Microblogging is easier than posting or blogging, but is it better?
Consider that you’re a blogger; you start off with an idea or a concept, and you want to put that idea into words. You have a blog, so you take the time to create the content, forming your sentences and paragraphs in the same manner you would for every article or post that you publish.
You might include images or graphics, you might throw in a link or two, and you’ll likely proofread your writing to ensure that you don’t come across sounding like an idiot, or leaving yourself open to criticism from the Internet’s vast enforcement group of grammar police.
Blogging takes time and thought. It requires a certain amount of skill in writing (but not that much), and it requires that you put those thoughts to paper (or screen) in a clear, concise format, applying the proper formatting, and making the whole post or article read logically and rationally.
Microblogging is completely different than that, isn’t it?
Microblogging takes moments to project a thought or idea through the mainstream Internet. You take a handful of seconds to compose your tweet or your status update, and click <send> before it becomes part of the digital ether.
Microblogging almost absolves you of any responsibility for your posted comment, because it’s always under 140 characters (unless you have some URL shortening add-on that lets you attach longer character posts), it’s spur-of-the-moment, meaning that you just blurt it out and send it off, and you’re not expected to concern yourself with grammar, spelling, diction, syntax, or any of those other grammatical rules, because, hey, it’s basically the same as a text message, and you have to squeeze as much as you can into that tiny little post.
So, are microbloggers exempted from all of the established protocols for writing? Probably, because everyone else who reads Twitter posts or Tumblr tumbles, or Facebook updates, or any other method of micrblogging, writes and composes in the same manner, and does not expect perfect composition for every little post.
Some might say that microblogging is destroying our culture, as it encourages poor written skills. But is it? Perhaps it’s creating a hybrid form of language, wherein all of the microbloggers are actually thinking more creatively than traditionally writers, because they must put their thoughts and ideas into tiny little boxes, whereas the (regular) blogger like myself, might be filling up my blog posts with fluff and other filler, just to substantiate an invisible expectation of word length.
Microbloggers might actually be the pioneers, because they’re adapting to the restrictions imposed by the character limits of each post. They might have to make fundamental changes to how they write because they can’t into a picture to complement their post, giving the readers visual conceptualization of their writing (like cheating). Microbloggers can only add an outside link and hope that you’ve stirred the interest from your minimal verbage.
I think that microblogging serves a greater purpose, and one that allows microbloggers to co-exist with regular bloggers (if the two are not one-in-thesame). Microblogging this post might allow other microbloggers to discover blogging, or give them a portal to greater understanding of the Internet or humanity as a whole.
Now if I were to try and philosophize my idea into a single microblog post, I think I might have had some difficulty defining my concept–and I probably would have already moved on to another thought or idea, having given this one the 140 characters or less that it probably deserved!
Site statistics and RSS subscriptions make up your street cred and reach on the Web. When advertisers visit your site and consider paying you to show an ad, they want to know how many unique visitors show up and how many people read your words daily.
Let’s say you only have 15 unique visitors a day… that’s fine, don’t be afraid of it. If a prospective advertiser likes your site (which is one of the main reasons why they’d advertise in the first place) the second step is finding out your readership. If it’s low, they put it on their radar and wait to come back later. If it’s high, they might contact you to find out your rates. If it’s hidden, they have no idea and they could potentially forget about you. The path of least resistance is the one they’ll take.
There is nothing bad about low readership – unless you make it an issue. Nothing is more embarassing than having a prospective advertiser contact you only to find out you only have 15 visitors so let them know early!
Patience is key for a blogger because it can oftentimes take weeks and months before the search engines find you. It will take time before you’ve written enough posts to attract readers and earn their trust. It will take time before you hit the coveted tipping point where all your hard work finally pays off. Until then, plug onward and upward and eventually the hard work will pay off.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of aspiring bloggers quit because they don’t see the fruits of their labor. While I don’t have concrete statistics, the sheer number of dead blogs out there is a testament to how difficult it is to persevere and continue to write when it seems as though no one is listening.
And when it happens, don’t consider yourself lucky. You deserved it.
What is a microblogger? A microblogger is a blogger who likes the idea of becoming a problogger but hasn’t quite made it just yet. Everyone starts off, at one point or another, as a microblogger and through hard (and intelligent) work and diligence, works his or her way up to becoming a problogger.
What is the purpose of this site? Well, I feel the premier site for a blogger trying to generate the most income remains Darren’s Problogger.net but I feel that a lot of the ideas he’s pushed forward work well for mid-size to larger bloggers and don’t work as well with the little guys. I’m not saying a microblogger shouldn’t read problogger, because you 100% definitely should. (There is a wealth of information there and it’s like when your parents tried to teach you something. It may not apply now, but wait a few days/weeks/months and you’ll find that its very applicable.) I just think there’s a bit of information left unsaid that a small-time blogger may find valuable.
I basically only have one blog, Blueprint for Financial Prosperity, which I started from the ground up back in February. It started with a PageRank of ZERO, no presence in Google, fewer than 10 unique hits a day (half of which were from me, myself from home, myself from work), no RSS subscribers, and Google Adsense barely let me in the door.
It now clocks in at around 600 uniques, 400 RSS subscribers, a homepage PageRank of 5, and I received some press in the New York Times business section. I am still a microblogger but I think some of the things I’ve learned along the way and some of the thoughts I’ve had may have some value for some of you.
I ran across this interesting thread on Digital Point where SERPalert was attempting to buy a month’s worth of advertising in the signatures of users with more than 1,000 posts for $10. Interesting idea I hadn’t seen before.
