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How to Create an eBook Without Spending a Dime

April 30, 2008

eBooks are easily one of the most vital parts of the web. They are books or information contained in digital form, which makes them extremely handy, portable, and easy to share with others. Some people find them useless, and others think they’re one of the most important things to read and collect. Either way, learning how to create an eBook is good for any blogger.

You can use an eBook to promote your site, build your audience, increase RSS subscriptions, give back to your readers, attract traffic, create a great portfolio of work, package your site’s articles into one easy place, and even make money online – plus whatever else you can think of. Mastering the talent of making eBooks is something every blogger should strive to do.

Personally, I’ve been experimenting with creating eBooks for a short while now. I’ve learned how to make an organized and attractive eBook and I’d like to teach you how to do the same thing – with a $0 budget. Yes, that means you can starting making eBooks to help you, your blog, and your readers without spending a dime!

How to Make an eBook for Free

A PDF is the best format for an eBook. You could always purchase Adobe Acrobat and use that, or use Microsoft Word and download free PDF converters online, but there’s a much cheaper and easier way – and it’s called Google Docs. It allows you to create all kinds of things, including documents, spreadsheets, presentations, folders, and more. Then it allows you to share them and convert them into several different formats, including PDF files. Helpful? Very. I’ll teach you how to do it.

1. Open Google Docs. If you don’t yet have a Google account, which you already should, then make one – it’s free. This way you’ll be able to login to all of Google’s free programs, including Google Docs, and have your past work handily and safely saved in your account for you. So open up Google Docs and sign in.

2. Click the ‘New Document’ button. Upon clicking here, you’ll be greeted with a full screen where you can type up your work and edit it with all kinds of different fonts, add HTML, insert pictures and hyperlinks, spell check, and much more.

3. Save your document. When you’re done typing up your eBook, hit the save button. Don’t worry, you can always go back and edit it later, so start out with a rough draft for now. Since you haven’t seen how it’s viewed in PDF format yet, you’ll most likely have to go back and edit multiple times anyway to get it looking nice.

4. Convert it to PDF. Now go back to your Google Docs dashboard, tick the check box by your document’s name, then go to ‘More Actions’ and ‘Save as PDF’. Then you’ll be allowed to save your PDF document to your computer where you can read it and look it over. Wasn’t that easy?!

Creating and Marketing a Successful eBook

This is a series, and in the next part I’m going to teach you how to make sure your eBook is successful – what to include, what to leave out, and how to make it look good. Then I’ll show you all the different kinds of eBooks you can make, how to use them and promote them, and how to market your eBooks. Soon you’ll be reaping the benefits! If you don’t want to miss out on the future installments to this series, subscribe to Super Blogging in your feed reader or email inbox. It’s easy and free! In the mean time, feel free to ask any questions in the comments and I’ll be happy to help.

Part 1: How to Create an eBook Without Spending a Dime
Part 2: Ideas for Creating Your Perfect eBook

Creative Commons License photo credit: *clairity*

Entrecard: Is It Worth It?

February 27, 2008

entrecard.jpg

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?

Bending the Web: Become Popular in 2 Months

February 18, 2008

This is a guest post by Robojiannis. Robojiannis (also known as Jiannis Sotiropoulos) is a cyberspace student, lover and inhabitant. He expects anytime now, to see his keyboard becoming an extension of his fingers. He constantly explores the real and cyberworld, believing in the free flow of data and the power of the user.

On October 1st and for two months (until December 11th) I started writing a theoretical approach on the attention economy of social networks. The research did not concentrate on a specific social network, it just investigated the fundamental structure variables of social network in general. After finishing, I noticed that a practical study concentrating on a particular group was required to check the validity of my theoretical model.

So on December 11th I started a brand new blog, without any prior active experience in any social networks. My purpose was to see to what extend could my theory be applied to the blogosphere.

This article summarizes the results of my research. It is divided in three sections:

  • Experimentation, where I explain how approached the promotion of the blog.
  • Statistics, where I list the statistics of the blog.
  • Analysis, where I analyze the statistical results according to my experimental approaches.
  • Conclusion, where I point out my remarks on content promotion and the blogosphere in general.

