Holistic Content Optimization -By Lee Odden

Expert: Lee Odden, TopRankBlog.com

#19 of 30


About the Expert

A 10 year veteran of the Internet marketing industry, Lee Odden is CEO of TopRank and co-founder of Misukanis Odden Public Relations. TopRank has been recognized as a leading search marketing agency by topseos.com, Promotion World and has been included in Marketing Sherpa’s guide to SEO firms for the past 3 years. As a recognized expert on search and blog marketing, Lee is publisher of Online Marketing Blog and has been quoted by U.S. News and World Report, The Economist and DMNews. He has also contributed web site marketing content for Yahoo!, is a regular contributor to WebProNews and is frequently cited by Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Guide. Lee is active in the industry as a board member for the DMA Search Engine Marketing Council, a member of SEMPO and a past board member for the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association. Lee speaks frequently on the topics of social media and blog marketing, online public relations and search engine optimization at industry conferences including: Search Engine Strategies, DMA conferences, WebmasterWorld Pubcon, Media Posts Search Insider Summit and Bulldog Reporter’s PR University.

Due to the lure of the so called “free” traffic and monetary goals, many site owners, webmasters and web marketers succumb to short term strategies and find themselves chasing after the latest “trick” or tactic. Because search engines and traffic opportunities change often, web marketers find themselves in a never ending loop. To hedge against unsustainable search engine marketing tactics that drive many misguided web site promotion efforts, marketers would do well to diversify their optimization. Taking a more holistic perspective not only provides additional streams of web site traffic, it also benefits standard search engine rankings. Here are three considerations for holistic optimization:

  • Keyword Messaging.
  • Keyword insight, whether it is in the form of a detailed analysis or a basic keyword glossary should be shared with any department responsible for generating content that might get published to the internet. In fact, keyword research should be involved with messaging and branding from strategic branding to product descriptions. That way, whether it’s the company tagline or a product data sheet in pdf format, content is produced with the keywords that are relevant and in demand. Press releases, announcements, case studies, webinars, archived company newsletters, audio, video, images and of course blogs, are all candidates for keyword messaging.
  • Channels of distribution.
  • A holistic approach to content optimization starts with an inventory current media and channels of communication and then includes a program for information sharing, training and feedback on the optimization effects of the various channels. At a minimum, best practices can be implemented that allow communications to be keyword relevant whenever new content is published online. Imagine a prospect that searches Google and is presented with your company’s brand in the natural search results, PPC or both. Depending on the query type and topic, your brand might also display in Google’s one box results. The same goes for blog or news search. Consistent keyword messaging in the channels where the target audience is looking instills brand familiarity, credibility and confidence.
  • Make optimization a habit.
  • There is a demand in each marketplace for solutions. Making content optimization a part of best practices content creation will help meet that demand by making information easier to find wherever prospects are looking. An organization that can proactively implement the insight that comes from keyword research across company electronic communications, within the various marketing channels and as a process, will benefit from more sustainable and productive search engine visibility whether it’s a standard search engine, news, blog, social media or even mobile search.

Quality Vs. Quantity -By Julie Strietelmeier

Expert: Julie Strietelmeier, The Gadgeteer

#18 of 30


About the Expert

Julie Strietelmeier, a self described “gadget freak”, is Editor in Chief of The Gadgeteer, a blog dedicatd to reviews and news on gadgets that has been online since 1997. Julie’s history as an internet publisher goes back to the early 90s where she ran three dial-up BBSes (Bulletin Board Systems). Chitika is proud to have Julie share her insights as to how she develops her relevant and informative posts.

Chitika: When we think of The Gadgeteer we think quality posts. Striking the right balance between giving the reader too much information and not enough can be a challenge. You are clearly successful in not bombarding the reader with too much information and you do this by writing quality content reviews with just the right amount of information and pictures to support it.

Chitika: Please share the thought process behind your writing and how you strike that perfect balance between too much information on a product and not enough information on it.

Julie: From the very beginning of The Gadgeteer back in 1997, I decided to try to write reviews that I myself would want to read. I know there are a lot of other sites on the net that provide product reviews, but sometimes they can have so much information that my eyes glaze over and I end up just looking at the pictures and quickly leaving. While I do like to provide a lot of product images in my own reviews, I also try to give the reader only the necessary information that can help them make an informed buying decision. I like to include real world test info and actually talk about how I use a product. My goal is to keep the reviews light and fun so that people don’t get bored.

Chitika: Another part of striking a balance in content is in the amount and type of pictures you provide. How do you determine what kind of pictures to take and display? When is enough enough?

