This week I have been reading John Chows 144 page ‘Make Money Online: Roadmap of a Dot Com Mogul' book (edited my Michael Kwan). It is available from Amazon in the UK for £9.32 with free delivery and in the US for $10.85 with free delivery.
If you saw this book in a bookshop you would think that it was just a general book about making money online. That is until you see the back cover and you realise that it's about making money with blogs. Whilst I do like the title of the book, I think something like ‘How to make money online with blogs' would have been more descriptive. However, I'm not one to judge a book by it's cover so let's look at what is inside John Chows first printed book.
Book Contents & Introduction
The book has 13 chapters in total and a small links section at the end. It's well written, easy to follow, and has been written from a personal point of view rather than a journalistic/news style. So you should be able to finish the book quite quickly.
- Chapter 1: The Best Time to Get Started
- Chapter 2: My Story
- Chapter 3: Blogging 101
- Chapter 4: Top Essential Blogging Tips
- Chapter 5: WordPress Basics
- Chapter 6: WordPress Techniques & Tools
- Chapter 7: Content is King
- Chapter 8: Promotion and Search Engine Optimization
- Chapter 9: The Importance of Branding
- Chapter 10: Optimizing Google Adsense
- Chapter 11: My Top Mopneymakers
- Chapter 12: Private Ad Sales
- Chapter 13: The Formula for Success
The first two chapters deal with how John fell into the world of making money online in 1999 with his first website Moto’s Project 504. This quickly led to the creation of The Tech Zone, which was making him over $2,500 within only a few months. John then talks about how he weathered the storm during the dot com bust of 2001 and leads on to how he started making money with his blog.
I really loved this section of the book as I love hearing about how successful online entrepreneurs got their start. It reminded me a lot of Joel Comm's book ‘Click Here to Order' (who happens to have wrote the foreword for this book).
Blogging & WordPress Basics
In the next 4 chapters John explains the basics of blogging and gives an introduction to everyones favourite blogging platform WordPress. If you already own a blog and are familiar with WordPress then you won't get too much from these chapters other than the good recommendations for wordpress plugins.
I also think that these chapters lack something for beginners. There are no images in the book, which is something I believe beginners really need to help them through the basics. And he doesn't seem to go into enough detail with his beginner tips either. Which I can understand from one point of view as the book is primarily about making money online, though I feel that this section could have been greatly improved with some basic screenshots of screens and more references to books and online resources which will help the beginners install their blog.
There was some poor advice in this section too:
- John recommends that users create a 16×16 pixel favicon. Though as I noted last month, it is better to use a much larger image for your favicon.ico file as it is frequently being used in feed readers and as desktop icons too. I must admit that I am lazy sometimes and have just used 16×16 in the past but I think it's important to advise beginners to get in the habit of saving a larger favicon.ico image since the favicon is used for desktop icons too. And a 16×16 favicon looks awful when it's magnified to 64×64 pixels.
- When talking about using the preferred domain (i.e. www vs non-www) John gives the code to be used in your .htaccess file to set a domain to use www. There are two problems I have with this. Firstly, there is no need for any WordPress user to do this manually. Once you set the WordPress address (URL) in the general settings area of WordPress (i.e. www.site.com/wp-admin/options-general.php) the .htaccess file will be updated with your preferred domain. Secondly, there is no explanation of what a .htaccess file is or what it does. I strongly believe that if you mention the .htaccess file to beginners you need to warn them about how things can get messed up easily with just one character out of place. Put simply, no one should be tampering with the .htaccess file until they understand some basic commands for it.
The section will prove useful to beginners though I believe that it could be improved in future editions by adding screenshots and providing more links to other resources.
Promoting your Blog and Making Money Online
The last part of the book begins with John stressing that ‘Content is King'. He talks about what you should be writing about, where you can find writers, and why you shouldn't use free articles from article directories.
In the next chapter John talks about something he knows a lot about – promotion. He speaks about social media promotion topics such as link baiting and older established marketing techniques such as news releases. He then moves onto offline promotion tactics: ranging from free pens and business cards to lesser used techniques such as branding your laptop or your car. The chapter finishes with some basic search engine optimisation tips and is followed by a chapter on ‘The Importance of Branding'.
Experienced bloggers will be aware of most of the tips in the promotion and SEO chapters, though it's always good to go over the basics as it's easy to forget that sometimes the simplest promotion methods work.
Whilst most of ‘Make Money Online: Roadmap of a Dot Com Mogul' is targeted towards beginner and intermediate bloggers, chapter ten is all about optimising Google Adsense on your blog. Adsense is an ad network which most bloggers are familiar with though I'm aware that many experienced bloggers are not experts with it.
So I believe that this is a chapter that most bloggers will benefit from reading, even if you only use Adsense sparingly. John talks about many Adsense topics such as the bid gap, section targeting and section ignoring, competitive ad filters and PPC arbitrage. It's a subject which he clearly has a lot of knowledge on.
Next we have Johns top moneymakers in chapter 11. In this section he mentions his own ad network TTZ Media and well known ad networks such as Bidvertiser. Those who have been blogging for a while will have come across all of them.
I must admit I was surprised that he only mentioned 8 ad networks. I appreciate that the chapter was called ‘My Top Moneymakers' and therefore should include the sites which John uses to make money. Though I think newbies would have benefited with references to alternative (and established) blog revenue solutions such as Buy Sell Ads, BlogAds or Chitika.
Finishing the book off is a useful chapter on private ad sales and a summary of what you need to do to make it as a successful blogger.
The book also has some small inconstancies within the book which were not picked up in the proofreading process. For example, the back of the book states that his blog makes $40,000 a month but in chapter two, ten and thirteen he says this figure is $30,000. He also states in chapter five that his blog has 20,000 subscribers but as I write this post today it boasts well over 90,000 subscribers.
Neither of these small errors should disuade you from buying the book. They're simple human error mistakes which were not picked up. No doubt they will be addressed in the next edition.
As someone who ran a blogging advice blog for 3 years and is now running a WordPress related blog, I didn't get much from many chapters in this book. Though I am obviously not the target audience. This book was clearly written for beginners and those who are unsure about how to monetize their blog. I don't think that this is a worthwhile purchase for experienced bloggers as John doesn't cover enough advanced topics, though they should find the Adsense optimisation chapter useful.
If you are looking for general blogging and blog promotion tips then I would recommend Darren Rowse's Pro Blogger Book instead as it has lots more images and explains a lot of the subjects which John briefly speaks about in more detail. Similarly, if you want some practical advice on how to install and maintain WordPress then I would buy a WordPress specific guide about that as although John touches upon the subject, he doesn't delve deep enough for beginners.
Though if you are looking for a good overview of what blogs are and how they make money on the web then I would encourage you to check ‘Make Money Online' out as it's worth it's relatively cheap price. It would be the perfect book for someone who has no idea what a blog is or is not sure how to make money with the blog they already run.
What does come through in all the book is Johns passion and drive. He doesn't give you any false hope and tells readers right from the start that if they don't work their butt off they aren't going to make any money. I seriously believe this no holds barred approach to giving advice will help a lot of people as there are millions of people trying to make money on the web using get rich quick schemes. As John rightly points out, no such thing exists.
If you are thinking about buying the book and have some questions about it please let me know and I'll do my best to answer them :)
As an added bonus John gives a link to a presentation he gave at the Vancouver Business, Marketing and Entrepreneur meetup. In this 56 minute video he details how he makes over $40,000 a month from his blog.