What Needs to Change for You to go PRO?

I was reading a couple of posts on ProBlogger yesterday, namely about how he became a professional blogger and what he thought of the professional blogging industry.

They posts make for interesting reads so I won’t summarize them, but after reading’em I got to thinking about the big professional bloggers – John Chow, Darren Rowse and Jeremy Shoemaker and in particular started to ponder how all of them were able to become professional bloggers.

Thought 1 – How Did They Get So Many People to Frequent Their Blog?
On the subject of making money from your blog, this was the first thing that popped into my head because obviously, the more people that come to your site, the more value ads have for advertisers, the more money you can charge. So naturally I said, “So to go PRO, you gotta get those people to your blog right? Well why would people do that?”

Thought 2 – Why Would People WANT to Frequent Their Blog?
I wish I could remember where I first saw it but simply put, a user visits a site because it provides some kind of value. Maybe it’s humor, maybe it’s web development lessons, but whatever it is, it’s something. So then I thought, “Ok. So to go PRO, you gotta provide something of value to your readers… My blog is about technology, video games and blogging…”

Thought 3 – Am I providing substantial value on my subjects for my readers?
This was a hard one to think about because it’s never easy or fun to deal with your own faults. For me and this site, I again talk about three things… Technology, video games and blogging.

  • Strike 1 – On the technology side, I think it’s fair to say that I rarely bring news or reviews of technology (aside from video games) to my readers. Nor do I share technological items with them.
  • Strike 2 – On the video game side of things, there are sites that are better than mine. They do more comprehensive reviews, often review full games, and give games to their readers.
  • Strike 3 – Out of the three things that I mainly talk about on here, I’m probably best qualified to speak about blogging and web development. But I rarely do so. Instead, I spend most of my time speculating on how to make money online which relative to others, I haven’t done yet.

Thought 4 – If I were ever to go PRO, something has to change.
You know that ol’ 20/80 rule right? Well I think if I honestly analyzed how things have been going on here, I’d probably be more “successful” at things if I decided to talk more about things that I have authority on such as web development and blogging. After all, most people who visit the big bloggers’ sites go there because they want to know WHAT TO DO… What WILL work. The biggest problem for me is that I think I’d get bored if I limited my topics like this.

Even if I just wrote about web development and blog tips, I’m too interested in web entrepreneurship not to bring it up. But I really don’t have much authority to speak about it which brings me to my final thought…

Thought 5 – To be an authority on making money online, I have to start making money online.
Going back to the big make money online bloggers, we all visit their sites because we consider them to be authorities on what they write about. They’re authorities because they’ve become successful making money online.

But did they make their first monies with the blogs we’re familiar with?

Probably not. And I guess that’s the thing we often forget about. I kind of think it like these guys have corporations. And the only part we see is their public front, kind of like their PR dept. But what started making them the money is their individual departments and subsidiaries that we tend to overlook (such as Darren’s photo blog or Shoemoney’s past experience in the ringtone market).

Now don’t worry, this post doesn’t mark a “midlife blog crisis” for me or anything but more a reminder for all of us that if we’re looking to go PRO with our online efforts it definitely doesn’t happen overnight, and often it comes from the sum of our various projects – Earning us not only money, but invaluable wisdom that we can share with others.

The 1st Anniversary Blog Contest! (1 of 3)

“Woah ho hO HO! STOP THE CAR! We got an emergency can’t you see!?”

If you hadn’t heard – That emergency is the one year anniversary of this site and me having to find a way to celebrate it! WAHOO! (Can you tell I’m very excited for a Monday!?)

But hey, you should be excited too because I’m giving away some tremendous prizes for all of you kids out there in blogland! Because I wouldn’t still be at it if it wasn’t for all of you!

“You gotta be IN IT to WIN IT.”
So here’s how the contests are going to shake out. First off, they’re going to take place between this week and next week and are aimed at not only giving YOU guys some cool stuff, but also upping my subscriber count. So to play two out of the three contests…

  1. Subscribe to my feed!
  2. Once you’re reading it, check out the footer on the post to get the “Word of the Day“.
  3. At the end of the week take the five words, put them together and shoot me an e-mail to enter the contest!