Julie: A. Yet again, I think about the pictures that I would want to see if I was interested in the product. For example, if it’s a phone review, I try to show it in my hand to give the reader an idea of its size. You know you have enough pictures when there is almost an equal amount of text / info and pictures. I also try to remember that not everyone has broadband yet, so I just include only the pictures that I think are the most necessary.

Chitika: You are the force behind The Gadgeteer and you successfully manage other bloggers on your team to be consistent and share your passion. What are the pros, cons and challenges of having a team of writers contribute to your site?

Julie: The pros are having other people contribute content so that I won’t have to always be the one to have to post something. I actually have a full-time day job too, so having extra hands makes things much less stressful. The opposite side of that coin is that I have to keep track of who is writing about product x and who owes me a review for gadget y and z. It really helps to be organized, that’s for sure! You also want to keep your writers happy so that they will want to continue to write for you. Monetary incentives help a lot ;o)

Chitika: Advertisers fear having their products affiliated with negative remarks or even questionable content. On the flip side, bloggers want to maintain unbiased and honest content but still may have concerns that a negative review they give could alienate their advertisers. What advice can you give bloggers on handling this dilemma?

Julie: I’ve been doing this for close to 10 years and my advice is to be honest to a fault. Your readers will respect you and your advertisers will too. If your advertisers get mad, then you really don’t want them as advertisers… at least that’s my opinion. I’ve not had any qualms writing negative product reviews for products that my advertisers happen to sell or even manufacture. So far I’ve not had an advertiser storm away in a huff either. The biggest asset that a blogger can have is their reputation, so don’t screw that up by trying to make everyone happy. Just tell it like it is.

Chemistry behind converting one time visitor into a loyal reader -By Thilak Raj Rao

Expert: Thilak Raj Rao, Tech-Buzz.net

#17 of 30


About the Expert

Thilak Raj Rao is author and owner of TechBuzz, a blog focused on tech news, web 2.0 and computers. A pro blogger, Thilak also authors BlogTalks, enjoys learning about and discussing PHP, MySQL and Gimp as well as participating in Wikis, forums and unconferences such as BlogCamp, WikiCamp and BarCamp. Tech Buzz gets over 8,000 requests per day with around 850+ daily readers through feeds and email newsletters. With such a good community of loyal and active readers, Chitika could think of no more suitable blogger to share his wisdom on building a community around their blog.

Before I start talking about the chemistry, I would like to confess that I’m no guru nor will I presume as if I know it all. Although I’ve been blogging for the last two years, it was only a year ago that I started blogging seriously. I truly believe that comments power the web 2.0 aspects of a blog. You might have come across blogs like Problogger or Successful Blog where readers enjoy talking though comments. As a fulltime blogger, my friends always ask me “How to encourage comments on my blog”. Well, the two word answer is “Respect your readers”. Whenever someone leaves a comment on your blog, he/she expects a response from my side. I learned this lesson from Liz Strauss, when I first came across her blog six months ago, I dropped in a comment and she immediately responded to back. It kicked off a series of comment from my side. Soon, I was great fan of her blog.

Why am I telling all this? Well, just to let you know that maintaining a healthy relationship with your readers means it all! Whenever someone posts a comment on your blog, please try to respond back. It will encourage him to continue the conversation and keep coming back. This way, you’ll convert a one time visitor into a loyal visitor. WordPress users are lucky because there is a prefabricated plugin called Comment Relish which automates the whole process of maintaining good relationship with your first time commentators, by sending them thanks you messages. I tested this plugin on my blogs and the outcome was very successful. To keep the conversation going, you need to notify your commentators if someone responds to their comment. The most conventional approach would be to provide RSS feed for comments, but not everyone is educated about RSS. So, providing an email alternative to RSS makes complete sense. Yet again, WordPress users are in advantage here because a plugin called subscribe to comments painlessly adds email alternative to track new comments. In a few cases, readers look for an incentive to comment. In such cases, providing a free linkback to the top commentators come beneficial. If you are using WordPress, you could do that using Top Commentators plugin, else you just might need to hand code all the links.

Synergy between SEO and Traditional Marketing -By Aaron Wall

Expert: Aaron Wall, SEO Book.com

#16 of 30


About the Expert

Aaron Wall is author and owner of SEO Book.com, a leading blog started in 2003 that covers the search space and gives tips and news on online marketing strategy and search analysis as well as Threadwatch, a blog on the latest search news and speculation. Having literally written the book on SEO, Aaron has been quoted and mentioned in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Wired and Slashdot. Some of his other projects, like Myriad Search Engine, have been been referenced by college libraries and given awards like the JournalismNet pick of the week. Chitika is extremely pleased to have this SEO and SEM guru participate in the Blog Bash.

