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Zookoda 2.0

Zookoda (the Australian RSS to email system that I use for my newsletter) has been working over the last few weeks on a new version of it’s service which it’s releasing today – Zookoda 2.0. Tech Crunch has the announcement here (although doesn’t really mention any of the new features for some reason).

The official Zookoda site doesn’t have any announcement of the new version on their site yet (that I can see) but the new version will be particularly of interest to blog networks as it allows multiple lists on multiple blogs to be coordinated with different bloggers having access to their own blogs without having access to others (while the network manages can see them all).

Metrics from all lists across a network can be monitored together through a single dashboard.

I’m yet to try Zookoda 2.0 but it’s something that we’ve got access to already at b5media and will get into in the coming weeks (if only there were more hours in a day).

I have however used Zookoda on my own blogs (three of them now) and am very pleased with it’s performance so far.

I’m told that Zookoda 2.0 will be available today at some point and you’ll be able to see full specifications on it on the Zookoda site then.

Update: The launch is now official and has been announced on the Zookoda blog.

Yahoo unveils ‘overhaul’ of online advertising

Yahoo will today announce an overhaul of their online advertising system which will change the way they rank which ads to show says MSNBC:

‘A new ranking formula, to be adopted later this year, will also take into account the “click-through rate” of an advert, along with a number of other secret factors, said Mr Cadogan – an approach that echoes the one followed by Google.’

As the article says, this is similar to what Google has done with AdWords previously. It looks like the changes are just being announced today and the rollout is to happen in the third quarter. It will be interesting to see if YPN publishers see much of a change when the ‘overhaul’ happens.

Source – John Bartelle who has had a run through of the new system.

Keeping your Blog’s Statistics Accurate

Jonic writes a post well worth reading, especially for new bloggers, at Are you skewing your own website stats?:

‘Almost everyone who has their own website loves checking their stats to find out how it’s doing, especially those of us who are in the business of blogging. For some it can be a method of boosting ones ego, for others it can offer the idea to set them up with better performing sites. Nearly everyone who operates a website does it. It becomes something of an addiction, and some people will often check their stats a number of times a day. But are you rendering your own stats useless?’

I know when I first started blogging that my own viewing of my blog definitely skewed my statistics. It probably doesn’t really matter in the scheme of things (and on highly trafficked blogs the skewing would be pretty insignificant) but if you love your stats and want them to be as accurate as possible Jonic’s post might help.

Weekend Blogging Strategy

As a blogger I have a love hate relationship with weekends.

Less Work – On one hand they are great because the number of stories breaking on weekends drop (PR companies tend to make their announcements on weekdays and Journalists seem to favor them too for big stories) which means there is less work to do (meaning I get to relax and go to the football without worrying about missing a scoop).

Less Traffic – Of course on the other hand traffic levels go down on weekends as a result of less people sitting in front of their computers all day (and perhaps as a result of less posting there is less RSS traffic). This lack of traffic generally means a lower income level for the day (although some bloggers report that CTR goes up on weekends as people are in less of a rush and are more likely to explore links on your blog, including ads).

Of course I’m generalizing here (I know of some blogs who have their biggest traffic on weekends – sports blogs tend to do well for example) but in general the above trends are true.

The question that I’m sometimes asked by bloggers is what they should do about the traffic slumps on weekends? Some bloggers even get quite worked up about it and I’ve heard all kinds of strategies and opinions on the topic. Here’s a few that cover the spectrum of approaches to weekends:

  1. Forget about blogging and get a life - the thinking is that if your readers are not coming to your blog that you should go with that pattern and join them. Relax, rejuvenate and enjoy your weekend.
  2. Advance Post - some bloggers write a few extra posts during the week which they save for the weekends and set them to go off throughout it so that their blog is being updated while they relax.
  3. Catchup Time – some bloggers use the weekend to catch up on all the stories that they missed during the week as a result of busyness. They themselves have more time for blogging and use it as an opportunity to clear their news aggregators.
  4. Blog LE (light edition) – some bloggers only post ‘newsy’ or ‘light’ posts on the weekend to keep their blog ticking over. They never post original content as it’s less likely to be read and save any announcement posts or serious posts for weekdays.
  5. Save Biggest stories for the weekend - on the flip side of the Blog LE approach are bloggers who save their biggest stories for the weekend in the hope of keeping their stats up

I personally don’t have a real strategy for the weekends (at different times I’ve probably done some combination of all of the above). I tend to blog less (we do a lot socially on the weekend) and go with the flow. I tend not to post as much and I tend not to post announcements or posts that I think might get a lot of attention on the weekend – but if a story breaks i wouldn’t hold it back until Monday.

Being in Australia the weekend is little odd also as we’re quite a few hours ahead of the rest of the world. Saturday is Friday elsewhere and when we go back to work on a Monday here it’s Sunday for many of you. As a result I tend to hold some posts back until Tuesday.

The other thing that I do on weekends if I find myself with some spare time for blogging is use it to write longer posts or series which I save up for the week ahead. I find that I’m in a different head space on the weekend and sometimes this leads me to be a little more creative than normal.

What’s your weekend blogging strategy?

