Types of Blog Content

February 1st, 2011

If you remember from my previous post about the 3 steps to blogging success, the first step in the simple process is to generate content. Sounds like a simple thing to do, but it turns out that there is a lot more to it than most people think. The key is that not all content is created equal.

I’d say there are least 4 levels or categories of content. All of them have their place in blogging, but it’s important to know what type of content you’re creating since it will drastically effect the other two keys to blogging. 

One category of content is really premium content. This is the type of content that you could get people to pay for. It usually takes the author a lot of time to create this content, but the payoff is that everyone that reads it wants to tell their friends about it. In fact, it’s the type of content that people talk about with their friends offline because it is just that good.

We all wish we could create this kind of content. Turns out that some people can churn out this type of beautiful content at amazing speeds. Most people can’t though and so the cost for them to regularly create this content is too high for them to later monetize it very well. Usually this means their only able to post once a week. In many of these bloggers cases they aren’t trying to monetize this content. Instead they use this premium content to build their credibility in a certain space.  This can be fantastic, but I believe it’s hard to monetize this content. Just ask newspapers.

A second type of content is shorter form, but thoughtful content. This type of content is generally created very quickly. It rarely tries to cover every angle of a topic. Instead this content is more about bringing up an interesting topic or thought and then encouraging others to comment and engage in a discussion around this topic.

Another type of content is the breaking news content. This is the type of content that journalists bend over backwards to get. Once they’ve had the taste of breaking news, then they want to have that same feeling again and again. I must admit that it’s pretty exciting to share news about something no one else knows about. Plus, of course readers love to read breaking news.

A fourth type of content is aggregation of other people’s content. This often is considered spam and is generally frowned upon. However, there are some models where this can work. Often it depends on how you plan to market and monetize this content.

Each of theses types of content have pros and cons. Some of them cost a lot more (time or money) to create.  Others cost very little to create. However, the type of content you create can really influence the type of readers you get and whether they become a long time reader or not.

Personally I generally prefer the second type of content.  It hits that perfect spot of easy and efficient content that people want to read and keep coming back to read more. Plus, in this short attention span “YouTube” generation, the shorter form content is sommething that readers find very attractive.

You do just absolutely have to be sure to create content that is interesting, useful or entertaining. If it doesn’t meet one of these things, then length or quality of the writing doesn’t matter.

Plus, there’s definitely nothing wrong with mixing it up sometimes. Just if you want to retain readers, know the type of content your readers expect and be sure to deliver it. Not to mention that knowing the type of content you create will significantly influence the type of reader you get and how you should market to and monetize that reader.

Next up is a look at different ways to market the content you create.

The Las Vegas Entrepreneurial Community

January 31st, 2011

This morning I was greeted by an interesting post by one of my favorite entrepreneur bloggers, Brad Feld, about building entrepreneurial communities. I’ve been reading Brad’s blog for a long time and I’ve enjoyed learning about what he’s done to build entrepreneurship in Boulder.

As I read his latest post, this quote jumped out at me:

I continue to study and think hard about the dynamics of entrepreneurial communities around the US and believe that there are at least 100 cities in the US that can have strong, significant, healthy, 20 year plus sustainable entrepreneurial communities.

Of course, I could help but imagine his comments with the lens of the Las Vegas Entrepreneurial community. I think it’s easy to see the reasons why Las Vegas could be a great entrepreneurial hub. Although, I must admit that I don’t really see it taking its proper place as a city of entrepreneurs. At least not in the web and technology space that I take part in.

Certainly there are good companies like Zappos.com in Las Vegas (although they came here years after their founding). There’s also the Vegas Valley Angels, but to be honest they haven’t really been all that active in investing over the past couple years.

Much like any community, I think there’s great interest in entrepreneurship in Las Vegas. In fact, I’ve only written about Las Vegas internet startups a few times on this site and I regularly get search engine referrals from people searching for entrepreneurship in Las Vegas. So, people are interested, but don’t have very many places to turn.

