Synicate Me

07 May 2008

Build traffic with Digg

In the previous post, we looked at how you can build traffic by networking with other blogs.

This post deals with how you can build traffic by having other blogs network with you. My main blog, The Necro Files, offers heavy metal album and horror movie reviews.

I have managed to build consistent traffic by using social networking sites. One social networking site that has not given me much traffic to date is Digg. I decided to solve this problem by writing this post.
  • I investigate how Digg works.

  • An explanation of the Digg algorithm.

  • Suggestions on how to use Digg.

  • Tips I found on how you can let Digg work for you.

Let's hope Digg works better for me after this research!

The right way to dig but not the right way to Digg, you dig?

The right way to dig but not the right way to Digg, you dig?

How Digg works

Digg has an algorithm. It works by rating how quickly you get diggs. If you get diggs very rapidly, you are likely to get to the front page of digg. To get to the front page of digg, you need at least 60 diggs in one day. If you get 60 diggs in one day, you will keep getting traffic even after your story is no longer on the front page of Digg.

The Digg algorithm

  1. The faster you get diggs, the greater your chances are of getting on the front page.
    You need to get 60 diggs quickly to get on the Digg front page. This is the crux of the Digg algorithm.

  2. Digg has a ranking system. A digg from a Digg user with a high rank will count more than a digg from a Digg user with a lower rank.

  3. The more comments and positive diggs you have, the more weight your story carries. This one is obvious.

  4. Similar to Stumble Upon, a user who does not like your story may bury it. Again, if a high ranking Digg user buries your story, it counts more than a bury from a lower ranking Digg user.

  5. Similarly, more buries are bad. The more buries your story gets, the less it's chances are of getting on the front page.

  6. Digg also considers the ratio of submitted articles by users who digg your story. This means diggs from regular Digg users will be more valuable than diggs from less regular Digg users. I'm not sure how this differs from the Digg ranking, but Digg ranking probably has to do with how many stories you get on the Digg front page, and how often that happens.

  7. Digg tries to balance the problem of powerful Digg users dominating front pages by considering the amount of Digg friends you have. If you have lots of Digg friends, you need more diggs to get to the front page than a user who has less Digg friends.

To me, it would be better to have lots of Digg friends, because the point of Digg is to build traffic. If you have enough Digg friends, you will not need to get to the front page of Digg to get traffic to your blog.

Suggestions on how to use Digg

The way to use Digg is to digg articles you like. Now, you might find Digg cumbersome because you need to go to Digg every time you want to submit a story. This is no longer the case, thanks to these two handy Firefox plug-ins:
  • Digg me later adds a small bar at the top of articles linked from Digg. This allows you to digg the article directly from your current page without returning to Digg. Note that also you nead Greasemonkey installed.

  • Smart Digg button allows you to see whether a page is already on Digg before you write a full 500 page submission with all the bells and whistles, only to discover it on Digg already. Quite handy!

How you can let Digg work for you

You need to add the Digg badge to your posts. You will notice that I have a widget called Syndicate Me. This widget is code that I got from AddThis. It offers quick and easy links to all the big social networking sites, Digg included.

Hint: I even added this to the email feeds of The Necro Files.

If you do not wish to add another widget to your blog, you can integrate Digg with your site. You add the following JavaScript code to your site:

You put the URL of your post in place of URLOFSTORY. I've had some problems with this code on my site, because of the Blogspot platform that I use for hosting. It is less complicated to use AddThis and encourage your social networking friends to Digg your posts.

Now you have a comprehensive guide on how to build traffic with Digg. Digg it, if you will.

Some useful links

29 April 2008

Build traffic by networking with other blogs

In the previous post we saw how to market your cornerstone posts by using social networks, bookmark lists and recommendation sites. You may also exploit those networks in other ways, if you find blogs similar to yours.

How to network with other blogs

This is a step by step guide on how to network with other blogs.
  1. Find a blog similar to yours

  2. Comment on the blog

  3. Link to the blog

You find a blog which is similar in size and status to your own. Observe the blog to determine whether the blog is updated as often as yours, whether the blog has good content and whether you would like to associate your blog with that blog. Commenting is always appreciated, and linking even more.