There are many guides out there showing ways to promote your content online. You may ask yourself what makes this study any better than the other ones. The reason is twofold:

  1. It probably summarizes all the other articles about the attention economy of the blogosphere. Apart from that, it is followed with statistical results, which prove the assumptions stated.
  2. It is based on an extensive theoretical model; a model, which studies many different disciplines: social psychology, mass psychology, network theory, emergence, authorship. If you are willing to invest time to read the theory, it will certainly assist you in understanding the function and structure of social networks. The theory is free to download and also available in wiki format, open for your suggestions and improvements.

I. Experimentation

This part explains the way I put my theoretical study into use, by mainly concentrating on 4 different aspects.

1. LinkageSubscribed blogs

[Shortly: With comments and pingbacks I tried to establish a connection with the Connectors and the Salesmen of the blogosphere. I established not only weak ties but also paid attention to the strong ones.]

Linkage plays a fundamental role in the development of a network in the social web.

When I started my blog, I had already been following the work of about eighty blogs (a number, which significantly increased while blogging). So the first step of promoting my content, was leaving commentaries in all these blogs, whenever the subject was of interest or suited to my personal publications. In average I submitted 4.2 comments each day.

My comment box

As already said, incoming links from other blogs are not only a good way to increase popularity, but also highly appreciated. I knew that at this stage of my blog, getting incoming links would be very improbable. Bloggers did not know the existence of my blog and they actually did not even know me as a reader/writer either.

In order to change that, I incorporated in every article I posted at least two links pointing to the work of another blogger. These references, with the help of the trackback technology, were notifying the bloggers that I was writing about them or their content. The fact that most blogs show their trackbacks in the form of a comment under the linked post, brought not only directed attention to my blog (meaning the blogger I referenced) but also undirected (meaning readers who were reading the original article and were interested in another opinion).

But simply writing comments and linking to other blogs is certainly inadequate. It must be an organized, targeted effort. According to Malcolm Gladwell, on the social web (and actually in most social networks) there are three types of personalities, which play a fundamental role on starting a word of mouth ‘epidemic’, which can increase the popularity of a node.

1. the Connectors; individuals with an above average number of friends and acquaintances, who act as the hubs of the network. In blogosphere terms, connectors are the bloggers who enjoy a large amount of readers and subscribers.

2. the Mavens; individuals, who have access to new information and are willing to share it. They are the data banks of the social network.

3. the Salesmen; people who have the ability to persuade the unconvinced public and are therefore considered very trustworthy.

When I started commenting and linking to other blogs, I mostly targeted the big hubs (the connectors and the salesmen), meaning the blogs which have thousands of visitors and a high reputation for their quality content. This gave me the opportunity to get noticed by many viewers (as a commentator or a trackbacking blog).

I also tried to apply Mark Granovetter’s assumptions, by developing a circle of weak ties (the hubs, which probably would not pay much attention to me, as a commentator among many) and additionally a circle of strong ties with smaller blogs (which would probably be more open to interaction).

These strong ties, would probably not bring so much attention to my work (since they also have just a few viewers) but they would constitute the basis of my blogging community. Finally, in order to stay on top of the current news, I was subscribed to a number of ‘Maven’ blogs. This gave me a considerable advantage, since I had the opportunity to be one of the first to comment on and write about the latest events.

2. New Content

[Shortly: I concentrated on daily updating my content, while experimenting with its form, structure and frequency]

Content production in the social web has similar attributes to mass media production. To draw attention one should constantly provide new content, which will be discussing current news and will be accompanied by an eye-catching headline.

But online, one should write content quite differently as on print. Several studies have proven, that web users do not really read an online text but mostly scan it. This means, that web content should be written in such way, that would help readers extract information easily and effectively.

When I started the research, the asset of following that many blogs was, that I had a wide variety of sources to draw information and inspiration from. Topics like free software, wisdom of crowds, copyright, data safety and upcoming social networks drew my interest and stimulated me to write about. Although, I had the tendency to get the best out of every post, I knew this would not help my research. So I tried several different approaches of writing and posting content.

