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Are You an Easy-Bake Oven Blogger?


I’ve noticed something interesting in the world of blogging. People attempting to make money online are caught up in product launches, which is awesome, but the ones who are failing often have one thing in common. They don’t deliver any free quality content. I like to call these people “Easy-Bake Oven bloggers.”

Alli’s Tragic Easy-Bake Oven Story

When I was about eight, the thing I wanted more than anything for Christmas was an Easy-Bake Oven. Well, and a SNES, but that’s another story. Easy-Bake Over was the toy of the moment. If you were a child in the early ’90s, you understand. I mean, I guess it’s still around today, but it isn’t the same as the early models that cooked a mini cake with a light bulb. You were definitely not a part of the cool club in the third grade if you didn’t have an Easy-Bake Oven.

My mother was very much against toys that were messy or loud or expensive. She would bake real cookies with me all day if I wanted, but getting an Easy-Bake Oven from her was a no-go. Of course, a kid doesn’t really understand why it doesn’t make sense to buy a pile of plastic that cooks tiny, expensive, pre-mixed baked goods, but that’s beside the point. I was upset that I didn’t have an Easy-Bake Oven, especially when my cousin got one for her birthday.

After hearing all the hype at school, I was super excited when said cousin invited me for a sleepover, with the promise that we could play with her Easy-Bake Oven. I hurried to rip open the mixture packet and dump it into the pan. Then…we waited. For what seemed like hours. *Ding* Our barely-big-enough-to-share brownie was finished. And that was that.

I don’t know what I expected, but after that night, I never bugged my mom for an Easy-Bake Oven again. No matter how much it was hyped, my opportunity to test the darn thing was boring at best. It took us about thirty seconds to do any kind of “cooking” required, and then we just sat around waiting for a dried-out desert. I was glad my mom hadn’t dished out the money to buy me one.

A Culture of Expecting Stuff for Free

My story does have a point. If you want to sell an information-based product, like a video course or ebook, on your website, people aren’t going to buy it if their free experience isn’t awesome. Easy-Bake Over blogging isn’t going to cut it.

Point in case: I occasionally see someone Tweet about a product that interests me, so I check out the website. Usually, there’s some kind of content available for free – a short ebook, a video, some blog posts, etc. I base most of my decision on whether or not to buy the product based on the free content available.

We’re a culture that has come to expect information on the Internet to be free. I get just as frustrated about that as the next person, because I know how much work it takes to create content. If you think about it, though, it makes sense. Trailers entice people to see a movie. Music videos and radio play entice people to buy a CD. Samples at a grocery store entice people to purchase a food product.

Why shouldn’t we get something for free? We don’t want to risk our hard-earned money on an item that we know nothing about. The more we enjoy the free product, the more likely we are to make a purchase.

The Quality of Free

It stinks to spend time doing something that you’ll just be giving away to free. I have three words for you: Suck. It. Up. I’m not suggesting that you have to give your readers a free 100-page report sharing your best secrets. You want to save some really good stuff for whatever you have for sale.

But the quality has to be there. If you’re just regurgitating what can be found in your niche everywhere else, you better at least have a unique way to say it. No one’s going to buy a $497 course from a blogger who has nothing to give away but some posts with scraped content and a half-assed ebook. Look at anyone who is selling information products online. No matter what the niche, the people who are making the most money have proven themselves with free content first.

It’s more about checking your grammar and having an interesting idea, though. Quality also means that you’re providing a product that serves a purpose in someone’s life. Going back to the Easy-Bake Oven example, where this product failed for me, wasn’t in the fact that it was shoddily-made or uninteresting. In fact, for the price, I hope it was pretty decent quality (though as a kid, I didn’t take notice – I just knew that it was expensive), and it was definitely interesting enough to have me begging for one every time we passed a toy store.

