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I read a fair deal. Well, that is when I have time. When I don’t have time I listen to book on tape on my commute. I might be a little old school but I haven’t switched over to podcasts yet. I’ve found navigation on podcasts apps to just be off putting. I try to make things easier by downloading the podcast but then when I’m done with it, there isn’t (at least there isn’t that I’ve found) an easy way to delete the one I’ve just finished and download the next one in order
Anyway, enough whining about the podcast app and onto my book review: Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness. Nudge was written by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein, published back in 2008. I’ve listened to it on audio a couple of times. I don’t like book reviews that don’t get to the point, so here’s mine: If you are any way responsible for influencing other peoples’ decisions, then this book is definitely worth the read.
In short, Nudge is a strategy for helping people make better choices. The tricky bit is who gets to decide what “better” means. Many of us are what the authors call “choice architects.” A choice architect is anyone who is orchestrating a situation where another person has to make a decision. This can be official and complex like a human resource person setting up a benefits package selection or very simple and personal, for example offering up options for selection which restaurant to meet in. It turns out that how and in which order you layout options dramatically influence the final choice.
The authors Paternal Libertarian. That is, they believe the institutions have the right and responsibility to influence choices but defend the right of the individual to override the institutional choice. Sort of a maximum choice but we think this is the right one for you sort of situation.
The book reviews a number of biases that humans use in their decision-making process. A couple of the most important ones are “status quo bias” and “herd mentality.” A status quo bias simply means the tendency for people to continue doing what they have been doing, regardless of the situation has changed. Sort of a mental inertia. A great example…..at least for us older people….is the old record club. Sure, you do get 11 albums…long play even….for a penny as long as you agree to the monthly delivery. Enough of the people who sign up for that initial amazing deal forget to cancel their payment each month to make it profitable for the companies to continue to offer this huge loss leader. Herd mentality is where people tend to take the most popular choice….the same as everyone else…..regardless of their personal opinion. In a Nudge situation, this could be offering two choices: A and B. Then putting the words “Most popular” behind the choice you wish the decider to make.
The book is a little overly long in my opinion but definitely worth the read.
For the first thirty days of August, I did a blogging challenge where I was going to aim for 1000 unique visitors by blogging two to three times a week plus using as many blog traffic generating ideas as I could. In the three areas of evaluation (sorry, I’m writing my class and the marketing professor side of me is very close to the surface) how did I do; namely results, effort and learning.
How did I do in terms of results? My intended results was generating enough blog traffic to raise my normal 30 to 50 unique visitors to 1000 visitors. I missed by goal. I did hit 745. That is an increase of around 20 times. I’m pretty pleased with a 2000% increase in one month. According to my Google Adwords dashboard, 600 of those visitors were from SEM (Search Engine Marketing) that I started about half way through. Because cents per click is so low in India and there are so many English speaking people in India, the majority of my SEM visitors came from India. In fact, 70% of my total traffic came from India.
I don’t know if many of my new Indian friends will become repeat readers. I hope they do. If anyone from India is reading this, leave a comment. I’d love to make a connection. I’m concerned that a lot of that traffic was one and done though. I say this because I also picked up around 30 followers over the month. In WordPress, I’m able to see who followed me and who liked my posts…….at least, I can see WordPress people who have done either of those. I did go visit their sites if they had one. Based on their names, pictures and content, I don’t think the fellow bloggers who followed my site were from India. There is one new follower from Ghana, which is great.
I think I may have recently been reevaluated by the spiders (programs that “crawl” around the internet, evaluating websites). I’ve read that it takes up to a month for a spider to visit or revisit your site. A week ago, I had one visitor that the WordPress stats said came from Search Engines. I’ve had 20 visitors from search engines today alone and 64 this week. Definitely something has changed. Assuming I’m correct, that will pay blog traffic dividends for a long time. As long as I don’t slack off with my posting again, I should be able to maintain a better page rank in SERP (Search Engine Page Rank).
I did earn 3 cents for my efforts. I had never turned on advertising on my blog. The blog really wasn’t about making money. About a week ago, I set up paypal, turned on advertising and boy the copper came rolling in…….three times. I did set up affiliate marketing for my blog as well and even posted once about a WordPress 20% off offer. It’s over now I think. Setting up both advertising and affiliate marketing (at least, setting up WordPress affiliate marketing within WordPress) was very easy. I made no efforts to work either of them. I was just evaluating the process.