You HAVE to e-mail me all five words to enter the contest. So after you e-mail me, you’ll automatically be in the runnings with one entry. If you want more entries do the following and make sure you let me know with URLs on your entry e-mail…

  • Comment on this post +1
  • Post about the contest on your site. +5

And that goes for each of the RSS contests – One this week (starting tomorrow) and one next week (starting Tuesday of that week too).

The Mystery Third Contest
I’m not gonna tell you what the third contest is, how to enter it and when it’ll be… Only that it’ll be during these next two weeks. So stay tuned to the site and to the feed, and when you see it, pounce like a cat!

At this point, I’m going to say what the prizes are for any of the contests but I’ll say they’re certainly things I’m going to spend money on (i.e. not services) and should be stuff that you guys will like if you like this site. You kids gave me a lot of good ideas on my previous post on the subject, and I’ll probably take a few ideas from there. (#):)

Happy New Year 2008!

That’s right. I am BACK after my holiday sabbatical!

You know, I told myself that I’d put something up letting everyone know where I was during the holidays, but I kinda forgot and after so many Corona’s well… Suddenly you wake up and it’s New Year’s Day. (#):)

What I’ve Been Up To
Um, a lot of relaxing really. The holiday season is definitely my favourite time of the year so I try not to do anything during it. I just relax, hang out with friends and family, and gather myself for the new year. On the 25th, me and the wife had XMas with my family and on the 28th we had dinner with hers since that’s when her brother flew into town.

And besides that, I’ve really been trying to bang out some of the smaller things with this site in order to get it ready for 2008. Some of you MAY have seen that work going on, and as I write this, it’s not entirely done but I’m still pleased with my progress. I actually managed to…

  • Create all kinds of pages including an Advertise, Awards, Contact and Subscribe Page
  • Fix and update the layout of the site including adding 125×125 advertising icons
  • Fix the feed links from this site and add a little sparkle to my feed icon (and linked it for that matter)

But like I said, not everything is 100% done, but it’s certainly a lot more done than when I started things. I’m going to keep working and try and get them done today because I’m really looking forward to once again making the content of my blog its top most priority.

A Long Overdue Thank You
Okay, so that’s what I’ve been up to. Now one thing that I unfortunately neglected over the break was saying thank you to all of you for making this just a FANtastic year for me and this site. This was my first year blogging and it was more than I ever thought it could be thanks to all of you who wrote great content, wished me a happy new year, commented on my site, allowed me to comment on yours, sent me private e-mails, looked out for me, or just allowed me to get to know you.

Thank you, each and everyone of you, and I know we’ll all have a great and successful New Year!

Fixing Up – Bush Mackel (Part 4) Direct Adveristing Solutions

In the last part of this series I revealed that I was FINALLY going to get away from this site’s main money maker, sponsored posts, and instead start down a new path of revenue freedom.

And if you hadn’t already guessed, that new path is…
Direct Advertisements!

(Shocker I know).

But how will I start down this road and how can you do the same?

Continue reading to find out!

Why Direct Advertising
In the last part of this series, I explained (and pretty well I thought) my feelings towards sponsored reviews. The recap : Too much work for too little pay… But besides the whole time thing, the fact remains that by having to go through companies to handle the “middle work”, I’m losing money. If you’re able to contact an advertiser directly, you get to keep all the money.

More money makes more sense right?

Direct Advertising Solutions
So I’ve taken a good while to think about it, but I think I’ve finally managed to figure out what advertising solutions I’m going to offer – Not that it’s brain surgery or anything, but I wanted to make sure that I personally was OK with what I was offering and wasn’t just whoring my site out for a few extra bucks that would end up turning away people in the end. So here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • 300×250 Inline Post Ads – $100
  • 125×125 Sidebar Icons – $20
  • Reviews – $50

If you’re wondering where I came up with those prices, I first tried to think about what a “fair” price would be. To do that, I thought about what I’D be willing to pay for similar services on similar sites, what others were charging, threw it in a pot and came up with this! Now I BELIEVE the rule in all of this is to start with a really cheap rate and then see how it performs, but I’m hoping my special offer will be enough to woo potential advertisers over! What special offer you ask?..

