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5 Things Bloggers Can Learn From Poker

It seems that every year around this time I write a post that talks about poker and blogging in some fashion. In January 2009 I wrote a post called the Psychology of Gambling. In January 2010 I wrote a post titled 5 Ways Poker Is Like Blogging. And in February 2010 I wrote a post titled Pot Odds In Internet Marketing.

Poker Chips, Poker ‘n Stuff

Why poker? Many of you know that I love playing poker. I fancy myself a pretty good player but not a great player. However, I’ve studied great players and I can see what I lack that they have. I don’t see me getting a lot of it at this juncture of my life, but one never knows, right?

Like almost anything else, one can learn some interesting ideas on how to do something from another place, or from something that has nothing to do with what you’re doing. In reality, most things are interconnected in some fashion, and if you have the time to consider it, you’ll see the connections, or the potential connections, and hopefully learn something from it.

In this case, I figure the lessons bloggers can learn from poker are something that leads us well into the next year, which begins tomorrow, and thus the timing of this article is pretty good. Of course, you could read this and think I’m just nuts; let’s find out.

1. Poker is about analyzing what’s going on at that moment. If I have an ace and a jack in my hand and the flop comes up king, jack and seven, and the other player bets ahead of me, I have to analyze a lot of things at once. Does he have an ace in his hand? How has he played previous hands? How have I played other hands in this situation? Is the amount he’s betting trying to scare me away, or is he trying to trap me? Can I get a tell from the expression on his face? Has he read my face and figured something out?

In blogging, we often start writing for ourselves, but once people start coming we need to be ready to analyze ourselves from time to time. What types of posts do people seem to like? Is my post too short or too long? Is my language easy to understand or am I talking above people’s heads? Are my visuals okay or am I off-putting some people? Just who is your blog for? The decisions can be just as immediate, and in some cases more valuable than a poker bet.

2. Poker is about paying attention to what’s going on around you in some fashion. Even those people who play wearing headphones and listening to music are paying attention to what’s going on around them. They know if one guy always raises when he’s in the big blind. They know if someone is actually thinking about whether their hand is good or whether they’re trying to trick you into doing something stupid. They watch your hands to see if you change up when you have good hands or bad. They look at your eyes, even if you’re wearing sunglasses, to see what they do. When I’m truly in the zone, I know how every player I can see plays the game, and thus I play really well when I’m paying attention.

With blogging, it’s almost the same type of thing. I notice that when I write a post that’s actually a training tip of some sort it gets a lot of attention from people who don’t normally come to this blog. I know who’s going to visit and comment when I write personal posts. I know that if I’m writing a post about a potential money making venture, whether I made money off it or not, that post is going to do well. And I know which posts probably aren’t going to do all that well either. I have to weigh all that, though, for my own personal balance. All of it helps me grow, and there ends up being something for everyone.

3. If you stay at a table long enough, suddenly there’s a great sense of camaraderie and sharing. It’s funny; you sit down at a table with 8 strangers almost every time you go. There’s a feeling out process and you get to feeling like you know people. They get to thinking they know you. Your guard gets let down, to a degree, and suddenly you find yourself sharing stories and telling jokes and finding out what other people do. You learn that some people have come a long way to play while others are there every day. And, if you’re lucky, every once in awhile you’ll go back to play and actually run into someone you played with before, and it’s kind of a welcoming feeling, which is always nice.

I often say on this blog that if you’re lucky you’ll end up being a part of a blogging community, where there are a group of people you’ll be able to count on for a comment or for support or to write something on their blog that you can participate on. The strange thing about a blogging community is that you have to also realize that very few people who are commenting on your blog now will be there 4 to 6 months later. And it may not have anything to do with you; it just is what it is. But for that moment, those people give you love, you give some back, and it all feels good.

4. Real poker players don’t view chips as money, which is a scary proposition because, unless it’s a tournament, it really is money. It’s that feeling, though, that lets them do things you and I would never consider. For instance, there’s the story of a poker pro named Daniel Negreanu, who won a poker tournament and $1.5 million one day, only to lose all the money the next day playing a cash game. Most of us would have lost our minds but he just saw it as a bad day, and went back the day after and won some of it back.

Many of us view our blogs as an opportunity to make money, which isn’t a bad thing, but blogs aren’t really money. We read this advice saying we must do this or that in order to make money blogging. It’s possible you can make money in those ways, but you might not. Niche blogging might or might not make more money than just writing in general, but if you’re writing for the money instead of for the love it’s not going to come across right to potential readers, and you’ll be wasting your time. Having mailing lists and setting up newsletters you don’t really want to write doesn’t benefit anyone and can be more work than it should be. If you view your blog as only a potential money maker, you’re going to fail; that’s just how it goes.

