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September 2011

“Building a New Media Empire” Keynote Announced

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Have you ever wondered how the folks at Social Media Examiner, BlogHer or Federated Media were able to build their new media empires so successfully? If you’re attending BlogWorld, you can learn how these successful networks were created, and grew into the iconic web properties they are today.

We’re so pleased to announce the “Building a New Media Empire” keynote for Saturday morning, November 5th.

Panelists include:

Six Pixels of Separation’s
Mitch Joel (Moderator) 

Mitch Joel is President of Twist Image – an award-winning Digital Marketing and Communications agency. He has been called a marketing and communications visionary, interactive expert and community leader. He is also a Blogger, Podcaster, passionate entrepreneur and speaker who connects with people worldwide by sharing his marketing insights on digital marketing and new media.

Social Media Examiner’s
Michael Stelzner 

Michael Stelzner is the Founder & CEO of SocialMediaExaminer.com, author of the books Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition and Writing White Papers: How to Capture Readers and Keep Them Engaged, the Social Media Marketing Industry Report, and the man behind the Social Media Success Summit.

BlogHer’s
Lisa Stone 

Lisa Stone is BlogHer’s Co-founder and CEO. She has written for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Oakland Tribune, Publisher’s Weekly and Frommer’s, among other publications. She has also launched blog networks and interactive programming for many national brands.

Federated Media’s
Deanna Brown 

Deanna Brown is CEO of Federated Media. Prior to joining FM she served as President at Scripps Networks Digital and before that she co-founded CondeNet, the digital division of publisher CondeNast. She has also held VP and General Manager titles at Yahoo and AOL, and founded other successful media companies including Powerful Media/Inside.com and Gaming Industry News.

Our panelists will not only discuss how they achieved success, but they’ll also share tips to encourage bloggers and podcasters to think beyond basic blogging.  We hope attendees will walk away from this keynote inspired to find creative new ways to monetize their content, and grow their audience and reach.

Please join us Saturday morning, November 5th at 9:00 a.m., right after our breakfast networking event, for what’s sure to be a packed house.


RESERVE YOUR PASS! If you haven’t reserved your pass or hotel rooms yet, you’ll want to register now! BlogWorld official partner hotels are offering Discounted Rates (from $120/nt), Free Wi-Fi for attendees, and and all have just undergone multi-million-dollar renovations–so you’ll be in a fresh, vibrant and comfy new room during your BlogWorld stay! And…we’ve lined up Free Shuttles for you too! Check out your hotel options.

Dads Are Parents, Too

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Session: How Blogging Can Bust the Fatherhood Stereotypes
Speaker: Bruce Sallan

This may come as a shock to many in Hollywood and MSM (Main Stream Media), but dads are parents, too. What happened to the honorable, if somewhat staid dad that used to be a staple of Hollywood? Spencer Tracey in Father of the Bride? Or, Robert Young in Father Knows Best?

THAT dad is now Homer Simpson, The Family Guy, Al Bundy, and in movies the dad that can’t figure out how to put a diaper on so he gets pee in the schnozzer! Funny. Not funny when it’s a mom. They would get major protests if they portrayed moms anything like they portray dads. Boycotts, Newsweek/Time covers, Ellen, The View, even Dr. Phil (who I don’t really think is a man…shhhhhh).

The above Comic Strip is a creation of Aaron and Bruce Sallan

I am (@BruceSallan) moderating a panel at BlogWorld LA called, How Blogging Can Bust the Fatherhood Stereotypes with Jim Lin of Busy Dad Blog (@busydadblog), Ron Mattocks (@CK_Lunchbox) and Kevin Metzger (@theDadvocate).

We will ask how dads became the butt of jokes, what we are doing to correct that stereotype, and how ALL parents can be honored and celebrated for doing what is probably the most important job we can do.

Hear what Bruce has to say about his session and why you should come to BlogWorld LA:

See what other speakers are saying about BlogWorld LA.