The Special Offer
It’s December 18th. The a little more than half over and it’s the holiday season. So IN THE SPIRIT OF GIVING I’m offering the following deal for my advertising slots!

If you purchase a 125×125 sidebar icon spot for $20 by the 25th of December 2007 you get all of the following:

  • Of course, a 125×125 icon for December
  • BONUS : a 125×125 icon for the ENTIRE month of January
  • BONUS : a FREE review of your site in January

I know. Wowee wow wow! Of course the next step with this is putting up an advertising page (which I assure you is coming) but if you would like to sign up, just shoot me an e-mail (bush@bushmackel.com) right now and we can put it all together!

Fixing Up – Bush Mackel (Part 3)

Hi there true believers! If you’re just joining us…

In Part 1 we looked at the spirit of this site – Where it has come from, and how it evolved into what it is today.

And in Part 2 we looked at what I defined as “success” for this site since I’m a firm believer of aspiring towards very specific goals.

Today in Part 3 of Fixing Up – Bush Mackel, we’ll start to figure out how this site will achieve success by looking at its sources of revenue.

Bush Mackel’s Current Revenue Sources
My November 2007’s Study of Blog Earnings was pretty representative of how this site makes its bucks. And primarily, that’s through sponsored posts, (sponsored review, pay per post, etc) and to a MUCH lesser extent, AdSense. At the beginning of all of this stuff, I said I would work through all of this in the most intelligent way I could, and I think part of that is really analyzing what I’m currently doing… So let’s.

Sponsored Posts
It’s really easy to talk about the same old stuff with sponsored posts so I’m going to try and avoid the normal conversations here about the “true nature of blogging” and the like, and approach this from more of an entrepreneurial/business standpoint.

Even with 0 PR, I could conceivably write a sponsored post every day for $5 to $10 for a total net of say $150 to $300 a month. The problem with that is as many of you know, I treat my sponsored posts like my regular ones which means I work very hard on them. PLUS, even though I’m a bit rusty on my PPP rules, I’m pretty sure every sponsored post has be surrounded by a regular post. So – just looking at this from primarily a PPP view – I currently would have to write 3 posts every single day to make that $5 to $10 a day. To say it another way…

The juice ain’t worth the squeeze!

If you look at it from a hourly rate position – 3 quality posts take me well over an hour. And if I’m to be paid $5-10 for that work, that’s like 10 bucks an hour! Now back in my first job, I’d’ve been thrilled with that rate! But then again, I was thrilled to be driving a 1986 Volvo that was missing a door too.

…And then there’s Google
You have probably noticed that my site has a PR of 0. And while I stand by the notion of not resting on Page Rank, I do think that this latest slap by Google may be a warning of even worse things to come like being ousted from search engine results. And while I don’t do too much on this site at the moment that is influenced by search engines, I DO get SOME search engine traffic and I really don’t want that to dry up. Refraining from using sites like Pay Per Post and Sponsored Reviews (oh, and Text Link Ads) on here may be enough to get back in the good graces of Google and that’s something I really want to do.

So how will I make my income when I’m essentially going to cut off my primary revenue stream? You probably have a good guess already. But that and other thrilling questions will be answered next time. So stay tuned – Same Bush Time! Same Bush Channel!

Fixing Up – Bush Mackel (Part 2)

Yesterday, I clued you in on where this site came from and what it has looked like at different points along the way.

Today we return to looking at bushmackel.com and try and figure out where the site is now and where it is going. In regards to both we’ll look at specific stats because I’m a firm believer of outlining goals using exact amounts.

And in doing so, we’ll also figure out a definition of “success” as it pertains to this site.