5. Poker playing, no matter what level you play at, means you have to be willing to risk something. When I play poker I head into it knowing that there’s a possibility I’m going to come home out between $200 and $300. Sometimes I come home way ahead, slightly ahead, or break even. What’s rare is sitting down at a table and winning the first hand, or first few hands. Most of the time you’re going to be down, even if it’s only 2 or 3 dollars, based on ante’s whether you play a hand or not. Like all games, there’s always the risk of losing.

With blogging, losing is kind of a strange way of looking at things. Instead, let’s say things might not go as planned all the time. If you write it people won’t necessarily come unless you work in getting them to come. If you don’t answer comments or make commenting hard people will be reluctant to come, and thus reluctant to read. If you’re writing a niche blog that you define too finitely you might run out of things to say. If you don’t write enough posts people might lose interest.

You have to be willing to take risks every once in awhile. You might have to court controversy to get an opinion out every once in awhile. You might have to rely on spell-check more often to help correct spelling. You might have to re-read your posts on occasion if you realize you make a lot of mistakes. You might have to deal with trolls or spam here and there or loss of a portion of your privacy. And you might have to actually attempt to show people you have some knowledge about something, or are funny, or are entertaining, and that scares a lot of people. You might even have to risk being wrong; gasp!

There was a story on a blog post I was reading a few days ago on Problogger where a guy had started blogging and, though becoming somewhat popular, figured out that he was doing things the wrong way. I’ll never say there’s a wrong way in blogging, but it always depends on what it is you really hope to do later on. What he was doing went against what he later determined was his ultimate goal, so he had to stop, then wait awhile and start over so he could hit his goals. My point is that he took a risk, got part of what he wanted and part of what he didn’t want, and he knew he could always start anew.

There you are; 5 things you can learn from poker as you continue blogging into the next year. All I’m going to ask you to do is be safe tonight as you celebrate heading into the new year, and then head into the new years with guts and glory and success on your mind. Happy New Year y’all!

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Top 50 Blogger List Aspirations

Yesterday I came across an interesting blog post titled 50 Most Influential People In Blogging 2010. This is a list, or at least the type of list, that I’m shooting for to get more recognition for what I do on this blog.

Whenever I come across lists like this, I tend to do a few things. The first thing I do is see who’s on the list that I know and have talked to in some fashion. There’s a few people on this list like that, so at least I know a few prominent people. Then I look to see other names I recognize, and that number here is just slightly higher than the first one.

The next thing I do is take a look at those people who are on the list that I’ve never heard of, most specifically to see what their rankings are compared to mine. After all, one wants to see what the competition has over you (I use “competition” here only as a comparison word, because I think the belief that we as bloggers actually compete against each other is ridiculous). And based on my perceptions, I believe I’ve come up with some differences.

The first difference is that about 70% of the people whose blogs I visited have a pop-up as soon as you get to the page. Most of them seem to be promoting either a product or newsletter subscription. Y’all know my belief on that one; if I have to add an annoying pop-up to my blog then I’m just not doing it. As a matter of fact, I tend to not visit all that many blogs more than a couple of times if they do have pop-ups. I don’t like toolbars either, but at least those things aren’t blocking the content before you get to check it out. Anyway, who do I know, or at least have exchanged a word or two with at some point on the list: See below:

Darren Rowse

David Risley

Erica Douglass

Denise Wakeman

Kristi Hines (buddy #1)

Zac Johnson

Lynn Terry

Hesham Zebida (buddy #2)

Congrats to the buddies of mine who made the list.

The second difference is cross promotion. Many of the folks who are considered big time bloggers all know each other in some capacity. So, they’re good at promoting each other, something that the rest of us aren’t always all that good at. Obviously I’m pretty good at linking outside of my blog to other people, and even better at internal linking, but not everyone does this. Thing is, if we do it to the big time bloggers, it’s already too late because they’ve pretty much stopped reading all their comments; okay, most of them. So, it’s left up to the rest of us to, when it’s legitimate, link to something someone else says that can help them build up their influence.

