Blogging and the cost of content – A paper by Trevor Cook

Trevor Cook has just had his paper for the upcoming Blogtalk Downunder conference published on the conference website. I’ve only just started to read and digest it (I’m generally not too goo at reading long papers at this time of the day (I’m better at siestas to be honest) but what I’ve read so far is well worth the read. It’s titled Up Against Reality: Blogging and the cost of content and it covers themes of bloggers as journalists, corporate blogging and blogging and advertising – all themes that ProBloggers need to get their heads around.

Reading his paper makes me want to go to Blogtalk Downunder even more – I’m just not sure I can afford the accumulation of conference fees, airfares and hotel costs all on top of a brand new mortgage – cash flow isn’t great.

Are any of my fellow Australian bloggers out there going? Help me decide if I should head up to Sydney for it.

Backpack from 37 Signals

37 Signals is launching their latest project – Backpack on Tuesday. Whilst the main site doesn’t seem to have gone live yet a number of previews of this new program have been written which you should check out. I been given a bit of an inside look at it by three readers of ProBlogger in the past 24 hours and I must say that I’m really impressed by it and am looking forward to trying it out for myself.

In short Backpack is a web based way of organizing your information that lets you organize it as you like. It lets you keep some private and allows you to share other bits of it. You can access it via email or via the web. It has blog-like characteristics but also reminds me of a wiki – dynamic stuff, yet simple.

I won’t explain it as well the people behind it so check out this Backpack Preview for the inside word. As I say – I don’t yet have my own Backpack but from what I’ve snuck a look at through others free tries it looks pretty nice.

Also check out business logs mini preview of BackPack.

Update: Backpack is now live.

The Power of the Passive Link

Eric Ward at Search Engine Guide writes about the power of the passive inbound link. In short – a passive link is a link you don’t buy, ask for or trade links for. His premise is that passive links are a more powerful type of link than others – especially reciprocal ones. Search Engines treat such links as a vote for the authority of your site.

This is one of the strengths of blogging – write something original, clever, witty, powerful, touching, insightful, controversial (linkable) and the links tend to come in. Whilst you can spend all your time emailing people and asking for links with the offer of linking to others, the best strategy for getting passive links is simply to run a quality blog.

If you want an example of this principle currently in progress check out what happens when you land a big story – like the Engadget interview with Bill Gates today. I must have seen at least 15 links to it in the past hour and technorati reveals more.

Adsense – Not for Everyone

Stephen Baker from the new Blogspotting blog has an example of why some blogs are probably not suitable for using contextual ads on them. He refers to a religious blog that he saw an ad for ‘sexy black singles’. Not that there is anything wrong with sexy black singles being advertised on a religious blog…. But perhaps not the most relevant of ads.

Fastclick Launch Text Ads

An email was just sent out to Fastclick Publishers announcing that their new Text Ad program has just gone live.

We have exciting news to announce – we launched our new Text Ads ad format today! Text Ads are the perfect supplement to your current display advertising, using unobtrusive text with customizable formatting to fit your site-specific needs and generate additional revenue.

This is different to Google’s Adsense due to ads not being contextual in nature. This should mean that both ads can be shown on the same page as long as the Fastclick ads do not look too similar to Adsense ones (I guess this is open for interpretation – but I’d advice being careful).

Get more details on what this new program involves at their official press release.

Google Adsense Local Currency Payments are Here

Just went down to my PO Box – and my first local currency cheque arrived from Google. Very exciting. Normally when I get a cheque from Google it takes another 6 WEEKS to get it cleared. Today when I go to the bank it should be a few days at the most before the money hits my account.

It comes at a good time – we settle on our new house this week!

Content Blogs versus Syndicate Blogs?

Scrivs takes a look at whether its best to write an original content blog or a syndicated (linking to others articles) blog. It is a good question that is well worth thinking through for each of your blogs.

My advice is similar to Paul’s – for me it comes down to a number of factors which will vary from blog to blog. These factors include:

  • Time – it takes more time to write original content than to syndicate others content. I’m not saying syndication is ‘easy’ – it does take time to find quality articles to link to – but I find once you’re in a rhythm you can do it reasonably quickly.
  • Inbound Links – if you want to get a lot of people linking to your blog you might want to consider some original content. You might get a few links by doing syndication but they’ll usually be scattered ‘hat tip’ type links of people acknowledging you as a source of their own syndication rather than a link that will bring you traffic.
  • Quantity – if you’re wanting to get a lot of content up quickly then syndication is probably your best option as its easier to post larger numbers of posts if you’re not having to come up with all the ideas yourself and then write them up.
  • Community – as Scrivs writes in his post – content sites tend to build more community than syndication sites. This is the case in most of my blogs – however there are always exceptions. For example the Michael Jackson Trial Blog gets a lot more comments than most of my other blogs – yet the content is largely syndicated.
  • Writing and Creative Skills – are you able to write well? Some of us are better at writing than others and may be more suited to a content blog. Whilst writing skills are still important with syndication sites however when you’re translating original thought into content the they especially come into play.

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Blogging as Farming – How to Grow a Bumper Blogging Crop

On the weekend I was speaking with a friend, Alex, who is a Farmer about blogging and the more we talked the more we realized that there is a lot of similarities between what we do. I thought I’d rehash some of the main points from our conversation here:

Taking Time – One of the most frustrating parts of farming for Alex is the length of time it takes from the time of sowing to that of harvest. From the day he plants a crop to the day its safely on the way to be sold can be a nerve wracking period of months. There is a lot of hard work and money that goes into the initial time of planting and no income until quite a long period later (and sometimes not even then).

Blogging takes time also. Building up a blog to the point where it earns a good income can take months, if not years. No one starts a profitable blog and makes a fortune straight away – you have to build up archives, build up a reputation in your niche, build up your ranking in Search Engines, build up relationships with other bloggers – these things take time. I worked for 18 months on my blogs outside of my normal jobs before I was able to pull enough income from them to justify going full time.

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Blog Networks and Blog Ownership

I’ve been following on with interest and fascination at John Battelle’s emerging FMPublishing project. John is attempting to build a publishing company that focusses upon high quality content (nothing too different so far) that attempts to keep the ownership of that content in the hands of the authors writing for it. It is a very hands off approach that I quite like.

One of the balancing acts that I’m seeing many blog networks grappling with is over this question of ownership and equity of the blog. Most people can see the benefit of a publishing network – but there is no obvious, tried and tested model at this stage that presents a win win situation for both publisher and author/editor.

Many of the issues I’m seeing authors and network owners struggling with revolve around ownership.

Who owns the blog, which party holds copyright, who has rights to take the content?

Some of the newer blog networks (like 9 Rules and Creative Weblogging) are offering authors ownership of their content and allow them to take what they write with them at the end of any relationship. The bigger networks like Weblogs Inc and Gawker do not – instead treating readers more like employees. Weblog Empire is walking a middle ground and has been talking of shared ownership where both parties take the content away from any relationship.

This is a tricky issue – whoever retains ownership holds considerable power in any relationship. If the publisher owns the blog then they are able to sell it at any point – if the author owns it they are able to walk away from the relationship without warning , taking an income stream away from the network.

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