I Did a Bad Bad Thing – Paid to Blog

When we were younger, we all did stupid things. I for one let a friend borrow my car in college who had multiple wrecks and crashes, all of which were his fault. When he came back the first thing he said was, “Wow, I didn’t know your car could go that fast!” See? That was a stupid thing for me to do. And unfortunatly as we get older, we are still prone to stupid things. For me, that includes participating in Pay Per Post, Review Me, where I was paid to blog.

Why I Did It
That’s an easy one – Money! At the time, I was really interested in monetizing my site and the quickest and easiest way to do that was by writing paid posts. At first, the whole thing seemed great – Get paid anywhere from $5 and up to write posts on topics that fit with what I was talking about anyway… Write a couple of those per week and you could get some decent side cash.

Everything That Glitters…
After a little while of doing this, the luster really started to fade. For one, you’re kinda limited on what you talk about and how you can talk about it. And when that happens, blogging stops being fun and starts being a lot like a job which is no bueno. Secondly, paid postings can really undermine the spirit your blog. For me, I’ve always wanted a cool little place where I could talk about things that interested me and people could chime in if they saw something that piqued their interest. To do that, you can’t come off as a corporate shill. (See where I’m going with this)? Thirdly, if you want to monetize your blog, there are better ways (imo) to go about doing it such as selling ad spots, AdSense, and working the affiliate marketing angle

Not to Mention that Google HATES Paid Postings
Back then, I MIGHT have read somewhere that Google was going to punish those who were paid to blog. Then again I might not’ve. More likely, I might have read it and glossed over the implications of it all together. Well kiddies, if you’re at the beginning of site monetization and don’t get why Google hates paid postings, let me break it down for you.

Google wants to have the best search engine in the world right? That means that when you search for something in Google, the results you’ll get will help you find what you’re really looking for. Well how does Google figure that out? In a nutshell, they assign importance to pages based on a number of factors including how many other pages link to them with certain text in the links. For instance, if enough people link to this site with the anchor text “cool guy”, Google will think that I am this “cool guy” everyone is talking about and will make me appear higher in the search engine results. When you do a paid posting and link to a page with certain keyword text because you were PAID to, it kind of messes up what Google is trying to do. Got it?

Now Why is This a Problem?
If you’re lucky enough to start making money through CPC advertising, you really depend on your search engine traffic. And when Google penalizes you for selling links, you won’t be able to get that search engine traffic you’d otherwise be loving… Which to be honest is kind of where I’m at. It’s only recently that I’ve come back to blogging and before I left I think I had a healthy PR of about a 3. But since then I’ve dropped to (I believe) a 0, and that was after Google went after everyone selling links. This PR drop is probably indicative of a penalty I have which is making me lose a lot of traffic. Despite this however, I’m still making a little bit from AdSense every month but obviously I know I could be doing better.

Repairing the Damage
Some of you have already noticed the little things I’ve been doing to clean up shop around here, but I think this is one of the more important subjects that I need to address. The worse part about this is (like so many other things) that if I had divorced myself from paid postings before my big blogging absensce (way back when), none of this would have been a problem. C’est la vie I suppose but from what I’ve read around the net, dealing with this stuff once you’ve already been penalized can take some time. BUT, it does look like hope is out there so today I will file a reinclusion or reconsideration request from Google. That means I will not be paid to blog anymore!

Wish me luck!

Changing LSO – Hopefully For the Better

This weekend was remarkably unproductive, not to say that I really had a hit list of things I wanted to accomplish or anything…

But ONE of the things I DID want to do was really doing some damage to my gamerscore and I think I ended up getting oh… 10 or 20pts this weekend. Ha ha… BUT, I did set the foundation.

Though honestly I’m not sure if I’m even going to get around to those games this week because of work and web design.

Long story Short
I’m not sure if it’s apparent on here (’cause I’m hardly posting anything these days) but I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this blog, LSO, and my web design stuff I’m desperately trying to get off the ground… The web design stuff is hitting and missing right now but I really want to keep at it because I believe that I can make it work. For everything else, I knew that I needed to do something different because I’m not particular happy with this blog or LSO. The reason why I’m not happy with THIS blog is because the design/layout of it just isn’t working for me. But that’s a relatively quick fix. The LSO stuff is a bigger thing.

