Written on June 21st, 2005 at 04:06 pm by adriaan

Making the most of ecto

Blog Networks, Blogging Tools and Services, Blog Promotion, Affiliate Programs 18 comments

At first sight, ecto seems to be a simple desktop client that allows you to author content for your blog. There are a couple of advantages desktop blog tools offer over control panels: You can write entries while offline, keep a local searchable cache of published entries and drafts, use spell-check, manipulate images and movies before uploading, to name just a few.

But ecto for MacOSX (and soon also the Windows version) does even more than that, it can help you to raise your blog’s visibility in the blogosphere and even make a bit of profit. This blog entry will show you how to make the most of ecto.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Benefit from Amazon’s affiliate scheme
If you haven’t done so already, register yourself as an Amazon associate. Once you are registered you can get credit for anyone clicking on Amazon links from your blog. Even more so if they purchase the linked item. Plain links to a particular Amazon product page will not work, though, as you need specially formatted URLs that have your associate ID embedded. Amazon offers an online form for building such links, but it is very tedious to use. Here’s how you can do it on-the-fly in ecto: While editing an entry, you may refer to a product or use a specific keyword. Click on the “Amazon” icon in the toolbar (highlight a word or phrase first if you want it inserted in the search field) and search for a suitable product. When you have found the right product, click on “Create Link” and you’re done. ecto inserts the URL to the Amazon product page inside your entry, optionally with image. Here’s an example (note that the display format is completely customizable):

“Who Let the Blogs Out?” (Biz Stone)

Please make sure you have entered your associate ID or you will miss out on credits. In the Amazon Tool window, click on “Options” in the toolbar and fill in the “Associate ID” field.

To find out how well your Amazon links work, log in to the Amazon associates page and look for the Link-Type Reports page. The number of clicks reported on your links are listed under “REST” (in the “Web Services Links” section), which points to the Amazon API that ecto uses to generate links. Obviously, the more visitors your blog has, the higher your click-ratio, so let’s see how you can get more visitors.

Get indexed
The easiest way get some publicity for your blog is to get indexed. There are a few services that track which blogs were recently updated. One such service is blo.gs, which was recently purchased by Yahoo so expect this service to be even better in the nearby future. There are also services that index blogs and track incoming and outgoing links. A prominent blog indexer and search engine is Technorati, which has just upgraded its services significantly and has given its website a thorough makeover.

The first thing to do is to let blo.gs and Technorati know when you have updated your blog. Go to Weblog ▸ Edit Settings… and reveal the “Pings” tab. Click on the “+” button to add a new URL (if there are no addresses listed, ecto automatically inserts a default list). Enter the following URLs:


Next, open a new draft window. In the Options sidebar, make sure that the “Ping” checkbox is checked (to make this setting persistent, click on the “Make Default” button).

You should also tell Technorati that your blog is yours, which requires that you create an account on Technorati. This is free and gives you some extra options. Once signed in, proceed to claim your blog.

One of the best features of Technorati is that it can show you your blog’s so-called cosmos, i.e. who is linking to your blog. It is an excellent barometer for your blog’s visibility and it can also show which blog entries are the most popular.

Use tags
In addition to pinging Technorati so that it indexes your blog, I highly recommend to append tags to your blog entries. Tags are like categories that you use to classify your blog entry, but are wrapped in a specific URL so that services like Technorati can detect them. Once your tags are indexed, people who search for specific tags may be able to find your blog (for example, “ecto”). It not only gives your blog additional exposure, but it also helps to organize the contents of your blog.

Adding tags to your entry is very easy with ecto. Open a new draft window in ecto and click on the “Tags” tab in the Options drawer. There are two ways to add tags: You can do it the conventional way using the “+” button or you can do it the quick way by making the tag list the Active field and just type the desired tag name. ecto tries to match what you typed with tags in the list and if no tag is found it will create a new one. You can use the return key to toggle a tag’s checkbox. Selected tags are automatically appended to your entry once you decide to publish it.

Share and share alike
Tags are not restricted to Technorati only. The online photo-sharing service, Flickr, and the social bookmarking site, del.icio.us, both use tags to organize their contents. Since all these web services use tags, it means that you can link between them. Your “puppy” tag could include Flickr photos, bookmarked URLs and blog entries. Finding information could not be easier thanks to tags.

Of course, ecto also has support for Flickr and del.icio.us. You can insert your del.icio.us bookmarks in a draft or add new bookmarks to del.icio.us using ecto’s URL Assistant, which is accessible via the Edit ▸ Create Link ▸ URL Assistant… menu item (or just press the command-U key combo).

