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March 25, 2008

Blogging is About Writing – and Not

Blogging is about writing. That is a fact. You can video blog, podcast, and do all kinds of fun things with your blog, but it is the writing that makes or breaks a blog. What you say in the blog posts, descriptions of visual and audio elements, and what words you offer search engines for their indexing to help people find your blog.

However, blogging is not just about the writing, albeit it is a large part. Blogging today is about so much more. Are you ready? Do you know all the things you have to know about blogging before you start blogging? Or after?

Whether you are a new blogger or long time blogger, these are the things you are going to have to learn about in order to blog in today’s world.
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March 19, 2008

Localized Bloggers Can Earn Money With CBS

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Bloggers can now earn revenue by placing CBS News revenue-sharing widgets on their Websites. Dubbed the CBS Local Ad Network, the widgets display real-time local headlines (along with a banner ad sold by CBS) from CBS television stations in your area.

The project marks the first major media television network to share revenue with
localized social-media Websites.

CBS is conducting a staggered roll out of the ad network. Currently, it’s available in Boston, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Francisco, Denver and Chicago. It’s expected to hit New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and others in the coming weeks.

The big mystery is what percentage of the ad revenue local sites will receive. CBS has yet to announce the cut. This seems to be a trend with ad networks of late. Don’t they realize that this is the part most bloggers care about the most?

Anything beats AdSense, no?

Geo-tagged widgets are not new, but the relationship forming with large media entities and John Q. Blogger certainly is. Let’s hope they offer up a decent enough cut to generate interest.

Learn more at TV Week.

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March 14, 2008

Website Owners Unite on Adroll to Make Money

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The concept of Adroll simple: bloggers sharing a specific topic band together to lure advertisers. Bloggers win because they can attract larger clients; advertisers win because they can spread their message across a niche with a single ad purchase.

The site has been in beta for quite some time and recently opened to the public.

Advertisers can search the Adroll directory for specific blogs or communities, or bloggers can solicit advertisers by sharing their profile link (you can view mine here).

Signing up is simple. Just input your blog URL, enter some basic traffic and demographic information, indicate the size/location where ads can appear and you could be enjoying a new revenue stream.

If you haven’t stopped by Adroll recently, there have been some improvements:

* Links from your ad space now go directly to your Public Profile

* Other publishers can connect with you using your Public Profile

* The marketplace is open, so advertisers can buy

* Any advertiser can buy on your website using Adroll – no registration required

* Updated campaign tool permits geo-targeting on your site

There is also a referral program. Tier 1 publishers earn 30% of every dollar Adroll earns (for 6 months) from any publisher you invite or direct into Adroll. Earn 10% of every dollar Adroll earns (for 6 months) from any new publisher invited or directed into Adroll by a publisher you invited or directed into Adroll.

Looks promising. I’ve set up a career and employment community. If you’re interested, sign up! I’ll keep you updated if I have any luck with the program.

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February 26, 2008

Popular Blogger Poised for Record Deal

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Mario Lavandeira, better known as flamboyant gossip blogger Perez Hilton, is supposedly in negotiations with Warner Bros. Records. The deal would reward him for discovering new music artists.

Lavandeira has already parlayed his blog into a television show, book, merchandise and now potentially the aforementioned record deal. Which leads me to a question:

Do you want your blog to take you beyond blogging?

For some, simply sharing thoughts on a given subject is enough. But others (this humble blogger included), are hoping to lay the tracks for a mini-media empire. By looking beyond the blog, you not only have the opportunity to reach a larger (and different) audience, but you’ll also have a chance to make a lot more money.

The Hilton record deal appears to be worth $100,000 a year, plus a percentage of music-sale profits.

Now might be a good time to ask yourself what you envision for yourself. Is your blog a vehicle towards greater success? Or is your blog just a blog?

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February 19, 2008

The Art of the Artist Web Design Collaboration

Web design or re-design with artists, musicians, painters, poets, or crafters can be challenging. They usually have their “vision” which may or may not be technically possible. From the start, I tell the artist that their website or blog is their stage, totally under their control. From design to attention-getting content. It’s their performance hall. An outlet for their creative expression. Do with it what you will – however, a few guidelines along the way will make it a more effective performance, no different than learning how to project and control your voice, develop stage presence, and learn the techniques of connecting with their audience.

Treat the experience as an artist collaboration. Any hint of commercialism or “how others do it” that might violate their “creativity” so monetization and SEO must be handled delicately. They usually think of themselves as unique trend setters, which works well in web design, but can break it, too.

Once they understand their website is a stage, they jump on board with enthusiasm and great ideas for incorporating their talents toward this new audience.
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February 15, 2008

Blog Tool Makes Tipping EZ

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Since my blogging beginnings, I have always been very outspoken about my disdain for bloggers who hold out their hat, as if they were homeless, and beg for donations.

Blogging is a choice. Many of the problems you SHOULD be donating to are not. Not to mention, expensive hosting and bandwidth costs are pretty much a thing of the past.

Now there’s a sorta middle ground. TipJoy, a new Y Combinator startup, makes it painlessly easy to leave a “tip” for bloggers. While I am against the practice, this tool gives bloggers the option to donate all of their “tips” to charity, making it tolerable.

When you leave a tip for a blogger, it is added to your tab. What makes TipJoy unique is that you have time to change your mind. Make a payment when you feel like it, or simply take back your pledge.

A tip can be made to any e-mail address or URL. Payments are made through Paypal. Another cash-out option is to select an Amazon gift card in lieu of donating the money.

TipJoy keeps 2% on paid debts and tips start as low as 10 cents.

