Can British bloggers make money?

A question posed on the BBC’s blog, which has an interesting, and only slightly flamey, set of comments. From them I have discovered, which looks like it pays out in pennies and pounds so might be a good alternative to Google ads, and The Flowfield Unity, comics which might have an xkcd flavour. I shall investigate them both when I’m not using someone else’s computer.

Spinneyhead is dead. Long live Spinneyhead.

You can’t read this.
As I sit here, thumbing this message into my phone, Jay, the server on which Spinneyhead resides, is comatose. It succumbed to heat stroke on Monday and awaits ministration, and probably a new fan, in a dark corner of a room.
I’m in limbo as well. We’re moving to Crewe next month for Clare’s new job. My job hunting is hampered by this. A month’s temping would be good, but unlikely, and my search for Crewe based jobs has been fruitless so far.
I’m working on growing Spinneyhead’s long tail (currently docked) with small products that sell occasionally. However, the empire’s main income is still from advertising. Thankfully Jay’s affliction hasn’t affected how to save the world for free, but it has hit Scale, the surprise top performer in terms of dollars per thousand visitors. Spinneyhead itself earns me practically nothing, but it remains the heart of the empire.
Which has led me to consider a few changes around here. Funded by my next Adsense payment Scale, as Small Scale Customs, will find itself a new home. It will take its anorak’d sibling Steam Geek with it. Spinneyhead will probably get a higher proportion of original material and fewer posts that are just links, fewer updates but hopefully more content. I’m going to trim my RSS feeds and restrict my news searches to Green and modelling subjects. All of which should hopefully garner me more time to stretch the tail and more money so I can get closer to the dream of working for myself.

Key Keywords

I’m not in the habit of chasing the highest paying keywords for my Adsense ads, and this list of the highest paying keywords shows why. They’re all unbelievably dull.

$54.33 mesothelioma lawyers
$47.79 what is mesothelioma
$47.72 peritoneal mesothelioma
$47.25 consolidate loans
$47.16 refinancing mortgage
$45.55 tax attorney
$41.22 mesothelioma
$38.86 car accident lawyer
$38.68 ameriquest mortgage
$38.03 mortgage refinance

via BoingBoing

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All Change

It’s been quite a productive day all told. Paperwork has been completed and handed in to the County Court. Bureaucracy has been bullied into submission and forced to promise payment. I’ve spent all the vouchers I got from the Bullshit To Work course on CDs and DVDs. And, entirely independent of BTW, I got a job.

True it’s only temp and it pays just �6 an hour, but it gets me off the New Deal train wreck and it involves commercial experience with Illustrator and DTP software. Plus, it’s at the MRI which is only a fifteen or so minute walk from the house.

How does this affect Spinneyhead? Well the whole treating the blog as a job scheme was knocked off course by BTW and I only really got back into the swing of it yesterday anyway. The short commute means if I get up early I can post one or two things in the morning to keep you occupied on your lunch break. I’ll also have an hour or so before everyone else gets home in the evening. I’ve been managing about a dozen posts a day across the family and I’ll try to maintain or improve on that level.

How to Save the World for Free, Digest, Dig and Scale are better moneyspinners for Adsense revenue than the main blog, but they just don’t get the traffic. So I’m going to work on ways to grow that. Expect to see a sidebar down the right with the most recent posts from the other blogs on it. To get new customers I may even consider buying a few cheap adwords myself.

Spinneyworld is still on the cards as well. I’m trying to get WordPress installed to use on SW. Hopefully that will be up and running by next week. An ethical investing blog I had been considering is going to have to go on hold, though.

Tomorrow I must get my hair cut.

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Ian's unhealthy obsession with statistics may yet pay off

Whilst studying my Adsense statistics yesterday I realised something about the gallery. It gets twice as many page views per day as the blog but makes almost nothing from the adverts. So I decided to put a more detailed hit tracker on it and take the ads away- they were making next to nothing so I wouldn’t notice.

Only a couple of hours worth of statistics revealed that two images in particular were extremely popular- this one and this one. It’s only right I should try to capitalise on this, so I’m making them available as prints. Mary as a Maid is available as a print in a range of sizes and the image of Blossom is going to get some minor tweaks and be available as soon as possible.

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Money, Money, Money

Well, my first Adsense payment is in the process of being transferred. $100-and-something translates to roughly �66, which isn’t bad, but it took me a while to get there. So the next phase of the monetisation of Spinneyhead is simple- I must make enough money in May to reach the payout level by the end of the month. Given that I’ll enter the month with about $37 in the bank, that means I have to average just over $2 a day. I’m sure I can do it, and I have a few plans for how. Look out for more videos, including one with original footage rather than just stuff I found hiding on the ‘Net.

Then the plan for June is to get more than $100 in a month………

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Feed Me!

I get most of my news from RSS (atom, XML, whatever) feeds, which is why it was so annoying when my computer crashed yesterday and wiped out details of my subscriptions. (Goes away and exports OPML file, just in case.)

And I know at least one person satisfies their Spinneyhead habit from the full text feed. So I’m pleased to see that I may soon be able to extend Adsense to my RSS feed. I promise not to over use it when it becomes available.

