I‘ve been promising for weeks now that I’d finally get round to answering some of the questions I’ve been getting through my ‘Ask Me Anything’ sidebar widget, so today I’m making good on that promise: here are some of the blogging-related questions I’ve had recently – and, as always if you have any questions of your own, feel free to ask!
“I’ve been wondering for quite some time how or if different kinds of AdBlock extensions affect your blog? Do you have any means of finding out how many of your visitors use AdBlock? Also, I follow you on Instagram and I have been thoroughly enjoying your Instagram stories, so keep up the good work!”
First of all: thank you for the Instagram Stories comment! Because people can’t comment on them without sending me a DM (which not many people do), I always feel a bit like I’m just talking to myself on Instagram stories, so I’m really glad to know there’s at least one person out there watching!
As for Adblock… this isn’t something I’ve ever tried to track, no, but I’ve definitely noticed a huge drop in revenue from display ads in recent years, and I would attribute that, at least partly, to Adblock use. Back when I started blogging, I used to make a full-time living just from Google Adsense, which seems absolutely crazy to me now: I do still make enough from it to justify keeping the ads there (for now), but it makes nothing like the amount it used to, and every time I’ve tried other forms of display advertising, it’s made so little – and been so obtrusive – that it’s just not been worth it.
This is why I think so many bloggers are forced to take on sponsored posts, or use affiliate links, etc: if my experience is anything to go by, it’s just not possible for a small/medium site to make a decent income from display advertising alone now. Part of me is totally fine with that, because I absolutely HATE having adverts on my site, but another part is quite sad about it, because, although display ads are ugly, once they’re up, you can just forget about them, and get on with blogging about whatever you like: there are no clients to please, no deadlines to meet, and, unlike sponsored posts or affiliate links, you don’t have to change your content in any way to accommodate them, so, yeah, from that point of view, I sometimes wish readers were more tolerant of them.
I know no one actually likes seeing adverts, or having to click out of a pop-up, but I think sometimes it’s the price you have to “pay” in order to keep the internet free – or to avoid having to see things like sponsored posts, etc, which people don’t like either! The fact is, if everyone who read my blog used Adblock, I wouldn’t be able to keep doing this, so I would either have to set up a Paywall (like the ones you see on some large news sites, where you have to pay to access the bulk of the content), or, you know, get a “real” job. My hope is that people who genuinely like my content will be kind enough to switch off their Adblock when they’re reading the site, but I think a lot of people just don’t realise the effect it has on bloggers, which means we have to come up with other ways to earn a living from our sites!
Lazy Daisy Jones asked…
“I’d love to know more about affiliate links and just what ‘deepcodes’ are it’s something I need/want to do next help welcome perhaps a post about your experiences and any dos and donts?”
I actually wrote a post about affiliate marketing here, which talks about the three different networks I use, and what I think of them all. Affiliate links aren’t a huge source of revenue for me, as you can see from my income reports, but, with that said, they’re not something I put a huge amount of effort into, so I know I could be doing a lot better with them! My main piece of advice – and I’m afraid it’s a bit of an obvious one – is that, for them to work, you really have to be posting a lot about products, and they have to be products that people can buy now.
In my case, my outfit posts have been fairly sporadic this year, for various reasons, so I don’t have a lot of products to link to (I find that people are more likely to buy a product I’m wearing or using myself, as opposed to one I’ve just highlighted in a wish list post, or as a “similar” item…), and although I know I seem to shop constantly, a lot of the outfits I do feature tend to consist of old favourites which are no longer available to buy. I can’t really speak for other niches, but I know that the fashion bloggers who do best with affiliate links tend to be the ones who regularly feature items which are still available to buy, and which they can therefore still get commission on, so that’s something to be aware of.
As far as ‘deep codes’ go, that’s not an expression I’ve heard before, but I think you’re probably referring to the practice of deep-linking, which would mean linking to a specific product on a retailer’s website, rather than just to the homepage? As I mentioned above, I do find that people are more likely to click on a link which will take them to the exact item I’ve featured, rather than something similar, so deep-linking is definitely worth doing: with most of the retailers I link to, if the product is sold out, the link will re-direct to the homepage of the site, so it doesn’t become a broken link, and you still have the opportunity to earn some commission if the person who clicked on it goes on to buy something else from the site!
“I’m glad you’ve mentioned Mailchimp in your post (seems everyone is with ConvertKit :)). How does this whole thing with “mailing list” works? I’ve a Mailchimp plugin to manage my subscribe form, but in the future, I’d like to create an ebook that can people download after inserting their email address.”
So, this isn’t something I’ve ever tried to do personally, so I’m of even less use than usual here, but Mailchimp do have an article on their website, with full instructions on how to create a downloadable for subscribers. It looks like it’s as simple as just uploading your ebook to their server as a .PDF, and then checking a few boxes on the Mailchimp site (I don’t think you can do it through the plugin), but I’m highly suspicious as to whether or not it IS really this simple, so please don’t take my word for it! This is something I have actually considered doing, though, so if I decide to go ahead with it, I’ll hopefully have a better answer than this one for you!
Laura J asked:
“What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given about blogging for a living?”
I’m not sure where I read this, but I think the advice that’s stuck with me the most is to write the blog you’d like to read yourself. When blogging is your job, there will inevitably be days when you’d rather be doing something else, or it feels like a bit of a chore, but if you’re writing about something you’re truly passionate about, and creating the kind of posts you’d like to read yourself, it’ll be a whole lot easier to keep going, even on the “bad” days. I think one of the qualities (although obviously not the only one) a successful blogger needs is sheer persistence, and the ability to just not give up, and you only really get that if it’s a passion, as well as job!
“What’s your advice to a teenager like me who wants to start a blog and still don’t have ideas what will be their first blogpost about?”
So, there are two ways to approach this. If your issue is that you have plenty of things you want to write about, and you just don’t know which one to use for that all-important first post, my advice would be to bear in mind that your first post isn’t actually all that important. I mean, I don’t want to sound discouraging, but unless you happen to have a ready-made audience, just waiting with bated breath for your blog launch (and, let’s face it, most of us, don’t…), hardly anyone is going to read it, so rather than wasting time over-thinking it, and worrying about making it absolutely perfect, my advice would be to just jump in and get started.
If I were launching a blog today, I’d probably make my first post an introductory one, just giving a bit of background about myself, why I’m starting a blog, and what kind of thing I hope to write about: so, the kind of thing you’d write for your ‘About’ page, basically. But that’s just me: I know from my stats that very few people ever scroll all the way back to my first blog post to read it, so, as I said, unless you know you’re going to have a decent-sized audience right from the get-go, I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
That’s one way to approach it.
If, on the other hand, your problem its that you don’t have any ideas AT ALL about what you might write, my advice would be to wait until you DO. This follows on from what I said in response to Laura, above, but the best blogs are the ones whose authors are really passionate about what they’re writing, and, from my own experience, the posts that are most successful on my blog tend to be the ones I just couldn’t WAIT to write, rather than the ones I kept putting off, or came up with after sitting staring at the bank screen for hours, thinking, “I’ve no idea what to write today, but I really should write SOMETHING…”
So, if you’ve no ideas at all, I’d sit back and wait until some come to you: there’s no great rush, after all.