Monetize your blog with Adsense

If you’ve been following my Start a money making blog series, together we have: set-up your blog, consistently published content, and worked to increase your traffic.  If you’re averaging more than 100 visits per day, it’s time to consider placing some advertising on your blog so you can begin earning that side income we’ve been talking about!

A great way to start monetizing your blog is with Google Adsense.  Adsense is an advertising network run by Google and allows publishers (that’s you) to display text, image, and rich media ads on your blog.  What makes Google Adsense so slick, is that the ads are automatically targeted at your site’s content.  Adding Adsense ads to your site is also easy: all you have to do is add some script where you want the ad to be shown or use one of the many available WordPress plugins.

Here’s the catch: Optimization and placement of your ads is key to how well your ads will perform.  One of the biggest mistakes new and inexperienced bloggers make is just slapping Adsense ads on their blog, without giving consideration to who should see them, where they should be placed, what size should be used and how they should look.  No need to be concerned, I’ll help you through all of that.

 How to make a Google Adsense Account

The first thing you’ll need to do is sign-up for Google Adsense.  To sign up:

  1. Visit the Google Adsense Page.
  2. Click on the Sign-up now button.
  3. Complete all of the required information, paying particular attention to your website address.  Make sure this is correct.  This URL cannot contain anything that violates the program policies.  Press submit when you’re done.
  4. Next you’ll either link your existing Google Account or you’ll create a new one.
  5. The final page will display a summary of the information you’ve submitted and ask that you confirm.
That’s it.  Your Adsense account request has now been submitted and you’ll need to wait for your site to be approved.  This process takes anywhere from a day to a week, depending on how many requests Google has at the time.  You’ll receive an email from Google notifying you once you’ve been approved.
In the rare instance that you are not approved, the email from Google will contain information on why and how to resubmit your site.  The most common reason for a decline is due to content.  Google reviews your content closely, and will not approve a site that doesn’t meet it’s guidelines.   If this happens, you’ll just have to resolve the issue and resubmit your site.

Adsense Placement

One of the key factors to success with Adsense is the placement of ads.  The following diagram from the Google Help pages shows optimal placement using a heat map (dark orange – strongest performance, light yellow – weakest performance):

Note a few things:

  • Adsense does better below your nav bar – not above
  • The closer Adsense is to your content, the better it performs.  The best placement is right above your content
  • If you have a 3 column theme with a left side column, Adsense does well placed in this left side column as well.
In this article, we’ll focus on adding your Adsense ads just above your content.  For all of my sites, this has been the optimal position.  With that being said though, let me take a minute to address testing.  Each and every website is unique, and while you will see patterns with placement and performance, it is critically important test placement on your site.  By testing I mean play around with different placements and types of ads.  Track each ad’s performance and use that data for determining where to place your ads.  There is actually a way to show one ad to some set of your visitors and another ad to the rest.  This is called A/B Testing.  I’ll review how to do that in a future article.

How to create your first Adsense ad

Assuming your account has been approved, let’s jump in and create your very first Adsense ad.  As I mentioned, for this article we’ll create an ad above your content.  More specifically, we’ll create a 336×280 (large square ad) and place it below your post title but before your content on each of your articles.  We’ll additionally only show this ad to search engine visitors.  I’ll explain why below.

To create your ad, do the following:

  1. Login to your Adsense account.
  2. Click on the My ads tab at the top.
  3. Press the New ad unit button.  The new ad screen will appear prompting you for information about your new ad.
  4. In the Name field, put a name for your ad.  I generally use the name of my blog, followed by the ad size.  For example: Side Income Blogging – Large Square.  The name really doesn’t matter, as long as it is meaningful to you.
  5. In the Size field, select: 336 x 280 – Large Rectangle (this tends to be the best performing Adsense ad)
  6. For Ad type, use the default: Text & Image / Rich Media Ads.  This will allow a combination of text, image and animated ads.
  7. Custom Channels allow you to view and track detailed about your ads, so you’ll definitely want to use a channel.   To create a new custom channel, click on the Create new custom channel link.  In the pop-up, type a name for your channel and press Save.   The new channel will automatically be associated with your ad.
  8. Ad style/color Palette will allow you to select the colors for your ad.  Proper color selection is critical to good performance.  The ad should blend with your content and specifically with your link colors.  Here’s how to select your colors: Border – Use the same color as your background.  Generally this will be #FFFFFF (white), you don’t want a border to show.  Title – Same as your link color.  Background – Same color as Border.  Text – #CCCCCC.  URL – #cccccc.  Use the defaults for the remainder of the settings.  These colors are based on testing I’ve done and the experience of other bloggers I’ve talked with.
  9. Click Save and get code.
  10. Copy the ad code, and save it somewhere handy, as we’ll be using it shortly to show the ad on your site.

