Archive for January 19th, 2012

AdSense Release Toolbar for Chrome Users: Ideal for Stats Junkies

If you’re an AdSense publisher you’re probably used to the AdSense stats shuffle. You know it – constant logging into your AdSense reports to check how earnings are going.

Today AdSense released a little toolbar for Chrome users that makes checking your latest figures a breeze. Install it and with a click you get a snapshot view of your latest stats including todays figures, yesterdays, this month, last month, some channel data and lifetime revenue.

It’s not giving a heap of drilled down info but for a snapshot glance its not bad.

Here’s how it looks:

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I actually don’t check into my AdSense stats as much as I used to – but this little tool will make doing so all the easier.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

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AdSense Release Toolbar for Chrome Users: Ideal for Stats Junkies


Pageviews are Good. Pagereads are Better.

This guest post is by Paula Pant of Afford-Anything and Greg McFarlane of Control Your Cash.

Have you noticed how so many blogs are just … terrible?

There’s no polite way to say it. The writing is garbage, the design inelegant, the content inane. A bird pecking at a worm-scented keyboard could craft more interesting thoughts.

We always thought the people responsible for these blogs are idiots. But lately we’ve wondered if we have it backwards, and they’re the shrewd ones.

Pick a business model. Optimize it.

We—Paula and Greg—run different blogs, but with a similar business model. We each work toward building a following of true fans who respect us as authorities within our niche, personal finance. We want our readers to buy our books, listen to our lectures, attend our workshops and tune into our radio shows. We want editors of respected publications to tap us for freelance assignments.

So we put our full names and our faces on our work. We obsess over wording, paragraph spacing, and dangling participles. We’re each building a platform that, if you’ll excuse the cliché, is the foundation of our “brand.”

Writing quality content is a pain. From our experience, it can take up to four hours to write a worthwhile post. The return on time expended, at least in the beginning, is almost negligible.

It’s a long-term strategy, but a risky one. It might lead to recognition and fortune, or it might never amount to anything.

Strategically mindless content

Some bloggers have a different business model. They want to sell text links. Period. They know companies are willing to shell out a few hundred dollars per link to get some SEO juice, and these bloggers are hungry to sell.

Quality content is unimportant under such a model. Having a base of loyal readers is meaningless. The only important measure is PageRank, so these bloggers concentrate on building backlinks. Higher PageRank leads to more money.

If you’re blogging for people, rather than for backlinks … well, having an ardent fan base can help your PageRank, if indirectly. Devoted readers might consciously link to a site they love. But if PageRank is all you care about, waiting for your readers to promote your blog (while you spend hundreds of hours writing quality posts) is an inefficient use of your time. The more direct way to improve PageRank is to spend a few minutes pumping out garbage, then devote the rest of your time to activities that directly build rank—such as commenting on do-follow blogs.

Yet another class of bloggers uses a business model that centers on advertising impressions. These entrepreneurs optimize their blogs around any activity that maximizes pageviews. The people behind these blogs don’t care about bounce rate; they just need a five-second click.

Neither compare nor despair

If you have a passion for conveying your findings to your readers in a compelling way, you can get frustrated if you measure yourself against bloggers who only care about eyeballs (irrespective of any brains they might be connected to.)

It’s almost misleading to refer to both the mercenaries and those who go to the trouble of crafting quality posts as “bloggers”. They’re selling different commodities to different clients. Ian Bostridge, Lil Wayne, and a guy who makes his living recording commercial jingles are all technically “singers”, but they have nothing else in common. Forget apples to oranges; we’re comparing apples to cats to unicorns.

If you take time to create worthwhile content and delight your readers, reasoning that the financial rewards will come later, do yourself a favor and stop comparing yourself to bloggers who would sell their mothers for an inbound link. It’ll drive you crazy. Sooner or later, preferably sooner, you have to ask yourself: Am I blogging to share my unique perspective and contributions with the world, or am I only after revenue? It’s not a rhetorical question.

It’s easy to forget that blogging is a nascent industry. Its rules are still being written, and most of them haven’t been finalized yet. PageRank will remain meaningful only as long as it continues to be considered the gold standard of link analysis algorithms. That doesn’t necessarily mean forever. The same goes for cost-per-impression vs. other pricing models: advertisers will eventually discover a surefire method of targeting 30,000 qualified prospects, as opposed to 100,000 drones who’ll never buy.