LSO Can Work!
If you guys aren’t familiar with one of my bigger projects, Learn Stuff Online was intended to be a huge content site whose primary source of revenue was AdSense. And as most of you know, AdSense is really a numbers game so when I started LSO, I had friends of mine come onto the project with me and start writing content. Unfortunately, all of them turned out to be horrible writers or horribly unproductive so LSO kind of fell by the way side.

But I always knew it could work.

My AdSense Account
So I’m checking out my AdSense account the other day for LSO, and I noticed that I’m close to payout! Turns out that basically my 24 pages on there are doing like $5 of revenue a month! I know that’s like nothing, but they’re being hit for n00b keywords and still doing KINDA decent numbers (AdSense) wise. So last night I finally made a decision about LSO. I had already integrated WordPress into a new test domain for LSO (for affiliate marketing) and I now wanted it everywhere on the site. I tried this once before (installing WordPress mu) and I never could get it working but last night I tried again and after MUCH effort, I managed to get it done!

Going Forward
Here’s what I’m thinking: I’ve learned so much from blogging over this past two years or whatever. (I think it’s my anniversary or something!) I think I can leverage that power with AdSense and SEO and finally get Learn Stuff Online up and running generating income. I made a mistake before of trying to do too much too fast (running multiple sub domains at once), but if I can get one sub domain up and running and making money, then I SHOULD be able to bring in a copy writer to keep it going and move onto the next! See where I’m going with this?

OK – More to come on the Mu install later! But I hope you’re as excited about this as I am!

The Intent – LSO (Part 2)

Last week I introduced you to the project of mine that is probably nearest and dearest to my heart, Learn Stuff Online.

Before I had this blog, before I kinda started with web design solutions, I had LSO. It was AND remains to be a pretty ambitious project – But I think the good ones often are right? (#):)

So before we go into all the problems that came up for LSO, I’ll get into the nitty gritty of what I originally envisioned for the site so you can get a glimpse into the mind of a madman.

Why I Made Learn Stuff Online
Now I’m not talking about why I created a website… Most of that reason was to create residual income for myself. But as I mentioned before, I love teaching people about things that I enjoy. And at some level we probably all like doing that. Lots of times when we talk to our friends we’re just sharing are various passions with them. That’s kind of where LSO came from I guess. It gave me the flexibility to talk about whatever I wanted to, and hopefully have a place where it would all kinda fit. For instance, I couldn’t really talk about song composition on here because for one, it doesn’t really fit with the theme of this site and for two, you guys probably wouldn’t want to hear about it.

Anything About Everything
And THAT would be the tagline of the site that even now I really like. Not only is it pretty catchy, but it’s pretty true to the point as to what I envison/ed for the site. My first section on Learn Stuff Online was home theater setup. You know that it’s definitely one of my passions so it made a great place to start from. After that, I continued with other subjects but didn’t cover really more than 3. The thinking there was I didn’t want to extend myself too far before I knew if it was going to work or not. Recently, I just started the first new section in a while, iPod Help and iPod Information. More on that later…

Money Making Goal
Admittedly, I naively came up with various formulas that would net me Y amount of money based on X traffic. And while I don’t think I ever had a concrete goal in mind (say like $500/mo), I expected the site to… work out. But you know the more I think about, the more I realize now how doomed I was during my first go around.

And if you wanna see what I’m talking about, stay tuned while I cover *drumroll*… “The Problems – LSO (Part 3).

Fixing Up – Learn Stuff Online (Part 1)

I told you that I was coming back and HERE I AM!

Part of the time I haven’t been “around” much is because I’ve been busy getting some other projects out the gate.

One of these projects is Learn Stuff Online.

This is the first part in this mini-series which we’ll look at where LSO has come from, its previous problems, and how I hope to fix them all to finally make it successful.

The Premise
Like I said, I started Learn Stuff Online years ago. As I write this I’m not at home, so I don’t have the bevy of LSO paperwork ahead of me where I documented potential AdSense formulas, and topics I was going to cover on the site. And for the life of me I can’t remember how I came up with the idea of LSO.