Adsense performs very well for search engine visitors, and not well at all for normal visitors or readers of your site.  On my blogs, I focus on my readers as much as I can and I don’t generally like to show them ads, especially non-affiliate ads.  As a result, I only show Adsense ad to search engine visitors, meaning that only visitors coming from a search engine SERP (Search Engine Result Page) will see my Adsense ads.  Fortunately there is a really great plugin that takes care of this for us called: Ozh’ Who Sees Ads.

Here’s how to set-up the Adsense ad we just created so that it is only shown to search engine visitors:

  1. If not already installed, install the Ozh’ Who Sees Ads WordPress plugin and activate it.
  2. Now let’s get it configured.   In your WordPress admin menu, navigate to Settings>>Who Sees Ads.  Who See Ads uses something called Contexts.  Context allow you to set-up rules around who will see your ads (or who won’t).  There are a number of rules available (in the Possible Rules section).
  3. The first thing you’ll want to do is name the new context we’re creating.  Since we’re only showing our ads to search engine visitors, I’d suggest calling it something like search-engine-only.  Avoid using spaces, and use dashes instead, as it will make it easier to reference your name when we insert the Who Sees Ads code here in a bit.
  4. Next, we’ll set-up the rule.  Drag the rule named: “If Visitor comes from a search engine display” to the Active Rules box.  This is generally the only rule I use, but you can add others.  For example, you may want to consider showing adsense on your older posts (usually your normal viewers won’t view older posts).  To do this, drag the rule named: “If Post is older than XX days then display”.  As you can see, there are many rules available, and I would encourage you to try out various rules to see what works best for you for earning revenue.
  5. Remember earlier I told you to save off your Adsense code?  Time to pull it up, copy it and paste it into the box named “Ad Code”.
  6. Click on Save Context.
You’ve now created a context in Who Sees Ads that you can use to control whether your ads are seen or not.  Next, we’ll need to add a little code to call Who See Ads.  If the context evaluates to true, your ad code will be displayed, if not, it won’t.  The code below is for the Thesis theme, if you run a different theme, the way you add this code will vary.

If you’ll recall, we’ll be adding your Adsense ad below the post title, but before your post content.  To do this, we’ll insert some code into the Thesis hook named: thesis_hook_after_headline.  Open up your custom_functions.php file and insert the following code:

[code]
/**
 * Insert Adsense
 */
function show_adsense() {
     if (is_single()) {
             wp_ozh_wsa("search-engine-only");
     }
}
add_action('thesis_hook_after_headline', 'show_adsense');
[/code] Save your changes.  If you are running a caching plugin like W3 Total Cache or Super Cache, you’ll need to delete/purge your cache as well.

At this point, your blog should be showing Adsense ads on your single post pages only if a visitor arrives on your site from a search engine.  Adsense generally takes a few hours to get working, so I would suggest stopping at this point and working on something else for a few hours before proceeding.  I’d suggest reading a few articles from the Side Income Blogging archives, but that’s just me.

Testing your Adsense code

Assuming you’ve waiting a few hours, it’s time to test your changes and make sure everything is working.  Pick your post that ranks highest in the search engines (often the one that gets the most search engine traffic).  You can use Google Analytics to determine this.  Make sure you are logged out of your WordPress administration console, then head over to Google, and search on the title of your post.  When you find it, click on it.  Since you came from a search engine, Who Sees Ads should recognize that, and at the top of your post you should see an Adsense Ad just below your post title and before your post content.

If you navigate to your blog then view the same post (without using Google), you should not see the ad.

If for some reason you don’t see an ad or see an error, double check the code above, and recheck your adsense ad settings.

Tweaking your Adsense ad

Let your adsense ad run for a few weeks and see how your performance does.  Make some notes, then try changing the colors or size of the ad.  To change the colors, all you have to do is go into your Adsense account, edit the ad and save it.  If you want to change sizes, you’ll need to edit the ad and re-paste the code into Who Sees Ads.