The third difference is that most of them talk about making money, and that seems to be a major driving force when it comes to people visiting one’s blog. Not everyone, of course, but the overwhelming majority of folks are doing it. Actually, I keep wondering if it’s all that much different than mine. I certainly talk about it often enough, and I test things and tell what my experience is. However, I don’t make money blogging right now, so I talk about other things that have to do with blogging and other interests of mine, and thus those only interested in making money aren’t coming by anymore. That’s okay because I love the rest of you that do stop by on a regular basis. I’d just like there to be more of you out there; I really want to make some of these top 50 lists! lol

I discounted rankings as a difference because of three reasons. One, I actually rank higher than 3 or 4 blogs on the list per Alexa. Two, since I don’t have Google PR on this blog (taken from me), I can’t use that as a comparison at all. Three, the writer didn’t mention rankings as a criteria, and thus it would be presumptuous to think he based everything off that.

So let’s see… what did I learn that’s going to help me spread my influence enough so that I can make one of these lists? I have absolutely no idea. I still can’t talk about only making money by blogging, so that’s not going to get there. If anyone thinks that most of my posts aren’t personally engaging, whether you care for the topic or not, let me know. Actually, personality is a major trait for most of the blogs I saw, though a couple only give information without any extras. It’s certainly not frequency because I believe, writing by myself, I write as frequently, or moreso, as anyone else.

Then what it has to be is the cross promotion part. In other words, I, and by extension the rest of you, have to try to get people to talk more about you on their blogs. We all have to get better at linking to other people, and using what someone else has written as inspiration for us to have something new to write about from time to time, while giving those people a link and a mention when you can. In case you’re wondering, I didn’t give any name recognition to the writer of this blog because all I could find was Michael. He’s violating one of those rules I picked up from Darren Rowse about having an About page and/or Contact page on your site so people know who you are and can contact you. It seems he’s marketing a book or training course he’s created, yet you can’t learn his last name until you buy it; that’s an odd way of branding if you ask me.

Do you have aspirations to be a top 50 blogger on someone’s list? I do! Let’s help each other get there. Or, if you don’t want to get there, then help me! 🙂

DeLonghi 1500 Watt Oil Filled Radiator Heater With 3 Variable Heat Settings


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Sunday Question – Why Do You Blog?

Before I get into the meat of this question, I want to share two things that are somewhat related. Last week I did another online interview with my friend Beverly Mahone, and I’ll be doing my second and last interview with her on this show tonight. She’s moving on to a real radio show, and hopefully I’ll be able to get on there some day, even if it’ll only be geared towards a North Carolina audience. You can check out the show, which starts at 7PM tonight, by clicking here. Also, you can download last week’s show here, and of course I’ll be sharing this weekend’s show probably some time next week.

The question of the day is why do you blog? It should be an easy question to answer for some of you, a much harder question for the rest of you. It could be easy because you might have planned what you were hoping to do and gotten out there and did it, and you’re still doing it. It could be hard because your original motivation might have been one thing and it changed, or you thought it would be one thing and it morphed into something entirely different.

For me, I started blogging years ago because I was trying to figure out a way to get the word out about my business. So I asked a friend of mine to create a subdomain for me (I know how to do it now) so I could add my blog to my business website, and Mitch’s Blog was born.

Then I wanted a blog where I could write on whatever I wanted to write on, as well as have the opportunity to make some money, and this blog was born. Finally, I saw on the Warrior Forum one day that someone was selling a couple of blogs, and I decided I wanted to buy the one on finance because I knew I wanted to know more about it, and how better to learn about it than have to research and write on it. Thus, Top Finance Blog was born.

Anyway, those are the reasons why I started blogging. Why do I continue blogging? One, for my business, two because I actually like communicating, three because I’m hoping to spread my brand, which is me, and four, because I’ve met so many nice people and want to meet more of you.

And there you go; pretty easy for me to respond. Then again, I knew how I’d answer, since I came up with the question. What about you? Oh yeah, remember, Mother’s Day is coming up!
 

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Problogger

You know, I’ve mentioned the name many times, and it hit me that many people might not have any idea who or what I’m talking about. So, here we go, me talking about a blogging superstar.

rowse04

Darren Rowse runs a blog and website called Problogger, and he’s one of the very few people who gets to get away with telling the rest of us how to do it and not say he’s full of stuff because he’s one of the first million dollar a year bloggers in the world. He’s a guy who offers so much information that I believe everyone can benefit from visiting his site.

Let’s take this step by step. Rowse was a former seminary student who decided on a career change and wanted to explore the world of blogging. He started writing his blog in September 2004, and like most of the rest of us, most of his early posts were good but had no real readers; at least had no commenters. It would be a good thing for people to think about looking through some of his early posts, which are also educational as it regards better blogging, as well as to see that everyone has a humble beginning.

