There are plenty of guides out there, including this one by Rosalind Gardner, that explain the ins and outs of affiliate marketing and how to make it work for you. Many people get very excited after reading books like The Super Affiliate Handbook: How I Made $436, 797 In One Year Selling Other People’s Stuff Online.
There’s just one teeny little problem–not with Gardner’s book, but with the people who read it and get over-excited. Bloggers who think they can throw up a few posts and a few subsequent affiliate links and turn a profit tend to forget that you have to have an audience in order to get the clicks. And since most affiliate programs don’t pay you by the click, but rather by the purchase, that equation gets a little more challenging.
The key to a successful affiliate program on a blog or website? Focus. Decide what you want to do and stick to it. If you want to supplement a blog with some affiliate income, there are strategies and techniques you can use specific Continue reading The Super Affiliate Handbook
Sure, it’s a few weeks early to be obsessing over New Year’s resolutions, but here are my current five favorites for 2009:
5. Pay attention to my back. 2008 has been full of bad ergonomics, couch-slouching with the laptop and overall crappy posture. If I want to be writing comfortably at my desk for any length of time, I’m going to have to pay more attention to good ergonomics. Otherwise, I’ll wind up looking with a nickname like “Jerry the Pretzel Boy”.
4. Stop working around the clock. Another bad habit I fell into late this year. Writers go freelance presumably so they can have a life. Where’s mine? Oh, there it is, buried under those deadlines over there. Smell the roses, you.
3. Exercise more. This one ties directly into #5. The mind-body connection cannot be ignored when it comes to cranking out good, dependable material…unless you are Hunter S. Thompson…and he’s dead now. So what’s MY excuse?
2. Buy a damn filing cabinet. All of 2008’s receipts are currently overflowing out of TWO boxes, and it’s a shameful state of affairs. Organization is the key to good record keeping.
1. Buy an iPhone. Yes, I plan on becoming ONE of THEM. Tully beat me to it on this one, usually I’m more geeked out than that. This year they caught me napping.
I currently plan on keeping ALL these resolutions…but especially #1. If I do nothing else next year, the iPhone is on the list. THEN I’ll climb Kilamanjaro, cure an infectious disease and spread world peace.
You might not consider an investment website like The Motley Fool to be a place to learn how to blog effectively, but think again. Learn by example by taking a good, long look at their great article This Week’s 5 Dumbest Stock Moves. Let’s break it down–why is this piece so excellent? How can you learn from this post? It’s simple, really:
1. An eye-grabbing headline makes you want to read more. Why are these stock moves so dumb? What makes the writer think these companies are wrongheaded and silly? You’ve already got a million questions and you’ve only just read the headline. Brilliant.
2. The use of “Top Ten” and other numbered lists ala David Letterman is a proven winner when it comes to getting your attention quickly.
3. Each entry in the top five gets its own goofy, but still clever subhead. Corny as they often are, you get an idea of what’s to come without duplicating the content in the first paragraph. Well done, Motley Fool!
4. The meat of the writing under each subhead is easy to understand–OR is explained in layman’s terms to help the uninitiated. ThisFool.com blog post is a very good example of writing clear, concise material for an audience of varying levels of understanding of a complicated topic. The subhead teases you, but the paragraphs themselves give you plenty to chew on without choking on the finer points of investing.
5. The article is chock full of relevant outbound links to help you further understand the piece. Note that some of the most relevant outbound links are very close to those clever subheads. Coincidence? Perhaps not.
Take a lesson from Fool.com and watch interest in your next blog post rise.
The New York Observer reports Conde Nast making a five percent cut in budget AND staff across the board. The existence of at least one title, Men’s Vogue, is in doubt at press time, and freelancers were mentioned by name as one of the resources that could be cut to fit the bill. Five percent doesn’t sound like that much for an organization as large as Conde Nast until you read further and learn that the five percent cuts apply for EACH PUBLICATION, not an as-a-whole, company-wide reduction.
Combine that news with the parting shot the Christian Science Monitor fired this week when it was announced the venerable publication would stop printing hard copies of its daily edition in favor of web-only publication and you have some interesting times for freelancers ahead.
The breed of writer I call “newsstand freelancers” are going to suffer as the big-money titles start shaving their budgets, but any freelancer who knows how to market, diversify writing gigs, and look in unique places for new work shouldn’t have much to worry about at this point, at least not in my view.
The key to all this is reading the headlines and anticipating the next round of tough times. Take a close look at your current situation. Are you earning the bulk of your income from a single source. It’s time to start adding clients to protect yourself. Is your resume page outdated or in need of a new look that helps it look more “web 2.0”? Invest the time, you may need to use that page soon. Are you a new full-time freelancer? Solidify your existing relationships with clients and editors by turning your projects in early, being flexible as possible, and willing to take on short-notice gigs that are inconvenient to you but endear you to your editor.
The key to avoiding the lay-off axe, the budget cuts and the tough times is to make yourself as indispensible as possible. Ask yourself how you can do that with your current editors and get to it. You’ll find yourself in a much better position as a result. The tough times are here, but not for everyone. Where you stand depends greatly on how you seek new work, approach the editors and deliver the content.
Don’t ask me how this one escaped my attention all this time, but I finally stumbled on Editors Only. This is a print publication with a high subscription price, and I haven’t read the print mag so I can’t vouch for the contents. In today’s market, the EO business model seems risky to me, but if they’ve got a following I say more power to ’em.
What most FZ readers will like this site for is the classifieds section. There is a help wanted section AND a professional services section and you can post to it for free. Newcomers to freelancing take note, I strongly suggest reading the other ads before you decide to post. This classified section is full of credentialed professionals, and if you’re short on published clips and experience, do yourself a favor and look longingly at this one, but wait until you have a stronger resume before posting. The heavy-hitters on this site are tough for a newcomer to compete with.
Are you struggling to find an audience for your blog? Do you see a flat line on the chart that’s supposed to indicate your growth? It may sound mean-spirited, but chances are your blog sucks–or the blog in question is missing the boat on some very important issues. Or both.
A lot of bloggers see successful, long-lived sites breaking the following rules and assume they can get away with it too; the key in studying any successful blog is to be mindful of the things that caused the success. Those factors somehow outweigh the broken rules. Can your relatively unknown, traffic-hungry blog afford to break those same rules without sacrificing readers? Here are five reasons why YOUR BLOG SUCKS:
5. YOU HAVE NOTHING TO SAY. Even personal blogs have a point, regardless of how ever-changing it may be. Let’s take a look at the successful Livejournal blog by author Poppy Z. Brite as an example. PZB doesn’t have a book project currently underway and she rarely does signings, talks or tours these days (a bummer on all counts). Yet her blog is continually engaging and interesting to read. She sometimes rambles, gets on the occasional soapbox and posts images of her cats. Sounds like 99% of the personal blogs out there, doesn’t it? Yet PZB always has SOMETHING TO SAY. There is A POINT. Even when just to say, “This is pointless”.
It is painfully obvious to most people when a blog goes up simply to entice people to click affiliate links or to sell a product. Blogs are meant to DISCUSS THINGS. Selling should be considered a pleasant side effect of the success of your blog.
4. YOU HAVE NOTHING TO OFFER. Personal bloggers can skip this one, I’m talking directly to writing Continue reading Your Blog Sucks: Five Reasons Why