A Cash Money Millionaire, I Am Not
If you’ve been reading this site for any period of time, you have a fair idea of how much I make per month. If you’ve forgotten, feel free to check out my last 3 months earnings statement from previous posts but let’s say that on average I make anywhere between $50-$100 a month from this site. To some that may be satisfactory, but to me it simply is not. Add to that how much work I’ve been doing to earn that revenue (posting twice a day, and scores of sponsored reviews) and the figure is even more depressing. But more on that later.

People Stats
For someone who would always love to look good to an advertiser’s eye, I hope you guys can appreciate me disclosing this stuff (#);D … If we’re looking at averages, here’s how it all turns out…

  • 45 uniques per day
  • 94 pageviews/impressions per day
  • 70 subscribers per day

For some of you reading this, you may think I’m sounding like a big ol’ spoiled brat at this time. You’re probably saying, “You know Bush, I would KILL for those stats right about now”. And depending on where you are with your blog, that’s fine. But for me, it’s not ok ’cause I know I can do better.

Ok, enough with the stats, let’s cut to the chase. What do I want to accomplish with this site? Well, the last thing I want to do is turn this passion of mine into a job, so above all else, I want to keep the things going that I’ve come to love… Talking to people, meeting new friends, all that good stuff! And of course I want all of this to increase too! And I did say we’d pin down some exact numbers right? Well with this being a blog and such why don’t I just shoot for 500 rss subscribers? That sounds good right? I figure if I can do that, all the other people stats will increase too.

And on the money front, let’s keep this “factor 5” thing going too… I’m making $100/mo now, so let’s bump that up to $500/mo too! How does that sound? How many of you would like to be making $500 with that little blog of yours? Well with any luck we’ll find out how we can all pull off this “miracle feat” in the last part of this little series tomorrow.

Fixing Up – Bush Mackel (Part 1)

If you’re just joining us, welcome to my personal crusade to get my act together and get serious about a bunch of my projects that have yet to see what I’ll call “success”.

That said, I haven’t actually defined what “success” is for these projects but today, as we start looking at each of them in depth and one by one, I’ll tell you what I’ll define their “success” to be.

Because I’m a big believer that if you don’t know where you want to, you don’t have a good chance in making it there.

So what is this Bush Mackel.com?
The short answer is, this site. The longer answer is my technology and blogging blog where I cater the content to my techy side, and to all you crazy cats out there who share similar interests.

Originally, this site was my personal site. I published poems, art work, applications that I made and a gaggle of other things. But after a while, it became a pain trying to archive my previous updates to the site so on a whim I installed WordPress… A couple hours later I found out that I was a blogger.

The Early Days
When I first started blogging, I really didn’t “know what I was doing” but I was instantly enamored with how easily and quickly I could update the site. At that time, I was still blogging Bush Mackel as my own personal site, which means I was writing stuff that was really all over the place…

My trip to San Diego and Mexico, my Man Crush on Steve Nash.. you get the gist. But around that time I “met” Pete Cullen who would come to be my first real friend in the blogosphere and that really changed everything for me in terms of how I viewed my website…

Where I had once seen this site as a way to just “get things off my chest”, it had suddenly become an avenue to meet new people with similar interests, who could have intelligent conversations and wouldn’t try to get me to their XXX sites *ahem myspace*. In previous lives, I have flocked to jobs of customer service… Blockbuster manager, Best Buy employee, Ledo’s server… All because I LOVE engaging people. Now please understand me, I’m not one of those odd people who you wish would disappear after a minute of me opening their mouths… I just love meeting new people and having a good time! This is probably why I quickly became smitten with blogging.

The Business of Blogging
After a little time learning the ins and outs of blogging, I started to realize that this was something that you could get paid to do! And if you take a step back from that, at the very least make a few extra side dollars. It was after this realization that I started getting into the more technical sides of blogging… Increasing revenue, attracting subscribers and all the like… And apart from so many other things I currently do, I truly enjoy blogging. So if I can, why not make some money at the same time? Which brings us to where I am now.

“Tomorrow” we’ll continue breaking down this site by analyzing the current state of bushmackel.com, looking at where I would like this site to go, and also defining what “success” for this site will be.