At one point in time, due to an aggressive filter that knocked sites out for having too much similar anchor text, my site did not rank for SEO Book. While my site was not ranking for its own name my sales were still 85% of the prior month, and that is for a person selling an information product on how to rank in the search engines. For expensive (or high trust) purchases, search has a low value unless it is working syndergistically with other marketing or leveraging others brands. Virtually all SEO techniques that revolve around tricking search engines are dead by the time you read them, because they are either already outdated, or they are about to be abused so heavily that it forces the search engines to react. If you aim your marketing toward people your brand value, mind-share, profit margins, and rankings all increase in parallel. Google has discounted the value of many low quality links by being less willing to index sites that link to bad sites, and by being less willing to index sites that have too many low quality inbound links relative to their number of high quality inbound links. Google is also trying to minimize the value of creating content for the sake of creating content by setting crawling priorities that require a minimum page level PageRank score to include a page in the primary index. Going forward the key to doing well is to move a site away from being static to being something that is dynamic and comment worthy. If other people are talking about you then you win. If they are talking about the competition instead of you then you need to change your approach to make people want to talk about you. Attention, subscribers, traffic, mind-share, and links are all signs of quality. If people talk about you then you get all of them.

Driving traffic using Del.icio.us -By Neil Patel

Expert: Neil Patel, ProNetAdvertising.com

#15 of 30


About the Expert

Neil Patel is owner of ProNetAdvertising, a site that discusses and reports on personal experiences in successful online marketing. In addition, he is CTO of ACS – a company focused on delivering search engine optimization, pay-per-click and social media marketing results for businesses. Born in London, England, Neil currently resides in Orange County, California where in addition to blogging and working full time, he is pursuing a degree in business. Chitika is ecstatic that Neil took time from his hectic schedule to impart his advice on a topic almost every blogger has thought about at some point, how to drive traffic using De.licio.us.

Del.icio.us is the popular bookmarking service that can drive thousands of visitors in a short period of time. By getting on the Del.icio.us popular or hotlist page you can get thousands of visitors to your website. Here are some tips that can help increase your chances of getting on the Del.icio.us popular or hotlist page:

  • Be thorough with your submissions – when submitting a story make sure you add a description and relevant tags because this will help others find your story and bookmark it.
  • Use popular tags – the tag cloud feature can help you understand what users like and what they dislike, so make sure you use it. If you notice any popular tags that are related to your story, make sure you add them.
  • Leverage your traffic – the key to getting on the popular page is to get tons of people to bookmark your story. A great way to get votes is to leverage your traffic by placing Del.icio.us buttons on your website.

Getting traffic from Del.icio.us isn’t the easiest thing to do, but with a little hard work it is very doable. The main thing to keep in mind is that if you don’t get on the Del.icio.us popular or hotlist page don’t give up but instead learn from your mistakes.

Confessions of a Small-Time Blogger -By Prashanth

Expert: Prashanth, Fitness Mantra

#14 of 30


About the Expert

Prashanth is owner of Fitness Mantra, a blog dedicated to the latest news on health, fitness and nutrition that also encourages its readers to implement small but healthy everyday changes into their routine. As a full-time software engineer, hobby blogger and most importantly, candid and insightful writer, Chitika is proud to share Prashanth’s confessions of a small-time blogger.

Confessions? Really, did I just say “confessions”? Almost makes it look like I am owning up to a deep, dark secret that had best be left buried for all eternity. The hopes, aspirations and sometimes just plain naive dreams about the earth-shattering success that I hope my blog will become – are these really things I should be making public? But, if self-realization is the first step toward success, then this baring of the soul is a long time coming and who knows, I might actually learn something new when I see this history on black and white. Maybe not confessions, but certainly there are paths I have trod on, things I have learned, failures I have overcome and (admittedly small) successes I have achieved in the past year. For all my trepidations, writing about them might even be a fun exercise. So make room in the confession box and summon the high priests. My name is Prashanth and here are some “Confessions of a Small-Time Blogger”.

