Monday, 28 April 2008

How to get traffic to your blog

I began blogging on 15 December last year. My four and a half months experience in the game have been both time consuming and demanding. Good content is not enough. It is even more important to engage in active promotion. Increasing blog traffic is paramount to being able to sustain the blog, obtain reasonable search engine ratings and to earn advertising revenue.

Over the time I have gradually discovered a number of ways to increase blog traffic. I tried Digg but it didn't work for me. I am not really a great social networker so Facebook and My Space were non starters.

Firstly a few essentials. Yahoo's MyBlogLog is an essential. It provides an opportunity to develop relationships with other bloggers and to explore other sites. You should be able to get some traffic from here. Blog Catalogue provides a free service that lists your sites and picks up your latest postings. Then there is Technorati which provides a blog rating based on traffic to your blog.

Then there are sites which work on a type of credit system. You include a widget on your blog and visitors can explore other similar blogs by clicking on the widget. BlogRush is one of these.

Webring has worked quite well for me. Ling to the site, set up an account and begin joining rings. As with most sites there is a free and a subscription based service. I have now joined over 70 of these webrings and they do bring in traffic on a fairly sustainable basis. Traffic can be increased by paying a small fee for promotion.

Blog Explosion works on a slightly different basis. Sign up and submit your blogs for approval. Then you can surf through blogs to earn credits and assign these credits to your blogs. Surfing through these blogs exposes you to many blogs of varying quality. If you discover a site that interests you then simply click the BlogMark link and you are free to revisit the site at any time. Blog explosion shows significant and fairly immediate results, but requires frequent surfing to keep the traffic flowing.

I have signed up with, but have not used it extensively. Stumble Upon provides a similar service, but from my side totally underused.

Of course another key way to get traffic is through the search engines. Try to optimise each post for key words. I use Google Adwords for that, and it makes a difference. But it still isn't easy. Your rating and existing traffic affect how far you get.

After four months of blogging I have not yet received my first Adsense payment - but I'm over 60% there! My traffic is increasing - hopefully too the earnings!

I would like to build up a knowledge base here on increasing traffic - genuine ways only, not untried and costly promotional schemes!

Please use the comment facility to post any traffic generating schemes that have worked for you.

Friday, 25 April 2008

When no news is not good news - the growing crisis in Zimbabwe

Nearly four weeks after the Zimbabwean election, there is still no sign of an announcement of the winner of the presidential vote. The so-called recount of 23 constituencies carries on, but without any controls that could verify that the recount was actually more accurate than the original count. Mugabe and the ruling Zanu PF retain control of the country and have begun a campaign of violence and intimidation against those suspected of having voted for the MDC.
By now, there can hardly be a right-thinking person that doubts that the MDC won the election or that Morgan Tsvangirai won the presidential vote. There is no other possible explanation for the month-long delay in announcing the results.
Mugabe’s police, the military and the band of thugs better known as ‘war veterans’ have been let loose to intimidate, murder and torture anyone suspected of having voted for the wrong party. Riot police have been sent into the MDC headquarters and detained dozens of MDC supporters.
The only good news is that China have recalled the arms ship on its way to Zimbabwe.
The west have spoken out against Mugabe’s attempts to steal this election. But South Africa’s president Thabo Mbeki prefers to continue with his quiet diplomacy. He has continued to take a stand that denies the crisis. He refuses to make a public statement that condemns Mugabe or even one that calls for the immediate release of the presidential vote. He has called for patience while we wait for the election results to be released. Patience while MDC supporters are being beaten and driven from their homes. Patience as thousands of Zimbabweans risk their lives daily crossing through crocodile infested waters to reach South Africa as economic and political refugees.
The time for patience has passed. Decisive action is required by the world to force Mugabe to step down and to allow democracy to take its course. It is time for Zimbabwe’s friends and neighbours take a stand. Appeasement of a dictator never achieved anything in the past. It will not achieve anything now.
Hot off the press is that SADC have warned that it expects the poll result to be announced by Saturday (26 April) and will not tolerate any further delays. Perhaps we have some progress …

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Do you make money from blogging?

Feeling a little frustrated at the low level of income that my blogs produce, I decided to research the market more fully to find out if anyone is making money from blogs. Although there are hundreds of websites selling free ebooks for only $95 (or $69 or $35 .....) I suspected that there are a lot of people out there creating blogs, expending time and effort into the enterprise, with few that can actually use their blog to make money.

With only 6 hours to go, by poll - "do you make money from blogging?" has returned a grand total of 4 votes. One 'yes' and three 'no's. There were no votes for 'just a trickle' or for the 'make money blogging about how to make money from blogging' options.

