Several new insightful articles and posts have popped up recently with a common theme—using Movable Type as a content management system to manage an entire website, not just a weblog. Here they are, along with my 2 cents along the way.
Here’s how to have a blog that makes money. As with virtually everything else in Internet marketing having a blog that makes you money is a combination of the two main Internet marketing ingredients; targeted traffic and a good, compelling offer. You can start your blog for free using blogger or one of the other free blogging platforms out there, but I don’t recommend it for two main reasons.
While it’s timely for me as I’ve recently embarked on converting my weblog to Movable Type, Matt’s article is a fascinating exploration of working with simple-to-use but feature-packed software to create an entire site, not just the weblog pages. Matt provides helpful insight about thinking through the process of setting up Movable Type for a simple About page and a simple database approach for his essay section and online portfolio section.
The first reason that I would eschew free blogging platforms, such as Blogger, is that when your blog is hosted on Blogger, the domain, traffic and content is theirs, not yours. Google, who owns Blogger, really doesn’t need any more free hands up, do they?
Last week’s post at stopdesign is also not to be missed, Adaptive Path’s MT Setup. Jay Allen explains how he set up Movable Type for site-wide control of Adaptive Path’s website. Jay explains how four Movable Type blogs are used: Appearances, Essays, News and static content. He also discusses other sites and how he implemented them for clients using Movable Type so that the clients could easily add their own content.
The second reason that you should steer clear of free blog hosting platforms when you’re building your blog empire business is that, because of the first reason, you’re not building your business, you’re actually helping to build someone else’s.
Brad Choate wrote about some ways to implement MT site-wide in his post Tuesday, Doing your whole site with MT. Brad recently set up a separate weblog for his static pages, deleting all the included MT templates except the Individual Archive template, and he then enabled individual archives. He also created categories for each directory in which he wanted content. Brad also provides several code snippet approaches to setting up the content within the category directories.
The first thing you should do when starting a blog that you hope will bring in a healthy income for you one day is actually plan things out. That’s right; you should actually sit down for a few hours and make a business plan. That will help make sure you don’t miss any of the details you’ll need to be successful. Be sure you include everything, such as what the main theme of your blog will be, the monetization strategies you’ll use, a financial plan, a growth plan, and an oft forgotten part of many business plans, the exit strategy.
Thanks to a number of creative individuals that I follow on Twitter, I discovered a fascinating article about the sad demise of letterpress in China. Given my deep interest in letterpress printing, I have often wondered how the method of printing from movable type is possible at all in China, since at least 4,000 Chinese characters are commonly used. Being hamstrung with so many characters seems now to be bringing letterpress printing to an end in China, ironically at a time when the craft is enjoying a renaissance in the West…
Most highly successful blogs are tightly themed. That means they focus closely on a certain subject or niche, such as local residential real estate, working from home income techniques, ’60′s muscle cars, or needlepoint. This focus will help you build a core base of loyal readers and subscribers. These are very important for the immediate and long term success of your blog. In addition, having a large, vibrant subscriber list adds a large amount of value to your blog should you want to sell it. If you’re having trouble choosing a theme, look for one with a large profit potential. There will be more on this later.
“When entering the Chinese letterpress shop, an instant observation was the vast amount of characters in each set of type. Characters of the Latin alphabet were often organized either by uppercase and lowercase (so named because of the separate cases to differentiate between majuscule and minuscule letterforms) or more recently in a California Job Case. Instead of using of a type drawer, Chinese characters were typically stored in cube shelving with the type stacked into a square or column, facing outward for easy identification. Using a pair of tweezers, printers carefully picked characters out of a wall of tiled type and placed them onto a composing stick before setting up the chase.”
Decide on what you’ll call your blog and get your own domain name. These are very affordable, and will help you sidestep the problems of using a free hosting platform. You will own the domain and will be free to do with it as you please. You blog will actually be an asset that you control.
“The use of movable type in China is now a rare business and found only in the rural village of Dongyuan for printing pedigrees. Although this traditional method has been replaced by offset and digital printing, there are single print shops in Hong Kong and Taiwan that still keep extensive collections of their lead type and press machines. Lately, there has been discussion about collecting these existing artifacts and setting up printing museums or digitalizing the complete fonts. Hopefully these projects will come to life soon, sharing and preserving Chinese cultural heritage.”
The next decision you’ll have to make is what blogging platform you’ll use. The two largest are Movable Type and WordPress. WordPress is open source, meaning basically it’s free. Because it’s open source, many developers freely create things for WordPress, so there are a huge number of add-ons, widgets, templates, and plugins available for it. You can even publish your WordPress blog from your iPhone now!
Movable Type has been forked — at least the open source GPL version — into a new project called Melody.
Movable type is not open source, but you may still be able to get it free, as many web hosting companies offer it as part of the hosting package. It too has many different things available to enhance the functionality and appearance of blogs published with it. I’ve used both frequently. You can have many fantastic, and profitable blogs with either publishing system.
Yes this blog is powered by Movable Type too. Six Apart, the vendor behind Movable Type created an open source version of Movable Type in 2008. Usually a fork of open source code happens because developers are not happy with the direction of code development and the main project.
