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The Best of the Blogosphere: February 29, 2008

February 29, 2008


Happy Friday once again! Here’s another collection of some fantastic articles that’ll hopefully help you increase your knowledge – it’s a pretty large collection this week, thanks to lots of good quality content. Keep it up, you guys!

21 Ways Your Audience Affects Your Design at Vandelay Design.

How to Have an Influence on Your Niche at Blogtrepreneur.

The One True Cause of Rapidfire Growth at Skelliewag.

The Ultimate Guide To Networking With Bloggers at ProBlogger.

I Paid 12 Months To Learn These 32 Things at Carl Ocab.

20+Blockbuster Tips That Will Rapidly Build Your Blog at ProBloggers Matrix.

10 Ways to Be a Good StumbleUpon Friend at Vandelay Design.

I Want to Subscribe to Your Blog… Now Give Me a Reason at Courtney Tuttle.

The Benefits of Keeping a Private Journal at Dosh Dosh.

5 Ways to Get More Space on the Page at Pro Blog Design.

10 Practical Tips for Writing in English at NorthxEast.

Freelance Blogging for Side Income: My Top 10 Tips at Anywired.

7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Charge by the Hour at Bits O’ NewMedia.

Top 5 Ways to Create Interesting Content for Social Networks at Dustin Brewer.

5 Reasons Why I Will NOT Read Your Blog at The WWW Observer.

Using a WordPress Page as Your Home Page at Blogging Experiment.

How to Game Google Trends at BlogStorm.

If you have an article you’d like featured in a Best of the Blogosphere roundup, please send me an email and let me know. If I like it, I’ll be happy to include it! Also check out Super Blogging’s guest posting contest to win some free ad space if you haven’t seen it yet.

Thanks, and have a great weekend!

Grab Flickr Creative Commons Photos Without Leaving Your Blog

February 28, 2008

Creative Commons License photo credit: muha…

I was browsing through my RSS subcriptions when I saw this post Darren wrote featuring a fantastic WordPress plugin that I knew I had to have.

“With the Photo Dropper plugin, you can now search millions of Flickr photos and add them to your WordPress posts with just 1 click, all without leaving your WordPress dashboard. Attribution links are automatically added underneath the images to comply with the Creative Commons license rules. It’s the easiest way to add photos to your blog. Period. And best of all – it’s Free!”

Considering how I always talk about why using images is important, and that I’ve written a guide on how to find and use Flickr photos, I knew this was a big one for me. Images make a blog look a lot more attractive and interesting, and they catch the visitor’s eye and make your site memorable. Since you can either steal images, pay for them, or use Creative Commons photos, I opted for the last choice. The first should never be an option, the second is expensive, but the last one is great – Flickr has thousands of amazing Creative Commons photos you can use for free, as long as credit is given.

And with the Photo Dropper plugin, you never even have to leave your dashboard to find great images – or even your ‘write a post’ page, for that matter! Once you install and activate the plugin, you can set up the options, which include how many images you see at one time and whether they’re sorted using the ‘Most Interesting’ feature or not, as well if they’re images to use on a commercial site or not. After that, all you have to do is go write your posts and the plugin will be there. You enter a keyword to look for, photos appear, and when you find one you like you can add it to your post with the click of a button.

This is so easy! To make your posts and pages beautiful with images you won’t even have to leave WordPress anymore. Take a look at the image at the top of this post, and you’ll see an example of what this plugin has done for me. With a click there’s a gorgeous photo and the credits in place. This couldn’t be any more simpler, and I definitely recommend it for all bloggers.

Click here to download the Photo Dropper WordPress plugin.

Entrecard: Is It Worth It?

February 27, 2008


I have discussed my thoughts on Entrecard before, and I have been using it since early January. There have been a lot of huge fans of Entrecard, those who sort of like it, and then there are those who aren’t impressed. People have been wondering if Entrecard is worth it and if it’s really beneficial to us bloggers in search of more traffic and exposure – either way, most all agree that it’s better than BlogRush. But is that all, or does Entrecard really deserve your time?

The Pros Of Entrecard

Entrecard is a hub full of bloggers and webmasters alike that are looking to snag some advertising space on other sites by purchasing it with their Entrecard credits. And it’s obvious to see why Entrecard attracts so many people. It’s a unique idea with a system that works. The Entrecard interface is easy to navigate and it’s attractive. There are plenty of traffic-driving advertising options, whether it be a 125×125 box on someone else’s blog or any of the choices in their Entrecard shop.

Probably one of the biggest things I like about Entrecard is exposure and ability to find new blogs and meet new people. Even if you don’t advertise on any other blogs at all with your credits, still being seen on the Entrecard site and listed in the directories can increase your exposure and build your brand, especially if you have an interesting 125×125 banner designed to catch attention. I’ve already found several blogs I like through Entrecard itself that I’ve subscribed to. And if others have found my blog through Entrecard this way, I say it’s worth it.

