Written on July 10th, 2007 at 02:07 am by Darren Rowse

What We Wish We Knew When We First Started Blogging - A Series

Miscellaneous Blog Tips 7 comments

Last weekend I asked bloggers to share the lessons that they’ve learned about blogging that they wish they knew when first starting out. The resulting comment thread is so rich with ideas, experiences and lessons that it’s too good to leave languishing in a comment thread.

As I read through the comments some definite themes were present so I thought that this week I’d repost some of the comments in groups around certain themes and in doing so share a few of my own thoughts on the topics also.

The topics that we’ll cover this way this week are:

There will be one post per day and I’ll update the above list with links to each day as I release them so that there’s a central point.

Thanks to everyone for your comments - you’re welcome to continue to answer the question - but I may not be able to include too many of the future comments into posts. Apologies also to those whose comments I’ve not used. It’s not because they are not good enough, but because there were 100+ responses and I had to be a little selective.

I’ll post the first post on Blog hosting, domains and blogging platforms shortly.

Written on July 9th, 2007 at 09:07 pm by Darren Rowse

Buy Blog Comments - A Sick New Comment Spam Service Launches

Pro Blogging News 148 comments

I just had a rather disturbing email from a company advertising a new service called Buy Blog Comments (no follow tags used) promoting a new service offering to leave comment spam on blogs for those wanting to increase their SEO ranking.

The service offers to leave spam comments at a rate of 100 comments for $19.99, 500 comments for $99.99 and 1000 comments for $199.99.

They explain their service like this:

“Blog comments help your site rank better in the SERPs. We hired a few people who go through a list of blogs in a database we set up and pick out blogs that are in your niche. They then read through blog posts and leave a comment that has to do with the blog post they read, that way it wont get deleted. Your backlink will then be on a targeted blog, giving you more weight in the search engines. ”

The person behind the service is a guy called Jon Waraas (Jonwaraas.com) - a guy who owns a company called Developer Hut and a blog network called BuzzBums.

I think it’s one of the worst business ideas I’ve heard for a long time and something that bloggers should stand up against. I know that there are other services and tools that do this type of comment spam but this type of thing only weakens blogging.

I know that some comment spammers have done OK out of the practice but in most cases that I’ve heard about they don’t just leave a few hundred comment spams, they leave tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of them. I’ve also heard from a couple of people who know comment spammers that it’s becoming less and less effective as more bloggers use tools like Akismet and as so many bloggers use no follow tags in their comments sections.

Those buying such a service would also risk some potential downsides if they are caught out. I know I add anyone spamming my blogs to Akismets blacklist and have been known to expose companies who do it. Perhaps it’s time that bloggers stood up a little more aggressive to such blatant attacks?

I’d like to hear from those with a legal background comment on the legality of such a business. I know that of late spammers have been getting taken to court for sending unsolicited emails - I’d be interested to know what the legal standing would be of a company who so openly offers to leave spam comments on someone else’s web property.

Written on July 9th, 2007 at 12:07 pm by Darren Rowse

Going Pro as a Blogger - Turning Blogging From a Hobby to a Career

Miscellaneous Blog Tips 23 comments

Richard MacManus reflects today upon an article that appeared in a local site which featured his story of turning blogging from a hobby into a Career.

Richard says some very worthwhile stuff about the keys to his success - particularly the amount of work and time that’s gone into building his very successful blog.

There were two key quotes for me in Richard’s post:

“Basically it takes a whole lot of hard work, knowledge and passion about the topic you’re blogging about, patience, and some ‘being in the right place at the right time’ luck.”


“So really, it took 3 whole years for Read/WriteWeb to go from ‘hobby’ to full-time job. The bottom line: blogging is a very difficult, and highly competitive, way to make a living. If I didn’t have a true passion for the topic of Web technology, I would not have been able to put in the ‘hard yards’ (I think that is a kiwi or rugby expression, meaning hard work).”

Congratulations to Richard on the article and his amazing success over the last year or so particularly! It’s great to see another local(ish) blogger (he’s in New Zealand) going full time and seeing real success in the blogging space.

