How's that for a change of tune?

Just a few days ago I was moaning that making money from my blog made me feel dirty. Now look at the place! What’s a designer to do? Damn good question, and one I’m asking myself.

Here’s the truth. I’ve been reading so much about making money on the web at places like “work boxers”:http://www.workboxers.com and “proBlogger”:http://www.problogger.net that it’s gotten into my blood. This whole “make $100 a day” thing is really making me itch.

Not so much in a financial way, although that would be just fine, thank you very much. More in an intellectual way. It’s a puzzle that I’d like to try and solve. It’s an area of the web I know *nothing* about, and it would give me a handy tool in my “adding value to my design services” toolbox.

So, if the ads bother you, please let me know. The books I recommend are true recommendations. They do link to amazon, but if you enjoy reading me (you sicko), then you’ll enjoy my stuff.

I’m going to continue to tinker with the stylesheet, although that’s nothing new. If you come for a visit, and things looks screwy, it’s just because I’m playing with the live site. Keeps things interesting.

PF

Get on board, the train is pulling out…

I’ve just posted an article at The Prepared Mind about why designers should care about blogs. If you’d like to read it, please click “here”:http://www.thepreparedmind.com/pm/index.php/2005/04/14/does-blog-design-matter-why-you-should-care/. If not, let me summarize: you’d better care, or someone else will come along and steal your clients.

Making money from my blog, take 2

If you read my “post”:http://www.peterflaschner.com/index.php?id=76 the other day about blogging for bucks, you’ll know I have some reservations about the whole concept. I’ve been thinking long and hard about the whole labor of love vs the labor of labor angle on the argument, and have decided that I’m full of crap. The two are not mutually exclusive. Work done for the love of the process and the love of the finished piece is usually the most compelling work. Receiving compensation for that is not evil, and not wrong.

I continue to find the concept of running ten to fifteen blogs mercenary, but if one is able to provide that much quality content, who am I to pee on their parade?

So I’m hopping on the bandwagon, and the pee comment above is a perfect segue to introduce my new blog, “dadlog.com”:http://www.dadlog.com Over the course of my frequent trips around the web, I’ve noticed a gazillion *momblogs*, but very few *dadblogs*. What’s up with that? Don’t we dads have things to say? I know I sure do. As I say in the intro over there,

bq. I’m proud of my kids, and proud of myself for continuing to survive. I’m hoping that this site will help me find the humour in some of the crappier moments (pun fully intended).

In time, if the readership warrants it, I’ll start introducing adwords. The purpose of the site is not solely to make a buck. I’ve found the process of writing this site to be incredibly stimulating. Read any book on creativity, and it will tell you “write everyday”. What do you know? They’re on to something. I find that I’m more aware of my environment, more keenly tuned in to design, and more *on* than I’ve been before. I attribute this to blogging. I’m hoping the same kind of open-eyed awareness will come my parenting. We’ll see.

You’ll also notice a couple of changes to Almost Cool coming up. I’m going to be adding a section called “tool box” that will contain links to all the scripts, plugins, and other tricks that I use on a regular basis. The point here is to try to add some extra value to the site. As I say in the sidebar, I’ve learned just about everything I know about web design from bloggers. This will act as a central depository for the best of the best.

I’m also going to expand and rename the media section to “recommendations”. I’ll be writing more reviews of books, audiobooks, and music. If you happen to decide to buy one of my recommended titles, you’ll have the option of being taken directly to amazon or audible to complete your purchase. As an affiliate, I’ll get a small kickback. I make a sincere promise to you that I will never, ever recommend something I do not truly believe to be worth your bucks.

I get the feeling that you’ll be seeing a bit more from me as I launch this new site, rather than less. Blogging is like a drug; the more I do it, the more I want to write.

//Edit: I’m without a pc at the moment. Would one of you kind souls take a look at “dadlog”:http://www.dadlog.com with ie6 and tell me if it looks broken? “Here’s”:http://www.dadlog.com/images/screenshot.jpg a link to a screen shot from firefox. – Thanks!

Making money from my blog makes me feel dirty

This is a tricky topic, and one that may well come back to bite me in the ass. Today, via ProBlogger, I read about the “$100 a day challenge”:http://www.websitenights.com/ The idea being to take any blog, whether new or existing, and take it from a “regular” blog into a money making machine within 12 weeks. This makes me feel a couple of things:
# a bit queasy
# a bit jealous
# a bit more jealous

Let’s look at the queasy bit first. From what I can tell, the participants in the challenge are all using a combination of adsense and affiliate linking to earn their bucks. This doesn’t sit right for two reasons. First, the affiliate scheme involves making recommendations, and earning a percentage for each closed sale. I’m doing this with the audible link (which, to date, has earned me a grand total of *bubkas*). Knowing human nature as I do, I’m worried that the participants will be driven to make improper recomendations due to the self imposed time limit. I’m sure people do this all the time, but I’m an idealist, and foolishly continue to give credit where its probably not due.

