Jeff Barr's Blog

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Blog Business Summit – Steve Broback & Glenn Fleishman

Glenn is about to get started, along with Steve.

Steve starts out with a story of how he used a Google ad to shame the Muse hotel into admitting that the so-called free wireless wasn’t in fact free. He spent $4.20 on the ad, and then the manager called him up, admitted to the problem, and changed the site. He’ll walk us through the use of AdSense. Started with a site, rawformat.typepad.com. Applied to Google, got approval within 24 hours. On the AdSense site, choose how to style and display the ad. He gets money when someone clicks. At this point he gets “a dinner out” each month (Google prohibits people from saying what they make). Matt Haughey (pvrblog.com) documented earnings in late 2003.

To blog and make money, find intersection of two circles. What you like and can blog about, and what you can make money at. So, he cares about digital cameras. Get a list of top digital cameras, go into AdWords account and walk through creating a new ad, to see how valuable the ads and keywords are. Enter the list of cameras as potential keywords, then see how much you are willing to pay for a click, in slot #1. Look at CPC (Cost-Per-Click), that’s all you care about. Past into Excel, choose. Analyze, pivot. Multiply average CPC by clicks/day, create an index to judge value. Nikon and Canon come out on top. Find connections, decide to focus on Canon. Build canonupdate.com .

Ok, over to Glenn. He’ll talk about “The Entrepreneurial Blog”. He does wifinetnews.com and droxy.com. The fun is figuring out a way to transfer the obsession into a way to make a living.

So, start with obsession, find a topic, and perhaps a network of people who care about that topic. Figure out obsession and then tap into it. Archives build up and are very valuable. Basically an obsession integrated over time. Example, 802.11N, upcoming standard. It is his #3 page getter right now.

First, obsess. 802.*, WEP, WPA, etc.

Exhaust the space, fill the zone. Broaden focus, cover anything that happens, e.g., in WiFi, for him. Be omnipresent, tracked using Technorati and trackbacks. Sifry at Technorati used this to be omnipresent when Technorati was getting started. Glenn watches what is written about him and responds in a similarly obsessive fashion. Cultivate cross-links, as long as relevant and germane. Show that you are all-encompassing. Be helpful to colleagues and readers. Submit to Slashdot and BoingBoing. Create a voice that makes you sound exhaustive and authoritative.

Report. He started by putting overflow from an interview online. Do real reportage. Links don’t bring bucks, you must do analysis. Bring in your authentic experience to make real revenue. How to break news? Scoops he has done: WPA broken, AMD postering, Broadcom interference.

Choose. Find some empty space. Harder, with things like weblogsinc.com and grokker media. Hint: Find a site that you like, that’s not syndicating, do some Google tests and keyword tests, and see if there’s something worth doing. Stick with what you do, sometimes things look like they have dried up for a while, and then come back. For example, satellite radio. Sirius pays $60 for affiliate signups.

Sell sponsorships instead of / in addition to AdSense, fill some space with higher revenue ads. This can happen as your traffic and notoriety grows.

Contact companies in the space, get to the CEO. He gets 4000 visitors per weekday, and hears directly from the people involved. Perservere. WiFi blog took a while to get rolling. Memes can suddenly explode, so the longer you stay in the space the better, as long as it is growing.

Expand. After filling the zone, launch more blogs. WiMax blog coming, and another for European WiFi. Do a good job on one topic, others can follow. Add more, get more traffic, cross-promote, cross-link, get overall traffic increase. Rise of the divided blog. Engadget needs to be divided; the space is now too big. So crowded that nobody goes there anymore.

Example: Om Malik, brand of one. Gets 350,000 page views per month.

Many voices, with more blogs you can involve more writers.

Use special coverage to your advantage. Trade show can draw people in, huge spikes, e.g. an auto trade show or the CES, with original coverage from the show floor.

His spawn: Alan Reiter, Steve Stroh, Om Malik, Sam Sellers.

Earnings. Unlabeled graph of AdSense earnings, no real trend up. Some spikes when there’s some high ad spending, others correlated against big news and traffic days. Sponsorships and partnerships work well for him, cross-linked. Many ads, are more Google ads better? Look at wifinetworkingnews.com, partner ad in top right. Partner search, AdSense, Google Search, banner ad. RSS feed, mailing list, a lot going on. All for monetizing and increasing subscribers. Content in center, the stuff around the edges is set dressing. 1-line bar on droxy.com for woot.com, RSS, multiple Google ad blocks (and it boosts revenue).

Affiliate Marketing has worked well for him with non-blog sites. Find companies that work about products and services that work. Sirius, $60/signup. Amazon Associates. Sell stuff with a high value. Satellite radio has a lot of money in the system, so that works well. Half.com bounties, $10, and eBay.com bounty, $12. Both work well on his isbn.nu site. Distinguish editorial from advertorial. Track performance, percentage of sales from different vendors.

Perform. Blog like you don’t need the money.

Steve’s AdSense stats come out to around 1.3 cents per visit.

Comment from the audience, dumb traffic vs. smart traffic. Dumb traffic comes in from search engines and follows more outbound revenue-oriented links. Smart traffic follows the site, come for the content. So suppressing ads for non-searchers might improve the site without having an adverse effect on revenue.