Wednesday, October 31, 2012

YouTube videos surprisingly quick and easy to make

Getting into YouTube is something I've been meaning to do for ages but just haven't gotten around to. I bought a video camera over a year ago, but have only just started to use it.

It's a lot of fun, and I'm sure it will bring lots of traffic to my sites in time. I have a local blog about Perth and decided to film some short videos of parts of the city. The thing I found most surprising was that it was a breeze to do. Within an hour I had about seven or eight short narrated scenes of a couple of landmarks in the city, and one pleasant little street.

When I returned home and looked through them I found three that were worth uploading. I was worried that the narration wouldn't come through because it was a windy day. But while the sound quality wasn't great, it was definitely audible.

Sure, these were not slick little mini-movies by any means. But they looked okay and were informative. Now that's good to know because at this rate I'll have a whole library of interesting content up there before long. They will help bring extra traffic via click-throughs. And I can embed the videos into blog posts as well.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A blog can help you get paid writing jobs for magazines

As we all know, the growth of the internet -- particularly the online classifieds industry -- has heavily eroded the traditional offline publishing industry. But there are still many magazines and papers in operation. They continue to require content from freelance writers and are prepared to pay for it-- although generally a lot less than in years gone by. One good way of getting such jobs is if you build some authority online. And that's where a blog can really help.

I know for a fact that blogs can get you writing work because it's happened to me. Years ago, when I was living in Sydney, I met a fellow blogger, who was also an experienced journalist. I struck up a bit of a friendship with him. Eventually he scored a gig editing a magazine, and was looking for columnists. He knew I had a background in comedy, and that a couple of my blogs were humorous in nature. So he asked me to write a regular satirical column for the magazine.

Sadly it folded after about seven or eight issues. However I did get enjoy the experience, it was good for my resume, and I made some money out of it (although I didn't get paid for some of the later columns as the publication went belly-up!).

Just recently I've had another paid writing offer that came directly via one of my blogs. It's a local blog about my city. A magazine editor found it via a Google search and saw that I had a lot of local knowledge. So he sent me an e-mail asking if I would like to write a short recurring local guide for the mag.  

I don't think I'll do the job because there's not much money in it (although the word rate is pretty good). And it's not the sort of thing I really like doing. Still, it was a pleasant surprise to get this offer right out of the blue. And it certainly shows you how your blog can get you noticed by people who are willing to pay for written content. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Political blogging draws more traffic, comments than other niches

I've written numerous blogs in a few niches over the last 9 years. Several of them have been politically themed. What I've noticed is that it's much easier to get traffic to these blogs than all the others.

I think the main reason is that there's just generally less competition for this niche than the others. There are squillions of blogs about SEO, social media, marketing and making money, after all. So most of the generic, timeless keywords for these niches are pretty much saturated. Yes, you can crawl up the rankings and reap the rewards, but it takes a lot of time and effort to do so.

As well as there being fewer blogs about politics, there are also a lot more low competition keywords to use that draw traffic, many of them topical. By this I mean the names of people, places, parties, policies, etc. Everyone follows politics and there are always new developments that are reported in the mainstream media. So people are forever on the lookout for news and views related to them. You just have to write specific blog posts about these subjects and you're sure to snare some search engine traffic.

In niches that aren't about making money, people are motivated by their passion for the subject. So their responses are genuine. They also really want to express their opinions. 

This is why you tend to get more high quality blog comments on political blogs. A blog like this one on the other hand gets quite a lot of spam. That's because bloggers in this niche are often commenting for promotional purposes instead.

I've seen this on Twitter too. If I tweet a link to this blog on my online marketing-themed account, it will generally get just a few clicks. But I consistently get ten or more clicks when I tweet blog links on my political account. And that has the same number of followers.

It is all a bit frustrating. The blogs that get the best results are the ones that aren't making me any money!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Offline marketing of websites requires repetition

Lately I've been promoting social media lessons in Perth. One of the methods I've been using is to leave ads up on community noticeboards. I'm sure you've seen the kind I've been using. They're the ones with the website address and phone number hanging down vertically from the ad, so that viewers don't have to write these details down. Each ad has about 7 or 8 of these stubs.

