So, you want to be a professional blogger? But what exactly do you need to do to make money from this? This week we take a deeper look at how to start generating revenue from your blog. Whether you have a fledgling WordPress blog or are a well seasoned blogger with an entire community built up, there are a number of avenues you can go down. But which is best? And how do you actually make it all happen?
â€¢ There are always some growing pains as every new blog strives to get its feet off the ground, not least of which is trying to generate revenue. We start off this week by taking a closer look at the stages of development a site goes through as it matures.
â€¢ Joost gives an insight into the journey of his own site, Yoast.com, and gets down to the nitty gritty of what worked for him and what didnâ€™t.
â€¢ Joost lifts the lid on Google AdSense, and explains its pros and cons.
â€¢ Affiliate marketing; we explain the importance of having both high readership and the trust of those readers. We recommend taking a look at PepperJamNetwork and Commission Junction.
â€¢ We explore other avenues within traditional banner advertising, including some surprising and very neat little hints and tips!
â€¢ The value of the personal brand: In the long haul, this could be the most beneficial thing you do. We explain the how and the why. Joost tells us how his blog has lead to consultancy work for some top customers.
â€¢ Fred talks through the benefits of monetising old blog content by selling it as an eBook. Producing products that can be â€˜builtâ€™ once and sold multiple times has huge benefits.
â€¢ The importance of scarcity!
â€¢ Who you take advertising from is important â€“ if they are ads for less than respectable services or products it could be incredibly detrimental to your personal brand and the reputation of your blog. There is no escaping accountability, and especially not on the web!
â€¢ Why you should be careful about asking your readers for money.
The bottom line? Make money, but always keep your readers in mind!
This week we decided to dedicate the entire show to helping you bootstrap your blog! Just because something is free doesnâ€™t mean people are going to want it, so we delve into some of the top tactics and tools for drawing in those readers, and get to the bottom of what really matters.
The big issues:
How to boost subscribers to your blog
How to increase the number of comments on your posts
How to turn your blog into a real community
Who do we recognise as subscribers? There is a huge array of subscribers, from those that use RSS feeds, to newsletter subscribers, commenters, regular site visitors, and not least those who â€˜likeâ€™ your Facebook fan page or follow your brand profile.
Two vital ways of pulling return visitors to your site: RSS and email
In terms of cultivating subscribers and followers to your content, what are the key steps you need to go through?
We talk about how your blog post could act like as forum for great discussions by making the most of threaded comments.
Facebook plugins: The pros and cons of using plugins such as Disqus, Intense Debate & Facebook Comments. We analyse the SEO issues they come with and debate their value in terms of providing leverage for your blog.
So, what are the high profile bloggers doing? We debate the increasingly popular Lightbox popups, and plugins such as Popup Domination. Do they add value?
To grow your reach and subscribers you should be commenting elsewhere too. We talk through how, where and why you should be doing so.
Create evergreen content with great comments! We get to the bottom of how to master producing content like this and reap all the benefits.
If you are not so hot with creating great content, there are some useful tools you can use to pull in the subscribers
Once you have built momentum and amassed a handful of subscribers, what are the next steps and how can you make money?
WordPress 3.1 is around the corner, but what should you be looking out for? Check out all the updates on codex.wordpress.org/Version_3.1
We are kicking things off this year with Christina Warren, a writer, podcaster, blogger, twitterer (@film_girl) and all round gadget-junkie. Christina is a full time writer for mashable.com and you can find her blog at www.christinawarren.com. She also co-hosts â€˜Briefly Awesomeâ€™ on 5by5.tv
We start this weekâ€™s show off with Christina as she fills us in on what she is up to at the moment, including heading to Las Vagas this week for the Fourth Annual Mashable Awards, and coverage of the 2011 International CES Convention.
WordPress 3.1 release candidate 2 has just come out, and in line with this we get down to the nitty-gritty of custom post formats. Christina explains what they are, and how it all works.
The admin bar is a new addition to WordPress 3.0.1 rc2 and is already the source of much discussion. We find out who likes it, who doesnâ€™t, and debate whether it should be an option rather than a default.
Christina lets us in on some great tips when it comes to writing and blogging. Considering she writes an average of 1.5 million words a year, we highly recommend taking her advice! One of the tools she uses is TextMate, a Mac text editor. She explains its bundle system and how easy it makes her life when writing blogs and articles.
Christina tells us all about the Mashable Awards, its nominees and who to look out for.
Christina gives her top tips for WordPress, talking about Markdown Quicktags, reducing the number of plugins on your site, jQuery and using spiderbug, and some fantastic advice on becoming mobile friendly (essential if you have a business based on offering a service).
We talk about the WordPress apps that are out there for the iPad and iPhone. Improvements are inevitable, and we discuss what is really needed, and our opinions on some of the changes that should be made.
Christinaâ€™s plugin picks and plugins she mentioned:
- WP Admin Bar Removal
- Disable Admin Bar
- Blogsmith Bundle â€“ Has a lot of useful tools for blogging, including IOS linking and a built in thesaurus, word count tools and much more!
- Markdown Quicktags
Joostâ€™s plugin picks of the week:
- Comment Email Verify â€“ This plugin forces people to verify their email address when they post a comment
John Oâ€™Nolan is currently working as Deputy Head of the UI group for WordPress on the development of the user interface, essentially designing the complete look and feel of the WordPress platform. Outside of his work for WordPress he is an independent web designer, entrepreneur and writer. He also contributes to a web design podcast on ExplicitWeb, and is a founder of Phosr, an upcoming web application developed for photographers.