How did I do in terms of effort? My goal was 15 posts and I hit 14 during my 30 days. This post will make it 15……..that’s kind of cheating a little bit but I’m ok with it. Overall, the amount of effort to write a blog post every other day is not something sustainable for me……I think. There is something very therapeutic about writing, even though I’m not writing about anything personal. It does feel really good to get words on a “page” though, especially now that more people are actually reading those words.
I also spent time nearly every day trying to engage with other bloggers. I commented on their blogs. I liked their posts. I even tried sharing some of their posts. I definitely have something wrong with my set up of WordPress. When I tried sharing another person’s blog posts directly, it came up blank in my blog. Going forward, I can work around that simply by writing a very short post and encouraging people to go visit the other blog. Not a terrible work around and probably a little more intellectually honest. That effort isn’t sustainable for me. I do enjoy reading other blogs and I have learned a lot from them but, for me, continuing to engage with other bloggers will have to be more on a “as the content demands” basis. That is, I won’t go surfing for the sake of surfing. When I’m interested in learning about something, I’ll go find someone who’s been there already and has something to say.
One thing I did not do was to try to get other bloggers to backlink to me. Backlinking is simply having another blogger or website link to something on your blog or website. There are a number of tools out there that will help you evaluate another website’s authority and traffic. Your page rank goes up when higher authority sites link to you, driving more blog traffic through search engines. I don’t know. It felt kind of off to me for this project. I do plan on continuing with the blog now but I wasn’t sure about it even two weeks ago. If you are looking at your blog as an ongoing concern and want to truly drive traffic, do seek out backlinks. The process is pretty simple. Search for other websites, blogs in your area by simply searching your key words. Those that are near the top of SERP are the ones you want. Reach out the blogger or website administer, telling them how much you enjoyed their content and how your content is relevant to theirs. Ask for them to link to something specific on your site……..and repeat.
How did I do in terms of learning? Here I can say that this challenge was an unqualified success. I learned a lot of very useful SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tactics that are easy to use. For example, the way I think is to start with the category and then clarify with more detail. Therefore, my blog posts were in the form of “30 Day Blogging Challenge – Three Things I Learned About SEM”. That format doesn’t do anything for most readers or for the internet spiders. Now, my blog post titles are in the form of “Three Things I Learned About SEM – 30 Day Blogging Challenge.” Both human and bot prefer that layout.
I also have modified my writing a bit. It is very natural for me to speak in a little bit of a short hand. For example, when once I state in the blog post that this post is about generating blog traffic, I then simply say “traffic” for most of the rest of the post. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work very well for SEO. Now, I work very hard to cut out a lot of pronouns and to be more precise in my writing. If I am talking about generating blog traffic, I’m going to say generating blog traffic……not just traffic or even generating traffic. It is a good idea to mix up those terms a bit, so I can say generating traffic for a blog or blogging to generate traffic, but you want to use all the key words as frequently as you can without making it a boring read.
I’m still torn about length of posts. I think my natural writing and reading style prefers posts under a 1000 words. 90% of what I read suggests that word counts over 2000 words is more friendly for SEO. I’m trying. I think we are at around 1300 words right now. We’ll hit, maybe, 1500 words before I’m done. My issue is that if I have to hit 2000 to 3000 words every post, I’m likely to post less. I’m concerned that maintaining a higher frequency is also important. Therefore, I make an effort to expand my posts without making them annoying to write or unpleasant to read. Hey, if you are still reading 1300 words in, leave a comment. Let me know.
The point of this entire challenge wasn’t to generate blog traffic……that was just a numerical goal to aim towards. The point was to understand if this was a good assignment for my students. I think it is……just not over 30 days. As an assignment over the course of a semester, I think it would be a good learning exercise. I can work in a lot of traditional marketing topics as well as digital marketing. I’m not going to assign it for this fall though. Maybe in the spring.