As I mentioned, I’ll discuss A/B testing in a future article, but it’s important to try different ad sizes and colors to see what performs the best for you.

—–

Long article, but hopefully it wasn’t too bad.  I do think a big congratulations are in order though for those of you following my Start a Money Making Blog series.  You started with a blank slate, built a website, wrote your content, grew your traffic and now took the first steps toward earning a side income.  That is a huge milestone!  So Congratulations!!  Don’t stop though, continue writing and doing everything you can to grow your traffic.  Remember, the more traffic you have, the more income you make.

Stay tuned, as I’ll be addressing affiliate and private advertising soon.

Photo by: borman818

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Register your blog with Google

At this point in our Start a Money Making Blog series, you should have your blog up and running, looking great and have at least 10 high quality articles published.  A common mistake many bloggers make is to think that their blog will just suddenly get picked up by Google and a rush of traffic will arrive. Unfortunately, this is not the case.  Unless your blog is linked from another credible blog or website, Google won’t find you right away, if at all.  In lieu of getting a link from a credible site, one way to get your site on Google’s radar is to register your blog with Google.

Register your blog with Google

To register your blog with Google, we’ll use a site Google provides for webmasters (yes that’s you) called Google Webmaster Tools.  Just login using your Google account (if you don’t have one, create one) and you’ll be presented with the main home page.  Follow these steps to add your site:

  1. Click the Add a Site… button
  2. Enter the URL of your site and press Continue.  One note here, it’s very important that you use the right URL.  If your site is set-up to be preceeded by www, than enter the www, otherwise leave it off.  If you aren’t sure how your site is set-up, login to your hosting account and see how you set it up.  Most sites have the www.
  3. Now we’ll have to verify your site.  I recommend using Google’s recommended method which involves downloading an HTML file and uploading it to your server.  Just follow the instructions Google provides.  If you need a refresher on how to upload a file to your server, read over my What is FTP article.
  4. Once your HTML file is uploaded, click the verify button.
  5. That’s it, your site is now registered with Google.

Submit a Sitemap

Next you’ll want to submit a sitemap so that Google can easily find and index all that great content you’ve been writing.  A sitemap is a special file that is placed on your website that contains a listing of all the URLs to each of your websites pages.  So instead of Google having to find your content, the sitemap actually maps out all of your content for Google so that it can easily find it.  If you’re curious, you can view the sitemap for Side Income Blogging here.

The easiest way to do this is to install the Google XML Sitemaps plugin.  Once installed and activated, head over to the settings page (Settings>>XML-Sitemap).  At the top will be text that says “The sitemap wasn’t built yet. Click here to build it the first time.”  Click the “Click here” link to generate your sitemap for the first time.  From that point on, the plugin will automatically update your sitemap and notify Google of your new content.

Now that we have a sitemap, we need to return to Google Webmaster tools and tell it about your new sitemap.  To do this, do the following:

  1. Login to Google Webmaster Tools
  2. From the home page, select your site.  You’ll be presented with the Dashboard for your site.
  3. Open the Site configuration menu to left by clicking on the + sign.  Select Sitemaps.
  4. Click on Submit a Sitemap.  When prompted for the location, your domain name will already be populated.  All you have to type is: sitmap.xml.
  5. Click on Submit Sitemap.
That’s it, your sitemap is now submitted.  Come back in a few minutes, view your sitemap and it should show a green check box indicating it was successfully processed.  If not, just follow the steps above again, you most likely typed something wrong or the Google XML Sitemaps plugin isn’t working correctly.

A little help

While registering your site and sitemap with Google Webmaster tools certainly doesn’t guarantee it will help your site, in my personal experience it has proven to get my sites indexed much quicker and results in seeing search engine traffic much sooner.  As we’ll explore soon, getting search engine traffic is critical for earning money from advertisements.  Getting search engine traffic is the key strategy we’ll explore to earn a side income blogging.  So stay tuned.

Those of you with experience has registering your site with Webmaster tools and submitting a sitemap helped your site?  Any cons that you can think of?  Join in, add a comment!

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Add WordPress sidebar widgets

Now that we have our base pages in place, it’s time to add some sidebar widgets.  This will complete the overall look of the blog and then it will be time to dive in and starting writing.

