Websites in a Pandemic

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Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay


Everything has changed in the past three months because of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Besides all the changes in your day to day life, meetings and conferences disappeared, offices closed and in order to minimize contact with crowds, almost everyone has turned to online connections and work.

Many organizations have relied on their web teams to make changes to sites t handle new tasks, needs and perhaps greater traffic. Those changes vary greatly based on your business. I have spent most of my life in education and the rush to move learning online has been enormous. The local restaurant that had minimal or no online business (takeout, pickup, delivery) is suddenly needing all that in order to survive. The office that now has all its workers working from home needs more than email and chat.

Of course, surrounded by tragedy, every crisis provides opportunities for some. Not to focus on marketing and profit, I wonder what your web designers have been doing during this pandemic.

I have been working and teaching virtually part-time for 20 years and fully online for the past five years, so that hasn’t changed lately. What has changed is the needs of clients. Just based on my own work and what I hear from others, I suspect these things have been happening for many designers.

  1. Upgrading (or creating) online stores.
  2. Greater need for video, conferencing, demos, presentations, and videoconferencing tools.
  3. Intranet for organizations to do chats, file-sharing, remote scheduling tools.
  4. Lots of updates – hours of availability, alternative contacts…
  5. Changing marketing, ads, offers
  6. Monitoring your analytics for changes in patterns
  7. Offering updates via email newsletters, new pages, banners…

Of course, ideally, all this was in place BEFORE the pandemic and should be unavailable for everything from the employee who can’t get to work for the day or a week, weather closings, natural disasters, etc. But clearly, that has not been the case for many organizations.

What have you been doing with your web presence to cope with the pandemic?  Post a comment.


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Blogging Bucks

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A friend, knowing that I write on a number of blogs, asked me how much money I make from blogging. Answer: Basically, nothing.

The reason he asked was that he had read that the Huffington Post has a monthly income of $18 million. They have recently rebranded from The Huffington Post to the HuffPost and they have changed blogging. They are an interesting case study.

The site launched in 2005 by millionaire socialite Arianna Huffington used her money and her contacts to turn it into a major international news platform. Like most online media companies, they get most of their money from advertising revenue.

It was bought by AOL for $315 million in 2011. Today it is worth an easy $1 billion.

But there are also sites that are blogs or that started out as blogs that you probably haven’t heard of that make a nice profit. Club Thrifty has grown beyond a blog (but still has a blog component) and is said to have a monthly income of more than $25,000. It is a home finance blog+ site run by Holly and Greg Johnson based on their own zero-sum home budgeting.

A blog can make money from advertising, but some also use affiliate links, sponsorship, or as a way to promote and sell products, freelance work or online courses.

A very meta example is run by Darren Rowse who is a professional blogger with a number of profitable blogs, but who has made more money by selling his “secrets of how to blog like a pro.” He earns his income by selling his blogging tips through articles and a podcast and through advertising banners, a jobs page for online writers, and the sale of ebooks.

So, how might I make some money from blogging? Although I have the occasional Amazon affiliate links (click here, buy something and give me a few bucks!), I don’t do the things that moneymaking bloggers do.

Those things would include display ads (generally sold through networks like Google AdSense) or private ads sold directly to clients. Some ads are sold by PPC (pay-per-click) which are ads where advertisers pay for the number of times it is clicked (rather tan running the ad for a fixed length of time or some other contract).

I will say that I have had offers for  “sponsored content” which is when brands and vendors might, for example, pay for a review of their product or to run a blog post that they have written. I have never accepted sponsored content on any of my blog sites. That may sound noble or stupid depending on your point of view.

The little bit of affiliate marketing I do (and so far, only via Amazon) comes from items I mention in a post (often a book, film or sometimes a product) that are part of my own content. They are not “sponsored”ads. For example, in this post I can link to books about how to blog or specifically to a book like Master Content Strategy: How to Maximize Your Reach and Boost Your Bottom Line Every Time You Hit Publish or  to the book that “inspired” this post, The Essential Habits Of 6-Figure Bloggers: Secrets of 17 Successful Bloggers You Can Use to Build a Six-Figure Online Business.

If you plan to use affiliate links, you should know some basics. If someone clicks any of these ads but does not make a purchase, you get nothing. If they click that first general link to a group of books and purchase any of them you get a small percentage of the sale. If they click on a link to a specific product and buy it, you get a bit more from Amazon. But if they click any of your affiliate links and buy anything (that is you led them to browse Amazon) you will get a tiny slice of the sale. And by tiny I mean probably $1-5 depending on the price of the item. on one that inspired this post, such as  They can make money from this by asking for that company to give them a unique affiliate link. Whenever someone clicks that link and makes a purchase, the blogger earns money, effectively as a referral commission. Places to get started with affiliate marketing: Amazon, CJ

Now, if you clicked on this link for the Lenovo ThinkPad P71 Workstation Laptop or the image of it and bought one (or buy something), you would really help me pay off my own Lenovo ThinkPad!

Also, Amazon has a threshold for paying you. If you only have affiliate sales of a few dollars in a pay period, they will wait until you hit the threshold level, yes, there are months when I don’t get a penny or my links.

Feel free to click any of these other format ads which really do look like ads and I find more obtrusive than the embedded links and images. They might be more obvious and work better. Some may show a price which in the case of a low price (book) might encourage you to click or a high price (laptop) which might turn you away.

There are other more sophisticated ways to run ads, of course. Sticking just with Amazon, they offer recommendations ads and “native” ads that can be customized to your blog’s content.