Things that I would make different if I had the chance
I'm creating and maintaining Internet websites for a very long time and can look back to almost two years of successful blogging here at ghacks. While there is not much that I would change if I had the chance, there are a few things that I would definitely change if I had the chance to go back in the past and act again.
Some of them are probably great advice for everyone who might face a similar situation in the future and a nice reminder for those who went through the same. Please feel free to add your experience in the comments. I will also ping some friends of mine who probably would like to share their opinion as well.
- 1. Panic when Adsense earnings drop: This one is my favorite. Whenever I see a (longer lasting) drop in eCPM or revenue I begin to contact Everton and others to ask them if they experience the same. Even with all my experience I almost flipped out in April which was really a bad bad month for me.
My adsense earnings dropped by 35% with no apparent reason at all. Traffic levels and clicks were the same, only my eCPM went down like crazy. I began to experiment with different settings and ad formats which did not help at all and probably made matters worse.
My advice: Don't change a thing in the code. If you did not change anything prior to the drop you should simply stand your ground and wait for better times. It took a whole month to regain a level that I was comfortable with.
- 2. If your site is popular get a root server:This actually happened in December 2005. My site was highly popular with several listings on Digg and other sites and received thousands of visitors a day. To much for a normal webhost and Godaddy, the company hosting my site decided to take if off the web without sending me an email or calling me.
I realized that it was down when I wanted to visit it seeing only a Godaddy information that I should contact them. I got my site back after calling Godaddy support for 30 minutes and decided to get a rootserver as soon as possible. If I had the knowledge that I have know I would probably try to enable caching and all sorts of tricks before I would really rent a rootserver. Still, a rootserver is a must have for popular blogs.
- 3. Get a managed rootserver: Well, it is indeed a bad idea to get a rootserver with no knowledge whatsoever. It took me a few days to get ftp, mysql, intrusion detection and all that stuff running on my rootserver which cost me lots of time. A managed server would have been much better suited considering my Linux knowledge at that time.
Sure, it costs more but you do not have to think about security updates, installing software on Linux, securing a server and optimizing it for best performance.
- 4. Don't put up to much advertising: If one ad unit is doing well three will do better, right ? NO ! Not necessarily that is. I had to try out a lot of ad formats and combinations. Google Adsense with three ad units, link units, Chitika, affiliate programs to realize that not everything is working on every website.
I have the best results with just one Adsense ad and no other ads that look or feel like it. Affiliate programs are not working at all on my blog and I do not want to remove the Google Ads at all just to test how they would run as my primary ad unit.
I was tempted to try this in April when Adsense went down like crazy but I still did not do it. My suggestion, try and compare. Several bloggers are posting their earnings and traffic levels (like Everton) making it easy to compare.
It is always a good idea to see how the ads are placed on successful blogs and try those on your site. You might be surprised how effective some placements are.
Oh, I got one story about Adsense placements. I read the Problogger blog back then when I started and decided that it would be a good idea to copy Darrens way of displaying Adsense ads. I later found out that this was not the ideal placement because Darren was not using the blog to make money (secondary motivation) but to market himself. I changed the placement to what it is know and my earnings skyrocket.
- 5.Make contacts: Contacts are probably the most important aspect of blogging. You can do well alone but you do much better if you have some guys who are also blogging. I'm exchanging knowledge with Everton for instance and we both profit from this exchange.
He recommended me to Intellitxt for instance which is creating about 25% of my blog earnings since then. Whenever we find something interesting such as plugins for WordPress, interesting articles or websites we mail each other and let the other one know about it.
It is always easier to be up to date with everything this way.
I'm going to ping the following blogs and hope that they will write about this or comment here at my blog: (I read all the sites daily in my feed reader) Connected Internet, Fosfor Gadgets, Problogger, Cybernetnews, Pimp your Work, Digital Inspiration, John Chow and Webby's World.Advertisement