Written on July 9th, 2007 at 12:07 am by Darren Rowse

Should Links from Your Blog Open in a New Window? Reader Opinions

Miscellaneous Blog Tips 49 comments

Two weeks ago I asked readers for their opinion on whether external links on your blog should Open in a New Window?

The conversation that resulted in the question was fascinating with 129 comments left (so far).

Today I reread the full conversation and tallied up the results and was a little surprised by the end results. Last time I saw this type of debate (in a forum) there was a resounding feeling that links should not open in new windows - however in this conversation the split was much more even with strong arguments for both ways of approaching links.

In fact the end result ended up coming out in favor of opening links in a new window.

Picture 1-4

I should note that there was about 5% of respondents who I excluded from these results because they either didn’t express a direct opinion or gave some sort of an ‘it depends’ response.

Thanks to everyone for participating in the discussion. If you’ve not had your say yet you can still comment on the original post.

Written on July 8th, 2007 at 12:07 am by Darren Rowse

How to Sell Your Blog

Miscellaneous Blog Tips 25 comments

Bob has a good post detailing how he built up a blog on the domain Computers.net and sold it for $155,000.

I get asked a lot of questions about how to sell a blog - but as I’m yet to do it I thought I’d do a speedlinking type post on the topic and link to those who’ve had a little more experience with the process:

My own experience with selling blogs is limited to being an observer and my own approach is to keep ahold of web properties and to build them into ongoing revenue generation streams. I’m not anti selling blogs but it’s just not my style to this point.

The really big amounts that blogs have sold for have generally either come from very established and highly profitable blogs or from those who have something special (like a domain like computers.net) to offer a buyer.

Have you ever bought or sold a blog (or attempted to)? What did you learn from the experience? If you’ve written about it feel free to leave a link to your advice in the comments below.

Written on July 7th, 2007 at 02:07 pm by Darren Rowse

Authority Blogger Forum

Pro Blogging News 13 comments

Authorityblogger-Forum-LogoChris Garrett just announced his new Authority Blogger Forum which I think has the makings of a useful community.

Chris is one of the better bloggers on the topic of blogging and would be well worthwhile getting alongside if you’re looking for advice.

Written on July 7th, 2007 at 03:07 am by Darren Rowse

Place Your Blog on a ‘Busy Intersection’

Blog Promotion 40 comments

Steve Remington wrote a good post today that uses the metaphore of roads and intersections to think about blogs. It’s an image that caught my imagination a little. He writes:

“Think of your blog as a virtual business on a road. Your best chance of success is not sitting out in the middle of cyberspace where nobody can find you. Landing your blog in the middle of downtown or on an intersection somewhere will give you many more readers and potential clients.”

Read his full post at Blogs Are Roads; Intersections

I like the imagery of the metaphor and think that there’s some real truth in it. A blogger who simply works on their own blog and doesn’t work to put themselves ‘out there’ on a busy intersection will limit the potential of their blog even if they write great content.

Positioning yourself on a busy intersection or ‘downtown’ means getting involved in your niche, building relationships with other bloggers and becoming part of the places in your niche where the most action is happening.

Written on July 6th, 2007 at 11:07 am by Darren Rowse

5 Things You Should Know about My Dad the enternetusers

Miscellaneous Blog Tips 113 comments

My-Dad-BloggerThis guest post has been submitted by my son - little ‘X’ - who turned 1 today. I thought it was an appropriate day for him to make his debut as a blogger.

I’ve been watching my Dad being a enternetusers for a year now - here’s 5 things that I noticed about how he does it:

1. My Dad Reads More than He Writes

One question I hear a lot of people asking My Dad is ‘how much time do you spend writing each day?’ I think it’s a good question, but a better one would be ‘how much time do you spend reading each day?’ You see my Dad reads more than he writes. I think he does this because his writing gets better after reading what others say and because it means he’s learning more about his topics.

2. My Dad Talks All Day to Other Bloggers

Another thing my Dad does all day is ‘chat’ to people. He talks to them on his Skype headset, he types to them on his instant messenger and he even meets some of them in the cafe down the road for something called a ‘cafe lartay’. I think My Dad does it partly because blogging looks like a lonely job but also because it helps him blog better. It gives him new ideas, helps him get people to read his blog and link to it more and it even finds him partners to work with.