But until the day the robots achieve sentience, there will always be an audience for innovative content spawned from inquisitive human minds. And unlike link analysis or pageview counts, worthwhile content is impossible to engineer artificially.

That doesn’t mean readers will flock to a well-written but underpublicized site. The successful paint-by-numbers bloggers know this all too well, which is why they choose to value backlinks over content.

We’re betting against that strategy. In the long term, the bloggers who downplay content do so at their own peril, as they forgo the opportunity to build long-term connections with readers. These bloggers will never sell ancillary products nor other brand extensions. Their blogs resonate no more loudly than supermarket flyers do.

Any moron can go through the mechanical steps of commenting on do-follow blogs and submitting to link exchange directories. But if you’re willing to develop a voice that readers will instantly recognize as yours, you’ll set yourself apart from the bloggers with neither the aptitude nor the desire to do so.

Paula Pant has traveled to 27 countries, purchased a 99-year-old Victorian home near central Atlanta’s most beautiful park, and has never — ever — had a penny in debt. Her blog, Afford Anything, is based on one radical idea: money can fuel your wildest dreams.

 

Greg McFarlane is an advertising copywriter who lives in Las Vegas. He recently wrote Control Your Cash: Making Money Make Sense, a financial primer for people in their 20s and 30s who know nothing about money. You can buy the book here (physical) or here (Kindle) and reach Greg at greg@ControlYourCash.com.

 

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

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Pageviews are Good. Pagereads are Better.


What’s the Secret to Monetizing Social Media?

This guest post is by Neil Patel of KISSmetrics.

Have you been able to make money from social media? Has your effort and time on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and your own blog paid off?

If you’re like most bloggers, you probably realize it’s not so easy. However, no matter how difficult it seems, it’s not impossible.

Just like Darren Rowse of Problogger, there are people and companies out there who are turning a profit with social media. Let me introduce them to you and show you how they do it.

Step 1: Build brand awareness and traffic

I love what Gary Vaynerchuk says in this interview when asked, “How do you monetize social media?” His answer: the same way you monetize any other media.

Vaynerchuk says that from newspapers to magazines, to blogs and commercials, advertising has been the backbone of social media monetization. However, he points out that you shouldn’t even be thinking about monetization until you’ve built up traffic and brand awareness.

Fortunately, when it comes to traffic and sales, the news is good for you. In a study done earlier this year by HubSpot, they discovered that blogs with at least 51 posts see 53% more traffic than blogs with fewer than 50, but more than 20 posts.

Furthermore, you’ll see three times the traffic if your blog has over 100 posts. Two hundred or more posts? You’ll see almost 4.5 times the result.

So, your first step to monetizing your blog is to drive adequate traffic to it, which as the HubSpot report showed comes down to consistently producing good content, whether it is interviews, podcasts or useful copy on a daily basis.

Step 2: Build audience engagement

Social media is all about conversation. Companies who think that the conversation is one-sided and do nothing but pump out sales promotions tend to look at social media as a necessary evil. In addition, they don’t tend to be as profitable, which just re-enforces their bad attitudes about social media.

But running an effective social media campaign is all about creating engagement with your audience. If you don’t have that engagement, then trying to monetize it will not work.

One company who is doing social media right is PETCO. They have a really strong presence on the social web with their Facebook page and YouTube Channel. Both these channels generate a lot of comments and discussions.

PETCO is generating all of this engagement by asking their audience specific questions about their pets, their pets’ diets and other concerns pet owners might have. Why are they going through all this effort to engage their audience?

Well, as you get to know your audience, you can start to give them more of the content they care about. As you give them the content they want they become more engaged. And it’s a whole lot easier to promote a product to an audience that is engaged.

Step 3: Monetize with online advertising

Once you’ve built consistent traffic to social media sites and built up your brand and credibility through meaningful conversations, you can start thinking about making money with advertising.

The most basic form of advertising is simply to put ads on your website. According to the 2011 Technorati State of the Blogosphere, of the bloggers who put advertising on their blogs, 60% use self-serve tools, while 50% have affiliate advertising links on their site.

