This article will look like it’s all over the place; it just might be. What I’ve found in life is that even a rambling post has lessons for everyone to learn. Thus, I’m going to share things about scams old and new, promoting oneself and of course social media. Let’s start with promotion.
We be promotin’
Not all of us are lucky enough to have someone recognize us for something good, something that could possibly make us feel better and show that we’re actually doing something positive in the world. In this case, I’m not talking about this blog but my business blog. It seems that my business blog, Mitch’s Blog made the Center for Management And Organizational Effectiveness’ Top 100 Socially-Shared Leadership Blogs of 2018. I’m sitting in position #99… at least I made the list! 🙂 Continue reading →
With the first post of 2017 I thought I would talk a little bit about something bloggers can do to make money on their blogs. That would be accepting advertisements. If your blog is popular it can be quite wonderful and lucrative, but it can also be dangerous and bad for your blog. Let’s try to take these one step at a time, since there are many things to consider.
pretty blatant advertising!
The first is their relevance to the content of your blog. For instance, there’s a local bakery in town called Harrison Bakery and I happen to like some of their products… a lot! If I went to them and said “Hey, would you like to advertise on my blog”, and I was talking about this blog, I might have some issues with search engines (y’all know who I’m talking about lol).
The reason I would have problems with search engines is that this blog has nothing to do with food or baking and that could be seen as someone buying paid ads on the blog. Obviously that’s what it would be, and that’s what all advertising is, but because there’s no relevance to the content on this blog then that would be problematic. I know the dangers in that because back in 2009, Google took away my page rank (anyone remember that?) because of the text link ads I was accepting, which were paying me a lot of money, and once that was taken away the advertisers stopped coming, I stopped making money, and put through a request to get my page rank back… which took 6 months.
Of course it’s not that I couldn’t link to the bakery anyway, but let’s look at this in a different way.
I actually have a local blog, and since the bakery is local, in general that type of thing should be legitimate for advertising purposes. Unfortunately, the search engines would have no idea that my blog is specifically a local blog (even though I’ve been optimizing it in that way for years), and they wouldn’t pick up on the relationship between the local business and that particular blog. That means I would have to add nofollow tags to the link or banner ad, which wouldn’t surprise me one bit, but if the advertiser was savvy it might make them a bit reluctant to advertise with me.
However, I did link to them in this post; kind of. I linked to their Google Plus page, which is allowed by all search engines and probably ignored as well. I could have linked to their site if I’d added the rel=nofollow tag, but I decided to go through the other route; I couldn’t tell you why now.
The rules by the Federal Trade Commission, which we have to deal with here in the United States, says that if we have any kind of affiliation with a business, or if someone sends us something free, and we write about them and it’s favorable, that it must be disclosed up front, especially if we get paid. I’ve always disclosed when someone has given me something free, although in my case it’s always some kind of book, of which the last one I reviewed that I got for free came from my friend Rasheed Hooda called Life: It’s A Trip.
On my local blog because I write about places and events all the time, but I tend to make all links nofollow to avoid issues with the search engines. Since none of those businesses don’t know I write about them at the time, and since I’m not always nice, legally I’m fine and the search engines can’t bother me.
What if it’s your own product you’re advertising? For instance, 4 of those things over on the left are products of mine, and I advertise something on 4 of my blogs and my business website. Do the search engines know they’re all related to me? Could I get in trouble?
It turns out they do! I’ve registered all my sites under my name via Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics. I also attached all those properties to my two Google Plus accounts because I didn’t want to take any chances, and I’ve done the same thing for both of my YouTube channels. You know what else? Since I have all of my sites on the same account via my hosting company, they all share the same IP address; winning! 🙂
Next, let’s talk about those folks who want to write guest posts for you and link to another company; should you accept those posts, especially when they don’t want the links to be nofollow? That answer is “no”, but it comes with some caveats.
For instance, if you have “sponsored post” in the title then you’re probably good because you’re disclosing that there’s some kind of relationship. If you ask me my opinion on that, I believe you should be getting some kind of payment for it… while still putting “sponsored post” in the title.
This is different than people who want to write a guest post for you with the intention of sending traffic back to their site. Accepting guest posts can help build up the traffic on your site and if you’re up for the editing it can become a win-win for both parties. In that case you might want to weigh whether or not you want those posts to have the nofollow tag or not, but if the website isn’t overly prominent and is a blog instead of a website, you could get away with adding a link without any further attribution. That’s because there’s no money involved and no trading of services.
If it’s an actual website and it’s not related to your blog’s subject… well, that could end up being pretty dicey, and either you or they risk being penalized somewhere down the line (y’all remember all those letters asking you to remove links from your blog?).