Join Bruce and his community each Thursday for #DadChat, from 6pm -7pm PST, the Tweet Chat that Bruce hosts. Bruce Sallan, author of “A Dad’s Point-of-View: We ARE Half the Equation” and radio host of “The Bruce Sallan Show – A Dad’s Point-of-View” gave up a long-term showbiz career to become a stay-at-home-dad. He has dedicated his new career to becoming THE Dad advocate. He carries his mission with not only his book and radio show, but also his column “A Dad’s Point-of-View”, syndicated in over 100 newspapers and websites worldwide, and his dedication to his community on Facebook and Twitter.

Share Your Favorite Circles with Others on Google+

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Google+ announced a new feature which lets you share your circles with others thanks to their new “Share” button.

Google+ engineer Owen Prater said, “Starting today you can actually share your favorite circles with others! So if you’ve got a great Photographers or Celebrities circle, for instance, then you can share a copy with your friends.”

When you click on a circle, you’ll notice in the upper right corner it now says “Share this circle”. Google+ notes that you are only sharing its members at that time and the name of the circle always stays private.

When you click the share link, it allows you to leave a comment about the circle you are sharing, as well as choose who you would like to share the circle with. When your Google+ friends receives it, they can then pick and choose who they would like to add to their own circle.

What is Google+’s goal with this new feature? To help you share and find great new content. Here’s a video they put together talking about the new Share option.

Ten Simple (but Costly) Blog Mistakes

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Sometimes, the difference between a profitable blog and a blog that doesn’t make any money isn’t major. In fact, it can boil down to just a few simple mistakes. Of course, every blog is going to be different, with different goals and meeting different reader needs, so not every tip is right for every person. But in general, here are ten really simple mistakes to fix that could be the difference between financial success and failure:

1) Filling Prime Real Estate with Other People’s Ads

In my high school graphic design class, I learned something that I still carry with me – a person’s eye naturally moves like a giant “S” across a page. That means that you’re prime real estate is at the top right. Online, anything “above the fold” (aka, the space you can see without scrolling) is also good. What do you have filling these spaces? I see a lot of people with ads in this space. Unless the most important thing for you is to get clicks on your ads (like if your main monetization strategy is a PPC program), why are you just giving this real estate away? Fill the top right with ads for your own products or affiliate products. Sales will jump. Or, use it for mailing list sign-ups, which you can use to drive sales in the future.

Another high-value place? The very end of your posts. When people are done reading, give them something valuable to do, like sign up for your mailing list or check out your product.

2) Not Including a Search Option

If there’s no search option on your blog, people can find stuff on Google instead, right? Right…but will you be #1 in the search results? Let’s say that I remember you reviewing a product but can’t easily find the post. I can search on Google, but what might pop up is someone else’s product review or someone else mentioning that you reviewed that product.

Even for your own products, you might not come up first on Google. One of your affiliates with awesome SEO can easily beat you out, simply by optimizing their posts. While this will still sell your products, you’ll have to pay an affiliate fee whereas on your own site, it’s pure profit. Don’t risk it. Just include a search bar on your blog and you don’t have to worry about it.

3) Avoiding Affiliate Links

If you talk about products often, why would you not sign up to be an affiliate? You don’t have to link everything you mention, but Amazon affiliate links can be easily added when you mention something in a post. Share a Sale and Commission Junction are also two great places where you can find product affiliate links – I’ve used both with success, and usually these affiliate programs give a better commission than Amazon. People are taking your recommendations when purchasing a product. Why shouldn’t you earn a bit of a commission.

When someone approaches you to ask for a review, this is definitely something you should ask as well. Most people have affiliate programs for their products, and if you’re doing them the favor of reviewing their product, the least they can do is allow you to earn a commission for anything you sell.

4) Underestimating the Eagerness of Your Readers to Buy

A few months ago, I was reading a blog that I really enjoyed, so I signed up for the blogger’s mailing list. I got several emails per week from this blogger, and while they were all interesting, not a single one tried to sell me anything. So I asked the blogger…why? His response was that he didn’t want to turn off readers with sales. Now, I definitely think that some people overdo it, but your readers are your fans – they want to buy the things you recommend or products from you. It’s silly to never sell, in my opinion.

The blogger took my advice and added in a sales email about once a month (so, one every 10 – 15 emails) and is now making a boatload of money that way. To date, he’s had no one complain and sees no greater unsubscribe numbers than with non-sales emails.