Want an example of what this looks like? This is the Problogger sidebar:

If you don’t like the idea of displaying an ad across your website or blog, you could offer an advertiser a page devoted to their product or service.

Still another way you could make money is to charge for a membership into a teaching series, club or software, like SEOMoz and Copyblogger do.

Or do it like Darren Rowse does and create information products that people buy, like his popular 31 Days to Build a Better Blog.

Of course these options only work if you have highly engaged, consistent traffic coming to your site, so don’t jump the gun. Get the traffic first, the trust second, and then sell your audience something.

Step 4: Monetize with applications

Another monetization, traffic-building trick is to offer apps.

Some people generate income through their social sites by building software apps to sell. But if you think about, providing free apps is a great way to drive traffic to your blog or Facebook page.

The best apps are those that have a purpose or solve a need. For example, ROI calculators and keyword research tools are popular apps that solve meaningful problems. People will come to your site to use them.

A lot of well-known companies use apps to interact with their loyal customers. For instance, through Gucci Connect loyal customers used their smart phones and tablets to see a Milan fashion show from the comfort of their homes. They could watch runway footage live and behind-the-scenes videos. Live chats were included through Facebook and Twitter. Throughout these experiences Gucci exposed its audience to offers, making money off of all that traffic.

Wordstream uses its AdWords Performance Grader application to drive traffic to their site and capture leads. This app promises a week’s worth of analysis in less than 60 seconds. The goal is to get you to come to their site, use the free tool and then consider buying their PPC management software.

You can also give away basic plans for applications to drive traffic and capture leads, like Survey Monkey and KISSinsights do. These limited plans drive traffic to their sites through social media, leading to future sales as they send promotions to these users.

So whether you give away the app to build traffic that can lead to sales from other products or sell the app itself, software applications offer you the opportunity to monetize your social media. Let’s look at another example.

Step 5: Offer special promotions

Some companies monetize social media traffic by tweeting deals to their audience. An operator of luxury hotels in California called Joie De Vivre  tweets exclusive deals every week to their Twitter. These followers only have a few hours to act on these deals. How well does Joie De Vivre do with this strategy? They typically books about 1,000 rooms that might remain vacant.

Even large companies like Virgin use social media effectively. For example, the fourth-highest sales day for Virgin America came when they tweeted, “$5 donated to KIPP Schools for every flight booked today.”

Offering special discounts is really easy to do. Here are some ideas:

  • Post on Twitter and Facebook that you’ve dropped the price on your ebook to 99 cents for the weekend.
  • Go on a guest posting spree teaching people how to use web analytics … offering half your consultations fee in your byline.
  • Build an email newsletter list that promises special discounts on the products that you sell to subscribers.

Can you think of any other ways to share special promotions via social media?

Step 6: Retain customers through social media

Finally, while social media is really easy to monetize once you’ve got the engaged audience, don’t forget that you should also use social media as a customer service tool. Just because you’ve closed the deal doesn’t mean your job selling is done.

See, it’s also about keeping all those people who are buying your products happy after the purchase. It’s about keeping them loyal … and you do that by retaining and increasing mind share of your brand through good customer service.

In fact, notice the top three interactions users want from social media are incentives, solutions to their product problems and to give their feedback on your business:

In other words, people expect you to use social media to answer customer service questions.  In fact, according to Debbie Hemley and Heidi Cohen, you can actually enhance your customer service through social media in 12 ways:

  1. give business a human face
  2. listen to what customers are saying
  3. proactively engage with prospects and customers
  4. provide additional product-related content
  5. answer product-related questions
  6. supply alternative contact channel
  7. give customers a channel to talk to each other
  8. share customer feedback
  9. celebrate your customers
  10. show customers behind the scenes
  11. make special offers
  12. create new purchase options

When you provide an excellent customer service experience through social media, you will continue to build traffic to those sites as people go from being prospects to customers to rabid fans. Monetizing your social media will only get easier.

Conclusion

In the end, you can make money from social media when you have an integrated strategy that includes building traffic to your site, developing your brand, choosing the right products and advertising channels, offering promotions and enhancing your customer service.

What methods and tools are you using to make money with social media?

Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics and blogs at Quick Sprout.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

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What’s the Secret to Monetizing Social Media?


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