3. My Dad Only Uses a Few of the Ideas He Comes Up With

I was looking on my Dad’s computer the other day and found a folder called ‘posts in progress’ which is filled with text files of half finished posts. Some of them are just blank text files with a post name as the file name, others have 10 points that need to be expanded. Others are half thought through ideas or questions from readers. My Dad has hundreds of files in this folder and he puts more in every week. On days when I’m being a little bit naughty and he can’t think straight to come up with a new idea he goes to this folder to help him get started.

4. My Dad Works A lot - but less than he Used to

My Mum tells me that My Dad used to work from when the sun made my room light to after she used to give me the last drink of the day (I don’t have that drink any more because I’m a big boy). That seems like a very long time to be looking at the computer box. He still does look at it for a lot of time in the day but less than he used to. My Dad now takes me for walks every afternoon where we go to the park for a swing and on the weekends he sometimes doesn’t look at the computer box for a whole day. I think he’s a good blogger because he knows he has to work hard but especially because he knows when to stop working.

5. My Dad is Different, like the Wiggles

I don’t read any of Dad’s blogs (I want him to start one of the Wiggles and then I would) but I met a few people that do read them and they tell me that one of the reasons that they first started reading what he writes is because he had something different to say. I don’t know how many blogs there are in the world but I would say it is at least as many as all of my My Mum’s, My Dad’s, My Grandma’s and My Grandpa’s and my toes and fingers all added together (and maybe more). That is a lot of blogs and to get people to notice yours you need to stand out a little - like the Wiggles do in their colored skivvies!

I could probably think of a lot more things to tell you about blogging and perhaps one day I will (although I think I could make more money writing it as an e-book for you to buy - I am an Ontraprenor like My Dad) but I have to go and have my morning sleep now.

I hope you had fun learning about My Dad with me.

Written on July 6th, 2007 at 12:07 am by Darren Rowse

Why StumbleUpon Sends More Traffic Than Digg

Social Media, Blog Promotion 83 comments

I was digging around in the Google Analytics stats for Digital Photography School this afternoon and did some analysis of some of the most popular pages on the blog over the last month.

One page that has done exceptionally well and continues to bring in reasonable traffic even six weeks after it was written is 11 Surefire Tips for Improving Your Landscape Photography.

The post has had just over 93,000 page views from around 70,000 visitors since I posted i on 18 May. Here’s how the traffic was spread out over this time (you’ll want to click it to enlarge the graph in a new window):


The Spike - Days 1-7

You can see very clearly that there was a real spike of traffic in the first couple of days. The day after I posted this tutorial hit the popular page on Digg. Here’s how the traffic came in over the first week (i’ve rounded these numbers to the nearest 50):

18 May (the day I posted) - 6,400 page views - largely from direct traffic (via RSS). StumbleUpon generated 405 page views.
19 May - 30,000 page views - 21,000 from Digg, another 2500 from RSS and regular readers, plus another 6000 or so from other sites like Delicious, Popurls and other blogs/sites linking up. StumbleUpon generated 575 page views.
20 May - 6200 page views - Digg sent 1550 of them, another digg like site (Wykop) sent 1200, direct traffic was around 900, other sites still sent a bit and StumbleUpon hit 1050 page views. (note, Google started sending a little traffic on this day).
21 May - 6600 page views - Wykop sent 2500, Digg sent 1100, direct traffic was 700, Google sent 200 and StumbleUpon continued to rise to 1300.
22 May - 3350 page views - Digg was down to 600 page views while StumbleUpon was at 953. Other sites and Google made up the rest.
23 May - 2250 page views - Digg sent 300 page views and Stumbleupon 800. Other sites the rest.
24 May - 2000 page views - Digg sent 150 page views and Stumbleupon generated 550.

