I Am Not a Terminal Blogger

Time BombIn the last 24 hours there has been a flurry of posts in reaction to an article on The New York Times, basically saying that the bloggers lifestyle is a fatal one. The article goes on to chronicle the recent deaths of a few more prominent bloggers and near misses from heart attacks mostly. In addition to the details about what it is like to be a corporate blogger and how much it is worth. They even mention a quote from Michael Arrington saying:

“This is not sustainable”

This may well be the case with the global giants such as TechCrunch, Gawker Media, ZDNet and others who are in a constant 24/7 race with each other to break the latest news. Even with a huge team and massive financial resources these guys don’t aways win. Yes it is nice when the little guy scores. Despite the fact that they will pretend that he didn’t.

Truth is that there is no point in trying to beat these blogging machines at their game. Why torture yourself? These machines have inside knowledge and get “tipped off” plus they do insane amounts of just poking to see if it moves and then speculate. Their reader numbers and influence makes people take notice regardless of the truth. A search for “rumor” on TechCrunch is a perfect example.

In addition if your a blog that has millions of page views a day and can generate a lot of traffic for companies, the fallout is that these are the blogs that are going to be sent emails about new start-ups, news or “insider information”. The “A-listers” are being used as another cog in the marketing machine. They are making money so everyone is happy.

I think that this means you can’t really have that great a relationship with your readers. Your too busy getting the next big story. Sure they might have a comments section and the “share this” plugin (or some variant) in order for you to participate in the “conversation” but they care more about you talking about them than they do about what you have to say.

In contrast I take a genuine interest in the communities around me. This for me has been the most rewarding part of blogging and podcasting. I actually allocate time and make a point of interacting with our community, especially with regards to the podcast. I have many listeners that are a part of my Skype contacts, twitter, Facebook not only as listeners but as friends. They all have something valuable to say and how much more valuable is that when they know that you have read it and responded to it. I care about them and the fact that they took the effort to say what they think.

But then I am not doing it for a living, maybe things would be different if I was. But to my thinking it is the community that follows you that matters, without them you don’t have much value. Either monetary or the satisfaction of knowing that what you are doing is appreciated. Some bloggers don’t even need this, they are happy with self contentment.

I also agree with what Steve Hodson said about the article. Steve detests the concept of the “A-listers” considers himself a realist and writes like one. Stating that there are plenty of bloggers (the majority) that are adding more value to the conversation by adding substance that the “A-lister” can’t because they are off getting the next story. And they are making a decent living doing it!

So for me the take home message is that death by blogging is not unique to blogging. There are plenty of individuals out there in many occupations that work too hard and forget about life. There are plenty that are dead as well. It is the corporate machine that applies this pressure or themselves. Sure follow the machine just don’t try and compete with it. Ignore the pressure and carve your own niche and community, make them matter and the rewards will come, if that is what you want. Add value to the conversation by providing substance, I get more by reading and hearing about reactions than I do the original story anyway.

I am going to let the machine do it’s own thing, kill em selves in the process and have an opinion about it when they do. I could even write for the New York Times one day.

Akismet Just Broke Another Record

Over the course of the last few days the comment spam has been increasing at a phenomenal rate. I worked out that by this afternoon I was receiving spam at a rate of one every 15 minutes. Not much you might say. But you would think so considering these are the “comments” that make it through Akismet and into moderation! Not the total volume.

This for me is a real issue as I have all comments moderated. So I am getting a bucket load of crap with some that might be legit comments.

The reason for this sudden spike is unknown. Did the spammers find a new exploit, their pay rate go up, bots smarter? Who knows. But you might like to know that I am not the only one. Seems that Akismet broke a few records today:

Akismet Graph 310507

This Graph represents the Spam to Ham ratio since the beginning of Akismet.

So far today 8,818,521 and counting, it is only going to get worse. 95% of all comments today are spam. At least that explains that the spammers are working harder than usual. I was beginning to think it was just me.

Interestingly, ham has seen a jump in the last few days as well. Might have something to do with the fact that there are some big stories breaking. Or is it that people are getting more involved in the conversation? I hope that it is the latter.

I can sit here and moderate my comments and train Akismet to be able to better identify spam. But it must be worth their while to keep doing this despite the fact that most bloggers are doing the same. So really one of the best weapons is our readers!

If you notice that a blogger has missed some spam and it has ended up in the comments. Don’t click it! Leave the blogger a comment or email and let them know; so they can remove it. If no one clicks the damn stuff then there won’t be any point in spammers trying to post it. Only a fraction of it gets through, here: make that none. So all that effort for bugger all success, make no mistake they are making money (a lot of it!) and you the clicker are paying them!

Akismet is a great service and it 99% effective, check out the stats for it. But not perfect, I don’t think one thing on it’s own ever will be. Just do us all a favor: if you are looking for porn, Google it and don’t click comment spam. Thanks.

Search Engine Optimisation: Beginners Guide

Search Engine Optimisation or SEO for short is complicated stuff but this is a great place to start. Webmasters in particular are interested in this fine art. In short it is optimising your content on your site for indexing by search engines. That means that your site or blog is returned with search results for a given topic. You want that it is a good thing. How high up in the search you are is another. The quest is to be the number one result. That drives traffic and for businesses money. So it is important.

I don’t fully understand SEO, nor claim to. That is why I found this article called The Basics of Search Engine Optimisation to be excellent. I also thought that for most bloggers it had some good suggestions and ideas about how you can get a higher search rank. This basic guide is probably enough for most bloggers that use a service to host their blog. For new site and content creators it is a great place to start.

A great article and worth spending the time to read and do a few Wkikipedia searches on the terms that you don’t understand.

Feedburner Acquires Blogbeat

Feedburner LogoFeedburner acquires Blogbeat in a move that could see Feedburner make some gains in usage as it can now offer comprehensive statistical web site information as well as their present popular feed service and stats. The acquisition appears to be agreeable to both parties and the biggest benefit is to the users present and future.

The integrated site statistics will be offered to existing Blogbeat customers first followed by Feedburner users. The service is an addition to the free service level that is currently offered by Feedburner. Currently Feedburner only offers feed statistics. What this means is that people without access to or the knowledge will soon have access to comprehensive statistics about their blog including:

  • Page views
  • Estimated unique visitors
  • Detailed individual visitor statistic; Browser, Operating System and country of visitors plus last visit time
  • Incoming links including search queries
  • Outbound links and counts
  • Visitors by city, represented as a “cloud” (similar to “tag clouds”)
  • Daily graphs as well (gotta love the graphs)

All this in an easy to read layout and look that is similar to the Feedburner dashboard that you may have seen. It looks very good. With this amount of detail in such a well presented and easy to use manner, I can see a lot of users ditching their “free” stats service in favour of Feedburner. If I had a site other than one hosted at WordPress.com I would. The main reason being is that free stats services are often confusing, consist of bad layout, visually poor requiring payment for a better service and some are associated with undesirable services and sites. From the screenshots Feedburner is offering a stark comparison.

We are fortunate at WordPress to have pretty good stats that cover most of the areas above. But for bloggers and podcasters these tools are priceless and good reason to use the Feedburner service. Smart move by Feedburner who are excited about rolling out the new features soon.

Lets face it we all love stats, they are a great tool and source of curiosity and wonder, maybe shock. Feedburner just got better and possiblly a very real challenge to other statistical services offering a free service. Current free stat services are on notice; you have been warmed and you might be burned by this one.

Feedburner Screenshot

New Advertising Service for Blogs

bloglinkr LogoI like this concept. Bloggers advertising their blog on other blogs with minimal outlay. Nice idea, not sure if it will take off or that it will have the returns that they say it will but it is a good idea that might be of interest to bloggers who don’t have the A-List on their side or the cash for a marketing plan.

From the looks of their soon to launch site, this service is a replacement for Adwords or similar advertising scheme. Instead of targeted advertising related to the page contents to products that may or may not interest your readers. Bloglinkr advertises blogs on your blog. Not just any blog, the advertised blogs shown in your posts are in categories that you choose. I read that to mean that they are on certain topics or themes. For instance if you had a Mac blog then you could select to show links to other Mac blogs. Great to think that you could recommend other blogs that would definitely interest your readers. You also have a much better chance at getting an income of some description. Also better than seeing that “Casino” Adsense Ad and knowing the site that is being advertised is dodgy to boot.

The next best thing is that you get paid for the click through’s. You also get paid for clicks on blogs that are referred to the service by you. I see this a a sort of commission payment, but that is good and probably a good way to build the service.

So where does the money come from I hear you say. Well this is not a free service. Yes, you have to pay for it. However from all the signs it looks like it is aimed at bloggers and they know we are strapped for cash. They claim that for as little as $25 (I presume US) you can get started. That is not that bad and I might consider doing it myself. Although it is probably some Java script thing that is not allowed on WordPress. But that is certainly affordable to most bloggers. There are probably “premium” plans that cost more. That will become clear when the service opens.

I would question their claims that you could:

… recieve hundreds of backlinks, clicks and visitors every month.”

There is no way that they could know this when the service has not even started yet. I think they could sell the idea to bloggers without unsubstantiated claims. They may well be using data from other services but I think that is a reach. It slumps a little into the “hard sell” with statements like that.

However I think that it is a good idea with what looks to be a sound business model and has potential. There are over 55 million blogs out there. At $25 bucks minimum per blog, even if they only capture 10% of that; you do the math!

bloglinkr Screenshot