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I can't get rich online and neither can you. Topics include why you won't get rich with your blog, ideas you wish you had thought of, and other Internet phenomena.

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Archive: ReviewU

ReviewU: Jackie’s Biz Blog

Jackie, of Jackie’s Biz Blog, wrote in to request a ReviewU. I’m running out of witty things to say here in the introduction, so let’s just dive into the review.

First impressions

Before I even started reading Jackie’s entries, I noticed one feature that really stands out on this blog: Buttons. Widgets. Graphics. Blinking things, everywhere. Two columns of graphics and widgets (including the worthless Blogrush widget), a ridiculous number of banners in her most recent post (to be fair, they were the focus of her article), and at the bottom of every post, this:
Social networking buttons

I can readily identify eight of those buttons (Squidoo, Stumbleupon, Netscape, digg, Facebook, Yahoo, Google, and delicious). The other forty-two, I’ve never heard of. I can understand wanting to submit your articles to the big social bookmarking sites, but this widget always make me cringe. Really, fifty social bookmarking sites is excessive, and I’d be very surprised if the majority of those sites helped build permanent traffic.

I’m not a huge fan of social bookmarking sites, so I personally can’t recommend using a plugin like this. Those folks are very fickle, popping onto your site and then disappearing forever. I’d say around 1% of my Stumbleupon hits actually stick around for more than a day or two. Personally, I believe relying on such methods to build traffic will only result in disappointment.

Anyway

On to the meat of the site. Essentially, this looks like just another make money online blog, but there are two key differences:

  1. She actually DOES make money online, through a variety of methods (aren’t you all jealous?). Apparently she’s been doing it for six years. Let’s see, what was I doing six years ago? I believe I was in my parents’ basement, playing Playstation games and working at an Arby’s. Yeah, that sounds about right.
  2. Much in the same way some of my past reviewees have been milking the “I’m a teenager and I make money online” theme, Jackie appears to be milking the “I’m a stay at home mom and I make money online” idea. That’s good, it separates her from the masses. It’s good to show a little personality while blogging.

Aside from that, it’s just another making money blog (although it has an air of legitimacy, which is rare). Contests, happenings in the blogosphere (I still hate that word), and the like. As for monetization, there’s not much (I’m guessing she doesn’t really need draw a big income from her blog). She has an empty Scratchback widget with spots for sale for $5, the occasional affiliate ad (Amazon, for example), and that “Buy me a *blank*” link at the bottom of every post. She seems to prefer coffee as her beverage of choice. If I ever use that method, I’m going for tea. Not just any tea, mind you, but those gigantic 24 ounce cans of Arizona flavored iced tea. 24 ounces for a dollar. That stuff is great.

What I would change

Not a whole lot, really. The theme is nothing special, but it works. I’d consider changing or removing the social bookmarking plugin, and I’d flat out drop Blogrush (as I said, worthless). I’d also consider reducing the total number of posts displayed on the front page. Right now, displaying ten posts makes the page incredibly long, and increases the loading time. I’d cut it down to five. Other than that, the site is fine. She updates consistently, she knows what she’s talking about, and she’s obviously blogging just because she enjoys it. That earns big points with me, as I can’t stand people who blog solely for cash.

Overall, a good site.

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ReviewU: How to Make a Million Dollars

I’ve been buried under an avalanche of ReviewU requests, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to do more than one per week. Today’s ReviewU request comes from Marshall of How to Make a Million Dollars. New readers, pay attention. After reading this review, you’ll understand why my ReviewU offer comes with a disclaimer.

Let’s get started

A good place to start would be the URL:

howtomakeamilliondollars.blogspot.com

Aaaand, credibility destroyed. No, I’m serious. Seeing blogspot, xanga, or livejournal in a blog’s URL immediately makes me question the value of the site. There’s nothing wrong with free blogging platforms if you want to keep a personal blog, but if you want to be taken seriously, you should at least have your own domain name. I happen to know blogspot allows you to dump the *.blogspot.com and use your own domain name, so I’d recommend taking that route if you don’t want to shell out the $$$ for webhosting. Domain registration usually costs less than $10, so if you want to show people that you’re serious about making money online, investing in a good domain name is usually the best place to start.

As a side note, Wordpress has the ability to import posts and tags from blogspot blogs, so don’t think you can’t change platforms. I ran my personal blog on blogspot for months before switching to Wordpress, and the import took less than 5 minutes. In other words, once you start making more than $20/month with your blog, ditch the free hosting and move to Wordpress. It gives you a lot more control over layout, widgets, and pretty much everything.

Moving on

Right. Let’s take a look at the content. The site is named “How to Make a Million Dollars”, but I’m mostly seeing general financial tips. That’s fine, I’m well aware that there’s no easy way to become a millionaire, and his advice seems sound. You know what else I’m noticing about the content? There’s a ton of white space in it. Even the contact page has an unnecessarily huge break in it. Go easy on the double spacing.

