Producing Content Without Agony (Robby Slaughter session)

I always get a lot of great stuff from Robby’s sessions, and the title of this one jumped out at me instantly. I don’t struggle a lot with agony, but I do have a lot of blogs. Finding more productive ways to keep up on them can only be helpful.

Why Blogging is Agonizing

Money—many blogs are now free
Out of ideas—google “blog ideas”
No traffic/apathy
Self-promotion is hard
Not Techie—You don’t have to be anymore, but if you need help, ask.

How to Get Past the Agony


“Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” (Look at other blogs to find ideas for yours.)
Appearance & Layout
Structure & Patterns
Balance & Post Types
Schedule & Sequence

Examples: Advance Indiana, Coffee Sage, Happiness Project

It’s easier to write blogs if you have to make less decisions.

Coffee Sage uses the words coffee or Starbucks in every title.

Happiness Project has a set schedule—every, single Wednesday is Tip Day. She already knows she has to share a tip every Wednesday. Quote Blogs: shares a quote about happiness & a picture of the person who said it as an entire post.


Best time to blog: far in advance. You’ll have less stress if you blog in advance because you aren’t worried about deadlines.

How to cheat at blogging.

Switching tasks kills your flow.
3 Blogging Plans:
“I have to blog now” plan: Panic->Research->Write->Edit->Publish.
“The kids sare asleep plan: Coffee->Research->Write->Edit->Schedule.
“Radical Productivity Plan: Research>Research->Research->Research->Write->Write->Write->Write->Schedule->Relax

Be Lazy

Automate as much as possible:
Use the scheduler—most blog posts will still be relevant later. Post them automatically while you are away. (Checkout Future Posts WP plugin)
Take Advantage of “Press This”
Have a Blogging Checklist—use the blogging checklist plugin to keep it right where you need it.
Use replacement hotkeys

Quickly Inserting Photos:

Skip the download, reupload process by using copy image location, insert and add the link to the file name path. It will still upload the photo to your site from the link. Testing:

Body Painting at BlogHer

Speaker: Robby Slaughter, @RobbySlaughter

This is a live blog—an unedited version of my notes. It is not meant as an exact transcript but I try to capture the highlights along the way (and, you know, add commentary). I’ll fix spelling errors & grammar later, when I get a chance to go back. Be gentle, until then.

Introduction to Affiliate Marketing (Tricia Meyer Session)

I’m so excited to have Tricia speaking at BlogIndiana—this is what we need. Tricia has made a successful work-at-home career through internet marketing. She has fun & brilliant ideas for niche content sites.

Working with large brands

How in the world is a small blog going to get Target & Amazon to sponsor them? Advertising is painstaking but you can utilize affiliate marketing programs to earn income from major brands.

Types of Affiliate Marketing Sites

  • Coupon & Deal Sites
  • Cash Back Sites
  • Comparison Shopping Sites/Directories
  • Paid Search
  • Newsletter Marketing
  • Toolbars
  • Mobile Ads
  • Facebook & Twitter Ads
  • Virtual Currency
  • Most importantly—blogs!

How Does It Work

Customers visit an affiliate website. Affiliates (affiliate = blogger/publisher) direct customers to partners/brands who complete the sale. Partners pay the affiliates a commission for the referral.

Network’s Role

The network is your directory of merchants to find brands/partners to promote. They handle payment processing (get money from the merchants & send the commission to you), host datafeeds & creatives, negotiate commission contracts with merchants and facilitate communication. Sometimes they will manage programs as well, but you’ll often have an affiliate manager or OPM (outsourced program manager).

Affiliate Manager’s Role

They create the text & graphics (a good one can even create graphics specifically for your website), negotiate custom commission rates & coupons, communicates with network & affiliates, finds new affiliates for merchants, advises affiliates on placement (talk to them about what might work best for your site) and educates affiliates about their merchants.