I’m guessing that shortly after I learned about AdSense, (this terrific thing that could make you “money for nothing” on the web), I just HAD to come up with a website that could harness this PPC advertising for my own nefarious schemes. I might have tossed around a couple of ideas, but I knew that one thing about myself that I love is teaching people how to do things they don’t already know how to do. And at the time, there weren’t many good sites that could do that, so I came up with Learn Stuff Online.

Learn Stuff Online

The Problems
Looking back, LSO had a lot of problems. And because I was the one at the center of it, I think it was really my fault that so many cropped up. Most of them probably came from me not being honest about things or more to the point, deciding to overlook some things desperately hoping it’d all come together in the end.

Looking at things now, I think the biggest problem I now know how to handle and have already taken steps to that end. Still – There are other issues that I don’t think I’ve quite addressed but will surely have to do so if this project is ever going to hit that $500/mo goal I setup for it a little while back.

Unlike other series I’ve done on here, this isn’t one that I’ve necessarily given a lot of thought to. So buckle up if you want to come along for the journey as I continue to BREAK DOWN everything with Learn Stuff Online and sincerely hope you kids will give me some pointers so everyone can benefit! (#):D

Thanks again for the reminders to fix my RSS footer guys!

Study of Blog Earnings Report February 2008 (MyBlogEarnings)

I guess you could say February was a busy month.

I wrote some posts (and I mean SOME posts), got sick for a good little bit, and started a fantastic new job. So all in a all a pretty good month! (Even though I am MIGHTY dissapointed w/ my current blogosphere presence.

I really didn’t count on the new job taking up so much of my time, but no worries. Just gotta use my time a bit differently. (#):)

Revenue Name Alexa Rank Page Rank Revenue Source
$204.85 Bush Mackel 275,597 0 Private Ad Sales

As you can imagine, I am very glad I started focusing on private ad sales for this site whenever I did. And though I’m not positive, I think monetarily, Feb was the month ever for this site! Now even though I can’t know what I’m going to be making from month to month since I no longer rely on PPP and such, not having to always be writing paid posts for this that and the other thing is def worth it.

Now for March, I’m not sure how things are going to end up, but I’m finally going to be getting back to the blogosphere I so love and so neglected in Feb. A lot of good posts are on the way and a lot of good comments will surely find their way to your sites too. (#):) Hope you missed me and talk to you all soon!

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.

Study of Blog Earnings Report January 2008 (MyBlogEarnings)

2008 is indeed off to a great start thanks to my wonderful sponsors!

When I first put up my ads, I’m not sure what I really was expecting. And truthfully, even though they’re currently only bringing in a little bit of income, every little bit helps when it comes to hosting fees.

But most importantly, January’s success paves the way for bigger and better things for the site that I’m very much looking forward to. (#):)

I really hope your January’s were as good to you as mine was to me!

Revenue Name Alexa Rank Page Rank Revenue Source
$30,616.35 John Chow 3,980 4 Private Ad Sales
$??? Everton 31,118 3 Private Ad Sales
$207.43 Forest Parks 772,650 3 PPP
$170.00 Madhur Kapoor 173,990 0 AdSense
$166.64 Tish 526,847 4 Sponsored Reviews
$95.75 Bush Mackel 261,044 0 Private Ad Sales
$36.03 Casey 183,774 0 TLA/Services
$24.13 Apexad 451,200 3 Sponsored Review

You may have noticed something a bit odd with this post… Mainly that I’m the only one listed so far! I’m sure that will change soon but lately I’ve been a lot more organized with my posts (in an effort to get what I want online ON TIME) and today is the day for this bad boy.

So you know the deal! If you feel like sharing, please drop a comment or shoot me an e-mail and I’ll make sure to get your totals up. But remember that this is BLOG EARNINGS for a SPECIFIC BLOG for LAST MONTH! So if you made $1000 but it was from your collection of websites, I’m not that interested!

It Finally Came

Yesterday was a big day for me.

