A Day In The Vacations of A GTU student!

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Hello World!
What brought you here I assume must be the title!This is dedicated to all my cladsmates and fellow GTU mates most of whom are either currently enjoying vacation or have just begun their respective semesters!

Wellmajority of us spend most of our days at home nowadays courtesy vacation going on ( The talk being of my classmates and fellow GTU mates! 😉 ).

Well, that is the case here. To be at Home. To be in utter peace. That is what all of us had been waiting for , weren’t we? All of us would remember that pounding exam pressure, late night studies , asking friends how much have they completed only to console ourselves that we ourselves are not too far behind …and the list goes on! How we wished then “When will this exams get over!?”

But , for now, all that is on a long pause, atleast for a few months! The main topic which i wanted to express here is that the complexity of our mind in different situations!

Yes, everybody of us would have gone through that phase wherein while preparing for the exams, mind would simply not get put and would constantly be making ‘plans’. Yes , PLANS.

What Plans am i talking here? No Civil Guys, not Front View Top View Plan :P.
I am talking about the Plans our minds make when we are trying to study very sincerely ( :P) , that we will do this we will do that and what not. But what eventually happens is come vacation and suddenly we are wandering-HOW DO I PASS MY DAY!!

I think now the readers might be getting the point I am makig here. The complexity with which our minds makes detailed schedules and plans for us while we are concentrating on studies are , In my opinion , the Best Ones!

Now why are those the Best Ones? Because the wishes that our minds make when it is under a lot of stress or tension are the wishes which the mind thinks would make it feel relieved and interesting.Recall those moments , when you were studying and trying hard to catch hold of what is the content given in the reference books! Ring a Bell? Get what i am saying? Yes! Those were the moments when you wished “how wonderful it would be if i could just close these books and – Go out with friends/ have a bath/ sleep / chat / Surf the net / play some games / listen songs/ write about something / Play guitar ( this is one of my own wishes! ) / click some pictures / or simply go to terrace and be at peace !”

The list here is endless and obviously varies from person to person and their interests! But the main point here is to do what you like to do. Sparing time for yourself and whatever you like to do – Vacation is all about these stuffs!

Enjoy the Vacation! Do something productive! Adios!

Online Auction

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Online auctions were taking place even before the release of the first web browser for personal computers. Instead of users selling items through the Web they were instead trading through text-based newsgroups and email discussion lists. However, the first Web-based commercial activity regarding online auctions that made significant sales began in May 1995 with the company on sale. In September that same year “ebay” also began trading. Both of these companies used ascending bid, English auctions and were the first of their kind to take advantage of the new technological opportunities. The Web offered new advantages such as the use of automated bids via electronic forms, a search engine to be able to quickly find items and the ability to allow users to view items by categories.

Online auctions have greatly increased the variety of goods and services that can be bought and sold using auction mechanisms along with expanding the possibilities for the ways auctions can be conducted and in general created new uses for auctions. In the current web environment there are hundreds, if not thousands, of websites dedicated to online auction practices.

Types of online auctions

There are six different basic types of online auctions:

English auctions

In live terms, English Auction are where bids are announced by either an auctioneer or by the bidders and winners pay what they bid to receive the object. English auctions are claimed to be the most common form of third-party on-line auction format used and is deemed to appear the most simplistic of all the forms. The common operational method of the format is that it is an ascending bid auction in which bids are open for all to see. The winner is the highest bidder and the price is the highest bid. The popularity of the English auction is due to the fact that it uses a mechanism that people find familiar and intuitive and therefore reduces transaction costs. It also transcends the boundaries of a traditional English auction where physical presence is required by the bidders, making it increasingly popular even though there is a susceptibility to various forms of cheating 

Dutch auctions

Dutch Auction are the reverse of English auctions whereby the price begins high and is systematically lowered until a buyer accepts the price. Sites that offer Dutch auction services are usually misleading and the term ‘Dutch’ tends to have become common usage for the use of a uniform-price rule in a single unit auction as opposed to how it is originally intended for that of a declining price auction.However, with actual on-line Dutch auctions where the price is descending, it was found that auctions have on average a 30% higher ending price than first-price auctions with speculation pointing to bidder impatience or the effect of endogenous entry on the Dutch auction.[5]

First-price sealed-bid

First Site Selected Bid auctions are when a single bid is made by all bidding parties and the single highest bidder wins, and pays what they bid. The main difference between this and English Auction is that bids are not openly viewable or announced as apposed to the competitive nature which is generated by public bids. From the game theoritics point of view, the first-price sealed-bid auction is strategically equivalent to the Dutch Auction that is, in both auctions the players will be using the same bidding strategies.

Vickrey Auction

In this auction sometimes known as a second price selad bid auction, uses very much the same principle as a first-price sealed bid. However, the highest bidder and winner will only pay what the second highest bidder had bid. Online auctions where bidders utilise a proxy bidding system is a close resemblance to that of a Vickrey design for single item auctions, however due to the fact that the bidder is able to change their bid at a later date means it is not a true representation of the Vickrey auction. The Vickrey auction is suggested to prevent the incentive for buyers to bid strategically, due to the fact it requires them to speak the truth by giving their true value of the item.

Reverse auction

In this Auction are where the roles of buyer and seller are reversed. Multiple sellers compete to obtain the buyer’s business and prices typically decrease over time as new offers are made. They do not follow the typical auction format in that the buyer can see all the offers and may choose which they would prefer. Reverse auctions are used predominantly in a business context for procurement.