He also seems to take the traditional approach to saving. You know, work as hard as you can, stash your money away, and retire at 65. Personally, I hate that idea, and I think it’s the root of our stressed out, unhealthy society. People should really question the traditional ‘work until you’re old’ retirement model. Congratulations, you’ve worked your entire life and now you can stop working. What’s the point? You’re now too old to do anything fun, you’re drop-dead bored from the lack of mental stimulation, and you’re basically just coasting on your saved-up funds until you die. You spent your entire youth looking forward, but now you can’t help but look back. Personally, I want to work until I’m physically incapable of working, taking mini-retirements throughout my entire life. Two weeks per year is not enough vacation time, in my opinion. I plan on working for a couple of years, taking a year and a half to travel, see, and live my life, and then repeating the whole process. How I do that is up for debate at the moment, but the point is, I want to get away from the traditional work/retire system. Go read the book “The 4 hour work week”. It’ll change the way you look at life.

Anyway, back to the site.

The layout

Not bad for a blogspot blog. Three columns, nice header, good color scheme, etc. Overall, it’s very average. I’d take the Mybloglog widget out of the footer though. Nobody’s going to see it down there.

The $$$

As you know, you have to be trying to make money with your site in order to be eligible for a ReviewU. This guy has three Adsense blocks, one Adbright block, and it looks like a couple of affiliate text links (not sure on this one). Those are fine, if a little excessive.

You know what’s not fine though? He has one of those fade-in ads set up. You know, the ones that don’t appear until after you’ve loaded the page, and then they gradually fade in to display another site with a ’skip this ad’ button on the top. I hate those ads. They’re just about as annoying as popups, and they’re a good way to drive off new readers.

One more thing

I know I harp on this all the time, but people, please: Set a consistent update schedule! Nobody will take you seriously if you don’t update regularly. Let’s take a look at his time stamps:

  • January 16, 2008
  • January 04, 2008
  • January 01, 2008
  • December 18, 2007
  • December 03, 2007

There’s no consistency here. If you’re running a hobby blog, that’s fine, update whenever you want. If you’re actively trying to monetize, though, update regularly. It doesn’t even have to be daily, as long as it’s consistent. If you can’t produce content quickly enough, start with twice a week, on Monday and Friday. Gradually move up to three times per week when you’re comfortable with it.

The bottom line

This site has lots of potential. In this debt-ridden country, people love to read about ways they can save money and improve their lives. In other words, How to Make a Million Dollars is sitting in a good niche, ripe for plunder. Make a few of the changes I’ve outlined, and you’ll be good to go.

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ReviewU: Fat Man Unleashed

Thanks to my little guest post over on John Cow’s site, my ReviewU queue is around five times larger than it was before. I guess people love free exposure. Anyway, it’s time to get working on them, so I figured I’d start with a site I’m already mildly familiar with: Fat Man Unleashed.

You may have heard of the blog’s author, Israel, before. He likes to troll John Chow from time to time, and was even perma-banned from John Cow’s site awhile back. He’s somewhat of a B-list blogging celebrity, in terms of name recognition. That’s why I thought it was pretty cool that he asked little ol’ me to review his site. Well, as much as I hate to admit it, I really like it. I hope that this doesn’t become a reoccurring theme (being positive, that is).

Not much in common

First of all, I have nearly nothing in common with this guy. I’m a 6′2″, 155 pound guy with a runner’s build. Israel’s 6′1″ and somewhere around 300 pounds, according to his weight loss chart. I can’t seem to put on much muscle mass, believe me, I’ve tried. He seems to be ready and able. I prefer cardio, he seems to do a lot of lifting.

On the other hand, we both like working out, and we both like seeing improvements. He’s kept a photo log of his bodily transformation, and I used to do the same thing. No, you’ll never see it. If anything, I went from skinny and pale to toned and slightly less pale. Also, I like his food and supplement advice. As someone who has tried at least three different brands of protein powder, a whole plethora of multivitamins, and assorted other supplements, I can appreciate some honest reviews of different bodybuilding products.

Overall, if you like to read about ways to go from fat to muscular, you’ll probably like his site.

On to the $$$

As you know, one of my requirements to be eligible for a ReviewU review is that you need to be monetizing your site. Well, it’s not hard to see that he’s doing that. I’m seeing Yahoo ads and affiliate ads a’plenty, but they’re not intrusive. You guys could actually learn something from him: Niche sites are great for affiliate marketing. These ads are the very definition of well-placed: Diet programs, healthy eating, and workout eBooks. It looks a lot easier to monetize a workout blog than a make money online blog.

The only ad that doesn’t really feel right is this one. Celebridiot? I agree, most celebrities are idiots, but that ad doesn’t really fit the theme of the site.

Overall, it looks like he’s taking advantage of his available space without abusing it, and has monetized his blog pretty well.

Nuts and bolts

The layout of the site is very effective, with a good color scheme and clearly-defined content areas. The text is easy to read, the eyes are drawn to the ads, and overall, it works very well.