5) Paying Too Much for Hosting

Shop around. Are you getting the best deal? You want to avoid a shoddy hosting plan to save money, but some companies are waaaay overpriced. Ask your connections on Twitter or Facebook. People can recommend some great hosts that might be better AND cheaper than the host you chose at random.

Even look at the hosting plans offered by your company – do you need the plan they sold you or is their a cheaper plan that would serve your needs? Companies love to upsell you, and you might be paying for stuff you don’t use. It takes about ten minutes to check out the hosting plans available and you could save a lot of money every year that way, especially if you have multiple sites.

6) Not Including Clear Contact Information

If I want to purchase an ad on your site, how do I get in touch? If I can’t find your email address or a contact form in about 20 seconds, I’m gone. Make a contact page and put it somewhere very easy to see on your site. Don’t hide it on your about page. Don’t put it half-way down your sidebar in a small font that’s lost between ads and navigation tools. I don’t understand why bloggers don’t make it easy to be contacted…unless, I guess, they don’t want to be contacted? The best blogs, in my opinion, make it idiot-proof, listing contact information in multiple easy-to-see places.

Personally, I like it even more when I see an actual advertising page for potential sponsors to learn more. Creating an advertising page on your site that’s clearly listed in the top navigation bar or footer (the two places advertisers typically check first) will tell them that you’re open to selling ad space, that you’ve actually thought about your prices (so you’re a professional), and that they’re likely to hear back quickly.

7) Being Too Humble About Your Products

Dude. You’re awesome! Your readers won’t be reading your posts or following your tweets or subscribed to your emails if they didn’t like you. Don’t be afraid to tell people about your products.

In fact, your products should be front and center! Not only that, but when you talk about your products, don’t be humble. Talk about the advantages of your product and, although you should be clear and honest if there are people who won’t benefit from the purchase, make sure you sell it. If you’re not comfortable with sales, let your fans speak for you by posting testimonials. I’m always willing to give away a free copy of my book if someone (especially someone known in my industry) is willing to write a testimonial.

8 ) Crazy Long Sales Letters with No Buy Button until the End

Long sales letters drive me nuts. I understand that they work, otherwise people wouldn’t use them. But just because they work in their current long form doesn’t mean they couldn’t be better. Don’t confuse the fact that you’re making sales with success. If you sell 1000 products on launch day, you might be jumping for joy…but what if I told you that you had the potential to make 10,000 sales? Not so exciting anymore, is it?

I’ll be one of those people who hits the back button, in many cases, if you don’t have a “buy” button near the top. I certainly want to read a little about your product, but I’m there for a blurb, not a book report, and other readers probably feel the same way. So keep your long sales letter with the buy button at the end, but put one closer to the top too for those of us who are sold already.

9) Lack of Formats

This one is specifically for those who create informational products, which is a lot of readers. If I could do one thing differently with my last product launch, it would be to offer not just a downloadable PDF file, but also multiple other formats. Some people still like print. Others will jump on board if you offer a kindle version. Heck, some people even want content broken up and sent via email over time.

If your products are expensive, I think it also make sense to offer different payment structures. Give a discount for those who can afford to buy your product outright, but make it possible to pay in small chunks for readers on a budget. You don’t want to offer so many options that things are overwhelming, but a few choices will help get your product in the hands of more readers, and it doesn’t take much effort to offer multiple options.

10) No Affiliate Program for Your Products

If you’re selling stuff, are you offering an affiliate program? If not…why not? You’ll have a virtual sales team that are only paid when they sell something if you set up even a low-payout affiliate program! I have to love beyond love a product to write a review if I’m not getting a commission. Even then, if it’s a busy week, I might not make time for it. If you have a great affiliate program, though, you’ll see a major boost in your sales, and most of those buyers will be people you never would have reached otherwise, so it’s not like you’re losing money by paying affiliates, at least most of the time. The benefits greatly outweigh the disadvantages, and best of all, it only takes a few seconds to set up an affiliate program through a company like E-junkie.

It’s your turn – what changes have you made on your blog that resulted in big jumps in profit?