A seed is sown “I think I’ll blog about health and fitness”. I don’t even remember now when those fateful thoughts first crossed my mind. But I know one thing for sure: a deep-seated interest in health and fitness far preceded this thought itself and if anything gives me hope that I can achieve at least moderate success it is this fact. I love what I blog about … and I blog about what I love. Whenever I read posts by established bloggers I can feel their passion flow right through the screen. I know I can do this only because I know I like it. But I didn’t have in-depth knowledge about fitness. My desire to learn something about the topic was more from the proverbial necessity of scratching-my-own-itch (or in my case: stop altering my pants every year!) I don’t have degrees in nutrition or sports training – after all having an interest in something does not mean you already know everything about it! So, could I “learn on the job”? Actually, it was only after I was underway did I realize I could (and I still am). My interest in fitness made me set out to find the facts for myself and then share the newly acquired information with the readers. Doing this not only makes it easy for me to refer back to data I probably spent hours compiling together from various sources, but also saves this time for my readers. And the best part? I know the unbiased facts since I refer to and assimilate often-contrasting points of view.

What’s in a (domain) name? For personal reasons I knew wanted the blog name “FitnessMantra”, but the .com domain name was already taken. Didn’t all successful blogs have to be .com? Hmmm… not really I quickly learned – there are many famous names out there that are .net or .org and a few don’t even own a domain name but choose instead to be hosted on the big blog networks (Lorelle and Digital Inspiration spring to mind but I know there are many more out there). When asked if it was OK to go ahead with a non .com domain, a friend of mine with a lot of experience in the blogging industry, gave me this piece of advice: pick a domain name and write. So I did and so it came to be: FitnessMantra.info was born on May 4th, 2006 (the date is special too) and, ever since, it’s been one amazing discovery after another. My thoughts have been provoked, my diet revised, my gym routine turned upside-down, myths shattered – heck, my entire belief-system on “what works” has been uprooted. But if you believe it’s about the journey and not the destination, a few more tales are in store.

Quantity over Quality June 2006 will always be a special month in the history of FitnessMantra. Not because any landmark strides were made in the history of blogging or because ground-breaking research on my part begat ideas leading to the betterment of all mankind. No, nothing that lofty. Rather, it was because looking back at this month will always remind me of an important lesson: it’s not always about the quantity. But first, a little history. For some reason, when I first started blogging, an idea wound itself into my head: posting daily is the surefire way to success. If successful icons like Lifehacker and Techcrunch do it, then surely I must too? And so just a month after I started I decided to make June the post-a-day month. At first things went smoothly – since I had just started the blog, many ideas I had not yet written about were still floating in my mind making for easy entries. When I got more than one idea I could space them out to “fill” the days. But by mid-month and with a full-time job on the side (wait, that doesn’t even make sense – wasn’t FitnessMantra supposed to have been on the side?), I couldn’t find the time to research new posts each and every single day. Slowly, what was meant to be a pure health and fitness blog started to test its boundaries. A story about painkillers? Bring it on. Free nutrition guide e-books? Well it does deal with nutrition, doesn’t it?! I myself could see how my quest for quantity resulted in a few of the writings suffering in quality – although I did manage to stick to my target of 30 for the month. I now know better. If it takes 3 days to research a topic in my free time, then it will take 3 days for my next post. No rush to publish. My readers would expect nothing less.

Stats, Stats And More Stats Sometime during the middle of 2006, the System Administrators of several large site-metrics tracking companies would probably have been put on high alert. Surely those massive spikes in requests for traffic metrics (and that too for the same exact site) had to be the work of an internet hacker unleashing a Denail Of Service attack? But it was nothing every brand-spanking-new blogger had not done when he/she was just getting introduced to the whole new concept of site-traffic: Yes, I was on a stats-roll (and yikes! I am taking this confessions thing really seriously)! Visitors, page-views, clicks, heat-maps, click-through-rates: I was a Walking-Webster of all things site-stats. There were so many JavaScript snippets on my blog giving me so much information about my visitors that at one point I actually considered creating a blog about website-visitor-tracking. But then I realized that the new site would probably have its own share of visitor-tracking JavaScript and my brain entered into an infinite loop and that was when I squashed that idea. But, I learned much during those first few months of visitor information gleaning and finally narrowed down my tracking to just two-three tools which I still use today. SiteMeter ( (I still consider this a mandatory tool for all bloggers) gives me the straight-up data: how many unique visitors, how many page-views and what brought them to my site along with daily, weekly and monthly reports (this is the bare-bones essentials that no blogger worth his salt can live without). Another, called 103bees gives me information about individual page metrics (what is the most popular page, what search-terms people used to get there and so on) and even long-tail data. Keeping these trackers to a minimum has a two-fold advantage: firstly, with only two-reports a week, I actually have the time to read them and tweak my blog to make use of the data. Second, my site loads much quicker than when I jammed in the 35 or so trackers (the removal of just one of which caused my home-page to load 5 seconds faster!)

