Category Archives: Blogger

Steven Wong interview with Kinabalu Blog

Steven WongA week ago, I received an email from Steven Wong, a re known Malaysian Internet Marketer which run his own WordPress Blogging Seminar in Kuala Lumpur. I was really surprised to receive an email from him. I was even more surprised when he told me that he uses this blog (Kinabalu Blog) as an example for his seminar for new aspiring Malaysian Bloggers.

After much discussion, he suggested that we made a podcast interview of my journey into website creation and blogging. He sent me a set of questions for me to answer during the interview, a day before the appointment. It is just a couple of very basic questions, whereby he aim to get the most information from me in an hour session, so that he could share it with his students.

As the recording was over an hour (75 minutes to be exact), I have to split the recording into two part. The first part will be today, and the second part will be tomorrow.

The questions that were asked on todays audio recordings are:

  1. Who is Dr Ruhaizad Daud? Can you tell us about your background?
  2. How do you started blogging? And how long have you been blogging? How much time you spend weekly in updating your blog? Is Mount Kinabalu is the only blog you manage? If not, can you tell us your other blogs?
  3. Why you choose Mount Kinabalu Climbing as the topic of your blog? What is your advice to people who want to setup a new blog now? How much do you spend monthly to maintain your blog?
  4. How many visitors on average come to your blog monthly? What are the methods you use to promote your blog? How do you drive traffic to your blog? Do you use any specific tools to drive traffic?
  5. How do you monetize from the traffic, what kind of methods you make money from your blog? Examples: Adsense, PayPerPost, Text Link Ads, etc…

Although some of my regular reader of this blog were expecting me to write about technical information about climbing, I think this blog interview will give them a break from the regular post. They will have the chance to know closely who Ruhaizad Daud is and how did he run this blog and Mount Kinabalu Borneo.com website.

For other bloggers who listen to this podcast, some of the information discussed in the interview are relevant to your journey of blogging. You are currently listening to a podcast that is used in one of Steven Wong’s teaching!

[audio:blog-interview-1.mp3]

You can also download the mp3 file from here (17MB).

How I earned my first Advertlets check

I received my first check from Advertlets yesterday. Josh Lim called me personally last week to confirm the spelling of my name, before he printed it on the check. Since my first review of Advertlets 3 months ago, it seems that Josh has become one of my friend – yes, this sounds like a butt kissing – but sms-ing me at the middle of the night, searching for somebody to write a review for a Digi Fu-Yoh Street Blast concert here in Kota Kinabalu, has made the relationship really close.

I personally do not know Josh, we never met and I do not know how he look like, but I like what he did. Even more when I see my wife smile when she saw a RM300 check in our post box yesterday afternoon. I must admit that is not much as compared to my Adsense check, but it is a good start.

The total figure that I earned were in this distributions:

  1. RM50 – I earned from writing one reviews on Advertlets for their “RM15k for the first 300 bloggers”.
  2. RM200 – I earned from writing one reviews on a Digi Fu-Yoh Street Blast concert here in Padang Merdeka, Kota Kinabalu on the 2nd of June.
  3. RM50 – I earned from CPC and EPM.

Advertlets check

The check came with a letter, a strip of Advertlets stickers and two button badges. I was thinking of pinning the badges on my blazer, but before I do that, I think it is better for both of my children to wear it first. I will show them the photo when they grew up and tell them that Uncle Josh is one of the good guy who send daddy the check – to pay for their diapers and toys!

Dany and Nany - my two little angles with Advertlets badges!

I heard a lot of rumors about Advertlets. Some of them are good, but some of them aren’t. Some says that the ‘other’ blogger-advertiser network is better, but I believe that Advertlets will strive for the best. Unless the ‘other’ blogger-advertiser network can prove otherwise (with my bank account), I will give Advertlets my full support.

Get your free travel blog from RealTravel.com

RealTravel is a travel guide and trip planner for travelers, powered by advice from real travelers. Their tagline, “Real People. Real Advice. Real Experiences.” shows that you can use their website as a one stop center for all your traveling tools and tips for your next destination.

It is a website that gives travelers information on the places where you want to go, by learning from true experiences of the real travelers which has been to that place and you can even tell other travelers your side of the story after you have made the trip.

RealTravel also provides 2 free features that travelers could appreciate – a Free Trip Planner and a Free Travel Blog, which both of the features are essential for a savvy traveler. A trip planner can help you save on your travel budget and a blog can be a good platform to write a journal about your trip.