I posted articles, using intriguing but also unexciting titles to see how my readership would react. I tried out different text structures, sometimes following basic usability principles and sometimes doing exactly the opposite. Occasionally, I also wrote articles commenting the current news, to see if they have more impact in comparison to posts of general interest, which weren’t following the current trends. My intention was to see how the structure, headline, content and subject of the writing could influence the traffic of the blog.

I did not only concentrate on the formation of the posts, but also on the posting frequency. My inquiry was concentrated on the number of weekly readers and if it would stay stable when I wouldn’t write any new articles.

On average, I wrote 1.7 articles a day and was wondering how would my readership react, if I stopped posting for a week. I experimented on this subject during the last week of January. To that time I had an adequate number of posts and content to keep visitors occupied; they could simply read the posts of the archive. So during that week, I just posted two articles (on Monday and Tuesday) and then observed the visitation and participation on the blog. Would commentators, visitors and subscribers continue coming without my constant publications?

3. Participation

[Shortly: I actively participated in a variety of forums and social networks in order to expand the value of my network and increase interaction]

One of the great advantages of the blogosphere, as far as promotion is concerned, is that it expands in a variety of social platforms, software and services. Participation in the blogosphere does not only entail commenting on and interacting with other blogs; bloggers can participate in several communities and forums, which may help them promote their content.

These communities can be understood as attention aggregators, since they promote highly rated and usually quality content. While observing these communities some interesting characteristics came to my attention.

Most of them were missing a key trait of emergent behavior and correct aggregation of information: diversity. If an article was submitted by a well-known user of the community, it would be significantly promoted. On the contrary, less active users had less chances of seeing their submissions get popular, usually regardless of the quality of the submission. Direct consequence of the lack of diversity is, that each community is specialized to a specific kind of content. If the top users are interested in technology news, most posts reaching the front page will be about technology. So I had to carefully choose, where I would submit my writings.

Secondly, I noticed that these communities acknowledge and support interaction; they have developed their own social web, which follows the same rules as any other social network. Having a vast number of friends can increase the chances for a submission to become popular, since your friends will probably vote for your submission (lack of independence; one more trait missing for correct aggregation of information). So logically, popular users, who have a large network manage to bring their submission forward. Finally, some of these networks do not appreciate self-submitted posts.

This means, that if I submitted my own writings, it was likely that my submission would get ‘buried’. Taking these points into consideration, I started on the 3rd of January participating more actively in a number of these communities (StumbleUpon, Mixx, DigitalPoint Forums, etc.). I created a network of friends in each of these communities, submitted content and interacted with the users.

These communities were accepting self-submitted content and were – to a degree – constituted of a diverse group. Popular users where not the absolute rulers of these communities. My interest, was to see how these communities could influence not only the daily traffic of my blog, but also the number of subscriptions.

4. Perfection

[Shortly: I studied the relation of high quality content and blog traffic, following the thesis that imperfect content promotes interaction]

Perfection in the blogosphere can be defined by 2 parameters:

  • writing style, meaning how formal one writes and the
  • quality of the content, meaning how well researched and well-argumented an article is.

My assumption on the theoretical part of this study was, that submitting informal and imperfect content could promote the participation in the blog. Naturally, I don’t mean using that as a standard practice, but occasionally posting a controversial thought could bring more attention and participation to the content.

So, I started experimenting with the quality of content. I was curious to see if readers would pose their objection to a controversial or badly researched post. Would they participate more or would they simply disregard the content and move on?

II. The Numbers

Following I will present the statistics of the blog. It is difficult to determine which specific practice brought which results, since I constantly examined several approaches. Nonetheless, I will try to identify the particular activities, which – in my opinion – played a significant role for the establishment of the following outcomes.

Traffic.