So you’ve got your blog up and you’re posting to it with reckless abandon. How can you make some money for your efforts? That’s sort of a balancing act. You want to blog about a topic that interests you, or keeping up an aggressive posting schedule will become very difficult. You also want to blog about a topic that is profitable, or you won’t make any money.
In the case of Melody — at least so far — this looks to be a ‘friendly’ fork. The creator of Movable Type, Benjamin Trott sees where Melody will fit in at a bleeding edge community level, whereas Movable Type will hold its position as the professional version.
To help find what blog subjects can earn you some decent profits, head to Google and see what keywords are going for these days. Use the free Google keyword tool in Google Adwords. You can type in keywords and keyword phrases and the tool will show an estimate of cost per click that advertisers are willing to pay for ads targeting a given keyword or phrase, and an idea of the number of advertisers that are advertising using them.
“We see the Melody community focusing on the equally-valuable ideas of bleeding-edge community-driven ideas, rapid iteration, and integration with the code of other open source projects,” Trott wrote in a blog post.” It’s great news for the entire Movable Type community, as this new project uses the same themes, the same templates, the same plugins and the same publishing engine as Movable Type. And since it shares the GPL license with MT, it’s even a great way for these new developments to work their way back into the official versions of Movable Type itself.”
Keywords that are relatively expensive and have substantial competition mean that many advertisers are willing to pay fairly large amounts of money for those keywords. In theory that means that there is profit to be made by creating content that features those keyword phrases.
While I respect Trott’s position, I have to respectfully disagree with his long term view of how Melody will affect Movable Type.
Remember that it is only an idea, and there are two schools of thought on earning money from your blog. You can try to find a narrow niche with little competition, and dominate it. The other approach is to head to a very large, but profitable niche and try to get enough traffic to skim some profit from the niche. Basically you’ll either a small fish in an ocean, or a large fish in a pond. There are successful bloggers using both strategies.
Initially Melody will be compatible with Movable Type, because it has to in order to migrate users. But once Melody has its own momentum and if it is truly a fork seperate from Six Apart, then why would Melody toe the Movable Type line?
Next you’ll want to decide on a monetization strategy for your blog. In most cases you’ll use a combination of them to bring home the bacon. The three main strategies are:
Backwards compatibility is one thing, but at a certain point in the future Melody will be different, it will take a different development direction and they will be two different products. I’ve seen it before with the Mambo Joomla CMS split a few years back (thought that wasn’t a friendly split).
1) Sales of your own products or services
2) Affiliate marketing
3) Advertising. This is usually contextual advertising, but some bloggers are successful with other forms, such as banner ads.
The Melody FAQ also makes it plainly clear that the goal of the effort is not to create a schism in the Movable Type community but rather create a new culture of innovation and extensibility. That makes good sense, but what happens when the community wants a key feature that Six Apart/Movable Type doesn’t?
With affiliate marketing you’ll be paid a commission for referring a visitor to a company’s site. If the person you referred does the desired action you’ll earn your commission. In the majority of cases the desired action means the visitor buys something, or fills out a lead form.
Why use Movable Type (MT), a blogging tool, for something that isn’t a blog? Movable Type with its plugins and templates is a highly flexible and extensible tool, that with a some knowledge and a few hacks can be made to do a lot of the things you’d want from a CMS.
Contextual advertising automatically places ads on your site that are targeted to your site by the context of your site. The ad publishers have algorithms that look at your blog and decide which of their advertiser’s ads would best go with your blog’s content. In most cases, you’re then paid a percentage of the advertising fee when one of your visitors clicks on the link in the ad. This is known as pay per click advertising. The leader is this is Google, with their AdWords / AdSense program.
I am going to assume that you have at least a decent idea how you want to structure your site. Usually you’ll want to divide it into some seperate areas – for Mentalized I decided on 3 main areas: Journal, Features, and About. I will use those 3 areas as my main examples for this feature.
To have a blog that makes money, you need to have targeted traffic, the more the better. That is largely a function of the content. A large amount of good, original content (not content scraped form other blogger’s RSS feeds). Some on page search engine optimization techniques won’t hurt either, but good, high quality content will get you both search engine visitors, and repeat traffic from people that just want to read your stuff.
* Custom text formatting for every page (yay, Textile)
* Sitewide search engine
* RSS feeds for all your content
* Comments for all your content
* Posting new and editing old content using MT is much easier than using an editor and a FTP client.
* You can have separate users manage their own part of the site
Make sure you target the proper keywords in your posts and post titles. You’re looking for profitable keywords that have relatively low competition. By optimizing for words and phrases people are actively searching for, you’ll do better in the search engine rankings, and you’ll be giving your readers exactly what they were looking for. That double whammy is a true recipe for blog money making success.
The first thing to do, is create an individual blog for each individual area of your website. You want to do this to ensure maximum flexibility and to be able to extend your website later on as you get more funky ideas. In my case, I created 3 blogs called “Journal”, “Features”, and “Static Pages”.
- Movable Type