After the non-stop action of day four, I was hoping that day five would see me getting to take things a little easier. After all, it was a Saturday and I didn't have much scheduled outside of a few house showings and raking leaves. As it turns out, the day saw me putting most of my time toward handling blog issues, another quick round of online reputation management and further experiences with the joy and frustration of AdSense.

(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.)

Blogs, Blogs Least I Hope!

On day four, I'd looked around at a few of the free blogging options and had settled on using Blogger, mostly because it was supposed to have built in support for adding AdSense ads to the mix. I'd gotten the blog setup, along with putting my first post online, but it had gotten late enough that I didn't really have much time to play with the system. I'd used Movable Type before, as it was the blog software powering both and Search Engine Guide, and I had experience with Live Journal, where I host my personal blog, but I'd never done any work with the Blogger interface before.

That was all about to change.

I started off the day by focusing on adding some content to the blog. I'd already planned to write about human donor milk and milk banking as a way to help highlight the Lactivist Milk Bank products and the plans to donate the proceeds of those sales. I'd also spotted a story earlier that day about a four-month old that had been smothered to death when her drunken mother passed out on her. I wanted to blog on this story because almost every headline that I had was along the lines of "Breastfeeding Death" or "Infant Dies While Breastfeeding." I knew that this story was going to get some press, so this seemed like the perfect topic to blog about in order to point out how news outlets sensationalize things like breastfeeding just to sell their product.

Once I'd gotten a few posts online, it was time to figure out how to tie the blog content in with my CafePress store. I knew that I could pull an RSS or Atom feed into another site as filler content, but I'd never actually pulled a feed before. (I'd only ever created them.) We use Feedburner at Search Engine Guide to do much of our feed management and I knew that they offered a free option, so I headed that way to sign up.

FeedBurner's free option doesn't have quite the level of reporting or functionality that the paid version does, but it still had everything that I needed to get going. I not only setup a Feedburner link (which allows readers to add your feed to pretty much any RSS reader), I also setup the BuzzBoost option.

BuzzBoost is Feedburner's quick and easy way to convert your feed into HTML that can be used on another site. Basically, they take the feed and format it into headlines and the first paragraph or so of text. Anyone that wants can then take your feed and put it on their site. Whenever someone clicks on one of the blog posts, it takes them to your blog to read the entire post. You can also use CSS to format the look of the HTML that is generated by BuzzBoost. Most publishers use BuzzBoost as a way to syndicate their content in order to increase their readership. I had a different use in mind.

Basically, by setting up BuzzBoost, I had formatted my blog content in a way that would allow me to pull it into The Lactivist store.

Next, I went to the CafePress control panel. From there, you can add new product sections to your site. When you add a section, you get the option to attach a graphic and description to it to show on the front page. When a user clicks on the graphic, it takes them to that product section. My idea was to use the product section tool to add blog content. I did this by creating a new product section, but leaving it "empty." That meant that the only content on the page came from the "description" field in the store manager. Since the description field will take javascript and HTML code, I simply placed the code from Feedburner into that section. I then added a graphic for the link from the front page that said "Read the Lactivist Blog" and viola! Integrated content!

I still need to work on adjusting the CSS to make the content match up more closely with the look of the site, but since I was short on time, that had to wait for another day.

Online Reputation Management Never Ends

As I've made mention of in each of the past day's articles, online reputation management is essential when you are relying on viral marketing as part of your business plan. Viral marketing does you no good if people aren't saying positive things. So, I made my daily visit to some of the blog search engines to see if anyone new had picked up the story.

It turns out that Anita Campbell over at Small Business Trends had started covering the story. I dropped her a quick note to say thank you and to chat a bit about the project. Next, I found news of the challenge on a blog called Techbeliever. I tried to email Bob the author to touch base, but was unable to find any contact information. (Note: this is why you need to have contact information on your site, someone might want to talk to you!)

Next I responded to an email from Bob Turpin, who runs a blog called HelpYouToSell. Bob had blogged on the project earlier this week and I'd dropped him a note to say thank you. We shared a few emails back and forth and he let me know that he'd posted about the project over at The Warrior Forum. (Viral marketing at work yet again...)

Once I finished searching for posts, I took a look at my referrer stats to see if there was any traffic coming in from someplace I'd missed. That's when I realized that the conversation that I was having over at BabyCenter was generating a fair amount of interest, as was another thread that a mom had started on her own after reading my original post. I also noticed that word had started spreading via email as I'd had four referrals from email programs. Finally, I saw a link coming out of a Yahoo! Group called SOLLL, which I assume has something to do with the La Leche League. It's a private group, so I wasn't able to view the message, but I did drop an email to the moderator to see if I could find out any information.

As my final move of the day, I thought I'd aim high. Since that $100 AdWords coupon was the catalyst that set this whole project in motion, I dropped an email to the folks at the AdWords blog to share some information about The Lactivist and the series of articles. The hope is obviously that the AdWords team would pick up this and report on it in their blog.

Time will tell.

Highs and Lows with AdSense

On day four, I'd decided to add AdSense listings to my CafePress store to help me track which areas of the site were getting the most page views. This turned out to be a great idea because I could quickly see that the milk bank shirts and the irreverent breastfeeding humor shirts were getting the most action. No surprise since those were the two areas generating the most buzz.

The surprise was that I'd managed to generate $6.66 in AdSense profits during the first 24 hours. That meant that despite a day with no sales, I was now up to $11.66 in profits, that was putting me close to being able to have enough money to make some type of investment in the project.

The downside of AdSense was that I'd been trying every hour or two to use the Blogger interface to get AdSense ads showing up on The Lactivist Blog. However, every time to tried to login in to the system, it froze up. By the end of the night I was more than a little frustrated with the supposed ease of Blogger.

I'll also note that when I signed up for my AdSense account, I used the same username that I'd used to sign up for AdWords. I'd read that Google was requiring all users to shift their accounts under a single login, so I figured I might as well sign up for everything under the same account to begin with. The problem is that Google system got a little bit confused by this and locked me out of my AdWords interface. Every time I tried to login to AdWords I got a notice that said "Are you trying to login to AdSense?" If I said no, it directed me to setup a new AdWords campaign.

My AdWords campaign was still running. I knew this because I could see the ads. I just wasn't able to make changes to it anymore. So, I sent off an email to the AdWords support team and called it a day.

Day Six

In the next article, I'll let you know how I finally got the AdSense issues worked out (after spending all of my free time that day working on it) and will share some insight into how I came up with a few more products to add to the store.

Jump to Day Six.

(Want to read the entire 30 Day article series at once? Download the free 30 Day ebook!)
November 14, 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.

Search Engine Guide > Jennifer Laycock > Zero Dollars, a Little Talent and 30 Days - Day 5 - Blogs on the Brain, Reputation Management and AdSense Ups and Downs