At some point Rowse figured out that making money by blogging really is about two things. One, you have to start driving a lot of traffic to your site. Two, you have to be ready to accept paid advertising.

He did both, first finding his way to driving great traffic to his site by keeping his content at a very high quality level, sometimes writing 3 or 4 posts a day. Then he set up a rate for advertisers to put ads on his site, and he was off to the races. He even experimented briefly with Text Link Ads, making some money but getting out before he lost all of his page rank (I wasn’t as smart; lost mine for about a year…), yet they remain one of his sponsors, which he likes to call them instead of advertisers. I know because I asked him about this, and he actually responded to my query. That doesn’t happen often with people who get lots of comments.

To be totally fair to everyone else, he didn’t just sit on one blog to make all this money. He set up a consortium of bloggers called B5 Media (which was sold in 2012). If you check out his full website rather than just his blog you’ll see he takes on more than just blogging. He also has other blogs that he writes, including a popular one on photography.

He added video a few years ago and people seem to like listening to what he has to say, based on the number of comments he has on almost every single post. And he now has a series of writers who write some of his content; in essence, it’s now more of a full time business than just a guy sitting at his desk writing blog posts.

Problogger is one of the most genuine sites about blogging and almost exclusively blogging. Darren Rowse proved that you can make money blogging. He also showed that it takes more than just writing posts to make that money, which many people don’t realize. It’s about more than just writing quality posts and writing comments on other people’s blogs to drive traffic your way. You have to think of it as a business and do business types of things to make money at it.

Now you know why I mention him and his site so often. It’s good stuff; check it out.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Mitch Mitchell

If I Wanted To Make Money On A Blog, I Would,…

Well, that is the question, isn’t it? What would I, or you?

Most of the money I’ve made comes from one of my content websites, which is a great thing. The problem with it is that it’s limited in scope. In other words, the people who come there come because they absolutely need the information I give them, but that’s it; they’re not buyers. The reason I make so much money off that site is because, obviously, they must get information from me, then see something in one of those Adsense ads that they think will give them more, or different information, and off they go.

I’ve always said that this blog wasn’t necessarily meant to make money. That’s kind of a misnomer, or at least it’s incomplete. When I started this blog, I wanted a place where I could talk about anything I wanted to talk about, and put up some of my affiliate banners and products, just in case someone saw something they just had to have. As Mirjam said, the products don’t always match what I’m writing about. As I said back, it’s never been much of a concern of mine.

The truth is that, for this blog, there aren’t products that match up to most of what I’m talking about. For instance, I talk about blogging; what products are there that I’m going to advertise? I talk about websites I visit; what products are there that I’m going to advertise? I talk about writing; you see a pattern here? Every once in awhile, I touch upon a subject that fits something I can market, and I’ll pop that in there, but it’s rare.

So, it’s not that this blog doesn’t make any money; it’s that it doesn’t make much. But that’s okay; I put my stuff up there, talk about some of it from time to time, and who knows, right? By the way, just to clear this one up, over my almost 450 posts, I’ve probably had about 15 clicks total from this blog on any of my affiliate stuff, including those posts where the topic and the product/banner ad matched. So, saying that my products should match the content doesn’t hold water.

But let’s go here for a minute. We’ve all probably talked at one point or another about niche blogging. I’ve talked about someone I knew who found a niche in hydroponics and was doing well monthly in earnings because that’s all she wrote on. So, back in December, I decided to embark on something I knew okay, but that I’ve gotten to know much better, that being my finance blog. Though I move around from topic to topic, the general theme of the site is finance, and nothing else.

This is the definition of a niche blog. And just how much money have I made from this blog? As of today, for the entire run of the blog, I’ve made a whopping 72 cents; that’s it. And I made that on Adsense. I have some 300×250 ads on that site all geared towards financial things, and I have Adsense.

I even put on this video thing that Sire recommended that, if people decided to watch it, I think I’d make money off it. Nada, nothing, almost zip. One click on an affiliate ad in six months; not very popular, is it? If there’s any consolation, I made that money in June, so maybe it’s ready to start breaking out, being relatively recent.

What this points out is that it’s not only finding a niche, but the right niche. If you can’t write more than one article a month, and even then you’re running out of ideas to write about, you might want to consider writing about something else, then figuring out if there’s a way to make money doing it.

Anyway, throwing it out to y’all to share your thoughts. If you were to start a niche blog today, one that you hoped would really make money, what would you write on?