April 29, 2006

How to Leave a Cheesy Comment

Some bloggers who have been around for years leave cheesy comments like

  • “I just blogged this on my site too LINK”
  • “This is relevant also LINK”

Worse yet, now there are meme tracker tools that track conversations and similar posts, and if you leave the cheesedick check out my site here comment on a couple blogs it looks tacky.

There are enough people doing automated comments that you really want to stand out as a signal of quality in a field of muck. If a blog has great reach then many people will eventually see your comments. I probably left a number of cheesy comments in the past, but on the whole I wouldn’t recommend doing it nowadays.

When blogs were new being relevant with your comment was enough, but as the amount of noise continues to grow and spam and ad networks make more and more things seem relevant good blog comments not only need to be relevant but also interesting and/or useful.

If your comments are good enough then eventually the other bloggers read your stuff and / or give you natural citations that are going to be hard to duplicate. If you just link drop eventually you piss people off.

SethF consistently whines about being a Z lister, but it is the cheesy comment link drops that makes him hard to like.

February 22, 2006

Self Referential World

I am a bit disappointed in myself for creating a blog about blogging…jumping into another hyper-saturated market prior to having adequate exposure in my first hyper saturated market.

The best part about being able to write a blog on whatever topic you are interested in is that you have a free responsive outlet.

The downside on not grabbing a niche topic is that people expect frequent publishing (and that may be required if your blog is a large part of your business model). That leads to…

Where you run into problems with that sort of stuff is that people can not separate themselves from their own experiences. I think Mike and Jeremy are both spot on in those posts, but the people with broad reach which they are refuting probably are writing what I would be consider misinformation which to them seems 100% true…based on their own experiences.

It is a problem we all have as writers / authors / bloggers / story tellers. Who we are defines why people like us and why they hate us. Given a podium and no time limits or restrictions it can be a bit easy to go on even after the good original inspiring stuff is all gone.

It is really hard to see past your own nose, and once you get successful you want to tell other people that if they do what you did that they would do well too, but in many cases that is not the truth…in many cases some things (like market timing, prior reputation and employer) can not be replicated by most other people.

Please note I probably make the same errors the others do…it is so hard to give advice without giving at least a bit of bad advice.

Update: looks like I am losing my edge. Jeremy Z said what I was trying to say, but a bit better.

I’m becoming more and more sickened by the increasing number of articles and blog posts I’ve seen in the last few months that are self-proclaimed “HOWTOs” on making your company, PR folks, or Marketing Department blogger friendly.

After all, there’s nothing like a few excited bloggers to kick off a good viral marketing campaign, right?! Who cares if your product is lame. Just get some bloggers to talk about it!

How long can it be before some new Web 2.0 startup (old maybe a desperate Old Media company) offers up the chance to “win a date with a supermodel” for anyone who blogs about their newest product. What after that?

December 21, 2005

Errors in Starting a Blog Network

Since few people see the first posts on a new blog it is no big deal if they are a bit crappy, right?

I sorta thought that a bit, but I think that much less after working with a friend to start up a network. I wanted to start up a network of around 30 channels covering various topics. I thought so long as we eventually got to quality the start would not matter much, but some of the posts made me feel a bit like some of the writers were stealing money from my bank account.

Not to say that any of the writers are bad people though. If I were paid a flat rate for my work and was not being paid enough to be fully committed to the project I would slack off and write quick posts recapping any press release I could find on the topic.

When you break it down to that far of a level there is no value add, the equivalent can be automated via software, and you have nothing but a channel of noise and ads.

Starting around 30 channels at once means that you are not learning from the first few channels and applying it to the others right from the go. It is easy to take on too much to where you can get a bit overwhelmed with it all.

It may also be worth doing a large number of example posts on each channel. I told my friend that between he and I we could write the stuff ourselves, make about 15 posts a day across the network, and by the end of two weeks we would have enough of a archive history to be able to start marketing the sites. If you let others write the content and they do a less than stellar job it becomes much harder to market.

Bringing on others to do work is probably going to be important if you want to scale out some sort of a mini web based publishing house, but when quantity gets too far ahead of quality it may be hard to untread some of those steps.

December 19, 2005

Structured Blogging: the End of Product Placement? Hardly!