WordPress sidebar widgets

One of the really neat features of WordPress is the ability “drop” widgets into your sidebars.  WordPress widgets are visual “gadgets” that can moved in and out of your sidebar and even moved around in your sidebar.  This all happens on on the fly and as soon as you drop a widget, it’s available on your blog.

WordPress by default comes with a number of default widgets.  You can see them by logging into your WordPress admin console and clicking on Appearance>>Widgets.  The widgets are displayed to the left and the available sidebars will be shown on the right.  There are widgets for categories, archives, links, calendars, searching, comments and more.  Remember too, this is just the default ones, there are many more available on WordPress.org Plugins library.

Sidebar Aesthetics

Many bloggers make one of two common mistakes related to sidebars:

  1. They content flows far beyond their sidebar
  2. Their sidebar flows way beyond their content

Let’s look at the situation of content flowing far beyond the sidebar first.  Doesn’t seem like a bad thing right?  Once users scroll past your sidebar, they aren’t being presented with anything but your articles.  All of your opportunity for them to click on ads, see your featured posts, subscribe, purchase your ebook ,etc are gone.  25 – 30% of your blog page is now white space (read wasted space).

With that in mind, filling up the sidebar and sticking tons of stuff in it would fix that right?  Well, if you sidebar flows way beyond your content, than you have the opposite problem.  Now you have up to 70% of your blog showing white space and no content.

As with most things, the best option is a compromise.   Do your very best to keep your sidebar and content equal in length.  Problem solved.  You’ll note that I do just that here on Side Income Blogging.  Personally, I think it just looks better too.  Nothing worse (in my opinion) than a large amount of wasted space.

What WordPress sidebar widgets do you need?

With all of those widgets, how in the world do you decide what to put and in what order?  Well, there is no right or wrong answer to that question, and ultimately you’ll have to play around with various combinations until you find what works.  But in order to get you started, here are the widgets I recommend an in the order I recommend them:

Subscriptions Widget – I talked about this widget earlier in this series when we did your Feedburner set-up.  This widget should always be at the top of your blog.  This widget is only available with the Thesis theme.  If you aren’t running Thesis, you’ll want to use a Text widget and build your own text and links.

Welcome/About (optional) – There isn’t a widget for this, so you’ll use a text widget.  The welcome/About widget will provide a few sentences (i would recommend no more than 5) about your blog or you.   The decision really depends on if you are trying to primarily brand yourself or your blog.  In general, most of you will want to brand your blog.  Those looking to establish consulting or services businesses should work on branding themselves. After the 3-5 sentences, provide a “Read more on our about page” and link to your about page.  I noted this widget as optional, as it really is personal preference.  I prefer to have this information in the footer rather than the sidebar.

Search – The WordPress search isn’t optimal, but for now it will be sufficient.  Later, as your blog grows, we’ll want to incorporate Google search.  Search will be an important tool used by your visitors to find your content, hence why it’s high on the list.  You don’t ever want someone to have trouble finding your search.

Categories – We’ll discuss this a bit more in a future article, but WordPress provides the ability to relate each post that you write to a category.  This provides your visitors with an additional way to browse your content.  For example, if you want to see all of the tips on blogging here at Side Income Blogging, than you could visit my blogging tips category page.  The categories widget will list off all of the categories that have posts on your blog.

Archives (optional) – Archives again provides an additional way for visitors to browse your content.  Archives allows visitors to view your content by publish date.  You wouldn’t think many people would do this, but I was surprised at the number of contacts I’ve received that said something like “I just finished reading all of your content from start to finish”.  Personally I prefer my archives on a dedicated page, but I’ve seen them in the sidebar frequently on other blogs.  The Thesis theme offers a really slick archives page.

Add WordPress sidebar widgets to your sidebar

Adding WordPress sidebar widgets to your sidebar is easy:

  1. Access the Appearance>>Widgets menu from your WordPress admin console
  2. Find the WordPress widget you want from the list of available widgets
  3. Using your mouse, drag the widgets into your sidebar.  If you have more than one sidebar, drag it to the one you would like the widget placed on.
  4. After dropping the widget, it will expand to show you any options the particular widget may have.  Set these to your liking and press the Save button.
  5. Your widget or widgets are now live on your site.

Always remember: Your sidebar should augment your content and never distract the reader from it.