I’m currently buying a house in Las Vegas. My family and I are happy here and don’t really have any interest in moving somewhere else. So, I’m in it for the long haul. I’m really interested to see how entrepreneurship in Las Vegas will grow over time. Hopefully I can be part of that growth and support.

3 Keys to Blogging

January 18th, 2011

I’ve been discussing the concepts of blogging with a lot of people lately. As I discuss blogging, I think that being a successful blogger requires 3 key items. Ok, maybe I shouod define successful blogger. I’m talking about a well read blog that generates money for you. Of course there are other potential benefits to blogging. Sometimes it is just cathartic to write something down. Some people are just looking to network and raise their profile. These and other reasons to blog. However, the following are what I consider to be the 3 keys to building a successful blog that generates income for you.

1. Generate content.
2. Market the content you created.
3. Monetize the pageviews you’ve generated.

3 simple steps. Although there’s a lot more to each point. So, I’ll be covering each of the 3 areas in a future blog post.

Summary of 2010 Blog Posts on CrashUtah

December 31st, 2010

I found this really interesting WordPress plugin that summarizes the activity on your blog for the past year. Pretty cool. It’s not the perfect format with this theme, but you can still see the data. You can see I picked up my blogging regularity towards the end of the year. I expect this will continue in 2011.

In 2010 I wrote 36 posts and added 1 pages to this blog, with 3 attachments in total.

The number of posts in each month:

August:

  9 (25%)

September:

  6 (16.67%)

October:

  12 (33.33%)

November:

  10 (27.78%)

December:

  17 (47.22%)

The number of posts in each day of week:

Sunday:

  2 (5.56%)

Monday:

  8 (22.22%)

Tuesday:

  9 (25%)

Wednesday:

  7 (19.44%)

Thursday:

  11 (30.56%)

Friday:

  12 (33.33%)

Saturday:

  5 (13.89%)

At what hours I publish new posts:

0:

  1 (2.78%)

4:

  1 (2.78%)

6:

  4 (11.11%)

7:

  3 (8.33%)

8:

  6 (16.67%)

9:

  6 (16.67%)

10:

  3 (8.33%)

11:

  4 (11.11%)

12:

  3 (8.33%)

13:

  3 (8.33%)

14:

  2 (5.56%)

15:

  5 (13.89%)

16:

  2 (5.56%)

18:

  1 (2.78%)

19:

  1 (2.78%)

20:

  2 (5.56%)

21:

  2 (5.56%)

22:

  2 (5.56%)

23:

  3 (8.33%)

In 2010 the posts were commented 25 times, from which 6 comments (24 percent) were written by registered users/authors.

TOP 10 commenters in 2010:

  • John Lynn's Thoughts » Blog Archive » The Start of Something Great: 1 comments
  • tas: 1 comments
  • The Value of Local Events | JohnThoughts: 1 comments
  • Happy Labor Day | EMR and HIPAA: 1 comments
  • Smuggle Me » Shutting Down Smuggle Me…Mostly: 1 comments
  • Jeannie Pitt: 1 comments
  • Laura Giaimo: 1 comments
  • mason: 1 comments
  • Monetizing My Blogs | JohnThoughts: 1 comments
  • Heather in BC… & Beyond! » Hello Orlando!: 1 comments

TOP 10 most commented posts in 2010:

The number of comments in each month:

August:

  3 (12%)

September:

  9 (36%)

October:

  3 (12%)

November:

  6 (24%)

December:

  4 (16%)

On what days people comment:

Sunday:

  3 (12%)

Monday:

  1 (4%)

Tuesday:

  2 (8%)

Wednesday:

  10 (40%)

Thursday:

  4 (16%)

Friday:

  5 (20%)

At what hours people comment:

3:

  1 (4%)

6:

  3 (12%)

7:

  1 (4%)

8:

  1 (4%)

9:

  5 (20%)

10:

  1 (4%)

12:

  1 (4%)

13:

  2 (8%)

14:

  2 (8%)

15:

  2 (8%)

16:

  1 (4%)

17:

  1 (4%)

20:

  1 (4%)

21:

  2 (8%)

22:

  1 (4%)

Summary generated by 2010 Summary plugin by Tomasz Topa

The Value of Living Modestly

December 27th, 2010

I’m really glad that somehow I learned very early on in my life to live modestly. I think it’s a principle that has eternal value and many people underestimate its power. I honestly wouldn’t be able to be living the dream and being an entrepreneur in Las Vegas if it weren’t for this principle.