Yahoo! Publisher Network Responds to Publisher Termination Reports

A few days ago I reported that YPN had had another round of terminating publishers from their network for ‘poor quality traffic’.

Today YPN have responded to the attention that their actions got around the web in a statement on their blog – Maintaining a Quality Network. They write:

“As noted on certain message boards, some publisher accounts have been recently closed. These account closures were based solely on traffic quality issues.

Yahoo! Publisher Network is still an invite-only beta program. As such, we’re constantly refining the procedures and policies that will help maintain a quality network for our publishers and advertisers. And we won’t release the product to the general publishing community until we are able to serve our constituent’s needs well.

This is a learning experience for everyone, one of the main concerns for our 100,000-plus advertisers who participate is the quality of traffic they receive. For advertisers, we need to consider the source of traffic, the site content, click activity, and the overall quality of leads generated for our advertisers.

As publishers you are also concerned with quality – the quality and relevance of the ads you receive and how well they monetize on your sites….”

AdSense ads new referral buttons

New-Adsense-ButtonsInside AdSense have just announced new designs for their referral buttons. There are now heaps of options for publishers to choose from in three of their referral programs (the AdSense, Firefox and AdWords ones).

Most (if not all) of the new buttons are like the ones I’ve included in the picture (left).

I’m not sure if it’s just my screen but to me they look a little… dirty.

They don’t really do it for me for some reason.

Having said that – I’ve never really been that impressed with any of their referral button designs so far and these are probably as good as any that they’ve offered publishers so far.

What do you think of them?

Perhaps we should start a competition to see who could design a better one!

FeedBurner Security Issue

I’m a very big fan of FeedBurner (I’m using a variety of their services on multiple blogs) but fivecentnickel has shared a story today that it’s probably worth sharing as a precaution in a post titled FeedBurner Leaked my Sensitive Personal Information.

Knowing some of the FB team I know that this will be a massive issue to them and that they’ll be working frantically behind the scenes to make sure it doesn’t happen again (they have one of the most responsive customer service systems I’ve seen in a company) – but if you’re signing up for their ad network you might want to check to see if they’ve fixed this issue first.

Hopefully it was just an isolated instance – I’m yet to have anyone’s details sent to me!

Thanks to Blaine for the email tip

Changing domain names

Paul Allen has written a post that is well worth the read if you’re looking at moving your blog to a new domain (always a scary thing to do).

Unfortunately Paul learnt a lesson the hard way but is generous enough to share his story so that others might learn from his experience.

10 Reasons Why Many Blogs Don’t Make Much Money

Chris Garrett writes a good post on Can Anyone Make Money From Blogging? and says that the answer to the question is ‘yes’ – but then qualifies his answer with a number of factors.

My own answer to the question would be very similar.

I would also say that it is possible for anyone to make money from a blog (I’ve seen people from many countries, of most ages – from children to elderly people – male and female, able bodied to people with a variety of physical hardships and people of different education and social levels make a go of blogging for an income). It is possible but the reality is that most who try don’t make a lot of money.

The reasons for this include the list that Chris comes up with and more. The reasons why many who try don’t make much money blogging are many but here’s 10 reasons that come to mind:

  1. Not enough time – as Chris writes, it is hard work and takes time on an ongoing (daily ideally) basis
  2. Giving Up too quickly – most successful blogs don’t hit their strides til they are at least 12 months old
  3. Non commercial Topic – some topics are easier than others to find significant income streams for
  4. Lack of writing skills - like it or not, blogging is a written form and unless you are able to write you’ll almost always struggle
  5. Breaking the Rules - some bloggers get greedy and break the rules, either of the ad programs they use or the unwritten rules of blogging
  6. Distractions for the core functions of a blog – many get caught up in one of the many distractions that challenge bloggers and forget to concentrate on their actual writing of quality content
  7. Unluckiness – sometimes a blog’s success hinges on a lucky moment – miss it or fail to take the opportunities that come and you might miss significant rewards
  8. Taking Readers for Granted – I’ve seen a couple of blogs over the last year or so that fell over because the blogger became so self important that they forgot that a blog rises and falls upon whether it’s readers find the blog useful to them.
  9. Spreading self too thinly – many bloggers have the gift of being visionaries (a good thing) but fail to have the gift of realism. The result is that many start things that they have no way of seeing through or spread themselves across too many projects too quickly (to the detriment of all of them).
  10. Lack of Focus – hyperactive bloggers who flit from one unfinished project or idea to another without seeing anything through tend to fail to build sustainable blogs

Even as I wrote this list I realized that some of the above factors (and others that continue to come to mind even now) are within the blogger’s grasp and some are not. Like any business there are both internal and external threats and risks – blogging for money is no different.

Chris sums it up well with the last paragraph in his post:

“Anyone could make money from blogging but only a percentage of people actually go all the way and succeed. Critical to success is having staying power, not being defeated by minor setbacks, being willing to put yourself out there and put in the hard work. If you stick to it and can do all those things then yes, I am sure anyone can do it.”

I hope you found the list helpful – it might be worth bookmarking it an coming back to periodically to run through as a bit of a filter for one’s blogging efforts.