OK - so that was the ’spike’ and while StumbleUpon has generated more traffic than Digg in the last few days - Digg is still the clear winner after the first week:

  1. Digg - 24,410 page views (43% of all traffic to the post for this period)
  2. Direct Traffic - 8634 page views
  3. StumbleUpon - 5599 page views (9.5% of traffic to the post)
  4. Wykop - 4661 page views
  5. Delicious - 2523 page views

The Tail - Days 8-43

It’s usually at this point that a blogger would stop tracking how successful an individual post is going (in fact I tend to lose a little interest after the first 3-4 days) but out of interest today I decided to see what happened to traffic to this post since 24 May. It’s been 5 or so weeks - so how much traffic has the post generated and where did it come from?

Here’s how the traffic graph for this five week period looks (click to enlarge):


As you can see, the post has continued to generate traffic over the last 5 weeks. On it’s highest day it generated 2800 page views and it’s not dipped below 400.

I won’t go through the period day by day but can you guess where the majority of the traffic came from?

You guessed it - StumbleUpon.

Can you guess how many page views it generated?

60.05% of the traffic to the post from the 5 week period. Here’s how the top 5 sites sent page views over the last 5 weeks:

  1. StumbleUpon - 21,963
  2. Direct Traffic - 5,253
  3. Google - 2,530
  4. Digg - 1,057
  5. Wykop - 934

Digg traffic has dropped to next to nothing (today it generated 6 page views) - yet StumbleUpon continues to send traffic (today it’s already at 500 page views - 6 weeks after the post was written).

Add the totals for the first 7 days to the last 5 weeks and here’s how the page view count between Digg and StumbleUpon looks like this:

  1. StumbleUpon - 27,562
  2. Digg - 25,467

Now I know that the Digg traffic for this post wasn’t as big as some other stories that get to the front page of Digg and so it could be argued that this type of analysis will vary from post to post - but I guess the main point of this post is to show how the two social bookmarking sites can have remarkably different impacts. Digg’s impact upon a blog is short, sharp and can be quite devastating (at least to unprepared servers) while StumbleUpon’s impact is somewhat gentler and longer term.

The way things are trending in the case here under examination, the gap between Digg and SU will grow significantly as SU’s steady stream of traffic to the post hasn’t really shown any signs of tapering (although at some point it surely will).

One More Reason I like StumbleUpon

One last thing that strikes me about the comparison between the stats of Digg readers and StumbleUpon readers is the comparison of the ‘Bounce Rate’ figures (or the percentage of people leaving the site after viewing the particular page - ie single page readers who don’t go onto explore the site).

StumbleUpon - 52.31%
Digg - 65.73%

There’s not a lot of different between them I guess - but what interests me even more is that when I compare bounce rate between Digg and StumbleUpon across all pages on the blog - Digg users bounce on average 89.64% of the time and StumbleUpon users bounce 39.28% of the time. As a result the average time spent on the time statistic is also longer with SU readers.

An Argument for Digg?

The last thing I’ll say is that I’ve not done any research on how Digg and SU compare in the numbers of secondary links that they can bring a story. I do know that when I hit it big on Digg that this generally triggers going big on other social bookmarking sites (eg - delicious) as well as causing many blogs to link up. My suspicion is that the secondary links that come from being on StumbleUpon are fewer and further between.

I can only deduce this by seeing a lot of links made to the story in the first 7 days and few being made over the last 5 weeks. If this the case then Digg’s impact on traffic from secondary links and also SEO benefits are significant.

Digg or StumbleUpon? Or Both?

Of course - this post doesn’t really illustrate that StumbleUpon is better than Digg or that Digg is better than StumbleUpon. In fact, if anything it shows how they compliment each other quite nicely - I wouldn’t say no to being featured heavily on both!

Written on July 5th, 2007 at 02:07 am by Darren Rowse

RSS-to-Email Comparison Review - Zookoda and AWeber

RSS 27 comments

This is the third part of a three part series of posts on different RSS to Email Solutions. You can read Part 1 which reviews Feedburner’s system here and Part 2, a review of Feedblitz here. This post has been contributed by Brian Armstrong of Breaking Free.

Zookoda Review

Logo-3Zookoda is a breath of fresh air in the RSS-to-Email market. A slick Web2.0 interface makes it easy to use (although in a few spots it still feels like its in beta), and it comes with an impressive array of features in a free product.

Here are a few: true scheduling, email customization, importing subscribers without another opt-in or contacting the list, ability to capture additional fields (like first name), and extensive reporting and stats.

