Saturday, February 9, 2008

Boggling Bloggers

A number of persons have enquired about my entry into the world of blog writing and whether I knew much about the internet before I got going. Most of them have asked because like me they do not find their office jobs that fulfilling and they would like to find something else to do which perhaps could earn them some extra money or could just allow them to find an outlet to express their passion.

Well firstly I never knew how to get started as I had no idea how to create a website and didn’t want to start out by investing money in employing a web hosting service but of course my teenage son knew about the free blog provided by Google's Blogger and guided me in the setting up process. Secondly, most of what I learned about the internet I gleaned from reading articles, discussion boards and help sites online. To be honest, prior to blogging I was quite competent at web surfing, using email, creating hyperlinks and joining affiliate programs etc. Since I knew very little about programming however and given that my mind would wander when faced with high tech jargon I knew I had to do a crash course in familiarizing myself with the language of the internet.

I quickly tapped into the rich resourceful websites available online. I learned about search engine optimization often referred to as SEO, inserting meta tags and creating sitemaps so that search engines like Google and Yahoo could locate my sites and I came across the websites of some noteworthy bloggers such as Steve Pavlina and John Chow.

Pavlina states that he launched his blog on Oct 1st, 2004. By April 2005 it was averaging $4.12/day in income. Now it brings in over $1000/day (updated as of 10/29/06). Chow who dubs himself the dot com mogul boasts that while in the first month his site made $352.94 in its first month as a moneymaking blog, it was earning him $8,545.25 six months later.

You should be careful that you don’t get too excited about this as both these bloggers have pointed out that it took hard work to achieve this. In fact Chow has suffered because it seems that he has flouted Google’s policy, so they lowered his site rank. To get persons to visit his site he engaged in a heavy advertising campaign in which he linked to those sites which reviewed his blog, charged $400.00 to review the sites of others and horrors of horrors he charged to have something called no-follow tags removed from users’ blogs. No follow tags were created by Google. These in the ordinary meaning of the words are tags which are labels or markers to tell the search engine not to follow the link. So in the case where someone links to your blog with the no-follow tag, the search engine will not count links to that site and so the links will not serve to improve your page rank. Since this is a Google blogging platform, no-follow tags are added by default.

Both Pavlina and Chow have their own websites. Pavlina discourages the use of free blogging sites like Google’s blogger to make serious money as he says you do not have enough control. Yet Court points out in his warning to them “Not a single one of the sponsored links found on [their] ..sites has a ‘no follow’ tag.” By inviting the public to pay to remove the tag Chow seems to go too far, as by following the links users' sites may gain higher ranking than those complying with Google’s policy.

One can’t help but smile at Cho’s chutzpah though. At first I was a bit shocked at the in your face advertising on his site, there a huge blocks of ads everywhere. Then I became intrigued as I noticed most ads had dollar signs and the words “money” or “free”. I downloaded his free report on making money with google adsense and found the tips quite useful. What is most interesting is that he is promoting Google’s advertising site while being punished by them. He is obviously an entertaining character who enjoys life and good food as revealed by his commentary on his dining experiences.

Since I have now only written three articles so far on this blog which I started this month, I am obviously a newbie but I have learned quite a bit in the two days I have been looking at Steve and John’s site. Chow’s recent blog income report is mind boggling with his earning for the month of January 2008 totaling over $30,000.00; but in both cases they are brutally frank that very, very few online entrepreneurs gain significant income from their sites. In fact the figures they quote are between 1 and 2 %. This is not comforting.

I got started writing this blog for a number of reasons:

  1. I enjoy writing
  2. I wanted to test whether I could make any income from writing
  3. I have lots of ideas to share and hope these could perhaps help readers
  4. I wanted to learn more about e-commerce and the internet as a whole

Hopefully I will become a part of the small percentage and earn some good money but if not I will still enjoy writing, sharing and learning and in so doing invite some of you to start blogging too.

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