Saturday, 5 December 2009

Chess blogging

I have played chess for most of my life. In addition, I own about one hundred chess books and continuously buy new chess books. So it was quite easy decision for me to dedicate my latest niche blog to chess book reviews.

Writing about chess will certainly be more like writing a blog about my hobby rather than trying to earn any real money with it. After all, one should write about a topic one is really interested in and ready to put some energy for research.

If you are interested in chess, you should certainly check my latest book reviews at least occasionally. By choosing the right books for study, it is possible to rapidly improve as chess player.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Page ranked again

For some time, this blog was deemed by Google to be a supplemental page. This meant no page rank at all, and hence the page did barely get any visitors via Google.

I realized I had in all probability overdone the Amazon affiliate ads. I removed most of them, and after a couple of weeks I had the page rank 2. Nice. It seems all hope is not lost if one is willing to make necessary adjustments to a page that is considered as made for affiliate revenues only. Just remove most of the ads, and after some period of time you might have your page appear again in the search results.

I've been pretty lazy updating this blog. Make money online niche is overcrowded and it seems to be impossible to make money with a crap blog like this. But I have some even crappier blogs that make a dollar every day... So the niche must be chosen wisely for this kind of nonsense blogs.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Trying my luck in one more niche

It is difficult to find a niche that would be easy to conquer with a low maintenance blog. My latest try is a niche blog about universities of Finland. In addition to the universities, I have some information about the higher education in the country. If this proves to be a successful niche, it would be easy to transfer to other countries...

Friday, 8 May 2009

First orders from Amazon Associate Program

In addition to Google Adsense, I've tried to make money online with Amazon's Associate Program. I have not especially tried to optimize my blogs for making money with this or any other affiliate program which is probably the reason that the click rates are pretty low.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no way of analyzing from which web site or blog the customers came to the Amazon. In addition, most of the orders made from Amazon do not reveal whether the orders are made by Linux enthusiasts or chess enthusisasts. This makes it difficult to see how I could try to convert more readers to Amazon customers.

At the moment I try to build the Ruy Lopez blog to be a well optimized site for the keywords Ruy Lopez and Spanish opening (sorry for the links added here just for SEO reasons!). I hope that the niche is limited an uncompetitive enough to be able to advance the blog to the top of the Google pretty easily. Furthermore, I think that the chess enthusiasts might well be easy to convert to Amazon customers which would mean I can make more money with that site than for example with this blog. Well, it all remains to be seen...

Monday, 4 May 2009

A new niche where I'm active

I've not been very active in this niche blog during the last weeks. My studies have taken all my free time, so this moneymaking blog that does not make money at all has been the first to abandon.

Today I opened I new niche blog. This one is dedicated to chess books and Ruy Lopez opening. Just like in my other niche blogs, I try to make money by showing AdSense ads and linking to Amazon's affiliate program. I hope I will make at least a few bucks every week with this one.

At the moment I try to find a job for the summer vacation, but I seem to have no skills in marketing myself. I just have to continue writing content to these niche blogs. Maybe some day they make enough money that I can survive in the cold Finland.

Monday, 13 April 2009

SEO for Blogspot

Most of the Blogger templates are not very well designed when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). In fact, it is easy to spot even the most elementary mistakes if one bothers to open the template in the html view.

Thus, every blogger who wants to make money online should read some of the SEO guides available. It is not necessary to read any difficult theory or thick books, as there are some very simple to follow tutorials available on the Internet.

One of my favourites is the Complete SEO Guide for Blogger Templates. After reading the short tutorial, I was able to do some important tweaks in the templates I use.

I warmly recommend you to read the tutorial. If you, like me, use Blogger for your niche blogs you certainly should do the necessary tweaks to be sure that as many readers as possible can find their way to your blog.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Changes in Amazon Affiliate program

For some time, I've tried to make money with's affiliate program. The success has not been spectacular, as my readers have bothered to order only two books so far.

Now Amazon has decided to limit the associates' possibilities of making money with the program:
After careful review of how we are investing our advertising resources, we have made the decision to no longer pay referral fees to Associates who send users to,, or through keyword bidding and other paid search on Google, Yahoo, MSN, and other search engines, and their extended search networks. If you're not sure if this change affects you, please visit this page for FAQs.

As of May 1, 2009, Associates will not be paid referral fees for paid search traffic. Also, in connection with this change, as of May 1, 2009, Amazon will no longer make data feeds available to Associates for the purpose of sending users to the Amazon websites in the US or Canada via paid search.

As far as I understand, this means that the Amazon Associates are not allowed to use Google Ad program to get more readers and potential customers. It seems that the affiliate program has worked too well and Amazon wants to cut the referral payments down by limiting the monetization potential of the program.

I hope that we won't next read that search engine optimization (SEO) is forbidden, as well.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Full feeds or partial feeds, that's the question!