When I came across a website like this, I can become really curious about what other travelers wrote about Mount Kinabalu. I looked into their blog archive and find an exclusive article about climbing Mount Kinabalu by Iris. Nicely done with their free blog platform.

The design for the free blog looks really professional. You can write your journal entry as soon as you register, and if your story is interesting, you may have the chance to get featured in the Editor’s Pick column. The blog even have a geo-tagging – a features that put a live journal earth map on the place you visited!

So, if you still do not have a travel blog/journal, I would recommend you to register with RealTravel free travel blog. Write your story in, and track your destination on the go.

This is a sponsored post. 

ReatTravel Free Blog

4+3 things to learn from Sabahan.com – a cross sectional review

Sabahan.comI got an opportunity from my good friend, Gaman to review his blog, Sabahan.com, when he runs a contest to review his blog almost a month ago. I was not interested at the beginning, but when I saw his latest post saying that he needed another 2 reviews to complete his Group 5 entries, I just decided to give it a shot.

This review of his website will based on my novice knowledge about webmastering and blogging which I learned from scratch for the last 2 years. Most of my reviews will bias towards the few professional bloggers in the blogosphere, as I am going to make them as the benchmark of my review.

I really hope that my reviews can be useful, especially for new aspiring bloggers, as well as the seasoned bloggers. Gaman, hopefully you can take it as a pinch of salt.

Let me begin.

After few clicks on Sabahan.com blog, I can conclude that you can learn 4+3 things from it, i.e. 4 “Good” and 3 “Can Be Improve” features of the blog.

4 “Good” Features:

  1. Uncluttered blog design.
    1. Gaman is using WordPress, that I must admit as the best platform for bloggers, with 2 column and white background.
    2. Black font and white background is the best combination for longer reading time and ease to the eyes (that is why books use white coloured paper).
    3. Almost with no images, it can be an advantage for visitors with slower internet connection, as it will reduce the upload time.
    4. By using his own domain name, the blog gives Gaman 100% control over his blog, as compared to free services like Blogger and WordPress.com.
    5. For blog optimization purposes, I see that Gaman use few WordPress plugins such as Post Teaser, User Online and Subscribe To Comment plugin.
    6. With Google Site Search on the upper right corner of the page header, Gaman gives a good exit options for his ‘lost in his space’ visitors.
  2. Various monetization methods. This is the part which most of aspiring new bloggers wants to know about. I must tell you that Gaman really knows how to use this tool properly. He did not put all his eggs in one basket by having a lot of advertisers. He did it cautiously also. By having relevant ads – the ads that is relevant to his content – makes his blog credible and not seen as an advertisement billboard.
    1. Gaman did not utilize Adsense ads campaign to the maximum, as he only use one Google Adsense 336×280 ad campaign in every post and a 728×15 link unit for the header on every page. He could actually put more ads than that, but I think he tried to avoid cluttering the page with too much ads.
    2. Positioning the Text-Link-Ads links high above the fold on the left sidebar has made the area filled with sponsored links.
    3. Gaman uses ContentLink ads in the blog post (which sometimes some visitors feels it a bit obtrusive), obviously noticeable by double underline phrases with a javascript pop-up when we hover our mouse on the links.
    4. The other monetization methods that Gaman uses are ReviewMe, Chitika, AzoogleAds and some affiliate product reviews. I can’t comment on these as I did not go through all his post to look for it.
  3. He ‘burn’ his feed with Feedburner, i.e. using RSS feed to syndicate his content. By having Feedburner, his loyal computer literate blog readers will easily subscribe to his feed. Nobody should miss the syndication image that can be obviously seen on the top left sidebar. I won’t suggest you to put your number of your feed subscribers, if it is less than 20 (Gaman’s feed subscribers are hovering around 180-200 at this moment).
  4. Link exchange page (he labeled it as ‘Partners‘) . This is a good old webmaster school lesson but still a relevant way to get links from other website and blogs. With social networking platform is building up, link exchange methods like this are usually confined to the traditional static websites. I am not surprised to find that Gaman has only 39 links in his link exchange page, and still can get a PR5 from Google, as most of his inbound links will come from social networking platforms and other blogs. Maybe that is why he put MyBlogLog widget on the sidebar!