Find a blog similar to yours

This is done by using the social networking sites you should already belong to. I like to rate blogs based on the amount of entrecard credits it costs to advertise on them and based on their project wonderful traffic. If their entrecard advertising costs about the same as mine and if they get roughly the same amount of traffic, I know this blog has a similar status to mine.

While you may also try to interact with the huge blogs out there, it is a better idea to build mutually beneficial relationships with blogs of a similar stature. A huge blog like pro blogger has nothing to gain by networking with you. As an example, my main blog The Necro Files reviews heavy metal albums and horror films. I regularly interact with the following blogs:

These blogs enjoy roughly the same target marget as I do. We each have something to offer to the other, and thus we enjoy regular interaction. A good guideline is to ask yourself: would you subscribe to the RSS feed of that blog? If the answer is yes, you have a networking buddy.

Comment on the blog

There are some great commenting scripts out there. I do not really receive lots of comments on my blog per se, but I do comment on other blogs regularly. Since you may provide a link to your blog in comments, this is a great way to spread the word about your blog.

Also remember that you may comment on social networking sites too. I tend to do this when a comment on my blog is not relevant to the topics covered on the blog of the person who left the comment.

Link to the blog

You want people to find your blog. The mutually beneficial way to ensure this is to help people find other blogs too!
  • List a blog roll on your blog. This is a widget that has a list of blogs you enjoy.

  • Write a review for another blog that is similar to your blog. A little bit of ego stroking never hurt anyone.

  • Give a postive remark about a blog that is similar to yours in one of your posts.

Remember, always seek mutual benefit whenever possible. If you want something, you have to be able to give something in return.

Some useful links

28 April 2008

Build traffic to your blog by marketing your cornerstone posts

Marketing your cornerstone posts is part of the strategy of marketing your blog to people who are not reading your blog already. This is done by submitting your cornerstone posts to a variety of sites
  • Blogger social networks

  • Bookmark sites

  • Recommendation sites

I will shortly deal with the ones I use.

Blogger social networks

For my main blog, the Necro Files, the most traffic comes from referral sites like blogger social networks. Most of my traffic comes from

You need to sign up for these, and you do need to include a widget or some code on your blog. This is a minor inconvenience and is actually part of social networking fun.

Bookmark sites

Although many bloggers report getting steady traffic from these, I don't really. There is a quick and easy way to submit your posts to quite a few bookmark sites at the click of a button. It is called OnlyWire. Before you get all excited, many people have expressed concern about OnlyWire.

I have used OnlyWire for about a month. I enjoy the convenience of submitting my posts to a myriad of bookmark sites with minimal effort, and although I have not noticed a huge growth in traffic, it is worth it because I get various links back to my blog.

Recommendation sites

For the purpose of easy classification, I list the following as recommendation sites:


This is a catalogue that offers users the change to digg or undigg posts. You may submit your own posts. I haven't had much success with digg, and unless your blog is of an overly technical nature, digg will not pick up on it easily.


A recommendation system most people have trouble with. I have had the most success with entrecard. The quick and easy way to be successful with entrecard can be found on Lisa's World, so I won't go into that further.

Stumble Upon

Also a moody system, which has given me loads of traffic on occassion. The key is to interact with other similar stumblers. Stumble Upon offers you a great opportunity to network with like minded Internet users, all of whom are potentially interested in your blog. You need to install a browser plug in. I use firefox so I am not sure if it works on Internet Explorer.

This is the second part of a series on how to build traffic to your blog. The previous post is build traffic to your blog by providing great content.

Useful links

27 April 2008

Build traffic to your blog by providing great content

Building traffic to your blog is the key to making money from your blog. It is not as simple as it sounds, because if you market your blog to your regular readers, you are preaching to the choir. You need to market your blog to those who are not on your blog, while still keeping the loyalty of those who are regular readers.

A useful site for Wordpress users

If you are using the excellent Worpress software for blogging, you owe it to yourself to visit One Cool Site. One Cool Site offers simple and clear advice on topics you might be puzzled by, like how to resize pictures without losing quailty. In fact, they even offer ten great tips on how to build traffic to your blog.

Great content is the key to traffic

It is not that hard to get a single post on Stumble Upon or on Digg. What is hard is to prevent your blog from showing a peak in traffic, which returns to 10 or 20 hits per day shortly after. You need to build consistent traffic.