I started this blog challenge with the stated goal of generating blog traffic of 1000 unique visitors in 30 days. That would be a 30 fold increase over the several months prior. The real goal, however, was to try out blogging as a valid homework assignment for my upcoming class of Foundation of Marketing…..as a semester long project. It doesn’t look like I’m going to hit the thousand unique visitor goal but I this has been an incredible experiment. I didn’t hit the numerical goal but I definitely hit the learning goal.
Let’s talk numbers first. My blog had been averaging 30 or so unique visitors a month……which is actually impressive since I only posted once this year. Right now, August’s traffic is at 666 unique visitors…….yeah really but with your visit, I’m at least up to 667. I went from 1 blog post in the prior seven months to 13 in August. Honestly, I don’t think that is a rate that I can maintain. Good for a scrum activity to build content but I simply don’t have that much to say. Going forward, I think I’ll maintain a one to two post a week cadence.
Where did all of these visitors come from? Well the majority came from search engine marketing, also known as SEM, also known (in this case) as Google Adwords. There are a lot of ways to do SEM, Google Adwords is probably one of the easiest for a newbie blogger. Many blog hosting platforms are already set up to work seamlessly with Google Adwords. Several even offer credit for your first ad. WordPress, my platform for example, offered $125 free advertising with a minimum spend of $25. That beats a BOGO offer……by a lot. I wasn’t expecting much out of SEM, to be honest. My experience has been that you pay around $2 a click…..$150 total spend (my money plus Googles) at $2 a click…..I figured SEM would generate around 75 visitors to the blog. Oh man, was I wrong? I didn’t realize that the cost per click in India was so low…..around $0.07 a click. As of last night, SEM generated blog traffic just below 600 visitors in about a week with a spend of only $40. Most of my visitors are from India but they are engaging in the blog as well as visitors from other sources and countries….at least as measured in page visits per visitor. The visitors from India don’t seem to be too willing to click like or hit share or even comment. Hey, if you are from India, you are welcome to break the trend and leave a comment. Let me know you’ve been here.
So 90% of the traffic generated was from SEM. That’s great on one level. It well exceeded my expectations and will help my SERP rankings a bit, as long as I keep advertising. I don’t have any expectation that I’ll keep advertising though, since I don’t have any way of making money on my blog other than advertising……which isn’t very lucrative. (I’ve spent $40 in SEM and I earned $0.03 in advertising fees. I do have one affiliate marketing post where I signed up for affiliate marketing for WordPress and put up an offer of 20% off this month. That was the only reference to affiliate marketing BTW and no takers.
Where did the other 60 or so visitors come from? The next three sources of blog traffic were from LinkedIn, WordPress reading area and Facebook. I don’t really use Facebook but I have a lot of connections on LinkedIn. I’m not really a Linked In Open Networker (Lion) but I’m pretty free with gathering links. This blog has also been around so I do have a few followers. I think, though, that the traffic that came in through WordPress was probably more due to the interactions I had with other bloggers. I’ve read more blogs in the last month than I have in the last year…..probably longer. Whenever I read a blog, if I had anything that even remotely contributed to their post, I added it in the comments. Leaving comments behind does leave a link behind but I believe that the biggest lift I got was from the bloggers themselves checking me out. That is not a scalable activity though. Sure, I spent an hour or so a day interacting with other bloggers which got me dozens of visits but there is no way I could have invested the time to turn that dozens into thousands. There is simply not enough hours in the day.
Anyway, my blog’s “day” ends at 9 PM eastern time……..at least it does according to where the traffic stats are assigned……I have no idea why. So just over a full day left and I’m over 300 visitors away. Unless you go on a massive sharing, liking, commenting binge on my blog and blog posts, I’m not making it. I might report in one more time tomorrow but I’ll give a full reporting on Saturday.
Oh, BTW, I’ve decided to NOT assign this to my incoming fall class. I’m going to blog at a weekly rate (or twice a week) over the course of the fall semester. I’m sure I’ll learn a whole lot more over the next four months. Assuming that I’ll teach again in the spring semester, I might assign the blog to them.
Why do people blog? Well, there are a lot of reasons. To connect. To create. To express……..TO MAKE MONEY. I have no idea how many people are into blogging purely, or even largely, to make money but let’s not ignore that motivation. It would be unfair to my class to ignore this aspect of the blogging world. It isn’t all about driving traffic……..well, even the money makers need traffic to make money.