Steps to Making Money on Blogs

  • Sign Up for Networks
  • Find Merchants
  • Load Creatives to Your Sites
  • Drive Traffic to Your Sites

Finding Merchants

  • Search network directories by category or keyword
  • Search for products in Google (check shopping results)
  • Visit Your Competitors’ Sites
  • Ask Network Reps for Suggestions

Choosing the Right Merchant

Products need to fit your site—it should make sense for your content & readers.
Evaluate the EPC (earnings per click)—tells you how well the merchant’s ads convert.
Site leaks—if the merchant website has adsense or links to other merchants, you’re less likely to make a commission on your referrals.
Return Days—how long the merchant will recognize the cookie that tells them your reader visited the site from your link.
Reputation of Network or Manager
Freshness of Creatives—choose merchants that are updating their graphics regularly
Reversal Rates—how often a merchant cancels an order after they’ve already given you credit (happens a lot in shoes, especially with Zappos who have free returns).
Responsiveness of manager

Google AdSense

It’s a bit of an intro to making money on your blog—it is a great way to get started but it has some downsides.
Great for a place that is hard to monetize.
You’re making pennies on the dollar and sending readers to someone else who may be making a commission on that sale.

Banner Ads

Standard sizes (square/rectangle—as small as 120×60 or large as 728×90)
Features name brands & products
Choose rotating banners that the merchant automatically updates.

Product Links/Images

You can use product images & text links to feature specific products. (i.e. product reviews)


Merchants & Plugins canl create widgets that autoupdate with content that is popular or fits a keyword.


They are on Pepperjam, but we prefer the partner network.
phpBay Lite Plugin generates the items closing soon based on keywords you provide.


Conversion rates are high on video. You can create your own, but some networks also provide video for affiliates. I need to find the link of Tricia’s oldest eating vomit-flavored Jelly Bellies. Too funny!


Generates product/shopping pages for your own site. They have a free version, but you’ll get more functionality from the paid options. The only downside is everything goes through their links (with your affiliate id) so you don’t have the tracking abilities you would.


Has coupon directory & search options that will create widgets/pages for your site. They run on a 4th-click system so every 4th click changes to their affiliate id. However, many merchants are now paying to get into GoldenCan so they are “free of 4th click” & you receive full commissions.


No direct merchant affiliation or understanding of links needed.
Use the plugins for blogs or forums to convert standard links to affiliate links.
SkimLinks keeps a portion of commissions but they negotiate such high rates that you may still make a decent percentage.

Legal & Ethical Issues

Adware—affiliates who install software/cookies on readers’ sites so their affiliate link overrides any other affiliate link in the future.
Cookie Stuffing—affiliates who require you to click something (i.e. click here to see coupon) are probably just getting their cookie onto your computer in case you ever go back to shop.
Ad Tax/Amazon Tax/Affiliate Tax—I’ve been watching this, especially with the Colorado mess, but we’re lucky this hasn’t come to Indiana yet.

Learn More

Affiliate Summit
Forums (A Best Web)
Network/OPM conference calls

Speaker: Tricia Meyer, @SunshineTricia

This is a live blog—an unedited version of my notes. It is not meant as an exact transcript but I try to capture the highlights along the way (and, you know, add commentary). I’ll fix spelling errors & grammar later, when I get a chance to go back. Be gentle, until then.

11 Secrets to Promoting Your Blog (Erik Deckers Session)

There are a lot of great sessions to choose from in this hour. I had to go with Erik—I always pick up awesome, actionable tips from him. Today’s session is on promoting your blog through search & social media. My current #1 referral source is Stumble Upon, followed closely by Google. I’d love to figure out why that’s happening & how to get even more traction out of it.