I was offered a new job yesterday (that I’m very excited to accept), I got two cavities filled (I’m not sure where those came from) and I got two special items in the mail.

The first was a package sitting on top of one of the cars in the driveway – A late XMas present from my brother-in-law and girlfriend, a mechanical icing bag. You know – So I can make some awesome looking cakes! (Yes I like to bake, WHAT OF IT?)

The second item was this…

That’s right, I finally did it. My first AdSense check came. It only took me about a year to earn it but I really couldn’t be happier. It’s funny too – I told my family and they couldn’t care less. I guess this kind of stuff just doesn’t mean a lot to some people but it means a lot to me ’cause I really work hard at all this stuff. Sure, I don’t know how much of a victory a $100 check is once a year but we all gotta start somewhere so I’m putting this one up in the W column. (#):)

So look – If you’re struggling to get your first check, just keep at it. Keep trying, keep learning, and if you stick with it, you’ll make it.

Affiliate Marketing Update

I know a bunch of you are saying, “Oh geez – Bush disappeared again…” And I just wanted to make sure you knew that wasn’t the case!

I’m just doing a lot of stuff behind the scenes at the moment, both with this blog, other projects and affiliate marketing.

I told a friend of mine what I was up to (what you’ll learn about soon) and he said that all this work was going to lead to an early end to me. And of course I just laughed the whole thing off. (#):D

Bush Mackel.com
This site is sure going places and next month is going to mark THE OFFICIAL one year anniversary! Now I think up to this point, I’ve pretty much botched every alleged contest I said I was going to have, but next month I’m actually gonna get it done. So stay tuned for details and bear with me as I try and put everything together. (#):)

Affiliate Marketing
So the more I’m learning about Affiliate Marketing the more I’m learning that I’ve been going about things in the wrong way. It’s one of those times where I feel like ideas are finally starting to click and things that people have said to me in the past (see Opal Tribble) are beginning to make more sense too.

Hey, do you remember a little while ago when I broke down all the projects that I was working on? Well it seems that my current affiliate marketing kick is going to put me smack dab in the middle with one of’em! Hot damn things are heating up fast!

The Quick Hits for the Week
Devil May Cry 4 demo … Ehhhhh. Zuma Deluxe is Money. GH3 is still great and Raining Blood on Expert is still kicking my a$$. Little Mac may be in his first contest tomorrow at 8 months of age. It’s freakin’ cold on the East Coast. Don’t remember the last time I was at the gym. Just bought a 4GB iPod Nano for research purposes (I still hate iPods). Trying to catch Rambo tonight. ~end

AdWords and AdCenter and Landing Pages OH MY!

AY! Sorry I didn’t get a post up yesterday!

Since my Pepperjam post, I’ve really been devouring any and all information that relates to affiliate marketing, which means I’ve been on Shoemoney‘s A LOT lately.

It also means that I’ve been trying my … “second” campaign with the mainstream PPC services.

I didn’t get it right in my first outing so this time I gotta, “Make it work”… Tim Gunn style.

I am n00b
I wish I could write some quality posts about all this stuff because I find the whole thing just fascinating. But unfortunately, I really don’t know what I’m doing at the moment and chances are if I said 5 things about this stuff, 4 of them would be way wrong. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I can’t tell you the things I’m trying to learn about and trying to use to meet my nefarious ends right? (#):D

Targeted Traffic + Affiliate Offer = $Money
…Or so the saying goes. And like the other saying says, “The devil is in the details.” And that’s the part that I’m still trying to figure out. I really thought (going into ppc affiliate marketing) that getting your ads shown through AdWords and AdCenter were as simple as putting in a few keywords, adding the copy for your ads and hitting submit.

Then I started reading something about Quality Score. *groan*

But that’s ok. I’m always up for learning something new, and all this stuff is WAY new to me which makes it that much more exciting. True, it sucks that I’m gonna be spending money learning all this but whatchya gonna do I suppose. I just hope I can learn enough before all my “seed money” dries up. (#):) And on a final note, this is turning out to be a bit more work than what I thought it would be… Which I think is a good as it probably explains why it didn’t work out for me the first time.

Ok… I gotta get back to work tweaking that landing page of mine…