The term reverse auction is often confused with Unique Bid Auction, which are more akin to traditional auctions as there is only one seller and multiple buyers. However, they follow a similar price reduction concept except the lowest unique bid always wins, and each bid is confidential.

Bidding fee auction

A Bidding Fee Auction (also known as a penny auction) requires customers to pay for bids, which they can increment an auction price one unit of currency at a time. On English Auction for example, the price goes up in 1 pence (0.01 GBP) increments. There has been criticism that compares this type of auction to gambling, as users can spend a considerable amount of money without receiving anything in return (other than the spent bids trying to acquire the item). The auction owner (typically the owner of the website) makes money in two ways, the purchasing of bids and the actual amount made from the final cost of the item. 

Legalities

Shill Bidding

Placing fake bids that benefits the seller of the item is known as shill Bidding. This is a method often used in Online auctions but can also happen in standard Auctions. This is seen as an unlawful act as it unfairly raises the final price of the auction, so that the winning bidder pays more than they should have. If the shill bid is unsuccessful, the item owner needs to pay the auction fees. In 2011, a member of eBay became the first individual to be convicted of shill bidding on an auction. By taking part in the process, an individual is breaking the Europion union  which carries out a fine of up to £5,000 in the US.

Fraud

The increasing popularity of using online auctions has led to an increase in fraudulent activity. This is usually performed on an auction website by creating a very appetising auction, such as a low starting amount. Once a buyer wins an auction and pays for it, the fradulent seller will either not pursue with the delivery, or send a less valuable version of the purchased item (replicated, used, refurbished, etc.). Protection to prevent such acts has become readily available, most notably paypal Buyer’s policy security. As Paypal handles the transaction, they have the ability to hold funds until a conclusion is drawn whereby the victim can be compensated.

Sale of Stolen Goods

Online auction websites are used by thieves or fences to sell stolen goods to unsuspecting buyers. According to police statistics there were over 8000 crimes involving stolen goods, fraud or deception reported on eBay in 2009. It has become common practice for organised criminals to steal in-demand items, often in bulk. These items are then sold online as it is a safer option due to the anonymity and worldwide market it provides. Auction fraud makes up a large percentage of complaints received by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). This was around 45% in 2006 and 63% in 2005.

Bidding Techniques

Auction Sniping

It is a controversial bidding technique used in timed online auctions. It is the practice of placing a bid in the final stages of an auction with the aim of removing other bidder’s ability to place another bid before the auction ends. These bids can either be placed by the bidder manually or automatically with the use of a tool. There are tools available that have been developed for this purpose. However, the use of these tools is the subject of much controversy.

There are two different approaches employed by sniping tools.

  • Online: These are hosted on a remote server and are a service run by a third party.
  • Local: This type is a script which can downloaded onto the users computer which is then activated and run locally.

    Online auction tools

    Online Auction tools is application software, that can either be deployed on a Web server or a desktop. This software is used by customers of online auction such as ebay or Oztion.

    Online Auction companies have opened up their applications to third party application developers to extend the capabilities and increase revenue. API interfaces were developed using XML which enable third party developers to build applications that use the back-end of the online auction.

Making Money Because of Your Blog – Indirect Methods

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  • Consulting – when you are perceived as an expert on a topic you will find that people naturally come to you for advice – some of them willing to pay for it. Some niches are probably better positioned than others for their bloggers to get into paid consultancy work of course. I spoke with one blogger recently (blogging in a business/technology field) who was able to charge himself out at $600 per hour to give advice to a large company. Interestingly I’ve heard of a number of companies in the last 6 months who are developing VOIP services that bloggers will be able to add to their sidebars to enable them to be called by readers for consulting. The systems would have per minute rate on them to automate this consulting process.
    • Employment Opportunities – Just this last week PR blogger Steve Rubel announced that he’d been hired by a bigger PR firm. While he didn’t say it explicitly in his post I suspect that one of the reasons for him landing the job was the profile he’d built over the last year and a half from blogging. Steve’s case is not the only one – bloggers are increasingly being targeted by companies because of their demonstrated abilities in their field of expertise.
    • Business Blogging – Similarly there are some businesses who employ people to blog for them either as their main role or part of their role. One example of a company who employed a couple of bloggers was Vespa who now have two blogsBloggerJobs is one site worth following if you’re looking for these types of jobs. Most of the jobs there are from blog networks but occasionally they include businesses looking for bloggers also.
    • Book Deals – Some days as I read through the RSS feeds that I follow it seems that every blogger I read has a book either in progress or coming out. Once again it’s about being seen as an expert in your field – if you can achieve this you will find publishers are more receptive to having an idea pitched to them and at times will even seek you out. This is becoming more and more common with publishers as they are seeing not only some great writers but that many of them already have large amounts of content on their blogs ready to be pulled together into a book!
    • Online Writing Gigs – Similarly some bloggers also land jobs writing for other forms of websites as a result of being discovered from their blogs.
    • Selling e-resources – I wasn’t sure whether to classify this as direct or indirect (and depending upon how you do it you could probably go either way) but some bloggers are leveraging the expertise they have in an area by putting together their own ‘e-products’ such as e-books, tele-seminars, courses etc and selling them to their readers.
    • Business Partnerships – One of the benefits of blogging about a niche topic that interests you is that you will begin to connect with others who have similar interests and expertise. As you interact with them it’s amazing to see the opportunities for working together that arise.
  • Speaking Opportunities – Once again this is dependent upon the topic you’re writing about but some lucky bloggers end up with all kinds of opportunities to speak at conferences, workshops and seminars on their topic of choice. Sometimes they are freebies, other times the conference will cover costs and on other occasions there are speakers fees.