Below is a graph of the weekly traffic of the blog. It does not depict the number of unique visitors, but the number of pageviews. It is obvious, that during these eight weeks the blog exhibited a considerable traffic increase (apart from the 52nd week of 2007, which shows a logical decline, since it was the Christmas period).

blog weekly pageviews

But relying explicitly on the number of pageviews to rate the traffic of the blog would be an inaccurate approach. It is possible, that just a small number of users clicked on many pages on the site and therefore increased the pageviews of the whole blog. From the 1st of January, I started observing the number of unique visitors to be able to control and analyze the statistics more thoroughly.
weekly unique visitors

A comparison of the unique visitors to the total number of pageviews shows, that each user read approximately two pages during each visit, so the wordpress graph depicts an accurate representation of the weekly traffic of the blog.

Subscriptions.

In order to study the popularity of the blog to its full extent, I had to additionally follow the number of subscribers. Although pageviews and unique visitors are a certain way to measure the visitation of a blog, the subscribers are the core units, which enhance the interaction and participation of the blog.

Naturally, getting subscribers is much more difficult than getting visitors. Firstly, because you have to convince them to subscribe using simply the quality of your content and secondly because a large part of the total population of the web is not using RSS aggregators. A study conducted by Yahoo! on 2005 [pdf] showed, that “…only 12% of users are aware of RSS, and 4% have knowingly used RSS”. Surely these numbers have increased since 2005, but I presume they still remain relatively low.

The feedburner graph below visualizes the growth of subscribers in the blog. Although the subject of my writings was addressing readers with a certain degree of technological affinity, the site never had more than 59 subscribers.

Feedburner graph

Interaction.

The last aspect I wanted to study with this blog was the degree of interactivity and participation it would reach. Although my original plans included creating a real-time, user customizable design, contests and other collaborative features, I finally decided to leave them aside until I had a respectable community, namely a noteworthy list of subscribers. So I mostly concentrated on the discussions, which took place in form of comments to my posts.
wp stats

The statistics show, that each post had approximately 1.3 comments. But one should take into account, that I often replied to the comments of my readers and therefore my contributions are also included in these 113 comments. I assess that my comments were around 25% of the total submissions. This means, that on average each post of mine received 1 comment. A rate, which is, of course, very low for a participatory project. Although the average comment rate is not encouraging, a more detailed analysis on the commenting rate, provided more reassuring results. For every thirty posts the number of total comments (including my comments) showed a significant increase.

Time Period Number of Posts Number of Comments
11.12.07 – 20.12.07 27 12
20.12.07 – 08.01.08 30 41
09.01.08 – 05.02.08 30 68

technorati rank

Technorati.

A last aspect I was observing was my rank in technorati. When I started the blog, it had a rank of 8.911.336. Two months later the blog had a rank of 238.665 and 62 blog reactions.

However, I find technorati’s ranking system not so trustworthy, because it compares every submitted blog regardless of its content. A ranking system, that examines the popularity of the blogs without regarding the niche they are studying cannot bring reliable results. It should instead divide blogs into categories and develop this ranking system for each category separately. I will not therefore, analyze the information collected from this source since I don’t find them representative of the situation in the blogosphere.

III. The Analysis

 

On Traffic.

Even the most superficial look at the statistics regarding pageviews and unique visitors of the blog could observe, that from the first week of January, the blog displayed a constant traffic increase. This can be certainly ascribed to my active participation in other social networks. Indeed a look at the referring sites of three random days, proves that most visitors came from these communities and not from references from other blogs. The quality of the post submitted and the number of users, who voted for the submission, determined the number of views. For example on the 30th of January a submission in the StumbleUpon community received 306 views, while on the 31st another submission only 24.

30.01 pageviews31.01 pageviews03.02 pageviews

On Subscriptions.

Similar conclusions can be drawn with the number of subscribers (Illustration 11). The more visitors a blog has, the higher the chances to receive more subscribers. During the first five weeks of the blog’s existence, the subscribers ranged between 10-20 people. From the sixth week (January 17th) the number of subscribers started increasing and eventually doubled.
But, I believe it cannot be a coincidence, that on the 16th of January I changed the design of the blog. A design, which concentrated on simplicity, bright colors and a large, distinct subscription (RSS feed) button. In comparison to the previous design I was using (a free theme provided by the wordpress community), the subscriptions button was much more obvious and easier to use; one could subscribe via email with just one click, while the old design required three clicks. Although this assumption cannot be proven, I believe that the new design and the large RSS button played a significant role in the increase of subscribers.