Many bloggers cannot decide whether they should publish full RSS or Atom feeds of the blog or not. During the last year, I have experimented with both partial and full feeds but I have not reached any final conclusions.

The arguments for both cases seem pretty valid. But let us analyse the case and the common arguments first.

Partial feeds are necessary

Many bloggers find that it is best to publish only partial feeds. It is difficult to monetize the feed as there are problems in adding AdSense ads to the feeds.

From this point of view, publishing full feeds causes less readers to return to the actual web site. Most of the readers use only feed readers and consequently they never click the ads. Because of this, it is not possible to get the highest possible AdSense revenues.

Content piracy

Some bloggers are afraid of content piracy. There is simply no way to stop people reusing the content you've created.

But on the other hand, it is almost as easy to recycle content even in case of partial feeds. Someone has even translated at least one article from my Linux blog to Chinese. Well, I'm quite happy with that as the guy linked the translation to my blog. In this way, I got some new readers from China.

Case for full feeds

It seems that publishing full feeds at least slightly reduced the number of AdSense clics in my other blogs. But on the other hand, only after I started to publish the feeds in full, the number of subscriptions really started to grow.

So if you have an idea about how to monetize the feeds in a way that is not dependent on AdSense, you might well see the publication of full feeds as the optimal strategy.

At the moment I try to make at least some bucks with Amazon Associate program by recommending books that can be bought from Amazon. So far, the sales have not been spectacular, but at least the affiliate program provides me a way to make some money with the feeds.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Collectibles provide great niches for bloggers!

If you are still thinking about the theme for your next niche blog, you might consider blogging about collectibles.

In many ways collectibles provide great themes for niche blogging. Usually people who collect things are very interested in reading all the possible information about their beloved objects. Furthermore, they are willing to pay for the items still missing in their collections.

If you already collect something you know what I mean. And in that case, you most probably know a lot about everything related to your collections. So you could probably start blogging right now.

There are even more reasons for blogging about collectibles. First, the collectibles lend themselves for writing in separate articles. In this way, you will be almost forced to write in a way that is already well optimized for the long tail searches using Google.

Second, if something is worth collecting, there are probably hundreds or thousands of different collectibles that can be written about. This means you won't run out of ideas for blog articles too soon.

Third, you can use the blog as a platform for starting an online store for the collectibles. This way you can make even more money in the niche.

Fourth, you can participate in affiliate programs for marketing for example books that are relevant to the hobby.

Fifth, in case you are interested in building a collection yourself, the blog is a great way to build contact with other people sharing similar interests.

Sixth, you could use the blog for marketing products on ebay.

The collectibles provide incredibly many niches you probably have never thought about. In one time or other, I have collected books or stamps. Already these two major themes could be divided into hundreds of mini niches. For example,

- A blog about German stamps
- A blog about stamps of the World War II
- A blog about Latin American stamps
- A blog about South East Asian stamps

Coins and paper money would, of course, provide possibilities for similar niches.

Some people collect Barbie dolls that can be extremely expensive today. And men of my generation might like to collect Nintendo's Game & Watch electronic games made in the 1980's. And there are probably more people collecting Swatch watches you can imagine.

Probably any of these niches would provide you with a theme that brings in more revenue than blogging about blogging or making money online.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Maximise the Minima Blogger Template

As I have written several times, Minima family is a very usable and clean family of Blogger templates that I have used with a few money making blogs.

It is not especially pretty but at least Minima Lefty gives a decent click rate when you put the Google Ads in the left column of the blog. In the ordinary Minima template the sidebar is on the right side which gives a less than perfect click rate.

If you are looking for something fancier, you might like to try Minibox. It is a three-column-hack of Minima, and I have used a slightly tweaked version of it with one blog.

More AdSense ready blogger templates based on Minima can be found in Mywebquestforu.

If you want to customize Minima to your own taste, you should read some of the tutorials that are available on Internet. For example, Tips for New Bloggers has a useful tutorial for tweaking Minima from the default two columns to a three-column-template.

At the moment, I test a four-column-template based on Minima. This provides plenty of slots where one can add AdSense ads and other marketing stuff like the Amazon product ads you see on the third column.

Another tutorial is provided by Blogger Buster, in the article A Cheat's Guide to Customising Blogger Templates. Those two articles should be more than enough to get you started in customizing the Minima blogger template to your taste.

More tips can be find in the Themes Wiki's section for Blogger. It is a nice introduction to blogger templates and you might well like to print the page for reading off-line. And if you want to do some more serious Blogger hacking, you'll find a nice collection of hacks in the

As you see, even the simple Minima can be customized to a great extent. Just try the different tweaks until you are happy with the result! And if you cannot find all the information you need by googling around or using the links above, you should seriously consider buying the Blogger handbook presented to the left.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

The best niche blogging articles by Doshdosh

Doshdosh is one of the few blogs that I can warmly recommend for anyone who is trying to make money online with blogging. Unfortunately, Doshdosh has not been updated very often during the last months. The blog archives, however, are full of gems that ought to be read by every blogger interested in tweaking the performance of her blog.

