Blog Money Making in 2009

2009 has been a tough year for Bloggers to make money compared to 2008 but there have been opportunities and ad networks have matured to become better accepted by marketers. Gone are the large amounts of money for private ad sales in favor of link exchange agreements and PPC amounts have tumbled.

Here is how some of my sites have fared over the past year for monetization.

Sponsored Reviews

Sponsored reviews have fared well in 2009 with advertisers keen to show their products in a natural way to consumers and search engines. They are often criticized for degrading the quality of a blogs content but I've found a sponsored review mixed in between a number of good quality posts to perform well. Strict new rules for Bloggers in the US may mean some good opportunities for non-US blogs in 2010.

Pay Per Click (PPC)

It's been a rough year for Pay Per Click marketing, the amount made per click in 2009 has plummeted on a number of my sites, hopefully 2010 will see the PPC market performing much better.

Google Adsense - Has been a reliable income throughout the year though relies heavily on people clicking high value ads. Adsense performed well on my iPodHistory site before I sold it however has failed to do well on 12stix or ImAFish.

Clicksor - Has replaced Adsense on a couple of sites where they are not suitable for Adsense or have been banned. The amount per click is fairly poor even compared to Adsense.

Monthly Ads

Monthly ads are where you are paid a set amount per month for an advert though these often base prices on Google Page Rank and Alexa ranking. There are a number of key players:

TNX - Has been a consistent payer throughout the year but relies on paying a small amount for a lot of adverts.

LinkLift - Recently out of beta, LinkLift is one of the newer players but has shown good growth throughout the year.

Linkworth - Advertising revenue has dried up significantly from Linkworth over the past year.

Text-Link-Ads - TLA has paid consistently low amounts all year.

Teliad - Has paid consistently for higher Page Ranked pages.

Private Ad Sales

This time last year there was a lot of money for private ad sales however this has declined significantly. Companies are now turning to link exchange programs rather than paying directly for ads. Even the better paying gambling sites have been cutting back on their advertising budget.

Conclusion

Hopefully we are over the worst in 2009 with the slump in the advertising market. There are plenty of opportunities out there for Blog monetization but Bloggers need to work that extra bit harder to attract the advertisers.

10 Best Firefox Plugins for Web Developers

I use many of these plugins on a daily basis and would recommend them to any web developer.

1. Firebug

Firebug allows you to inspect elements on a web page and see the associated attributes. You can edit in real time allowing you to quickly make changes to an elements colour, position, border or behavior. 

 Firebug

Firebug has a number of extensions that will be covered later on in this article.

2. Web Developer Toolbar

The Web Developer toolbar has various web developer tools. The most useful I find are for disabling certain elements on the screen such as JavaScript or clearing cookies and session data.

 Web Developer

Clicking display alt tags under the images menu is a quick way to see if you have missed any. The resize menu lets you test your site in different resolutions.

3. Extended Statusbar

Extended statusbar is useful to way to see how large a page is to download and how long it takes to load. I often use this to help monitor slow loading pages.

 Extended Statusbar

4. Colorzilla

Colorzila allows you to mouse over elements on the screen to see the colour. Its very useful if you need to match a colour or check a colour is correct.

 Colorzilla

(Note US spelling 'color').

5. MeasureIT

MeasureIT simply allows you to measure elements on a screen and gives you the measurement in pixels. Very useful for checking the height of objects, text spacing and the overall width of the page.

 MeasureIT

6. Screengrab

An easy way to take screen shots of a page. Especially useful if the page includes scroll bars as it saves you copying and pasting multiple screen shots together.

 Screen Grab

7. YSlow

YSlow shows you various options on how to speed up your website. Clearly not all are suitable/cost effective for a website such as ImAFish however many are very relevant. Each item is given a rating from A to F and a full explanation on how to implement. YSlow is developed by Yahoo.

 Yslow

8. Page Speed

Page speed is similar to YSlow however covers slightly different criteria. As you can see for ImAFish it highly recommends combing external JavaScript.

 

9. Linkification

Linkification is a simply little plugin that converts any URL on the screen into a clickable link. Quite useful for those times someone has forgotten to turn a URL into a link.

 Linkification

10. IE Tab

IE Tab is a nice plugin to test your page in Internet Explorer without actually having to open the Browser. It's also useful if you want a fresh session for a website without having to open another browser.

 

10 Useful Mac Tips you might not have thought of

Here are some of my top tips for additional OS X functions, most have come from my experience at home and work.

1. Plugging in a TV or Second Monitor

Most Mac models come with an external connector for attaching additional screens (normally a mini DVI connector). From this you need a mini DVI to DVI connector then another cable to plug into your screen, this can be a DVI to VGA cable, DVI to DVI cable or as I have a DVI to HDMI cable. All the cables are very cheap and can normally be picked up from Ebay.

OS X should automatically detect the second screen plugged in and you can open system preferences to adjust the resolution. You may have to play around with the settings, my 26" LG HD TV looks best on 1280 x 720 rather than its native resolution.

Second Monitor

I've had my iMac plugged into my TV for the past 6 months and people still think its cool how I can move my mouse from one screen to another.

2. Sharing your Internet over Wireless.

While I was at University our local cable supplier didn't give out free wireless routers so to save buying one I shared the Internet out through my iMac's wireless. In Leopard the Internet can be shared from the Sharing section in System Preferences.

