Friends from Entrecard

I’ve been using Entrecard for a while now. While it’s true I get lower quality traffic in general (chain droppers), there is one benefit I found. With search engine traffic, I have no idea who’s visiting. With Entrecard, I do.

Usually, I check the drop box (as it’s called) about once every 2 days. I get like 50+ or so drops. I check out the sites (based on those drops), and if it’s interesting, I drop my card too. And if it’s really interesting, I keep track. This was what Entrecard was meant to do anyway, introducing yourself to another (not dropping cards and racking up credits).

It seems that my pruning and filtering have narrowed down the interactions to those I want to associate and be associated with. So here’s a few of the more prominent ones, in no particular order.

General Web and Tech

Creatives

Uh, humour?

I read Scott Adams’ blog, so these seem to fit in somehow.

“Wait, there’s not an iota of code in any of those sites!” you cry.

Well, I can’t seem to find any programming blog in Entrecard, despite the size of the “Technology” and “Computers and Internet” categories. It’s a big place. Maybe I haven’t looked hard enough.

I changed my WordPress theme!

This is wonderful! It seems to be the standard to show before and after pictures, so here’s the “before” look:

Blue TicTac theme

This is the new look:

Polymath theme by Josh Sharp

Josh Sharp is my theme designer. I got acquainted with him through Entrecard. And the theme looks gorgeous! Wait, let me go look at it again… *wee, clap hands like a little child*

The old theme was adapted from the TicTac theme from the Blogger platform. It was nice with a moderate techy feeling. It was also a bit restrictive on width. Since I broke out of my web safe colour prison, I decided I want to break out of 800 by 600 pixel width too.

My initial attempt at outsourcing the blog design gave me nightmares, which thankfully disappeared quickly due to experience from frequent interactions with people and immense tolerance at code with WTF-like qualities.

Then I tried doing one up on my own. The designing was fine. It’s figuring out which PHP files I needed to use that’s the problem. After some frustration and much mulling over, I decided that learning PHP and WordPress theme creation was a skill I could do without. And I tried outsourcing again. So here we are.

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.