Twacked: When Good Twitter Accounts Go Bad [Infographic]

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Veracode, a cloud-based application risk management platform, released a new infographic today – “Twacked: When Good Twitter Accounts Go Bad.” I’m sure you heard about USA Today’s Twitter account being hacked over the weekend, so this new report is definitely timely, as well as interesting.

The infographic gives details on the most recent and famous Twitter hacks, as well as passwords Twitter has banned (12345, naked, password – just to name a few). They also share interesting bits of Twitter news like the one time Justin Bieber posted his hacker’s phone number to his followers and his hacker received 26,000 text messages. Oops! Lesson learned?

They also included when a hack isn’t a hack. Meaning when you try to Tweet racy photos to a follower and end up posting it to all of your Twitter followers (a.k.a. #Weinergate).

As for those who have yet to be hacked like singers Taylor Swift and Shakira, they might want to beef up their passwords!

Here’s the Twacked: When Good Twitter Accounts Go Bad Infographic.

Twitter Infographic

Infographic by Veracode Application Security

Zynga’s CityVille Game Launches on Google+

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One of Facebook‘s most popular games is coming to its competitor Google+. Back in July, Zynga announced they were bringing Zynga Poker, as well as other games to the social network. At the time, no one knew if that meant their two most popular games – CityVille and FarmVille.

The company announced today, via their blog, the addition of CityVille+ to the new Google+ game platform. The game allows players to build a thriving metropolis and has people hooked!

They said, “CityVille grew to become our largest game on Facebook, so naturally we wanted to “build” a presence for it on Google+. Ultimately, we want to make our games accessible to everyone, everywhere – no matter where they play or what platform they play on.”

Out of Zynga’s 146 million users of its social games, most of them are from Facebook. It was back in July of 2010 that Google invested (quietly) $100 million in Zynga, so most knew seeing their games arrive on Google+ was only a matter of time.

Google+ currently has 18 games including Angry Birds, Crime City, Bejeweled Blitz, Zynga Poker and now CityVille. Is Farmville next? That’s what Google+ game players want to know!

Facebook Partners Up to Help Small Businesses, Offering Up to $10 Million in Ad Credit

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Facebook may be in the news and on everyone’s mind because of the new Facebook Timeline, but here’s a new reason to be talking about the company.

Today (September 26), Facebook, the National Federation of Independent Business and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a joint press release announcing their partnership.

Their joint effort is designed to give small businesses a boost by strengthening their current customer base and community, as well as reaching new customers via Facebook’s 800 million users.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy and we believe that Facebook can be a tremendous tool to fuel their growth and success,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook Chief Operating Officer. “Our goal is to give small businesses a boost by helping them find customers the best way possible – through recommendations from friends.  We’re proud to be working with the NFIB and U.S. Chamber in this effort.”

What’s their plan? The companies are working together on initiatives including combining their knowledge and resources, cross-country road show events and the Facebook Small Business Boost (described below).

Starting in January 2012 and following the education effort, Facebook will begin awarding businesses up to $10 million worth of free Facebook advertisements.  The goal of these ad credits is to give 200,000 businesses across the country a $50 boost.

For more information on their collaboration, as well as dates and locations for roadshow events, visit http://www.facebook.com/smallbusinessboost.

What do you think about this partnership and Facebook’s desire to help small businesses?

Source

58 Seconds of Mari Smith: Bringing The New Relationship Marketing to BWELA

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Session: The New Relationship Marketing
Speaker: Mari Smith

Mari Smith plans to share plenty of nuggets from her new book The New Relationship Marketing (due out October 25th) in her BlogWorld LA session. Specifically she’ll cover strategies, tips and tactics on how to seamlessly blend online and offline marketing for optimal results, including improving your bottom line profits!

This is Mari’s fourth year attending and speaking at a BlogWorld event. She says it is one of the best places to get top quality education in a vast variety of social media, blogging and online marketing topics + discover the latest technology and gadgets in the big exhibits area + enjoy some of the best entertainment.

Here’s a video Mari shot about her session.

See what other speakers are saying about BlogWorld LA.