Anyway, last night I returned to a couple of these ads that I'd left in a food court in Wembley and a nearby cafe about 3 weeks ago. I noticed that all the stubs had been removed from both of them. Now I have had a few clicks that I knew came from offline sources to the site that they were advertising. And I think I got one e-mail query as a result. But I certainly got fewer such clicks than the number of stubs that were removed.

Clearly, what was happening was that people were browsing the boards and tearing of those ads that took their fancy at the time. But most were not following up later on.

People are like that. What seems like a good idea one day just doesn't on another. A fraction of those who like your ad will actually check out the website listed. And fewer still will contact you.

Which just goes to show you have to keep at it until you find those people. It's just a long slow process of attrition.

So if you are using the noticeboard method it's a good idea to put ones up all over the city. Then go back after a few weeks and replace the ones with no stubs remaining. Out of the hundreds of stubs that people take home with them, a few are sure to convert into sales. Certainly this process takes a bit of time. But it's surely one of the cheapest methods of offline website advertising available.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Quality blog comments help SEO in the long run

Backlinks are extremely important for SEO. And one method of building them that has long been popular is blog commenting. Many people still subscribe to the theory that if you just write heaps and heaps of them on countless blogs in your niche then the combined effect will be good for your search engine rankings. This is why there is so much blog comment spam out there, even today.

I still see it on some of my bogs, even from SEO companies. That bothers me greatly because they must be using it to promote their clients' sites as well. Think of all those bad links that they're building that will eventually be penalized by Google. To undo the damage, the site owner will have to get them removed. What a nightmare!

So, obviously, commenting should not be seen as a high quantity strategy, but one focusing on quality instead. That is, you should use them to get on the radar of blog owners as well as other bloggers who are adding to these threads.

If they like your input they will often comment on your blog -- and just as you have done, they will do that thoughtfully. Obviously that's a good thing, because we all love getting good quality comments. (And you should reply to them promptly, too. Readers who see at least two comments are more likely to add their own thoughts. And so the process continues.)

And the more comments you have, the more content is there to be found. That's another benefit for SEO. When looking though my stats I've found that those blog posts that have the most reader contributions tend to rank higher than those with few or none at all.

The other benefit you get from writing good comments on someone's blog is that the owner might even include a link back to yours in a post. That is even more helpful SEO-wise, obviously.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Raise your Twitter profile by tweeting about popular TV shows

The thing people love about Twitter is its immediacy. You can post something about a subject that a lot of people are focused on and get a response almost immediately.

It's like fishing when you can see a massive school of fish circling around near the pier. Cast your line into that area repeatedly and you're bound to catch some good sized fish.

So, timing is important. You've got to know when your target market will be swarming on the site. Quite often a regular mainstream media event will attract them. TV shows are good for this. There'll be many tweeps watching it and tweeting madly at the same time.

Take the Aussie political show Q&A. Just about every Australian political junkie on Twitter watches that show, tweeting their thoughts with the hashtag #QandA. If you take advantage of this and offer some good observations you're sure to get some retweets and mentions and thereby raise your Twitter profile.

Of course not everyone's into politics. But there must be other shows related to different niches where the same conditions apply.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bloggers should retweet often to grow their Twitter followings

A lot of bloggers sign up to Twitter and use it pretty much solely to tweet their blog posts. That's not recommended -- not just because you may eventually end up being suspended or even banned from the site. That's because if you do that you're missing out on a whole lot of other benefits.

It's really important to interact with other users. If you reply to their tweets they'll definitely notice you. They may end up following you, but even if they don't some are sure to reply to your tweets. If they have a lot of followers themselves then when they do this you'll be seen by a lot more people, and eventually get more followers that way. You should retweet their tweets for the same reason.

Keep interacting like this and you'll get a lot more benefit when you actually do tweet your blog posts. With a greater number of active tweeps aware of what you write, more retweets will follow. You'll also start to get noticed by those who edit the various Twitter dailies. If your blog posts end up being included in these then you will get even more clicks, of course. 

Remember that those editors have a big and constant appetite for content. So some of them will make you a favourite and include your blog posts repeatedly, if not regularly.