If you don't have a lot of time for reading all of the articles, start with these:
  1. How to Make Money Blogging: 7 Strategies to Help you Get Started Immediately
  2. An Introduction to Niche Blogging
  3. The Lazy or Smart Blogger’s Way to Create Content for Niche Blogs
  4. How to Create Your Own Niche Blogging Masterplan for Long Term Profit
  5. How to Choose the Right Blog Niche: A Simple Three-Step Method
These five articles are a really good introduction to profitable niche blogging. I have learned a lot by reading Doshdosh and I'm sure you will learn a lot as well.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Big money with brute force blogging

Brute force blogging can be the easiest way to make a decent living by blogging. A brute force blogger is not interested in having 50000 daily readers for the blog, she would rather have 100 low-maintenance blogs that each have 500 daily readers.

If each of these 100 blogs would bring 1 USD a day in AdSense revenues it would make 3000 USD every month. That would be a very nice income for most of the people, especially if one does not need eight hours every day for writing these blogs.

I suppose the best strategy to approach the brute force system would be to write very actively for each blog in the beginning. Probably 15 articles per month (each at least 300 words) would be enough to get the blog to the first page of the Google search for most niches in two or three months.

It is not too difficult to write this many articles in a day if one does not demand a very high quality from the articles. I suppose I have written most of the articles published in this blog in less than 10 hours.

This means that it would be quite possible to start five new niche blogs in a week and write enough content for the first month of each blog. After one month of blogging, the blogger would already have twenty niche blogs that have fresh material every second day.

It is true that this high productivity is possible only if the blogger has some previous knowledge on the topic or is willing to research the niche for some time before starting to blog. But it should be easy to create a series of articles based on any good book one reads about the topic of the niche blog.

After one has earned a decent position it is a lot easier to keep it than it was to conquer the Google. I have noticed that after getting to the top, it can be enough to post an article maybe once a week. So there is no need to create fresh unique content constantly on high level. With a little of luck, one of these 100 niche blogs might become a very popular blog that is worth quality content. In this way, tiny niche blogs can function as a playground where one can test ideas for different blogs.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Brute Force Niche Blogging

So far I have concentrated on writing about niche blogs that provide quality content and attempt to build a dedicated audience of readers who come back every day or week to read the latest blog article. In my opinion, this is the way everyone should blog. Internet is already full of crap that is not worth reading, and every day there are tens of thousands of new blogs that provide even more crap. Thus it becomes every day more and more difficult to find something that is really worth reading.

This is caused in part by brute force blogging. Brute force niche blogging is a method that is based on writing as many blogs as possible to tiny niches. The point is not to provide anything that is really worth reading or causes the casual reader to come back to the blog. The point is just to write enough content to have the blog up enough in the search results for the chosen keywords.

And when the blog finally gets visitors by Google, there is no point in continuing to write content for the blog more than what is absolutely necessary for keeping a decent page rank.

For brute force bloggers, the only thing that matters are AdSense revenues.

If there is too much informative and interesting content, the reader has no reason for clicking the ads. Because of this, brute force bloggers try to minimize the interesting content in order to maximise the ad clicks. The blogs are just considered websites that are made for AdSense, not for readers.

But to be honest, this is a very profitable practice when one tries to build a huge collection of low-maintenance web sites that provide the blogger with a small but steady revenue from AdSense.

I myself have several such miniblogs online, and the return for time invested is very good indeed. One just has to have an idea about what information people are searching for when they use Google. And if you write in any other language than English, you can probably just copy some profitable niche blog ideas that have been used by bloggers writing in English.

Try it, you might like it :-)

Friday, 13 March 2009

Niche Blogging Boredom

As I write this article, the blog has been available for two weeks. I still have not got a single visitor coming to the blog from Google. It will be interesting to see if the situation has changed when this article is published in the mid-March.

At the moment I write content for several niche blogs. The most popular of them has pretty good CTR of about 4 %. Furthermore, the AdSense clicks are usually pretty well priced, ranging from 20 cents to 1.5 USD. That blog will probably have its high season in April or May. After June the traffic will probably die almost completely for the rest of this year. Early in 2010 there will be again more readers - and then I will have most of the content ready for recycling.

I'm also trying my luck with a couple of more niche blogs written about business matters. In one of the blogs I just started I write about accounting. a theme with no competition in the language I write in. I chose the niche because of economic reasons: the average cost per click is pretty high in that niche. It will be interesting to see what happens in a couple of weeks when the blog hits Google results.

I have only written three articles for that blog during the last few days and already now I have a few regular readers. But they are not the readers I'm interested in -- I hope they don't read this blog :-)

What I'm trying to do is to get a great ranking with certain accounting-related keywords for the Google search. I target people who are getting into a small business and are searching for information about accounting. This way they might well click some of the very well targeted AdSense ads in the blogs.