3 “Can Be Improve” features:

  1. No photo of Gaman himself. Oh c’mon Gaman… If a professional blogger like Darren Rowse and Yaro Starak put their photo on their blog, why can’t you? My mentor Ken Evoy said that by having your photo on your website and blog, visitors will be more adaptive and connected to you compared to one which didn’t have one. With emerging social networking platform, its easier for the visitors to ‘get connected’ with you in the virtual world with your photo on board. Even a primary school textbook has a photo of the writer at the back of the book!
  2. No favicon. I use Firefox as my official web browser, and the one feature that I like is favicon. I know it is not necessary, but I don’t think there is any harm on having one. Apart from making your URL beautiful, favicon can speed up your time looking for a specific URL in your bookmark folder only by looking at the favicon. Get one free from the numerous favicon generator around.
  3. To get the most out of your older post (which can really become dusty and buried deep in your webhost database), I would suggest that you install Popularity Contest plugin by Alex King. One problem with blog that I notice is that; older post get pushed down and out of the homepage as the day goes by, and this process is even faster if we post everyday.
  • Like for example your Technology>Google category. How would you know which is the most popular post from that 183 post that you have written? Some visitors will judge your blog just by looking at the most popular post that you have written. If they like it, most probably your blog will be bookmarked and they will subscribe to your feed. Put up the link to the 10 most popular post on your blog sidebar. It will keep your visitors a little longer in your blog, and your popular post won’t be dead buried inside your webhosting server. Oh… with that you might need to consider changing your theme from 2 column to 3 column to optimize the presentation.

As a conclusion, I don’t think my review matter most to Gaman, as at this moment, he still could earn a good sum of money (a lot more than what I am earning now!). Mind you that Gaman took some TIME to reach this stage…

How fast your blog upload?

Our blog have a lot of plugins (especially WordPress), widgets, theme, graphics, bells, whistle, advertisement and javascript installed. Have we ever test how long does our blog to upload? If we follow the 8-second rule, (the old Web 1.0 webmaster rule), if our website fail to load on the visitors browser within 8 seconds, the visitors will almost always turns away. Some search engine will have time out in 30 seconds. Loading time over 24 seconds looses 40% of potential viewers due to impatience!. It will then of course reduce our availability of ‘monetizing’ our blog with them, especially if we highly depends on Adsense or affiliate products.

The problem is also prominent after I installed Nuffnang and Advertlets ads on my blog. Both local Malaysian blogger-advertiser platform use javascript to serve the ads on my website. After installing both of them, I found out that it kind of slows down my blog uploads, especially if they serve an ad. It is not so obvious (the slowness) if they do not have any ads.

Tools:

Submit Plus! Load Test resultTo estimate how long our website loads, one of the tool that I use is from Submit Plus! Free Load Test, a free indexing services that will measure how long your website/blog load. You can also try using their tool below:


Load Test - Submit Plus

Load Test – Enter URL (60 sec):


My result:

Submit Plus! Load Test result

Discussion:

  1. As you can see, the 5 biggest file that hog your upload process are mostly photos and pictures. 2 Blogmastermind banners and 3 images – makes about 53% of page size.
  2. 2 links script from PayPerPost, Google Adsense script and Advertlets script – makes it another 19% of the page size. All top 10 hogger makes it up to 72% of your page size, i.e. only left you with 28% for your content???
  3. If you notice, Advertlets script (no. 10) loads slower that Nuffnang (no. 26) because Advertlets serve me an ad while Nuffnang was not. So, it is not a good way to compare their script load (unless both serve me an ad).
  4. The next 10 hogger are the scripts, codes and advertisements in my sidebars!!!
  5. Luckily I picked the right theme. As their files are mostly very small, they loads very fast. So, my blog slowness is NOT directly contributed by wrong theme. (theme uploads starting from number 22)
  6. The plugin that hog my upload is UTW.

What you can do:

  1. Tweak your script to ditch the unnecessary images, bells and whistle.
  2. Download and install Throttle plugin for WordPress.
  3. Content is king. Write more valuable post to get your visitors stick on and comeback to your blog.

My two cents:

Okay, okay… I have edited my Blogmastermind image to make it smaller. How’s your blog upload?

10 Blog Traffic Tips

Click here to get The Blog Profits Blueprint

In every bloggers life comes a special day – the day they first launch a new blog. Now unless you went out and purchased someone else’s blog chances are your blog launched with only one very loyal reader – you. Maybe a few days later you received a few hits when you told your sister, father, girlfriend and best friend about your new blog but that’s about as far you went when it comes to finding readers.

Here are the top 10 techniques new bloggers can use to find readers. These are tips specifically for new bloggers, those people who have next-to-no audience at the moment and want to get the ball rolling.