But it didn’t solve my problem. One of a child’s most basic problems is “I’m bored. Entertain me.” Easy-Bake Ovens didn’t deliver, at least for me as a child, even though I know they sold quite well, so perhaps I’m the anomaly. In any case, if your product isn’t solving a problem for people, it doesn’t matter how eloquently you write or how cool your concept may be – few people are going to dig out their wallets. So ask yourself, what value are you bringing into someone’s life? Teach them to make more money, to lose weight, to find true love, to be happy with their career, to improve their tennis game…to solve whatever problem is common in your niche.

If your goal is to make money blogging, you need to give people what they want for free. It seems counterproductive, but over time, you’ll build a loyal following, and once you have their trust, they’ll open their tightly clasped fists and the money will start to flow.

Image Credit: Amazon

Monetization Monday: Blodads Profile


Let’s face it, some bloggers (like me) are just NOT good at sales – especially ad sales! There’s where a company like blogads comes in. I’ve been using blogads for a little over a year now on my celebrity website, and have had pretty good success.

With blogads, you can set your own pricing, your own placement of the ads, and you have the option to decline potential advertisers if you don’t think that they are a good fit with your audience. The hardest part of the entire process was actually getting IN to the network! Your best shot is via referral, and even that can take a while. As blogads says, “in general we’re not accepting new publishers“.

Your blog must have been around for at least 6 months, and they want to see an average of at least 1000 pageviews a day.

They take a 14% commission when ads are purchased through a link on your website. If the sale is initiated on their end, they take a 30% commission.

Payout Options:
Paypal, Wire transfer, or check.

Ad Sizes:
Blogads offers 7 different ad sizes (available in jpg/gif or flash):

  • Hi Rise (150×600)
  • Standard (150×200)
  • Mini (150×100)
  • Classified (500 characters of text)

Blogads has a pretty broad base of blogs that they accept, with over fifty niches such as parents, liberals, gays, lesbian, baseball fans, tech-lovers, conservatives, New Yorkers, environmentalists, news junkies, milblogs, lawyers, economists, and foodies.

Blogads are very easy to set up. Once you are approved, you provide your payment information and then set up your pricing options for each ad unit, and length of time (1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 2months). They then provide you with a strip of javascript code that you can input directly into your sidebar. Approved ads will automatically display where you place the javascript snippet.

Sample Sites Using Blogads:
PerezHilton, Dailykos, Dlisted and more.

Do you have a recommended company for me to profile? Shoot me an email with the company information, URL, and any thoughts you have!

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

Blogs & Social Media Sites Land in Top 1000 Sites List


Google came out with their Top 1000 Sites list this week, and I have to admit that I’m not surprised Facebook landed at #1! There were some other blogging and social networking sites that made it into the top 20 – including WordPress, BlogSpot, and Twitter. And of course there are a variety of blogs that make it onto the list, albeit somewhat further down. Take a look at the list and see if you rank within!

Other news and tips across the blogosphere this week (May 28th):

Copyblogger: How to Monetize Your Site Without Causing an Audience Revolt
There are so many bloggers out there with very large audiences who find themselves incapable or unwilling to monetize by launching a product. Learn how to avoid this issue, prepare your audience for your prices, and learn how to charge higher prices for your products.

Daily Blogging Tips: 10 Ways to Convert Your Blog Visitors Into Dedicated Readers
Do you want your blog to grow, increase your readership and subscriber numbers, have your content constantly spread, and make more money? Then you need to convert your blog visitors into dedicated readers.

ProBlogger: How to Pitch Bloggers – Make it a Win/Win/Win Situation
Tips for companies or individuals pitching to bloggers to link to their products, services, events, sites

ReadWriteWeb: Facebook Rolls Back Some Key Privacy Changes
Facebook has rolled back some of the biggest and most controversial changes to the site’s privacy settings made since December.

Mashable: Google Buzz Adds Reshare Option
Google Buzz is releasing the “Reshare” option update to the social aggregation platform.