However, I think one of the best features of modesty is the perspective it gives you. When you live a modest lifestyle, then your “splurges” still only amount to what people think are normal. However, from your perspective they’re absolutely fantastic and appreciated. For example, Christmas can be 10 times sweeter at half the cost just by living modestly the rest of the year.

Some of these same principles apply to business. In business it is called boot strapping it or a lean startup or getting by with what’s needed. I’m sure that some times I take them too far. However, I think that generally these principles are great business. At least when you’re building web applications.

There’s something incredibly valuable to a web application to be given constraints on what you can and can’t do. These constraints force you to narrowly focus on what’s most important. It means you have to be completely focused on a specific goal and nail it. There’s not room for fluff and extras which don’t add value.

Living modestly in a startup means you have a longer run way to test out ideas and improve those ideas based on customer feedback. Obviously, once you start seeing traction and you’ve been able to refine your customer acquisition model, then you can apply the gas. However, until then keeping your burn rate low (living modestly) means that you’ll still have enough gas to get to the next gas station.

Although, don’t underestimate the long term value of a company whose DNA is living modestly either.

Wise Entrepreneurship Counsel

December 26th, 2010

“If you know what your customers need, deliver against that promise and provide a product or services that has economic value you’ll do well. Double-down on great people, process & IP.”

-Mark Suster in his blog post “In a Strong Wind Even Turkeys Can Fly

The Irony of Holiday Vacation Time

December 22nd, 2010

The other day my wife asked me how much time off I’d get for Christmas. I thought it was a really interesting question since I now just work for myself as a blogger in the evening and my sports fundraiser and boy scout fundraiser during the day.

As I think about a holiday vacation like Christmas, I think that most people split that time between family and some hobby. How many people have projects they’re working on that they’ve saved for their Christmas break from work? I know a lot of people who do this.

The question is, what do you do when your hobby is your job?

Makes for an interesting experience. Needless to say, I’ll be enjoying plenty of time with family for Christmas, but I’ll also be spending plenty of time working with my websites. Call it work if you want. I just call it enjoying my time off.

“If I Could Pay to Have That Feeling I Would”

December 21st, 2010

Ever since I read this post about open source motivations I’ve had a lot to think about. The post and some of the related posts were fascinating. However, I’ve been completely struck by a comment that Matt Mullenweg (founder of WordPress) put in the comments:

When I receive earnest or polite emails, I either forward them on or answer them myself. Most of these people are quite lost and probably don’t even realize my role in WordPress when emailing me. But the gratitude expressed and knowing I made the world just a little bit better for a little tiny moment is worth more than a few dollars worth of donations. In fact if I could pay to have that feeling I would.

The last line is completely fascinating. It resonates in a fantastic way. A few days ago, I tried to describe this feeling to someone who knows very little about computers and particularly open source. I used it in the context of helping a friend fix their computer problem. The blank stares on their face told me they didn’t quite get how I reached this point of discovery. Just says to me that these people I was talking to hadn’t tasted the joy of helping someone fix a problem that they couldn’t fix themselves. Often a problem which is incredibly simple for me, but heart breaking to the person having the problem.

I totally agree with Matt when he says…

“If I Could Pay to Have That Feeling I Would”

Chew on that for a little while.