Clickz has an article called the end of product placement about structured blogging.

My mom blogs. She uses blogger and likes it because it is easy to use. There is only so much you can structure stuff before the added features make the publishing process less interesting or more confusing. My mom’s site is not going to end up on kritx.com because she does not care about hReview.

If you inherently trust the structure people offer then it fills with spam, and then you just end up with MORE product placement…see splogs for examples. 🙂

There is a lot of money in figuring out the structure of the web, but I think companies like Google and Yahoo! like the fact that there is a certain amount of noise and dishonest proposition created daily because it raises the barrier to competition. Directly or indirectly these large search companies will sponsor the noise necessary to block out competition.

I think advanced algorithms looking across the web graph will solve the problems with structure more than the content management systems will. The money is in aggregation and filtering, and it is doubtful that blogs as a whole will tap into any system that requires them to be a visual center to format the data. Even if data formats help some stuff it is still going to be the algorithms layered over the top that build the value that can be exploited for profit.

December 16, 2005

Buy a Blog Logo

Buying a logo can sorta suck because you may not get exactly what you want, and you may not even know what you want. Think of what sort of brand you want to have. Is it one that emphasizes creativity and fun, is it a serious site, a tech one? Your logo should fit not only the colors you would like but also the theme that matches with your personality or the personality of the site.

A few tips I would offer on this front are to look at some logos others have designed to help come up with an idea for what you like. Sometimes you can even find out who designed a logo you like and have them design one for you. You can also:

  • Hire a professional logo designer. Some of the logos I have got have really been hit or miss. My favorite logo designer has sucky customer service. The only other logo designer that I used and liked was The Logo Company. A few of the logos I bought from them I did not like, but I loved their Fatty Weight Loss logo. Both DMOZ and Yahoo! Directory list many logo designers.
  • You can bid on projects on sites like Elance.com. I have generally found most of these to be a let down for me though.
  • Some forums like NamePros allow you to post logo design projects where you pick the winner. If you pay more you will attract higher quality designers, but I have seen some decent logos from the $20 to $50 range.
  • Ask for a favor from a friend who is good at logo design…perhaps offering to buy them dinner or pay them back down the road. If you are actively learning about the web you should participate in online communities to create trusted friends. Some of them may be able to help you directly, and others may be able to recommend you to someone who can help you.
  • If you have serious cash go with a kick ass designer like Hicks Design. I also like some of the logos from Eden Creations.
  • If you are a total do it yourselfer then Adobe Photoshop is amazing. A few cheaper logo design software products come from AAA Logo and Laughing Bird Software. I have not yet tried it, but GIMP is free open sourced software, and is supposed to be a lot like Adobe Photoshop.

Is there any software or logo designers you recommend? What work made you want to recommend them?

December 9, 2005

Blogging for Hits

Tony Pierce, easily one of the top 10 bloggers, talks about how he would blog for hits. Funny examples of how to get people to want to read or link at your stuff, and then Tony ends off with

if i wanted hits id change everything about this blog and do everything differently but i dont think about hits any more than i think about ads and i dont think about pussy either

which is why i get all three and then some

and then some.

Voice probably matters more than anything else.

And this goes to show why SEO really does not matter as much for blogs

New Blog Established Blog
Assumptions

  • new to the web
  • new to blogging
  • somewhat new to your topic
Assumptions

  • been around a while
  • learned your community and topic well
Strategy

  • since few people will read new blogs write literal using descriptive post titles
  • spend tons of time reading other blogs…the best blogs are the best because they have personality and because they distill a ton of information
  • after your site ages and if enough people like your posts as you get more into blogging then your literal titled posts will rank well for many terms
Strategy

  • write post titles and contents to elicit links, comments, viral marketing, and / or an emotional response
  • after you have a share of market attention it is important to try to remain unique if you want to keep your market position if your field is competititive
  • if people find your posts interesting they will link at them and you will rank well for many related queries without needing to focus so much on being literal
  • keep in mind though that many people will link to your site using your post title as the anchor text. you still may want some of your post titles to be a bit literal here and there

November 29, 2005

All Your Favorite Sponsored Links…

Why would anyone want to pay someone for creating a directory full of nothing but paid ads?