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

Image Credit: SXC

Twitter Bans Third Party In-Stream Ads


Whether or not you hate in-stream ads, Twitter is banning many of them. Twitter announced today that plans to edit its terms of service for developers and will prohibit third-party advertising networks and developers from inserting ads into a user’s stream.

This will severely affect several companies that created their business around in-stream ads (including Ad.ly, 140 Proof, and the newly launched Tweetup)

So what’s their reasoning? They say they want to value the user experience:

Why are we prohibiting these kinds of ads? First, third party ad networks are not necessarily looking to preserve the unique user experience Twitter has created. They may optimize for either market share or short-term revenue at the expense of the long-term health of the Twitter platform. For example, a third party ad network may seek to maximize ad impressions and click through rates even if it leads to a net decrease in Twitter use due to user dissatisfaction.

Secondly, the basis for building a lasting advertising network that benefits users should be innovation, not near-term monetization. Twitter is uniquely dependent on and responsible for the long-term health and value of the platform. Accordingly, a necessary focus of Promoted Tweets is to explore ways to create value for our users. Third party ad networks may be optimized for near-term monetization at the expense of innovating or creating the best user experience. We believe it is our responsibility to encourage creative product development and to curb practices that compromise innovation.

Companies can continue to place ads in their application as long as it’s not in the stream … not that it will help those who created their revenue generation model based on placing ads in-stream.

And users can continue to input their own ads in-stream. Check out these Ways to make money with Twitter ads for a list of companies that should be in business … until Twitter makes more changes.

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

Monetization Monday: Google Reveals AdSense Revenue Share


If you have a blog, there’s a good chance you’ve got a Google AdSense block somewhere on your site. AdSense has long been a way to help monetize your site with contextual ads. But it’s always been vague as to how your income is determined.

This morning, Google revealed exactly how much they take as their share from AdSense sales “in the spirit of greater transparency.” According to the release placed on their blog, they take:

  • 32% of content ads (the publisher gets the remaining 68%)
  • 49% of search ads (the publisher gets the remaining 51%)

The content ads are those placed alongside web content, while AdSense for search allows publishers to place a custom Google search engine on their site and obtain revenue from ads shown in the results.

And what does Google do with their cut? They use the money for “continued investment in AdSense — including the development of new technologies, products and features that help maximize the earnings you generate from these ads.

Do you think this is a fair share? Do you use any other contextual ad services?

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

Making Money With Twitter Ads


I remember about two years ago when advertising via your Twitter account became a BIG DEAL. Within a couple day span, several people hooked into Magpie and began incorporating paid tweets into their stream. The result? A huge backlash. People began unfollowing users who incorporated Magpie, while others thought it was a great revenue source.

I admit to trying it out for a day, but then figured it wasn’t worth the possibility of losing my followers to make a couple bucks. Shortly thereafter Ilooked into Twittad, which lets you pimp out your Twitter profile for businesses. I signed up, but never even once got an offer. And I haven’t thought about either of these sites much since, until today – when I got an email for the invite-only program, MyLikes.

So, I headed over to check it out and I also stopped by Magpie to see what they’ve been up to. I was amazed at all the changes they’ve implemented. You can edit the sponsored Tweets, and you now have to disclose every Tweet due to the new FTC regulations! Wow.

Here’s the low down on each one:


  • Invitation only
  • Become an Influencer
  • Earn money or help your favorite charity by recommending what you like
  • Create Sponsored Likes for advertisers/sponsors that you Like
  • Post on Twitter or your blog
  • Get paid per click
  • Your cost-per-click is set and constantly adjusted based on how influential you are and how relevant your Likes are


  • Enroll and connect with advertisers via Magpie’s matching algorithm
  • The system inserts posts or you can manually tweet
  • You set the frequency of tweets
  • Must include full disclosure, including payout amounts
  • Different compensation models: Pay-per-view, Pay-per-click, Pay-per-lead and Pay-per-sale


  • Sign up and wait for advertisers/sponsors
  • Accept or deny the proposed ad
  • Get paid for the length of time your ad is displayed on your profile

So what do you think? Have you tried out any of these services, or a different one altogether? If so, has it generated income and how have your followers responded?