  1. Keywords
    Title: keywords should be in the first 4 words.
    Anchor Text: only keywords, not a full sentence
    Spiders don’t read punctuation so your keywords can span more than one sentence.
  2. Backlinks
    Even more important than keywords because there is more emphasis on who is linking to your keywords.
  3. Microsites
    Buy a domain with your keyword in it and a single page that points to your main site.
  4. Photos & Video
    YouTube holds a lot of weight in Google’s algorithm. Rather than hosting photos on your own site, use Flickr or Picasa for more social media juice. It can actually make your site load faster because the browser will load pictures & your page simultaneously from the 2 different sources.
  5. Social Sharing—Stumble Upon, Digg, Share This
    Stumble Upon—the toolbar can be the most fun time waster out there.
  6. Ask for Retweets
    Use sparingly but when you have a post you think someone else would be interested in sharing with their readers, ask for a retweet.
  7. Guest Blog
    This one is huge for me—I get quite a bit of traffic & strong backlinks when I guest blog. I get a lot of traffic from allowing others to guest blog because they promote it through their own networks. I love the My Blog Guest forum, though I’ve been inactive all summer. Ann was nice enough to DM me just the other day to ask how I was doing & I’ll be getting more involved again when the girls go back to school.
  8. Leave Comments
    Spend a few minutes leaving 3 comments per day—at the end of the month, you’ll have 90 backlinks & 90 people who know you valued their blogs. Don’t leave generic comments. Leave thoughtful comments that address the post specifically. Use Google’s Blog Search to find blogs relevant to your topic.You’ll be building relationships, but it can have backlink relevance (even if the links are nofollow—Google ignores for pagerank purposes but will still notice the link).
  9. Ask for comments
    Use a call to action in your posts—specifically ask for comments!
  10. Automate
    Don’t automate generic tweets—Twitter is conversation & community. Do automate some of your work. Use plugins or Tweetdeck to send your blog posts to Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Ning, etc. Schedule blog posts to go out at 8am (this is the 2nd time I have heard this—Shannon Steffen said the same thing at WordCamp). talks to most social media networks and can provide backlinks if you automate link sharing.
  11. Write Well
    If you want visitors to return, write well and check grammar & spelling.

    Speaker: Erik Deckers, @edeckers

    This is a live blog—an unedited version of my notes. It is not meant as an exact transcript but I try to capture the highlights along the way (and, you know, add commentary). I’ll fix spelling errors & grammar later, when I get a chance to go back. Be gentle, until then.

How To Become an Email Ninja (Michael Reynolds session)

So, the Slaughter Development class on email was incredibly helpful. Then, summer happened. And, my life started to unravel.

Michael Reynolds (who, btw, is a fellow Ball State/Botswin alumni) has adapted Merlin Mann’s Inbox Zero program and just busted me for having over 1000 messages. I’m attending this session with almost 900 unread messages in my inbox. Wish me luck.

Email is just a medium—it’s a communication tool that you should be controlling. Concert each email to an action, then process to zero. He assures me he’ll be teaching that today. The question is if I can learn it.

Working in Contexts

Writing, Process, Running Errands, On the Phone, In Meetings

Multi-tasking is a myth. (Side note: Only men say this. They’ve clearly never talked on the phone, nursed a baby and cooked dinner at exactly the same time.)

Stop treating email like instant messaging. Keep your email closed until you are acting on it. (Okay, so I got this one out of Robby’s session earlier this year. I guess I got a D, not a total fail.)

How to Act on Email

Delete (or archive)

Will you ever Really do anything about it?
If not, delete it—don’t feel bad about being realistic. Any modern email system can handle a large archive of email, if you need a safety net. (Use search to recover archived email.)


Is it more efficient for someone else to deal with it? (CC yourself and place a copy in “Waiting For” folder)


Can you respond in less than 2 minutes? Then, respond & delete or archive.


Will this take longer than 2 minutes to deal with?
1. Place it in an “Action Required” folder to address later.
2. Add it to your to-do list, then delete or archive.


Can you act on this message in 2 minutes or less (outside of email)? Then, do it & delete or archive the message.

Turn off email on your phone so you only get new messages when you have time set aside to deal with it. (Done! Another win from Robby Slaughter!)
Keep your email program in offline mode while working with folders—you are in control without new messages interrupting your process.

Migration to Inbox Zero

  1. Create your 3 folders & organize all your other folders into them.
  2. Delete other folders.
  3. Set aside a block of time to process the Inbox.

