20 July 2009

Blogging Tips : Don’t Give Up and Keep Cool

This is a guest post by Alexander Sandler. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

I want to share a story that had happened to me. Perhaps someone will find it useful in the future. If not, I hope that you will at least find it interesting.

I have a blog. I like writing, so I always had blogs, journals, web-sites, etc. My latest creation is a blog about programming and administrating Linux. Anyway it was all about writing something that someone else can find useful. This continued for about a year until one day I figured out that I can actually make some money from this hobby of mine.

I ran into some blogger who claimed to make 150$ a month from his blog. It sounded terrific considering the fact I spend 30$ a month and hours of my time, on the blog, without seeing a penny.

I read stories of people who made hundreds and even thousands of dollars a month from their web-sites, by simply writing and promoting their content. Internet is full such of stories. Albeit the hobby, there are things that I would love to have, but cannot afford from one reason or another. Earning them by doing something that I love to do, sounded like a dream becoming reality.

I began researching and found that monetizating your web-site is fairly easy. Opening AdSense account takes minutes. Finding right Wordpress plug-in and placing some ads with that plug-in takes some effort, but its not a big deal as well.

Obviously my early ads setup earned me just a few bucks a month. I began looking for ways to improve this status quo and found the answers I was looking for, with ease. Internet marketing is a very popular talk theme on the internet.

I found web-sites giving advice, free e-books and forums with live people that were ready to help. Amount of information available on the subject is truly overwhelming, but I managed to bring it down to just three things.

  1. Find a niche that matches your interests the most and make a web-site on the subject. When writing, stick to your niche.
  2. Think about your visitors. What do they want?
  3. Experiment, experiment and experiment.

I thought to myself, what’s the best way to match these three bullets and eventually decided to do a couple of things. At a time, my web-site had more personal touch. I posted pictures I’ve made and talked about things that I myself care about. I decided to concentrate on main theme of my web-site and leave personal stuff aside.

I also changed the name of the web-site and added a new domain name. I changed the way visitors are navigating throughout the web-site and added links that allow navigation inside of large posts.

I did all that in one week. It didn’t take long time to see the results. Number of visitors to my web-site has dropped to nearly negative. It seemed like people are not visiting my web-site, but rather running away….

It took me over a month to fix the results of my experimenting frenzy. Apparently, everything I did, I did the wrong way. Adding domain name requires proper 301 redirect. I simply pointed new domain name to old web-site, making my entire web-site duplicate content. Apparently, Google can’t make a difference between bad guys and naive guys and immediately penalized my web-site.

At a time, I didn’t know how to use AdSense channels. So I removed the most effective ads. Changes in navigation didn’t come up very well neither. The idea was nice, but what I did was totally broken, and today, two months later I still find and fix navigation issues.

Obviously I fixed nearly everything. I fixed duplicate content issues and asked Google to reconsider my web-site. It takes them few weeks, but I waited patiently. I fixed navigation issues.

Monetization of the web-site is broken until this day and I am not in a rush to fix it. I’m learning my options and I hope I’ll make right choices when time comes. In the meantime, people are coming to see my web-site and I can live with just that for now.

I read somewhere that a crisis like this is a natural. You cannot build something good and solid without getting few bruises along the way. There are two very important lessons I’ve learned from this experience.

1. Don’t give up. Being strong and persistent is a fundamental part of succeeding in anything. This is especially true about web-sites, with their search engines issues, hackers and tough competition.

2. Keep your head cool. Don’t let others tell you what is the best for you. Think by yourself. Check things. Question everything. And never rush into trying new things without knowing and understanding all possible implications.

You can read more from Alexander on his blog, Alex on Linux - a blog about programming and administrating Linux.

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