It helps if you work on this list from top to bottom as each technique builds on the previous step to help you create momentum. Eventually once you establish enough momentum you gain what is called “traction”, which is a large enough audience base (about 500 readers a day is good) that you no longer have to work too hard on finding new readers. Instead your current loyal readers do the work for you through word of mouth.

Top 10 Tips

10. Write at least five major “pillar” articles. A pillar article is usually a tutorial style article aimed to teach your audience something. Generally they are longer than 500 words and have lots of very practical tips or advice. This article you are currently reading could be considered a pillar article since it is very practical and a good “how-to” lesson. This style of article has long term appeal, stays current (it isn’t news or time dependent) and offers real value and insight. The more pillars you have on your blog the better.

9. Write one new blog post per day minimum. Not every post has to be a pillar, but you should work on getting those five pillars done at the same time as you keep your blog fresh with a daily news or short article style post. The important thing here is to demonstrate to first time visitors that your blog is updated all the time so they feel that if they come back tomorrow they will likely find something new. This causes them to bookmark your site or subscribe to your blog feed.

You don’t have to produce one post per day all the time but it is important you do when your blog is brand new. Once you get traction you still need to keep the fresh content coming but your loyal audience will be more forgiving if you slow down to a few per week instead. The first few months are critical so the more content you can produce at this time the better.

8. Use a proper domain name. If you are serious about blogging be series about what you call your blog. In order for people to easily spread the word about your blog you need an easily rememberable domain name. People often talk about blogs they like when they are speaking to friends in the real world (that’s the offline world, you remember that place right?) so you need to make it easy for them to spread the word and pass on your URL. Try and get a .com if you can and focus on small easy to remember domains rather than worry about having the correct keywords (of course if you can get great keywords and easy to remember then you’ve done a good job!).

7. Start commenting on other blogs. Once you have your pillar articles and your daily fresh smaller articles your blog is ready to be exposed to the world. One of the best ways to find the right type of reader for your blog is to comment on other people’s blogs. You should aim to comment on blogs focused on a similar niche topic to yours since the readers there will be more likely to be interested in your blog.

Most blog commenting systems allow you to have your name/title linked to your blog when you leave a comment. This is how people find your blog. If you are a prolific commentor and always have something valuable to say then people will be interested to read more of your work and hence click through to visit your blog.

6. Trackback and link to other blogs in your blog posts. A trackback is sort of like a blog conversation. When you write a new article to your blog and it links or references another blogger’s article you can do a trackback to their entry. What this does is leave a truncated summary of your blog post on their blog entry – it’s sort of like your blog telling someone else’s blog that you wrote an article mentioning them. Trackbacks often appear like comments.

This is a good technique because like leaving comments a trackback leaves a link from another blog back to yours for readers to follow, but it also does something very important – it gets the attention of another blogger. The other blogger will come and read your post eager to see what you wrote about them. They may then become a loyal reader of yours or at least monitor you and if you are lucky some time down the road they may do a post linking to your blog bringing in more new readers.

5. Encourage comments on your own blog. One of the most powerful ways to convince someone to become a loyal reader is to show there are other loyal readers already following your work. If they see people commenting on your blog then they infer that your content must be good since you have readers so they should stick around and see what all the fuss is about. To encourage comments you can simply pose a question in a blog post. Be sure to always respond to comments as well so you can keep the conversation going.

4. Submit your latest pillar article to a blog carnival. A blog carnival is a post in a blog that summarizes a collection of articles from many different blogs on a specific topic. The idea is to collect some of the best content on a topic in a given week. Often many other blogs link back to a carnival host and as such the people that have articles featured in the carnival enjoy a spike in new readers.

To find the right blog carnival for your blog, do a search at http://blogcarnival.com/.

3. Submit your blog to blogtopsites.com. To be honest this tip is not going to bring in a flood of new readers but it’s so easy to do and only takes five minutes so it’s worth the effort. Go to Blog Top Sites, find the appropriate category for your blog and submit it. You have to copy and paste a couple of lines of code on to your blog so you can rank and then sit back and watch the traffic come in. You will probably only get 1-10 incoming readers per day with this technique but over time it can build up as you climb the rankings. It all helps!

2. Submit your articles to EzineArticles.com. This is another tip that doesn’t bring in hundreds of new visitors immediately (although it can if you keep doing it) but it’s worthwhile because you simply leverage what you already have – your pillar articles. Once a week or so take one of your pillar articles and submit it to Ezine Articles. Your article then becomes available to other people who can republish your article on their website or in their newsletter.

