Don't use this search engine!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Useless Information

As part of my quest to figure out just how this really works, I read a lot about what others are doing, and more importantly, saying about how they make money. I've said it before, but it bears repeating here. Most of this information is useless. Either the author restates the same sad matra that all others before them have said, or they have some product that they are trying to sell. I've got a couple of Google alerts set up to help me monitor news about this topic and Google conveniently sends me an email once a day with updates. A recent article titled "Get Helpful info make money at home" is just such an example of the useless information that we all have to sort through in order to actually figure this system out. First, outside of the title not exactly being proper english (although I shouldn't be too harsh here, glass houses and all), the article rehashes the same ole information; write a blog, affiliate advertising, crowd sourcing, etc., etc. But it doesn't actually offer any instruction on how to make those things profitable. I suspect the real motive of this site is the very targeted advertising on the side panel. Regardless, I think I'm going to keep a running list of sites to avoid when trying to make all of this work for you.

Ok, now that my big project is completed, I can start spending my time in the evening with my research (that is if I can break away from WOW). As of Sunday, August 30th my statistics are as follows:

SiteHits This MonthHits All TimeSubscribers
As a Fine Wine385
Fantasitc Reading 2152700
Run Amok2022121
45 by 45

Total Adsense Revenue all time: $3.70 +$.05
Total Amazon Revenue all time: $0.00

Friday, August 28, 2009

Feeds not worth it?

As a follow-up to a recent post, I found the following article that warns that there is less money to be made from feeds than through other avenues. There are some good points in the article, but the author finally comes to the conclusion to not have feeds would be limiting, he only thinks we should not encourage feeds in general. Again since I'm learning about how all of this really works together, I'll remove the feed capability from one of the sites and see if there is a difference in revenue. With my current low numbers it may not make a difference. However, I did notice a 6 penny jump in revenue when the feeds were initially turned on.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Make money online with Blogspot - Day 11, Feedburner

Feedburner is a nice addition to the Google family, especially where Blogger is concerned. As you may or may not know, Blogger (Blogspot) creates a feed out of each of your posts. You can turn this on via the settings menus. This is important because a lot of your potential readers will choose to read your blog from a RSS Reader. I'll discuss those at some other point, but the premise is that you can have all of your interests come to you, in one spot, without you having to go to each individual website to catch up. This is an excellent idea for the reader, but makes it a bit more difficult for the writer to monetize his/her writings. RSS feeds are very important because it extends your reach to many people who would not normally read your blog. Feedburner takes the normal RSS created by Blogger and adds some extras to it. One, it makes it possible to incorporate Adsense into the feed itself so that you can still get paid even when someone doesn't come to your site directly. In addition, Feedburner has built in metrics so that you can see just how well you are doing.

It's easy to setup. Just start by going to and claiming your blog. Once this is accomplished, Feedburner will provide you with an URL that you should use to replace the default one provided by Blogger. It will take it a few minutes to verify the site but once it has clicking on the site link within Feedburner will give you a nice dashboard with statistics for your site. Ok, day one you won't have anything there. It took mine a week to have anything of value (hey, even a single subscriber is valuable). Once its had a few days to get statistics you can start to see how many people are getting to your content via RSS and really start to get a sense of how your site is performing in this manner. One of the most important features is the PingShot service located in the Publicize tab. This makes sure that your new Feedburner feed is posted out.

I recommend that you get this set up early in your blogging experience. That way the more popular you become the better you maximize your reach via the feed. I'm going to add some additional stats to my normal set.

SiteHits This MonthHits All TimeSubscribers
As a Fine Wine2686440
Fantasitc Reading 2002550
Run Amok1731832

Total Adsense Revenue all time: $3.65
Total Amazon Revenue all time: $0.00

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Make money online with Blogspot - Day 10, Quick Update

I've a huge project at work that is taking too much of my time. However, I thought that I would give everyone a quick update. If nothing else, a break gives me some time to see if the search engines have picked me up and if traffic is starting to be generated from those locations. As of now, my traffic is:

SiteHits This MonthHits All Time
As a Fine Wine233609
Fantasitc Reading 200255
Run Amok164174

Total Adsense Revenue all time: $3.65 +$.06
Total Amazon Revenue all time: $0.00

Ok, so traffic is beginning to swell (still miniscule) but overall its trending up. I'm happy that some of my efforts are starting to pay off, I still need to jump start this. I suspect that more frequent posts have a lot to do with it. Ok, that's all the time I have today. I'll catch up after this project, I promise.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Make money online with Blogspot - Day 5: Statistics

I realized that I started this quest without really explaining how I was going to measure results.  Looking back at my first few entries, one could only assume that I would just be trying anything in the hopes that miraculously I would suddenly be raking in the cash.  Even with that supposition, how could I even tell that I was making money.  I assumed that you the reader was already on the same page as already was and for that I apologize.  I wanted to write this blog to make sure that whatever I learned I could pass on to others like myself and I can only do that if I explain everything that I know.