Another useful RSS trick I discovered yesterday-

Some blogs don’t publish a link to their feeds. However, it seems that Blogger creates one by default on new accounts, and puts the information you need into the templates available on its site. So now you can keep up with that blog you forget/ don’t want to visit every day. When viewing the page, go to View->Page Source and look for a line something like link rel=”alternate” type=”application/rss+xml” title=”RSS” href=”../spinneyhead_rss.xml”, which sould give you all the information you need to find and subscribe to the blog’s Atom feed.

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Stock ticker

I admit it, I’m a statistics junkie, even if sometimes it’s easy to get drowned in them. I’m also a Firefox convert, which means I had to install the Adsense Notifier extension. No it sits there at the bottom right of the browser window, updating every 20 minutes to tell me how well (or not) my AdSense ads are doing. Now I just need ones for all the other numbers I obsessively check.

via Problogger

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The first days of the rest of my (blogging) life

I’m a few days into treating blogging as a full time job. My explanation still hovers somewhere between this being what I really want to do and something I’m doing until a new job comes along. Hopefully I’ll soon be earning enough to stop apologising for my choice.

The Plan

The simple motivator is my transition to New Deal and the government’s desire for me to stop being a statistic. What this means, in practical terms, is training in the basics of cashflow and book keeping then six months of supported trading. during that period I stay on benefits and any money I make goes into a business account, only to be touched for business use. At the end of the six months they give me my cheque book and I’m left to sink or swim.

What’s the business plan? Well it’s a collection of vague and specific aims.


Increase revenue by raising readership and optimising the various advertising and other money making schemes.

More specifically-

Relaunch Eco House as How to Save the World for Free (a name right on the cusp between catchy and clunky, I admit), get it some media coverage and use it as a stepping stone to, preferably, a TV programme or, at least, a book.

Pimp up Spinneyhead. I see the site continuing as a repository of silly stuff with new material and the occasional bit of home made, and hopefully viral, media like the parrot.

Expand the Spinneyhead family. Not much chance chance of challenging Gawker or WeblogsInc but there are a few specialist areas to cover. Launched recently was Spinneyhead Scale, dedicated to modelmaking and tracking down online resources for modellers. Coming soon- Digest, covering foods, diet and general health stuff and Spinneyworld- local news from around the world.

Sell more stuff. This starts with make more stuff. I’ve fallen behind on the one product per week plan from the start ofc the year, it’s time to catch up. Obviously, every piece of merchandise will say Spinneyhead on it somewhere, all part of spreading the name.

Other stuff, including an increase in comments on other blogs and the use of trackbacks whenever possible. I’ll consider lots of things to raise my profile, within reason, particularly anything that’ll get a mention in the mainstream media. (I am not putting on a Batman outfit and pulling any Fathers4Justice style stunts.)

How to make money, and how much I need to make

I’ve discussed previously how much I’d be willing to live on. Minimum wage is currently �4.85. Assuming a 7 1/2 hour that equates to �36.37 per day, �9457.50 per year for a 5 day week. Is that possible? Of course it is, or there wouldn’t be any pro bloggers for me to take advice from. Can I manage it within 6 months? There’s the question.

So far Google AdSense has proven the best performing of the schemes I’ve signed up to. This month I’m averaging just over $1 a day. Last month was a better $1.60. Nowhere near what I need to be making, but it’s a start, something to build on.

Amazon is the next best payer. I get a few sales every quarter, but not always enough to trigger payout. The shop has generated a small amount of income, and the affiliate schemes haven’t been going long enough to get a good read on them.

The obvious first step toward increased revenue has to be the increase in traffic. Ad revenue and affiliate sales aren’t directly proportional to traffic, but getting the links in front of more eyeballs can’t hurt. In terms of AdSense I need to work on improving the value of each click- the headlines from How to Save the World for Free aren’t just there to cross promote, they’ve also convinced Google to serve me more than just ads for blogging services.

Amazon have recently improved their methods for building links, and I’ve been taking advantage of them. You’ll have noticed the highlighted boxes at the right or left of occasional posts, much more enticing than text links. I’ve also started doing more reviews. I’m being honest in them. I wouldn’t try to sell you Catwoman for instance (though, if you really must, please use the link I just provided), so when I say something is worth buying you can believe me.

I’ve already mentioned the first step to improving merchandise sales- make more of it. On top of that I have to get some of it into shops. Discontinuous Infill is stocked by one shop in Manchester, and I’m trying to get it press attention and more outlets for issue 2. Manchester has seasonal markets and my sister is looking at getting a stall at one of them. If I can go in with her on that I should be able to sell some stuff and generate some interest.

I’m still not sure what to do with the affiliate programmes. Would anyone like a Free Mini Vibrator?

In the long term I see a book. Not a book about blogging, far too many people have done those, possibly a tale of the successes and failures in my 100 Things quest and definitely something tied into How to Save the World for Free. If webcomicsnation ever gets off the ground I’d still like to do a webcomic and I’ve been mulling over a few part formed ideas for novels. But most likely this will take me in a direction I don’t expect.

So there you are. The state of the Spinneyhead nation as of Tuesday this week. Team Spinneyhead members- when I start turning a healthy profit you shall be paid an amount commensurate with your posting volume. Possibly in beer or chutney.

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