Graphic by: Kurt Thomas Hunt

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Feedburner set-up

One of the set-up options many new bloggers miss as they aren’t aware of it is Feedburner.  Feedburner augments your RSS feed and allows you to track the number of subscribers to your RSS feed along with email services and numerous other features.  Before we jump into setting up Feedburner, let me explain what RSS is, as this is a confusion point for most new bloggers.  If you’re familiar with RSS, just skip to the next section: What is Feedburner?

What is RSS?

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and is basically a technology that allows visitors to your blog to “subscribe” and receive updates whenever you publish new content.  Updates are received by RSS Readers that the subscriber uses.  Basic browsers such as Internet Explorer and Firefox comes with built in RSS readers.  My personal preferred RSS reader is Google Reader when I’m on my MacBook, and FeedlerPro on my iPad.

Some of you maybe asking: Why use RSS versus just visiting the website directly?  Good question and here are a couple of reasons/advantages:

  1. All of your favorite content in one place – RSS readers consolidate all of your subscriptions into one place.  Using an RSS reader you can just scroll through all of the latest articles from all of the blogs you subscribe too, one after the other.  No need to visit each website to see the content.
  2. Latest content only – RSS readers keep you from having to visit each blog or website only to find that there isn’t any new content.  RSS readers also are set-up by default to only show you new content, so no more visiting a website and trying to remember if you read the sites latest article or not.
  3. Avoids email clutter – I know some people love to have updates sent to their email, but I get enough email without having updates from the more than 100 blogs I subscribe to being sent there as well.  Using RSS allows me to separate my blog reading from my inbox to avoid clutter.

What is Feedburner?

WordPress by default comes with an RSS feed, it’s your domain name followed by /feed, so for Side Income Blogging, it’s http://sideincomeblogging.com/feed.  The problem with this default feed though is that WordPress nor RSS provide a way to tracking statistics about your RSS subscribers though.  Things like how many people are subscribed and did they click through to your website.  WordPress and RSS also don’t provide any additional capabilities on top of your RSS feed, like formatting and advertising.

Feedburner to the rescue.  Fortunately, Feedburner does.  Feedburner not only allows us to track our subscribers, but it provides numerous other functionality to compliment our RSS feed.  Feedburner is a definitely a must have for every blogger.  Feedburner initially was it’s own company and quickly grew due to the fantastic capabilities and features offered.  Google acquired Feedburner a few years back and added one really nice feature, Adsense integration.  You don’t have to worry about that right now, but this will become an important part of your income stream later.

Feedburner works by “wrapping” or intercepting your blogs RSS feed.  When you set-up Feedburner, it will ask you for your blogs feed address.  Feedburner will consume your blogs feed and provide you with a special Feedburner RSS URL.  This is how Feedburner is able to track subscribers and give you special abilities.  Feedburner works as a “middle man” of sorts.

With that in mind, let’s get Feedburner set-up and configured.

Feedburner Set-up

Feedburner set-up is pretty easy:

  1. Visit http://feedburner.google.com
  2. Enter you Google account credentials or sign-up for a new Google account if you don’t have one.  You’ll then be shown the My Feeds page of Feedburner.  This will be the main landing page when you login and will display the various feeds you have set-up with Feedburner (assuming you have more than one blog).
  3. To set-up (aka burn) your new feed, enter your website’s feed address in the “burn your feed right this instance”.  Remember, your feed address is your blog URL followed by /feed.  Using Side Income Blogging as an example, the feed address would be: http://sideincomeblogging.com/feed.
  4. Click Next
  5. Next, confirm the feed name and URL.  I would recommend leaving them as defaulted by Feedburner, but you can certainly change them as well.
  6. Click Next
  7. You should receive a confirmation window showing the URL for your Feedburner feed.  Copy and save this address somewhere.  While you can always log back into Feedburner, it’s often handy to have this address available.  I save my Feedburner addresses along with other website information using Evernote.
  8. Click Skip directly to feed management, which will take you back to one of the settings pages for your new feed.
  9. Click the Google Feedburner logo in the upper right corner to return to the main landing page.  You’ll see your new feed now listed.
  10. Congratulations!  Don’t close the window though, because we’re not done just yet.