So first off, I've been talking about site statistics and how that has been working for me. I've shown you the following graph a few times (this one is up to date with the numbers as of Thursday, August 20th at around 9:30 PM).

SiteHits This MonthHits All Time
As a Fine Wine119495
Fantasitc Reading 108163
Run Amok134144

Total Adsense Revenue all time:  $3.59  +$.01
Total Amazon Revenue all time:  $0.00

So where do these numbers come from and how accurate are they?  Currently I'm getting my statistics from StatCounter.  This is a free service (although they do offer a premium service) and can be activated by simply signing up on their site.  You quickly set up your site and install using the HTML Gadget on blogger some HTML that StatCounter uses to track your traffic.  You can set up more than one site (as I have 3).  Conversely, you can do the same thing with Google Analytics.  I might suggest that if you only had time to do one, that you pick the Google brand instead, purely because it ties into Adsense and can give you a better idea of what topics or pages are actually bringing in traffic and revenue for you.  When I first set everything up back in July, I didn't even have that much information and a random article suggested StatCounter.  Although I'm happy with their stats and with the reports they run, I do think that the Google Analytics is a better product.  If neither of these meet your needs there are many other "freebies" out there that do similar things.  Just look on Google for "free site statistics" and you'll get what you need.

Initially, it is hard to measure success, even with using a statistics package.  The primary problem is that with such little traffic, a change of tactics, labels, title heading, etc. can create big swings in your traffic, but often not on the day of the change.  If you haven't been picked up by the mainstream search engines or blog specific engines, most changes at this point are meaningless.  However, if you don't have stats at all then you never know if a change makes a difference.

However, that being said, I have started to see some trends with the blog.  If you look at the stats for this blog you'll notice that although its the oldest of the 3, it has the least amount of traffic for all time.  In fact, prior to this topic, I had less than 20 over visits.  Since starting this topic, my traffic gone up significantly.  Several assumptions could be made concerning this:  the topic itself is popular, writing everyday makes a difference, writing AT ALL makes a difference :), and promotion of the blog is imperative.  The only assumption that I question is the topic.  While at most I had a peak of 51 visitors in one day on Run Amok, Chef Laura's blog received 31 visitors yesterday alone.  We wrote about Whole Foods corporate blog.  It didn't have a lot of meat to the story and was pretty brief.  Yet the blog out surpassed this blog entry with the catchy title.  Why?  I think this one is simply because more people are already following Laura's blog and any post on her's gets immediate response.  That is good to know.  Build a following.  Haven't we heard that before.  Also of note, she built that following through her own personal connections and the fact that when she first started that she was writing every day.  But then like all of us, she got discouraged and fell off.  She is also going through a crisis on the direction of the blog.  Another point to make is that your blog needs to have a focus and once focused should not waver too much off topic.  I discussed this briefly earlier in the week and I'm still debating if I can't just be me, write what I want when I want to.  I think that I still can, but I do think that you've got to get it focused first.  Readers will allow more variety once they know you.

I could talk more on statistics, but this will suffice for a primer.  If you want to know more, I can go into more detail, but this should get you started.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Make money online with Blogspot - Day 4: Build your Blog traffic: Part 2

Ok, two hours a night is not enough time to do research.  There are entirely too many things to know.  I suspect that those who are successful at this have mastered how everything ties together.  I didn't really make any headway on changes to the blog(s) for traffic other than adding labels to all of my back posts and changing the name of a few posts to better take advantage of SEO.  Oops, Jargon Alert.  SEO - Search Engine Optimization.  This is basically making the most of your posts/site to have a better performance in the search world.  Take for instance the term "make money on the internet" which we looked up the other day.  With hundreds of thousands of entries, where do you think my post would show up, especially since I'm a new blogger and I've no (ok, one) followers (love ya Rach!).  I can guarantee you that it won't be in the first 30 pages (again I looked).  But the term "make money online with blogspot" has a significantly smaller return thus a better chance that this blog will be read by more than just 2 of us.

But finding those terms is a lot tougher than you might think and is not something that the recreational blogger would immediately know, or frankly have time to learn.  Fortunately, I found a really cool tool from Google (watch out, they will rule the world someday) that examines keywords against searches and gives you a relative comparison.  The only issue with this tool is that the relative competition is Adwords based, meaning that a lower competition has fewer adds on it, not necessarily fewer websites.  But this tool got me to thinking that what is really needed is some sort of Niche Finder, or Keyword Optimizer.  A tool that could examine search terms in relation to number of sites returned for that term.  A ranking of that would then help the newbie blogger start to find a legitimately profitable niche for their views.  I want to think about this idea some more and see if there is something that I can do to create one.