The key to enjoying consistent traffic to your blog is to provide great content. We have already dealt with the format you should use, namely the inverted pyramid style of writing. We will cover how to write great content here.
  • Write at least five cornerstone posts

  • Market your cornerstone posts

  • Network with other blogs

  • Encourage other blogs to network with you

  • Link back to your other cornerstone posts

I build traffic to my main blog, The Necro Files, by using tips from dosh dosh, ProBlogger and One Cool Site. This series of posts on how to build traffic to your blog is based on their advice and my own experiences using their advice.

Write at least five cornerstone posts

A cornerstone post is a post that teaches your reader something. Most how to make money blogs are based around cornerstone posts. It is a tutorial that is extremely useful.

This proves to be a problem for certain niche blogs that do not cater for readers who want to learn how to do something. My main blog reviews heavy metal albums and horror films. It is difficult to write a tutorial on those topics. Here are a few ideas for five cornerstones:
  • write a series of posts on the same topic or the same product

  • write a series of posts on related products

  • write a series of posts which give information to your readers about your topic

I have written a few successful series, sometimes months apart. The idea is to use one of your cornerstone posts as a flagship to promote the other related cornerstone posts when
  • you link from your flagship cornerstone post to your other cornerstone posts.

  • you link to the flaghsip cornerstone posts of a different series

This solves the problem of getting one day of peak traffic and the next day very little. Readers who like your flagship post will want to read further, so they follow the links and browse around your blog. While you are publishing the cornerstone posts, one per day, you also create anticipation for the next post. This is a great way to win readers and create a buzz around your blog.

Some useful links for building web traffic

22 April 2008

Project Wonderful: easy way to put advertising spots on your blog

I recently joined Project Wonderful. Project Wonderful is an advertising network. You install the Project Wonderful widget on your blog. This widget hosts several squares of advertising spots. How many squares you want, the size of the squares - that is up to you. How do you make money from Project Wonderful?

Project Wonderful - how does it work?

Most advertising affiliates work with click-through rate or some other means of measuring traffic to determine your income. Project Wonderful determines your income from the amount an advertiser is willing to spend to advertise on your blog.

Advertising is sold on daily basis. The amount of money an advertiser is willing to spend acts like a bid for that advertiser. The highest bidder wins, and his ad is displayed on the square.

Each square may have individual bids. Bids pay for daily advertising, regardless of traffic and regardless of clicks. Highest bidder wins, Project Wonderful takes a percentage and you get to own the difference!

This is a wonderful way to generate income, if you'll pardon the pun. You can adjust the minimum amount you would like advertisers to bid on your site. My advice is to keep this initial value low - no more than $0.01 or $0.02 for a site that gets less than 50 hits per day.

Installing Project Wonderful

The Project Wonderful widget is a javascript widget. For those who use blogspot, follow my simple how to ad internet marketing programs to your blog guide.

The steps involved are as follows:
  • sign up for Project Wonderful

  • once you are a member, sign in to Project Wonderful and click on 'My Ad Boxes'

  • way at the bottom of the page, you will find a link 'create a new ad box'. Click on it

  • adjust the amount of rows and columns you would like in your widget. You can also set the size of the ad squares you like here

  • grab the code, and put it on your blog

  • it might be a good idea to upload a custom 'your ad here' image. Just ensure that the custom image is the correct size. In my case, the 'your ad here' image of my main blog, The Necro Files, is 125 x 125 pixels. I made my images with The GIMP. The GIMP is small, cheap and relatively easy to use. You can also use it on Microsoft Windows. Try it!

Advantages of Project Wonderful

  • the minimum payout is only $10

  • you can earn as little or as much as advertisers are willing to bid per ad

  • once you have an account, you can advertise on other Project Wonderful widgets too

Drawbacks of Project Wonderful

The only drawback I can think of is once you have a widget on your blog, you can't adjust the minimum bidding amount while there are active bids. This is not really a disadvantage. It makes sense not to adjust the minimum bid while you have ads running. The only way you can do this is by stopping all the ads - which I don't want to do because those ads are already paid for.

Fortunately, you can easily add another Project Wonderful widget to your blog! I left the minimum bid at $0.00 for a widget with less than optimal visibility, and added a new widget with a slightly higher minimum bid.

Simple, fast and you can earn from day 1.