If you’re planning to use some of these indirect ways of making money because of your blog it’s important that you think seriously about building your own profile and credibility as a blogger. Think about the types of people that you respect and look to as experts an consider what they offer in their fields.

These people are generally original thinkers that not only report what others are doing, but who provide answers and vision for their industry. They are also often well networked and have the ability to draw others along with them.

What does this mean for your blog? Here’s where I’d start:

  • provide useful content that shows an understanding of your niche.
  • network within your niche. Work on being connected with other key players (big and small).
  • use your blog not only to report and rehash news but to also show initiative in proposing solutions. Be proactive in your blogging and lead the conversation rather than just react to it.

How to Make Money From Your Blog – Direct Methods

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Direct Income Earning Methods for Bloggers

 

 

1. Advertising

There are many ways of selling advertising space on a blog (this could almost be a series of it’s own) but some of the different advertising options that I see bloggers experimenting with include:

 

  • Contextual Advertising – Programs like AdSense and YPN (beta) are very popular with bloggers and are probably the most common income stream being used by them today (MSN are developing one too). In short – these programs scan the content of your blog to assertion what it’s topic is and attempt to put contextually relevant ads (text and image) onto your blog. They are generally simple to use and involve pasting some code into your blog’s templates. Payment is on a ‘per click’ basis (referred to as CPC or ‘cost per click’ ads). Contextual ads suit blogs that have a particular niche topic, especially if it has some sort of commercial angle (ie it has products and services associated with it). They are not so good with ‘general’ type blogs (ie many topics) and/or political/spiritual blogs which argue just one side of a case (this confuses AdSense).
  • Other CPC Advertising – There are a variety of other ad systems that pay on a per click basis which are not contextual in nature (which is important as systems like AdSense do not allow you to run contextual ads on the same page view as them). These systems include Chitika’s eMiniMalls(aff) which I reviewed here.
  • Impression Based Ads – Impression based ads pay a small amount for every person who views the advertisement. The amount that they pays varies from program to program (and ad to ad) and is generally a fraction of a cent. There are a variety of ad systems around like this includingFastclick (aff) which I reviewed here and Tribal Fusion. Impression based ads won’t earn you much if you don’t have a lot of traffic but can be great if you do.
  • Blog Ads – BlogAds have become something of an institution when it comes to advertising on blogs. They traditionally have had a focus upon monetizing political blogs but are expanding their focus lately. The beauty of them is that bloggers set their own rates and can accept or reject advertisers that apply to them to be featured on their blogs. These ads put the control of what ads show and how much they earn into the hands of the blogger. The downside is that if you price them too high you could never have any ads showing at all. They can also be difficult to be accepted into as a publisher as these days they only accept people into the system if they have a someone who is already in ‘sponsor’ or recommend the new publisher.
  • Text Ads – Another increasingly popular way to sell ads on your blog is to look into text links. The beauty of these are that they don’t take up much room and that depending upon the system you choose to run them you can have control over which advertisers you accept and reject. AdBrite(aff) is one such system that gives you control in a similar way to BlogAds in that you set your own prices and approve all ads. They also other other formats of ads. Text Link Ads (aff) is another text link seller that more and more bloggers are using. The beauty of both of these systems is that they have a pool of advertisers already so you don’t have to go looking for your own advertisers. Their systems are also both very automated and are just a matter of pasting some code onto your blog. I use them both and while they don’t earn anywhere near as much as AdSense or Chitika for me they add up over the year and have done well for me. Bidvertiser and Adzaar are other system that I know are popular with some (we’ve used them quite successfully on b5media although I have little personal experience with them).
  • RSS Ads – An increasingly popular way for people to read blogs is via RSS. As a result publishers and ad providers have been keen to find ways to place ads in feeds. These attempts have been met with a variety of success levels. I’m yet to hear of too many people making big dollars with RSS ads yet but the ad systems seem to be improving. AdSense offers RSS ads to some of it’s publishers (you have to have a certain number of impressions first) as does YPN. Feedburner is a tool I’ve used to help monetise my own feeds – they give publishers three options (1. AdSense if you’ve been approved by them, 2. Amazon affiliate program and 3. if you have a lot of subscribers (over 500) they have an Ad Network). Pheedo is another system that you might like to try (although I’ve not had much experience with it).
  • Other Ads Systems – In addition to the above systems (most of which I’ve used myself) are many other advertising options which I’ve not had experience with and so won’t personally recommend. I’m sure they are worth experimenting with however as I see many of them being used by bloggers every day. Here they are in no particular order:
  • AdGentaCrispAdsClicksorIntelli TxtPeak ClickDouble ClickIndustry Brains, AdHearUs,KanoodleAVNPheedoAdknowledgeYesAdvertisingRevenuePilotTextAdsSearchFeed,Target PointOneMonkey, and TextAds. Feel free to add your own and tell us how you’ve gone with them in comments below.

 

2. Sponsorship

Another form of advertising that a smaller number of bloggers are using is to find their own advertisers. All of the above systems have the advantage of finding you advertisers (or at least assisting in the automation of ads to your blog) but as your blog grows in profile and influence you might find other options for private deals come up.

The big blog networks have people dedicated to the task of finding advertisers (often working through ad agencies) but smaller bloggers might find this worthwhile also. I’ve been selling ads on my Digital Camera Blog for two years now and as it’s grown in traffic and profile and managed to attract larger companies (who are willing to pay more) to buys space. Currently the blog features ads from Adobe who have bought a combination of banner, newsletter and text ads.

