Contraversial approaches to successful blogging

November 8th, 2008

By success, I understand that a blog has at least tens of thousands of readers each day. And then there are tons of posts and articles about how to achieve a successful and profitable blog. Most approaches are minimalistic and doesn’t make sense on their own.

The most basic and relevant and working approach in my opinion is to think of famous (or not so famous) writers (online or offline) that you like. Why do you like them at all? Blogging is the same. You write something and some people eventually like it and want to continue to follow what you are writing. That’s all about it.

Therefore, sticking to a certain topic may make sense. I’ve always thought about Irvin Yalom as an example for this case. He has around 10 novels and many other text-books for clinical psychology. I am ready to read almost everything he is about to write because he writes very good, meaningful articles, novels, etc. For this example, a coherent context is a must because when I buy a new book (this is pretty much the same when you wait for your favorite blogger’s next post) of Yalom, I expect that book to be about psychology and then clinical psychology, and then psychotherapy, and even then about dynamic psychotherapy.

Another example where the topic is not that much important is Umberto Eco. I am waiting for his every next book. He is writing novels (I don’t take his other writing in this example but they are also worth reading, he is one of the best philosopher and semiologist alive!) in a fashion that I would love to read them. I would go and buy his books even if he has written and printed them on a toilet paper. It doesn’t make a difference for me.

People in the 21st century are following some blogs as if they are following a tv series. For some blogs, I can clearly say that they are the replacement (if not successor, but I am sure they are and continue to will be) for tv series. Dooce is an excellent example of that. Tens of thousands of people are waiting for her next post and they follow her like a tv series. Some people who know that I don’t like to watch tv may think that I am making fun of her by saying that. But I don’t. I appreciate that she achieved such a fan base.

If Dooce today had to move to blogspot, people wouldn’t stop following her. Imagine that she continues writing in some address like dooce-heather.blogspot.com . Do you think she will lose visitors? I don’t think so. Maybe that would be a criteria when she first started writing there but I am doubtful about that. If that would be true, then what about Zenhabits.com by Leo Babauta? He started his blog in blogspot and then moved to self-hosted wordpress.

What I want to tell you is to stop thinking about details like where to start. Thinking about this is like trying to prepare an unnecessary introduction for your sale, when people are already accepted to buy it. That is to say, if you believe that you have a talent which will help you write something menaingful that people would want to follow you, then begin right away.

That’s all about it. Content, content, content. And then some more content. Only then, social bookmarking, facebook, twitter, flickr or whatever would make sense to work on for distributing your content.

(update) Facebook probably banned in Turkey, details are sketchy

November 7th, 2008

It turns out to be that there was a technical difficulty for some people in Turkey when they wanted to reach facebook. Because of the Blogger.com ban last month, we all have suspected that Facebook might have been banned too. Yay! There is no ban :)

It’s rumor at the moment. Since many geek users in Turkey use opendns and turkish telekom exercises bans through dns (except youtube), we can’t have detailed information right now. Since the bans are executed via dns, it is also not possible to see the effect immediately for the whole nation.

Another cluse is that bans are usually executed on Friday. I’ll update this posts with details.

Does Google Adsense need more total quality management?

October 24th, 2008

As an adsense publisher, I am observing the effects of the financial crisis on my advertising revenue. It dropped by more than 50% in the last three weeks. While I was going to blog about only that, I have read Vered’s post on adsense ads.

Then I decided to take her opinion into consideration too. Let’s just start with what I am going to say. It’s not nice to see that adsense income decline but there are lessons from this. I think the most important lesson is that people click on adsense ads really for the reason of being interested in the offer. We understand that because when there is a financial crisis, the click through rate declines. Pay per click cost didn’t decline too much, at least in my personal experience. So, from this data in hand, we can clearly understand that encouraging clicks do not help on increasing adsense revenue.

Encouraging clicks is strictly prohibited by Google anyway but people always try to find a way to encourage people within the rules. This is not going to generate any further income. People still try it because they think adsense ads are there to trick visitors into clicking them. They don’t think adsense as a process. In fact, adsense is a process as I have written earlier about contextual advertising and it involves those steps:

  1. You have a meaningful article on your page.
  2. You can be found among search results and you are in a relatively decent position, let’s say your page comes up between #1 and #50.
  3. The search terms are related with your topic of your article.
  4. There are enough adwords clients that need to show their ads on such a page when it is found with such keywords.

Let’s come to where adsense needs more effort in total quality management.

Some advertisers are eager to pull visitors to their website and they design and prepare the copy of their ads to be very attractive. Those advertisers usually decrease the overall level of quality in adsense because they are after quantity, instead of quality. The type of advertising Vered talks about is this kind of advertising.

However, with this financial crisis and lessons from that in mind, push marketing doesn’t make sense. When a visitor has the incentive of buying a product that she is interested in, she is going to click that ad anyway.

Thus the most important part lies in advertising visibility, that is putting the ads on places where people are not affected by ad blindness.

I was going to write more on this but I must stop here because blogger.com is banned in Turkey and I want to follow those news. I’ll continue to discuss adsense total quality management later on.

At this point, we should talk about “smart pricing”. Smart pricing is a technique that Google Adsense program uses. They have written only once about smart pricing. There is not much detail on how this operates. Briefly, if your web site creates too much clicks without ending up with any conversion (which means a sale, a subscription or any other criteria which is set by the advertiser or google adsense, for instance having visited more than one page in the destination web site or spending a certain amount of time in that web site) your web site is then being smart priced for a period of time. This is when you see 20 clicks on an ad which only brings $0.20, for instance. Those numbers are not exact numbers and I am not an adsense professional, so don’t take them as the ultimate truth. I am just telling this to give you a rough idea. I even don’t know whether this smart pricing is still being used or not. This is personal experience and knowledge from my own readings over the web.

This notion of smart pricing should give us another clear idea what adsense is all about. It is designed with the intention of being profitable for every player in the game. Your visitors are part of that game too. According to this perspective, putting adsense ads on your web site is like an additional service that you offer to your visitors. So, it is also meaningless to use plugins to set advertising visibility such as “no ads for friends”, “ads only for visitors who come from search engines”, etc. Advertising may be evil on many levels but Google Adsense is less evil in comparison to other types of advertising. This is the essence of Adsense and other similar contextual advertising systems.

Now let’s come back to the view that advertising sucks. This is the point where I suggest a more thorough total quality management for adsense. Adwords clients must understand at least what I have understand so far. Only than they will design meaningful ads instead of sucking ads.

There is still more to say about that. For instance, about our economic system as a whole. Because you never see an ad that sucks when it is about an absolutely needed good or service. Ads suck mostly when they are about a good or service which is not really necessary. Of course this is also a subjective issue but anyway, sometimes you can decide that only by using your intuition.