I did try to google how many bloggers make money, because I can’t believe it is very many of them……ah……us. There are just too many of us blogging and too many of us are not consistent. And since income from blogging is frequently related to generating blogging traffic, I have a hard time believing inconsistent blogs are generating traffic. Additionally, I am a student of human motivation. If you were making money by blogging, and I mean making a reasonably large amount of money blogging then you are more likely to be a consistent blogger. At least, that makes sense to me.
I couldn’t find any believable statistics on bloggers making money from blogging. I suspect is it a lot like MLM, i.e. Multi-Level Marketing……i.e. Avon, Sentsy and PartyLite…where there are a few who make a lot of many and then there are the many to make nothing or just above nothing.
During this 30 Blogging Challenge, I have moved up a rung in the money making from a blog ladder. I have official moved up from being one of the (I suspect) many bloggers who have made nothing from either blog to a blogger who has made just above nothing from their blog.
That’s a whole one penny made from blogging. It is my first and very special to me. I never had advertising turned on……well, I thought I did but I didn’t actually set it up correctly. I never cared because the blog wasn’t about making money and I didn’t do much to generate blog traffic. I do have to admit that it feels really nice.
My traffic yesterday was from a huge boost in SEM traffic. I had increased my daily budget, as well as expanded my geographic reach to include India. I went from 2 unique visitors on Friday to over 50 on Saturday based, almost entirely, on adwords results. How much did it cost me to bring in those 50+ people? $3.42. So to generate enough blog traffic to earn $0.01, it cost me $3.42!!!! That isn’t a formula for success that I can scale…….at least, not without taking a second mortgage.
Earning income from blogging comes from several different sources and advertising isn’t one of the most profitable. It is really easy though. At least to make $0.01, it is easy. It probably isn’t as easy to make $10,000 a month from advertising though. I believe that most of the blogging income comes from either selling access or selling information. A lot of the profitable blogs earn the majority of income by selling eBooks or training…….ironically a lot of them are about how to make money blogging. Yup, just like MLM.
Another major way for earning an income from blogging, i.e. turning the blog traffic you generated into blogging income is through affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is basically becoming a referral service. You refer your blogging traffic from your blog to another blog or website that is selling something. WordPress makes it very easy. Once you have a blog, just sign up from your dashboard. They will post available affiliate marketing links. Run a post……or a lot of posts about whatever they are selling. Include a special link that they provide to you that will allow them to track back any purchases to your blog. Then you get money for every purchase. Keep in mind that you normally only get paid if someone actually clicks on your link and then BUYS something. You don’t get paid just for traffic.
This is my first affiliate blog post. Note that I’m not doing most of I would be doing if my goal was actually to make money on the affiliate program with this post. For example, I’ve buried the offer deep within the post and I’m only posting about it once. I’m not specifically making any effort to promote this specific post either. So, what am I (actually wordpress) offering?
20% off a WordPress plan by using promo code DISCOUNT20 when you click here. Oh, by the way, this discount is only good through August 31st. And that is affiliate marketing. I’ll let you know how it works. By the way, WordPress sent me an email alerting me to the discount. There are other available affiliate programs available but they don’t currently have a discount……I figured everyone loves a sale.
30 Day Blogging Challenge Update: We are up to 342 unique visitors this month as of this moment. That is up from around 30 unique visitors that I would have had on this blog without the challenge. This weekend, I changed my SEM (my adwords account) to include UK, Greenland and India and increased my daily budget. The impact was immediate and huge.
Literally within 15 minutes of making those changes, my blog traffic shot through the roof. Where I was struggling to get 20 people a day, in 15 minutes, I had over 50 people from India. Namaste. I actually turned my daily amount down again in the budget tool, which killed my traffic for the rest of the day. I was concerned that I was going to blow through my budget in a few minutes. I turned up the budget again this morning and I had 80 people from India come visit. Since my blog has nothing to do with geographic relevance, it doesn’t matter to me if they are from Ghana, India or Toledo.
Hey, at this rate, maybe I’ll make $0.02 today.
