With just a few days left to go in the Lactivist project and my media plan shaping up nicely, I spent day twenty-seven catching up on blog posts that I'd missed, making a few of my own and exchanging some emails with a friend that had a suggestion for long-term revenue generation with The Lactivist.
(If you're just catching up with this series of articles, be sure to swing into the ongoing discussion thread at the Small Business Ideas forum. You'll be able to link to each day's article and participate in the discussion going along with it.)
A Blogging I Will Go
It's funny when I think about it because the Lactivist isn't my first foray into the world of blogging. We've been running a blog here at Search Engine Guide since this past summer and I've had my own personal blog since early in the year. Blogging for the Lactivist was a totally different experience though. With my personal blog, I knew that only about six people (all friends) were reading it and I could say whatever, whenever I wanted. With the Search Engine Guide blog, it just became a new way to publish content since it was reaching the point that I couldn't write articles about everything.
The Lactivist Blog was a whole other animal. Using a blog as a marketing tool instead of as an online diary or a publishing tool was a new challenge. I needed to figure things like how often to publish, how often to write my own content, how often to link to other people's content, how to establish relationship with other bloggers, what type of content to cover and more.
I was trying to blog once a day, because the freshness of content is important for both readers and search engines, but I also knew that I couldn't publish unless I had interesting content. That meant that sometimes I had a couple posts in a day and some days I had none.
I was trying to link to other bloggers, but it was tough to add another round of feeds to my daily reading, so I was mostly relying on Google News Alerts and my own brain to come up with ideas.
I was trying to restrict my content to breastfeeding issues and news, but I wondered if I needed to allow more personality and personal experience to creep in. Could I post the occasional picture of Nora or talk about things happening in my own life? I wasn't a breastfeeding mom anymore, so were my thoughts and comments even relevant?
Blogging was tough business. I was realizing though that like any other part of a marketing program, you have to grow through experience as you go. Blogs are handy in that you have direct feedback. You can see what types of posts draw comments, you can track which posts get the most views, which posts people link in to and so on. Using that data works the same way that any other type of web tracking works. You find out what's having an impact and you figure out how to reproduce it.
Even apart from my own blogging efforts, I was finding plenty of Lactivist talk from other posters as well. The no more commas blog featured the San Francisco Chronicle article and created another link in to the article series. I also found a great write up on the project at Pete Wailes "Ramblings of a Businessman" blog. The most entertaining post of the day came from BotSpider who did an excellent job of pointing out the potential for business start-ups with limited funds. (ok, ok, they also said nice things about me and that never hurts either!)
Future Plans for Making Money
While I knew that blogging was going to be a great way to keep interest going in the Lactivist project down the road, I also knew that I needed to start coming up with a plan to build out the Lactivist site itself. That meant finding a balance between traditional content and blogging.
I'd written in the past about the possibility of bringing my blog into my own domain rather than leaving it on the Blogger network, but I was thinking more and more that it was probably a good idea to leave it where it was. With my content on the Blogger network I was generating some traffic from Blogger itself and was picking up the same type of search engine benefit that I was getting with my shop pages in the CafePress store. Shutting that traffic stream off and trying to rebuild it in a new location didn't seem like the best of plans.
At the same time, I needed to build out TheLactivist.com with good quality content to start driving more links to it. That meant that I needed to make it a resource site. Just as I was sitting at my laptop pondering that thought, I had an email come in from my friend Chris Logan of Beyond Web Services.
Chris is an experienced AdSense partner that's done quite a bit of testing as far as maximizing the AdSense potential of a content page. Chris pointed out that I could spend some time researching some niche topics related to breastfeeding and write some good, quality articles to cover those topics. With those pages drawing traffic from search engines, I could work on optimizing the placement of my AdSense ads to increase my advertising revenue.
I should have thought of this on my own, but since Robert's the one that worries about advertising at Search Engine Guide, I've never much had to consider it. In fact, I hadn't made a single change to my AdSense placements since I first set them up during the first week. I hung my head in shame at my failure to test and test again and headed over to the AdSense site to take a view of the AdSense heat map. I also realized that I could write articles for TheLactivist.com site and use the blog as a feeder to point to them rather than keeping all of my content on the blog.
Taking Chris's advice on content creation to heart, I headed over to Trellian's Keyword Discovery tool to do a little research and found that the phrase "Zoloft and breastfeeding gets more than one hundred searches a day. This really didn't surprise me as I'd seen the topic pop up quite a few times on one of the debate boards that I frequent. Figuring that there might be something to Chris's suggestion I did some research and put together a blog post titled Zoloft and Breastfeeding - Is it Safe?.
While it would take awhile to see if I'd actually rank for the post it was quickly clear that this was the type of content that my readers found useful. I ended up with half a dozen comments on the post by the end of the day. Either way, I realized that if I wanted to turn my site into a true resource I was going to need to rely on more than just my personal experience and stellar wit. I was going to have to start spending some time doing research.
I headed over to Amazon to look up Dr. Thomas Hale's Medications and Mother's Milk thinking that it might be a good idea to order it. I'd always been interested in owning it but had been under the impression that it was expensive. As it turns out, it was just $30. I knew that it would be chalk full of interesting content fodder, so I put it on my shopping list for later in the week.
About that same time, I had an email show up from Eric Peterson, the author of Web Analytics Demystified. According to Eric, his sales had shot up on the day that I mentioned his book in the article series. He thought he saw an extra twenty or thirty sales that could be linked back to my post. I hadn't paid much attention to Amazon's affiliate program beyond my initial test run of baby products on the blog but his email got me thinking about revenue sources as well. It looked like it might be possible that I could write some book reviews for breastfeeding related books and link in to Amazon to earn some affiliate commission.
Armed with some new plans of action and a better understanding of what direction I was headed with my blog, I called it a day and got back to work figuring out what to get my in-laws for Christmas.
Coming up on day twenty-eight I work with Greg Jarboe and Amy Hooker on finalizing my press release text, I find myself showing up in Froogle and a reader writes in to suggest a new outlet for both content and driving links to my site.
Jump to Day twenty-eight.
(Want to read the entire 30 Day article series at once? Download the free 30 Day ebook!)
December 23, 2005
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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