Whenever you see that you've been included in a edition, you should retweet it. If you've got a decent number of followers that will really help the editor. So he'll appreciate this and be even more likely to include your blog posts in subsequent issues. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Commission Junction ( is a good affiliate network

I have been promoting different affiliate programs on my various niche websites and blogs for several years now, and have used several of the main affiliate networks. One of the most well known and established of these is Commission Junction ( It's based in the United States but it's an international enterprise, and you can join from many countries.

It has a lot of merchants that are global in nature, with products that are appealing to people in Australia. That's good for me because I'm an Aussie, as are a high percentage of my visitors. There are some that are specific to this country, too, which is even better.

There are other aspects that make it a quality network. Firstly, the merchants tend to be top notch, with great products to promote. So, whether you promote pay per lead programs (and there are many of those) or pay per sale ones, it usually doesn't take a huge number of visits before they convert. They tend to pay pretty well, too.

They also have heaps of nicely designed links, buttons and banners. These help a lot. They can actually improve the look of your site. Also, their eye-catching nature makes them more likely to be clicked on by visitors, which means more money for the publisher in the long run.

The stats that you get for your various campaigns are good as well. They are really comprehensive and reliable (although perhaps a little confusing at first). This is extremely useful, because you can get a very good idea about which particular ads and programs are working well and which aren't, so you can adjust them accordingly.

Finally, they pay like clockwork. I've had several cheques from them so far and they've never been late.

I know there have been reports of various negative of issues regarding this network. However I have had no problems with them at all. Everything so far has been positive. For this reason I recommend this affiliate network highly.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Wizzley, WebNuggetz and now Zujava

Squidoo is an enormously popular and well-regarded site that has been around for a long time already. Many people have used it to make money, and it's also a great way to build links to other websites.

The Squidoo structure has been used as a template for other sites. These include Wizzley and WebNuggetz. The latest of these is Zujava.

These all look pretty well run and are worth investigating.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Twitter loading problems seem to have disappeared, thankfully

Yesterday, for much of the day, whenever I tried to log into Twitter at home, I kept getting this message reading: "Hmm, this seems to be taking a while. If problems persist, please reload to try again."

I logged in okay at a public library later in the day, so I thought it was something to do with my desktop PC only. But this appeared not to be the case, because when I got home last night I tried logging in on my laptop, which I hadn't used for a while. Same problem, with all the browsers. So it was clearly something at Twitter's end.

There were several references to this problem on Twitter's help site. And there's this recently written question on Yahoo Answers which refers to the problem. So it looks like it was a pretty widespread issue.

Thankfully, all seems to be okay today, however. I was very relieved, because I think I've become somewhat addicted to the site. It was like not being able to have a coffee, to be honest! Hopefully they've got the issue sorted and there will be no more recurrences.

In any case, have other users had this problem?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Content scrapers are stupid as well as lazy

If you blog or build and promote websites, you're sure to have your content scraped eventually. It's really annoying, although it's usually not worth the energy of trying to have the offending webmaster remove the content he stole from you.

I simply can't fathom why anyone would use such an underhanded technique to build up their content. Firstly, it's morally wrong to just rip off someone else's work. Secondly, Google is getting better and better at detecting sites using such dodgy tactics, so this method of building up your own site will either not benefit you in the long run, or result in you being blacklisted.

It's clearly both lazy and stupid. And if you want to know just how stupid these guys are, here's an example:

Today I just received an e-mail via a contact form on my website about SEO. I wasn't sure quite what he was referring to so I looked at his blog. I saw chunks of my text stolen verbatim from that very site on it! And his blog, like my website, was specifically about SEO.

Anyone who knows anything about SEO knows that content scraping is heavily frowned upon, to say the least. The fact that he's using it -- and quite obviously so -- discredits him completely.

And it was even more astonishing that he contacted me! You'd think that the last thing someone ripping off another person's material would do is actually tell this person about the blog it was on so he could discover the plagiarism.