Why Your Site Sucks (Doug Karr Session)

Doug stresses these are observations & ideas, not rules. He went through his list of things that make visitors bounce, through the alphabet. I, of course, love alphabet themes! Plus, he pulled actual websites from the attendee list—I’d love his thoughts on some of my sites, but I didn’t make the slideshow.

  • Address: be sure your address is available. Especially if you have a physical business. Putting an address on your site builds trust.
  • Blog: recognized as the personal voice of a business—be sure it is at the forefront of your site.
  • Contrast: keep good contrast between background & font colors to make it easier.
  • Cross-Browser: check to see if your site is compatible with all common browsers.
  • Depth: let’s move past drop shadows and add graphic depth.
  • Emphasis/Elevation: 2-second rule (people will bounce fast if they can’t pick out what it’s about.) Sub-headings, bullet points, bold.
  • Fat Footer, Flash Blocker, Fold: Put a background image under any flash so there is something for people to see if their browser blocks flash. Keep important information above the fold but add details in the large footer to help navigate large sites.
  • Graphics: Watch bright colors as they can be tough on the eyes.
  • Headlines: Concise.
  • Internal Linking: Utilize keywords & links to to other pages on your site for SEO & content depth.
  • Just Enough to Lead, not Qualify: Every feature doesn’t need it’s own page & link on the home page. Pare the landing page down to usable info.
  • Keywords: The landing page needs content the search engines can read. (Verify what can be read at SEO Browser.)
  • Landing Page: You need landing pages that convert—have a call to action. When you tell people what to do, they do it. Put a picture of a button on a home page, they click it.
  • Mobile: Websites need to be mobile optimized. Give people what they need to know when they visit your site form a mobile phone. Anchor tag for telephone numbers: <a href=””tel:number”>number</a>
  • Navigation: Keep it simple so users can find what they need.
  • Originality: You can buy stock web designs, but come up with a unique twist.
  • Phone Number: Be sure people have a way to contact you.
  • Questions: Your landing page should answer the questions people are coming to ask.
  • Registration: Provide a registration form so potential customers can contact you. (Sidenote: Adding an email form on Inexpensively at Jim Kukral‘s suggestion earlier this month resulted in a 20% increase in RSS subscribers in just 2 weeks.)
  • Search Engine Optimization: Get off of Blogspot or (P.S. The hubby can totally do that for you!) because all your authority is going to someone else’s site. You want backlinks & Google juice coming to your own domain.
  • Twitter: Display your social integration, but don’t let it distract from your site’s content & purpose.
  • Ugly/Unecessary Pages: Avoid!
  • Video: People click play when they see the arrow. Promotional videos can get people to stick around.
  • White Space: Symmetry & space
  • eXtra Content: Provide something extra—ebooks, demos, etc.
  • You: Get rid of stock photos and use yourself! People want to connect with you.
  • Speaker: Doug Karr, @DouglasKarr

    This is a live blog—an unedited version of my notes. It is not meant as an exact transcript but I try to capture the highlights along the way. I’ll fix spelling errors & grammar later, when I get a chance to go back. Be gentle, until then.

  • BlogIndiana – I’m Speaking!

    I stumbled on BlogIndiana just last year, via Indy’s vast Twitter community. I was invited to speak on 2 panels – and really enjoyed the entire experience. Shawn & Noah put together a great, local program. And, I am honored to be a part of it again this year.

    BlogIndiana will be in downtown Indy on August 20th & 21st. My session is titled The Blog That Press Built. See that list of media appearances on the right sidebar? I’ll be speaking on how to capitalize on press mentions to benefit your blog.

    I am counting down the days to the 2-day event – it’s a great weekend with the Indiana blogging community. I’m looking forward to seeing friends, meeting new ones and learning from some of Indy’s greatest blogging talent.

    Plus, I have a coupon code for you! Earlybird registration ends Friday ($79 per day or $149 for both), and you can save an additional 10% on your ticket when you use coupon code SPEAKTOME10. I hope you’ll join us!