How To Make More Money From Your Blog

March 14th, 2013

I met up with a friend recently who is a very successful blogger.  However this person is not entirely happy with the money they make from their site.  Rave reviews, big links, great media attention, huge RSS following, tons of social media attention, but their income is not on par with the rest of the blogger’s success.

Aside – I love meeting up with bloggers.  Very invigorating, motivating, great conversation and it’s so much fun to talk about the business end of blogging for hours on end.  Must do this more often.

We chatted about ways for her to make more money from the blog and although I can’t claim any real expertise in that field – I certainly have a lot of ideas.  🙂  Please note that I’ve added some suggestions which don’t apply to my friend’s blog.

Some of my suggestions are things I’ve covered on this blog and others were more specific to this one blog, but might apply to your blog as well.

Don’t be an image or regular reader slave

One problem that a lot of bloggers have is that they will blog in a certain style and then are afraid to change that style because they don’t want to lose their regular readers or the respect of other bloggers or journalists.  There is nothing wrong with this thinking and I’ve certainly had these thoughts as well, but we have to keep in mind the following:

  • Regular readers are not paying customers*.  It doesn’t matter how much love passes between you and your loyal following, the amount of money passing from them to you is indirectly proportional to the amount of that love.  In other words – you don’t make money from regular readers.  Don’t be a slave to your regular readers.  If you need to change things to make money, make the changes.
  • Journalists get paid by an employer.   A journalist who works for a newspaper gets paid a salary or per piece – either way, they don’t have to worry so much about how much money an article will make.   Bloggers operate under a different compensation scheme where they do have to worry about how much money a post will make and therefore shouldn’t compare themselves to journalists.   Bloggers aren’t better or worse than journalists, we play a different game than they do.  Just because journalists don’t write affiliate posts doesn’t mean they have more integrity – it means they get paid in different ways.

*This is true in financial blogging.  However, it might not be true in your blogging topic.

How do you make money now?

Take a look at how you make money now.  Whether it’s from CPM ads, Adsense, affiliates – make sure you know which posts are generating the money.  Can you determine any kinds of trends?  In my case (financial blog), I tend to get more search engine traffic and make more money on posts that are very financial in nature and tend to be somewhat specific with useful information.

Related: Most online income is made from search engine visitors

If you write about topics that are too general (ie spend less than you earn), there is too much competition in the search engines.  Writing about how you transferred your ABC investment account to a new bank is far more specific and is more likely to get search traffic.  Providing useful information helps – is your topic just you whining about a bad interaction you had with a phone rep (useless) or are you providing a definitive solution for someone with a similar issue that you had (useful).

If you can get a sense of what kind of posts make money and which ones don’t – then the way to make more money is….wait for it….do more of the money making posts and less of the other kind.  Obvious conclusion I know – the key is to spend the time to figure out which posts make the money and understand why.

How do your more succe$$ful colleagues make money?

Take a look at your friend’s blog who make more money than you.  What are they doing different?  Are they writing on online diary about what they had for breakfast and how depressed they are because of debt?  Or are they providing well-researched useful content?

How can I make money from this post?

It’s easy to write about topics that interest you.  That’s fun and makes for a great hobby (more on this later).  However, if you are trying to build a business, one factor you should be thinking about when choosing your topics is how will they make money.  Will it do well with Adsense (or whatever your main advertising method is)?  Are there affiliate opportunities?  Does it tie in with a paid product that you offer?

Become an expert

I remember Jesse Mecham from YNAB saying last year in Denver that the people who do well with affiliates are ones that really get into the product, become an expert and write a lot about it.  This applies to pretty much every topic.  If you write a fluff piece that takes 30 minutes to write, I’m willing to bet there is no useful information (other than obvious generalities) in that post and it won’t make any money at all.  However, if you spend a lot of time getting more knowledgeable on that topic – then you can write several articles on more specific aspects that are probably more unique and have a much better chance of making money.

Articles that require research take more time, but generally make more money.  Would you rather spend 10 hours writing 15 articles that make a total of $5 per month?  Or spend 10 hours writing two very useful articles which make a total of $20 per month?  What’s that?  Your regular readers expect N posts per week?  To hell with them – if they aren’t willing to pay a subscription fee, then they will take whatever content you choose to give them.   It’s your business – run it the best way you see fit.

Try to monetize existing search engine traffic with a paid product

Your best opportunity for making money is from search engine traffic.  If you have a post that gets good search traffic and makes good advertising dollars, then you are probably set.  But can you make more?  What if you have a post or series of posts that get a lot of search traffic, but the advertising money isn’t that great?