The Five Stages of Blogging Grief When Elisabeth Kübler-Ross wrote “On Death and Dying” in 1969 little did she know that 37 years later a so-called small-time blogger would, beyond any reasonable doubt, validate her quintessential 5 stages of grief. Yes folks, in the early days I saw it all – all five (and unbelievably in the same order – maybe there is something to this psychiatry hooey after all!) First came the denial: no, that was not just 3 visitors in two days – no way! There must be something wrong with SiteMeter! Anger. It can’t be this difficult; I mean I thought with millions of people online someone would find my site! Onto some bargaining then! Please, if I post everyday (okay, maybe every other day) will I get more traffic? I promise to write interesting stuff – just try me I am sure you’ll like what you read and be a subscriber for life! Oh forget it … depression. Maybe I am not cut out for this – who am I to compete with the big names? It’ll just be me and my lonely little blog filled with fitness goodies that no one cares about. Why do I even bother? And finally acceptance: It is what it is. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day (Sorry; I really tried but those were the worst clichés I could come up with!). I’ll just keep plugging on and doing what I do. Some day, someone will take notice, I am sure.

Show me the money Now, the color palette of FitnessMantra is based on a moderately dark brown, but it wasn’t long before I started to see green: dollars, that is. And at least then, it was all in my dreams. My nights were filled with recurring fantasies of me walking into my boss’ office with a copy of the Wall Street Journal proclaiming me the next big thing in blogging, followed by an “I quit! I am now a pro-blogger!” My days were consumed with thoughts about how I was going to monetize my site. Whether there was content or not I knew my site needed one thing and one thing only: Contextual Ads! Or so I wrongly assumed. Consider: I spend hours assimilating the healthful benefits of low-fat dairy. I look up the benefits of milk and yogurt, describe active cultures and whey proteins and even talk about calcium and osteoporosis. I then warn people to be careful about certain dairy-based products like ice-cream which should be consumed sparingly. I am happy. I have activated contextual ads. I click “Post”. And then I sit back waiting for the moolah to flow in. But wait, what is this I see? Sitting smartly right next to the paragraph that tells people to cut down on ice-cream is an ad for – you guessed it – ice cream! No matter what foods I spoke about, whether positively or negatively, there always seemed to be an ad promoting the product and at one point my site became a huge resource for hypocrisy (and reader-confusion). Over time, different contextual-ad companies came up with assorted ways to forbid certain keywords from triggering ads, but adding all that additional code to my posts (and then crossing my fingers) made me consider what my primary goals in blogging were. If educating the user was that primary goal, then I definitely needed a better way to support my site without hampering that objective. I don’t claim to have found a solution, and I am still experimenting with different systems, but I can vouch for one thing: these days I am seeing a lot more site-palette-brown than green.

Just write (reasonably well) – people will come Darren Rowse once wrote in his popular Problogger blog that a huge majority of blogs are not updated regularly and they simply die a slow natural death. He went on to mention that probably the simplest advice he could give anyone starting out now was this: write (somehow it always come back to this, darn it!). I have always suspected, but can now confirm this biggest lesson of all: site design, contextual advertising, plugins, link-baits – none of these matter if there is no (good) content to bring the reader back for more. Every step of the way I have documented here has taught me invaluable lessons and it’s probably a good idea for beginners like me to go through this cycle to learn what works best for each of us. When I first broached “monetizing” (another of the numerous non-words invented everyday in the blogosphere – there’s another) to the same friend who told me to pick a domain and write, he advised me to never worry about that at the outset. Write. Writing brings traffic. Traffic is people. And people bring money (sometimes directly to buy something, and sometimes indirectly to check out your advertising). So I guess I’ll keep on writing. Maybe the key to blogging success is really just that simple.

Blogging and Shopping – How to Make the Marriage Work By: Manfred Luigi Lugmayr

Expert: Manfred Luigi Lugmayr, I4U.com

#13 of 30


About the Expert

Manfred “Luigi” Lugmayr is the Chief Editor of I4U.com, a technology lifestyle magazine and shopping guide with a focus on technology trends and the globalization of the gadget market. I4U taps sources all around the world to give readers a complete picture of all new technology trends and also reviews new products and those that are looking for distribution. I4U LLC is based in the USA and not only operates I4U but several technology focused blogs including Gear Live, Camborg, Wrist Dreams, PVP4U, Music Fanboy, and Playfeed. Additionally, I4U provides Shopping Guides for Consumer Electronics like FlatScreenMania.com, BuyThisGadget.com and I4UPriceWatch. With all these blogs, Luigi has proven that interesting news can also be shopping related. For this reason, we could think of no better individual to write in how to make the blogging and shopping marriage work.