Feedburner Email Set-up

One of the really nice features of Feedburner is that it not only enables RSS subscriber tracking but also adds the ability to email your post updates to subscribers.  This is something you’ll want to set-up as well.  This will give your readers the option of subscribing to your site using both RSS and EMail.  In order for email subscriptions to work, we’ll have to set-up the email subscriptions option.  Here’s how:

  1. Click on your new feed name.  If you closed the window, just access Feedburner again and re-login using your Google credentials.
  2. You’ll now see the details/settings page for your feed.  For now, Feedburner will tell you that your feed is new and to check back.  This is normal.  It can take a day or so to begin showing detailed stats about your feed.
  3. The various tabs at the top allow you to change your feed settings.  To set-up email subscriptions, click on the Publicize tab.
  4. Under the various services options listed along the left, click on the Email Subscriptions option.
  5. Click on the pink Active button to activate Email subscriptions.
  6. You’ll now see the Email subscription management page.  Feedburner provides two options for adding email subscription options to your blog.  You can either use a link or a form.  The link will allow you to place a link on your website and when your visitor clicks on it, they’ll be routed to Feedburner to enter their email address and name.  The form allows you to place a form on your blog, so visitors can enter their name and email directly on your website.  For now, we’ll just be using the link.  In a future article, I’ll discuss how to add the form directly to your blog.
  7. Scroll down to where it says Preview Subscription link, and copy the URL located between the quotes just after the href tag.  For example, for Side Income Blogging it will be: http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=SideIncomeBlogging&loc=en_US
  8. Click Save
  9. That’s it, email subscriptions are now enabled.

Adding your Feedburner RSS and Email links to your blog

Your subscription links should be very visible and easy to find for your readers.  I highly recommend added them to the very top of your sidebar.  If you’re using the Thesis theme, here’s how you can easily do that:

  1. Login to your WordPress admin console
  2. Navigate to Thesis>>Site Options
  3. Click on the + next to Syndication/Feed URL
  4. Replace the value there (if there is one) with the Feedburner address I asked you to save in Step 7 under Feedburner Set-up above.
  5. Click the Save button.
  6. Navigate to Appearance>>Widgets
  7. Drag the Subscriptions Widget over to your Sidebar (on the right) and drop it at the top.  Once you drop it, it will open up allowing you to set tthe settings.
  8. For Title, I’d recommend putting “Subscribe”
  9. For Describe your subscription options, you can put something like “Get free updates by subscribing”, but feel free to snaz this up a bit.  The key goal is to encourage your visitors to subscribe.
  10. In the RSS Link text, enter: Via RSS
  11. In the Email link and text, enter: <a href=”YOUR EMAIL LINK GOES HERE”>Via Email</a>
  12. Where it says YOUR EMAIL LINK GOES HERE, replace that with the Email link from step 7 under Feedburner Email Set-up above.  Again, this will be something like: http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=SideIncomeBlogging&amp;loc=en_US
  13. Click Save

That’s it, you should now have a basic subscribe widget on your blog.  Make sure you confirm everything is working by clicking on the links.  I would  suggest subscribing to your blog both to fully verify the links are working and so you can monitor your feeds to ensure they work going forward.

Feedburner Feedsmith Redirect

One last step.  What if someone visits your feed URL directly or uses an RSS Reader that automatically pulls your feed?  Well, the problem is that both of these would most likely use your /feed URL to pull your RSS feed.  This will bypass Feedburner and make your stats inaccurate.  Fortunately this is easily solved by using a plugin called FeedBurner FeedSmith Extend.  This little plugin will redirect any access to your /feed address to your Feedburner URL, basically forcing any subscriptions to use your Feedburner feed.  Slick huh?

Here’s how to install and set it up.

  1. Install the FeedBurner FeedSmith Extend plugin.  This is done by using the Add New menu under Plugins in your WordPress console.
  2. Once installed, activate the plugin
  3. Under your settings menu, select Feedburner FeedSmith Extend.
  4. In the Main Feed feed, enter your Feedburner feed URL.
  5. Leave comments blank for now.
  6. Press Save.

Now let’s test it to make sure it’s working.  In your browsers address field, enter your blogs URL and add /feed on the end.  Again, for Side Income Blogging (as an example) it would be: http://sideincomeblogging.com/feed. Press enter.  You should be redirected to the Feedburner subscribe page.  If not, follow the instructions above again to make sure you didn’t miss something or miskey the address of your Feedburner address.

That’s it!  Your blog is now fully Feedburner enabled.  We’ll explore some of the more advanced features of Feedburner later, but for now just enjoy watching that subscriber number slowly grow!

