E-Book Review: Make Money Online With John Chow dot Com
Make Money Online with John Chow dot Com is a recipe for creating a blog and getting ad revenue from it. Unlike many books in the "make money" category this one contains specific and useful information both about blogging and ad/affiliate networks.
The core thesis of Make Money Online is you (the reader) can follow John Chow's example and get non-trivial ad revenue from a blog website with lots and lots of traffic. Like me, you might find it both suspect and ironically recursive that John Chow gets lots of traffic and makes money because he's telling people how to get lots of traffic and make money. Fortunately, his advice for generating blog traffic isn't to pay him a fee, emulate his site content, or even buy his e-book (it's free), it's general best practice for blogging.
Even if you aren't interesting in making money off your blog, the content specific advice is one of the more concise presentations I've seen. It's worth reading just those chapters, if nothing else. If you do want to make money from your blog I believe this book will help you, though I'm not sure how many people can copy John Chow's success.
I had two issues with Make Money Online. The biggest issue is the self-identified "evil" practices. A smaller issue is the mildly condescending attitude found in some chapters, especially the introduction. Both of these somewhat taint what is otherwise good information.
A detailed review of the book follows.
Make Money Online with John Chow dot Com is a free download from www.johnchow.com. It has 9 chapters:
- My Recommended Money-makers
- Beginner's Blogging Tips
- Must Have WordPress Stuff
- Pumping Out the Content
- Monetize Your Blog
- Google Optimization
- Promotion Ideas
- My Story
Chow explains in the Chapter 1 Introduction his motivation for writing the e-book (He makes money off traffic and this is one method for driving traffic to this site) and that the information is a summary of posts from his website. He then issues a money maker's call-to-arms in an army drill sergeant kind of way. The advice is a decent reality check but the tone condescending.
Chapter 2, My Recommended Money-makers, is "a list of all the ad networks and affiliate programs" Chow recommends. Given the book is Copyright 2007 and how quickly situations can change, one should confirm the information is still accurate before acting on it.
Chapters 3 to 5 are dedicated to creating a successful blog and are applicable to anyone wanting to move beyond hobby blogging or simply noodling around. Chapter 3, Beginner's Blogging Tips, is a concise presentation of best practice and the kind of thing you'd hear at a blogging conference like Northern Voice. Chapter 4, Must Have WordPress Stuff, is a list of recommended WordPress modules. Enough background is given to extrapolate the requirements to other blogging platforms. Chapter 5, Pumping Out the Content, is an odd combination of a bullet list for getting/producing content and a full-on discussion of RSS. I'd recommend these chapters to anyone who's serious about building an audience for their blog regardless of whether or not they want to make money.
Chapter 6, Monetize Your Blog, and Chapter 7, Google Optimization, primarily discuss implementation of ads and affiliate marketing services. Chapter 6 then goes on to discuss specific methods for driving traffic to exploit these services. Chow choose to handle Google ads in a separate chapter (Chapter 7) which discusses Google ads in the context of Google's unique position as leading search engine. The information is highly specific and not only discusses technical issues but also touches on audience psychology. Chapter 7 also touches briefly on search engine optimization (SEO).
Chapter 8, Promotion Ideas, is an extensive list of methods for getting traffic to your website. If Chapters 3, 4, and 5 were the beginners guide, this is the intermediate and advanced guide. Some of the methods fall under best practice while others (in my opinion) are definitely not how the ad companies intended their services or promotions be used. Chow is forthright in declaring some of these methods as dubious: "Let's talk about some evil blog promotion techniques!".
Chapter 9, My Story, is John Chow's personal history. It should really be an appendix since it has only an indirect bearing on the book's central thesis. For those people curious about John Chow the man, perhaps after hearing about his somewhat infamous reputation, it could provide interesting background.
My only issues with Make Money Online With John Chow dot Com are the sometimes condescending writing style (especially Chapter 1) and occasional dodgy ethics. These are my personal reaction, and not everyone will share them. If you do share them, it's easy to ignore these bits.
Make Money Online does a good job of summarizing "industry" standard advice and best practice on blogging, building traffic and generating ad revenue. In fact, it's one of the best free summaries of blogging best practice I've read (If you've seen something better, please leave a comment!), so even if you aren't interested in monetizing your blog it's worth reading the blogging bits. Having no direct experience with most of the ad networks discussed I can't speak to the accuracy of this information.
One final observation. Although Chow doesn't emphasize community building or reader engagement these are the techniques he's using for building traffic. This lack of emphasize may diminish a reader's full understanding of the underlying dynamics but might also engage readers otherwise scared by "community kom ba ya." Either way, I was tickled to see a book so overtly focused on making money recommending techniques for building community.