Can combining blogging and shopping on your site be a match made in Heaven? Critics will quickly point out that blogs should be unbiased and free from commercial ties. I agree with the unbiased request, but not with the commercial ties. Sure there are many folks out there that blog just for the sake of being heard. But many people, especially those who are reading this, are blogging to make some money or ultimately to even quit their day job. Issues with shopping related content can arise when you use links to shops that pay you a commission (I do not focus here on contextual ads or banners, as users are familiar with them). There is an intrinsic bias that your readers can pick up on or get upset about. I have almost never received negative feedback on our practice of linking to product offerings via affiliate links. Why? For I4U NEWS, shopping is part of the content. A cool new product that is available for pre-order on Amazon.com or another site is interesting news. My readers are interested when I find a unique new product on an Asian export site. I am up front in describing what the blog is all about. Our site title reads: “Technology News and Shopping Guide”. If we review a product we offer prominent ways to purchase the product. I try to give users a fair choice for shopping by combining a link to my favorite vendor (highest conversion and commission ratio) and a link to our price comparison partners. To maintain credibility for a blog that offers shopping, the important things to keep in mind are:

  • Make it clear to your readers that your site is offering shopping tips
  • Make shopping an interesting part of your blog content
  • Give your users more than one choice to purchase a featured product
  • Only feature products and vendors that you can personally stand behind
  • Listen to feedback or complaints from your Users about featured products and vendors.

Ten lessons for an aspiring professional blogger -By Andy Merrett

Expert: Andy Merrett, AndyMerrett.co.uk

#12 of 30


About the Expert

Andy Merrett is a full-time blogger, freelance writer, web publisher and Internet consultant who owns and runs the Blue Fish Network of independent web sites. In addition he is the editor of HDTV UK and iPhonic, writes for Tech Digest and TechScape and is a columnist at The Blog Herald. Andy has a wide range of expertise that includes music, relationships, blog networks, tools and statistics as well as UK-focused technology related to high definition TV, Apple, computing, Internet trends. As a busy and successful full-time blogger, Chitika is pleased to host his ten lessons for aspiring professional bloggers.

Though I’ve been using the Internet since the mid ‘90s, and have blogged for over three years, I’m only just approaching my first year of full-time professional blogging. Here are ten lessons that I’m learning to apply to my new career. I hope aspiring probloggers may find something that motivates them to greater success. Please don’t read these thinking that I know it all. I don’t (see point 7):

1. Banish Distractions I’m convinced that the number of distractions increases exponentially with workload. Banish them:

  • Do whatever it takes to find and keep focus, and to block out external distractions.
  • Improve your working environment to minimise noise and interruption.
  • Tame online communication tools: Don’t check email every time a message arrives, turn off IM when you need to concentrate.
  • Allocate exclusive blocks of time for researching or writing copy, and stick to them.
  • Try to schedule meetings and conversations, set a reminder, then forget about them.

Personal examples: I do my absolute best to ignore my noisy neighbours. Sometimes the only way to shut out distracting noise is to use headphones and music that I know will help me to work (it’s Celtic jigs at the moment). I often stay off IM until mid-afternoon so that I can get the bulk of my work done in the morning.

2. Be Good to Yourself When working primarily alone in a home office, it’s easy to neglect your body:

  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Eat proper meals and healthy, energy-boosting snacks.
  • Exercise during the day.
  • Try to take a one or two day break at least once a month.

This will help keep your body and brain active, and fend off everyday illnesses. Personal examples: I feel the difference if don’t drink enough water, eat fruit, or miss out on a midday walk. I’m just not as focused or clear in my thinking, and it slows the whole working day. A weekend away every so often helps me to refocus.

3. Work your Natural Rhythms Part of the reason I left a 9-to-5 job to be my own boss was the freedom to work when and where I wanted:

  • Don’t feel guilty if you’re not using your home office all the time.
  • Work to your body’s strengths. If your productivity drops at certain times, don’t work then. You’ll become weary and frustrated.
  • Thrive on change? Mix things up. Work in the garden. Go to a café. If it makes you a more productive, happier blogger, it’s good.

Personal examples: Working in bed doesn’t cut it for me, but if the mood takes me, I’ll happily use the garden, the sofa, the home office, or occasionally I’ll take a trip out.