The key if you’re going to take this approach is to target advertisers in your niche that have products that closely relate to what you’re writing about. There are a variety of ads that you can offer them including banner ads, buttons, text links, mentions in newsletters and even individual post sponsorships. I would highly recommend that you always make it clear to readers that your post is a sponsored one when you’re writing a sponsored post.

 

3. Affiliate Programs

Affiliate programs are where you take a commission for referring a reader who purchases a product or service to a company. Probably the most common of these for bloggers is Amazon which has tens of thousands of products that you can link to (I reviewed it here). Other affiliate programs that represent many different companies and products include LinkshareCommission Junction andClickbank.

Affiliate programs take some work if you want to get the most out of them (perhaps more work than advertising) but can be lucrative if you match the right program with the right blog/topic. If you want to explore affiliate programs more you might like to read 10 tips for using affiliate programs on you blog.

 

4. Selling/Flipping Blogs

The idea of selling (or flipping) your blog is one that many bloggers have in the back of their minds for ‘one day’ but in reality it is not something that is overly common… yet (I think this is changing). Probably the largest sale is that of Weblogs Inc (a network of blogs) which sold to AOL for a reported $25 million. Of course this is the stuff that most of us can only dream of – but there are examples of smaller blogs being sold, either privately or via auctions on sites like eBay and SitePoint. One such auction was that of the Blog Herald which took place here.

Starting a blog with the main goal of selling it down the track is one that I’ve heard of a number of bloggers doing but few have been successful. Rather than starting with this intention I think if you start with the intention of building a quality site that has a large readership and it’s own good income stream you are more likely to find buyers down the track.

 

5. Donations and Tip Jars

A very small number of blogs have a history of making good money with these (Jason Kottke being one of them). To be successful with asking for money from readers you’ll want to have a large and loyal readership (and a rich one might help too). Most bloggers just don’t have the critical mass or the cult following to make it work.

6. Merchandise

Another method that some blogs use with reasonable effect is to sell T-Shirts, Mugs, Stickers etc with the blog’s name, logo and/or taglines on it. This is another idea that will probably only work if you either have a brilliantly designed merchandise range and/or you have a cult-like status as a blogger with some fanatical readers who are a little obsessive about your blog. Some blog topics lend themselves to this more than others.

 

7. Selling Subscriptions

The idea of charging readers for content is one that surfaces from time to time. While there are numerous websites around the web that do this successfully (community membership sites) I’m yet to see many (any) blogs do it well. The problem that most bloggers who have tried it have run into is that most topics that you could think to start a blog about already have free sites available. To make it succeed you would need to have some sort of premium/exclusive content and/or real expertise on a topic.

 

8. Blog Networks

Another emerging income source for bloggers are blog networks. There are two ways to make money here. Firstly you can start a network and contract bloggers to write for you or secondly you might like to join a blog network as a writer. There are many networks out there and all have their own strengths and weaknesses.

How Bloggers Make Money from Blogs

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Income Streams for Bloggers – How to Make Money Blogging

Advertising Programs – Perhaps the most obvious changes in the past few months have been with the addition of a variety of viable advertising options for bloggers looking to make money from their blogs. The most common way bloggers seem to earn money online is via the contextual ad program from Google – Adsense. A more recent addition that many are using successfully are Chitika.

RSS Advertising – The past 12 months have seen some advances in RSS Advertising also. I’m yet to hear of any bloggers making big money blogging through it to this point – but as improvements are made to the ad programs exploring this I’m sure we’ll start to see examples of it being profitable.

Sponsorship – In addition to the array of advertising programs that are available to join there is a growing awareness in the business of the value and opportunity that exists for them to advertise directly on blogs.These are not isolated cases – as I say I know of many blogs exploring sponsorship with advertisers at present and suspect we’ll see more of it in the year ahead. Sponsorship is also happening on a post by post basis with some bloggers being paid to write on certain topics by companies – either in one off or a regular fashion – and they are able to make big money from their blogs doing so.

Affiliate Programs – There are larger affiliate programs like AmazonLinkshareClickbank andCommission Junction but also literally thousands of others from the large to the very small.

Digital Assets – Increasing numbers of bloggers have been developing other digital assets to support and add revenue streams to their blogs. By this I mean that I’m increasingly seeing e-books, courses and tele-seminars being run by bloggers. This type of activity will only increase in future – in fact this week I’ve seen numerous examples of bloggers running courses.

Blog Network Opportunities – with the rise in popularity of Blog Networks – bloggers are also being presented with more places to earn an income from their blogging – by writing for and with others. While it might be difficult to get a writing gig with one of the bigger networks – there are plenty who are always asking for new bloggers to join and who are willing to pay bloggers using a variety of payment models. While there are distinct advantages of blogging for yourself – blogging for an established network who will handle a lot of the set up/promotion/admin/SEO etc has it’s advantages also. More and more bloggers are combining writing for themselves on their own blogs with taking on blog network blogs as additional income streams.

Business Blog Writing Opportunities – as blogging has risen in it’s profile as a medium more and more businesses are starting blogs. Many of these companies have internal staff take on blogging duties – but an increasing number of them are hiring specialist bloggers to come on and run their blogs. I know of a number of bloggers who in the past month or two have been approached for such paid work.

Non Blogging Writing Opportunities – Also becoming more common are bloggers being hired to write in non blogging mediums. Manolo’s recent coup of a column in the Washington Post is just one example of this as bloggers are increasingly being approached to write for newspapers, magazines and other non blog websites. Along side this is the rise of bloggers as published book authors – this is to the extent that one blogger I spoke with this week complained to me that they were one of the few bloggers than they knew who didn’t have a book deal!