Support for Flickr occurs via another application, 1001. With 1001 you can upload images to Flickr or browse Flickr streams. Blogging about an image on Flickr requires just one click on the “Blog This” toolbar button in 1001 and it will provide ecto with the necessary data to start a new blog entry.

In addition, ecto also lists the tags you have used with del.icio.us and Flickr, so that you can reuse them for your blog entries.

[composed and posted with ecto]

Written on June 21st, 2005 at 07:06 am by Nicole Simon

What do those Alexa rankings mean …

Blogging Tools and Services 14 comments

Have you ever showed off your Alexa rank? Or looked down at someone because their rank was not high enough from your point of view? Unless you really know what those numbers mean, you might want to think again, especially when you plan on acquiring a blog or a web page.

Recently, I have seen more and more bloggers arguing about their Alexa rank, and through that the value of their page. For those of you who don’t know what it is, just visit the site, enter your domain(s) in the search box, and see what you get.

In the case of Darren’s enternetusers.net, we get the following result per today:
Traffic Rank for enternetusers.net 63,821
Reach per million users: 35

Looking at Traffic Rank … the lower the number is, the better. You only get a nice graph if you are below 100 000. The reach per million users gives you an impression, why these numbers are flawed, especially when you look at the enternetusers Feedburner statistic shown at the lower left on this page. Nearly 500 subscribers from Feedburner, but Alexa only says 35?

How can that be?
People tend to forget, that these are estimated numbers. The basic data for their calculation is only a subset of all data available.

What do I mean by that? Let’s have a look at the information page on how different Alexa ranks are calculated. First of all:

Alexa computes traffic rankings by analyzing the Web usage of millions of Alexa Toolbar users.

Which means, visits are only counted, if the user has the toolbar installed. And even worse: The Alexa Toolbar works only with the Internet Explorer browser and only on Windows systems. So of a special part of the Internet users (using Windows, IE and the toolbar), their visited pages are taken to estimate a rank.

The last one is the most important: perhaps installed. The Alexa page only speaks of ‘millions’ of users, but does not go into more detail of how many. So it absolutely depends on your audience if you have a high Alexa ranking or not.

Just to give you a quick glance on some of my stats: I do have an overall non Internet Explorer usage of about 30-40% and at least 20% non Windows users. My main German blog has 5 times daily visitors than my main English blog, but the Alexa rank is much worse.

Here is my guess why: the more you get outside the English speaking world, the lower the installation rate is, because people tend to use only tools in a language they understand.

Okay, so this is absolutely useless?
No, I would not go that far, you just need to be aware of what limitations these rankings have. You can use it to your advantage, if you keep in mind:

  • The figures collected are only collected from a very specific subset of Internet users.
  • They are mainly based in the English speaking world.
  • The more the net grows, the more websites want to be in the top list - but this list does not grow!

If you use these ranks, remember how they are built, only compare similar projects and try to estimate, which influence the target audience has for this ranking.

Of course, a question at the end of the article: How many of you really use this toolbar and how many do you know about using it?

(I know of one, and that is me from time to time, when I switch browsers to test something on IE.)

Written on June 20th, 2005 at 04:06 pm by duncan

List of Blog Networks

Blog Networks, General 8 comments

I’ve just finalised a revised list of blog networks and posted it here at The Blog Herald for those interested, but I thought I might share a few more thoughts on the subject.

Blog networks are growing. I originally wrote the first version of the list on the fly because I’d noticed that there seemed to be more networks emerging lately, and thought it would be an interesting thing to do. I didn’t realise however just quite how many there were, and the amazing diversity available on them.

People talk about the power of blogging but its only (if you’re like me) start seeing numbers that the influence of blogs, even in this case corporate and network blogs, can and are having.

Let me guess a figure: combined traffic for all the blog networks on the list..at least 50-100 million page views per day, if not higher again. If every blog network on this list combined you’d deliver a media company that would potentially have enough long tail influence to be a major, multi-billion dollar company spanning 4 continents, employing hundreds (if not thousands) of people and reaching directly and indirectly to at least half of all internet users on the planet every single day. Hype? look at some of the figures in Alexa for the blogs on WeblogsInc, Gawker and the Ist network for example. Take a look at some of the other networks; Shiny is making big inroads in the UK, some of the non-English speaking blog networks are trailblazers in Europe and making big inroads. And here’s my next prediction: Jason Calacanis is potentially the next Rupert Murdoch of the blogosphere (sure without the famous war correspondent father and without being born in Adelaide but you get the drift…). The blog networks keep getting bigger and bigger and Calacanis is at the top of the pack. I can feel a flame war coming on with this, but none the less as a reader I challenge you with these facts, take out the hype in the blogosphere and look at the figures, blog networks continue to grow, continue to become more and more influential, and as a consequence blogging will change the world as we know it.