How you benefit is through what is called your “Resource Box”. You create your own resource box which is like a signature file where you include one to two sentences and link back to your website (or blog in this case). Anyone who publishes your article has to include your resource box so you get incoming links. If someone with a large newsletter publishes your article you can get a lot of new readers at once.

1. Write more pillar articles. Everything you do above will help you to find blog readers however all of the techniques I’ve listed only work when you have strong pillars in place. Without them if you do everything above you may bring in readers but they won’t stay or bother to come back. Aim for one solid pillar article per week and by the end of the year you will have a database of over 50 fantastic feature articles that will work hard for you to bring in more and more readers.

This article was by Yaro Starak, a professional blogger and my blog mentor. He is the leader of the Blog Mastermind mentoring program designed to teach bloggers how to earn a full time income blogging part time.

Get more information about Blog Mastermind HERE.

How to beautify your WordPress URL

I’ve found a way to beautify our WordPress URL from this:

http://www.mount-kinabalu-borneo.com/blog/2007/03/02/this-is-the-title/

or even this:

http://www.mount-kinabalu-borneo.com/blog/2007/03/02/?p=12345

to this:

http://www.mount-kinabalu-borneo.com/blog/this-is-the-title.html

Why?

  1. Make your URL more visitor friendly and more ‘natural looking’.
  2. Search engine optimized.

What do you need?

  1. A WordPress plugin, Permalink Redirect WordPress Plugin by fucoder.com.
  2. Make sure your .htaccess on your root directory is writable.

How?

  1. Download the php or zip file from fucoder.com.
  2. Upload `ylsy_permalink_redirect.php` to the `/wp-content/plugins/` directory.
  3. Activate the plugin through the ‘Plugins’ menu in WordPress
  4. Select Option>Permalink and change your present permalink to custom: /%postname%.html
  5. Save and select Permalink Redirect to manage your new URL.
  6. Put your old permalink structure e.g. mine was /%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/
  7. If you have Feedburner, put the link inside also.
  8. Tick ‘Hostname Redirect’. It will make sure that your old permalink do not show “Error Page 404” to your visitors.

ReviewMe crap…

I received and email from ReviewMe yesterday, informing me about my rejected post. The reason: The advertiser canceled the campaign. Crap!!!

See it for yourself:

ReviewMe crap!

TheNewsRoom – Where you get updated content AND money

Okay, okay. It is not a secret anymore. You can earn money from blogging. There are a lot of ways to ‘monetize’ your blog, so that apart from your usual rants and ramblings, you will get paid for it. I just would like to share another way of expanding your options to make money from your blog – with a slight twist.

Normal advertising method that we used in our blogs is usually advertisement. We have to depends on our head to squeeze out content to write the post. However, The News Room have made the process even more easier. Fresh content WITH advertising! How’s that? So, you don’t have to think about content to write a good post in your blog. Just cut and paste a script from them, your post will automatically filled with updated content or news and ads!

Apart from providing us with news update and ads, TheNewsRoom also have these benefits:

  1. You can actually choose a relevant and timely news that suits your blog theme, so that your visitors will not run away because of irrelevant ads and content.
  2. It’s easy and free – they claimed that almost all blogging platform is compatible with their embedding scripts.
  3. Apart from fresh and updated news, they also have a lot of video clips and content choices for your blog. Just choose the one that you like.
  4. You could earn prizes – from electronics to vacations – if you participate in their ongoing offers.

How much can we earn?
We could earn up to $4 per thousand impressions (CPM). We will also earn money when someone mashes content from our site and it is viewed on theirs.

How do they do it?
They call it “MASH FOR CASH”
When we use the mash button to embed a news story or a news feed (with advertising) onto our website or blog we will begin earning revenue. This is a win win for bloggers who value high quality content to enhance or support their opinion and who blog for profit.

More YouTube clips from Digi Fu-Yoh! Street Blast, Kota Kinabalu

Because of the request from Josh Lim (Advertlets) for more YouTube clips from Digi Fu-Yoh! Street Blast at Padang Merdeka, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah on 2nd June 2007, I hereby present to you few more clips from the event.
I must tell you that the audio of the clip is not so good, because:

  1. I record the event with my new Canon Powershot A460, an entry level digital camera which gives so-so quality of videos and audios.
  2. I stand really close to the sub-woofer (as I got backstage pass from Eric), and there is no other better place nearer to the stage. Anywhere nearer, I might be chased away by the RELA guy.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the clip!

Joe Fizzlow – Alhamdulillah…

Lo – Line is Dead!!! You rock bro!!!

DJ Uno with Stylustiks.

Their dancers!!!