Let’s see, the widgets. He’s got the Feeburner widget up, and it’s reporting…1,455 subscribers. Ok, that satisfies my ‘greater than 50′ rule. He’s also using the Entrecard widget, but it’s waaaaay at the bottom-right of the page and easy to miss. Not a big deal though, I’m pretty sure his site gets along just fine without Entrecard taking center stage.

I’ve never really understood why people put content in their footers. Sure, it’s extra space, but it’s easy to miss. Again, not a big deal, as the only things down there are the top commentators, the Mybloglog widget, a short bio, links to an Amazon store, and a legal disclaimer. In an age where you can get sued if a burglar injures himself while robbing your house, it’s always a good idea to have a legal disclaimer.

The bottom line

Original content and personal experiences, combined with a good site layout and lack of intrusive ads makes for a good site. If you’re at all interested in workout or dieting tips, I’d recommend checking it out.

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Stalling out on ReviewU

I have got a lot of blogs in my ReviewU queue. Blogs like Tetsujin’s Blog, Lazy Man and Money, and Career Club. Blogs that are causing me to stall and crash. Are you wondering why these blogs are giving me such a hard time? It’s because I can’t find anything nasty to say about them.

Matchstick
If you haven’t noticed by now, my blog entries are fueled by cynicism and spite. If I think something is stupid, I can go on for hundreds of words, tearing it to shreds. Is the content worthless? Great! Does the theme suck? Wonderful! That’s all fuel for my creative fire. If I can’t be cruel and sarcastic, I just can’t write.

I mean, just look at these blogs. Tetsujin’s blog has a great color scheme. Lazy Man and Money makes great use of its space. Career Club looks very professional, not to mention useful for its target audience. How am I supposed to be hateful with layout like these? Even worse, they have good, original content. They’re not ripping off John Chow, they’re not rehashing crap that they found on Digital Point, they’re actually writing down their own unique thoughts. How can I complain about that? You might even learn a few things by reading these blogs. Useful content…man, what’s the Internet coming to?

Give me a poor, struggling blog that needs guidance! Give me something that I can tear down and rebuild! Give me a blog that doesn’t already have nearly 2000 RSS readers (Lazy Man). How can I say anything bad about that? This guy is much more successful than me, and the other two have great potential.

These sites are fine. I’d even go so far to say that they’re great examples of what blogs should be like. The ads are un-intrusive, the content is fresh, and I just can’t think of anything nasty to say. I’m sorry, loyal readers, I’ve let you all down. I’m going to spend all of today recharging my sarcasm batteries, so hopefully tomorrow I’ll be back to my cruel, misanthropic self.

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ReviewU: Poetry 2.0

Ethan wrote in to request a ReviewU review of his site, Poetry 2.0. Poetry’s not really my thing, but after seeing the URL (poeticmoney.com), I was interested enough to take a look. Could a poetry-themed blog make money online? I know that one of my readers has a fairly well-monetized photography blog, so I was curious to see if the written arts could make money as well. Imagine my surprise when I found out he’s not monetizing his blog at all.

Poetic Money

You’d think with a URL like ‘poeticmoney.com’, the site owner would be monetizing his blog. Also, one of my rules regarding ReviewU reviews is that you have to be trying to make money with your site. Well, I’m going to make an exception in this case. Why? Look at the top of his site. See the fake Google ad? Click on it and read the article it takes you to.

You see that? See?

This. This is what I like. This is what I’ve been trying to preach since I started this site. The owner had apparently tried to monetize this fledgling blog at some point with Google ads and Kontera links. After realizing that he wasn’t making much money, he didn’t scrap the blog, he removed the ads.

“I think other bloggers out there should think about doing the same. If you have a relatively new blog, don’t slap some adsense code into it. Nobody likes seeing ads, and unless you have a fairly large amount of traffic, you’re not going to make very much from them.”

I think I’m going to cry. This is the most beautiful thing I’ve read in weeks. His site may be about poetry, but these three simple sentences moved me. I dedicate this haiku in his honor:

Content and not ads
Look, I am almost speechless
Holy f***ing s***

Yeah, I’m not much of a poet, but you get the idea.

The site itself

Ok, I’m doing praising his decision to remove the ads. The site itself, as you might have guessed, is about poetry. After reading a few pages back into his archives, I’ve noticed that he has as many, if not more, posts dedicated to blogging as he has dedicated to poetry. I would recommend focusing more on the core subject of the blog, and limit the off-topic posts to less than 1/5 of your total posts. Sure, it’s great to know how to use Entrecard and Stumbleupon effectively, but I’d rather read about poetry on a poetry site.

The layout

Nothing special here. I like the color scheme, I hate the gigantic RSS button, and I still don’t see the point of having the Feedburner widget up if you’ve got less than 50 readers.

Monetizing

I already mentioned that he has no ads on his site, in favor of actual content. He does, however, give you the option of commissioning him to write poems for you. It’s nice to see actual services offered on a website instead of advertising. You can also buy ad space from him, but that’s not so bad. Direct ad sales are much better than Adsense blocks.

Overall

This site seems like a pretty nice niche blog. Decent content, good layout, and a good sense of priorities (content > ads). Any poetry affectionados should head over and take a look.

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