26 March 2011

100+ Ways to Battle Blogger’s Block

Why do you blog? Do you blog for money? Do you blog for fun? Actually, the purpose of your blogging will largely define the strategy you apply. I blog for both: fun and money, but fun goes first. Therefore, each of my 20 blogs I started because I liked the topic, because I wanted to learn more about, and because I was more or less confident that the same topic will be interesting for my readers.

But, overtime, your interests change, you feel that there is nothing more you can say on the topic, and you just do not want to discuss the topic any more. Here it comes blogger’s block. If I feel like that, I usually put the blog on the passive preservation mode, remove it from the active blogs list and focus on other topics. Overtime, my perception might change, I might find a new perspectives or the new line of discoveries on the topic, thus become interesting in the blog again. These blogs are returned to the active list. Other blogs will remain on the passive lists forever, supported by by-monthly posts just to keep them alive. In any way, if I do not feel like writing on the particular blog or topic, I just skip it and go to the next. Well, it is my way of coping with blogger’s block.

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BloggingBookshelf is offering more than 100 professional advices on how to battle the Blogger Blog in their free eBook. You can download the brochure from the following link:

20 March 2011

5 Free Mobile Apps for your Taxes Visibility

This post is not about blogging. Since the due date of the tax form submission is coming close, I would like to share with you several free taxes related applications for smartphones, which will help you with this process. Hopefully, your blog monetization was successful last year, and your extra (or full time) income came as valuable addition to your home budget.

  1. The IRS's App
IRS announced its first of a kind app called IRS2Go which allows taxpayers to find basic tax information and track the status of their refunds. The app is available on iTunes and in Android Market. Take note that you are required to enter your SSN in order to check your status.

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IRS indicates that if you e-file your tax return and are owe a refund, you will be able to check your refund status via the app after 72 hours. If you mailed your tax return, it may take 3-4 weeks.

  1. Federal Tax Estimator 2010

This app by Nate Ram has been reviewed on the CBS Tech Talk show. The app lets users estimate their federal tax liability. It supports all filing status options, allows for multiple W-2 forms, tracks dependents and unemployment benefits, storing all data on your mobile phone. Available for Android and iPhone.

  1. Tax Reference 2010

This Chesnut designed application provides you with a wealth of tax information at your fingertips including corporate tax rates, retirement contribution limits, depreciation, business deductions, personal tax rates, itemized deductions, estate and gift taxes and lots of other useful financial data and so much more. Definitely a great app to use for tax planning all year round, and it is available for Android and iPad (iPhone).

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  1. iTaxMama

Created by Tax Anxiety Inc., this app helps keep your tax due dates organized by providing an easy to use tax planning calendar. It includes reminders for quarterly tax payments, tax filing deadlines, and has been fully updated for this tax season.

  1. Pageonce

H&R Block and Pageonce have announced that you can track the status of your tax refund from your BlackBerry, Android, iPhone, or Windows Phone. To facilitate this, H&R Block’s Tax Center is integrated into the Pageonce mobile app and provides DIY filers with timely updates of the status of their tax return, and more importantly, their federal and state tax refunds. Users simply enter their H&R Block At Home username and password in the Pageonce mobile app, and their information is automatically populated into the Tax Center. Taxpayers can instantly see when their refund will arrive.

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To learn more about the service, head over to the Pageonce site.

14 March 2011

Adsense Earnings, Tips, and General Thoughts

I got several questions from the readers of this blog on how my Google earnings do versus my expectations, some complaints that the earnings drop significantly down from the beginning of the year, and some requests to share useful tips on how to boost the Adsense earnings from blogging.

As you probably know, revealing the Adsense earnings and statistics is not allowed by the program rules, so trying to follow them, I will just mention some general trends:
  1. Being in the blogging business from 2007, I should admit that my Adsense earnings are slowly climbing up, however not as fast, as I would like it to do. It is still a good side income and source of inspiration and self-realization, so, overall I am quite pleased with the general outcomes.
  2. At the end of the year, I have lost one of my blogs, and all the efforts to get it restored failed so far. As soon as I understood, what the reason for the ban was, I actually stopped any additional appeals. The blog was devoted to the Online MBA, and it was totally my fault that it was banned. The reason for the ban was simple – I used to post my own selected study papers as samples for the blog on how they should be written, while publishing student papers is forbidden by the Google Adsense rules. Learning through mistakes…
  3. The income from the beginning of the year is indeed slightly lower than expected. There are several reasons, which might contribute to that:
    1. When the blog, I mentioned above, has been banned, the entire account got blocked. As it was during my ski vacation, with no Internet, it took me about a week, till I have learnt about the incident and restored my account. All my Blogger blogs were inaccessible for a week, and that is not a good way to treat your faithful readers and visitors.
    2. After the shopping season, investments in advertising may go down, so it is understandable the cost of the click decrease.
    3. Overall, I observed the rough trend of dropping earnings for the period from January to April, with gradual increase from beginning of April through the end of December. Note that it might not be a global trend, since other program users report different results. I guess, it depends on the niche you are working, the structure of the blog, and on some other details.
  4. In spite of the earning decrease, the amount of unique visits per day is steadily growing, so there is a good chance, that these visits’ monetization is just matter of time.
  5. In terms of advices and recommendations, I am not sure that I have enough knowledge and experience to share them with broad public. By simple googling, you can find tons of useful, and not so useful advices.
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I will just offer you several general, but fairly reasonable tips from Ryan on the Adsense business arrangements:
a.       Be Committed To Your Adsense Business.
Many publishers never see their Adsense business as a real business but rather a virtual fun. In order to succeed you need to be a 100% committed. Take your online business seriously as you would with your offline business. Be professional, track your progress and never make the same mistake twice. Sometimes, novices have the fallacy that their online actions stay transparent and unseen. Well, you better be careful because everything is tracked and consequences are lurking.

b.      Stay Within The Circle
Use the latest Adsense tools and software for your business. The super Adsense earners are always very smart. They apply the services of these tools first and dump them when they get ineffective. These tools serve as their secret weapon and that is why they must get hold of it first.

c.       Choose the right Keywords
A lot of publishers go for those keywords that have high payout range with too much competition. They might get lucky every now and then. But the mega Adsense earners always look out for those less competitive keywords and build a lot of sites with them. It pays more on the long run.

d.      Start With An Umbrella
In order to be more focused and effective, you need to start with a broad subject which you can easily break down. Choosing a broad niche and breaking it down makes your work concentrated and allow for flexible connection between your sites or blogs. This way you also keep your visitors longer into your site.

e.      Keep It Simple
Make your sites or blogs simple and easy to navigable. A slick home page with clear links always predisposes the visitors positively and you reduce the bounce rate of your site.

f.        Purpose
Do not build a site without a purpose. Your site cannot be everything to everybody. It has to be narrowed down to a topic. Target a certain group of people with common interests. They are going to be your audience in the long term.

g.       Consistency
Track your success and repeat what works. Building just a site is not enough. You have to build to exhaust all possible sub-niches within your broad subject. Then chose another subject and continue your work. Your audience will appreciate the valuable content you give to the web.

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