Please give a like and share this post if you like the material, want to see where this challenge goes or just simply want to support the cause. Don’t forget to follow the blog.
Ghana is a land of 30 million people on the ivory coast in Africa. They have a growing blended digital and industrial based economy. They’ve launched a satellite in 2017 and apparently they are huge fans of my blog. Here’s a shout out to my Ghanaian readers…….OK, I had to lookup “Ghanaian.” At least, that’s what happened after I started using Adwords in an attempt to drive blog traffic.
I’ve been watching the region my traffic has been coming from. Last year, the majority of my traffic came from the US and Canada. Makes sense. I’m in the US, writing in English and most of my contacts are either US or Canadian. When I assigned myself this challenge to generate more blog traffic, I started seeing a spike in traffic from India. OK, I thought. I have my blogged linked directly with my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. I have friends and associates from India. Huge population. Lots of English speakers…..ok, maybe I was picking up readers from their contacts. If so, welcome. Happy to have you. Everyone, whether you are from Ghana or India or U.S.A. or anywhere else, leave a comment with your country name. It would be very interesting to see whether your comments match with the blog statistics.
I started using Adwords to drive traffic, suddenly Ghana became a top source of traffic for me. On my ad, I did specifically include U.S. and Canada as my target regions. Unfortunately, I only have the “premium” WordPress account and can’t install Google Analytics. Therefore, I can’t tell specifically if my Ghanaian traffic is coming from the ad or not but the coincidence is pretty significant. Now that I’m putting my words down in the blog, I’m not sure why I limited advertising to just US and Canada. If there is an English speaker in the middle of Asia who wants to read my blog, please do.
Just to see what happens to my blog traffic, I just went into Adwords and added United Kingdom, Australia and India. Just in case the U.S. does buy it, I added Greenland too. Having your country sold out from under you can be a bit disconcerting, so I want to be especially welcoming to any Greenlanders reading.
I’ll report back in a few days to if any insights. Oh, I almost forgot. My adwords budgets was only $5 a day for a month. I’ve increased that to $20 a day. I figure I’ll leave it there for a few days. I’m still trying to get as many unique visitors within my 30 day challenge, although at this point to hit my 1000 visitor target, I’m going to need 700 people to suddenly find me on the last day. Hey, please help out, if you can. Hit the like and share buttons. Who knows, maybe you know someone in Ghana who has not yet discovered my blog.
30 Day blogging Challenge Update: This has been a great experience already and I still have a week to go. I’ve had over 200 unique visitors this month already…..not bad considering that I only averaged 50 or so a month for the last year. Admittedly, I think I only posted two or three times this calendar year before I started the challenge. Actually, I just checked. I only posted once this year. It was a nice little post that got a little spike in traffic and a lot (for me) of likes. Please check it out if you are interested. It has been a lot of effort, just for an additional 150 people but I do think it will have a lasting impact, should I choose to continue posting.
At this point, I think once the challenge is over, I’ll keep posting around one post a week. My new niche, as wide as it is, will be posting about the content I’m presenting to my Foundations of Marketing class. I have to prepare for them each week anyway, so I can put together a few hundred words about the topic of the week pretty easily.
I’ve read a lot about SEO this month and I’m still unsure. Is it better to post frequently with smaller posts or to post less frequently but with longer posts? For example, if you are going to write 2000 words a week, then are you better off writing once a week a 2000 word post or writing four times a week with 500 word posts? I’ve read that the SEO spiders like the longer posts better and you can get a better SERP page ranking for your post with a post of, at least, 2000 words. On the other hand, the smaller posts are quick reads. Easier to maintain a regular schedule and each post has a chance to connect with your followers. If you already have a 1000 followers, pinging them every other day with an enjoyable quick read might be just the thing to keep them coming back. I guess the biggest factor is what will you actually do. If writing something, anything, every other day is daunting, then try to make a longer post weekly. If the idea of a massive post scares the heck out of you, then focus on smaller posts but more frequently. For the record, including this sentence, this post is right about 900 words. It is not going to dominate any SERP positions I guess but I feel like it is long enough. Trying to double my word count here seems like it would be a very long read. Hopefully, you enjoyed it and will give a like and a share and even leave a comment, even if it is just telling me where you are from.