In my friend’s case, she has a series of posts on one topic which gets a lot of search traffic.  The Adsense money is decent, but there is likely untapped earning potential in those posts.

Basically the series is a bunch of ‘how to’ posts which also include templates and spreadsheets which can downloaded for free.

Don’t give away files

My first suggestion is to stop giving away the free templates and spreadsheets.  They don’t help with search traffic, so just start charging.  Companies like Paypal, e-Junkie can handle this sort of thing.  You have absolutely nothing to lose by charging for file downloads.

Create a e-book

Think about creating an e-book which will cover all the posts in the series as well as include the template/spreadsheet files.  This shouldn’t be all that hard to do, since the main material is already done.  Put up some graphics and test some prices and see what happens.  Again, not much to lose especially if you don’t spend a ton of time on this project.

Don’t worry about the number of pages or word count – it’s an e-book built for one specific topic and as long as it covers the subject material adaquately, then it will be useful.

See if there is any demand

On my site, I have a lot of posts about RESPs and ended up writing a book on this topic.  It’s a decent seller, but I would like to explore more ways to make money. I created a small ebook on how to deal with RESP withdrawals which is a very important topic, but it doesn’t sell because most people who make withdrawals from RESPs have no idea that they need help.  As much as I want to help those people (and make $$), I can’t connect with someone who isn’t looking for help.

Most people who are looking for RESP help want to set up an account.  What I need to do is create an e-book which will just cover that topic.

Create a course

Depending on the topic, an online course might be appropriate.  For example, Steve from created an online course on how to set up an e-commerce store.  He knew there was a demand for this course, because a lot of people would ask him for help on this very topic.

A full-blown course would likely take a lot of time to build.  My suggestion is to just create a series of mini-courses.  For example if you are setting up a course in ‘how to invest for dummies’, one topic might cover choosing a discount brokerage.  Maybe create a course on just that topic which will include a video, text, spreadsheet? and charge an appropriate amount.  In the end you might have 12 different “sections” for this course which will take a long time to create, but if you break it down into small segments it will be easier.  Plus you can guage the market for this offering.  If there are no bites on the mini-courses, that isn’t a good sign for your idea.

Test your ideas

You can build a field and see if they will come.  Or you can just tell people you built a field and count how many people ask for directions.  If you have a post(s) which would be a good platform to sell a product – test out some ads on those posts and see if anyone clicks.  Send them to a page which explains that the product isn’t ready, but enter an email and you’ll let them know when it is.  If nobody clicks on your ad, then something needs to change.  It’s a lot easier to rewrite or even kill a book/course that hasn’t been created yet.  🙂

Look for indirect money opportunities in posts

If you have a hard time writing posts to make money, then try adding money opportunities to new or existing posts.  For example you might write a post about something which probably won’t make any money for you.  How about mentioning that you paid for XYZ experience with your ABC credit card and link to an affiliate page?  Yes, it’s still an ad, but it’s not so intrusive.

Don’t like promoting credit cards?  How about talking about the one(s) you have in your wallet and why you choose them?  The reality is that most people have credit cards and providing good information on the best cards is doing your readers a favour.  Anyone who complains should be duly ignored.

Write about your own experience with products/services related to your blog topic.  Nobody can criticize you for that.

Look at the SERPs

If you have a post that ranks high for certain keywords – type those words into Google and see what your link looks like.  Are the title and description what you want?  What do your competitors links look like?  Are they doing anything special?

Are you running a business or a hobby?

[This topic didn’t come up in our conversation, but it’s something I think about a lot when blogging.]

I really enjoy writing and one thing I try to ask myself when it comes time to pick a post topic is “Am I writing this post to make money or am I writing it for my enjoyment?”.  If you are trying to make money from your blog, obviously you have to be willing and able to write posts that will make money.

Tom Drake from Canadian Finance Blog was discussing this with me at the Financial Blogger Conference.  Writing a post that will make money means you are working on building your business.  Writing a post that you know won’t make money means you are working on your hobby.

It’s up to you you how much of your blog time you want to spend building the business or working on your hobby, but it’s important to differentiate the two.  Personally, I like to do both.

Additional Resources

Here is a list of articles on this site on How to make more money blogging.







Don’t Blindly Follow Advice From Successful People

September 13th, 2012

My friend Mike from the Financial Blogger recently wrote a post where he said his blog progress is too slow.  He compared himself to JD Roth, formerly of Get Rich Slowly, but I think Mike is being too hard on himself.