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2005/11/prweb315863.htm
Sorry I can’t live link because linking is a sort of payment…

There is nothing original or useful in or around the idea.

The hidden gem in that story is that people will promote garbage so long as you stroke their ego with it. The story has already been picked up by a number of bloggers.

At least the million dollar homepage guy sorta had an original angle.

October 9, 2005

A Link In Every Post

Well, sometimes I forget this, but an outbound link in every post keeps the link love alive. When you blog, whatever credibility and authority you have is granted by others. The best & cheapest way to build up your credibility and authority is to regularly link out to good stuff.

Regular webmasters, who frequently exchange links in an effort to boost their search authority scores, are told that when in doubt it is best not to link. Blogging is the other way round. It is best to be known as the gal or guy who is all about gratuitous linking.

Some small changes in your outbound linking strategies on a post by post basis may present opportunities for you to make more money, but I tend to think the money does a good job taking care of itself if your blog is interesting.

Linking out is a form of free marketing. Linking to useful resources means:

  • you raise your credibility in the eyes of viewers
  • you make your site easier to link to, as the people you link at may want to link back, and nobody wants to read a dead end site

Some of the people you link at will never link back, and it is best if it is that way. When people are new to the web (at least the commercial bits of it) some people feel they need paid in one way or another for anything they do for others. When you are new and you reference quality stuff it helps associate you with the quality sites. That in itself is a form of pay

If your site contents are found interesting by a large number of people then the overflowing cup theory works well. You can’t give too much away on the web, especially on the well socially connected pieces.

There is little reason to worry about what machines think of your site. If humans like it you will do well. Add links whenever it makes sense and, like karma, the link love comes back around. Regularly linking out improves your linkability 🙂

Using Blogs to Launch a Product: Part 1

A while ago a prospective search engine optimization client wanted to sell a miniature motion video type service. We were both unsure of a market purpose for it, or how we could market it on a reasonable budget. I knew at first glance that SEO was not the answer though.

I decided the best solution would be to launch a low end free version of the product and market it at bloggers. Let them spread it by making it free. It only took me a few minutes to come up with the initial marketing plan and a name for the service, Blog Flix.

I sent the site owner to my designer, who created a kick ass design for under $2,000, integrating MovableType and vBulletin into an awesome mesh up integrated login. The service quickly started getting the right kinds of links, getting mentions on sites like Smart Mobs.

Had he had a bit more funding, time, and attention to devote to the project I think it would have created the mini flash movie on site equivalent of Flickr. After I named the site and came up with the concept the site owner never contacted me again though. 🙁

One area where we really messed up that launch was the content of the example videos. They showed scenic moutains in New Zealand. What would have made the product amazing would have been good and fun examples of what to do with it. If I were still involved with that project I would have made those videos funny. Perhaps even having me reenacting some of the dumb things I did as a kid.

Emotion is the key to viral marketing. The mountains were pretty, but the pictures were not high definition. The real amazing thing with BlogFlix is how it could have sequenced human emotions.

Sadly, the domain is already expired and owned my a pay per click pimp.

Not is all lost though. I realized that I saved the BlogFlix guy many thousands of dollars he may have spent on marketing his site some other way. I also realize that if he put a bit more work in the follow through he would have a powerful position in the web right now.

Now blogs are not some magical thing that can make up for a low quality product or lack of business model, but they are a way to get quick and honest feedback to help you create a product that people would:

  • like;
  • use; and
  • want to market for you for free

Henry Blodget Returns

Interesting to see a name which was so established, and then ripped to pieces, and then he jumps right into the web fray again.

Is this apology authentic? It sure sounds the bit, but then again he is linking off to his research in that post. Research that will soon be sold as a high end service. Either way I find it fascinating that he mentioned his past and has the comments open. He is certainly a bit more courageous than most are.

Many people bet their financial stability on his over optimistic predictions. Then, he states:

the SEC alleged that some remarks that I and my colleagues made in emails were inconsistent with professional opinions in our published research, and charged me with civil securities fraud

I will not presume guilt on his behalf, but I think his blog is definitely one to watch. A great salesman. His authentic sounding voice will once again give him great power in the internet stock space.