With only a tiny sample and without using any random or other sampling techniques, the result is not one that can produce conclusions. It is just an indication that my suspicions are on the right track. 3 out of 4 responses indicated no blogging income at all. One was a positive Yes.

I would like to explore this more, and would like to open this for discussion. Please post comments below with a few words about your experience. I'm sure that there are many of us that are interested. If you are making money, I would love to hear about it!

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Its Earth Day Today

Today is Earth Day!

It is a day for us to reflect on our world. Today is a day for thinking about how we can continue to live on this planet in a sustainable way. Earth Day is an opportunity for us to evaluate what we want for the earth. Are we prepared to remove our blinkered view to provide a world where our children, their children and their children’s children will be able to live?

The Earth is facing ever increasing threats to its continued existence. Rapid industrialisation and every increasing energy needs have led us to ravage the planet’s resources. The stock of oil, coal and natural gas are finite. Some of will run out during our lifetimes. Burning these fuels has changed the planet’s environment in more ways than we can imagine.

We know about pollution. We know about greenhouse gases. We know about the ozone layer. We know about climate change. How much more remains in the realms of the unknown to plague future generations?

Many are in denial.

There are many that are prepared to sacrifice our future in pursuit of the quick buck. Those that came before us saw fit to plant and provide for us. Has that attitude been lost? One of the world’s most prominent politicians has taken the quick buck view. Who cares about tomorrow? I’m only here to get what I can today.

Many of the new industrial powers are taking a similar view. Many parts of China are filled with air that is unfit to breathe. Why bother when the world’s leading power is not concerned? Developing countries take a similar view.

South Africa, facing a massive energy crisis is spending the vast majority of its resources on more fossil fuel facilities. Diesel burning generators are selling like hot cakes. In a climate where solar power is a viable alternative, no one seems to be taking much notice. The technology has been proven in Israel – solar power generators are viable and cost effective.

Some leaders have heeded the call and must be commended. They have recognised that the threats are serious, perhaps irreversible. Urgent action must be taken to turn the tide, and to begin the long task of restoring the world to what it could be and should be.

Are we, as the inhabitants and caretakers of the earth, prepared to take the steps that will create a future for our children?

Friday, 18 April 2008

... another day at the office ...

Thursday, 17 April 2008

The trouble with performance management …

Many companies run a system of performance management. Compulsive measurement of everything that is done in the course of business. Balanced scorecards are used to ensure that we are directing all our efforts at achieving our strategic objectives. Then there are Key Performance Indicators (or KPIs) cascading through all levels of the organisation to ensuring that employees are focussing their attention on what needs to be done.

Perhaps it sounds like a good idea. Measure whatever is measurable and find a way to measure the rest. Everyone is focused only on their Key Performance Areas. Ensuring that you score well on your KPIs is all that is required to get good increases, recognition and possible promotion.

One very KPI driven major company hit problems but was very late in making the required changes to priorities. Although the company was in trouble the executive got their bonuses. They had achieved all their objectives.

Yes, there is a down-side. What if the KPIs don’t reflect everything that needs to be done? If circumstances change and require some agility? The answer is that it doesn’t matter. As the CEO or financial director you only have to do what the KPIs measure. Then we are assured of our bonus or promotion. Even while the wheels fall off around us.

Many companies achieved great things without these measures in the past. Working without these measures allows us a degree of freedom to innovate, to explore alternatives and to deal with crises. KPIs force us to work with blinkers, within boundaries. They force us to work in a way that earns KPI points. Changing KPIs can be a long and cumbersome process.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Still haven't quit my day job ...

Four months after starting my first blog, the earnings are still trickling in. The income is increasing, but rather slowly! Not enough to quite my day job. Not even enough to cover one day's earnings.

During this time I have looked into all sorts of promotional options. I have subscribed to a variety of webrings. I have tried Digg, De.lio.cious and others. I have visited a lot of blogs that offer free advice on how to earn money from your blog. The give you the opportunity to buy an ebook, or a course, or advertising - all at some cost.

I have joined blogecplosion which, I must admit, does work. But is hasn't worked well enough to provide me with an income. At least not yet.

I know that there are some people that make money from their blogs. But are these all people writing about making money from blogging? Is it a case of continuing to build traffic and slowly increasing earnings?

Please vote in my poll - do you earn money from your blog?

In the meantime I am continuing my business consulting activities. This is something that takes me to all sorts of companies and different places. These organisations provide a great source of material to write about - except for the non-disclosure agreements which mean that I'm not allowed to write about them at all. At least not while consulting to them.