I'll keep you informed about the success of this blog - the idea should be easily transferrable if you write in a language other than English. For English writers, the niche is too difficult to conquer.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Producing Niche Content Can Be Boring

If you don't like writing - and writing a lot - much, you should not even try to attack some of the more competitive niches without investing money for advertising the blog.

I don't have any money to invest in this blog, only my own labour. So I have to be ready to invest many hours in this niche by writing more and more articles that have meaningful content. Articles that solve problems that my readers have encountered. Otherwise I will never make it to the top of the search results. And if I don't make it to the top, I will never earn more than a few cents with this blog.

It is sometimes difficult to find any ideas for an article. There are, however, ways to get over this block.

One of my favourite ways has been to write articles well in advance. Whenever I get an idea that somehow relates to blogging about AdSense and niche blogging, I write a paragraph or two to be published after a few weeks. In the weeks between the first draft and publication, I will have plenty of time to redraft and rewrite the article.

In addition, I often write my ideas down in a separate file where I can later find forgotten ideas for blog postings. I have used the same method for developing all kinds of texts ranging from my MA thesis to a published book.

If I don't write my ideas immediately to some file I will forget the ideas sooner or later. Usually sooner. And then I would have lost yet another topic for some of my niche blogs.

Furthermore, mind maps are a wonderful device for building networks of topics that can be used for a series of blog articles.

A series of intertwining articles is always easier to write than, let us say, five articles that have completely different topic and logic. And if you write well enough, such a series of articles will make your reader come back. And that is what we blog authors want our readers to do.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Find More Time for Niche Blog and Books

A couple of days ago, I wrote about how spending too much time reading other people's blogs does not help you at all in creating your own blog. It is too easy just to comment other blogs, link to some articles and recycle the ubiqitous crap that internet is full of. My advice was: read books instead of blogs.

In addition to books, you should read magazines that are written about the topic of your blog. Only then will you know what really is being written about something and what is considered as interesting developments. It just is not enough to be satisfied with only Internet as source material.

Furthermore, you should read books about business.

Whatever you are writing about, remember that you are in the business of content production. And you have to market yourself and your writing to the consumers. If you forget that, your game is over.

So go back to your Marketing 101 books. And if you never studied marketing, you should start doing your homework right now.

If you don't have any idea about where to start, you could first read about guerilla marketing. And the best way to learn about guerilla marketing is to start with the man who invented the concept: Jay Conrad Levinson. Blog authors cannot market their blogs using big money, innovation and fresh ideas are needed for marketing without money. Buy the book and start learning about guerilla marketing!

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Choosing an AdSense Optimized Blogger Template

Now that I have kept this blog alive already for a few weeks, I hope there are already some regular readers (I write this three weeks before the day I have programmed this article to be published!). Thus I should at least now be thinking about changing the template from Minima Lefty to something fancier.

Or should I?

In fact I have started to like the template a lot. It is simple and clean, and it lets the reader concentrate on the content. And content should be the most important part of any blog, not the AdSense ads in the margins or between the articles.

On the other hand, if people find it too unattractive they might not bother to read even the first article. They would probably just return to the Google search results and move forward to the next hit. Bad for me. And for my readers.

There are many good templates that claim to be optimized for AdSense. At least they are designed to look good and they have nice places ready for ads. But are they really optimized in the sense that they give higher click-rates? So far I have not found any conclusive analysis or comparison made between different free blogger templates. And I do not intend to do such a time-consuming comparison at the moment myself. I need my time for other, more important things. Like for writing this and several other blogs.

Minima is a very functional theme and I value functionality very high. But do the readers see it in the same way? Does the blog just look plain and boring? Does it look (too) unprofessional?

If the template is too plain or unprofessional, the visitors to blog might just jump to the next Google result and not read a single article of the blog. In this case, they most probably will not click any ads either.

At the moment, I am testing Thisaway Blue. It is one of the default templates available in the Blogger. It's pretty simple but still a bit prettier than Minima.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Find Time for Your Profitable Niche Blog

Finding time is always difficult. It seems I have never enough time to do everything that needs to be done or that I want to do: to study, write, work, read and play chess.

One way to help me in having time for my blogs is to reduce time I spend reading other people's blogs. After reading blogs for several years, I have come to the conclusion that most of the blogs really are crap.

They are badly written, recycle same old information from blog to blog, using the same old emarketing tricks that have been written about in blogs, ebooks and printed books.

In fact, there are only a few really good blogs that I want to read: Dosh Dosh, Problogger and Zenhabits. Some good blogs are bubbling under the Top Three, but time waits for no one.

If you want to write your own blog, you have to concentrate on that fully. Don't read other people's blogs more than necessary. Reading blogs is really waste of time - except for the time spent reading my blog, of course!