Outside of that my brain is now filled with terms such as Delicious, Technorati, Flixya, Moola, Feedburner, Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, NewsVine, Azoogleads, Chitika, etc., etc.  I don't find it surprising at all that most people give this us after a few attempts.  We live in a time where information overload is the norm and if you can't keep up don't expect the world to slow down to wait for you.  We, my friends, are digital road-kill!  That's ok, what we really need is for someone to just sit down and discuss what each of these things do and why it necessary for you to make money (if necessary at all).  I do suspect that at some point, only a small handful of these services are actually needed and finding out which ones will make all of our lives easier.  I do know that Web 2.0 is crucial to success.  What I mean by that is that the more "friends" you have the better off you are.  On the Web 2.0 front you should do at least the following minimum (I know this because this is how I got my one reader):  get a Facebook and a Twitter account.  Allow Facebook to accept Twitter feeds as your status updates (and if you don't know how leave a comment and I'll recreate the steps).  Then sign up for TwitterFeed.  This service will automatically post your blog posts to Twitter as soon as you update it - automagically!  Thus, any new blog post is immediately posted to Twitter and then to Facebook (2 for one).  As you build your friends, so to do you build your blog.

I'll continue researching tonight and see what I should discuss next.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Make money online with Blogspot - Day 3: Build your Blog traffic, part 1

Ah I long for the days when the only place to put your website for traffic was Yahoo, Webcrawler, and Alta Vista (I know, I know, most of you will only know the first one).  Listing your blog is a whole different beast.  I thought that this would be the easy part.  I would list my site in a couple of search engines and then sit back and watch.  Now, I'm not naive and I know that even that little bit will still take forever.  However, what I found out was at first confusing.  I'll try to reconstruct my research.

First, Blogger has a built in listing system.  At least that is the way that it appears.  On the Basic tab of the admin screen there is a couple of options that should help build traffic.  The first is "Add your blog to our listings".  The description is a bit vague and states that it will allow Blogger related services to add your site to their listings.  But there isn't anyway to actually control this and you are completely at the mercy of the Blogger gods.  Good luck with that.  The second setting is "Let search engines find your blog?"  Although this seems fairly straight forward, it didn't appear to do anything.  I searched Google for some very specific topics that I discussed over 30 days ago and nothing returned, not even 30 pages deep (once I started looking I was bound and determined to find it).  On closer reading the description of the feature says that "we will include your blog in Google Blog Search and ping"  I can't claim to knowing all of the things that Google has, but I had no idea that they don't include Blogger blogs into their normal search and that they have their own Blog Search Engine.  Searching for the same term listed about brings it up 4th on the list.  Ok, so that is a start.  But my concern is that if I didn't know this existed, its a good bet that a lot of people didn't know it was their either.  I still need to figure out exactly what can do for me, but I just ran out of time today.  I'll look into that one tomorrow.

I took a look around the web and a couple of extremely helpful blogs pointed me in the right direction (at least I assume so at this point).  I found that both ProBlogger and Dumb Little Man had some great information for the beginner blogger.  They also have a lot of information that is overkill at this point, but at least I now have a reference site to go forward.  Their primary advice, get your blog "pinged" by as many sites as you can.  First of all, I'm a computer systems admin at heart and the term "ping" to me means a command that is used to determine if a computer is present.  This comes from the Navy who uses just such a technology (albeit sound wave based) to determine where ships are. I can only assume that this means something similar.  In this case, "Pinging" your blog means that a service hits the blog (typically the RSS feed) and then reports updates to the myriad of blog search engines.  At this point I don't know how many truly exist, but if you go to Ping-O-Matic they list some 28 sites to send your updates to.  A good many of these sites require more than just getting your article posted in order to get any real traffic, but I'll wait and discuss that later.  I think it would be a good experience to discuss each one of these services separately to ascertain each one's merits and help you (and I) understand it better.  I ran a couple of my entries through the engine and will have to determine if it makes a change at all.

That's enough for today.  I originally thought that I could have this research done in one night, but it proved to be too much.  That and our local neighborhood men play adult league flag football and we had our first game last night.  Tigers 29 - Mayhem 6.  Not bad for a bunch of 40 something men.  I must be doing something right because I'm not in any pain this morning :)  Anyway, I digress. 

Here is the current state of my blogs:
Site                                   Hits This Months                  Hits All Time
As a Fine Wine                            83                                    459      
Fantasitc Reading                        93                                    148
Run Amok                                  35                                      69

Total Adsense Revenue all time:  $3.58
Total Amazon Revenue all time:  $0.00

Although my traffic is slightly up, no change in my revenue.  Hopefully some of the things I'm doing now will change that.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Make money online with Blogspot - Day 2

Last night was research.  If I'm going to find out what it takes to make money on the internet, I should be as knowledgeable as possible.  Per my own suggestion yesterday, I searched for "make money on the internet" in Google.  As I feared, I was completely overwhelmed by the results. There is a LOT of information.  Everyone thinks that they have the solution.  Most of them want to sell you something to help you along (which was my biggest fear).  But a lot of information was pretty good.  What I really find ironic is that sites that are legitimately trying to help you learn typically have paid advertisements from companies who don't.

