Celebrating Blog Birthday Parties

Blog birthday - mirror ball wears party hat

Have you given much thought to your blog anniversary this year? Some don’t celebrate the passing starting dates of their blogs, but for many, blog anniversary celebrations are getting bigger and wilder every year.

Some have hosted huge contests with a lot of giveaways. Many review their previous year with lessons learned and goals set for the next blogging year. Others have gone quietly into their second and third years of blogging with a post reminiscing about the year that has past.
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TrafficJam finally launches, but will you use it?

Very few products and services are safe from the blogosphere, particularly when they’re targeted directly at bloggers, promise much, fail to deliver, have problems, and are then shot to pieces by ‘the mob”.

So it was with Blogrush, John Reese’s brainchild. It promised to do much, but many bloggers felt hard done by, being thrown out without much explanation due to “quality control”, having to put up with ugly widgets, and with other bloggers who tried to game the system by not including the widget on their own site.

Oh, and TrafficJam, the “Phase 2” part which would help to drive even more traffic to member sites by marrying the “digg / techmeme” effect with the widget.

It never came. It was due last year, and stalled. John’s blog stayed pretty much silent (apart from telling us what a wonderful holiday he had over Christmas).

Now it’s finally launched, but at what cost?

Unsurprisingly, Mr Reese has launched it with both a fanfare and a call for help. His announcement email (which you’d only get if you hadn’t already junked Blogrush last year) begins:

We’re excited to announce that we finally released TrafficJam.com in public beta — it’s using LIVE DATA from the BlogRush Network. In fact, some of your blog posts may be ranked on TrafficJam.com right now!

We’d appreciate your helping in getting the word out about TrafficJam.com’s release. The more exposure the site gets the more it benefits YOU and other users of BlogRush — because it will drive traffic to members’ blogs along with the widget itself.

I wonder how many current Blogrush members will do that? To be fair, I don’t know how far the backlash against BR went — it certainly hit the tech sector very hard, but then that’s the sector that often spends a lot more time looking at the technicalities of blogging. I’m not convinced there’ll be many ex-members queueing up to get back in, either — even if they get past “quality control”.

The email continues:

The site will update every 24 hours initially and then move towards hourly updates; we want to find the right balance of frequency so visitors don’t miss too many new posts if they keep coming back to the site.

This is just one addition of many we have planned to help drive more traffic to your blog!

Then come some reasons why TrafficJam is important:

  • “Ultimate research tool” for marketers
  • Never run out of ideas for blog posts
  • Identify untapped keywords and other opportunities
  • “This site is essentially a LIVE HEADLINE TESTING MACHINE”
  • Find relevant posts in your niche
  • “TrafficJam.com can save you TONS of your time and constantly ’show you’ what your target market is most interested in at any given time.”

Addressing the issue of poor traffic levels which drove many bloggers away:

Some people were disappointed by the traffic results they received when testing BlogRush, and it’s completely understandable…

And as promised, we’re working hard to improve things.

TrafficJam.com is just one of many services we have planned to help our users drive more free traffic to their blogs. And we’re not done yet.

So what do you think? Are you a current or ex-BlogRiush user? Would you be tempted back into the network? Or is TrafficJam too little, too late?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.


The Art of the Artist Web Design Collaboration

Graphic representation of the artist's bad web page design

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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Fighting Bloggers Take the Heat

In Do You Avoid a Fight by Chris Garrett here on the , he talks about bloggers picking fights or avoiding them, explaining how you can learn from those who disagree with you:

Those people, once calmed down, are extremely valuable to you. They are a chance to see another side, to improve what you do, to clarify your thinking. This is why you must always mean what you say and say what you mean.

If you really believe in what you write then you can welcome the chance of debating your point. That is not to say you should go looking for a fight, but if a fight finds you then you can be prepared for it.

I love criticism, when it is helpful. If you challenges me on an issue, I may not like what you have to say, but you have a point and you are welcome to it. I will listen, sifting it through my personal value sifter, and maybe you make sense. Maybe I can learn from the criticism. I’ll thank you one way or the other because I value my readers input that much.
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Improving Your Blog: Why Blog?

I’m often contacted by companies who tell me they need a blog. “So how do I get a blog?”

“Why do you think you need a blog?”

“Everyone’s got a blog. I need a blog.”

No, you don’t. Not everyone nor every business needs a blog. Should they? Maybe? But do they need one? Absolutely not.

If a static website, a billboard on the web, is enough for their customers’ needs, giving them basic information about the company, its employees, location, driving direction, and products and services, that’s good enough. Why blog?

If the business has a strong customer service base that is Internet savvy, and it wants to improve its online identity and reputation, then maybe a blog is worth considering.
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Improve Your Blog: Usability

Where should I put that on my blog? Graphic copyright Lorelle VanFossen

How easy is your blog to use? Can the visitor move around quickly and easily between posts? Between categories, archives, and other multi-post pages with more than one web page? Can they immediately identify the About, Contact, and other key Pages which will give them more information about you and the blog?

Are the blog posts clearly identifiable from other content on the blog, such as graphics and ads. Or do the graphics and ads interfere with the post content?

When viewing multi-post pageviews, is each post title clearly defined, separated from the post above and below it? Is it obvious it is clickable, taking the visitor to the post?

Are the categories clearly defined so the visitor sees them and knows there is more content that might hold the answer if this post doesn’t? Are there only a few, specific categories, or dozens? Do they complement each other, or are each disparately different?

Is there a list of recent and/or related posts that will help them find more sources for the information they need?
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Improving Your Blog: The Google Game

I’m the first to admit that I, too, was sucked into the Google Game, the game of playing with my blog to ensure the success of my blog’s participation in Google world domination control of all things searchable. As part of my ongoing series on improving your blog tips, one of the redundant bits of advice I give to my clients is how to play the Google Game while not playing the Google Game.

Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

Playing the Google Games means understanding how Google’s PageRank algorithm works, which is much like predicting the stock market in relationship to the weather. Sometimes the weather cooperates, as does the stock market, but other times, both are unpredictable and based upon factors that twist and turn in the wind.
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Improving Your Blog: Creativity

Holiday, the cat, sleeping on the shortwave radio - photograph copyrighted Lorelle VanFossen

Gawd, I’m bored. Aren’t you? There’s nothing new on lately? Everything is the same old same old. I’ve seen it all, haven’t you? There’s nothing new.

No, I’m not talking about television. Okay, I could be, but I’m talking about blogs.

Come on! Aren’t you getting bored reading post after post of “how to succeed in blogging”, “the top 25 SEO tips”, “make money with blogging”, “get-rich-quick with blogs”, and “my top web traffic tips” that litter the web?

As part of my ongoing series on improving your blog tips, a look at the redundant tips I give to many of my clients, I’ve covered clarity, cleanliness, consistency, and it’s turn for some creativity tips.
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