JD has a great talent for writing and storytelling and I don’t think any other blogger comes close to him in those areas.  That talent plus his work ethic made him very successful.  His willingness to talk about his own life also helped.

Pat Flynn is another example of a high profile, successful blogger who has a lot of talent in a number of areas and is also not afraid to put his entire personal life on his blog (ie wedding dance video).

That said, it’s not fair for most bloggers to compare to those two.  It’s like an average NHL player wondering why they aren’t putting up Gretzky numbers.

Most bloggers don’t have JD’s writing talent or Pat’s willingness to put up personal info.

As much as I like watching successful bloggers like JD & Pat give speeches about what made them successful, I believe it can be counter-productive for most of us to try to be too much like them.

I can’t write as well as JD, I can’t tell stories like JD, I can’t be as public and as likeable as Pat.  I can try to be like them for 20 years and it just won’t happen.

Bloggers have to figure out how we can run successful businesses using the talents and passions that we have.  Most hockey players don’t make a living by scoring lots of goals, they have other roles.

I know a number of very successful bloggers who have a relatively low profile, but have a great business because they focused on money-making activities that they are good at.  Like most bloggers, they might have started with the idea of emulating a well known blogger that they admire (like JD or Pat), but eventually they figured out their own way.

What are these “other” money making activities?

Some bloggers put less focus on building a community and loyal readership and will focus more on creating content which generates revenue.  Other bloggers use their site as a platform to get work such as contract writing jobs, technical jobs or speaking gigs.  Using a blog to help promote their books is another possibility.  Some bloggers have gotten into ad sales for other blogs.  Many self-employed people will blog to get more clients for their main business.  I even know one fine fellow who puts on personal finance blog conferences.  I’m sure there are many other methods as well.


There is nothing wrong with trying to implement advice from successful people, but you have to be prepared for the idea that it might not work as well for you and it might not work at all.

I believe that most bloggers have the ability to build a reasonably successful business, but they have to figure out something they are good at and that also makes money.

What do you think?  Are you the next JD Roth or have found a different path for your business?

 Read my 2011 FINCON wrapup

How Far Would You Go To Get Links?

July 9th, 2012

Links are the currency of all serious money-making bloggers.  We want them, we crave them, perhaps sometimes we even have dreams about them.

This article explains why links are good and how to get them.

Google spends a lot of time trying to determine the difference between legitimate links (ie the kind where someone links to an article because they think it’s a useful article) and fake links such as where two bloggers agree to swap links or things like blog carnivals.

If Google figures out you are playing a lot of games with links, you might lose authority in the search engine rankings.  At the very least, you will get less or no benefit from any fake links pointing to your blog.

A blogger friend recently told me about a link strategy that goes like this:

  1. Blogger hosts a blog carnival (see my link building article for an explanation of blog carnivals) and creates a post which lists all the appropriate submitted articles.
  2. Blogger gets a pile of links to the blog carnival page.
  3. Blogger deletes carnival post and redirects all the links to another page which likely contains some sort of product page.

By doing this the blogger can get more valuable links to a page that wouldn’t otherwise get a lot of links, such as a product review page.

I don’t like this

To me, this is very deceitful and when I see this has happened, I go and delete all links to that blog.  I don’t want to link to spammy sites and in my opinion they have crossed the line into spam.

First of all – bloggers submit articles to get links from the host blog.  If the host blog then deletes that page, those links disappear and the submitting bloggers have wasted their time.

Secondly, I don’t mind linking to a blog for a good article or a carnival, but I don’t feel it is right for that blogger to then change the content dramatically after I’ve linked to it.

What do you think?  Is this link-building strategy taking things too far?

How To Make More Money From Search Engine Traffic With No Extra Effort

January 2nd, 2012

I’ve written a number of articles about how to increase your blog earnings without any extra effort or time.  The basic philosophy is that if you can write about more profitable topics and cut down the number of posts to account for the fact that the new topics and other activities will take more time, you should be able to increase earnings without spending more time on your blog.

Here is a collection of posts which explain the details of this philosophy.  Keep in mind that I come from a financial blogging background, and while these ideas might work for other topics – some areas just won’t do well with search engine traffic.

Why you have to make money blogging.  This article is for any bloggers who feel guilty about wanting to make money from blogging.  Either make some money or fade away.

Most online income is earned from search engine visitors.  You may feel loyal and grateful to your regular readers, but they are not your customers and you will likely not make any money from them.  Regular readers want entertainment to help them pass the time at their boring jobs.  You are that unpaid entertainer.  🙂

Don’t be a slave to your regular readers.  I’m not suggesting that regular readers are bad – far from it.  However, basing all your actions on regular readers will hurt your profitability.