18 February 2008

How To Add Internet Marketing Programs To Your Blog

In a previous post, How To Monetize Your Blog, I introduced the ways I use to monetize my main blog, The Necro Files. These include mainly advertising programs and affiliate marketing.

This post deals with using affiliate marketing.
I will give you a step by step guide in setting up one of my affiliate programs, namely BidVertizer.

Affiliate Internet Marketing Programs I Use

You will note some of the following ads on The Necro Files:

If you want to sign up for any of these programs, just follow the links and see if you meet the requirements.

How do you put affiliate program links on your blog? I use Blogspot for hosting my blogs, so simply use the Blogspot authoring environment.

Using Blogspot To Display Affiliate Links

  1. Sign up for your chosen affiliate program. In this case, it is BidVertizer.

  2. Get the code from your affiliate program. Bidvertizer uses JavaScript code.

  3. Add the code to your blog. In Blogspot, this is made easy because you add a new HTML/JavaScript widget and paste the code in there.

  4. Publish your blog and you are done!

Adding Affiliate Code To Your Blogspot Blog

Even with a well-designed interface like the Blogspot dashboard, it is sometimes confusing for new users where to click. I made some screenshots of the procedure for adding affiliate code to your Blogspot blog:

  1. Sign in to your Blogspot account.

  2. Click on Customize.

  3. Click on Add a Page Element. You need to click on this in the section where you want your affiliate ads to appear.

    Also note that you may need to adjust your browser settings to allow Blogspot to show you pop-ups.

  4. Click on HTML/JavaScript.

  5. Paste the code from your affiliate program into the Content text area.

    You do not need to supply a title, but it does make it easier to edit the code later. If you don't supply a title, the widget will just indicate it is HTML/JavaScript.

  6. Click on SAVE CHANGES.

  7. Publish your blog and you are done!

It's that easy.

Beyond Affiliate Marketing

Realistically speaking, affiliate marketing offers you about 1% of your traffic in click-through. The reasons why this is so low is that affiliate marketing links are often impersonal, readers can identify the ads easily and avoid them and often the links are irrelevant to the personality of your blog.

We can conclude two things from this lesson:

  • you need to generate traffic to your blog

  • you need to diversify sources of income on your blog

You generate traffic by marketing your blog. We will deal more with marketing your blog and diversifying your sources of income in future posts.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

Useful Internet Marketing Links

12 February 2008

Bloggernoob: Review Of a Money Making Blog

While I managed to set up my own blog, The Necro Files, for making money, my success so far does not equal that of Bloggernoob. Instead of dealing with affiliate programs and advertising devices, I decided to review this blog instead.

What Is Bloggernoob All About?
Bloggernoob is a money making machine. It appears to be a part time project with very clear targets set. The owner of Bloggernoob is clearly very gifted when it comes to marketing.

Bloggernoob regularly offers competitions - not silly ones where you can win an affiliate link, real ones where you could win awesome gadgets like a pmp. This is an excellent way to promote your blog.

Bloggernoob features a baby to indicate that the blogger is a noob – a newbie. This is very clever, although I rather prefer babies like this:

A baby shooting flames from his eyeballs. Awesome!

What can I say? There's no accounting for taste.

Why Is Bloggernoob Successful?
Firstly, I really like the layout of the site. It is uncluttered and easy to navigate.

Bloggernoob manages to entice readers to visit the site with off-site marketing. Joining a blogging network is definitely paying off for Bloggernoob.

The adverts are part of the blog organically. A reader never realises that adverts are on parade.

The Medicine
Let us consider Bloggernoob against Pro Blogger's 4 Pillars of Writing Exceptional Blogs. These pillars are as follows:

  • Be Extremely Useful

  • Write Great Headlines

  • Make The Post Scannable

  • Write In Plain, Concise, Common Sense Style

Is Bloggernoob Useful?
To be quite honest, Bloggernoob is more interesting than useful. I would suggest that Bloggernoob explain more about the art of making money with blogging.

Does Bloggernoob Have Great Headlines?
The headlines are usually succinct. One can clearly gather what the posts are about by skimming over the headlines. Bloggernoob does have great headlines.

Are The Posts Scannable?
The posts are not really scannable. It could be argued that Bloggernoob has short posts, so making it scannable would not really enhance the blog. However, I would still suggest more lists and perhaps a few bold keywords. It is always a good idea to pay mind to the inverted pyramid style of writing.

