Just how popular is your blog?

Some aspiring bloggers asked me how much I earn from blogging the other day. I hesitated to share haha 🙂 but I told them quite a few tips, so I thought I share some stats with everyone, hopefully it can help you gauge your site popularity. Warning: pedantic explanation ahead.

Currently at a page rank of 5 (read: average, between 1 and 10), this site receives only a handful of visitors everyday. It will receive more when I write, because every time I publish something, the post goes out to a network of ping services, of which I’ll discuss later.

Here’s a view of my google analytics since I’ve added it last Febuary.

analytics.JPG

The highlighted hit is the MDA rap video post, perhaps for its early publicity before the rest of the online community picked it up later. However, read: 425 visits on that day. That’s like nano-technology vs oil rigs compared to the type of hits one get with any of the branded bloggers. The rest of the daily hits used to be below 100, until I did some drastic rework on the UI, increased blogging frequency, and actively publicize the site on my personal channels like MSN or Gtalk status messages. You can see the improvement after December (there was a black out coz I forgot to put analytics tracking code into the new template!!)

Now, type “MDA rap video” into google search and you’ll see it continue to enjoy a very high ranking, this is important: if you have learn the right way to do SEO (search engine optimization) and you happen to have a hit entry, the entry will stay high on google’s results for a long time, driving even more traffic to your site. Another hit entry I have (also unintended) is an entry about Chinese superstition “fan tai sui”. One simple way to start is to make sure that you blogging engine can “ping” i.e. notify the major blog aggregators. For local consumption, all my posts goes to PetalingStreet for Malaysian audience and Ping.sg for Singapore audience. The rest of the entry comes from technorati, this mini blogrush widget thing that’s like a link exchange network, etc.

Moral of the story: although you can continue to rely on random people landing on your page (robots included), the best is always to build up a “fan base”, a group of people who care about what you write. Thus all the advise about focusing on certain subjects etc. is true – your blog might be the world to you, but it’s just a bookmark / RSS feed to another person. If there’s no compelling reason / brand, or your personality is insufficient to attract such attention, then people will not have a reason to want to click to your blog. Case in point: The highest ever non-referral hits (i.e. without going through a search engine) is this long “essay” about 10 years away from home, in hindsight, maybe because of its embodiment of my entire online diary. People were just passing the link on and on – somehow got to people I’ve never expected to even read blogs.

So where is the money? That’s the part you have to seriously ask yourself – are you really doing this for cash, coz if so I suggest you go try another trade. All my foray into ads recently was because firstly my 3 year free hosting with 1and1 ended (in 2005) and I have no income in US to continue to pay for this. Thus, the aim to earn $120 USD a year to cover the hosting of this account. That prompted the huge migration out from xanga, to ensure that if there’re any ads clicked, it’s clocked on my account not theirs, and to enjoy the freedom to try out new programs. I’ve been trying to support the local enterprises too, so when nuffnang and advertlets came about, up they went too, even though their rates are a bit dismal compared to US based programs. Linkshare was a legacy account I had since my days in Amazon.com, which was one of the partners I had to consolidate click stream data for. The total revenue from all these programs currently still cannot, I repeat, cannot cover my hosting cost of $120 a year, so ads have to go up on other related sites as well such as www.negaraku.org which I seriously need to work on soon.

So as you can see, as a “business”, being a casual blogger is not sustainable. Even if you’re a full time expert blogger with substantial visitors, ad revenue is still going to be bleak compare to the same amount of effort on something else. There are plenty of “solutions” out there to help you turn your blog to a huge google parasite, but that sort of takes away the original intent of blogging, which you might or might not be comfortable doing. You can do other things of course, like run for parliament, so that when combined it makes sense. Ultimately, you have to have a more healthy philosophy on this. If you just can’t be bothered, then use free blogging sites like blogger.com and be happy with whatever pennies come through.

One last very important message that I’ll leave you here is: Take care of your reputation. If you want something to be popular, it can either be like Edison Chen, or it can be like Oprah Winfrey. The reputation of your blog will eventually precede you. So don’t be surprised one day you meet a stranger on the street giving you strange looks – he might have been lurking on your partially naked photos online. I constantly encounter occasions during meetings for work where a statement like “Oh you have a blog right? It’s in my bookmarks” come out of no where. To me, that beats any amount of ads AdSense can make sense of.

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7 Responses

  1. Good article, enjoyed reading! I certainly hope myself can really appear on the cover of a magazine because my blog is so very popular…. hahaha. 🙂

  2. Interesting read there. A point I share is that earning money from casual blogging won’t do, there has to be certain level of commitment if you want a blog to reach the next level.

  3. wow…can’t belief that you are not making USD120 a year wor….

    I don’t make much from my blogs…but I have website that has like pr3 making pretty good money each month. Still wondering how to get pr 5…haha

  4. Thanks for sharing your experience about blogging. I have tried adding some ads to my blog a while ago but took it out in the end as it kind of spoils the whole appearance. Your post set me thinking about the possibility of ads again. 🙂

  5. rice blogger: well, that’s the thing right, you might be writing about something that many people want to read about – but I can’t be bothered, firstly, to blog regularly, secondly, to write what people want to read. Topics like internet marketing and making money online are always a winner (forgot which report I read). And here I am, trying to reach out to new audiences to fill up concert halls when my band or orchestra perform.

    Well your placement of your link on a comment from a pr 5 blog is the first step towards higher pr 🙂

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