How to pick profitable blog post topics.  This basic article covers the importance of topic, in-bound links and format when writing profitable articles.

Different types of search engine visitors and the income they generate.  Not all search engine visitors are equally profitable.  This article will help you understand the motivations of different search engine visitors which is key to evaluating the profitability of post topics.

On a different note – if you are a newer blogger and getting discouraged about lack of income – don’t be afraid to sell some text links to keep you going.

The detailed “how to” articles

These articles are designed to allow the reader to put in practice the concepts discussed in the first section of posts.

How to do keyword research using the Google Keyword tool.   This article explains the nitty gritty details of keyword research.  It’s worth learning how to do this research so that you understand search engine factors and how they affect your search engine traffic profitability.

How to format your articles for search engine optimization.  This material is very simple, but is important.  Search engines are dumb machines – don’t make it hard for them to figure out what your article is about.

The importance of links and how to get them.  Detailed article which contains everything you need to know about links and some suggestions on how to get more of them.

Guest post secrets.  Guest posts are a good way to get links and build some traffic.  This article has some suggestions to make this activity more fruitful.

Write useful post titles.  More simple stuff, but very important.  Make your titles descriptive of the article topic.

Make your blogging time more efficient.  Reduce or cut out unprofitable activities.

.  Write about what you know.

Good luck with your money blogging!



Make Your Business Sellable – Built to Sell Book Review

December 15th, 2011

I recently read the excellent book – Built to Sell by John Warrillow.  The book is all about how to make your business sellable.

Many businesses are very owner-centric.  Their clients rely on the “boss” to solve problems and get things done.  The clients often don’t want to deal with underlings and won’t do business if the boss or owner isn’t involved.

The problem with this type of business is that they can’t be sold.  Nobody is going to buy a business if all the clients disappear when the former owner leaves.

Warrillow suggests that the way out of this problem is to convert your business from offering various services which are open to negotiation to instead offer a standard service “product”. 

This service product has to be standardized enough that you can document the process and hire people to perform the various tasks.  This way the owner can step aside from doing the day to day work and actually think about ways to run the business better.  Or even sell the business for some real cash.

He also covers in detail the process of selling a business which was quite interesting.  Warrillow has built and sold four businesses so he knows what he is talking about.

His blog called Built to Sell is also worth checking out.

But I’ve already read E-Myth Revisited

I reviewed the book “E-Myth Revisited” on my other blog, which is also about how a business owner can learn to delegate and outsource various parts of their business.

I would recommend reading both of these books as they look at a similar topic in different ways.

E-Myth revisited covers the process of breaking down a business process a lot more, but it uses very simple examples.  Built to Sell has much more realistic examples, but has a bit less detail.

Read them both!


An Unsuccessful E-Book Launch Analysis – My Suggestions

November 5th, 2011

I recently read a case study of an e-book launch gone wrong. If you haven’t read it, check it out – it’s an excellent read.

Blogging Reality Check

I read Martin’s book and I thought it was pretty good. That said, I wasn’t surprised that sales were not very good.

Here are my thoughts on what I thought Martin did well, why I don’t think it sold very well, some mistakes that were made and some suggestions for Martin.

Things that Martin did well

Quality – The book is quite good. Layout and presentation are excellent. Nuff said. Books don’t sell on quality – if there is a demand for a topic and the quality is half decent, it should sell.

Promotion – Martin did a ton of guest posts around the blogosphere and did a decent job getting the word out. He also set up an affiliate program which helped. He should continue with promotional efforts and look for different audiences. The book is geared towards financial beginners and most people who read financial blogs already know the basics.

Execution – His execution on this project was excellent. He accomplished a huge amount of work and the final result is of high quality.

Sales research – Martin spent a ton of time researching sales tactics and while they might not have paid off on this book (yet), that information is quite valuable and can pay dividends long into the future. It wasn’t a waste of time.

Why I think the book hasn’t sold very well

Lack of demand – If you have a product and try your hardest to sell it and it doesn’t sell – clearly there is a lack of demand from that audience. You can try to look for new audiences, but it’s possible that there just isn’t any demand for your product. Or not enough to economically justify finding new customers.

Too much competition – Most financial books seem to fall into two categories –

  1. Specific – A book that deals with one narrow topic such as RESPs or Roth IRAs.
  2. General – A general book might talk about all personal finance topics – examples would be the Wealthy Barber, David Bach (Latte factor) etc or about a broad segment ie investing or debt reduction.