Written on June 20th, 2005 at 12:06 pm by JimKukral

Looking For Online Revenue Bloggers - ReveNews

Blog Networks, Business Blogging, Blog News, Writing Content, General 0 comments

ReveNews is a trusted, unbiased source focusing on Internet related industries such as online marketing, SEM, affiliate marketing, retail (e-commerce), analytics, spyware, blogging and much more. ReveNews authors consist of highly respected thinkers, commentators and business people who have real experience and insight. ReveNews readers include industry gurus, top-level executives and CEO’s, plus many of the industry’s top net-repreneurs; all coming together to create a global Internet community to distribute, discuss and analyze the industry at hand.

Interested in writing for us? Applications are being accepted now.

“I was standing in line at an industry show when someone grabbed my arm and introduced themselves saying they read my blog at ReveNews all the time and wanted to ask a question. Turns out it was a senior developer from Google. He couldn’t say enough about the good things he reads on our site. Pretty cool. And a nice contact to have in the future.” – Wayne Porter, ReveNews Blogger

Written on June 20th, 2005 at 04:06 am by Darren Rowse

Blog Fund-raising

Other Income Streams 2 comments

The following post has been kindly submitted by a reader of enternetusers - Bruce Allen. I’ll let him introduce himself - but I asked him to share a little about how he brings an income to his blog Boston Sports Media - you see made a comment on my blog a while back talking about how he raises and income on that blog via fundraising. I thought it’d make an interesting post - so here it is. Thanks Bruce:

My name is Bruce Allen, and I run several different blogs. The biggest one that I have is a niche site located at http://www.bostonsportsmedia.com. On the site, I examine the coverage by the local media of the professional sports teams in the city of Boston. The city is like no other in its passion for its teams and thirst for coverage. Because of this, there is a cut throat media atmosphere in the city, and my site breaks down the coverage, encapsulates all the local papers into one place, and offers commentary and opinion on the coverage. The site has gotten me some attention in the area, as I have made a few TV and radio appearances as a result of it.

I’ve had it up and running for three years now. It’s not really something I can sell products from, so I was stumped as to how I could make money from it. I decided in the end, one of the best ways to make money from the page was to do it the old fashioned way.

I asked for it.

The site provides a niche service that many people take advantage of. Many media types themselves use the site to keep current with all their competition. There’s a lot of research involved in keeping up the site and people are appreciative of it. In the beginning I would get random donations here and there from people, but I decided to make it a concentrated effort. I used to work at a PBS TV station, (Public Television in the US is supported in large part by donations from viewers) so I know a little about running a fund raiser. I decided to use similar principles and run two fund raisers a year for my site. A major one in the fall, and a smaller one in the spring. Two years ago, I had my first organized fall drive, set a goal of $3500 and made it. Last May I set a goal of $1500 and made it. Last November, the goal was $5000, again it was made, and last month in May, I again set a goal of $1500 and reached it.

I’ll set up a special page as a “Drive central” (Here is the most recent example (http://www.bostonsportsmedia.com/funddrive/ ) My point during the drive is to talk about the time and effort I put into the site. (2-3 hours each day) There are also considerable expenses involved in maintaining it. I recently had to double my bandwidth capacity with my hosting company. People are appreciative, and many drop in $10, $25, $50, some even $100. I have them send it via PayPal. Sure, PP skims a little off the top, but for ease of use it can’t be topped. I’ve got the Debit Card from them, and it’s easy to move money into my banking account. People can also donate via Amazon.com, or also have the option of mailing me a check in the snail mail. During the two week drive in the fall, for the last two years I’ve also included prizes as incentives for people to make donations. Everyone who made a donation of $25 or more, was entered into a drawing for several prizes, the most significant of which was a TiVo Series 2 Digital Video Recorder. Other prizes included a couple sports books, and some dining gift certificates. I give updates on the status of the drive, sometimes several times a day, and have a meter that measures how close we are to reaching the goal. I’ll state what the site has accomplished since the last drive, and what the goals are for the future.

There are other ways I make a little money from the site. Google Adsense, Amazon.com Affiliation, Blogads and some banner ads, but it’s nothing compared to the Fund drives I put together. These are the main source of revenue from the web for me. I use the money to pre-pay hosting and design, upgrade equipment and to justify the time I spend working on the site. I’ve been able to pay some debt down with it as well. My ultimate goal is of course to be able to make a full time living off of this site and some others. It would appear that I’m a ways away from that goal, but I’m going to keep working at it. I’ve purchased http://www.bruceallenmedia.com and hope to make that a sort of hub for my blogs as well as a consulting and media resource.