Is Bloggernoob In Common Sense Style?
This is where Bloggernoob excels. My posts tend to be filled with jargon because I am used to academic writing. My posts are often structured in a draconian manner, but due to the jargon much of the message could get lost.

Bloggernoob manages to stick to the point. The posts are devoid of jargon and definitely in a common sense style.

Conclusion: How Bloggernoob Could Improve
A suggestion from Contestime is to keep a running statistics bar somewhere on Bloggernoob. I agree, it could be interesting to see how much money Bloggernoob is making day by day, week by week or any such time division. It is one more reason to return to Bloggernoob regularly.

Bloggernoob is after all about making money, and I haven't seen such a running tab on any meta blog. It could give Bloggernoob that Unique Selling Point.

My Own Suggestions On How To Improve Bloggernoob:

  • Try to work on the structure of the posts a little. The writing style and the headlines are great, but the posts could be made more scannable.

  • Some of the posts have glaring spelling errors. This could be easiliy remedied with any word processor.

  • Bloggernoob could use more interlinking to previous posts. This is a great way to lower your bounce rate. Link back to previous posts that were particularly successful.

  • Lastly, some of the posts could be more useful. I feel the target audience of Bloggernoob is comprised of people who not only want to see how much money Bloggernoob is making, but also how he did it.

Bloggernoob shows that with great marketing, your blog could be noticed. This is my entry for the Bloggernoob pmp contest. If you have any ideas on how to improve Bloggernoob, please enter too!

Some Useful Resources
10 Steps To Writing A Successful Series On Your Blog
20 Types Of Blog Posts
How To Write For The Web

07 February 2008

How To Monetize Your Blog

When you monetize your blog, you have several options. I will list the options I use in this post, and spend the next couple of posts on each of them. These are the methods I use for my main blog, The Necro Files. While I haven't made shiploads of money yet, the income from these methods has been increasing steadily.

The Main Methods to Monetize Your Blog
You can either allow programs to place ads for products or services on your blog, or sell items from your blog.

  • Advertising Programs

  • Affiliate Marketing

Advertising Programs
This is when you allow programs like Google AdSense and BidVertiser to add their advertisements on your blog. Google AdSense places the "ads by Google" boxes to your blog.

BidVertiser is very similar, but it pays out in smaller amounts, which means you get paid more often. You usually get paid per click. This means each time a reader clicks on their ads, they pay you a small amount. It all ads up!

Affiliate Marketing
When you allow a company like Amazon or Ads by ShoppingAds to advertise their products on your blog. You don't get paid per click, but they pay you commission on each item that is sold from your site. Affiliate marketing makes out the largest portion of income from my blog. I subscribe this to the fact that I write reviews for products.

Some Thoughts On Advertising Programs
Advertising programs are convenient. I added the Google Adsense ads to this blog using the same code from my main blog. BidVertiser is slightly more complex in that you have to add the URL of your other blogs to their network, but it is not really much more effort.

How Do I Add Internet Marketing Programs To My Blog?
We will touch on this subject in the next post. In the meantime, you can have a look at these links I found useful:

Useful Links
Collection Of Articles On Ways To Monetize Your Blog
How To Make Money From Your Blog
Ways To Make Money Online

04 February 2008

How to add a youtube video to your blog

I realise you might be expecting a guide on how to monetize your blog. However, following my guide on Learning How To Write For the Internet, I had a few requests to explain exactly how one adds a youtube video to your blog. This is a quick guide on adding a youtube video to your blog, using HTML. Expect the monetizing guide soon!

How To Add A Youtube Video To Your Blog

  1. Go to the video on youtube. Just open the link of the video in your browser.

  2. Look for the word 'embed' in the 'About this video' box, to your right.

  3. Copy the code in the text box next to it. It is important to get all the code. Get everything between the object tags.

  4. Place this code on your page. Place the code wherever you want it to appear on your page.

This is a screen shot showing you where you should get the code:

This is an example of the code you should copy. Note that your code would obviously look different to mine if you want to put a different video on your blog:

How to resize the youtube video for your blog

Note that some layouts would prevent the youtube video from displaying properly. If you do not want to mess up your layout, just resize the youtube video.
  1. Don´t be scared by the code. It is pretty straightforward.