I would categorize Martin’s book in the “general” category. Yes, it’s not as general as the Wealthy Barber, but the debt category is fairly general.

This means that he has too much competition – There are too many big name gurus in the general personal finance area and it is too difficult for an unknown person to make much of a mark. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but it’s very difficult – and if you fail, you will fail big.

Some mistakes that were made

Book is too general and has too much competition – In my opinion, the book topic and title were not good choices – more in the “suggestions” section below.

Over-relying on the “launch” – The big launch day is a fairly recent and over-hyped phenomenon on the internet. Block buster movies hype the opening weekend sales, but in the end they tally all the sales – not just that first weekend.

There is nothing wrong with trying to start with a bang, but you have to consider that your launch efforts might take a while to see any results.  I don’t think Martin made a mistake with his launch, but rather he was expecting too much.

Didn’t create a real “e-” and “paper” book – Anyone can create a pdf and call it an e-book. The more work you do to get your book onto more legitimate channels – the better off your book will appear.

Some suggestions for Martin

My suggestions revolve around two areas – changing the focus of the content and creating more sales medium (or sales channels).


I hate the title “Completely Conquer Credit” – It’s catchy, it’s cool, and it doesn’t mean a damn thing. He doesn’t mention debt or credit cards or student loans which are the relevant terms for someone in their 20’s who is in debt.

My suggestion is to change the focus of the book to only deal with how to reduce and eliminate debt.

Part of this book covers how to avoid debt. This is a good topic, but unfortunately nobody buys books on how to avoid debt. Either a person avoids debt on their own or they wait until they are drowning in debt and only then are they willing to pay $17 for a life jacket.

I would remove any reference to avoiding debt. Assume that the only people willing to buy this book are drowning in debt and need help.

The title should be changed to something a lot more accurate and to the point:

  • How to kill your debt
  • How to eliminate your student loans
  • How to be debt-free before you turn 30
  • How to crush your debt

A debt-reduction book will still face a lot of competition, but at least if the book is a bit more specific and focused, it should have a better chance.

Increase Sales Channels

There is an e-book revolution going on, but it’s mostly in cheap fiction. Most people still read print books and if you want to have a legitimate book – get a print version.

I hired someone to do my book – she charged $175 for the cover and formatting. You can sign up with Amazon CreateSpace for free and get your book on Amazon.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t sell a single book off Amazon, having that print book available is huge with the media and will give you a lot of credibility.


Get the book on Kindle and perhaps some of the other formats as well. Kindle is the best known in the US (I think) and I would start there.

American/Canadian thing

This might be a plan B, but I would consider turning the book into a Canadian book – or come out with a Canadian version. It is a heck of a lot easier to get media attention in Canada compared to the United States – there is just too much competition there.

Lastly – a word about failures

I know Martin can’t be happy with the results of his book and in the end, it might get shelved as he moves onto other projects. Don’t forget – failure is part of winning.

Steve Jobs went out (literally) on the top of his game. But Apple wasn’t always as popular as it is now. I remember a long period of time in the 80’s when it appeared that Apple was going to fade away and be taken over by a stronger brand. Steve Jobs himself was booted out of the company in 1985.

Look how that turned out.


2011 Financial Blogger Conference Roundup

October 5th, 2011

Last weekend I attended the first ever Financial Blogger Conference.  All I can say is that it was a truly amazing event – thanks PT!

My wife and I got to Chicago around noon on Friday and went downtown to do some tourist stuff.  While it was fun, if I could do it again I would have gone straight to the conference and started mingling.  I underestimated how incredible this event would be.

Chicago-Tribune building as seen from boat tour.

Unfortunately, I missed the Friday night social and arrived just in time for the “speed networking” event. Talk about starting out in high gear.

I actually didn’t plan on doing the speed networking and thought it was kind of a dumb idea.  Luckily Ryan G forced me to participate and I really enjoyed it.  It served as kind of an icebreaker and knocked you out of whatever social comfort zone you are normally in. This worked out well as the whole weekend was very social and you had to be able to meet people to get the most out of the event.

Walking along the river.

All the presentations were quite excellent.

Why We Write by JD Roth – This was a good presentation about using stories in blogging.  I don’t completely agree with JD, since stories are only applicable for certain types of blogs/posts/audiences – not everyone will benefit from this.  However, most of us could put at least a little more “person” in our personal finance posts.