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February 11, 2008

Chitika launches Viral Branding Unit for video advertising

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The Chitika advertising network has announced a new “Viral Branding Unit” which is supposed to bring the power of video and interactivity to advertisers.

According to a recent survey by Chitika, over 3 in 4 publishers using the network are “very interested” in incorporating video branding on their sites.

The units are designed for both business-to-consumer and consumer-to-consumer advertising. As the name suggests, there’s the possibility that they could “go viral” if someone decides to send or share the video with other contacts, or join others in rating it.

“We founded Chitika on the idea that branding is a fluid conversation between brands, buyers and online publishers,” said Venkat Kolluri, chief executive officer at Chitika. “The new VBU takes this dynamic to the next level by delivering more impact, more interactivity and more of the conversational attributes consumers want. And rest assured, we’re not done yet; billions will soon be flowing into the blogosphere and social media, and Chitika will continue to lead the way with innovation and a keen understanding of the dynamic of the new web.”

Darren Rowse of problogger.net, who uses Chitika to help monetize his site, said, “The web is becoming a more and more interactive space. Web users are not satisfied simply to consume content by reading any more – they want to watch, listen, click, interact and play. The Viral Branding Unit is one of the best ad units that I’ve seen to meet web users in this interactive space.”

Not everyone’s in favor of the new ads, though. The single comment currently left on the sample ad reads, “duh. Advertising that steals focus from your blog content IMO.”

Of course, Chitika aren’t the only company getting involved in video advertising, and there’s little doubt the medium will grow as online video in general plays an increasingly important role in online content delivery.

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February 7, 2008

The Blog Economy: Illusion or Reality

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Terry Health’s “Blogging’s False Economics” is an interesting comparison between brick-and-mortar businesses and blogs when it comes to the marketplace and competition.
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January 18, 2008

When Your Ads Aren’t Noticed Anymore

Here on The Blog Herald, as on so many other sites in the blogosphere, there are ads, 125×125 pixel squares. We’ve got six here, some blogs just have four, others run eight. The ad, made popular by Michael Arrington on TechCrunch, is something of the de facto standard in the blogosphere, at least when we’re talking blogs about blogging, and related niches.

I like the format, an ad doesn’t need to be much bigger than that. I would prefer it if it was 120×100 pixels instead, but that’s OK, I can live with 125×125 pixels as well.

Problem is, the readers might get saturated, screening out these ads. I recently did a post on this over at Wisdump, and there are some interesting comments there to give strength to this line of reasoning.

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January 6, 2008

The Ratings Game

For the past week or so, the two top television networks in my country have been on a word war about their ratings. Network A (let’s call them Networks A and B) has been claiming that Network B is bribing households in a certain town to switch to their channels during noon time (considered prime time here) so that the survey/audit company’s data-gathering will be in Network B’s favor.

Network B has filed defamation suits in the courts of law, and lately both Network A and B have been having hourly commercial spots airing out their respective positions, in their own defense.

Seems to me like it’s going to be a trial by publicity. At the back of my mind, I laugh about the silliness of it all. For one, the town concerned is miles away from where I live–the country’s capital–and I couldn’t care less about the ratings in that town. Secondly, as a consumer of multimedia, I don’t really give a hoot about ratings or such, as long as I get good quality programs.

However, it dawned upon me that the reason behind all this fuss is money. For us consumers ratings could simply be indicators of how popular a television (or radio) channel or network is, for a given time of the day. However, for the network and for the media industry, ratings represent pricing power. For media that are not able to count exact “hits” or “page views” ratings are used as an indication of popularity and reach. This translates to how much the television network or station can charge advertisers, particularly as they price ad spots on cost per thousand pairs of eyeballs (or impressions, if that’s a better term).

So the ratings game is not silly at all, because we bloggers are also part of that game. In our case, though, “ratings” are easier to come by, with the various metrics software that help us measure and analyze traffic, such as our very own pMetrics. We also have other (more-or-less external) means of rating our sites, such as PageRank, Alexa ranking, Technorati rank, and the like. These, then, affect our pricing power implicitly or explicitly, whether for pricing ad spots, text links or sponsored reviews (some of which are frowned upon by some in the community, I know).

Sometimes it’s implicit because in some cases, it’s purely the traffic and the niche covered by our blogs that affect how well we earn, and we cannot really influence too much the outcome, such as with clickthrough rates and payments per click. In some cases, it’s explicit, like when a higher-PageRank site can fetch higher ad rates than others. In any case, these are analogous to what television and radio networks have with their “ratings.”

Perhaps in the same way that the above-cited Networks A and B are battling it on air, we bloggers have also used our own mediums to discuss the various “ratings” related issues that have affected us, like PageRank drops, and even the ethics of selling links or sponsored reviews. So again, is it silly? Maybe not–if what we are talking about puts food on our plates, pays the bills, and sends our kids to school.

Of course, this is from the perspective of the producer of the media. So for us bloggers–particularly those involved in blogging as a business or profession–traffic matters. PageRank matters. Other ranking methods matter. But for a reader, what does really matter? For some, metrics may influence how we initially view a site. A blog that has a higher PR or Technorati rating could be a more ideal destination than one that is less popular.

However, being an avid blog reader myself, I can say that metrics and such “ratings” go only as far as being helpful as “first impressions” of a blog. What matters more to me is the quality of the content, and relevancy to my interests, and of course, if the writer is able to reach out to me in a way I like. It’s similar to how I would rather watch intelligently-written and presented TV series from a channel with low ratings, than watch crappy programming just because it’s popular among viewers.

So how about those networks with their rating wars? I’d say just focus on fixing the quality of your content, and perhaps the good ratings will follow!

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