Apart from the unique idea, great interface, and ability for exposure and meeting new bloggers, there’s also the fact that you can advertise on some A-lister sites without it costing you a dime. It could cost you hundreds or thousands to effectively advertise on ProBlogger or John Chow, but if that’s not a possibility then you could do the next best thing and save up a little Entrecard credits to buy an ad space on one of those popular blogs!

The Cons Of Entrecard

The biggest obvious con about Entrecard, and the thing that makes people debate the most over whether this service is worth it, is the quality of their traffic. Even if Entrecard sends you thousands of visitors, that might not mean a thing to you if those visitors aren’t quality. Quality visitors get involved with your site in some way – they read, they subscribe, they participate. And if not that, then they might glance at your site and remember your brand and name in the future. Those would be successful visits.

However, does Entrecard send successful visits? A good way to determine this is to look at the bounce rate (the lower the better) and how long the visitor spent on the site (the higher the better). For me, the bounce rate is 83.95% and the average time spent on my site by Entrecard visitors is :28 seconds. Is that good? No, not really. Most people who come to my blog from Entrecard are arriving to drop their own card and that’s it. Those people are in no way quality visitors. Sometimes the Entrecard user might get involved with my blog, but most of the time that’s not the case.

So Is It Worth It?

I’m still going to say yes, Entrecard is worth your time. Because in all honesty, I don’t spend much time on it at all. All I do is approve advertisers and let the credits build up, and I drop my card on blogs I’m already visiting if I notice they have the Entrecard widget. Then I’ll end up earning plenty of credits, which I can use and spend to advertise on some other cool blogs.

While Entrecard might not generate quality traffic from its actual users, it does create quality exposure. Your site is placed in front of hundreds of other bloggers, whether it be when they’re looking through Entrecard’s directory of sites or seeing you on the other sites you advertise on. Eventually they’ll see your site so many times they’ll remember it. They might curious, check out your site, and find out they like it and become loyal readers.

Besides other people finding your blog, Entrecard is fantastic for finding other interesting blogs as well. Like I mentioned before, I’ve found several nice, informative, and entertaining sites on Entrecard that I’ve now either subscribed to or visit regularly. What if someone finds your own site in that manner as well?

Do you use Entrecard, and do you think it’s worth the time?

10 Reasons Why a Blog is Better Than a Website

February 25, 2008

blog vs website
Photo credits: jurvetson.

So many people wonder whether they should start their online hobby or business as a blog or a static website. The two have many differences, but I honestly believe that in most cases a person should start a blog instead of a website. Some still remain unconvinced, especially since blogs are newer on the scene. However, these are the reasons why I think a dynamic blog is better than a static website.

1. Blogs are easier to setup and manage.

A blog can be installed with WordPress, the best blogging platform and my choice, in five minutes. You don’t have to get up close and personal with coding it, all of the core files are already there for you and all you have to do is upload them and create a database (which takes two seconds). You can find an amazingly beautiful theme or design, upload it in one minute, and if you want you can easily tweak it. You can login to the user-friendly dashboard and write your content, manage your categories and comments, change your options or blogroll, and much more without dealing with anything over the top and complicated. The blog platform does all the work with the technical stuff while you get to enjoy writing for your site and running it however you like.

2. Blogs retain interest.

Because blogs are updated all the time and it’s easy to browse through them and all of their content, that makes them a favorite with online visitors and readers. A visitor is much more likely to return to a blog than a static website. Blogs catch and hold attention and it’s easier for the reader to get lost in one for hours since the content is navigated the way it is. That can happen with a website, but it’s a lot less likely. Blogs are at more of a personal level, and all of the posts are easily accessible and featured for the readers. Instead of a website where visitors have to crawl through page after boring page, consider a blog and keep your readers longer and have them coming back all the time for more.

3. Blogs are more search engine friendly.

Just like they’re reader friendly for being updated all the time and having a huge collection of interlinked content, they’re search engine friendly for those same reasons as well. It’s not always true, but more than likely that a blog will rank better in search engines than your average website. The more a site is updated, the more often a search engine bot will come back and crawl your site so they can quickly index the new things you have to offer. And when a bot is coming to crawl your site, it will have many more options with a blog since all of the content is linked to and featured everywhere. Besides those things, blogs are easy to optimize, especially with all the plugins available (see All In One SEO Pack). And blogs attract links more than static websites as well, which will help you out in the search engines too.

4. Blogs gain an audience more easily.

Just like how I mentioned that blogs retain interest, they also more easily gain an audience. With the abundance of content and such a navigable site, readers will like your blog. A blog will also be found for the first time by visitors because they are usually much more popular than a static website. If you write good content and provide things of interest, you’ll get noticed easily. And once you start building a readerbase, your readers will help promote your blog for you. People will talk about you, link to you, and grow your blog for you. Usually when I first learn about a blog I learn about it through someone else or another a blog I read. People like to stay on top of blogs about topics they’re interested in, and that’s easier to do with a blog. And for an audience, the easier it is the better.