Getting to 1 million pageviews on a small budget by Will Chen from Wisebread was a very interesting segment which shows how well WB is run as a business.  Many bloggers run their sites as a labor of love and don’t treat it enough like a business. He also made the interesting point that at least 50% of your efforts should go towards marketing. I agree – If you spend all your time writing, nobody will notice you, you won’t make any money and then you will stop blogging.

The affiliate panel had some good information on affiliate marketing. Unfortunately, some of the examples they used were not popular ones with the crowd. I didn’t like this reaction because I thought the panel was doing a good job sharing their info. Just because they might use payday loans as an example doesn’t mean you can’t use that info and apply it to other products you might be selling. I’m not a fan of payday loans, but they are better than loan sharks!

Ramit’s show keynote presentation was very entertaining. One thing I got out of his presentation is that he figured out something he was good at [developing and marketing courses] and that’s what he does.  He doesn’t worry about SEO or any number of other things because that’s not part of his business model. Figure out something profitable that you are good at and enjoy – and then run with it.

At the “ask the experts” table – I chatted mainly with Mike & Pete about their business model of buying and running multiple sites which is a model I have considered in the past.

Amanda Steinberg from Daily Worth talked about her email model which has been incredibly successful for her. Not unlike JD’s advice about using stories – I think the “email list” advice has to be considered in the context of your blog.  I wrote more details on this on “Do you need a newsletter for your blog“. I enjoyed this presentation. The important thing is to try different monetization methods and figure out which works out best.

68 ways to monetize your blog by Julia Scott was a good presentation, although it would have been more useful for someone who doesn’t have much experience with monetizing their blog.

Actionable SEO by Greg Go of Wisebread – Another interesting presentation about how WB applies SEO to their material. It was interesting to hear that they don’t do keyword research (ie picking topics based on potential earnings), but rather they focus on apply SEO to whatever posts get published – formatting for SEO, getting links etc. They also try to keep the length of their posts to a magazine length of 800-1000 words. Given that their search engine numbers went up after the Panda update, clearly any SEO advice from WB is good.  I really wish I had made the effort to talk to the WB guys (and gal), but I really don’t know them at all and it didn’t happen. (maybe next year?).

WordPress behind the scenes by Ryan Guina – I know Ryan fairly well and didn’t expect to learn much from this presentation since we’ve already discussed this topic at length in other venues.  However, the presentation was excellent and I learned some very important things which will be shared in a future post.

From blog to book by Kylie Ofiu – I enjoyed this presentation since I’m an author myself. I didn’t really learn much, but I think most bloggers would have gained an appreciation for the various publishing models.

Write like a pro by Donna Freedman – Unfortunately, I skipped this presentation since I was getting a bit burned out and went for a walk with my wife. I heard it was excellent and if anyone has a review of this talk – please let me know and I’ll add it in.

After the Ally happy hour a bunch of us went to Big Bowl for dinner, which is a Chinese/Thai restaurant.  Yum!

Afterwords, I went to the after hours party. The downstairs level of the bar was good, but the main event was upstairs in this incredibly loud nightclub.  It seems like everyone else there had a good time, but I left early because it was just too f***ing loud.  Or maybe I’m just too f***ing old?  😉  I got back to the hotel around midnight and saw a fair number of bloggers in major chat mode.  I didn’t want to stay up too late, so I just went to bed. In retrospect, I think I might have been better off skipping the after hours party and just hanging out at the hotel lobby.

Designing and Launching a Product of your own by Adam Baker  This talk was excellent, Baker is a very good speaker and it was fun to watch. Having written a book of my own, I could certainly relate to the project management tasks which are necessary to complete a big project.  Well done Adam.

Get in Print – Connect with Traditional Media panel – All I can say is that this presentation was hot, hot, hot!!  😉  The panel gave a ton of excellent advice about how to develop media contacts and how to deal with media opportunities.

Advanced Monetization Strategies by Lynn Truong of Wisebread.  Again, another funny, excellent presentation by a WB member. She had a ton of great ideas along with strategies that didn’t work so well. Fantastic talk.

Beyond Blogging – How to use your blog as a platform for other opportunities by Kelly Whalen.  This was a very good presentation by someone who didn’t have a lot of success with their blog, but turned the blog into a platform to get freelance writing opportunities and community manager jobs to name a few. Great information.

Proven strategies to stand out from the crowd by Pat Flynn – This was another enjoyable presentation by another first time speaker.

Closing remarks by Phil Taylor – Nice job finishing up the conference and thank you Phil for running a perfect conference.

I was going to try to link to everyone I met, but I just don’t have the time.  Thank you for everyone I talked to for being so nice and I hope to see you all there next year.

