December 22, 2005

Post Frequency vs Post Quality and Automated Social Software

Some people create blogs that guarantee fresh content every day. In spite of writing many blogs I find it hard to have something useful, interesting, or original to say everyday. I think I perform far better when I do things sporadically.

I know when I have fire or passion or interest, but I end up getting bored or burned out if I do the same thing every day. That means for me being a daily poster is probably a bad fit…although recently I bought a community site and sort put myself in the position where I think I will have to post daily.

Some fields will require that people fight to be first with the story to compete, but as more automated decentralized social communities form around different topics (say Digg: movies) many of the first with the news type blogs will die a slow marginalized death unless they do one or more of the following

  • reinforce their market position using some type of social software
  • create custom programs to help them find news quickly and hunt for it early in the morning
  • create relationships with key industry sources
  • are in fields so small that they have virtually no competition
  • have a killer brand built up
  • stick to what they know better than most others
  • envoke emotional responses that make people want to come back
  • offer free time saving software
  • work in small groups where they cover each others holes
  • start to offer more in depth information

ThreadWatch is a great community site, but increasingly I have seen the tech news bits being done better by Digg because they are more decentralized and automated. I think the answer for ThreadWatch to doing well is to focus more on the search stuff than the tech news information.

Leveraging Your Blog Archives

So I have in the past done this a few times, but have not done it recently, but I have talked to many others who have done it. Have you ever leveraged your archives?

By this I mean:

  • Have you ever backdated a post you wanted to make but for some reason did not make it when you should have?
  • Have you ever fixed old post errors? Did you cite the error corrections you made or just make them? Is it required to record / mention what you changed?
  • Have you ever create a test page in the archives to see how search engines would react to a new page on that topic? For example I have known some well known bloggers who put mesothelioma pages in their archives to test link bombing.
  • Some people show time sensitive ads. Is it ok to post affiliate links in blog posts? Need they be disclosed? Is it wrong to change old links in high ranking posts that could make you decent money if they were affiliate links instead of direct links?
  • Have you ever went back into an old post and edited out links to sites that became spammy or added links to sites you were working with?

Some people push blogger ethics, etc…but sometimes the content and ideas that sell are not the same ideas that regular readers would be interested in citing or reading. For example, if I had a few thousand SEO 101 pages on my SEO blog they would probably convert exceptionally well, but nobody would want to read about the same stuff over and over again. What would be the best way to introduce that content without offending regular readers who already knew a lot?

Should all new blog content come in through the home page? If so, why?

Blogs About Blogging Make No Money…

Duncan Riley announced he was restructured out of his real world job, and thus is now blogging full time.

He also mentioned that he does not yet make much money from his blog about blogging…which is probably the case for most every blog about blogging and technology, unless they sell a how to blog information product or consulting services from it. He has killer link popularity which could be leveraged for a good mint if he does a good job with it.

As far as profit goes niche channels selected with profit in mind will likely outperform most large oversaturated markets.

The Value of Talking About What You are Doing

Some people are afraid to expose what they are doing, thinking they would only be creating more competition for themselves. If you are already in a competitive field then discussing what you are doing probably will not create much more additional real competition.

Even if talking does create more competition, discussing it typically still adds personal value far faster than competition. By telling a story about what you are doing and establishing value systems on commodities it tells an interesting story that people will want to spread.

Yesterday when Andy Hagans blogged about buying a poker blog it got many direct and indirect links…probably enough that the post instantly increases the value of the poker website by 50%. It is not easy getting links at sites about poker, but if you wrap it in a blog and talk about it on active interesting channels it is.

The links he got were viral editorial links, which are the exact type search engines want to count.

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.

Buying and Selling Blogs

Rarely do you get to read the details of a smaller financial transaction so clearly from both sides.

Andy Hagans posted about why he bought The Poker Blog and how he came to his valuation of it. Ben Bleikamp posted about how he created the site to sell.

Right now I sorta treat websites like I used to treat baseball cards…love collecting them. Only buy if you think you are getting a deal and only sell if you know it is far greater than you paid for it. One of my perhaps bad traits is that I tend to find ways to build value very cheaply and thus I do not work hard enough to exploit the full value or appreciate how much some things are worth. Having others set up guidelines on value makes it easy to help appreciate the value of certain content / websites / ideas.

Have you ever flipped a blog or bought a blog? How did you know what price was the right price?

Performancing for Firefox

Zoom…automation 🙂

NickW and co created a Firefox extension that allows you to sync up all your blog accounts and edit or post to them from the browser.

At first I did not really understand it’s purpose, thinking it was sorta a solution looking for a problem, but then I became a bit of an unidiot and saw how it interfaced with all the blogging platforms. It pulls in the category data from each platform as well.

This is my first post testing it out, but so far looks cool. A few features I would love to see added are:

  • spell check
  • a tool to sort the blogs quickly for the uber blog overlords, perhaps even making blog
  • categories
  • publish status
  • optional multiple fields…description, title, entry, extended

am sure there are a few other ideas but it is late and I am tired

I am a bit torn on the idea of all the various ways to make publishing quicker and easier. Short term it is great for bloggers because it allows them to work multiple revenue streams quickly. But long term as more people move on the web I wonder if the attention economy will kick in to where the top few voices in any market get the disproportionate share of return for their efforts.

I am trying to start up a blog network or two and also run a couple channels that literally take hours a day to do. Short term I think the network will do better than my high effort channels, but as the fields get more competitive I will have to change the underlying biz models to compensate for increasing competition.

I guess while I am ranting on I am trying to say that it is cool to have one well read high profile site which allows you to leverage that market position into many other channels. The people making serious profits though are probably those who own many uber niche channels. At least for now. This tool helps make the niche channels a quick process.

Combining Ideas in a Post

I have found that combining ideas in a post make sense if it is a structured list…say like 18 Lessons I Learned About Blogging.

I have also found that if it is not easy to structure items together that if you want people to read about them then you are probably best off making individual posts for most items. EGOL likes the stream of conscience blogging stuff, but generally I have found that when I did it I was spending a ton of time reading stuff and then only passing on a bit of what I learned. Few people were commenting on the posts or following most of the links in the posts. Simply giving people too many options and putting too much information in a small space meant that much of it went ignored.

I also have a saying that if what you are doing can be easily reproduced by algorithms then it might be a good idea to mix it up a bit…meaning that if I am just putting together something that looks like a daily links post or is also located on then I need to spend a bit of time looking for a few other sources, and spend a bit of effort trying to put my personality into whatever I am trying to say…even though I   am   just    typing     and      the       computer          won’t           speak…arg……………..

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 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.

Do Bloggers Put in More Effort than Reporters?

Well this is an obviously brilliant linkbait. Mark Cuban posts asking the question Do bloggers put in more effort than reporters do?

As more people learn to reject / question self imposed authority in favor of personally and directly voting I have to think that is a good thing for consumers and democracy.

Yahoo! wants you subscribing to channels and tagging them. Google is making it easy to see what others have to say about something.

I have been interviewed by a number of reporters and have also been profiled on many blogs. I don’t think that on average the reporters did a far better job than the bloggers did. In fact, many of the reporters seemed to have even had their desired response built into many of the questions they asked me, and I frequently had to step back and re frame the question I was answering.

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