Donations – Tip Jars and donation buttons have been a part of blogging for years now but this last year saw a number of bloggers go full time after fund raising drives. Perhaps the most high profile of these was Jason Kottke of kottke.org who through the generosity of his readership was able to quit his job and become a full time blogger.

Flipping Blogs – Also more common in 2005 was the practice of ‘Blog Flipping’ – or selling of blogs. This has happened both on an individual blog level (I can think of about 20 blogs that sold this year) but also on a network level (the most obvious of these being the 8 figure sale of Weblogs Inc to AOL).

Merchandising – An increasing number of bloggers are attempting to make a few extra dollars from their blogs by selling branded products through programs like Cafepress.

Consulting and Speaking – While it has been popular for established consultants to add blogs to their businesses we’re also starting to see bloggers with no consulting background able to make money by charging readers for their time in consulting scenarios BECAUSE of the profile that their blogs have built them. Blogging has the ability to establish people as experts on niche topics and we all know the value of being perceived as an expert. I spoke to one blogger last month who charges himself out at over $200 an hour for speaking and consulting work – his area of expertise was something that he knew little about 18 months ago – but through his blog he’s become a leader in his field and a minor celebrity in his industry.

As time rolls on there are more and more ways that bloggers make money from their blogs opening up. Feel free to suggest your own ideas and experiences in comments below.

9 Reasons Why I AM An Amazon Affiliate

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1. Amazon is a trusted Brand – I surveyed some of my readers a year back and asked them to give me a list of online stores that they had made purchases from in the last 12 months. Amazon came up number 1 as the most popular shopping destination mentioned. Readers know Amazon and are familiar with it – they trust it and do spend significant money there.

2. Commissions – John writes that he’s not satisfied with a 4% commission. He’s right in some ways, 4% isn’t that much when you’re selling a $10 book – however when you’re selling a Get a Price on the$5000 Camera or a $25,000 Tractor (I know someone who does quite well out of ride on mowers and tractors) it certainly adds up. Not only that, the 4% rate that John talks about is the base rate. Unfortunately it is as high as it goes on consumer electronics – however on most other products there is a sliding scale where the more you sell the higher your commission goes to. Sell more than 6 items in a month and your commission goes to 6% – sell over 630 and you’re up to 8% (the rate I’m on). The 4-Hour work Week that John uses as an example earned me around $1 a book. Still not a lot – but I did sell 100 or so of them which not only earned me $100 but also helped push the numbers of sales up for the month, moving me into the next earning bracket.

Us Q107 Pricingtiers Unbox

3. People Buy More than One Item – the great thing about Amazon is that you don’t just earn a commission on the product that you people to, but anything that they buy once they’re at Amazon. I did an experiment earlier in the year where I published a review of a digital photography book on my blog and placed a tracking code in the link to see how much the review earned me specifically. What I found was that the product in the review did quite well – but the sales of other products that people made once they got to Amazon was actually much greater than the sales of the actual book. People went on to buy all manner of products (other books, electronics, cosmetics etc) – I earned a commission on each one of them – now that’s passive income. You earn a commission on anything that a person buys within 24 hours of you sending them to Amazon.

 

4. Easily Integrated – There are more and more plugins and tools that have Amazon Affiliate integration built into them to help you easily place links in your blog posts. I use ecto for Mac which has a tool that searches for products and links them in in just a couple of clicks. WP has plugins also. The affiliate links already mentioned in this post took seconds to integrate in.

5. Payment Options – Amazon pays their affiliates in a number of ways. One of the things that I like is that they give you the option to be paid in products instead of cash. I don’t do this every month (I couldn’t spend that $20,000+ a year at Amazon… well maybe I could) but occasionally do and use it as prizes for blog readers. I recently offered DPS readers $500 of Amazon products in a forum signup competition. The prize is paid for out of my affiliate earnings.

6. Small Payments Add Up – In my early days of making money from blogs I didn’t have the luxury of picking and choosing my income streams as much as I (and other full time bloggers) now do. I needed to earn money somewhere and even the small amounts that Amazon brought in were better than nothing. Over time these payments began to add up. In the early days I didn’t even earn enough for a minimum payment amount and had to wait a few months before they’d pay me – but those pay outs were milestones that I celebrated. If I’d not gone with Amazon because they didn’t earn me a lot I might not have gone with any ad networks or affiliate programs – sometimes you have to take what you can get.

7. It’s an Investment that Matures Over Time – My approach with Amazon is to treat it a little like a savings account or an investment that you put a little into each week and which matures in it’s earnings over time. What do I mean by this? I add links to Amazon over time and find that in doing so I’m creating more and more doorways into the Amazon store. Each time I do I increase the chances of sending someone to Amazon and seeing returns on those visits.

8. The Holidays are Boom Time – While I’m really happy with the way my Amazon Affiliate income is growing ($2500 a month is so far beyond what I’d ever expected from it in the early days) it’s worth noting that things really fire up in the lead up to Christmas and the holiday season. Over the last few years I’ve noticed significant jumps in Amazon earnings in December (as much as 100%). The key is to plan ahead (make sure your links are all up to date a couple of months out) and run a few Christmas specific posts in the lead up to the Holiday rush (start to prepare as early as October/November).