Stop Thinking Like A Blogger In Order To Make Money

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… by David Risley (BlogWorld LA Monetization track leader)

The blogger mindset is one which I like to affectionately call “the blogger hamster wheel”. It goes something like this…

Write some stuff. Then write some more stuff. Check your traffic. Send some tweets. Write more stuff. Read some other blogs and post comments. Figure out what the heck you’re gonna write. Write it. Maybe.

[sigh]

One thing you notice in there (hopefully) is this: NOWHERE in there is any money being made.

You might think the golden ticket is found simply by writing more and increasing volume, but it isn’t. The problem is compounded, too, because all those OTHER bloggers out there think the same thing. Which means there is an insane amount of written content being produced out in the blogosphere. And, in case you hadn’t noticed, it is harder than ever to get noticed.

So, what’s a blogger to do?

The “trick”, if you want to call it that, is to stop thinking like a blogger. Broaden your paradigm and start doing things that most bloggers either don’t want to do, are too lazy to do, or have some other weird reason why they won’t.

The Business Reality of Blogging

Blogging doesnt make money. But, you know what does? BUSINESS.

Businesses sell things. They have things to sell. They don’t just talk about it… they DO it.

So, what are YOU selling? The answer better be something along the line of info products related to your niche or affiliate marketing. It can be your own product (best) or it can be somebody else’s (almost as good). Either way, you should be selling something on your blog. And your content should be designed to attract the attention of targeted prospects and then route them into those things that you sell.

In other words, your blog is a marketing platform. Nothing more.

How To Break The Mold

Now that you’re going to be in the business of selling things related to your niche, it is time to figure out a more efficient way to get and hold people’s attention rather than just more written blog posts.

One think you may notice is that many of the successful guys out there don’t stay in a mold. They produce content, just not always written content.

So, consider the following things that most bloggers just don’t do:

  1. Videos. This is somewhat common, but I find a lot of bloggers are scared of doing it for some reason. Why? Youtube gets some MAJOR traffic. Plus, a video holds attention better than written text.
  2. Webinars. I can’t even BEGIN to overstate just how awesome webinars are. If you’re delivering good content, you’ve got people paying attention to your stuff for an hour or so. Beats the CRAP out of a written blog post. Not to mention you can sell things on a webinar (even affiliate products) and it typically converts seriously well.
  3. Live Video. Engage your audience using something like UStream.tv.
  4. Email. Many of us say “build a list”, but the truth is a lot of people don’t do it. Why, I have no idea. Its STUPID not to have a mailing list.

You might be noticing a trend there on how to break the mold.

Get out of your shell, stop focusing on written stuff all the time, get on camera, deliver awesome value, and sell things.

What Now?

I would ask you not to simply read this post and move on – doing nothing. We all know that’s what you usually do.

If you’re serious about making money with your blog, then what I just wrote in this post is a huge part of the way forward. So, stop and figure out your next move to put this stuff into action. Make a video. Find some things to sell and sell them.

Oh, and stop by the monetization track at Blogworld Expo in LA. I’ve lined up some great speakers who “get it”. If you want to engage in REAL online business, pay attention to the awesome folks in LA. You’re gonna dig it. 🙂

To get the plain-spoken truth on making money blogging, visit my blog at DavidRisley.com. Connect on Facebook.

A Beginner’s Guide to Blog Monetization Basics

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I’ve already written A Beginner’s Guide to Twitter Basics and A Beginner’s Guide to SEO Basics, and someone much smarter than me wrote about podcasting basics, so today I wanted ton continue this theme and write about monetization. Now, there are people who write entire blogs about monetization, so believe me when I say that this is a quick overview. If you’re new to blogging, though, this post can help you figure out how to make money from your blog.

Monetization Methods

Bloggers who want to make money from their blogs have five main choices for monetization. Under each of these categories, you have multiple options as well, so I’m going to list as many as I can. The great thing about blogging is that bloggers are always finding new and innovative ways to make money!

  • Advertising

First and foremost, you can monetize your blog with advertising. Advertising comes in two main forms: selling ads directly for a flat fee and PPC ads where you’re paid a very small amount every time someone clicks on the ad. You can also add advertising to videos and podcasts with commercials, the same way a TV show or radio show sells advertisement time.

