Enter the Entrecard

Entrecard

In line with learning the ropes of marketing this blog, I installed the BlogRush widget. There’s a major problem with the concept. To increase traffic (the aim), you need to already have some traffic (because the widget runs on page views), which increases the overall percentage of your posts being visible in the BlogRush network. Which increases your posts’ exposure on other people’s widgets. Which then might convince a visitor of theirs to visit yours. Assuming you wrote a compelling enough headline to encourage clicks.

Even though Ben’s results were bad, my results with the BlogRush widget were far more dismal. I’ve got tons of bonus credits, because I’m a smaller publisher, because I’m one of those “bloggers who most need the exposure”. I also felt pitied upon, which kinda suck. For comparison, the ratio of bonus credits to my own generated ones is on the order of about 20:1.

So I’m trying out another service, the business card 2.0 Entrecard. The “card” is basically a 125 by 125 pixel ad or representation of your blog/site. The service is free as well, and uses the concept of credits too. There are a few ways to rack up credits

  • Drop your card on other people’s Entrecard widget
  • Other people advertise on your blog (using credits)
  • “fall from the sky” credits (from contests, donation from other people)

You can find out more from the Entrecard site.

What I want to point out is how much more work you need to put in, compared to BlogRush. The BlogRush widget is an install-and-forget system. I’ve just installed the Entrecard last Friday, and my activities include

  • Approve/reject ads from advertisers
  • Process messages from other members
  • Process a recommendation for my blog (thanks Ben!)
  • Look through inbox with cards dropped by other members
  • Check out other members’ sites
  • Drop my own cards on other members’ blogs

I still haven’t done any active promoting since I want to slowly fit this into my schedule. The results seem more promising. If nothing else, I feel more involved.

You also get to learn how to handle advertisers, promote yourself and blog with ad campaigns and offer your services (in exchange for credits). The approving and rejection of ads is especially cool, even if it’s not real money. This gives you experience in moving on to a business setting, where real money is involved. Sort of like an internship.

There’s another difference between the two services. Entrecard allows you to see who else is on the system, whereas BlogRush doesn’t. In fact, for Entrecard to work effectively, you need to know who else is on the system. How else can you drop cards if you don’t know other members?

For this reason alone, there’s a community around the Entrecard system. Which encourages participation. Which increases exposure, and thus traffic.

Yet another difference, their credit systems. I’m going to use two math terms, unbounded and closed. BlogRush credits are unbounded. There’s no upper limit to the credits you can amass. You can go to your own blog, and keep clicking that browser refresh button, and you’ll keep gaining credits. If you have referral affiliates under you, you get to gain whatever credits they gain too. The percentage chance of your posts appearing on another widget is roughly
The number of credits you have / The total number of credits in system * 100

A popular blogger will have many affiliates under him, perhaps several layers down. He’ll amass tons of credits, most of it not even generated by his blog. Imagine you, the small time blogger competing for attention. Even with the bonus credits, I doubt you can create much exposure.

Anyway, the Entrecard credit system is a closed system. Every time you drop a card, you get one credit, and the other blogger gets one credit too. When you advertise on another blog, you expend twice that blogger’s average number of cards received daily.

OK, so it’s not exactly closed, mathematically speaking. But gained credits are almost all expended through some other means. Entrecard can always hold some kind of contest or one-time unique service that’ll either inject credits into the system or flush away excess credits from the system.

A tip if you want to sign up: Get a 125 by 125 pixel graphic ready first! It doesn’t have to be flashy, just something more unique than the stock graphic options provided. You can always change it later, but it’d look better if you had something unique looking first. Paint.NET does this beautifully. A quick dash of colour here, some creative use of the effects, type in your text, and you have a unique looking graphic ready to go.

Another tip if you want to uphold the standard, quality and relevancy of your blog: Don’t approve every ad directed to you! When you first sign up, you’re “cheap”. Because you’re new, the cost of advertising on your blog is 2 credits. You’ll be barraged by an onslaught of members sending in their advertisement requests, some not even related to your topic.

I regretted approving every ad. Now I’ve got to go cancel some ads…

Now for a warning. Because of the credit system, some members simply come to your blog just to drop their card. That’s it. It’s not quality traffic. There’s no reading of your posts. There’s no exploration of your blog. There’s no commenting, no interacting, nothing from these visitors.

There’s even a term created. They’re called chain droppers, because they visit one blog, drop their card, then click on whatever’s on that blog’s widget to go to the next blog, then drop their card and so on and so forth. There’s a limit of 300 credits per day amassed in this method, each credit earned for every card dropped. That doesn’t really stop them though.

From some of the articles I read, there had been talk of abandoning BlogRush in favour of Entrecard. Since I’m still new with little results to show for it, take the next tip with a pinch of salt. Use both systems. You know those chain droppers? Leverage them. How? Chain droppers visit your blog to drop their card, thereby generating a page view. Which generates a BlogRush credit, since BlogRush runs on page views.

Now you just concentrate on your Entrecard activities, and BlogRush results should improve as well. Pure genius.

PageRank, BlogRush and SEO Title Tag

Ok, this is more like a news update. There’ve been a few events happening on the Internet, their effects rippling slowly until they hit me… all at about the same time.

