Posts Tagged ‘subscribers’

12 Essential Companion Accounts for a Successful Blog

Friday, February 1st, 2008

Aside from the standard accounts for your blog — i.e., domain name, web hosting, and WordPress — there are several companion accounts that I think are very useful. Below are 12 essential companion accounts, plus two that are worth mentioning.

For Money and Monetization

  • PayPal – This is an online payment web site that allows you to accept money and credit card for products or services that you sell. I have used PayPal to accept payments, pay other online service providers, and even accept donation for my free products.
  • Google AdSense – This is service allows you to display advertisement on your blog and you will get paid for both impression paid and click through. You can see Google AdSense ads everywhere, including the ones on this blog. This is perhaps one of the best monetization tools available for blogger today.
  • Amazon Associates – This program allows you to sell Amazon.com products and earn up to 10% commission. This hasn’t been a big money maker for me, but I heard some people have done really well with it.
  • Commission Junction – This program allows you to pick products and services from hundreds of advertisers. Each advertiser offers different referral plan, so you will have to read each one. Like Amazon Associates, it hasn’t been a big money maker for me, but it’s a decent option.

For Subscribers Count and Management

  • FeedBurner – Their service basically put your RSS feed on steroid. With its companion FeedBurner FeedSmith plug-in for WordPress, it allows you to accurately measure the number of subscribers. I use it to consolidate my subscribers count, accept subscribers via email, monetize my RSS feed, and show off the number of subscribers. However, there are a lot of great capabilities and I haven’t fully explored them all yet.

For Traffic and Networking

  • Stumble Upon – This is probably the best social site at the moment. I enjoy stumbling to find new and interesting sites (note: I choose the topics, so I only look at a blogging and finance sites). To get a network going, gives thumb ups to sites that you like, leave a comment, and add other people who gave thumb up to the same sites as your friend. If you have a group of friends, you can submit each other sites to stumble upon for some traffic — however, don’t over do it and only submit your best work.
  • Technorati – This is a blog search engine and tag search service. When you use tags on your blog (note: tagging is a native feature in WP 2.3.x) and ping Technorati with updates, people who uses Technorati can perform searches and easily find you blog. I occasional use Technorati to find other “on topic” blog articles to link to.

For Search Engines Optimization

  • Google Sitemap – This is part of Google Webmaster Toolkit. The program allows you to check many important aspects about how well search engine spiders (specifically Googlebot) can go through your blog and index it for searches. There are also many interesting tools within this site — e.g., report that track top search queries and top search positions for your blog.

For Statistics and Traffic Analysis

  • Google Analytics – This is a statistic tracking tool that shows many useful information such as the number of visitors from various sources, page views, search terms, most viewed page on your blog, etc. This is a good way to find out which articles your readers like, where your traffic is coming from, etc.
  • Site Meter – Another good and simple statistic and analysis package. I use this concurrently with Google Analytics. I like the hour-by-hour reporting. It’s quite addictive.
  • Crazy Egg – This tool allows you to visualize clicks on any web page on your site. It’s a great tool to help you understand users’ behavior. I use this tool to help me determine how I can move elements on my blog around to maximize usability and revenue potential.

For Spam Protection

  • WordPress.com – You will need to set up an account with them in order to get the WordPress API key needed from plug-ins like Akismet and WordPress.com Stats. And you don’t want to run your blog without Akismet, so the account is essential.

Other

  • MyBlogLog – This is a community that allows you to connect with your readers. If you install their widget on your blog (I don’t do this due to clutter), you can see people with MyBlogLog account that visited your blog recently. A good use of MyBlogLog is to make sure you are logged in so that your avatar shows up when you visit other blogs. You can get small amount of traffic this way.
  • BlogCatalog – This site also provides similar services to MyBlogLog, but with very robust discussion forums where you can meet and network with other bloggers.

If you have other companion accounts that you use to help improve your blog performance, please share it here.

Compelling People To Subscribe

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

I write a blog about personal finance – specifically about my family’s specific and personal approach to how we handle our finances. It isn’t meant to be a blog with the most up-to-date cutting edge personal finance ideas, although my hope is that every reader learns a little something along the way they can apply to their own situation, but it is a blog with a unique hook that anyone can copy yet no one can duplicate.

My blog is honestly and authentically about me and my own approach to personal finance. And that is a topic I have an undying passion for and can speak with absolute authority on. It’s a very simple concept yet a very often overlooked one. The personal engages the reader on an emotional level that straight information simply cannot. In the past seven months, I have grown my blog to just under 1000 RSS subscribers, which is not definitively large by any means but is very solid and rapid growth in a fairly saturated niche. The personal aspect of my blog is what compels people to subscribe, so they won’t miss the next step in our journey.

Now you may read this and think, “Well, that’s nice for you, but my blog isn’t about my story, it’s about x, y, or z, so why am I even reading this post?”. Not every blog is going to tell a story, but I contend that every blog can benefit from injecting a little of the “personal” into their subject matter, no matter how information-focused their topic is.

Here are three key ideas on how to interject relatability and personality into any topic:

1. Why is what you’re blogging about important to you?

If you’re posting about something that you don’t have any interest in and has no relevance in your own life, I invite you to reconsider why you’re posting it. Successful blogging involves commitment, and commitment can be driven by passion. Be passionate about your topic! Care about what you’re saying and who you’re saying it to. Make sure that your own interest in the topic comes across in your writing.

2. Do you have personal experience with the topic at hand?

How does what you’re posting relate to your life and experiences, past or present? Injecting a bit of how this affects you, has affected you, or the ways you see it playing out in your life can bring the driest of information to life and engage your reader. Engaged readers delve deeper and eventually become loyal readers and subsequently subscribers. Expose yourself – write dirty (in a good way)!

3. Can you relate the topic to the average person on their level?

Why should anyone be interested? Know your target audience, and write to them. If your target is off the mark, your words won’t resonate in the way you intend. Relating your content to your audience provides value and translates into repeat visits. Repeat visits translates into loyal readers and – you know the rest.

What makes you unique is your own perspective

Any blog can report news or happenings, your insight and personal spin is what creates compelling content that people want to come back and read again and again. An information-rich finance blog that strikes this balance exceptionally well is The Digerati Life. Her posts are packed with information and value and news to learn from, and she not only interjects personal perspective throughout her posts, at the end of many of her posts, she relates the topic discussed back to her personal experience or explores the common themes that run through the information that can be applicable to anyone.

Don’t neglect the most unique aspect of any blog – the author’s viewpoint. That alone can make you stand out in even the most saturated of niches.