  2. Find the object and embed tags. Tags are HTML markers that help your browser to identify what it should display. You can also paste this code in a text editor before you paste it on your blog to make things easier.

  3. Note that each tag has width and height attributes. Attributes are used to specify to HTML tags what they should look like. In other words, attributes specify to tags how they should display.

  4. Both widths should be the same and both heights should be the same. Note that your widths may differ from your heights. The object tells your browser that you want to display an object like a video. The embed tells your browser where to find the video.

  5. An easy way to find the correct width and height values is to open a new document in Photoshop or GIMP. Make this document the size of the youtube width and height tags. Ensure that the size is locked, that is when you adjust the width, the height also changes. Now compare this document with the area on your blog where you want to put the video. If it fits, you have the values for your width and height tags.

    The values which work on my blog are 425 for width and 355 for height.

  6. Replace the values between the inverted commas directly after width and height in your text editor. Note that these are the only things you need to change. The inverted commas need to stay there.

  7. Copy and paste the modified code onto your blog.

Finally, this is what it looks like after you add the video to your blog:

Now you know how to add youtube videos to your blog. Expect some tips on how to monetize your blog soon!

Special thanks to memyselfandjuvy for requesting the video help.

Special thanks to Navin for asking how to resize your video.

How to let search engines find your blog - introduction to SEO

You can let search engines find your blog with search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. This may seem like fancy jargon, but it is really quite simple. A page rank is the order number of a page when it appears when someone searches for the topic of the page. Basically, search engines have spiders or crawlers that look for a few criteria when giving a page rank. These may include:

  • the number of keywords

  • the number of links to your blog

  • the amount of hits or the popularity of your site

These could be divided into on site and off site factors, number of relevant keywords being the on site factor. The amount of links to your blog and the popularity of your blog are off site factors. As you can imagine, you are directly in control of the amount of keywords on your blog. You have indirect control over links to your site and the amount hits you get, but there are ways you can achieve these goals.

How Do You Let Search Engines Find Your Blog?

  • provide quality content

  • submit your blog to search directories

  • include many keywords in your posts

  • join a few blogging communities

  • link to other blogs

Providing Quality Content
If you are passionate about your blog topic, you should have no problem in coming up with quality content. You can improve the quality of your content by providing a unique user experience, and utilising the inverted pyramid style of writing for your posts. It might be a good idea to search for other blogs in your topic of interest, just to compare apples with apples, so to speak.

As an example, I am very passionate about horror movies and heavy metal. These are the topics of my main blog, The Necro Files. When I started out, my posts were condensed and straight to the point. This is because I had reviews written for an entirely different format. I googled a bit and found similar blogs (few and far between, but they excist) and they gave me ideas on how to improve my blog.

To use a comparison, see the review I wrote for The Crimson Idol by W.A.S.P. Compare this with an older review I wrote for Heaven and Hell by Black Sabbath. Notice how the layout has changed. Also note how I added more multimedia to improve the user experience. Always work at improving your content.

Submit Your Blog To Search Directories
Quite simply, you just add the URL (the link) of your blog to a directory. For google, just add your URL to google. If you have a Yahoo account, you need to add it as one of your sites. You can also comment the URL with keywords when you submit it.

Include Many Keywords In Your Posts
This is easier said than done. For instance, I write heavy metal and horror reviews, but when I learnt about keywords I realised that I do not have the word "review" in a single one of my posts! Imagine how dumb I felt.

Learning how to add keywords to your post is something that takes a little time and effort to master. The main tips I have learnt are:

  • choose the correct keywords. This is a matter of using search engines, along with good old trial and error.

  • add the keywords in your URL. This means adding the keywords to the title of your post.

  • add the keywords in the body of your post, preferably close to the top.

You might want to try a more in-depth DIY guide to SEO techniques.

Join A Few Blogging Communities
Yahoo has a built-in blogging community service. Other blogging communites include BlogCatalog, MyBlogLog and BlogRush. These are the main ones I use. Note that some of these communities won't accept your blog immediately. Don't give up! Do a few more posts and try to submit your blog again.

Of course, you could probably count digg and StumbleUpon as blogging communities too. These two are excellent for generating traffic to your blog.