Second, there’s something cold and mercenary about the whole thing. Most of the participants talked about setting up 10 or 15 blogs as quickly as they could. *Ten or fifteen blogs?* I guess I believe that a blog should be a labor of love. Again, strike me down for being the idealist I am. I know I should judge not…

As for the jealousy aspect, that’s quite easy. I’d like an extra $3000 a month. I’d like it very much. I have a plan in the works to turn a blog into a business, but not and ad or product driven business. Am I being naive? Should I be installing adsense on Almost Cool? Am I only cheating myself?

I’m going to go and think about this over a nice italian pannini…

How to be honest

Somebody over at “blogthenticity”:http://blogthenticity.com/2005/04/09/33-ways-to-enhance-blog-credibility/ has been reading my mind. Click the link above for a great article called 33 ways to enhance blog credibility.

I’ve started a new venture recently, that I’ll be telling you more about over the coming days. There’s a new site in the works, a book underway, and a billion and a half ideas waiting to come to life. The working title of the book is _How to be Honest: A practical guide to business blogs_ There’s much to decide yet about form and format, but I can tell you the content will be fast paced and witty, with practical, easy to follow instructions and rules.

This is my first book, and I’m very excited about it. I’ll share my process with you, and encourage you to share any tips or tricks you may have with me! Stay tuned…

Why the 97?

hundredth monkey book cover

Ok, do we all remember the heart warming cold-war story of The Hundredth Monkey? For those who are too young or too old, the premise of the story is that once a certain percentage of a population learns a lesson (in this case, one hundred monkeys), the whole of the population spontaneously shares the knowlege. I am the 97th monkey. I am not the first monkey, nor the 10th, but I am in that lead group, albeit at the tail end. Hence, almost cool.

If you read me with any regularity, you’ll know I have a propensity for overusing the word ‘power’. This paragraph will be no exception. I think being the 97th monkey puts me in a pretty powerful position. If I know all the other monkeys are going to start washing their potatoes soon, I can set up a potato washing service before the market gets saturated. See what I mean?

I’ve ignored this gut sense far too many times. This blog is my attempt to stake out a bit of territory, and establish myself as an expert in a narrow field before the field becomes too cluttered. My chosen field is a hybrid of graphic design and marketing, with an emphasis on personal connection between a business and its customers.

So that’s what the 97 is all about. Clear?

The power of recommended links

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know my thinking about blogging and business goes like this:

_Readers form personal relationships with the bloggers they read on an ongoing basis. By leveraging this relationship in a non-evil way, companies can benefit through increased loyalty, more frequent purchases, and a growing legion of customer advocates._

It’s this last segment that has been on my brain lately. Back in marketing school, we learned that a satisfied customer will tell 2-3 friends or family members about their experience, while a dissatisfied customer will tell 8-10 _aquaintances_. I have no proof to back these numbers, but experience tells me they feel about right.

We don’t need to go into how easily negative feedback can spread online; it’s pretty obvious. What is important though is how the difference between the 2-3 and 8-10 gets flattened. If I blog about my great experience at store X, I’m telling as many people as I would if I was complaining. So my good news broadcast, if you will, has expanded dramatically.

More interesting though is the weight that regular readers will give to that recommendation. This hinges on the reader-writer relationship I keep harping on about. In reading your blog, I’ve come to know something about you, and I have subconsciously invited you into my “intimates” group. This group also includes family, friends and almost-friends (those aquaintances I have some connection with).

When you make a recommendation, either explicity or via a link, I give that recommendation more weight than if were from a total stranger or an organization. *Finally then, we get to the point:* links and recommendations are very powerful marketing tools.

I can hear a collective *duh!* But wait a few minutes and let it sink in. If you recognize the power of links, you can take advantage of them (again, in a non-evil way) to your benefit.

So how can a company benefit from this deep wisdom? Ask your customers to link to you. Whoa. Crazy, huh? Seriously, if you’re an accountant, and you run doingyourtaxes.com, be boldly upfront and tell your customers “I really value my customers and am very appreciative of your recommendations. If you find my services valuable, please link back to me.” Don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for honesty.

More soon.

Stats packages

Ok smarty pants bloggers, I have a question for you: I’m using “shortstat”:http://www.shauninman.com/mentary/past/shortstat_poll.php to measure my site stats, but I get the feeling I’m not really seeing how many people read the site.

Shortstat gives me a number of unique visitors per day, say 1000. It also give me a hit number (which I know is different than visitors, so back off!) for each page viewed to date. The third most popular page is my rss feed, with something like 95% of the hits of the index page. Soooo, the question is (or rather are):’

# does shortstat include hits to the rss page as visitors? I don’t think so, but…

# do these numbers mean that there are possibly another 95% of total visitors reading the rss feed?

Thanks. Feel free to use the sorely underused comments, or send me an “email”:mailto:peter@flashlightdesign.com

Comment form fixed

The comment form had recently been re-styled. In the process, I broke it, and didn’t notice until recently. It’s now working again, so if you feel like leaving a note, please do.