Zookoda really is quite brilliant. There were two negatives I feel obligated to mention however.

The first is that Zookoda subscribers don’t show up in FeedBurner stats. Whether this is Zookoda’s fault, an inability to communicate with FeedBurner, or that the two companies are simply too busy I have no idea. You can of course include an additional badge that shows your Zookoda subscriber count, which is one somewhat less-than-ideal work around.

Secondly, and of much bigger concern, is that it appears for all intents and purposes that Zookoda is no longer being supported. Apparently they were purchased recently by PayPerPost, and activity seems to have dropped off since then.

There have been zero posts to their blog, and responses from their support are practically nonexistent. This is really a shame, because Zookoda represents the best option available today for RSS-to-Email.

Open message to PayPerPost: don’t drop the ball on this one! You are sitting on a gold mine and have 90% of the equation for success sitting right there in front of you. Put one or two people on it to answer a few emails and fix the occasional bug and you will hands down have the best RSS-to-Email product available today! I hear this whole “blogging” thing is a growth market too, so it might be a good opportunity. Just a thought… ;)


  • Scheduling
  • Customization
  • Importing without another opt-in
  • Free
  • Nice user interface and easy to use


  • Subscribers don’t show up in Feedburner stats
  • Zero support as of right now, so if you can’t get it to work on your own, you’re stuck

Bottom line: 4/5 stars
An impressive service with plenty of great features that represents the best hope of an ideal RSS-to-Email product. Only questions is whether PayPerPost has abandoned it.

Update - I discovered that you can in fact get support for Zookoda, but you have to do it through PayPerPost’s website contact form. Submitting questions through Zookoda’s contact form gets no response.

Note from Darren - I’ve been using Zookoda for over 12 months now and agree that there’s a lot to like about Zookoda. However in the last few months I’ve noticed increasing deliverability problems - particularly with Yahoo email addresses (and other systems that use Yahoo like sbcglobal emails). I’m told by Zookoda that this is a Yahoo problem - however I’ve not seem the same problems with other services such as AWeber. This combined with slow customer support is making me seriously consider moving my lists to other services.

AWeber Review

Logo-2-1I have not tried AWeber (aff) personally, so I will make this section short. From my research, it is quite possibly the best paid service option. AWeber has been around for a long time and RSS-to-Email is just one area of their business. Many large companies use AWeber. The only problem is that it is expensive.


  • Plenty of features
  • Good support


  • Expensive
  • Subscribers don’t count toward FeedBurner stats

Bottom Line: ?/5 stars

I haven’t used it personally so I won’t say, but this is most likely the best option for corporate blogs or bloggers who want a no hassle solution and don’t mind spending for it.


If you don’t have any current subscribers and want something quick and easy to set up (or you aren’t technically savvy), your best option is to go with FeedBurner.

If you already have an existing email list, and/or you want more control over scheduling and customization, I’d recommend going with Zookoda.

If you are a corporate blog or have some cash to spend for a worry free solution I’d suggest going with AWeber.

By the way, if the idea of transferring subscribers from one list to another sounds daunting (and it should, don’t underestimate it), remember that you can always start a new system (such as FeedBurner) while leaving your old subscribers on the old system. There is no reason you can’t be running two simultaneously. It will be totally transparent to your readers if part of them are getting email updates from one source, and part from another. This will avoid the issue of transferring subscribers entirely.

Regardless of which approach you use, take some time to make your decision before jumping in. Once a change is made, it is not always easy to change your mind without confusing/annoying your readers (and shrinking your list). Expect to encounter some problems in the transition (broken links, incorrect formatting, duplicate articles being sent) and proceed with caution. It’s an excellent idea to notify all your readers of the transition before actually doing it. At least then if something goes wrong (and assume it will), they won’t be totally in the dark. Best of luck!

About the author:

Brian Armstrong is a entrepreneur who achieved financial freedom working for himself at age 23. If you’ve always wanted to start your own business and work for yourself, check out his website on how to start a business. You can read interviews with self made millionaires where they share the secrets to their success, and learn how to start your own business for under $100. Check it out: http://www.startbreakingfree.com/

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