I did get a comment yesterday (which really surprised me since I didn't think anyone was reading this).  It was from a friend who pointed out that the easiest way to make money was to write a blog, turn on adsense and add an Amazon affiliate site to the blog.  Although I don't disagree in theory with her, the primary problem with that tactic alone is that you need traffic, lots of traffic.  And unfortunately, you can't get traffic without being well known or established.  Its truly a Catch-22 situation.  For the record, I've had all three blogs for approximately one month currently.  I set up adsense on the sites immediately and slowly built out an Amazon affiliate site for the book review site and for the Chef site.  30 days into it, my stats are as follows:

Site                                   Hits This Month                  Hits All Time
As a Fine Wine                            83                                    459      
Fantasitc Reading                        88                                    143
Run Amok                                  23                                      33

Total Adsense Revenue all time:  $3.58
Total Amazon Revenue all time:  $0.00                    

Ok, so my friend has a good idea, but how do we monetize it?  How do I get enough traffic to the website to increase those numbers to the point where Google is cutting me a check.  Again, I don't know, but I'm going to find out.  The leading theme on the web is to follow the path that I've started, write a blog, work at it, and over time you'll get more popular and thus make more money.  It's the "over time" part that I have a problem with.  My blogs are done in my spare time and with a family with 3 children there isn't a lot of that.  Given enough of my life I may be able to get enough followers that I"m suddenly making a little extra.  I'm really concerned that when this becomes too monotonous and I still feel like I'm writting to just see my own words on the screen, then that is when I give it up.  That I think is the number one reason why most blogs don't make money.  That most people aren't successful at this.  Returning to my friend who posted yesterday, her own blog has only a handful of posts.  Keeping it up to date is extremely difficult.

So lesson one, do you keep the blog fun and personal (so that you want to continue writing it) or do find that special niche (which everyone who writes about such suggests) in order to make some extra cash.  I'm torn here.  I think either option is not conducive to making money.  The first one takes entirely too much time to get any sort of following and the second becomes too much like work.  Who can continue to write about a small niche and still make it interesting.  I've too many interests as it is, to tune that down to just one, or worse yet, a slice of that one interest, does not appeal to me.

Ok, I don't have an answer, but I see what my homework for tonight is.  I have to find out how to truly promote what I write in order to get traffic to the site.  I just don't feel like I can write to a niche effectively and really want to write about what I want to write about.  Therefore, I need people to read it if I want to make some money.

See you tomorrow with what I find out!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Make money online with Blogspot

It's funny to me considering that I've been a software developer for the past 15 years for me to be asking this question.  But I find myself wanting more out of life, especially money, and why shouldn't I get my fair share from the web?  I can code websites in my sleep.  I can make them sing and dance and do really cool stuff.  But I'm still at a loss.  How does that actually make me money?  I don't want a lot of money.  I'm not looking to be the next internet billionaire.  I'd be happy with an extra hundred every month.  A thousand a month would be nice.  Realistically, I just want to be able to supplement my income.

Easy, right?

Do me a favor, go to Google right now and search for "making money on the internet".  How many results did you get?  Hundreds?  Thousands?  Hundreds of thousands?  Daunting isn't it?  And the majority of those links tell you just how easy it is.  Provided that you buy their ebook or subscribe to their marketing service, etc.  Those sites are absolutely correct, their creators are making millions of dollars a year...  Off of poor slubs like ourselves who are just trying to figure out how it works.  I haven't purchased any of these guides, but I can tell you exactly what they say.  "Build a website and sell guides to poor slubs who haven't a clue."  I'd say that if you did that you too would be a millionaire, but the unfortunate truth is there are so many people doing this (hundreds of thousands) that this just doesn't help you make any true cash.

So what is the answer?  I don't know, but I am going to find out.  I'm dedicated to finding out how I supplement my income.  As I find out the answers I'll discuss them here.  Currently I have two additional blogs that I'm using as my OJT (on the job training), Fantastic Reading and As a Fine Wine.  The are both on niches that are already over saturated, but its what I (and my wife) know.  The internet isn't a "Field of Dreams" as just building a site has no assurance of traffic.  Regardless, I've cleared the first hurdle, get a site.

Ideas for subsequent entries include:  website traffic, SEO/SEM, affiliate programs, site design, and ecommerce.  I don't know where this will go, but at least as I learn, I'll pass on that information.  For Free!  Not that it would be worth anything anyway. 

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