Written on June 20th, 2005 at 01:06 am by Tris Hussey

FeedBurner Stats PRO–It’s a great value and valuable!

General 1 comment

FeedBurner chartIt’s been over a week since I turned FeedBurner’s Stats PRO on for View from the Isle’s feed. The chart at the right shows the data for the post about trying Stats PRO on View from the Isle. So, what do I think? Well, it isn’t perfect, but it is a keeper and worth the $5/mo. Since without it you can’t tell what content is most popular from your feed only gross circulation numbers, this add-on is required. Oh course you don’t really get your maximum value unless you are at the maximum feeds per cost unit. So I’m tracking three feeds for $5, which is better than 1 feed for $5.
There are limitations to this data set. It doesn’t, it can’t, include direct links to your post from other sites. It only tracks that pass through the feed (like Technorati). So you still need your Blogware or TypePad stats as well. Also you’ll notice the steep drop-off in this article’s data. I’ve found this pattern repeated for all my other articles, but if I look at my Blogware stats there is a stronger baseline persistence. This is the direct link gap.
Which brings me to my concluding point. There is a real market here for holistic blog stats. Something that really pulls these two data sets together. Frankly, I think leaders like TypePad and Blogware should be licensing the API and providing this service to their subscribers. I’d really like to only have one place to check stats every day.
FeedBurner Stats PRO. I like it, I’m going to pay for it, but it has room to grow. There needs to be some better connectors to my blog’s data and a little more detail in the link data. Still it is a nice improvement.

Tris Hussey is a professional blogger and blog consultant, the Chief Blogging Officer for Qumana Software, and Managing Director of Qumana Services. He can be reached at tris AT qumana DOT com or tris AT trishussey DOT com.
Powered By Qumana

Written on June 19th, 2005 at 08:06 am by JSLogan

What If No One Answered The Call?

Reader Questions, General 9 comments

Last week I published a post on moving the discussion to conversion. Thinking about that post and associated comments a bit earlier, a related thought crossed my mind – What is no one answered your call to action?

What if no one ever bought, no one ever registered, no one ever clicked? What if all you ever got from your blogging was the satisfaction of knowing an audience of readers thought your blog was interesting – interesting enough to read and comment occasionally, but not interesting enough to heed your call to action.

Would you still post? Why?

Written on June 18th, 2005 at 12:06 pm by flashlight

More thoughts on defining blog (but much more intelligently put!)

Business Blogging, General 4 comments

It seems my “I goofed” post, or rather my attempt to explain the difference between a web site and a blog has got some folks thinking. Taughnee at endeavor creative (do you have any idea how hard it is for a Canadian to spell endeavor? I spell in endeavOUr every time!) has a very interesting, totally relevant story to share. It’s a fun read too.

EDIT: URI is fixed.

Written on June 18th, 2005 at 03:06 am by Chrispian

Blog Saturation? Is it still bleeding edge?

Reader Questions, General 11 comments

At work we do a bit of blogging. My boss still doesn’t really grasp the concept of what a blog is, but now he wants to host blogs for a niche group. The problem is, he doesn’t think anyone knows what a blog is and doesn’t want to use the word “blog” in the title. Perhaps in the tagline.

It seems to me “blog” is reaching saturation. It was the word of the year last year and there are just to many people blogging for people not to know. But the real question I guess is really do they know that the word “blog” is what kind of sites they’ve been seeing a lot of lately. With the popularity of MSN Spaces, Blogger.com, Typepad and others, is the word “blog” that important in letting people know that’s what we are offering?

In the next few weeks we’ll be rolling it out and I was just wondering how important the word “blog” is to the branding of “blog hosting” and describing what it is.

Written on June 17th, 2005 at 04:06 am by Darren Rowse

Blog Tip: Update old posts

Miscellaneous Blog Tips 6 comments

The following blog tip has been submitted by Jon Gales - the editor of the wonderful MobileTracker blog. Learn more about Jon from this interview we did with him earlier in the year.

For sites that deal with products or time sensitive information, it’s a great idea to go back and edit older posts to reflect new information.

For example, you may post when a product is announced and again when it ships. Search engine visitors might come to your first post in droves (perhaps it was linked to quite a bit), even after the product has shipped. Adding a small note that the product is now shipping, along with a link to your newest post is a great way to both increase page views and increase the satisfaction of your visitors.

Real life example - Samsung P207

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