Link To Other Blogs
There are two options here, namely linking to small blogs and linking to big blogs. The advantage of linking to small blogs is that you build up loyalty. Someone who is appreciating a little ego stroking is more likely to return your links. You should give comments, and make sure that you can receive comments on your blog. Many blogs don't allow links in their comments, which I don't really understand. I suggest you allow links.

Linking to bigger blogs also has advantages, but don't expect much loyalty from the big guys. I ride on the backs of the big guys by posting an URL to my blog in my comments. While this does not amount to a substantial amount of traffic, I get the occasional hit from them.

It is more worthwhile to build a good rapport with blogs of similar size. It is also more fun, and easier to do a link exchange. A link exchange is when you post a link to a blog, and that blog posts a link to you. Scratch their back, they scratch yours.

Now you know how the basics of getting those hits. Please feel free to add your comments. Within the next few posts, I will explain how to monetize your blog.

Suggested SEO Links
Fresh Blogs About SEO
How Do Search Engines Find You?
How Search Engines See and Visit Your Website
SEO For Blogs

02 February 2008

Learning How To Write For The Internet

You have learnt how to find a place to blog, what to blog about and now it is time to learn how to add the content yourself.
Of course, you may find content for your blog somewhere else, but I will not be dealing with that option here. There are places on the Web where you can find free essays on just about any topic, but since the quality is generally poor, you will have to rewrite much of it anyway.

Learning How To Write For the Internet
Writing for the Web is much different than traditional writing. The reason for this is Internet readers read differently. Internet consumers tend to skim over content. If a quick glance does not capture the concentration of your readers, you have lost them. Here are a few tips:

  • write your content in the inverted pyramid style. In this style, you tell readers what you are blogging about first, before fleshing it out. More on this below.

  • add some multimedia content. It doesn't have to be full-blown 3D animation. A few pictures will do.

  • check your content for errors and suitability.

The Inverted Pyramid Style
In this style, you turn the traditional writing structure upside down. Instead of laying the foundation with broad strokes and filling in the detail later, then reaching a conclusion, you give the conclusion first and then explain how you got there. It may seem counter-intuitive, but think about the way a news bulletin is structured in a newspaper:

  • first a headline catches your attention. Writing a great headline is an art all by itself.

  • the first few sentences give the crux of the matter. You start with the end, in other words you start off with the conclusion.

  • gradually work backwards from the conclusion filling the gaps with background information.

  • you will notice many lists in this blog and many others. Bullets catch our attention. They are easier to skim over.

  • the same goes for highlighted keywords. I highlight the keywords, because it is easier to skim over a list with highlighted keywords quickly.

This is just a brief guide on filling your blog with content using the Inverted Pyramid Style. It might seem unnatural, because when we are taught writing, we are taught to begin with an introduction and end with the conclusion. The advantage of this style is that the more you do it, the easier it gets. It also makes sense, if you consider the structure of other blogs you read. For a good reference, please see writing for the web.

Putting Multimedia Content On Your Blog
Please! Please!! Please!!! Do NOT use copyrighted pictures on your blog! This means DeviantArt is OUT! Unless of course you have contacted the authors and reached an agreement to use the content on your blog. DeviantArt is filled with blood, sweat and tears. How would you feel if someone took your blog and used it to promote their own agenda? There are many stock images available for you to use, guilt free. Google is your friend.

Video is a great idea. Youtube is filled with hours of mindless entertainment. Adding a youtube video is remarkably easy, you just add the object code. Youtube has full instructions on how to do this, so I won't repeat it here.

For my main blog, I often edit images slightly. This adds to the USP of my blog. Note that to the best of my knowledge, the images I use are in public domain. The same goes for the videos.

Checking Your Content
Besides the obvious spelling and grammar, there are a few questions you should ask yourself before posting to a blog. This comes after you have fleshed out your content, added a few multimedia elements and right before you are about to hit the submit button.

Now you know how to deliver great content for your blog. The next post will deal with how to let search engines find your blog.

Working on content for your blog

This post is about filling your blog with content. Writing is a skill that you need to learn. You don't need a degree in a language, but you do need to communicate effectively.

What To Blog About
This may seem superfluous. You obviously have something to share with the world, otherwise you wouldn't be blogging.

My main blog, The Necro Files, started because I work in retail. I have many reviews I had written for customers as a guide. I am very passionate about my CD and DVD collection, so writing about it comes naturally. That's a very important ingredient - passion! The other important ingredient is knowledge - blog about something you know.