My current contract is in a setting where springbok and zebras roam the grounds. A great environment! The photo was taken from some distance with my cell phone. No telephoto lens. But the scene is set.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

A recession is not on the cards!

Trevor Manual is the South African Minister of Finance. Last week he told the country that recession is not on the cards.

Prominent financial experts around the globe have been telling us that the world's financial condition is at its worst since the Great Depression. Most of this caused by the $800 billion plus losses experienced in the aftermath of the sub-prime crisis.

Can a world-wide recession be averted?

Recession is caused by market sentiment. People make decisions based on their perception of the economic climate. Consumers cut back on consumption. Investors cut back on investment. Producers cut production. All because of expectations of an economic downturn. Having burned their fingers through poor judgement, investors shy away from any investment that involves a perceived risk.

There are some very negative pressures on our economy and on the global economy as a whole. Increasing oil prices from an already highly inflated base. A world food production crisis fueled by a wide-scale agricultural shift to the production of bio energy.

Can these negative pressures be counteracted by a positive attitude? An up-beat minister of finance is certainly of great value, but will his positive view of the future be taken-up by business?

If more people are willing to come to the party, then economic disaster can be averted! All it takes is a positive outlook.

Sunday, 06 April 2008

Mugabe reaching Orwellian proportions

The Zimbabwean election fiasco is reaching tragic proportions. Eight days after voting, the results or the presidential elections have still not been released. The opposition has claimed victory based on the counts shown outside each polling station after the election. It seems that someone wants the results delayed. The high court has deferred its decision as to whether it can hear the case until Monday.

In the meantime, Robert Mugabe has called for a recount of the vote.

I imagine that the order went something like this: "These results are incorrect. Recount the votes. If the result is wrong again, then recount again. Do this until you get the correct result." Of course, the MDC managed a majority in spite of widespread rigging on the part of Zanu-PF.

What is the world doing about this bizarre situation? South African president Thabo Mbeki wants to wait and see what happens. A strange perspective from a country with a firm committment to democracy. Is this due to misplaced loyalty? True, Mugabe did provide support to the ANC during the years of struggle. But he has since become a tyrant, a despot. While Zimbabweans starve, his wife is on a shopping spree to South Africa.

What about the rest of the world? The United Nations? Are we powerless to do anything?

Saturday, 05 April 2008

Hope dims for Zimbabweans in South Africa

This morning I spoke to one of the millions of Zimbabweans in South Africa. “We were hoping that we would be able to go home soon” she said. “Now it doesn’t look so good.”

She has been living in South Africa for about ten years working as a maid. Over the years, all the goods that she has accumulated have been sent back ‘home’ to Zimbabwe in preparation for the day that sanity would return to the country.

Wherever you go in South Africa you will find Zimbabweans. Unable to live in their home country, they live in South Africa – usually as illegal immigrants – working as maids, gardeners, labourers, security guards or waiters or waitresses. Whatever they accumulate is sent home. In reality, most of these people are refugees. Many have risked their lives crossing the border to South Africa.

This election brought great hope to the Zimbabwean community in South Africa. With a new government, life in Zimbabwe could be turned around. With the possibility of earning a living back home, many would return.

Now, with Mugabe holding on tightly the optimism has faded. An election win isn’t enough. The presidential run-off is likely to be rigged. The international community are committed to helping the new government – but only once Mugabe goes. Is there still hope for Zimbabwe?

Friday, 04 April 2008

Mugabe won't quit

Almost a week after the voting closed in Zimbabwe, there is no sign of the presidential vote from the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission. Almost anywhere else the incumbent would have conceded defeat and handed over the reigns to the victor. Not so for Bob Mugabe and his party – Zanu-PF. The party’s attitude is that “we cannot just hand it to Morgan”.

It seems that Mugabe is determined to retain his hold on the country at any cost. Failing to win the election even with all sorts of rigging is not an obstacle. He is now preparing for a runoff against Morgan Tsvangirai – possibly employing sinister forces to help influence the outcome of that vote. And what if he loses? Military rule?

The jubilation that spread across Zimbabwe following the election has died down. It has been replaced by the fear that Mugabe will retain the presidency – by force if it comes to that.

In the meantime, Zimbabwe’s neighbours and the rest of the world should be applying pressure on the regime to relinquish power. South Africa should be playing a strong role here. Mugabe must be told in no uncertain terms that he has lost and must therefore leave.

Zimbabweans are hungry for freedom. They are hungry for the opportunity to fix their economy. They are hungry for food, for jobs and for a decent life. Zimbabwe has been laid to ruin, and the sooner Robert Mugabe decides to walk away the sooner reconstruction can begin.