I can only conclude that he must believe that he's not doing anything wrong. What an idiot.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

JustUnFollow and Friend or Follow are good sites for Twitter users

When using Twitter, you shouldn't go crazy following others in the hope that they will follow you back. But even if you're only following, say, five people a day on average, then you'll end up hitting the two thousand limit in around a year. If you don't have at least the same number of people following you back, then you can't follow any more. Then you have to start unfollowing people from time to time if you wish to follow those who are already following you.

There are several tools you can use to do this. I've been using both Friend or Follow and JustUnFollow. I think the latter is better for choosing who to unfollow simply because of the way it's laid out. (With the former all the tweeps you're following are shown in a grid and you have to mouse over their photos to see their details, after which you can decide what to do. But with JustUnfollow all that information is laid out in front of you already and you just place ticks in boxes.)

If you are going to use one or both of these sites (or others like them) then you should be careful not to overdo it. Regularly unfollowing lots of people can result in account suspension.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The site is based here in Perth, Western Australia

When you look at a commercial website, particularly if it has a sleek design and lots of good content, you generally have little idea of exactly where the company behind it is located (unless it is geo-specific in nature, of course). For some reason many people still tend to think that big authority sites with "dot com" and "dot net" domain names must be American ventures. But that doesn't necessarily follow. Nowadays they could be run from just about anywhere in the world.

The first big surprise I got regarding this misapprehension was a few years ago when I first learned about the world's top "problogger" Darren Rowse. I found his site, and had a look through it, assuming that he was from the USA. But I was stunned to learn that he actually lived in Melbourne. That really opened my eyes.

I still haven't completely gotten over that misapprehension, however. I'm a member of Commission Junction and I was looking through their list of merchants to promote. I found one that looked really good called It seems to be the top site in that category, ranking number one in Aussie Google searches for the keyword. (I suspect that's the same for Google's main international site also.)

Learning more about the site I was surprised to discover that it is not a USA-based company, but is actually run from right here in little old Perth. So, there's another example of the global nature of the internet (not that there's a lack of them of course), and still more proof that it really is a great equalizer in so many ways.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Using Squidoo and Wikinut for SEO purposes

Most readers will be aware of sites like Squidoo. Their characteristics vary, but they are usually like a combination of blogging platform and article directory, and they allow users to make some money through various revenue sharing arrangements. Because they have so much content up there and are updated so often they rank highly in the search engines and are great places to build backlinks to other sites.

With these factors in mind I recently submitted a couple of lenses to Squidoo to get a bit of a feel for it. While they haven't been up there long enough to discern any noticeable SEO benefit to the sites I linked to (with the big arrow!), I do know that both have been indexed by Google.

Surprisingly, it does take a little while for the indexation to occur, even if you bookmark your lens here and there. And the process often seems to be twofold. Firstly, you have to wait a few days before you see the lens listed. When you do see it there, it often appears quite high in the results. Then it disappears for a few days more while Google does a bit more "thinking" about how it should rank. You can find it again at this stage, but it's often much further down the list of results. (This exact process occurred with one of my lenses, and I've read it described repeatedly on blogs.)

The reason I mention this is because many people submit lenses and freak out when they can't find them by Googling, even after a week or more. So, don't worry. It will happen.

That idiosyncracy aside, there's something very appealing about the whole lens building process. It's quite different to submitting articles to directories. With these, you just put your article into the form provided. But Squidoo uses a module based structure, and you can add text or link lists or other things. Just the fact that these options are available is conducive to creativity. While you're playing around with them, new ideas seem to suggest themselves.

The modules also make you think carefully about what you'll include, and pare the content down to the bare essentials. This means that lenses tend to be more jam packed with information, giving more value to the reader. 

Another site that is a lot like Squidoo is Wikinut. You can make some money from it. However the general perception from people using it for this purpose seems to be that the financial fruits are very small indeed. Still, it has a nice design, a PR of 3 and it allows you to put dofollow backlinks in your articles. So it's worth contributing to for the SEO benefits alone.

Like Squidoo, Wikinut has a module based structure (although with not as many different options). So, that's another positive aspect. Also, it gets indexed very quickly. I've submitted two pages there so far and they both appeared within hours of being published, maybe sooner. So, it actually beats Squidoo in this regard.