I suggest that you read some good books instead. Books are the memory of the humankind, in books we have collected our private and common wisdom for centuries, even for millenia. By reading the classics you will probably learn a lot more interesting and useful stuff than by reading badly written blogs. You learn to write better, you learn about literature, economics, arts and the human nature. In fact, you will soon realize that Wikipedia really is nothing compared with a good library.

And there is one more pro for reading books: you find new ideas for your niche blog. As most of the bloggers just recycle news and other bloggers' ideas your blog will be refreshingly different when you have found some "new" information from printed books.

In this way, reading old dusty books helps you to become a better blogger.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Stop press! On the first page of Google results

It was a lot easier than I thought, as now this blog seems to be on top with the search words I thought would be a hard challenge:

- niche blogs with adsense
- income with adsense niche blogs

Now I have to try optimize my articles in the future for some more words that people might use when looking for information about blogging for AdSense revenues. I have already written several articles to be published during the next ten days, so it will be at least two weeks before I will move to a new theme.

During the last weeks, I've read quite a bit of ProBlogger, who has published many good articles during the time. It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, as Darren Rowse if anyone knows about professional blogging.

But as my blog seems to be climbing up the Google ladder, I have to start thinkin about the branding and positioning of my blog. Should I continue using Minima Lefty or start to use something fancier?

AdWords for AdSense Finds Profitable Niche Themes

I have to confess that when I launched my first blogs and my first web site I had not done any research regarding the price of different AdSense keywords in the niche. I wish I had learned about Keyword Tool earlier than I did!

AdWords Keyword Tool is a great tool for finding niche keywords. Actually it is meant for advertisers to help them to locate keywords for triggering their ads on different web pages. But as the tool shows the cost of click for different keywords and their combinations it can be used by web page authors as well.

For example, I noticed that my only self hosted blog targets a market that mostly triggers ads that cost 5 cents per click. Now it does not surprise me at all that I don't make a lot of money with that web site even if it has a decent number of dedicated followers and a pretty good percentage of them even click the ads.

Unfortunately for me, the theme of that page is so narrowly defined that it will be difficult to address any better paid keywords. But I will certainly try to add something to that blog knowing that even slight changes in the wording can potentially bring AdSense advertisements that have a much higher cost per click.

It will be interesting to see if this works well. Basically my idea is to add some names of local towns to the texts as my main market seems to offer much better prices when the adword is combined with the name of some town. The reason seems to be that the services advertised are rather local in nature.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Writing niche blog articles in advance

I have noticed that it is a good idea to write my blog ideas in advance. So I might have many articles written well before I seem to have run out of ideas. For example, this post is written about two weeks ago.

When I write my articles in advance, I can write in a batch mode. In this way the economies of scale work for me: it is easy to write several articles about intertwining themes that can be discussed in several articles that will be published maybe every second day.

If I wrote these articles with even a one day delay between, I might well forget some of the ideas I have got for my blog. But when I write many articles that share some basic idea or continue discussing a theme I wrote in an earlier article it is a lot easier to write the articles during one session.

Try it at least once!

As I use timer for publishing these articles, it is easy to publish the articles in a logical order and on certain days. I have decided to schedule the articles to be published every second day.

I doubt I would have enough material to write a daily article of at least 300 words. But this way I can produce articles that are long enough for Google optimizing and publish them in a stable schedule. And if I seem to run out of words with a certain article, I can always come back to it during the next week or two and add some more ideas in the article. No more hasty articles written just to get something new published today!

And if I write the articles in a batch mode, I can spend the next few days or the next week marketing my blog in different ways. I'll return to the theme of marketing the blog in the next days or weeks. Come back for more!

Just to make sure that you don't miss anything interesting in this blog, please bookmark this or subscribe to the feed!

Friday, 27 February 2009

My niche blog waits for Google and Adsense

Probably the most difficult part of being a successful niche blogger is caused by the sandbox effect. As no readers seem to find their way to the blog, many bloggers lose the faith in their blog. And losing faith in the project means failure: the blogger gets bored and does not trust that some day his/her blog will be on the top of the Google search results.

And when the trust is lost, the blogger does not write any more content for the blog. And when no new content appears on the site, it becomes even more probable that the blog will never make its way to the top of the niche.

The game is over.

But I've been there before. I did not lose my faith in the Lightweight Linux blog. Finally there were more than 100 daily readers. And before too long there were 200 and even 300 daily readers. Unfortunately, the niche is not especially profitable as the open source enthusiasts seem to be adverse to clicking on the ads.

I think it is important to try to find at least some readers before the Google starts to bring the masses to the blog.

This can be done by actively commenting other blogs and participating in discussion forums on the topic of the niche. This way at least some potential readers will find their way to the blog.

And if you for some time lose your interest in the blog, you can start yet another blog for which you have some fresh ideas. And when you have run out of the ideas for the second blog you might already have gotten something to write about for the first blog.

Diversification is an important concept of business strategy. When blogging this means simply that you should have several blogs on different topics. This way you can diversify your blog portfolio and you do not rely on only one blog as a possible source of income. If some blog does not make it to the top, you still have some other blogs in your portfolio.