Incidentally, SERPalert looks like a useful service regardless, so it’s gotten at least one additional eyeball out of it.
One of the recent changes I had made to one of my more popular blogs (Blueprint for Financial Prosperity) was to remove a verticla gray line separating the sidebars from the main content. The initial reason for having the vertical line in the first place was to help the flow of the page and guide the reader when they were viewing articles. The problem is that the small and subtle vertical line would prevent a reader’s eyes from floating over to the ads past the content.
I removed the lines as a little bit of a test and my CTR improved by 50% as did my earnings. I didn’t think such a small change would have such a significant impact but it did.
After reading a tip off Problogger about how users of Firefox were more likely to click on a Google Adlink block located at the very top of the site, sometimes by accident as they looked to switch tabs, I added an Adlink block to the top of Blueprint for Financial Prosperity and a few other sites (About PMI and Grill Maestro). You’re permitted to have the usual allotment of three ad units plus one adlink block all on one page so I’m still in compliance with the ad limits.
I had previously used ad links in the sidebar, having it mimic (albeit poorly) my sidebar navigation, with little success. However, after adding it to my header and placed all the way at the top of the page, I was seeing a noticeable increase. I noticed a 10% increase in revenue and the clicks on that block now account for approximately 14.4% of all my clicks across the site, a pretty serious percentage considering its placement is so minimally intrusive.
As always, experiment experiment experiment.
The key to being a successful blogger, from both a following perspective and a monetary perspective, is to focus on the content of your site – not optimizing contextual advertising or trying to make an ad sale. Rich valuable readable content is crucial because it is what will drive traffic to your site and that, in turn, will entice readers to show up.
I would argue that if you have fewer than 500 unique visitors per day, you really shouldn’t focus on earning advertising money and instead focus on ways to get traffic to come to your site. Outside of a couple adsense blocks, focusing on content will yield the biggest gains down the road because as you gain exposure and backlinks, your value as an advertisement platform increases. In fact, if you sell advertising too cheap and experience typical blogging growth curves (especially if you sell an ad before reaching some sort of critical mass) you may start kicking yourself in the ass because you sold something off for too cheap.
For example, I sold my first private sale text link ad on Blueprint for Financial Prosperity on January 6th, 2006. I don’t have traffic records or anything but I know that I had relatively low Pagerank (probably a 3 or a 4), with fewer than 500 unique visitors, and not that impressive a list of backlinks. I was growing, not growing tremendously, but I wasn’t making a tremendous amount of money. I sold a text link ad for $12 a month for six months – a grand total of $72.
By comparison, my total take that month was $1,114.75 after expenses which included the once a quarter payment of $326.99 (For 4th Quarter of 2005 in which a post I wrote about Amazon’s Price Drop Policy was Dugg, so it was atypical). So, that $72 represented almost 10% of the otherwise $787.76 I would’ve probably pocketed sans the Amazon excitement – so you can see why I signed it.
By the time that arrangement was up for renewal in July of 2006, I was asking for and getting $50 per text link sold.
The lesson is: Don’t focus on advertising, focus on content. Content will make you more popular and more money than devoting energy to monetizing. Not only that, you might sign yourself to a long term deal that ends up being bad for you.
As I talk to other bloggers running Google Adsense, they mention how their eCPM (effective Cost Per Thousand impressions) increased with the introduction of a new layout or optimization idea, not realizing that eCPM isn’t really affected by that.
Effective Cost per Thousand impressions (eCPM) is directly related to the content of the advertisements being displayed by your contextual block – if you write about blue widgets, you’ll see blue widgets. If you write about structured settlements, you’ll see advertisements about structured settlements. When you write about mesothelioma, your eCPM (if people click on the ads) will be higher than if you wrote about structured settlements, which will be higher than if you wrote about blue widgets. The content of your site, and this is why niche selection is crucial if you’re in it for the money, is what will dictate your eCPM – not your layout.
Clickthrough Rate (CTR) depends on a whole host of factors, one of which is layout. If you remove visual impediments between your content and the ad (blending), then you’ll see your CTR increase. When it was permitted, people put images next to the ads because it drew the attention of the reader who would then be enticed by the ads. By making layout changes, you affect CTR.
Increasing your eCPM may have a negative effect on your CTR (people visiting your site for blue widgets will start to see advertisements for mesothelioma, which they don’t care about, so they don’t click) so don’t devote your time to increasing your eCPM. Likewise, layout decisions could increase CTR but lower your ultimate revenue number. If you have three blocks per page and drop it down to one block, you will likely see a CTR increase but an overall revenue decrease because the number of clicks will fall. This may have different benefits down the road but in the short term (which is a bad way of thinking about things) it may not be the right move.
Blogging can be very financially rewarding but that can’t be your primary focus when you first start or you might become very disenchanted very quickly. See, in the beginning you’re not going to get much traffic, so programs like Google Adsense aren’t going to give you the monetary returns that will make the time you put into it worth it. When you start, you’ll get under five or ten hits a day. Of those, likely no one will click on an Adsense ad, thus you won’t earn any money. If you put up a program that pays per impression, that won’t pay out much either because ten hits is nothing.
The moral of the story is to not focus on the money at first, focus on generating good content, participating in the conversation, getting that link equity, and building your site’s brand. After all that, once you’ve gotten a foothold into the niche, that’s when the money will start coming in. At first it’ll be a trickle… but you never know