 

 

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Don’t ever just shutdown a blog or website

I recently had a client that decided they were not longer interested in blogging.  As a result, they went to their hosting provider, deleted the site and canceled their hosting.  Seems reasonable right?  After all, if you’re no longer interested in blogging, why keep your site?  While in some scenarios this is the right thing to do, in most it’s not.  Websites and blogs are like real estate (well, what real estate used to be a few years ago).  In most cases, they begin gaining value from the moment you buy them.

Websites and blogs have value and grow

My client’s site was a site they actively wrote on for almost a year, then as their interest faded the site received less and less updates.  Regardless of how frequently it was updated, the site contained a large amount of content that was indexed by Google and receiving search engine traffic.  Additionally the site had a Page Rank of 2, not great, but not bad either.

As you may or may not know, Google gives additional credibility to sites that have been around for a while.  The longer the site has been live, the more credibility the site gets.  Credibility yields search engine traffic and search engine traffic yields income opportunity.

What I’m trying to say here is that my client just up and deleted a site:

  • A large amount of good content
  • A mature and search engine indexed site
  • A perfectly good domain name

Alternatives to deleting a blog or website

Instead of just deleting the site and throwing away more than a years worth of content and site maturity, here are some options that should be considered:

Just keep the site up

Instead of deleting it, just leave it running.  This is particularly a good idea if the site has advertising on it and is making money.  Overtime the site could continue to gain traffic even though it’s not actively being updated.  Sure it will grow slower, but it will still get traffic, especially if the content is good and targeted at good keywords.

Additionally, you may decide to come back and begin writing on it again.  I know for me personally, I can get a little burnt out writing on the same topics over and over.  But, if I take a break for a few weeks or even months, I’ll often get the itch to write again.  I’ve done that a bit here on Side Income Blogging.

You should also consider hiring a writer.  If you’re too busy or not currently interested in writing, hiring a writer might be a good option, particularly if the site is earning money or has the potential to earn money.  You can find writers and websites that offer article writing services for as little as $10 – $15 per article (actually some advertise $5/article, but I question the quality).

The only thing that would make me shy away from just keeping the site up and running is it was costing me more to run the site than I’m earning and I think it’s going to be that way for while.  If that’s the case, sometimes it is better to just cut your loses.  But before you do, consider the remaining options.

Sell the whole site

Many people are surprised to find that they can sell their site, even if it’s a fairly new site.  One of the most popular places to sell your website or blog is on Flippa.  Flippa allows you to auction your site off.  You can set a reserve price to insure you get a base amount.  Flippa provides potential buyers will all types of useful information about your site.

Of course Flippa is just one option.  There are many other websites that allow you to list and sell your website or blog.  You can also just publish a post on your site indicating you’re interested in selling.  Word of  mouth also works very well.  When I sold Gather Little by Little, I expressed interest in selling to some fellow personal finance bloggers and within a few days sold the site.

The trick with selling your site is determining it’s value, basically answering the question: How much is my blog worth?.  This isn’t an easy question to answer and there are multiple “right” ways to answer it.  The general rule, and the one I’ve used is: a site is worth 24 months of income plus some premium for the domain name and site itself.   Let’s say that your site is 1 year old and earning $100.00/month from Adsense and various affiliates.  The site has a decent domain name, a good page rank, and well written content.  The value of the site based on this rule would be $2400.00 + the premium.  The premium is where things get a little fuzzy, but I’d say maybe $500.00, making the site value $2900.00.  This is a good starting point.

The bottom line on site worth is that it’s really up to you.  You have to ask yourself, will I regret selling it afterwards?  That’s what the decision really boils down to.

Sell the content

Another option, albeit less popular is to just sell the content.  Many bloggers are always looking for ways to add good content to their blogs and will often be willing to purchase your content (aka articles) from you.

The best way to do this is to just contact successful bloggers in the niche for your site and ask them if they would be interested.  Determining value is difficult and there isn’t a real good rule of thumb here.  Just be aware that most bloggers can outsource article writing for as little as $10 – $15 per article.

Wrapping Up

I’m certainly not saying that just up and deleting a site isn’t the right thing to do.  I’ve done it numerous times, especially for sites that are getting little to no traffic, I haven’t put much time into, and aren’t earning money.   In many cases though, you can recover some of your investment by selling your site or your content.  Please don’t ever just up and delete a website or blog you’ve created.  Consider the options first.

Photo by: JOE MARINARO

 

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