4. Plan and Prioritise Free-for-all blogging may be fun at times, but a plan will help you achieve your goals:

  • Know why you blog and what you want to achieve: more money, personal recognition, greater knowledge.
  • Work out which of your blogs and projects are ‘non-negotiable’ – those that absolutely must be done (either contractually or because they are important).
  • Work out which of your projects are expendable – those that would be good to finish, but you could let go for a day or two if you had to.
  • Plan your work around these priorities. You’ll have greater focus and achieve more if you know what you need to achieve each day.

Personal examples: Some articles I have to write, or I don’t get paid. I keep a daily record of how much I’ve written so I know when I’ve hit targets. I also try to work in press conferences and personal events that take me away from home so that I can maximise the amount of work I get done on the move.

5. Nurture your Networks. Know your contacts.

  • Get to know other writers in your niche. Who are the influencers, the key voices, the up-and-coming newbies?
  • Leave relevant comments on other blogs and participate in forums and online communities. Work towards becoming a trusted authority.
  • Keep your contacts list up-to-date. Get to know PR people and ‘insiders’, making enough noise that they send you news and information first, but don’t become irritated by you.
  • Use social networking sites to your advantage. Spend enough time promoting your profile and adding interesting content, but not to the detriment of your blogging.

Personal examples: Forming the Blue Fish Network, and working for Shiny Media, my online network has increased, and I have a decent set of UK PR contacts. I’m also investigating ways of using sites like Facebook and Twitter to increase my profile.

6. Grab beneficial opportunities. Learn to say ‘No’

  • Look for and be open to opportunities that further your blogging goals.
  • Generally, if someone offers you a blogging opportunity (regular or one-off), it’s because they want you. If you have the time, energy, and desire – and the opportunity fits – snap it up.
  • Beware of projects that sound good but may take up large amounts of your time and energy with little reward. Ensure you know the scope and expectations for every piece of work you take on.
  • Don’t be afraid to say ‘No’ to projects that don’t feel right, will take resources away from more important projects, or don’t benefit you.
  • Having said all that, it’s good to be involved in projects that benefit others when you can.

Personal examples: I’m amazed by some of the opportunities that have come up already, thanks I’m sure to the fact that I’m writing for two blogs in the Technorati top 1000. However, I also know what it’s like to take on a project that was far too big and took me away from my core blogging tasks, and where the benefits were far outweighed by the costs. It can be hard to say ‘no’ sometimes, but it has to be done.

7. Avoid Arrogance. Beware False Modesty.

  • Don’t act as if you know it all, and that everyone should listen to you and agree with your point of view. They won’t.
  • Don’t put yourself down, or write in a way that belittles your expertise.
  • Aim to balance self-confidence and humility.

Personal examples: I have strong views on a number of subjects, and I’ve acted like I know it all, but articles I’ve written with more compassion generally get a better reader response, and more respectful conversation. Graciously admitting you’re wrong when someone pulls you up on a mistake is a trait worth mastering.

8. Improve your systems. Find shortcuts. Automate!

  • Don’t assume that your working system is the absolute best it can be. There’s always room for improvement.
  • Find ways of shortcutting or automating common or laborious tasks that sap your productivity.
  • Look out for new software and productivity tools that can be integrated into your work patterns.

Personal examples: Moving from Bloglines to Google Reader and getting as much news in RSS feed format as I can has been a time saver. Typinator is a brilliant little keyboard shortcut program that I now couldn’t be without. Dual monitor working definitely boosted my productivity, too.

9. Minimise Admin Admin is important, but it can easily swallow time and energy:

  • Get your online world and computer systems organised, adopt a system, and stick to it.
  • Adopt efficient ways of keeping on top of finances – tax, domain registrations, affiliate and ad revenues – or hire an accountant to do it for you.
  • Beware of filing and tidying when you’re procrastinating and should be writing.

Personal examples: I keep a fairly simple spreadsheet to track various revenue streams, ensuring that I’ve been paid the correct amounts at the right times. My paper filing system isn’t the neatest at present, but I know where everything is. My computer system is pretty well organised, with separate folders for different projects, image banks, ideas, invoices, and so on. OS X’s Spotlight function still comes in very handy, though.

10. Write Something! Procrastination kills productivity:

  • If you feel lethargic or stressed by the amount of work you have, and it’s sapping your productivity, start writing something.
  • It’s far better to write something that could turn into an article, or be a springboard for your ideas, than to sit watching the time slip away and getting distracted by other activities.

