Technology Talk – 12/16/2007

Here is a bunch of technology and blogging posts I enjoyed from around the blogosphere this week. Enjoy!

Has John Chow Jumped the Shark?

For those unfamiliar with the term “jumping the shark“, it is a term used by the television industry to describe a show that has already peaked and is now on the decline.  The term originated from an episode of Happy Days where the main character jumps over a shark while water skiing.   After that point, the show was never the same.

So, what does this have to do with the notorious John Chow?   It has been roughly a year and a half since John began his case study on his personal blog to see if he could use his site to make money online.   Over time, through the use of clever marketing tactics and an anchor text link exchange, John was able to take a blog from zero income to over $20,000.00 this last month.  During this time, John has been widely credited for taking the “make money online” niche and bringing it to the forefront of the blogosphere, to the point where he has copycats like John Cow riding his cowtails, make money online blogs are everywhere, and just about every blog you visit in any niche is now covered in hidden affiliate links. 

Despite his success, it was only a matter of time before the blog peaked.  For it to generate any more income, he would have to push the content even further down the page.  So, has John Chow jumped the shark?  

In looking over the posts he’s written in the past two months, one would have to say yes.  A typical day on his blog now contains the following:  Pictures of a recent fine dining experience, pictures of an event he recently attended, or guest posts from other bloggers.   Rarely does John give any actual content anymore or tips to make money online.   It is almost like he ran out of things to talk about.  Unfortunately, unlike many popular blogs that grew their readership over time with content (such as ProBlogger), John’s fast rise to success is based on marketing and manipulation of Google’s search.  

In looking at John’s blog today, I noticed that his 125×125 banners section now contains a few affiliate links rather than paid advertisers.  I’ve also noticed that we don’t seem to see as many ReviewMe posts recently.   Looks to me like the fallout has begun. 

Do you still read John Chow?  If so, why? 

Blogging Tip: Improve Your Site By Improving Your Theme

If you have been blogging for awhile, you probably have heard the popular blogging saying that “Content is king.”   This is definitely true, but there are a lot of other things you can do beyond writing great content to help contribute to your blog’s success.

One example happened a couple of months ago when the evil John Chow felt his earnings had hit a wall.  He was making good money, but he felt that he could do better, so he decided that he needed to make a change to continue to improve his blog’s earnings.   That was when he decided to get a custom theme that allowed for better ad placement.   In addition to allowing for better advertising placement and the inclusion of 125 x 125 ads, this also served as a way for John to create a unique brand or look for him to be associated with.

John was not the only blogger to make significant changes to his theme lately.  Domtan has recently compiled a list of full time bloggers that have made major theme changes and includes both before and after screen shots.  I’ve been reading many of these blogs for a long period of time, so it was kind of fun to revisit some of their old themes.  While reading through that post, it was very clear that giving your blog a unique look can go a long way towards improving traffic, as well as improving your site’s income.

Unfortunately, at this time I am not a full time blogger and in my current situation I don’t really have the time to do a new theme from scratch, so this blog’s theme tends to be a constant work in progress.   My goal is to keep it unique, yet still work to improve it to keep up with modern blogging trends.  I get a few requests each week asking where they can download my theme, so I feel like I’m doing a good job of keeping up with the trends.

Are you using a commonly used WordPress theme?  If you find that you are using a WordPress theme that you downloaded from somewhere on the net, you may want to take that next step and invest the time into creating a custom WordPress theme (or consider purchasing one).   This will help you to both create an identity and continue to evolve your blog.   Investing the time or money may not seem worth it at first, but in the long run it will help you increase your readership and improve your monthly earnings.

Enter to Win Free EA Computer Games

John Chow is once again giving items away, but this time its not an evil contest.   John has scrounged up an extra copy of PC DVD versions of Command & Conquer Tiberium Wars and Needs for Speed Carbon from EA.  All you need to do to be considered for these games is leave a comment on his post.