On Content.

The other point, that I studied was the importance of new content in the blogosphere. As already noted, I wrote on a daily average 1.7 posts. But in the fifth week of January, I posted only two normal, extensive posts and two very short ones. I wanted to investigate, how the frequency of publishing could influence the traffic of the blog. In the end of the week – I noticed to my surprise – the total pageviews and unique visitors were higher than ever before (Illustrations 9, 10). I wanted to investigate the reason behind this unexpected increase, so I took a look at the pageviews of each individual top postspost and observed, that one of these two extended post (“International Privacy Day: protect your privacy online”) had actually received 1591 clicks. This means, that out of the total 2641 pageviews that week, this post had received more than the half. So if the post remained to a usual number of pageviews – the next top post of the month (“Control over social networks: users vs. administrators”) had received 540 views – then the total views of the week would be significantly lower. This was a certain indication, that providing new content is indeed important in the blogosphere and the number of visitors also depends on the number of posts.

On Perfection.

The participation degree in the blog remained relatively low. Approximately one comment per blog post, surely is not adequate enough to support an online community or to argue that the techniques followed succeeded in putting the foundations for a collaborative project. I tried posting imperfect posts, controversial thoughts and even posing direct questions to the readers, but none of them seemed to produce any participation out of the ordinary. The number of comments per post ranged between zero and fifteen. My conclusion, however, on the subject does not disregard my assumptions.

I still believe, that imperfect, controversial articles have the potential of increasing participation and interaction on a blog. The parameter that makes the difference is the source of these thoughts. When I – an unknown blogger, with a very small network of affiliates – write controversial, imperfect posts, readers perceive them as a negative element of my work and do not bother to correct me or oppose my opinions. My network of fifty or hundred regular readers was surely neither large nor old enough (the blog was online only a couple of months) to be willing to collaborate and start a discussion. They simply did not care. But when bloggers with thousands of subscribers write a controversial, provocative post, things tend to take another course.

On Perfection; The RWW example

To elaborate I will use the example of the ReadWriteWeb blog, a blog with more than 170,000 subscribers and certainly one of the biggest hubs in the blogosphere (it is the 15th biggest blog according to technorati’s rank). Alex Iskold, one of the regular authors of the blog, wrote a controversial post on 16th of January discussing the dangers of free services and software on the web. For all the advocates of open source software and the freedom of the web this was certainly a disputable article. In fact, as commented by several readers, some of the arguments the author poses, are based on wrong facts.

However, this post received 60 comments and 3 trackbacks. Of course for such a hub, with so many subscribers, 60 comments may seem a very small number. But a look at Iskold’s archive of posts shows, that out of the total 40 articles he has written, only 3 have exceeded the threshold of 60 comments. While blogging, I very often encountered similar examples. I am not argumenting, that the only way to encourage participation is provocation, but an acknowledged blogger can certainly use it to her advantage.

IV. Conclusion

What conclusions can be drawn from the statistical results of the blog? Did it succeed achieving its primary goals? These are more complicated questions, than they seem. On an individual level, the blog accomplished its goals, although in different degrees of success. The weekly pageviews presented a substantial increase, so did the degree of interactivity. The number of subscribers showed also a slow but steady increase. So in an individual level, the blog managed to meet its challenge. But, trying to answer this question in more universal terms, evolves into a troublesome attempt, mainly because there aren’t available any results from other, two month old blogs to compare with. Probably the statistics of the blog are very encouraging; but how impressive would they look, if we were to set them in relation to other blogs? Unfortunately, such information are extremely difficult to find. Under that perspective, the results of this research are open to interpretations.