Maybe one of your blogs will be the next big success in the blog world?

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Waiting for the AdSense revenues

According to the Google, it does not have any Sandbox. Most of the webmasters, however, seem to believe that there is a special sandbox for new web sites. Only after the web site is in a way mature it will be added to the Google search results.

It may well be, that Google does not have any special sandbox but the algorithms used by the search engine might well result in the sandbox effect. Anyway, this blog is probably still waiting in the line for several weeks before it hits the search engine's result pages. I suppose the AdSense starts to bring any decent amount of dollars only after I'm on the first page of the search results. If there are no readers, no one clicks the ads...

It seems the language used in a blog can very much effect on the delay before finding the blog in the search results. When blogging in Finnish, the blogs usually get first readers through Google in less than two weeks. With English blogs it takes at least weeks.

My Linux blog experienced its rise to the number one position for its keywords in several steps.

After a few weeks, my blog was to be found in the page 20 of the search results.

After some more weeks, it jumped to page five or six.

After about three months, I was in the bottom of the first page.

After half a year, Lightweight Linux was finally the number one for the search "lightweight linux".

Most of my articles in that blog were pretty short. This might have an effect on the slow rise to the top of the keywords that are not very competitive. It will probably be much more difficult with this blog but I intend to fight against the algorithms by providing more unique content and using longer articles that should have more keywords that I want to be found with.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Content, content, content or SEO, SEO, SEO?

There are basically two contesting views about how to write a niche blog. According to some, it is imperative to think only about search engine optimization. Others tend to think that "content is the king".

Three challenges of a niche blog: Content, content, content

As you probably have noticed from my earlier articles, I tend to see the content as the most important thing for finding readers for the blog. SEO can certainly make it easier for people to find the blog, but you need fresh, unique content to keep the customers coming back.

It just is not enough to have an optimized web page that nobody bothers to read.

Three challenges of a niche blog: SEO, SEO, SEO

In retailing business, the three most important things that affect the sales are location, location, and location. The store just hast to have a good location to make good sales. In a way, SEO is the same thing for any web site. You need an optimized web site to make business. But it is not enough.

Search engine optimization is both an art, a science, and a business. So far I have not read very widely in the literature about optimizing the web site but I think I have grasped the most important things like 300 words rule, using keywords in the site URL, article headers and bolded in the text. But I certainly have a lot to learn about SEO. But that is exactly one of my main reasons for starting this blog.

A few years ago, there were many important search engines. Most of them are nowadays forgotten as Google grows bigger and bigger. I very rarely get any visitors to my other blogs from other search engines like Altavista. And Altavista was in fact the big player in the last decade. The changes in Internet business environment are a lot faster than in the "real world", it seems.

Maybe I should in the future just use GO instead of SEO? If it really is Google that is the only thing that matters, we should probably speak and write about Google optimizing.

Google, content and SEO

In fact the three points (Google, content, and SEO) are intertwining. Good unique content is needed for SEO and Google. Otherwise I just don't get a decent page rank, a top ranking in the Google search results and most importantly, the customers stay away from the blog.

I need Customers. Without them I won't make any money.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Stop Press: New Font Options for AdSense

Until now, the bloggers have had little control over the appearance of AdSense ads in their blogs or other web sites. But now, Google has heard our prayers!

From now on, we can choose between three different fonts: Arial, Times and Verdana. These are available in languages using Latin fonts.

There are a few ways to customize the font used. It is possible to change the font settings for every ad unit that is generated from the user's account. If this is what you want, visit the 'Ad Display Preference' in the Account Settings to select a new font to be used in all the AdSense ads. The change will affect even the units created earlier.

See the official Google AdSense Blog for more information!

Friday, 20 February 2009

Adsense revenues with free niche blogs

At the moment my main business idea for this blog is to monetize it using AdSense banners. It might not be the most lucrative source of revenue but it is easy to use and Google as owner of both Blogger and AdSense has nothing against using AdSense on Blogspot blogs.

In fact, the combination of a free blog platform and advertising limits our search for possible ways of monetization somewhat. On one hand some free blog platforms like Wordpress do not accept any advertising on the freely hosted blogs. On the other hand, some advertising affiliate programs do not accept blogs that are published on free hosting services to join the program.

But AdSense and Blogspot combine well together. The Blogger menus for setting the layout of the blog even include AdSense widgets that are extremely easy to add to the blog with only a few clicks (blog layout -> monetize). Thus it is not at all surprising that AdSense is the most popular advertising program used by a growing amount of bloggers who use the Blogspot as the platform for blogging.

There are many other good reasons for the choice besides it being free to use. As it is one of the most popular platforms, there is a huge selection of free templates to use. The default selection of templates is pretty boring, but the Internet is full of nice themes that can be used with any Blogger blog.