As John is a core member of the WordPress UI group, todayâ€™s shows takes an inside look into what he is currently working on and what he sees for the future development of the WordPress user interface.
- John explains the ins and outs of what his work with the WordPress UI group entails on a daily basis, and talks through some of the changes he has been involved in from pre 3.0 versions of WordPress to now.
- It has just been announced that John is now the Head of Operations for Radiiate, a creative agency founded by Adii, one of the founders of WooThemes. He talks through what the company is and does.
- John first started using the 2.3 WordPress release, and began his work with the core WordPress UI group on version 2.9.2 at the beginning of this year. We asked him for his opinion on how much progression there has been within the WordPress user interface, and also in comparison to other major open source platforms.
- John talks through upcoming changes to new releases of WordPress and various elements of the user interface that are being improved and developed, including his work on a massive re factor of the WordPress Admin CSS files.
- Frederick introduces and discusses SASS (Otherwise known as Syntactically Awesome Stylesheets) â€“ an extension of CSS3 which helps in making it easier to manage large groups of CSS – especially for the benefit of developers.
- John discusses a new book he is writing with Adii from WooThemes called â€˜Designing Emotionâ€™ and how it came into being
- We touch on the world of personal branding in the online community, and John’s recent presentation on the topic.
- And finally we ask John what exciting things will be happening in 2010/2011 within WordPress.
Plugin picks of the week
- After The Deadline â€“ a plugin that checks spelling and grammar in a post. It scans on the fly in the background and if you forget to do it, it will prompt you when you go to publish post. A great plugin for increasing professionalism and quality of posts.
- Subscribe To Comments Reloaded â€“ this plugin adds the option for you to force people to verify their email address before they can add a comment.
- Simple User Admin â€“ this plugin allows you to search for blogs and users, and easily change roles for people for specific blogs.
WordPress core developer and consultant Andrew Nacin speaks about how he got into the WordPress family. He also discusses what changes he would like to have made, like domain mapping into the core and more multi-site flexibility.
WPCandy.com boasts to be the definitive WordPress news and information website on the planet. Site founder Ryan Imel tells Joost and Frederick about what the site offers including WordPress community news, interactivity with the readers, podcasts and community presence.
Online Copywriting and Content Marketing Strategies with Brian Clark from Copyblogger. Joost and Fred learn about the merger of StudioPress, creator of the powerful Genesis theme framework, into Copyblogger Media.
We also find out why with Genesis, they saw an opportunity to create WordPress themes that were tailored exactly to their customers needs and desires.
Toni Schneider is the CEO of Automattic, the core team behind the WordPress project. Since leaving Switzerland for Silicon Valley, he has been working with and successfully exiting startups. Before leaving Yahoo! to join Automattic, Tony was a WordPress user and part of the community. On today’s show we touch on:
- The huge Windows Live Spaces migration to WordPress.com
- Who is Toni and why he chose to work with Automattic
- Progress Automattic is making in terms of growth
- Steps WordPress is taking as a CMS
- The mantra and thought process behind Automattic’s products
- Where Automattic is going next and the ways to engage with the community
Plugin Picks of the Week:
- Shrimp Test â€“ Easy A/B testing to maximize site performance.
- Ultimate Taxonomy Manager â€“ A solid tool for simplifying custom taxonomy management for non-developers.
- Yet Another Related Posts â€“ Increase page views / time on site, by suggesting relevant posts to readers.
At the very beginning of this episode there’s a short interview with Toni Schneider, the CEO of Automattic, and Dharmesh Mehta, Director of Product Search. Only an hour before we recorded this interview they were on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt to announce that all the Microsoft Live / MSN Spaces users would be moved over to WordPress.com.
We talked about what this meant for future work between Microsoft and Automattic / WordPress, and whether any of this would impact WordPress.org users.
This interview is followed by another (much longer) interview with Brian Gardner and Nathan Rice of StudioPress and Genesis. In this interview we discuss how Genesis came to be over the last year, what it’s benefits are over a normal theme and what the process of going from a set of themes to a framework was like.
We discussed the SEO settings of Genesis, which has some of the more advanced SEO settings ever seen in themes, but also whether these kinds of settings should be in themes at all. I referenced a recent post of mine and we talked about a plugin Nathan developed, the SEO Data Transporter that allows you to transport your SEO meta data from a plugin to a theme, or from one theme to another etc.
Another interesting point was the discussion of how to set up a community around a theme framework like this, and Brian showed us, for instance, dev.studiopress.com. We also talked about the Genesis Simple Sidebars plugin, a very cool way of allowing people to change sidebars for posts.
Then there were two plugin picks:
- Nathan picked Simple URLs, a very cool new method of doing redirects using a custom post.
- Joost picked Press This reloaded, a “re done” version of the Press This bookmarklet that allows setting of SEO titles etc. from within the Press This screen too.
It’s really an information packed show, so go ahead and listen right now!
PS sorry for my sore voice and coughing, I’ve got a quite heavy cold pestering me.
Liz Strauss gave a masterclass tonight; at least, that’s how it felt to both Frederick and myself. We talked about communicating with your audience, and Liz shared some experiences about open comment nights. We discussed positioning yourself and your blog, and how important personal branding can be.
She told us about feedback loops, and how to use them to listen to your users / clients / audience. She tought us to build our network before we need it, and why and how you should be treating your blog like a business, even if it’s just a hobby.Â Aren’t you curious yet? Start listening then. You’ll be a wiser man or woman for it at the end of this.