The last consideration is traffic… but it’s not always a lot of traffic, and if you’re savvy you might figure out a way to get around the search engines and still make a good amount of money. For instance, in my post last year when I was talking about going to the Blogging While Brown conference, I linked to one particular fashion blog of one of the presenters at the conference.
Based on traffic numbers, the blog might be considered a failure by many regular bloggers. However, they gear it towards their particular local audience, they do almost all of the modeling, and they get out into the community and market themselves to the extent that they’ve become fashion consultants and make most of their money off that than with the products they market. Even if the search engines de-listed them, they’d be doing just fine because they’re not as reliant on social media as the rest of us might be, thus they can break the rules and not have anything to worry about; that’s kind of cool, right? Then again, though they have advertising on their blog, they rarely add links to those folks, so once again they’re getting away with murder, and looking good while doing it. 😉
One of my considerations for this year is making a better income via all the blogging I do. I only make money off one of my blogs at this juncture, and not all that much. It’s not as easy as the “experts” make it out to be, and one of the most honest and revealing articles about this was written by Ana Hoffman of Traffic Generation Cafe, which I recommend you read, because no one knows more about generating blog traffic than she does.
My plan is to do more writing, more promoting, and contacting more potential suitors for my services in 2017. As an independent business, it’s all on me to decide how I’m going to generate income and how much, and I can’t tell y’all anything if I’m not doing anything.
Take into the account the things I wrote about above and give it some serious thought. Then get out there and make 2017 your most successful year ever!
I used to love commercials as a kid. I loved all types of advertising. However, it wasn’t until I ordered the sea monkeys from a comic book and got something that wasn’t quite up to snuff (what the heck was that anyway?) that I started to distrust certain kinds of ads.
Anyway, that’s kind of what’s led me to talk about this subject. In deference to my buddy Craighead Pro (that’s his professional name lol), I decided it was time to take on this particular subject about “adblocking”.
For those who aren’t familiar with it, many browsers offer a plugin called Adblock Pro which allows us to block ads from certain websites; okay, almost every website out there. Some sites have figured out how to get certain types of ads to you in different ways (for instance, it doesn’t block all those newsletter subscribe popups) while others have created other plugins or apps to help block more of it if you want to deal with it.
Craighead’s view is an intriguing one, and I’m not totally against his thinking on this one. He’s a big YouTube creator and many YouTubers put a lot of time into creating this content because they can set up ads on them to make money online. With Adblock on, you never see any of those ads, whether they’re in the video or along the side, thus you’re never compelled to potentially click on them or watch them and the creators don’t make money.
Obviously it’s the same with websites. When we block the ads those sites lose a lot of potential revenue because who wants to advertise on a site where most ads are getting blocked? I certainly wouldn’t because it would be a waste of my advertising dollars.
So I get it; I really do. To this end, I’ve stopped blocking ads on YouTube because I recognize the time those folks put into creating this stuff that I like to watch. Just like with other types of ads I tend to have “ad blindness” for the stuff that shows up on the side so that doesn’t bother me. Anything that shows up on a video I can just click away from it by hitting the X if I’m not interested, and some other ads run for 5 seconds and gives you the ability to click away if you so choose.
However, I have no shame when it comes to blocking a lot of other stuff, including CNN and Facebook and on most websites I visit. Even though I run a couple of affiliate ads here and there I still block those other sites.
I’m going to blame the advertisers for this as much as the websites, but the advertisers first.
What makes us watch advertising in the first place? When we watch ads it’s because it’s offering us something compelling. For instance, the ads I’ll actually watch on YouTube have captured my imagination in some way. I like the funny ads. I like the movie trailers. Even though I’m not a gamer I love seeing those ads; those folks are creative as anything.
I’m not watching an ads that’s 2 minutes long talking about a medical malady I don’t have. I’m almost never clicking on one of those banner ads that comes up because there’s almost never any interest in that product for me. And sometimes those ads look like what we all used to call “generic trick spam”, where they’ll say something like “your computer’s out of date” or stupid mess like that.
A popup telling me I have a virus that I know I don’t have because I have an antivirus program is both disturbing and irksome. That’s one of my biggest gripes with ads that Facebook allows. Those misleading ads aren’t going to fool me after so many years, but I’m betting there are a lot of people who aren’t quite as savvy clicking on that stuff. Those and the ads that are videos that automatically start playing; man, I hate that stuff. That’s why I have a couple of extra layers of protection against ads on that site.