So far I have used several different Blogger templates that are "AdSense ready". Some bloggers might argue that this does not mean anything, as any Blogger template can be used with AdSense code. But for those of us who are not html and css code wizards they certainly make the life of a webmaster easier. At least I have been pretty happy with several free adaptations of popular Wordpress themes.

On the other hand I have used the very plain Minima white on one of my most lucrative blogs. So it seems that even the plainest design can be used for a money-making niche blog as long as there are customers who are interested in the content of the blog. I think I will use Minima also with this blog at least in the beginning. Keep it simple, Stupid!

I will return later to the theme of blog branding when I myself have to start considering the branding and visual image of this blog. Even if I don't consider it as the most important part of successful blogging it certainly helps to have a well designed blog template that is designed with AdSense in mind.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Break the 300 word rule of SEO!

Not every blogger believes in the three hundred words' rule of search engine optimization (SEO). Following the rule might help you to get to the top of the Google search results or at least to some of the first pages. But just writing 300 word postings does not guarantee that the people who are searching for information actually find your blog worth reading.

In fact, there are some very famous bloggers who all the time break the 300 word rule. One of the most popular is Steve Pavlina whose web site I have followed for some time. Steve writes about personal development and the topic is very interesting. But Steve constantly breaks the advice of writing shorter postings, in fact, his articles are usually very long. They are more like articles written for a magazine than ordinary blog postings. This way, he makes it sure that his readers get enough for their time spent on the web site.

I am not sure if I can constantly keep my standards on a level as high as Steve Pavlina has kept for a long time. But I'll try to do my best in providing enough content that can satisfy the needs of my customers - that is the needs of my readers.

I suppose the main important point to remember is that one can break the 300 words rule by writing longer articles. But one should never be satisfied with short blog postings of 100 words. They just don't make it to the top of Google. In addition, short postings don't keep the readers on the site long enough to click through some Google AdSense advertising.

The point I made last is worth remembering. When one is trying to monetize a blog by using AdSense or some other advertising affiliate system one needs to keep the readers on the site as long as it is needed for them to turn their interest to the ads on the margins of the page.

Some might try to do the trick by MFA (made for AdSense) pages that have only little original content and as many AdSense widgets as possible. This way they encourage people to continue their surfing immediately by following the links given in advertisements.

But that is not the way I intend to follow in this blog. I want to offer my readers quality instead of crap.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Subscribe to my Niche Blog about Google AdSense!

If you are a first-time visitor, and considering the age of my blog you most probably are, you should subscribe to this blog.

It is quite easy to do by clicking the "Subscribe To" widget on the left hand column of this page. Doing this you make sure that you will not miss any update or any interesting bits of information.

Of course, you can use the traditional bookmarking, but do you really remember to visit all the bookmarked sites you have hiding somewhere in the menu of your web browser? If you are like me, you most probably forget the links and never visit the site again.

There are many good free applications for reading RSS and Atom feeds. Wikipedia has a nice list of different feed aggregators - you might very well have some aggregator already installed in your system.

If you don't want to (or cannot) install any new applications you can of course use web based aggregators. Google reader is a good example of them.

Do yourself a service and subscribe to this blog now. It is a win-win situation: you win by reading this blog regularly and I win new readers.

During the last year I have experimented a bit both with full feeds and partial feeds, feeds with AdSense and without AdSense, feeds using Sideburner and a lot more. I'll return to this theme later. If you subscribed to this blog, you cannot miss the later posts on this interesting topic!

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

300 Words or Quality Content for SEO?

Much has been written about the "300 words rule for SEO" during the last years. In short, it is usually adviced that bloggers and other content authors should write posts that have at least 300 words. This should be the optimum or at least the minimum for getting the web site a good ranking in the search engine results.

Three hundred words are not much especially when one writes in English. Every text has lots of "meaningless" words that do not carry any meaning that is used for web searches. With these meaningless words I mean for example articles ("a", "the"), prepositions ("in", "at", "of" etc.) and very common words like the verb "to be" ("is", "are" and so on).

I have not read anything very specific on this topic but I tend to think that as author I should concentrate on using words that have a meaning, words that add to the content of the blog. I doubt there is any point in just trying to make the articles longer by adding meaningless words to it. After all, what is the point of writing a blog? Is it just to make money by providing a platform for Google Adsense advertising? Or should I think my readers as customers who have needs that have to be addressed?

If I think my readers as my customers I have to provide them something that is worth reading. In my opinion this is best done by writing lengthy blog articles that have some point and answer the problems of my readers - or problems of my customers. If I think my readers as my customers I must concentrate on the quality of the service I provide. Only so will the customers return to the blog. Otherwise they will just read a few lines and never return back unless Google sends them here again with some new combination of search words.

Another point in providing quality content is the fact that even if I would not earn any high AdSense revenues I myself learn all the time. I learn about many things, not only about SEO, blogging or AdSense, but at least as importantly about writing in a foreign language. All of these are skills I can use elsewhere.