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

Tips for Choosing a Sponsor for Your Blog


Last spring I found myself out of a full time job and decided to work on building up my blog network over seeking more full time or client work. The network was doing well with Adsense and private ad sales were also coming through but I felt to truly profit I needed to seek my own sponsors. So I sat down and made a list of potential candidates. As I researched businesses and made lists, one place continued to stare out at me. It was a web content site similar to one that helped me get my start as a freelance writer ten years ago. As my blog network was geared towards freelance writers, I thought we had something to offer each other.

I already had a good relationship with this brand. They contacted me periodically to post jobs for ads and our exchanges were always pleasant. When I sent a proposal to my contact, he was more than receptive. A couple of months of negotiations ensued, but now they’re a proud sponsor and I’m happy to to provide a spot for them to advertise.

Here are a few things I learned about choosing sponsorship as a result of this partnership:

  1. It pays to have a thoughtful proposal in place to send to potential sponsors. Your sponsors (and their attorneys and advisers) will want to know demographics and statistics. They need to know if their ad is a good for your community. It’s not enough to send a letter. A proposal with actual facts and figures is necessary. Also, what can you do for them? Maybe advertising isn’t enough? Maybe they’ll want more in the way of promotion or sign ups.
  2. Make sure you don’t compromise the integrity of your community and blog, not to mention your own integrity. For example, my potential sponsor wanted me to write several posts each month about what it is like to work for them. I refused as that’s just spammy. We agreed on one initial post announcing our sponsorship and my personal experience with the program, plus an honest review of a conference they were putting together in the fall. Also, my contract doesn’t pay me for sign ups or new members, only advertising. I wanted writers to be able to make their own decisions, if I was paid per click or sign up I’d probably try harder influence their decision whether or not to write for this sponsor and that’s not what I wanted.
  3. Make sure they know you’re going to be honest. Fortunately I didn’t have to negotiate this one. During my first conference call with reps from my potential sponsor they insisted I was honest about my experience with them and didn’t want me to paint a rosy picture simply because they are paying to advertise on my blog. Knowing I can give an honest review and speak my mind makes them an ideal sponsor, in my book. If a potential sponsor won’t let you be honest, even if there are some negative points, walk. The last thing you want is to compromise your integrity.
  4. Add in a few points of your own – One thing I wanted was the ability to have first shot at breaking any news.  This company has offered several programs of interest to their vast writing community and for me to give this news first (before even the sponsor posted the news on their own site) gave me first shot at traffic and discussion.
  5. The sponsorship can go beyond ads – You can get more than advertising dollars from a sponsor. Many bloggers seek sponsors to help defray the cost of conferences, gadgets, web hosting and more. Make sure the sponsor is also getting something of value. For example, if they covering your conference costs offer to wear their shirt and hand out their flyers.  I will be wearing my sponsor’s shirt at SXSW as they will be helping to defray my costs.
  6. Always, always be transparent – Be honest about your sponsorship from the very beginning. There’s no way of getting around it. Let your community know you accepted a sponsor and why you did so.  There will still be a bunch who accuse you of being a shill, but at least you know there’s no mistake about what you’re doing.