Time investment

However, they certainly show, that drawing the attention of the wider public in the social web is a time consuming, demanding effort. It requires an active participation in a variety of communities, blogs and forums; it involves wisely choosing affiliates and establishing a substantial connection with them; it demands being constantly informed about current news regarding your niche; finally, it requires constant renewal of the content with quality information. These are practices, that may bring popularity to a blog, but will almost certainly not bring immediate results. Large numbers of readers, subscribers and contributors cannot be achieved in a short period of time. This time investment implies, that interest in the whole blogging experience is the primary, fundamental factor for attention in the social web.

How social, social networks are.

Other than that, this research revealed how social, the social web actually is. Stanley Milgram had conducted a research during the 1960s about the connection degree among people, resulting in the famous small world theory, also known as ‘the six degrees of separation’. In short the theory supports that

“[…] everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people. Six degrees of separation between us and everyone else on this planet. The President of the United States, a gondolier in Venice, just fill in the names. […] I am bound, you are bound, to everyone on this planet by a trail of six people.“

Although Barab�si’s research on the web’s degrees of separation concluded, that we are dealing with nineteen rather than six degrees, the social web and the blogosphere give the impression, that they are in fact much less. It is really fascinating how people manage to find each other in this unthinkable complexity and establish remarkable projects and productive discussions. How these clusters and constellations of data are in one way or another sorted out and eventually quality emerges.

Is there a future in the economy of attention online?

Finally, this research raises interesting questions concerning attentiveness in the future generations of the web.

  • If the vision of the semantic web will be realized, enabling true emergence and interaction between humans and machines, how will attentiveness online be influenced?
  • Will virtual agents evolve into the absolute attention aggregators, which will study the semantic language of humans to provide perfect results, constituting any need for drawing attention obsolete?
  • Will the rich continue getting richer in an environment, where users can find exactly what the look for, without the necessity of visiting the hubs?

It is still too premature to look for answers to these questions, but it is probable that the new semantic web will revolutionize the way we interact with each other and with the web, changing the way we understand the economy of attention in scale-free networks.

Invitation.

I am aware of one blogger (everybodygoto) who is conducting the same kind of research. He will try to get 100 subscribers for his new blog in a month. I’m looking forward to seeing (and comparing) his results.

This research is also an invitation to everyone. As already mentioned, my results are inconclusive without any comparison to other upcoming blogs.

How successful were your first steps in the blogosphere? How did you try to establish your presence in the cyberspace and what results did it bring?

DOWNLOAD: Click here to download the entire research.

Why I’m Using Entrecard

January 13, 2008

entrecard.png

Entrecard is a site that allows you to network with other bloggers. You add a 125×125 Entrecard widget to your blog, where others can advertise and drop their cards. Then once you earn some credits, which is pretty simple, you can advertise on other blogs.

When BlogRush (which turned out to be a total flop, in my opinion) and Entrecard came out and were introduced to the blogosphere, I was a bit skeptical. The idea of Entrecard is that, to earn credits, you drop your card on other people’s site and they drop their card on yours – as well as how much you earn from people advertising on your blog’s Entrecard widget. Spending a lot of work for a little traffic wouldn’t be a wise decision, but for me, that’s not the case. Read more

10 Ways To Create Exposure For Your Blog

December 11, 2007

exposure to a blog
Photography by etoile.

Making a blog isn’t only about writing great content. Sure, content is king, but what is it worth if no one is reading it? If you’re writing quality new articles on a daily basis, to get the most out of them you’ve got to make sure they can be seen. Right after maintaining great content, getting exposure for your blog is the most important. So what can you do to get people coming to your blog and noticing it?

1. Comment on other blogs. Being community involved is a very important thing. If you drop by other blogs, especially ones related to yours or in your niche, and leave a quality comment that adds to the discussion, the author of that blog will surely notice what you have to say and visit your own site in return. And besides the blog author, it’s pretty likely that several of their other commentators will see the great comment you left and wonder who wrote it, visiting your site to find out. Caroline Middlebrook has written a great post on blog commenting that you should read.

2. Link to other blogs and sites. I know that personally whenever someone links to me and I get the trackback for it, I will go to their blog to see where exactly that link is coming from. Linking to other bloggers helps to get those bloggers to notice you, and besides that, often times they might return the favor and link back to you in one of their posts, sending more of their readers and more exposure your way.

