You may have noticed that I've been making some changes to the site over the past few days. My blog was starting to look more like a park page then an actual blog! I don't think I'm completely finished yet but thought that a post documenting the changes would help explain what I'm doing and why I'm doing it.
A couple days ago, there was a survey on AdSense that I participated in and whenever I participate in one of these "blog monetization" surveys, a period of introspection and re-prioritization ultimately follows. I began selling ad space via AdSense for the same reason everyone else does—we all think we're going to get rich from Internet ad revenue. The reality is far from the fantasy however.
This site has been live for about 2.25 years now and I've been 'selling' adsense ads pretty much since day one. I've yet to reach $50 from these ads. If there are 2 clicks on an Adsense ad in a month, it's been an unusually good month. I've been an Amazon Affiliate partner now for about the same amount of time and although I get many more clicks for these types of advertisements, I only had 1 sale in 2008 and 1 sale in 2009. I've experimented with other types of affiliate networks as well and although there are a lot of clicks, no one really buys. So, the results of my advertising experiment so far boils down to this:
I'm not ready to completely pack it in yet but I think that these experiments have prevented this blog from attaining a higher reach. Here is a summary of the changes I have implemented to this site:
Let me know what you think. Is this better? Not far enough? Does any one have any thoughts on what I should be doing (or what I should stop doing)?
As I pointed out in my last post regarding Roller, when I first started blogging almost 3 years ago, I was looking at Roller as my blog engine of choice but the learning curve on the product seemed a bit steep for someone with no experience in this medium. I actually did give Roller a spin for a brief period of time but then became frustrated with the lack of well-written documentation and felt that I wouldn't get off and running easily if I needed to worry not only about the content itself but also managing Roller's internals as well. Too bad for me that this book came out three years later because the Apache Roller 4.0 Beginner's Guide by Alfonso Romero is a near-perfect introduction to blogging and blogging with Apache Roller.
The book's first three chapters cover blogging in general, how to use Roller as your blog engine, and how to get up and running using on Windows or Linux platforms. Detailed instructions are provided for integrating with the techstack that many of us web and middleware administrators are already familiar with: linux, apache, mysql, and tomcat.
Later chapters cover almost everything one would need to know in order to use Roller for creating content, working with images or video, and how to customize styles and templates to get the look you want. I liked how Mr. Romero also included information on dealing with some of the 'gotchas' that one were to come across during normal Roller use. One example is dealing with file upload sizes larger than 1MB and easy-to-follow steps for solving that issue.
Some of the other things that I liked that were included in this guide are tips for blog promotion on various social networking sites (including my villain, Technoroti) but one item missing that I thought might be useful for beginning bloggers as well as bloggers new to Roller was information on search engine optimization. For a blogger like myself who gets 85% of his site's traffic from search engines, I would love to know how to customize individual posts or templates for search engine optimization. Maybe that will be covered in the Intermediate User's Guide (hint, hint!).
To close, the Apache Roller 4.0 Beginner's Guide is a well-written and well-edited book if you want to get up-close and personal with Apache Roller. For bloggers looking to use Roller as their personal or business weblog engine, this book provides pretty much everything one needs to know to get started and I highly recommend getting this book.
Disclaimer: I am not being paid by the author, the publisher, or any other entity to provide a review on this book. I was asked by the publisher to do a review of this book and the publisher provided me with a free reviewer's copy. Some of the links in this review are affiliate links and I could get paid a referral fee in the event someone were to buy a copy of this book after clicking on one of these links.