Here are a few things to consider before seeking sponsorship:

  • People will think you’re a sell out – It’s going to happen. You can fight it or get over it. Some competitors may even lead the torch and pitchfork bridgade in trying to discredit you. However, it’s your community that truly matters. Keep them in mind and you’ll find the majority of them are very accepting, understanding and encouraging. As long as you’re upfront about it they’ll continue to trust you.
  • People will think you’re just a paid mouthpiece – This is difficult. I can’t talk about my sponsor without some writing me off as a paid mouthpiece. Even though I’m encouraged by my sponsor to be honest about my experience and relationship with them, a handful still believe otherwise. For example, my sponsor doesn’t require me to speak about them anywhere but on my blog. However, when I join a discussion on another blog or forum answering questions about the company, there are always those who call me out as a paid mouthpiece. Nothing I can do to stop that, so I won’t. Be prepared to encounter folks wishing to debate and discredit. Engage, don’t engage, the choice is yours.
  • Ads clutter up a blog – My blog network is heavily monetized which can be unattractive. I’m developing a some products to help bring in a more passive income so I won’t have to have a bunch of ads, but until then there’s no choice. Not unless I want to go back to client and full time work again. If you’re seeking sponsorship make sure you’re ready to handle the ads.

The benefits of sponsorship:

  • The money – Need I say more?
  • The relationships – I don’t have sponsor, I made some lifetime friends.
  • Getting involved with another community – I enjoy participating in the sponsor’s forum when I can and they’ve invited me to guest blog from time to time. This is my favorite part of the sponsorship. My sponsor also invited me to Southern California to attend their conference and I can honestly say it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
  • Other perks: My sponsor has offered to help defray the cost of conference attendance, and in return I’ll wear their shirt. Anyone who attends conferences knows they can run a several thousand dollars to attend, so I gladly take them up on this offer.
  • Traffic: My sponsor and I enjoy some cross traffic and link love.
  • Other sponsors: Other advertisers sought me out after my partnership with my sponsor. I turned down several as a conflict of interest, but enjoyed partnerships with many. One competitor even wanted me to sit on their board of advisers! I said no,but it was a nice offer.

Having this sponsorship has honestly been one of the best experiences of my blogging career. I made new friends, developed important relationships and learned to truly value my loyal community. Though they’re not my highest paying advertiser by any means, this sponsor and the people who work for them are some of the nicest people I’ve encountered…ever. That makes this relationship more valuable than money.

Did you seek sponsorship for your blog? Are you seeking sponsorship? If so, please share your experiences. How do you feel about blog advertising in particular?


Deb Ng is Founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs blog network. If you liked this post, check out her 40 Lessons Learned Over 5 Years of Blogging.

Why Pepsi Is Good For Bloggers


This is certainly not a “Pepsi is better than Coke” or now begins the cola wars , I am referring to the world of monetizing.  Recently ABC reported, Pepsi announced that it would discontinue spending money on advertising on Super Bowl Sunday.  I have for years thought that the price of advertising on that day is way over priced, unless of course I was the guy getting the commission for that sale.  Millions of dollars being spent to have a slot of 30 seconds for the world to see you and your brand is a big gamble.  I suppose if your 30 seconds was the best or in some cases the worst you would extend your brand to many eyeballs all watching.  This is beginning to change and apparently Pepsi is leading the charge.

Why is this good for bloggers?  Brands like Pepsi and others are going online for their eyeballs.  I am not going to get into the debate in this post about why eyeballs are not the metric I think is for our future, but suffice it to say, eyeballs don’t buy.  Pepsi is also doing something that I believe is a masterful move into also contributing to charity while changing their advertising strategy. Forrester has a great post on its blog discussing the issues of the Pepsi move and its impact on the world of marketing.

Bloggers had a very difficult time selling their content to brands in the beginning. It always went back to eyeballs (perhaps this is the time for that debate). Bloggers that had millions of page views a month, a feat derived only by the top of the top of bloggers, made very little on their content as compared to their traditional media counterparts.  That in itself is supposition with the fact that bloggers were never considered in the same breath as traditional media.  As we all know, this is changing now.  Bloggers are seen as influencers and as people that can vault a brand into rock star fame.  Look at Ford for your example.

