I just did a road-trip, so I was thinking about blogs and stuff as I drove along.
Who are my most valuable readers?
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My most valuable, 5-star, readers are the people who subscribe (or who otherwise read all the posts).
I should try to keep those regular readers amused so they stay.
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My second-most valuable, 4-star, readers are the ones who are referred to my home page from blogrolls and links from other web-sites.
Why? Because they come here with a positive expectation about the site (it has been recommended), they are surfing for interest, and they are more likely to turn into subscribers. I should try to ensure that they have a pleasant experience and are amused long enough to subscribe.
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My third-most valuable readers are the ones who are referred to a particular article blogrolls and links from other web-sites.
They have the positive expectation, but they are probably researching a particular issue. If this was a blog focussed on one topic, then I would have a better chance of converting someone to a subscriber once they found it.
For example, if a mibologist found one article on marbles, they would be more likely to stay than if they found the whole blog was dedicated to marbles rather than finding the very next post was about customised office equipment.
With an eclectic blog like this one, I think catching such a reader and turning them into a subscriber is uncommon – but not impossible.
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The fourth-most valuable reader has to be the one who finds the site from a web-search. They are coming in with specific demands for content, but low expectations. Often, they are looking for a non-fiction reference site, and OddThinking only strays into that domain occasionally.
I consider it quite a challenge to turn such a surfer into a subscriber. They are likely to be disappointed with the lack of reference material, and to quickly move on.
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The least valuable readers are bots, specially spam-bots.
So here is what I realised as I was driving along.
These low-rated readers represent the long tail, but I am not getting much value out of them. It’s going to be hard to turn them into regulars.
I should be harnessing these low-valued (non-bot) readers… by targetting adverts at them, and only them!
Regular visitors shouldn’t see adverts; nothing in the RSS feed and nothing in the posts younger than two weeks.
Blogroll-following visitors shouldn’t see adverts; nothing visible in the home page.
Referenced-article following visitors shouldn’t see adverts; detecting this is trickier though. I could have a whitelist of known sites that refer to articles in my blog… hey, that sounds like a Trackback list doesn’t it! [Alternatively, you could manage a blacklist of search engines that have been known to direct traffic to OddThinking.]
The people who stumble on the site from one search engine, however, should be presented with adverts. They are unlikely to hang around anyway, and they are searching for reference sites, so it’s perfect!
Pretty soon, I could be reeling in literally hundreds of cents per year in advertising revenue.
Will I do it?
I am seriously considering this – not because I think I will make any money.
I am considering it because I am interested in how the advertising sites work; I am tempted to do it just for the web-mastery experience.
The only reason not to is that I will probably be subjected to more of the advertising, as part of the administration of the site, than anyone else…