Advertising is also available in the form of posts. Someone can pay you to sponsor a post or even write an entire post on your site, though FTC rules mean you have to disclose when you’re paid for something like this. If the post isn’t high quality, it can also hurt you blog, so take this into consideration.

  • Selling Stuff

You can use your blog to convince your readers to buy stuff. Working as an affiliate is the easiest way to get started doing this – basically, you’re selling other people’s products, and in exchange, you’ll get a cut of the money. Amazon is my favorite affiliate program for general stuff since they have just about everything, but you can also be an affiliate for an individual product, such as the latest ebook your favorite blogger releases. If you can’t find affiliate program information on their website, just shoot them an email and ask if one is available.

To make more money, you can sell your own products. Informational products (like ebooks and courses) are most popular for bloggers since you can create them with little overhead cost, but you can also sell products like t-shirts and mugs.

  • Membership Sites

If you create great content, you might want to charge people to read it. To do this, you’ll sell a membership to the site, where people will pay on a monthly basis to access your content. Another form of a “membership site” is a subscription to content via email. Membership sites often focus on the community aspect and include forums, profiles, and more.

  • Using your Blog as a Platform

This is a more indirect way to monetize your blog. Instead of actually getting money from your readers, you use your blog as a platform to make money. For example, you could use your blog to land a book deal or become a paid public speaker. You can also use it to find clients. For example, if you’re a financial professional, you could advertise your services on your free blog.

  • Reviews

Product reviews are a bit controversial in the blogging world, since some bloggers think you deserve more than free products for the work you do to review a product. The choice is up to you, though. I think it depends on what you’re reviewing. If someone is willing to give you a car, for example, I think that’s a pretty sweet deal! A company that send you free potato chips? Maybe not so much. It also depends if you want to support the company because you have a personal connection or because you think your readers need to know about a product.

Some companies will not only send you free stuff to review, but will also pay you a set amount to write the review, so it’s kind of like a paid post. Remember that you have to disclose everything if you’re reviewing a product that you received for free or were paid to review.

Setting Your Advertising Prices

One of the questions I hear over and over again is this: how much should I charge? It’s not a question that can easily be answered, unfortunately. Heck, even big companies have trouble setting prices. Just look at Netflix if you want an example of a company having a hard time feeling out their market.

Let’s start by talking about advertising. I think the key here is finding a price that is fair for those buying from you without being so cheap that you cheat yourself out of the money you could be making. Basically, you want to set advertising prices based on traffic. So, it depends on how big you are – and don’t be afraid to raise your rates as you grow.

In my opinion, no one can say it better than what Daniel Scocco has said in his guest post for the Problogger blog. Whenever someone asks me how much to charge, I said them to that post. It’s also how I set my own advertising prices.

Monetization Mistakes

Every blogger goes about monetizing in a different way, and that’s one of the best things about blogging; there are no right or wrong methods! Well, almost. There are a few things I think almost all bloggers should avoid when monetizing. Don’t make these mistakes!

  • Giving top billing to your ads: Unless there’s a reason (like the advertising is paying extra), banner ads shouldn’t be on the prime real estate of your blog. Reserve that spot for your own stuff, like a sign-up box for your mailing list, an ad for your own products, or buttons to subscribe to your RSS feed.
  • Not disclosing when you’ve been paid: This isn’t just shady – it’s illegal. If something is an affiliate link or you’ve been paid to write it, the FTC requires that you let your readers know. How I understand the law (and I’m not a lawyer), this also includes your social media updates (tweets, status updates, etc). When you use an affiliate link, mark it as such! Don’t try to trick your readers. It’s just not cool.
  • Sending readers to your competitors: We like to think there are no competitors in blogger, but if you’re using your blog as a platform, there are other sites you just don’t want to advertise. For example, if you’re a writer and looking for clients, you don’t want to advertise for other writers on your blog sidebar! Be careful when you use advertising services such as the one offered by Google – block ads that drive potential money away.

Like I said, there are entire blogs just about how to make money with your blog. This isn’t in the least the end-all post about the topic. But for beginners out there, I hope this will get you started.

And I hope you’ll share a link to your favorite blog about making money online! My favorite resource is David Risley’s blog (hey, there’s a reason he’s BlogWorld’s monetization track leader!) – what are your favorites?

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