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Online Feed Readers Compared

Feedreaders-ComparedFrank Gruber has written a great review over at TechCrunch Comparing 9 Online Feed Readers. He concludes – ‘If you are looking purely for performance, Google Reader and FeedLounge are the fastest in our tests. Bloglines and Rojo are the best choice if you are looking for a feature rich application (and Rojo blows Bloglines away on “web 2.0″ type features. None, however, yet approach the speed and agility of the best desktop based readers like NetNewsWire and FeedDemon.’

Web 2.0 Spam

It seems spammers are getting a little web 2.0 in their design.

The last few days I’ve had the one below quite a few times. Large fonts, rounded corners, shiny icons…. Almost (not quite) looks like something from a collection of Web 2.0 logos.

Spam-Web-2.0

Writing Blog Post Headlines That Get Results

Copyblogger has a very useful post on Writing Headlines That Get Results that is well worth the read if you’re like most bloggers and spend a lot of time writing posts and then just slap a title on it.

‘According to some of the best copywriters of all time, you should spend half of the entire time it takes to write a piece of persuasive content on the headline. So if you have a blog post that is really important to you or your business, one that you really want people to read, you should downright obsess over your post title….’

WordPress Widgets

Earlier today Six Apart announced Widgets for TypePad and today Automattic announced WordPress Widgets.

They are a plugin for WP 2.0 (if you have a widget ready theme) which was previously just available on WordPress.com but now is ready to be used by WP.org bloggers.

Via LifeHacker

TypePad introduce Widgets

Six Apart has just announced that they’ve added a new feature to TypePad – ‘Widgets’. I’ll let them explain:

What’s a Widget, you ask? It could be a list of your most recent photos, or a topic-oriented search box, or a stats counter, or ads that help you make money, or a badge to help your users subscribe to your feed, or even a Flash game or a chat window. We call it “bling for your blog.” We’re launching with dozens of widgets from more than 30 partners, and more are on the way. Here are just a few of the things you can do with TypePad Widgets:

  • Add your Technorati profile to your blog
  • Share a custom search roll with Rollyo
  • Publicize your FeedBurner feed
  • Let your readers find their next job from Jobster, Indeed and Simply Hired
  • Highlight your favorite lens from Squidoo to your blog
  • Let your readers subscribe to your blog via email, thanks to FeedBlitz

Commerce Widgets - Among the 30 widgets released are a number of ‘commerce’ ones including CafePress TopicAds (make 20% commission on referrals on some sort of automated and relevant ads – you might want to check if AdSense allows this if you are running it on the same blog as them as it sound contextual), PostApp (an ebay widget – it doesn’t say if it’s an affiliate program or not), Fatlens (promote your favorite band or sport’s upcoming events – not sure how this is ‘commerce’), Tumri (a shopping widget – seems affiliate based) and Zazzle (a way to sell your own designs on different products – eg T-Shirts).

I don’t have a TypePad blog so can’t really comment on how it works but after an initial look at it I’d say it’s a good idea but that the ‘commerce’ ones don’t seem to be explained that clearly in terms of what the ‘commercial’ aspect of it is (ie some of them are not clear in terms of if they are affiliate programs or ad programs etc).

If you’re a TypePad user – feel free to leave your experience of Widgets in comments below.

Amazon Change Referral Rates – Consumer Electronics Publishers Hit Hardest

Amazon Affiliate program members have received an email today announcing the new referral fee rates for the second quarter of 2006. There are a few significant changes.

The first is a ‘simplified’ structure for link premiums. As you’ll see from the following image the commission earned has increased in each number of items shipped except for 1-20 items when it goes down by 1%.

Q2 06 Us Chart 2

This covers all products EXCEPT consumer electronics which will now earn a flat 4% fee regardless of units volume.

It also means the loss of the ‘direct link premium’ which was confusing but it was also quite lucrative for some publishers who now how to use it. This means that instead of getting 7.5% commission on CE products if you use direct links to specific products you’ll be getting 4% – quite a hit!

This is disappointing for me as someone who makes most of his money in the Amazon program by referring business to Amazon in the form of gadgets. I understand that the margin on electronics is not high but this will lead to significant downturns in income for some publishers.

I’m not sure that this is really a good move from Amazon – while the percentages are very small they do have an impact, especially when you’re selling products that are worth thousands of dollars. For example I had one sale today that earned me $30 (it was at 7.5% commission from a direct link premium) – if the same sale went through in a few days time it would be almost halved.

My own Amazon earnings are not massive (I stand to loose an estimated $400+ a quarter) but I do know some CE publishers who look carefully at these tiers and work very hard to climb them and I can imagine the feedback Amazon will get as a result of this announcement as a result of their income being slashed.

Update – the Amazon publisher discussion boards are going crazy. The main compaints:

  • Not enough notice – on the second last day of the quarter they tell of the changes
  • No acknowledgement that the changes will impact some people hard – the email notification presents it as if it was the publishers who asked for the changes. They may have asked for a simpler structure but no one asked for a cut on earnings of up to 50%.
  • The only people who seem to benefit from this are those who send untargetted traffic to Amazon. The ones who go to the effort of directly linking to specific products will lose out.
  • Amazon has previously promised no more major changes to their commission structure.
  • Other CE affiliates offer 5% with 30 day cookies – Amazon is now down to 4% with 1 day cookies – many are suggesting other alternatives and are talking about moving on from Amazon.

To say that there is real anger among Amazon publishers would be an understatement and there are lots of people calling for people to let Amazon know what they think of the changes.

Contact Details:

Amazon Associates: 701-787-9740 (US number)
Email: [email protected]

Movable Type Style Generator

Movable-Type-StyleBlog Herald just pointed to a way to get a simple template for your Movable Type blog at Movable Type Style Generator. You start the process by choosing a layout and then have the ability to adapt it by changing colors.

The layout is pretty simple and not amazing in terms of style but it will be useful for beginner bloggers who want a quick and easy way to get a blog up that doesn’t have a default style.

Simplify your Blog Design for Mobile Viewing

Regular ProBlogger reader – IO ERROR – has written a post titled Give your blog design a spring cleaning which might trigger some interesting discussion. He does so after designing a theme for his blog that can be read on a smart phone or other mobile device and realizing just how poorly designed many blogs are when viewed in this way.

RSS vs. Atom: What’s the Big Deal?

Aaron Brazell is the author of Technosailor.com and is a regular guest blogger at ProBlogger.

Last month, I wrote an article here at ProBlogger in The Blogging for Beginners series introducing the concept of feeds. The article was Kick Your RSS: Jumping on the Syndication Bandwagon and it was received extremely well.

Today I want to take the discussion of syndication a step farther and look at the two main types of feeds used in blogging today – Atom and RSS. I say two, but that’s really a misnomer. Mark Pilgrim counted 9 different flavors of RSS and there are 2 different variants on the Atom specification. Specifically, we’ll look at Atom 1.0 and RSS 2.0.

Really, there is much to say about the various formats.  I can pass along what I’ve learned myself, though I’ll never hold myself up as an expert on them..  There are certainly people more qualified to deal with feeds.  What I can say about feeds though is that they are mutually important to providing a third dimension to a blog and the differences between the two are mainly semantic and not critical differences – unless you’re Dave Winer, of course.

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