Sharing over Airport

3. Bluetooth Internet Through Your Phone

It usually takes ISP's about two weeks to put ADSL on a phone line. Clearly I couldn't be without Internet for two weeks so I turned to my mobile phone provider (T-Mobile) to hook me up to the net. Now that 3G signal is well established (and I have a 3G phone) I got speeds of around 3mb for

***Unfortunately the remainder of this article has become corrupt and lost :(***

My Top Drupal Tips

I've been developing web sites using Drupal for over 18 months now, for me the flexibility and modules available for Drupal make it the best and quickest way to develop a website. Here are some of my top tips:

1. If you want to edit the layout of the site maintenance page you can find the CSS file in misc/maintenance.css.

2. After I have installed Drupal I first enable clean URLs then enable the path module. This means I can build basic SEO in from the start. If building a blog or articles based site I like to use the path auto module to automatically specify the URL.

Clean Urls

3. When designing a site I like to build it in Dreamweaver first, then I copy the PHP template tags in from another template (often bluemarine). In the past I would customise the garland theme however there was a lot of extra CSS that I would often remove.

4. To create a template for an individual node type create a file in your template directory called node-nodetype.tpl.php where nodetype is the node type. (ie node-story.tpl.php for a story node).

Node Story
This is really useful for customising individual nodes especially when using CCK and the views module. For instance I recently built a ticket support system for a company, by integrating a view into the company node you could immediately see the open tickets for that company.

//load the view by name
$view = views_get_view('view ticket');
//output the top three items in the view with the node title as an argument
print views_build_view('embed', $view, array($node->nid), false, 3);

The above code is for inserting a view into a node - more in the views documentation.

5. When first developing a theme I change the administrative theme to Garland or Bluemarine so that I can still access all the administration sections in order to enable menus, blocks, CCK and other configuration options.

6. In Drupal 5 a top border is added to tables. If this messes up your theme edit modules/system/system.css and comment out or remove line 18 ( border-top: 1px solid #ccc; ).

7. The TinyMCE module allows you to turn a text area into a WYSIWYG editor giving you formatting options such as bold, italic, underline, text direction, links and images. The module IMCE adds image upload and resizing support to TinyMCE.

8. When upgrading from Drupal 4.7x to 5x I often have problems with IMCE not working with TinyMCE, to revolve this remove the TinyMCE profile and recreate it.

9. If you enable a lot of modules you may get php memory errors, to fix this add:
ini_set('memory_limit', '20M');
to the sites/default/settings.php file. You may also have to do this on the pages that have the errors to.Memory Set

I usually add it after the other ini_set variables in the settings.php file.

10. When developing I like to have the cache disabled, once the site is ready to launch I will set it to normal mode. The same goes for aggregating and compressing CSS files.

11. When having to create user profiles I use the node profile module along with the CCK (content construction kit) module rather than the profile module included with Drupal as default. CCK gives you a lot more flexibility and there are many more customization options. Also by making a profile a node you can theme it easier (see #4).

12. In Drupal 5 you can specify a default front page from the site information page however an easy way to create different front pages for authenticated and non authenticated users it to use the front page module.

How to Avoid Electro Magnetic Radiation

Our recent article - 21 Ways To Develop Cancer has caused quite a stir with a number of sceptics and people with first hand experience with electro magnetic radiation (EMR). A number of comments suggested we talk about how to avoid EMR where possible. Certain people are more sensitive to EMR than others, in a similar sort of way to how pollen effects only certain people. The effects of EMR can be as simple as headaches to life threatening cancer. It is impossible to cut out EMR from our daily lives however we can minimise our exposure to it, with the help from Safe Living Technologies and the guest writer of the previous article - Martin Weatherall I have compiled this list of advice to minimise exposure.

  1. Avoid living near a mobile phone masts or radio/TV transmitters.
  2. Avoid using cordless phones, especially DECT phones as these transmit radiation even when not in use.
  3. Avoid using wireless baby monitors or wireless security systems, where possible hard wire them in.
  4. Where possible do not use wireless routers - use CAT5 cable.
  5. Where possible use your mobile phone on hands free but without a Bluetooth headset. Aviod using a mobile phone in your car without an external antenna as the radio waves will be reflected back at you from the metal chassis. If your phone has poor signal in the car an external antenna should improve your call quality too.
  6. Only use a mobile phone or cordless phone for emergency calls only, use a corded phone for all regular conversations. Avoid using a mobile phone if pregnant and do not allow a child under 16 to use a mobile phone at all.
  7. Try not to keep your mobile phone in the same pocket all the time, if possible keep it away from the body in a bag or on a desk. Otherwise rotate it around the body.
  8. Avoid using the Microwave, it doesn't do anything good for your food anyway and will flood adjacent rooms with radiation.
  9. Minimise the number of electronic devices around your bed, this can include lights, alarm clocks, telephones, extension cords and electric blankets. Battery operated devices such as an alarm clock are good replacements.
  10. Make sure you don't sleep near your fuse box or distribution box.
  11. Avoid living near or under high voltage power lines. The same goes for electric sub-stations and transformers.
  12. Avoid all unnecessary exposure to x-rays and CT scans.
  13. Drive cars that have low electro magnetic fields.
  14. Make sure electronic devices are grounded (this is not such a problem in the UK as we have three pronged plugs unlike the rest of Europe and America).
  15. Avoid using a dimmer switch in the house as these emit high magnetic fields and cause dirty electricity.

This article from Safe Living Technologies provides a lot more detail about how to cut down your exposure to EMR.