9. Wide Array of Products
What initially attracted me to using Amazon’s Affiliate program was the breadth of products that they had in their system. This is a great thing if you’re niche is narrow or quite obscure as many bloggers find it difficult to find affiliate programs to match their blog’s focus. Blogs like John’s and mine here at ProBlogger do have an array of options for affiliate programs (which is why I don’t use it a lot on this blog and make most of my earnings from Amazon from product related blogs) but many bloggers don’t have the luxury of being able to choose high paying affiliate programs because they simply don’t relate to our topics. Amazon then becomes one of the more attractive options.

So is the Amazon Affiliate Program for you?

I can’t answer that question for everyone – I won’t pretend that it works brilliantly on every blog but I know quite a few bloggers making significant earnings each month from the program. Blogs with a strong product focus can do quite well through the program if links to Amazon are well integrated into posts (see some of the links below for tips). I would advise moderation in using the program – don’t place them in every post you write unless they are relevant. Links placed in genuinely helpful reviews do better than links and banners in sidebars.

The best way to see if it converts is to give it a go.

10 Ways to make your Blog more Attractive to Advertisers

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1. Have an “Advertise with Us” Banner on your site

This is the single most important issue. It should click to an Advertising information page and have an easy way to contact you for more information and rates. Key points: Make it a graphical image or a tab. Keep it above the fold.

 

2. Keep the ads on your site specific to your site

Don’t have smiley ads and wallpaper ads if your site is site is about mobile phones.

 

3. Show them the banners

If you currently have no paid placements on your site, put up house ads or partner ads in the same spot you would run a paid spot. (A house ad refers to banners for other products or sites that you or your company own)

 

4. Throw up a free bonus ad.

By putting a free advertisement on your site, you may not only encourage similar ads or competitors to that product, but the company you added for free may decide to advertise with you. Ask for full disclosure of the performance of the campaign in return. (Total clicks, total purchases etc. ) Key points. Put the free bonus up with a direct URL without tracking tags or affiliate tags.

 

5. Show your site stats.

You need to show at least the basics for site statical information: Monthly unique visitors and total number of impressions are the 2 key ones. Other less important can be Google PR & Alexa rank.

 

6. User demographic information. Know your audience.

The bare minimum is Male/Female % and average age of your readers. Other potentially useful information includes geographic, HHI, single/married, number of kids. etc. How do you get this info? You can do site polls, survey’s, or get more detailed stats from ComScore or Quantcast.com

 

7. Have an ‘About Us’ section.

Clearly explain who you are and what your site is about. And also why you are an ‘authority’ on what you are writing about, and why anyone should care about what you have to say.

 

8. Don’t use Google AdSense on your site.

OK, this could be the most painful one for most people especially if you are generating a few hundred bucks a month from it already. But Google ad sense devalues your site and makes it look unprofessional. You have to ask yourself, “Do I want some real revenue from my site or Google’s table scraps.”

 

9. Keep your blog on topic.

If you are all over the map in regards to topics about which you talk about, advertisers won’t know if they are a good fit for your site.

 

10. Keep your blog professional.

If you are talking about your cat, (Matt Cutts), ranting about your drive to work, swearing or bashing every product you can think about, it will scare away advertisers.

A Reality Check about Blogging for Money

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Reality Check

The Reality of Blogging for Money

So what is the reality of building up one’s blogging to a point where they can make a full time living blogging?

Here are five facts that I’d like to share about my own story to give a more realistic picture to those considering getting into blogging as a way to make a living.

 

1. It takes a concerted long term effort

I have been blogging for five years. The first year was not for money in any way (although I learned a lot about blogging in that year) and the next two I worked 2-3 jobs at a time (and was studying part time) while I built my blogging up from a hobby, to part time job to a full time venture (more on my story here).

I’m often asked things like – ‘I need to make $xxxx in the next few months – how would you do it with a new blog?’

The average age of blogs in the Technorati Top 100 was over 3 years when I last surveyed it – while the occasional blogger has a fast rise to frame they are the exception. Building a successful blog takes a long time (it takes time to build readership, to work out how to monetize it etc) so take a long term approach and pace yourself.

 

2. It takes luck

I won’t speak for other bloggers but in my case I was very fortunate on many fronts. I started blogging at a good time (it was a lot less crowded and competitive back then).

  • I stumbled on making money from blogs quite accidentally
  • I started my first money making blog on the spur of the moment and picked a topic (digital
  • photography) without knowing what I was doing – but for the time it was right)
  • I met the right people at the right time
  • Bigger bloggers discovered me at opportune times

The lucky list could go on – but I was very lucky. Of course some people ‘make their own luck’ and to some extent I agree with this – there are ways to increase your chances of being lucky – but some of it is outside your hands. Sometimes the luck comes and sometimes it doesn’t.

 

3. It takes a lot of work

There’s been a lot of talk lately about how blogging less can mean more from your blog (example 1and example 2). While I agree with this – that doesn’t mean you can just come up with a few posts on a whim every few days and expect the traffic (and money) to come rolling in. Over the last 3 years I’ve consistently worked 40-60+ hour weeks on my blogging. At one point I was posting 20-30 posts per day (mainly news related posts back then). Most bloggers that make a full time living from blogging work corresponding hours on it.

 

4. Many don’t make much money blogging

I’ve often used the analogy of Professional sports people to highlight that in any ‘game’ there are many who play it – less who make a little money from the game, even less who are able to earn a living from it (just) and just a small group who make big money from it. The same is true for bloggers. I’ve run many polls here at ProBlogger on how much people are earning from the medium (eg) and on every single occasion they reveal that the vast majority of bloggers are making very little per month. While it is possible to make amazing money from blogging the sad reality is that most don’t make more than pocket money. Even some blogs who ‘deserve’ to make money blogging don’t.