Here is a list of other conference recaps:

How To Display Website Urls In A Print Book

September 19th, 2011

One of the issues I had to deal with when I was assembling my self-published book, “The RESP Book” was how to deal with links. I wanted to include links to about a dozen sites.

The way I put the links in the book was to display them as they are.

Link example


Right away you can see that one issue for the reader is that they have to type in that entire crazy url (accurately) in order to access the page.

What a pain!

For my second edition, I decided to try and improve on how I display the url links for various resources. Here are two good options for displaying link urls.

1 Using “tiny” urls

One idea is to use one of those url shortener sites like “tinyurl” or “bitly” to shorten a long urn into a much shorter one. They can also be customized so that the “root” url is more recognizable.

I got the “tiny” url idea from JD Roth, who used it in his excellent money book “Your Money:The Missing Manual“.

I asked JD if he received any negative feedback about the tiny urls and this is what he said:

Generally speaking, TinyURLs provide a quick, meaningful way to supply shortened URLs in print media, and I recommend them. But they shouldn’t be used when the URL is already easy to type (like for a root domain).

By “root domain”, JD is referring to a basic web address such as  There isn’t much point in making a tiny url out of such a simple address.

2 Using a “link” page

What I decided to do instead, was to create a link page on my blog.

Here is the link page for The RESP Book:

The way it works is that inside the book, I write the following when I want to link to a resource:

How it looks in the book (minus the underlining)

Once the reader calls up the link page, they just have to locate the proper header (in alphabetical order) and then click on the link provided.

Section of my RESP Book links page

The benefits of a link page

  • Typing in the link page url is generally easier than typing in a long url and it only has to be done once. The reader can bookmark the url or even just use the browser history to avoid retyping the link page url.
  • I can keep the links up to date. When I was working on the second edition, I realized that two of my resource links had changed and no longer worked. For some reason government website administrators haven’t heard of redirects I guess.
  • It’s a more trusted source than a “tiny url” or some other masked url. You could argue that some two bit author’s blog is hardly a trusted source, but if someone has bought the book – I don’t think it’s a stretch for them to trust the author’s blog.

I created the link page on my main blog.  You could also put a link page on an author blog ie or on a website dedicated to a specific book ie

What do you think of these methods? Would you use one of them or do you prefer some other method?

Make Your Blogging Time More Efficient

September 9th, 2011

As a very part-time blogger, one of the things I try to do with my business is to use my time more wisely. If I want to make more money without spending more time working, I need to focus more time on activities that are profitable and less time on activities that are not profitable.

All businesses practice this in some form. Restaurants will encourage consumption of higher margin products (another beer anyone?), retail stores continually monitor their profits on all products and will drop products that don’t make the grade.

Increasing the return-on-investment of your time can be harder than it sounds.  Most of us started our blogs as a labour of love – reading blog posts, answering comments and email questions, writing posts are likely things that we enjoy.

It’s hard to stop doing things that you like doing. I really like reading blog posts and newspaper articles for example, but the return on my time investment is practically zero, which is why I’ve cut down on my reading.

I’ve already mentioned this idea before on this blog when I talked about writing more profitable posts. That concept could mean you end up writing on topics that might not be your first choice of topics. However, sometimes you have to ask yourself – Do I want to have maximum fun or do I want to make some money

One of the activities that I really enjoy doing is answering reader questions received through email or comments on the blog. It’s flattering to be considered an “expert” by someone and it’s also fun to help people. Reader questions can be a good learning experience as well.

The problem is that answering questions can take a lot of time and there is little to no financial benefit. Another problem is that I’ve noticed over the past year that for all the questions I answer – about 75% of them do not acknowledge my response.

This really annoys me since I’ve likely spent at least a few minutes of my time providing the answer and the reader can’t even be bothered to say a simple “thanks”. In most cases, the reader has probably saved both time and money thanks to my help.

I’ve considered not answering questions anymore and using my time for more profitable ventures, but then I thought of trying to charge money for answering questions.

If I could get someone to pay me $5 or $10 (or more) to spend some time helping them, they would benefit greatly and I could then justify using my time I spend on answering questions.

So I set up a “consulting service” payment page and did a little test. Whenever I received a question which I could answer, I sent an email asking for a small payment and then I would provide the answer. The payment would be made through Paypal using their debit or credit card.

I expected very little takeup of this great offer and I wasn’t disappointed. So far I’ve sent out about a dozen emails and have not heard back from any of them.

No wait, there was one guy who was apparently annoyed enough at my $5 quote to email this to me:

Thanks, but I got my answer, and didn’t cost me a dime….sheesh.