5. Blogs help build author and visitor interaction.

When you have a static website your visitors aren’t going to be known to you like they would with a blog. With a blog, anyone who likes your page or post can comment on it. You’ll start to learn your readers’ names and their own blogs or sites. You’ll have conversations with them and discuss topics through the comments or email. And even if a reader doesn’t comment, you might see them voting for your content a lot via social media, their avatar might be popping up a lot on your MyBlogLog widget, or you might be getting linked to by them and see it via your trackbacks and incoming links. As your blog grows you’ll come to recognize hundreds to even thousands of your readers, with dozens becoming people you know much more closely.

6. Blogs can be made to look however you want.

Like I mentioned earlier, you can achieve any look you want with your blog, WITHOUT having to get up close and personal with the coding. There are so many free themes, plugins, and resources available that are already built and coded for you – all you usually have to do is upload them and click the ‘activate’ button. If you find a theme you like you can upload it, and if necessary, tweak it here and there to make it perfect for your blog. Plugins can manage and run things automatically without you having to lift a finger after you install one. There are plugins that work behind the scenes and block spam, create navigation systems, generate sitemaps, and enforces WWW or non-WWW for your blog. Then there are visual ones, like plugins that encourage visitors to subscribe, create contact forms, rotate advertisement banners, let you create polls for your blog, and thousands more. A blog can look however your heart desires – it can even look like a static website if that’s what you want, while still being managed much more easily.

7. Blogs allow readers to subscribe via RSS.

RSS readers are one of the most valuable things a blog can have. Subscribers are people who love your blog and what you write so much that they want it delivered to their feed aggregator or their email inbox each day. They are people who are targeted to your content and are probably your blog’s biggest fans. By allowing people to subscribe, developing regular readers is even easier than it was before. The amount of RSS subscribers a blog has is one of the ways to determine how popular and valuable it is. Besides providing value to you, it provides obvious value to your readers as well and makes things much easier for them to read everything you write.

8. Blogs are popular with social media sites.

Since blogs have a bigger sense of community and the blog owner and readers interact, (as well as bloggers interacting with other bloggers), you’d know blogs are popular with social media sites, like Super Blogging’s readers’ favorite StumbleUpon. Since you’re already building relationships with the readers who come to your blog, it’s easy to encourage social media votes and promote your blog this way. Loyal visitors and blogging friends will often vote for your best content, and using a blog over a website content is easier to promote.

9. Blogs build links much more easily.

And again, since blogs have such a huge community and personal aspect to them, they gather much more links. Bloggers try to link to other blogs as much as possible, not only because this helps build exposure and traffic (since a blogger is alerted whenever they receive a link), but also because blogs are huge sources of easily browsed information to direct their readers to. At Super Blogging you might notice I do weekly roundups called “The Best of the Blogosphere”. I do this to point my readers to fantastic content from other bloggers, and also to get those other bloggers’ attention. And since blogs collect many links each day or week, they often develop better rankings in search engines as well.

10. Blogs are better for a million more reasons.

What other reasons do you need? They’re easier to setup, easier to manage, have thousands of free themes and plugins to install, build a loyal readerbase quicker, are promoted by others, retain interest, are more popular with search engines AND social media, are easily customized, promote interaction, offer RSS subscriptions, and much more. Websites used to be the only choice, but blogs are quickly gaining popularity to overrank them. It always depends on the goal you want to achieve, but 95% of the time I’d tell you to start a blog.

Did I leave any out? Please let me know if forgot any reasons stating why a blog is better than a website, or if you think differently, please tell me why in the comments as well. What do you think? Is a blog better than a static website, or is it the other way around?

The Best of the Blogosphere: February 22, 2008

February 22, 2008


Hi everyone, and happy Friday! I hope you all had a fantastic week, and it’s time to kickstart your weekend with some great articles from around the blogosphere. Enjoy!

What’s it Like to Run a Popular Blog? at Skelliewag.

7 Easy Ways to Win a Blog Contest at DailyBlogTips.

Secondary Results of Social Media Success at Vandelay Design.

Improving the Value of Old Blog Posts at Blogtrepreneur.

7 Dark Truths: Why Readers Really Become Subscribers at ProBlogger.

40+ Essential Resources for Google Blogger at Blogging Tips.

When Less Isn’t More: Web Design Simplicity Gone Awry at Bits O’ NewMedia.

7 Reasons to Like StumbleUpon’s Share with Friends Feature at Traffikd.

12 Sponsored Reviews Blog Monetization Tips at Wayne Liew Dot Com.

Domain Names – Brandable v Keyword-Rich? at Caroline Middlebrook.

Using Google Webmaster Tools to Increase Search Engine Ranking at Blogging Fingers.

10 Ways to Increase the Number of Your RSS Subscribers at Blog Tips.

A-List Experiment Revisited at The Blog Entrepreneur.

Also, don’t forget about Super Blogging’s guest posting competition, where the guest post that draws in the most traffic will score its author some free advertising space here at SuperBloggingTips.com. Surprisingly, there has only been one entrant so far, so you have good chances if you’d like to enter. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity!

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