I’m Such a Minimalist

December 11th, 2010

As I think about my use of various technologies I realize that I’m really a minimalist. I’m all about finding the easiest way to do something. For example, when I first started with Firefox plugins, I was installing things left and right. Quickly I realized that I didn’t want to have all those plugins installed. Plus, when it was time to upgrade Firefox, I was always afraid to upgrade since I wasn’t sure what impact that would have on all the plugins I’d installed. I quickly removed a whole bunch of plugins which sounded like a good idea and just left the ones that I used regularly.

When I started WordPress, it was a similar story. There were a ton of plugins to do all sorts of cool things with WordPress. I added one after another and loved a lot of the extra features. Then, it was time to update WordPress. Unfortunately, in the open source world not all the plugins get updated for the new version of WordPress like they should. So, this would mean that I would have to go through and test to make sure that when I upgraded WordPress, that my plugins would all still be working.

Yep, you can imagine that I quickly started removing the WordPress plugins that weren’t really adding any value to my life. Not to mention I moved to a number of more mainstream plugins which I was certain would be upgraded as WordPress released new software (ie. plugins from WordPress in many cases or plugins with enormous install bases). However, I still wanted as few plugins as possible. It was all about value.

This really goes on and on in my life. For example, as much as I love automation, I’d rather have a car that didn’t have all the bells and whistles. The more features it has, the more places it could break. When something breaks it takes me away from doing what I really want to be doing. Some people like fixing broken things (and there is some satisfaction doing so), but I prefer to create things.

This is why in so many aspects of my life I look at ways to minimize and simplify how I do things. Take a look at my blogs and you’ll see that their designs follow the same sort of pattern. It’s all about minimizing and simplifying.

Small Google Adsense Tweaks

December 7th, 2010

I’m a pretty big fan of Google Adsense. I know a lot of people hate it. Certainly there are things I hate about it too, but generally it’s been good to me. It brought me income when no one else would advertise. It still cuts me a nice check (electronic deposit) every month and so I’m thankful for that.

I think the thing I like most about Google Adsense as compared with directly selling ads myself is that the pressure is off me. I don’t have to have any relationship with the advertiser. I don’t have to worry about delivering quality results. Google mostly takes care of that. See my previous post about the pressure of making money blogging.

Certainly there’s still some pressure associated with Google Ads. You want to make sure that the ads are still monetizing well. You have to make sure you are still generating quality pageviews cause if that drops, your Google Adsense income will drop too. Of course, there’s also a bit of worry that the advertisers using Google Adwords will stop paying for ads that go on your site. Or to put it more bluntly…ads that were paying $5 eCPM will starting paying $0.50 eCPM. From my experience using Google Ads (about 8-9 years I think) the eCPM has almost always gone up and not down. Although for the most part it’s been stable for the niches I do. Other niches might be different.

Obviously, I have a lot to say about Google Ads. I guess that happens when you’ve been doing it as long as I have.

Today I spent a bit of time looking over my implementation and I found a couple really good ways to optimize the ads that I already had on my site. I’ve been doing this a little bit here and there for the past couple weeks. I think it started with the suggestion that I start using the standard/suggested ad size formats since supposedly there’s more ad inventory for those sizes. Makes sense that if there are more people with ads (higher demand) that the price would be higher for those clicks.

I made a really simple tweak to one of the ads from the previous standard banner ad size 468×60 (who came up with this size anyway?) and changed it to the 728×90 ad. So, actually it was a bigger ad as well as a switch to one of the IAB (or whatever the abbreviation is) standard size ads.

It’s still early to know the full results, but the reports are already looking promising. So much so that I rolled it out to 5 other sites that have a similar format.

Of course, the real motivation for me to write this is that it’s another reason that I love Google Adsense. I can spend an hour or two optimizing my ads and then I’ll continue to benefit from those small tweaks to the optimization for a long time to come.

In fact, it has the potential to do the opposite of what I mentioned above. It could take me from making $5 eCPM to $10 eCPM with only a couple hours effort. A lot of people don’t see websites as assets, but I do. Little tweaks like this are a great way to leverage the asset.