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Seth Godin on BananasYesterday I got the chance to chat with Liz Strauss about my blog redesign. She and I are working together to really maximize the changes I make to ensure the blog is readable, easy to naviagate, and drives traffic to the information that you are most interested in. We’re also, of course, working to optimize it better for monetization.

My biggest key takeaway from the meeting was that I need a Banana.

Lest you think I’m talking dirty to you, I mean as in monkeys, not body parts. ;)

Liz said that she sat in one of Seth Godin’s seminars once, and one of the points that he made was that a web page needs to have a big Banana - a simple main objective to offer your readers a reward - as well as get their permission to market to them.

  • A Free download (in exchange for an email address)
  • A Buy it Now button that is both obvious and enticing to click
  • Any large call to action on a page of your blog or site

This was good advice. Indeed, when I first started this blog, I had no banana.

And I really struggled with this for a long time as a blogger. I wanted to write great content and make money on my blog - but I had no banana - no one, true call to action for my readers.

I started adding them along the way, but if you look at my blog template, I currently have 4 competing bananas.

  • The top banner
  • My RSS button and RSS email signup
  • My promo
  • And my coaching ad which has no call to action at all. [Embarassing.]

This was the biggest thing I overlooked when starting this blog. If a blog is ever to make money, a call to action is critical.

How could I have forgotten this little bit of marketing knowledge 101? I knew this stuff!!

I think the problem lied in the fact that I made the erroneous assumption that if I wrote great content and got lots of traffic, that I could kick it in Hawaii with my AdSense earnings.

Reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

My earnings from this blog have come primarily from my coaching clients who have found me here - ones I built a relationship with through networking and swapping links.

Sure, advertising will always be a revenue generator around here, but my big banana - that my intervention work can quite literally change a life - is nowhere to be found.

Hence the redesign. :)

So, have any of you made the same mistake as I did? Your banana could be as simple as an RSS icon - as big as your latest eBook, or a newsletter signup.

But to make money at blogging, you must ask yourself:

Where’s my Banana?

Great fruity examples of bananas ripe for the picking:

  • Ariane’s Do it Yourself Organizing Library
  • Andy Wibbels’ BlogWild chapter download
  • Dooce’s About page - “I’m Heather B. Armstrong. This is my website.” It sells you on wanting to read her blog (or running far, far away, I suppose…)
  • Yaro’s Blog Traffic Tips
  • Brian’s RSS feed and RSS email subscribe box
Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Netscape
  • StumbleUpon
  • BlinkList
  • Fark
  • Furl
  • Ma.gnolia
  • Reddit
  • Technorati
  • Bumpzee
  • Slashdot
  • TailRank

Related Posts

  • The Best Blogging How To’s and Advice from Wendy Piersall
  • How to Make Money From Your Blog
  • Local Chicagoland Bloggers Meetup?
  • FeedBurner - Super Cool Blogging Tool

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    On February 7th, 2007 at 4:06 pm, Blog Bloke said:

    Honestly Wendy, I take all these opinions with a grain of salt. Godin says to pad it with a big banana, and Scoble says minimal is best. Sigh, you will drive yourself bonkers listening to all these self appointed gurus.

    I think your design already looks great. Concentrate on writing good content and getting links.

    As far as the banana is concerned, if you want to show it off - then do so prominently where everyone can see it. (Remember Ben Stiller on DodgeBall?)

    On February 7th, 2007 at 4:26 pm, Wendy said:

    Well put, Bloke, as usual!

    There are a few other reasons for the site redesign, one is to reflect the fact that my male readership is increasing and I want to drive traffic specifically to my coaching and blogging content, which are the biggest revenue generators here.

    On a side note, I have a question for you - it has been suggested that I go from a three column layout to a two column layout. I’m hesitant to lose that sidebar real estate.

    What are your thoughts?

    On February 8th, 2007 at 1:31 am, Blog Bloke said:

    I went from a 3 column to a 2 column layout because I wanted more room in my post area to place pics or ads there. But now that most users have larger screen resolutions I just made my entire blog wider which rendered my reasoning moot.

    In my case I don’t put much ads on my main page because I don’t want it to look too commercial. So by putting a large ad only on my post page and in my post areas I can get around the need to have more than 1 sidebar.

    I suppose the bottom line is if you want lots of ads then a 3 column might be appropriate. If not, then 1 sidebar is sufficient.

    BTW, who suggested that you go with 2 columns and why?

    On February 8th, 2007 at 1:32 am, Blog Bloke said:

    BTW, where did you get the design for your home page? I think it looks amazing.

    On February 8th, 2007 at 4:49 am, Martin said:

    Looking good Wendy.

    Personally, I’d take marketing advice from Godin over Scoble any day - no disrespect to Scoble.

    On February 8th, 2007 at 9:05 am, Wendy said:

    Liz suggested the two column layout - mostly for white space. But I talked with Sarah Lewis, my CSS designer about it, and I think I can get the same amount of white space by making the page wider, for the same reasons you did.

    I don’t want a gazillion ads, but this is a revenue generator here, I don’t want to grow it only to find I don’t have the space to expand in the future.

    The home page I love as well, but I might be getting rid of it - eh, maybe not - but I would change it a bit. I got it at one of those template stores online, like templatemonster or 4templates. It’s static html, though.

    Martin - I’m with ya on that one. :)

    On February 8th, 2007 at 6:19 pm, Leah Maclean said:

    Wendy, I agree with Blog Bloke about the banana vs no-banana stuff. The main reason for the one banana approach was to minimise any confusion that the reader may have about what they could do next. The thing is people have become much more sophisticated users of the web over the past few years (since the 1 banana philosophy came out). People are also becoming more synical about obvious attempts to get their personal details for minimal return (”free” reports are a dime a dozen - pun intended).

    With my site, and what I do professionally, the banana is ME! I believe that if I share value with readers, write well and authenically people will engage me to do work with them. The purpose of my site (eg the banana) is actually two-fold - developing relationships and sharing information. If the only action my readers ever do is learn something new then I will be happy. But I also know that this will translate into clients.

    I’m looking forward to the new design - Sarah will do wonders for you!

    On February 18th, 2007 at 11:25 pm, Ariane Benefit, Neat Living said:

    Hi Wendy! Thanks for sharing about my banana! : ) Everyone is welcome to a bite! tee hee

    On March 9th, 2007 at 5:03 am, David Airey said:

    I have a banana. It was once much bigger than it is now but I didn’t want it to compete with my personal identity.

    My readers told me they preferred a smaller banana so I had it chopped.

    Yes, my RSS icon was once big and beautiful but now it’s a little’un. Still prominent though.

    Nice post Wendy.

    On March 9th, 2007 at 7:44 am, Alex Shalman said:

    Wendy, you intrigue me with talk of banana’s. Not only do you succeed in first disgusting me, then making me hungry, you make me want to take another look at my blog design.

    Granted my blog design is a template that I dug long and hard to find, I was not in the banana mindset when setting things up. I also have not monetized my blog as of yet. No, I’m not being lazy about it. I’m growing my readership before I lay on any adds, like a good little pre-problogger.

    If you get a chance to look at my site, I’d like your opinion on where I could put my big banana. No pressure.

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