 

5. It’s hard

One thing that I’ve found to be common with when I had small/new blogs and now having blogs that are doing reasonably well is that in both instances it can be really hard to keep them going. The pressure to keep coming up with fresh ideas, to respond to critique of others, to deal with jealousy when others do well and more can be difficult to deal with. On some levels it gets easier to deal with as your blog grows – but on other levels the demands that you face from a larger readership can at times be overwhelming. Most bloggers that I know (big and small) have at one point or another been close to giving up – I know I have.

 

Feeling Depressed?

I don’t want to put a downer on those of you wanting to take your blogs to a level where you could make good money from blogging – the fact is that it is possible and and increasing number of people are making a part time or full time living from the medium – but I do think it’s important to have a realistic picture before getting into blogging for money.

While some bloggers do talk about blogging as a way to make quick money I’ve not had that experience myself. Perhaps others do get rich quick from blogging – but I’ve not met any successful bloggers who’ve told me that yet.

Reality Check 2

Should I Keep My Personal and Professional Identities Completely Separate Online?

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How Comfortable Are You With Your Name in Public?

This is the ultimate question you’re going to have to answer. Some of us live with our identities in public because we have to, either because we work in public under our own names or assumed identities, or because we prefer to be above board with our comments, criticisms, and public interactions on the web. Many other people prefer the cloak of anonymity so they can speak their mind, comment and write what they really feel, and join the communities they prefer without worrying about who might find them there later.

We touched on this topic a bit when it came to Facebook passwords and even with companies tracking your activities on the web. If you prefer anonymity because you don’t want it to come around to your staunchly conservative boss that you’re a guest writer at a leading progressive blog, then there’s a reason you’d want to keep some elements of your personal identity separate from your professional one. At the same time, if you’re a writer and you’d like to apply for more opportunities, you may do yourself a disservice by keeping some of your best work out of your portfolio. Ultimately, you have to balance how comfortable you are having your name attached to all of your work, and whether or not the things that you attach your name are relevant to your field, or help complete a potential employer’s picture of you as a whole individual.

Should I Keep My Personal and Professional Identities Completely Separate Online?

Pros to Keeping Your Identities Separate

  • It provides a layer of privacy (through obscurity). Your anonymous, or personal persona is free to comment where you choose, say what you like, and be an active participant in any community you wish, without fear that your professional portfolio or career will be impacted by it.Photo by Tom Mc Nemar.
  • You have control over your professional appearance. By keeping semi-separate identities, you can carefully curate who sees what, and what information is available to a potential employer, business partner, family member, or anyone else looking for information on you and what you’ve been up to. By minimizing the intersection between personal and professional, you have the option to let some people into both worlds while keeping most people in the ones you prefer.
  • Avoids information overload, for you and your audience. Keeping your identities separate allows you to control and refine what you see and when. It allows you to keep different networks for different purposes, and limit your own access to some networks when you’re off the clock, and then stay up to date on everything when it’s business time. This method also allows you to keep your professional updates, like new photos in your gallery or new articles you’ve written and projects you’ve completed, from boring your personal friends, and keeps your professional contacts from seeing irrelevant details of your personal life.

Should I Keep My Personal and Professional Identities Completely Separate Online?

Cons to Keeping Your Identities Separate

  • Requires you to maintain separate accounts/personae in different places. On some networks, you may want to go as far as to create a completely separate identity for yourself, and depending on the network in question, that may be a violation of the terms of service. Some companies don’t take lightly to the same person having multiple accounts, with one under a false name. More importantly though, it doubles the amount of work you have to physically put into maintaining your presence online. You’ll have personal networks you use to stay in touch with friends, and professional pages and portfolios to help you get jobs and market yourself. Photo by Sybil Liberty.
  • Splits your audience. For many people, your biggest fans, and the people who are perhaps the most likely to help you find new jobs, connect with people who can help you find your dream gig, or support your vision are the people closest to you—or the people you would connect with on your personal networks, but keep at arms length elsewhere. If you opt to keep your personal and professional lives separate, you may find yourself excluding valuable people who can help you because they’re friends or family. If you let them in to both, however, it may defeat the whole point. Alternatively, if what you do is what you love, this definitely defeats the point.

Should I Keep My Personal and Professional Identities Completely Separate Online?

Use Different Networks for Different Purposes

Some of this is obvious—you’d naturally use your LinkedIn profile for business contacts, right? But would you think about creating a Facebook page for your personal “brand” or the professional side of your life? Everyone has a personal Facebook account, and we would strongly suggest you keep it locked down, but if you want to use Facebook as a professional networking tool—and it’s great for that, make no mistake—then a Facebook Page, not a second profile, may be what you’re looking for. Then you have the separation you need between the personal and the professional.Photo by Sheila Scarborough.

The same applies to Twitter, or your personal website. It’s one thing to have a personal blog, full of your own thoughts and opinions, but it’s another to have a professional blog where you write about your goals, your projects, and post samples of your work. Flickr, Smugmug, and networks like 500px are great tools for photographers, but not many photographers who are serious about their work would suggest using Flickr in lieu of a personal gallery hosted on your own site (where potential clients can reach you about your work.)

It’s more important that you find the sweet spot of personal and professional distance between your social circles that’s right for you than you specifically create two accounts with the same name, or one with a fake name and the other with your real name. You can have it all, just be aware of the privacy policies and terms of service you’re signing to, and make sure you’re using each network for its best intended purpose.