Personal examples: Some mornings, I don’t know where to start. I can tap through my feed reader aimlessly, finding stories but not knowing what to write about them. That’s usually when I write a short personal piece, just to get a bit of creativity going and the fingers working.

And finally… * There will be some that support you wholeheartedly. * There will be many who won’t understand what you’re doing. * There will be plenty who ridicule what you do and try to tear down any achievement. * There will be a few who will expect or even want you to fail. Stay close to those who support you, explain to those who don’t understand, work hard and believe in what you do, minimising the others’ impact. Good luck in your problogging journey. It’s an exciting one!

Positive Side Effects of Getting Dugg

A few hours after ShoeMoney put up his Digg button on my recent article about Digg Traffic v/s Google Traffic – A Chitika Analysis Report, the story made it to the front page of Digg — and as expected resulted in a avalanche of traffic and discussion in various blogs. Now that the dust has settled on that, I thought I’d share some observations. One of the central themes in the various comments (both in the blogosphere and the Digg article) was: Oh Digg traffic is so useless and rarely makes me any money. While a lot of experts have good advice on how to deal with this (PronetAdvertising, Problogger, techsoapbox), here are some positive side effects of getting Dugg (Disclaimer: This is based on two days after the Dugg — so I can’t speak much to the long term effects).

Positive Side Effects of Getting Dugg

  1. Mainstream Media Attention: Within hours of getting Dugg, we got a ton of press inquiries from mainstream media. As Neil Patel observed at Elite Retreat: They dont care much for what shows up on Digg — but they are watching it.
  2. Subscription Increases: As expected, there was a marked increase in subscriptions to the RSS feed and email notifications.
  3. Brand Awareness: The story was on the front page of Digg for a couple of hours. Now luckily for us, whoever submitted the story to Digg (not me!) retained the brand name (i.e. Chitika) in the title. Your brand being seen by millions has to count for something.
  4. Does your server hold up? Personally, this was the most fun. To see the wordpress blog getting hit at 5000 connnections per second and seeing the sysadmin guys trying to optimize things (KeepAlive Off, PHP Caching, etc) in real time. If you run your own blog, you never know when the next big story is going to hit — so it does give a sense of satisfaction to know that your blog will hold up.

So quite to the contrary, it does pay to get Dugg. It just cant be measured in pure dollars — yet! Questions ? Thoughts ? Comment below ..

Posted by Alden DoRosario (alden [at] chitika [dot] com)

Diversifying Your Revenue with Chitika -By Joel Comm

Expert: Joel Comm, JoelComm.com

#11 of 30


About the Expert

Joel Comm is an Internet entrepreneur, best-selling author and owner of several sites including joelcomm.com, adsense-secrets.com and more. He is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on the subject of making money with Google AdSense and other internet and affiliate advertising programs. His recent book, The AdSense Code, topped at #1 on the Amazon marketplace and became a New York Times best seller. Joel continues to share his wisdom with the masses through his sites and various speaking engagements, and yes, he receives big fat paychecks from Google AdSense and other online revenue sources each and every month. We are excited to have Joel share some of these nuggets of wisdom on the topic of diversifying revenue on the Chitika Blog Bash!

Although Chitika’s products are great revenue-earners for any publisher, there’s no reason why you can’t use them together with other advertising programs. Because eMiniMalls and ShopCloud$ are so different to everything else out there, they’ll easily complement the other ads you offer users, without competing with them. Referral buttons and affiliate ads are probably the simplest ways to add revenues to income from Chitika. Amazon lets you pick from a huge range of products, and you can also try taking ads from one of the specialist affiliate companies such as Commission Junction or Performics. You will have to choose your ads very carefully though. One of the strengths of Chitika’s ads is that they offer your users very specific products. Because affiliate ads also offer product ads, you’ll want to make sure that you’re not offering ads for the same products in two different ways. A better strategy is to offer affiliate ads that provide good additions to the Chitika ads. So if your Chitika ad is showing a Nikon digital camera, you could try offering a book on Amazon that teaches digital photography. That could give you two good revenue-generators instead of one.

Similarly, AdSense has long been a favorite joint source of income for Chitika publishers. But Google’s ad units can compete for space on the page with eMiniMalls: both do well embedded into articles. If you have a site that focuses on products though, you should put the AdSense units above, below or next to the article and embed an eMiniMall into the text. The closer the eMiniMall appears to the discussion of the product, the better your results will be. The image will help to illustrate the article, and a well-blended AdSense unit can provide further reading for users when they reach the end of the post. Chitika can certainly be a major source of revenue for your site, but it can be even more profitable when you combine it cleverly with other programs too.