Kudos Gary, I hope the information you got was worth more than you paid for it.

Now you might be thinking that this test was a failure – that my consulting business isn’t going to make any money. In fact, it was a success.

Why?  Because now I can justify not answering any more reader questions. I used to think that the readers really valued my opinion, but the fact that they won’t even pay an amount equal to pocket change indicates that in fact, they don’t value my knowledge or time at all.

But don’t you like answering questions?

Well yes – but only when I feel that my answers are appreciated. When most of the people I help don’t even say thank you and other people won’t pay a token amount of money, that’s clearly not the case. 



How Much Work And Money Is Self-Publishing?

July 14th, 2011

I got an email recently from someone with a few self-publishing questions. I thought I would summarize my answers here.

The questions:

  • How much does it cost to self-publish?
  • How difficult is self-publishing vs traditional publishing?
  • How many pages do you need for self-publishing?
  • Can you add pictures to a self-published book?

How much does it cost to self-publish?

Costs for self-publishing can be as little or as much as you want. At Lightning Source it costs just under $100 to get a book listed and at CreateSpace, it’s free although you will probably want to use the ProPlan which costs $39. ISBN numbers are necessary for Lightning Source which can be expensive for Americans (they are free for Canadians).

See my self-publishing cost comparison here.

If you do the book cover, content formatting and editing yourself, those setup fees are the only costs you will incur. In theory, an author can create a book and have it available for purchase on Amazon for very little money.

A lot of authors will outsource one or more of the above tasks which costs money. In my case, I paid someone $175 to do the cover and interior formatting for my book. I wasn’t thrilled with their work, so I wouldn’t have any problem paying a bit more for better service. I also paid $200 for editing.

My costs were $100 (listing) + $175 (cover and format) + $200 (editing) = $475.

You can spend a lot more if you wish. There are different types of editors available and I’m sure you can spend thousands if you really want to. The problem of course is that spending too much on editing/research etc reduces the economic viability of your book.

I spent more money on promotion than creating the book. I was not shy about sending out review copies and I think I spent around $700 on review copies. It should be noted that I order review copies from Amazon and pay the full retail price, which means that some of that money comes back to me in the form of book profits. So the net cost of my review copies was probably $350.

How difficult is self-publishing vs traditional publishing?

There are a number of tasks necessary to get a book created and published. Essentially the difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing is that the self-publisher is responsible for writing the book and getting all the various tasks completed (cover, formatting, editing) whereas the traditional published author mainly has to write the book. Things like editing/organization will be driven by the publisher.

It’s hard enough to write a book without worrying about how to create a cover and the million other details that go into the process. One solution is to do what I did and outsource some of the major jobs such as cover design, formatting, editing. This left me with tasks like – setting up the account at a self-publisher, organizing the project, hiring people to do the outsourced work.

I found it to be fairly manageable, but another option to consider is to buy a “publishing package” from a self-publisher. CreateSpace offers various levels of “help” click on their “services” tab.

These packages back up my assertion that you can spend as much as you want, creating the perfect book. In theory, if you spend enough money – you can literally recreate the traditional publishing experience, while staying self-published.

If you are not confident, my suggestion is to consider CreateSpace – they are far more user friendly than Lightning Source and offer a lot more service. Some free, others for money. The distribution fee is not as flexible as Lightning Source, but you can always switch at a later date if you want.

When self-publishing you have to consider your budget and how much you want to outsource. If you have enough money, you can outsource every single step of the self-publishing experience (including writing the book!) which makes things a lot easier. Or you can do everything yourself which will likely involve a big learning curve for most. Or you can do something in between which fits your budget and existing skills.

How many pages do you need for self-publishing?

Good question. POD publishers do have minimum page counts – if you can’t meet them, you are probably better off to just do an electronic version.

Keep in mind that variables like font size/line spacing/diagrams/pictures etc will affect your page count. Book size is another factor. 6″ x 9″ seems to be the standard for non-fiction books, but if you choose 5″ x 8″ (most paperback novels are this size), the page count will go up quite a bit.

This person mentioned her e-book is currently 60 pages and she will add to it. This doesn’t mean much, since she really needs to figure out how many pages the book will be in the proper format. In my case, the book is about 22,000 words, no pictures, 6×9 and the page count is about 115 pages which is plenty big enough.

Can you add pictures to a self-published book?

You can add whatever you like to self-published books, but photographs might not work that well. Personally, I would avoid them unless they are necessary. If you do an ebook (ie Kindle), then there will be no limitations on pictures etc.