We are seeing other areas that are getting the dollars like Facebook for example.  The ABC example of Toys “R” Us building a Facebook page and seeing growth of between 40,000 and 95,000 fans per day after its late November launch is an example of what is catching the attention of those writing checks for marketing campaigns.  Their will be a race to see who can get your attention where you are, and Facebook is getting the attention of every household in America.

As traditional brands such as Pepsi and Ford and others begin to move their war chests of advertising dollars to other areas of the media, meaning bloggers and social networks, we all will have a better chance at a piece of the pie.  Rather than putting millions of dollars into a 30 second spot, brands may even give millions of bloggers that share.  This is only going to mean $2.00 perhaps but it is a huge increase over the .02 I made from Google Adsense last year.  My percentage of increase looks good on a corporate report!

Congratulations To Blog World Keynote Speaker Laura Fitton on Funding of oneforty.


Oneforty It was announced today that Laura Fitton, or as we all know her more appropriately as @pistachio, and her company oneforty.com received funding in the amount of $1.6M.  Those of you that attended BlogWorld & New Media Expo this year know that Laura was our opening keynote address for the Social Media Business Summit which was our first day of the entire event.  I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Laura for making us a part of her 2009 and also congratulate her on her success.  She is one of our people to watch in 2010 for certain and someone that I will be looking for to lead us in 2010.

Those that did not get an opportunity to watch or listen to the keynote given by Laura can see it over at MyContent.com.  Her talk was both inspiring and a good look at how she was able to succeed in her start-up!  Twitter has truly changed Laura’s life and now we can see how and why!

When Should Bloggers Stop Giving it Away?


for sale

I have something on my mind. I’m thinking about a discussion I had on Twitter yesterday with James Chartrand of the wonderful Men with Pens blog. James and I are good friends and have regular brain storming sessions, mostly about making money with this blogging thing. Now, in all fairness, my blog network earns more than James’s blog, but I’m no where near ProBlogger‘s level of income, though I’m willing to bet I work just as hard. Yesterday, James and I were discussing some new ways to generate income blogging and we wondered…each day we both put our all into our blogs. We give away our secrets and tricks of the trade. We could generate tons of revenue with courses or books, but instead, we package it up for free on our blogs. Would blog readers pay to read a “premium” blog?

We took it to Twitter…

Twitter status MWP

To say the results were interesting is an understatement. Most respondents said no, they wouldn’t pay to read posts by their favorite bloggers. A couple of Twitterers said the material would have to be brilliant and written by A-listers, but they wouldn’t pay for any old blogger off the street.

I find this whole thing thought provoking. In the freelance writing world, there’s a big campaign to make sure writers are paid what they’re worth and should never work for free or for slave wages, yet many of the same people admitted they wouldn’t pay for content either.

Some Twitterers express annoyance over bloggers who are constantly creating products to sell. It seems every few months there are courses or ebooks or some sort of affiliate programs launching. Many blog readers are saying they don’t want to be hit up for money all the time.

So let me ask you this…

I work on my blog full time. I spend at least three hours trolling for job leads for freelance writers and the rest of the day writing at least three informative posts for my community. I also receive over a thousand pieces of email a day, and do my best to answer them all. Bloggers put a lot of effort into what they do, and it’s done on their own time. Why are readers so outraged when we want to take on a sponsor, monetize a twit or charge for premium content?

When should bloggers stop giving it away?

Now I’m not saying we need to charge for every post or install turnstiles on all our blogs. However, the mere mention of “what if a few of us got together and put together a blog featuring premium content” had folks scoffing at the idea. Some suggested the content would have to be awfully brilliant to charge for it. Most successful bloggers put their all in to each and every post, to suggest we would turn out something less than brilliant is kind of, well, not a compliment.

So let’s discuss this…

Many bloggers work very hard to bring you good information every single day. You would pay money to read books saying what we say. You would pay money to take courses teaching what we teach.

Why wouldn’t you pay money to read a blog?

Deb Ng is a professional blogger and founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs network. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @debng.

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