CNN is a different animal entirely. I removed Flash from my computers about 2 months ago as both Firefox, my browser of course, and Chrome switched to a HTML5 mode so I could watch YouTube videos. They’re still blocked on some sites for Firefox, though I can watch them on Chrome. However, CNN has figured out how to not only override that issue but the issue of keeping their videos from automatically starting. And now, if you try to pause those videos it immediately takes you to a different page than the article you want to read & starts playing a different ad; what’s that about?
So, I run different types of blockers on sites like this, and I’m betting I’m not the only one. Whether it’s the types of ads or the intrusiveness of these things, frankly I’m not in the mood to deal with it. YouTube is kind of a different animal but even there, if the ad isn’t compelling I’m not going to stay around to consume it. But I at least give them a chance.
What’s your thought on all of this? Can you see both sides of it? Is it the fault of the advertisers for what they create, the fault of the sites for what they accept, or not your problem whatsoever?
I ask this question because there can be subtle differences between writing style based on what it is you’re actually trying to do.
For instance, writing about products that you’re trying to sell is a much different animal than trying to explain to people the types of services you provide.
When you’re writing about a product, you almost have to go step by step by first telling what the product is, how it works, why it’s so great and why someone might need to use it.
When writing about services, you’re not necessarily going to be as direct about them, at least most of the time, because that kind of hard sell for services usually falls on deaf ears. Instead, it usually involves a consistent set of scenarios that one puts up to show that they have expertise in that area so that people will get comfortable with the fact that they may know what they’re talking about.
One of the problems some people have when writing about products is that they forget to be conversational. Everybody loves stories, because stories are very conversational.
For instance, if you’re trying to sell a fishing rod, telling stories about being out on a boat in the middle of a bay while casting with your favorite fly and catching the trout you have always wanted to catch makes for a compelling story. A full description of the lure and the rod and the reel could make someone think that if they bought those things they might have the same kind of success or adventure. But most marketers don’t think that way, which is a shame.
As you’ve seen on this blog, I talk about a lot of different things trying to show my expertise, since I offer services. I do have a couple of products at the top of each of my sidebar, but those are only small pieces of my overall business.
Most of the time there’s a story tied in with the particular topic that I’m addressing on that day, and to be truthful I’m always hoping that one day one of those stories will pique the interest of somebody who’s looking for someone with my particular set of skills.
I hope for the same thing on my other business blog, while on my finance blog I keep trying to make it financially diverse hoping to attract advertisers. Of course that’s another way of making money, getting advertisers, but it can take a lot of hard work to have the right content to drive enough traffic to your blog to make it profitable for them.
As I always say, the point of every blog and every article is to either inform, educate, or entertain. If you decide that you’re looking to use it to make money or to promote yourself, then you have to be flexible enough to alter your text to try to accomplish your goals. When all is said and done that’s what marketing is all about.
One of the best things about advertising and working online is that if something isn’t working, you can change it pretty easily. Testing can take some time, but it’s less expensive than printing $10,000 worth of material, mailing it out to thousands of people, getting nothing in return and having to do it all again.
One of the worst things about advertising and working online is when you get things so screwed up that you lose any business credibility you might have had. Sure, many times you’ll get another shot at making a go of things, but you’ll probably never get any of those people back that stopped by, disapproved of what you did, left and talked about it later on.
One Sunday last year I did a Google Hangout with my Hot Blog Tips crew on the topic of writing paid posts and blogging credibility, which I’m sharing below. It’s my position that if people do things that are unethical just to make money that eventually it will kill them and their business prospects. There are a lot of bloggers who write paid posts, or put up posts with someone else’s words, and say a lot of glowing stuff about something they’re not familiar with. Some will be promoting a product using an affiliate link that they know nothing about and writing something overly positive without knowing if it is or not.
When it comes to your business and advertising it online, I feel that what you don’t want to do is say you can do things that you can’t do. At the same time, overstating your capabilities doesn’t do you many favors either. I remember having a conversation with someone a couple of years ago where he said that if you’re asked if you can do something or provide something you always answer “yes”, then you go out and find the person who can really do it. To me, it might be true that you can find someone who can do the work, but if you don’t know that person and they do the work badly, you’re the one who’s going to suffer.
There’s nothing wrong with self promotion. There’s really nothing wrong with a bit of hyperbole, although if you say you’re the #1 whatever in your market I tend to believe you’d better be ready to prove it by showing me something, since I might not even allow you to work with me unless I get testimonials. These days people are more savvy than ever, and they can check everything online. Try to fool someone and it will come back at you eventually. Nothing disappears online; remember that.
By the way, you need to know that if you happen to use words that aren’t your own, sent to you by a marketer that they believe will help you sell their product, that it’s a violation of FCC rules and it could result in both fines and losing your domain; just thought I’d mention that.
Check out the video below, as it addresses this topic with a few more ideas on the subject than just mine: