Written on February 19th, 2007 at 06:02 am by Darren Rowse

Anothr - RSS Bot for Skype

Blogging Tools and Services 20 comments

AnothrOver the last day or two I’ve been testing a tool that bloggers wanting to stay right on top of the news breaking in their niche might find very useful. It’s called Anothr and it’s an RSS bot for Skype users.

How does it work? - its pretty simple really. You add Anothr as a buddy on your Skype account, you subscribe over at the Anothr site with the feed you want updates on (lets use the random example of… hmmm…. enternetusers’s feed). Add some tags and you’re done. When the feed you’ve subscribed to updates you’ll get a quick skype message delivered to you via skype.

Why would you want to use it? - While news aggregators are wonderful at helping you keep on top of the breaking stories around the blogosphere they only really work as fast as you check them (unless you have some sort of notification tool). If you’re like me, skype is a logical tool to use as a notification tool because I’m on it all day (more than I’m looking at my news aggregator).

I don’t use it with every feed that I’m subscribing to (it would be pinging you all day everyday) - however with those key blogs and sites that it’s really advantageous to be right on top of (as they break key news) this is well worth using.

There’s a few other cool features (you can subscribe to new feeds via skype, share your subscriptions (or keep them private), promote your blog on Another with widgets (see mine below).

Subscribe by Anothr

Like I say - this is a tool for those of you looking to really stay on top of the news on a particular niche. If it’s crucial that you know when a feed’s published - this is a tool to check out.

Written on February 18th, 2007 at 07:02 pm by Darren Rowse

Introducing Mrs. Wordpress

Pro Blogging News 20 comments

Time for a little weekend diversion….

Anyone who has started a WordPress blog will probably be familiar with Mr WordPress. He’s the guy who makes your first comment by default so that you know what a comment is.

Very considerate of him really.

His comment looks like this:


Today I discovered Mr WordPress has a secret….

He has a wife - Mrs. WordPress - and she’s started a blog. Not only that, but he has a child -Junior WordPress (pictured below the fold).

Her blog is an attempt to find Mr WordPress who walked out on them. Someone has too much time on their hands - and a great sense of humor.


Written on February 18th, 2007 at 10:02 am by Darren Rowse

Google Reader Starts Reporting Subscriber Numbers and Shows How Much Ground They’ve Taken from Bloglines

RSS 39 comments

Many bloggers with Feedburner running their feeds noticed a bump in subscriber numbers over the last couple of days (my own jumped from 11,000 to 18,000 - partly as a result of two posts on Digg’s popular page).

Does this mean we’ve all suddenly been inundated with new subscribers?

Picture 2-3

I’m afraid not.

Feedburner’s blog has the answer to why this has happened. In short - they’ve started reporting how many Google Reader and Google Personalized Homepage subscribers that they have. This is due to some changes in Google Reader - read more about them here - which report subscriber numbers.

From what I can gather - the Google Reader numbers reports numbers of subscribers - not numbers who Actively read/click through to your blog. For that type of information you need to look at some of Feedburner’s other stats.

All in all this probably won’t mean much to the average blogger (although it’ll give us all a small ego boost for a few days) - but for those of us who are metrics addicts who love to do some analysis of who is reading our blogs and how they do it - it’ll provide some more accurate information.

Google Reader - Dominating Aggregation Market?

What interests me most about this change is that it gives us a insight into just how much of a grab Google Reader and Personalized Homepages have taken on the aggregation market.

Here at enternetusers I’d always seen the following graph in my feedburner stats (it shows the last 30 days activity in my feeds and where people came from). As you can see Bloglines made up 30% of my readership.


Today however there’s a different story showing. With the Google figures now being reported we find that 39% of my subscribers are actually using Google Reader of Personalized Homepages and Bloglines only makes up 17%.


Google Reader has certainly taken a chunk of the market away from Bloglines (at least among enternetusers readers) - it was only 6 months ago that the Bloglines figure was well over 60% for enternetusers.

I’d be interested to hear other’s experience - is Google Reader dominating your feeds too?

Written on February 17th, 2007 at 02:02 am by Darren Rowse

10 Sure-Fire Ways to Get RSS Readers Visiting Your Blog

RSS 34 comments

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been looking at building RSS feeds that POP. So far we’ve covered:

Today lets turn our attention to a question I’ve been asked by a number of readers throughout the series:

how do I get my RSS readers to visit my actual blog?

Before I give a few tips of how to do this - it is worth noting that for some bloggers this is not a major objective and they are quite happy to have their readers engage with their content where ever the reader wants to.

I totally respect this approach and feel similarly. However there are reasons why it can be beneficial for a blog to have actual readers and not just RSS subscribers. Two main reasons come to mind:

  • Interaction - to this point RSS doesn’t do interaction very well. If you want comments - you need to get people over to your blog.
  • Monetization - If you’re interested in monetizing your blog then you’ve got a better chance of doing so with actual visitors than RSS readers. While there are a variety of RSS advertising options for bloggers - in my experience none perform as well as on blog advertising (although I’m open to hearing about people who’ve found a more profitable method).

If those two things don’t interest you the following 10 tips might not be up your alley. If they do - read on for a few brief ways to convert RSS readers to actual blog readers:

1. Actively encourage comments - Last year I did a little analysis of the posts that got the most most clicks in my feeds (Feedburner offer these stats) and there was a direct correlation between comment numbers and clicks. Further analysis showed that those posts that had high comment numbers and high clicks were posts where I…. (wait for the secret)…. asked questions. Want some examples? - how about these three ‘open mike’ posts.

2. Show Readers Comment Numbers - Another way to encourage comments is to show how many others have already commented. I do this using Feedburner’s Feed Flares in my feeds.

3. Use Polls - In a similar way - running polls on your blog and announcing them in posts will draw readers to your actual blog. In fact any interActive tool or feature that can’t be carried out via RSS can bring on readers (eg, quizzes, chat tools etc).

4. Interlink posts - If you have html activated in your feed (it’s usually automatically that way if you publish full feeds) link to other posts, pages or categories within your blog as you write. Make them relevant links that fit with your post and that will give your RSS readers something useful when they follow the link. For example - this is what I did a couple of paragraphs back with my links to open mike posts.

5. Related posts - A more automated way of giving readers something to click on that will lead them to your blog is to use a ‘related posts’ section at the end of posts (in a similar way to the ‘related posts that many bloggers have at the end of posts on their actual blog). These are becoming more and more common (although I’m not sure what tool people use to do it - let us know in comments if you use one). Keep in mind that you don’t want to clutter your RSS feeds.

6. ‘Best of’ posts - The interlinked posts on steroids is the ‘best of’ post. It isn’t something you’d want to do everyday - but occassionally it can be a great way to draw readers over to your blog by pulling together a number of older posts. I learnt the power of this late last year in my Best of enternetusers 2006 post which was one of the most clicked upon posts in my RSS feed.

7. Use Video - This is something that is changing but until recently very few feed readers allowed their users to see embedded video. These days feed readers like Google Reader do allow video (and others are following suit) but it’s still something that might work to some extent depending upon which aggregators your readers are using.

8. RSS and Bookmarking - I’ve chatted with a few enternetusers readers recently who say they use the ‘Digg This’ link in the bottom of my feeds and that after doing so they keep coming back both to the Digg page and the post itself to see if it’s gotten popular. I’m not sure this is something many do - but it does have the potential to leverage RSS readers to help spread the word about your blog.

9. Design Changes - Once again - this isn’t something you’d want to do simply to get RSS readers to come and visit, but one of the added benefits of making design changes to your blog (and announcing them) is that you’ll often get people coming over for a look. This happens both when you completely relaunch your blog and also when you make ‘tweaks’ like adding new features to your sidebar, navigation menus etc.

10. Excerpt Feeds - I’ve left this one until last because it’s pretty obvious and is one of the main reasons that I hear bloggers giving for not moving their feeds to ‘full feeds’. I’m not going to rehash the debate here over full vs partial feeds but while full feeds is one of the ways to get more subscribers - having partial ones is a way to get people who do subscribe to come visit your blog.

A Word of Warning

As I’ve written this post I’ve felt like making disclaimers all along the way because while the above techniques will draw readers from your RSS feed into your blog - some (or most) of them can also be sure-fire ways to become so annoying to your readers that they unsubscribe from your feed in frustration.

Don’t tease your readers, don’t try to manipulate them and don’t attempt to force them into actions that they don’t really want to do.

Create a user experience IN your RSS feed and you’ll find that the benefits will flow on. You might not draw all your readers over to your blog every day - but they will come across from time to time and more importantly many of them will find what you produce useful enough to pass it on to others.

Enjoy this Post? Digg it Here

Written on February 17th, 2007 at 12:02 am by Darren Rowse

Speedlinking - Reader Edition 17 February 2007

Pro Blogging News 22 comments

Reader-LinksYesterday when I called for reader submissions for a speedlinking post I had an inkling that I’d wake up to quite a few emails with links in them and my suspicions were correct - 47 in all.

What has been submitted covers a broad spectrum of topics -some of it is high quality, some of it I don’t completely agree with, some of it is a little controversial, some of it will be more useful to some of you than others.

I’d encourage you to surf through the list and to link up to those who you resonate with most. Enjoy.

PS: I’ve included a few comments at the end of the list on how it was compiled.

Now get surfing and link up to what you like! There’s enough there to keep you busy all weekend.

Here’s a few comments on the list.

• I was going to include a description of each one but I think in most cases the heading speaks for itself (I’ve included a couple of descriptions)

• I’ve included the link of the person who suggested it only when it differs from the link - hopefully I didn’t miss anyone.

• The order of posts is the order I received them in.

• A few people submitted more than one link - I’ve only used the first one submitted in each occassion (as per the instructions)

• I’ve included all links excluding a few that didn’t work and a few that were from people who submitted multiple links. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Written on February 16th, 2007 at 10:02 am by Darren Rowse

Clarifications upon the Performancing Sale - Interviews with Nick Wilson and David Krug

Pro Blogging News 9 comments

Performancing Logo-1

Over the last 12 hours there has been a lot said about the sale of Performancing to Splashpress. Some of it has been reported accurately - some of it seems to be contradictory to other reports.

Performancing has been a major player in the blogging space and it’s sale impacts over 28,000 people who’ve signed up for their services previously - as a result I decided to approach two key players in Performancing’s past and future for comment with the hope of clearing up some of the confusion.

Interview with Nick Wilson

I’ve just had a short chat with Nick Wilson, previous CEO and part owner of Performancing about the sale of it to Splashpress.

Here are a few points that he made that might help us all with reporting the deal more accurately:

  • The deal does not include Performancing Parters - this has been reported widely (including in my post announcing the deal).
  • Performancing Partners technology is currently not operating (it was discontinued a few weeks back) but Nick tells me that there is still potential for it to be sold in the future.
  • The deal does not include scribefire (the firefox plugin) - I think most of us got this right
  • The deal does include Performancing.com (the domain/blog), Performancing Metrics and the Performancing User Base
  • The deal was not negotiated by Nick - it was totally negotiated/brokered on the Performancing side of things by his parter Patrick
  • No price has been or will be disclosed - to be expected, but I had to ask
  • Nick and Patrick will continue to work heavily on scribefire - something that is well funded

Hopefully that will clear up some of the confusion over the deal.

Interview with David Krug

I also just chatted with David Krug and he tells me that the above is true. He also wanted to make some clarifications:

Performancing Ad Network?
Firstly he agreed that Performancing Partners is not included in the deal - however there is no clause in the agreement that stops them starting their own ad network.

David tells me that launching their own ad network is definitely part of their plan and that the time frame is ‘the next few months’. This is not their first priority as they want to work on building up the performancing community before developing any more services.

David Didn’t Buy Performancing
Also reported widely is that David bought Performancing with Splashpress. David tells me that this is untrue and that Splashpress are the buyers and that he will manage it for them.

Future Developments
David also added that they are testing some new metrics software and blog themes which are likely to be released before any new ad network is launched.

I also asked David about privacy of user information. I’ve heard from a variety of bloggers in the last few hours who are confused by the sale and are wondering if their information has been sold to the new group.

His response was that there is currently no automated system for removal of accounts however Performancing’s Privacy Policy still stands and if people really want to be removed they can contact Performancing. He did emphasize that people can login and change their profile at any time and that the only thing that they really have from people is an email address.

What User Base was bought?
While the sale didn’t include the Performancing Partners technology/software - it does include the database of users. Similarly the purchase includes the metrics user database and community database. Basically anyone who has signed up for anything was a ‘user’.

How’s the Transition Going?
Obviously there have been some problems with Performancing’s site over the past 24 hours. David tells me that they’ve had some IP issues and that there have been some glitches with the changeover. Some users will still see problems with the site (DNS Cache Issues) but these should be resolved shortly.

Still Confused?
David encourages people confused by the sale to contact them using the Performancing Contact form.

I personally would add that any bloggers that still have the performancing metrics or partners code on their blogs should probably remove it - not because I’m questioning privacy - but because it is redundant code that just clogs up your templates.

Written on February 16th, 2007 at 02:02 am by Darren Rowse

What a Buddhist Monk Taught Me About Blogging

Miscellaneous Blog Tips 49 comments

Buddhist-Brother-ThayEarlier in the week I received an email from a blogger who had been the victim of a pretty vicious hate campaign against her from a number of other bloggers. She asked for advice on how to handle the situation.

I gave her a number of pieces of advice (much of which was similar to my post on what to do when your blog is attacked) but I also found myself returning to some teaching that I’ve recently heard from a Buddhist Monk (no I’m not changing religions - but yes I do enjoy interacting with people from different faiths).

The crux of his teachings was this…

When someone attacks you with anger and hatred say to them:

“thank you for your ‘gift’ - but I think you can keep it for yourself.”

It is easy to take on the anger of other people and to wear it as a burden of your own but it is usually unhealthy to do so.

Anger and hatred directed at you by another person is their anger and hatred and not yours. While they may wish for you to take it upon yourself - ultimately it’s a ‘gift’ that would be better not received.

The blogosphere can unfortunately be a place of personal attack and anger. While I think there is a place for hearing the critique of others and taking it on board in a constructive way - there is also a time to let it go and move forward.

One skill that bloggers need to learn is how to do this.

One more quote to end with on Anger from Brother Thay’s book Anger:

“If your house is on fire, the most urgent thing to do is to go back and try to put out the fire, not to run after the person you believe to be the arsonist. If you run after the person you suspect has burned your house, your house will burn down while you are chasing him or her. That is not wise. You must go back and put the fire out. So when you are angry, if you continue to interact with or argue with the other person, if you try to punish her, you are acting exactly like someone who runs after the arsonist while everything goes up in flames.”

Written on February 15th, 2007 at 09:02 pm by Darren Rowse

Performancing Partners Sold to Splashpress

Pro Blogging News 12 comments

More news today on the continuing sagas of Performancing.

To say they’ve had some ups and downs of late would be an under statement - but today the news is breaking that Performancing Partners has been sold to Splashpress (owners of Blogherald and numerous other blogs) and will be managed by David Krug (founder of Jack of All Blogs, 901am and numerous other blogging ventures). Aaron has an interview with David that explains it all at Technosailor. The Firefox plugin (now called Scribfire) has not been sold.

Adding to the story today is that in the change over of servers it seems that David and Splashpress have had some problems as most of today Performancing has been showing a blog called ‘BlogLouisville’ (still is for me). It looks like David and his partners have a few more gremlins to get out of the system.

I won’t rehash all the news (they will focus first on ‘community’ - then roll out the tools again - sounds like a very similar process to last time around) - but will let you listen to the podcast for yourself. Lets hope the new owners can pull it all together.

This post was updated for accuracy

Written on February 15th, 2007 at 06:02 pm by Darren Rowse

Using Social Bookmarking Sites to Find Out What Your Readers Like

Social Media 7 comments

Alex Iskold and Richard MacManus have put together a nice analytical post with some insights into how they determined which are the most popular posts on Read/WrightWeb based upon social bookmarking sites Digg and Delicious.

I’ve seen people do this type of analysis of how their blog is going based upon comment levels and page views (in fact there are plugins to do it and post the results on your sidebar) but the idea of using social bookmarking sites as a basis for the information makes a lot of sense and as you’ll see by their post reveals a different picture.

Some of their reflections on the process:

On Delicious

“The pattern on del.icio.us is less obvious, but things become more clear once we realize that del.icio.us and comments on a blog reflect different kinds of actions. Comments reflect passions, bookmarks serve as references - so there is little overlap between them. More importantly, comments (like posts) are short lived. Unfortunately in our day and age, news and even analysis has a life span of a few hours. Once a post is off the front page of a blog, it is less discoverable and typically is not commented on anymore. The bookmarks of del.icio.us, however, have a longer lifespan.”

On Digg

“We noted that the posts that did well on Digg are somewhat different from the ones that got a lot of comments and picked up more links on del.icio.us. The full query results told us that while Digg users love posts about search, they also love the posts about browsers. In particular the Firefox vs. IE battle is dear to their hearts. And of course, digg users love posts about Digg - especially when it’s about Digg kicking competitor Netscape’s butt!”

While this type of analysis wouldn’t work for many blogs that don’t get much traction on social bookmarking sites - it is something a little different to what I’ve seen bloggers doing before to find out what readers are reacting to.

Written on February 15th, 2007 at 03:02 pm by Darren Rowse

Speedlinking - The Reader Edition

Pro Blogging News 9 comments

Update: Time is Up - No More Submissions Please

Don’t you hate it when you work on a post and then the blog gremlins come and eat it before you hit publish? I had a 8 point speedlinking post all set to go in ecto and it crashed…. grrrr….

So lets turn this into an opportunity.

Submit your favorite enternetusers-ish links written in the last 4 days and I’ll include them in my next speedlinking tomorrow.

The Rules:

  • One link per person
  • They must be related to my topic here (ie help people improve their blog, copy writing, SEO, advertising, online money making type posts (see previous speedlinking posts here, here and here for what I normally do)
  • Links should be no more than 4 days old (ie they must have been written after 11 February - you can write one specifically for this if you’ve got time!)
  • They can be yours or someone else’s.
  • They should be useful to enternetusers readers
  • Submit them via my contact form
  • Links need to be in by 5am tomorrow (my time - that’s 12 hours away)
  • Please include the link you’re submitting - your name, your URL and why it’s interesting in 10 words
  • I reserve the right not to include some (either for lameness, spamness or because I get too many to know what to do with)

Lets see what we come up with.

Update: Time is Up - No More Submissions Please

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