So last Saturday, I decided to do something about them, which were basically minor updates to the blog.

1. Google PageRank

The blogosphere was rife with discussion on PageRank lately. Apparently, Google was making some changes to their algorithms and several sites and blogs were penalised with a PageRank hit.

The main reason cited for this mass update was the selling of text links. Google frowns on it, because Google has a hard time telling which links are valuable, and which aren’t.

You can still sell text links. You just need to add in the nofollow attribute, like so

<a rel="nofollow" href="yourlink.html">Your text</a>

I used to be a publisher in the Text-Link-Ads network. I joined primarily because I could append some ads into my blog feed, which was cool then. During the test period when I first stuck the php code into my blog, I didn’t like the look of the links. I couldn’t find a nice way to display them, and there’s very little I could do in their control panel.

Well, I didn’t get any advertisers anyway, and from what I remember, when the links do appear, they didn’t have the nofollow attribute. No advertisers, no control, so I took it out.

2. BlogRush Phase 2 rollout

I installed the BlogRush widget when it first came out, and sad to say, I haven’t had much traffic from it yet. Still it looks pretty cool, and I can find other bloggers with similar interests through it, so it’s still useful.

There were some massive blog accounts removed (some 10000 of them) due to the people attempting to cheat the system. I sat through the flurry of activity and experienced first hand how a new network go about fixing problems.

Anyway, one of the improvements in phase 2 (on October 31) was the expansion of categories and sub-categories. The new categories were only implemented on November 2, so I had to wait a bit. I originally placed this blog under “Computers & Internet”. It was the closest category I could find, and I got all sorts of weird posts appearing in my widget.

Thankfully, they came up with a sub-category “Programming & Web Development”. Whew…

There’s also an option to use a thinner widget because some members couldn’t fit the standard 175 pixel width into their blogs. The thinner widget is 120 pixels wide. I tried it on. Too narrow. Text too cramped. Reverted to 175 pixels.

Changing colours (or “flavors”) doesn’t require recopying JavaScript code. Changing sizes do. I checked out the differences in the JavaScript involved. Compare this partial fragment of the original

http://widget.blogrush.com/show.js

to this (the thinner version)

http://widget.blogrush.com/show_2.js

Subtle…

3. SEO Title Tag plugin

Recently, I updated this blog from WordPress version 2.2 to 2.3.1. As of now, the plugins I dropped out were Ultimate Tag Warrior, Subscribe to Comments and now the Text-Link-Ads. I installed the beta version of SEO Title Tag, and the final version was only just ready.

No major changes were required to upgrade to SEO Title Tag 2.1.0, though I had a problem with permissions for creating the table wp_seo_title_tag_tag… Being the proficient programmer that I am, I figured out the SQL statement for the database table creation from the .php plugin file. Then I went in and flexed my SQL muscles and voila, table created!

I decided figuring out why access permissions were denied in WordPress was too much of a bother on a Saturday afternoon…

BlogRush – the first rush

[Note: there are referral links in the post]
BlogRush widget capture I just read an article from Yaro about this new blog widget/technology called BlogRush. Intrigued, I went to take a look and after watching the introduction video, I was moderately interested.

But I was actually ready to abandon the whole idea, because it sounded a bit too fantastic. Then I thought that this was an excellent chance to do some blog traffic experimentation. So here’s a brief rundown of how it works.

  • Sign up for an account, where you’ll then be given some Javascript
  • Stick that Javascript code into your blog
  • Wait for traffic to come

That’s the easy part. Now for the technical part. Every time your page is loaded with the widget, you get one credit. For every credit you amass, your blog is shown on another blog’s BlogRush widget. So this means, the more your blog is visited, the more your blog is shown on other blogs, which brings more visitors.

Here’s the cool part. For every referral you make by getting someone to sign up for BlogRush, their credit is added to your own. And for every referral that person make, you get their referral’s credit too. It’s a multi tier thing, and it goes up to ten levels deep.

This was where my internal alert came up. I thought on it for a while, and decided that it could be marketing done well. It’s similar to other means of marketing, like MyBlogLog. So after deliberating for another few minutes, I decided to give it a go.

Besides, it might be fun to see how a startup technology perform. Here’s the link again: www.blogrush.com

[Update]
Just checked my inbox, and received an email from John Reese, the founder of BlogRush. Turns out the referral system isn’t one credit per referral all the way down the ten tiers, as I originally thought.

1st Generation Of Referrals (Directly From You) = 1:1 2nd Generation Of Referrals (i.e. Jen in the video) = 1:1 3rd – 6th Generation Of Referrals = 1:4 7th – 10th Generation Of Referrals = 1:8

1:1 means you earn 1 syndication credit for every 1 impression of the widget by your own traffic or by any users located on the 1st (direct) or 2nd generations.
1:4 means you earn 1 syndication credit for every 4 impressions of the widget by any user located on the 3rd to 6th generations.
1:8 means you earn 1 syndication credit for every 8 impressions of the widget by any user located on the 7th to 10th generations.

Anyway, after giving it some thought, BlogRush will need a really scalable system or they’re going to crash. Just remember Friendster. And this is going to be much more calculation intensive. I would think most bloggers have more readers as referrals than people have as friends. And this is supposed to be ten levels deep.

Crash and burn? Only time will tell…