the bold and italic properties will not only make your content more structured and scannable, but they will also give a higher value to your keywords.

7. Use H2 and H3 headers: just like the last point using headers will make your content more readable while optimizing it for search engines. Search engines rely heavily on titles, headers and subheaders to determine what a web page is about so make sure that you are not neglecting them.