Should I Keep My Personal and Professional Identities Completely Separate Online?

Make the Call That Suits You Best

The key is to use the networks that you sign up for in the best way possible that retains your personal privacy, but also helps you professionally. In most cases, that means getting up to speed with their privacy settings, considering second accounts or secondary profiles (that are or are not linked to your personal one, depending on how comfortable you are doing so) for different purposes, and only cross pollinating when absolutely necessary. Plus, doing this gives you control over what you publish and to whom, and even gives you the option to let professional friends into your personal cabal if you see fit.

We know we didn’t say “yes, you should keep them separate” as much as we said “no, you shouldn’t use one identity for everything,” but that’s because it’s more important for your sanity and for your work-life boundaries for you to keep some distance between your professional portfolios and your personal activities on the web. Whether you choose to use the same name is up to you, you’ll just have to be on your best behavior when you do. If using your real name forces you to not be a jerk, then we can’t complain, but if it forces you to stop short of brilliance because you don’t know how a future employer would feel, well then, we agree with XKCD on that one.

How Can I Sell My Skills Beyond a Boring Resume?

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The Most Popular, Easiest to Set Up: About.Me

If you have a web presence you want to show off at all, About.Me is a good option. The service is free, looks great, and links users directly to your other social profiles or web sites where they can learn more about you. About.me pages take moments to set up, and when you’re finished you get a short custom URL you can give out or put on a business card. You can even sign up for an about.me email address for those contacts to use when they want to reach you.

How Can I Sell My Skills Beyond a Boring Resume?

For Designers and People With Portfolios: Flavors.Me

Although Flavors.me is very similar to About.Me, Flavors.me offers a bit more flexibility when it comes to page design and linked sites and services. You could use it strictly as a jumping off point to your social profiles, but the service also allows you to add photos, video, and custom pages to your profile, so if you have work to show off (pages you’ve designed, illustrations you’ve done, etc), your visitors don’t have to go too far to see it. If you have a lot of work to show off and you want it front and center to anyone who visits your profile, Flavors.me lets you do that—especially if you pony up the $20/yr for a premium account and all of the features that come with it.

For Students: Seelio

Seelio is a new service that gives students a way to showcase their activities, hobbies, internships, volunteer activities, and clubs in a fun and interactive way. Most students don’t exactly have a long resume loaded with work history and special skills, so Seelio offers students a way to add videos, photos, and testimonials to their list of skills and experiences. Think of it as a supercharged resume for the people who need it the most: the ones caught looking for opportunities that require experience, but who need experience to get started. Plus, Seelio is frequented by recruiters and hiring managers looking for student employees and interns.

How Can I Sell My Skills Beyond a Boring Resume?

For Business Owners and Entrepeneurs: Sidengo

Sidengo offers business owners and people who have a lot of information to communicate to their visitors a set of pages—not just a single nameplate page with links—that they can customize with plenty of information about their business. For example, if you own a restaurant and want a quick, attractive website, you can create one for your business, have a separate page for the menu, a separate page for hours and contact information, and another for photos of the food or seating areas. It’s faster than rolling your own website, comes with mobile versions rolled in, and even the free plans offer powerful customization options and features. It’s probably overkill if you’re selling yourself, but if you’re starting a business, it’s a great option.

How Can I Sell My Skills Beyond a Boring Resume?

For People with Boring Resumes: Vizify

For those of us who don’t fall into the other categories or just have a boring old resume that could use a little spice, previously mentioned Vizify links to your social accounts and web sites and generates an attractive, multi-page visual profile page complete with your work history, social profiles, education history, and more—all without you lifting a finger. You can tweak any of the pages or add or remove social profiles if you think it knows too much about you, but when you’re finished, you’ll have a beautiful interactive page that potential employers can use to learn all about you and get right to your LinkedIn profile, personal website, and more.

How Can I Sell My Skills Beyond a Boring Resume?

For the DIYer: Roll Your Own

If you don’t like the idea of putting your professional portfolio in the hands of a web service, you can get the same results by rolling your own, either by building your own site from scratch or by using a content management system like WordPress orDrupal. You’ll need to register a domain of your own—preferably something like http://www.yourname.com—and get it hosted with a web host of your choice. If you go the WordPress route, themes like John Saddington’s digital business card andElegant Themes’ Business Card Theme can quickly transform your site into an attractive and informative nameplate, loaded with links to your social profiles, resume, and samples of your work. When you roll your own, it takes more time, but the sky is the limit when it comes to what you can show off to a visitor.

How Can I Sell My Skills Beyond a Boring Resume?

Don’t Overlook the Power of Your Resume

All of these personal profiles are great, and when you pick the one that best matches the skills you want to show off you should push it as much as possible, but don’t underestimate the importance of a clean, good-looking, plain old resume. We’ve discussed how getting creative with your resume can help, but don’t go too crazy. After all, most hiring managers are looking for standard resumes to scan into their HR system. If you go crazy with QR codes and custom design and images, you might find your resume in the trash because it doesn’t scan easily or can’t be easily imported to a resume database. Photo by Charlotte West.

We’d strongly suggest picking the best service for you and then dropping the URL (especially if it’s a domain you own, like yourname.com) on business cards, on the top of your paper resume, and in the signature of your emails, but don’t neglect your regular resume, and don’t start thinking you don’t need a normal resume because you have one of these services. We may be moving away from traditional resumes as the primary way people get hired, but they’re not dead yet. Good luck, and let us know how your job search goes!