3. Guest write on other websites. Something I don’t do a lot that I should is writing or guest blogging on other sites. At least once a week you should write up a quality article and have it published on another blog in your niche, thus reaching a whole new readerbase and audience and hopefully extending your own by doing so. Guest posting is probably one of the greatest and easiest ways to get exposure if you know how to write! Read A Guide to Promoting Your Blog Through Guest Posts for more information.

4. Use social media sites. If you’re already writing great posts, then take the time to submit some of them to sites like StumbleUpon.com, Digg.com, and BloggingZoom.com. If one of your posts becomes popular and gets a lot of votes, it can hit the front page, thus sending you thousands and thousands of visitors! After a while of using social media, take some time to figure out what kind of content does best on those sites and use that knowledge to your advantage. Quick Tip: Adding an image to your post and using lists increases its chances of doing well with social media by almost twice as much (as long as your post’s quality is good to start with)!

5. Ask other blogs to link to you. This one is iffy, and you have to do it right if you want exposure and a good reputation. In fact, if you implement this method incorrectly, you could have the opposite affects you were hoping for! The key thing here is to contact other bloggers in your niche, even the big names and the small ones too, and tell them about an article you recently wrote and why it might be helpful for their readers. As long as you are polite and considerate, it’s worth a shot and won’t hurt – you might get some links in return, and even if you don’t you’ll still get the attention of everyone you’ve contacted.

6. Hold a contest or give something away. Everyone loves free things and competitions. If you can come up with a giveaway that provides something people will want, you’ll surely generate some exposure and backlinks to your blog, especially if your contest is well-run and organized. You can give away something like a cash prize, or if you don’t want to spend anything you can write up a GOOD QUALITY e-book or give away a month’s worth of advertising space on your site. This is a surefire way to increase traffic if implemented properly!

7. Create some linkbait. Not everyone is good at creating awesome linkbait, but it’s always worth a try. If you can come up with a new idea or something creative and off-the-wall, you can generate tons of links and traffic. Lists of the top blogs are good ones that often draw in lots of links and visitors. But linkbait doesn’t always have to be some new and fantastic idea, you can also create controversy instead – if your opinion on a topic is different than the opinion of everyone else, say so – and don’t back down from your position!

8. Hold a blog carnival or group writing project. Write a post on your blog asking for all of your readers to submit the best articles they’ve written on a certain topic. Set a deadline, and afterwards gather all the articles you’ve received and create one post linking out to them all. This not only creates a great resource for all of your readers, but gives your other readers and fellow bloggers a chance for some exposure of their own – which they may return by linking back to your resource! I recently ran a group writing project called The All-Time Best Blogging Articles, and it turned out great and drew in plenty of new visitors!

9. Purchase advertising on another blog. If you buy advertising on another site or blog related to yours, you’re going to get exposure and traffic, no doubt about it. Search around and find a quality blog with affordable prices that targets the kind of audience you write for, and purchase a banner or some other form of ad space on that site. If you can find a blog that is willing to write reviews for money, then you can order one of those as well. If people read a well-written, positive review of your blog, then that will increase your exposure and reputation by a mile!

10. Keep writing fantastic content. Like said earlier, if you have great content but no one reading, then there is no point. However, if the opposite is true – you have people visiting your site but no great articles for them to read – then that is even worse. Set yourself a schedule and maintain great content, and no matter what, in time the exposure and traffic WILL come!

Hopefully the above ten tips will help you generate some attention to your blog and get it noticed. As you might have figured out, visitors are one thing and loyal readers are another. It’s important to convert the people who visit your site into people that will come back on a regular basis to read what you have to say: that’s what makes your blog successful! So pick some of the methods above, implement them, and once you start getting traffic to your site make sure you have buttons for people to subscribe to your RSS feed on display in an important part of your blog. (Notice: my feeds are promoted in the top of the sidebar.) Reply to all your comments and emails and keep in touch with your visitors so they’ll be willing to come back to your blog continuously.

Good luck on getting exposure for your blog, and if you have questions or remarks feel free to ask or share what you know in the comments area below.

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