I am convinced that in order to keep my readers happy I have to be ready to work. Otherwise the blog is not worth reading. And at least as importantly I will not learn anything.

Monday, 16 February 2009

AdSense added to the blog, waiting for the revenue

I have written already six different, unique articles to this blog to be published during the next days. As I'm pretty sure that I will continue to add content to this blog even now that I decided to add the AdSense widgets to the blog. I made this decision a lot earlier than what I originally thought. At the end of the day, the idea of getting maybe 1 EUR a day more than now was the main reason for acting fast. It might have been clever, or it might not have been clever. But it's done :-)

The template I use is the very clean and basic Minima lefty. Minima lefty differs from the classic Minima template by using the sidebar on the left side instead of the right hand side in the Minima. Some readers of my other blog have complained that having the sidebar on the left makes it more difficult to read. On the other hand, according to Google the ads are clicked more often in the left sidebar than they would be clicked in the right column. So the choice is based only on the idea of profit-maximization. You might not like it, but I have to consider the money-making potential of the template.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes before any readers find their way to the blog. Furthermore, I'm very interested to see how high or low the click rate is in this rather competitive niche where the readers are aware of the fact that Google ads are paid ads that should bring some money to the publisher of the blog or web site.

I have read somewhere in the wide kingdom of the Internet that the people who read blogs on the niche "make money online" are among the worst possible readers when considering their willingness to click the AdSense ads. As I have already one blog where I write about open source operating systems and applications I cannot imagine that this niche would make even less money as AdSense revenues. But let us see what happens!

In the articles that are published during the next days, I will write about SEO (search engine optimization) and content as the king of GO (Google optimization). Please come back for more even more interesting articles!

Five-step plan for building a blog

You probably have noticed that so far I have not added any AdSense widgets to this blog. You might wonder why not? Why don't I try to earn some cash with ads from the beginning?

The answer is simple: at the moment there are no readers for this blog. So I think it is better for me to concentrate on providing content that will earn the site some credibility in the algorithms of the search engines. Only when I see that some people are actually finding their way to the blog, I will add the AdSense widgets to the margins of this blog.

Before adding the ads I have to decide which template I should use for this free Blogger blog. There are many good free templates that I have used. But at the moment I am not sure how I should brand this blog. The branding should be good and stable so that people would immediately recognise this blog and see the difference between this and thousands of other blogs that claim to have unique information about making money online with niche blogging or AdSense.

One might of course argue, that if I had the AdSense in place already now I would have higher motivation for building the readership of my blog from the first article. The few cents I would see in the Google AdSense reports would provide me a clear incentive for getting this blog to the top as fast as possible. I do not deny the logic behind this reasoning. As student of economics I would be one of the last to deny the importance of economic incentives for working harder. But I doubt money is the only incentive people work and write for. At least for me, the importance of learning is at least as important as money is.

With this blog, I plan to proceed in the following five steps:
  1. I create some unique content. The more the better, the more unique the better.
  2. I choose the template. This is an important step for branding the blog.
  3. I add the AdSense widgets.
  4. I start to build my readership aggressively by commenting other blogs and joining different discussion forums.
  5. I advertise the blog in my other blogs to find even more readers. For this, I might either use text links or add unique banners that look like paid advertising.

At the moment I'm clearly still climbing the first step. When I have proceeded to the step five, I might have ideas for the next five steps.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Niche Blogs with Google AdSense

Welcome to Niche Blogs with Google AdSense!

This blog is an experiment. I myself try to make some money online writing several blogs in Finnish and some in English. Unfortunately, I do not make more money than a few dollars a day. It seems I have to learn a lot more about creating low-maintenance websites, SEO and Google AdSense in order to be able to earn some decent income.

This blog is my learning experience. I try to get this up in the pretty competitive niche of money-making blogs. It is interesting to see how long it takes before Google ranks this blog and before it gets a decent ranking in the Google search results.

I have set myself some goals. Only a clear goal-setting can help me to see how far I have succeeded in this experiment. My goals are the following:
  1. First page for search "niche blog with adsense"
  2. First page for search "income with adsense niche blog"
  3. Make some decent money out of this blog
  4. Learn about SEO and building lucrative blog empire with niche blogging
  5. Learn about blogging about a competitive topic
In the beginning, I will not put much effort in the design of the blog as I doubt many readers will find their way to this blog before it gets indexed in the Google and gets a decent rating. That will probably mean a few months and at least 50 blog articles with a decent amount of niche keywords words in them.

Just to make sure that this blog will some day make its way out of the sandbox that Google has or might not have, I will submit this blog to the Google right after I have finished this article. I am not sure, however, if I should add links to this in some of my other blogs that I write about topics not directly related to making money online. But some of the 500 daily readers of my Linux blog (page rank 4/10) might, after all enjoy reading even this blog. I certainly have to think about mentioning this blog elsewhere.