  • blog about something you are passionate about

  • write about what you know. This is an important writing tip. It goes for fiction too. Best-selling authors like Stephen King and John Grisham emphasise this point.

Something idiotic you will note about metablogs is that they tend to have the same content. See what Pro Blogger posts. Google the topic a day later, and chances are you would get 10 hits, all with exactly the same content. This reeks of retardation. You have a brain. Use it. Do you let someone carry you, even if you have legs that can walk?

I was apprehensive about starting another blog about blogging, since there are so many around. One thing I can say about my main blog, The Necro Files, is that there aren't many like it around (for better or worse!). Which brings us to the next point:

How To Blog About It
What I recommend is that you find a Unique Selling Point (USP) for your blog. Being passionate about what you are blogging about makes it much easier to blog about it. Where there is a will, there is a way. Finding an USP for your blog does not help so much to find content, but it does help to set your blog apart from other similar blogs.

This does not mean you need to be completely original. Just add an edge to your blog your readers will not be able to find anywhere else. An USP should lead to a unique reader experience.

  • write with passion. Find a topic you are passionate about for your blog.

  • find an USP for your blog

  • learn how to write for the Internet

In the next post, I will deal with how to write for the Internet.
The next post assumes you already have somewhere to blog and you already have something to blog about.

31 January 2008

Getting started with blogging

This blog is about metablogging, or blogging about blogging. There are countless metablogs available, so I don't want to spend too much time on this blog. It is designed to give you the cream of the crop. Please note that this selection is purely based on my opinion. While my opinion is open to be swayed with bribes, I have no vested interests in any of the sites mentioned here. These are merely links I found useful in bringing my own blog, The Necro Files, off the ground.

Getting started with blogging
There are a few things you need for blogging.
  • essentially you need somewhere to host your blog

  • you need content for your blog, in other words something to post on your blog

  • lastly, you need your blog to be noticed. In other words, you need to market your blog.

Somewhere to host your blog
You have two broad options. The first option is to blog on a framework, like this one on blogspot. The other option is to provide your own hosting.

Getting hosted on a framework
Personally, I find the easiest framework of this kind to work with is wordpress. However, wordpress does not allow you to post ads and they do only provide very basic meat and potatoes functionality. If you are a Windows user, I shall refrain from pointing and laughing and remark that you may download and install the wordpress application. It comes with a host of nifty plug-ins, all designed to make your blogging easier. Note that you don't need to host your blog on wordpress in order to use their application.

Blogspot offers me the opportunity to post ads, as well as a choice between several integrated layouts. For starting out, I recommend getting hosted on a framework of this kind because you don't need to invest any money. As for editing, I use drivel. It is available free and it is open source. I manually copy my posts from the drivel application to blogspot for posting. In theory, you could publish directly from drivel. In practice, this doesn't always work for blogspot, but it does work very well with wordpress.

Using your own hosting
This is the preferred way to blog.
Why provide your own hosting when there are several frameworks readily available?

  • remember that you are selling a brand – yourself

  • you are not limited by any policies the frameworks may have

  • you have more freedom with regards to your content

  • you could host your own multimedia elements like flash animations, video, images.

This last reason may not seem like a great advantage, but what happens when a video you linked to on another server is no longer available?
I started blogging a few months ago, so it is not really feasible for me to pay for my own hosting just yet. Start off with the free blogging frameworks, learn the ropes, then gradually move onto your own hosting when your blog becomes big enough to pay for itself.

A short list of useful metablogs
These are my personal favourites.
  • Dosh Dosh is by far my favourite. It is not updated too often, but it makes up for it with high quality content.

  • Pro Blogger by one of the gurus of blogging, Darren Rouse. There is another guru, who offers a free pdf guide. While his pdf is very valuable, I find his blog to be unusable, so I won't even mention him. You probably know who it is. Darren Rouse is the complete opposite. His blog is very usable, plus Darren is friendly. Pro Blogger is my second favourite metablog.

  • Web Design From Scratch will offer you a great basic guide on using HTML and CSS. In addition, they have some amazing writing tips. More about writing tips in my next post.

That covers the bare basics of getting started with blogging. Before moving on to the next post, you should find a place to host your blog. The next post assumes you already have a blog, and covers filling the blog with content.