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Feedburner Updates Free Stats Package

Feedburner has announced a couple of updates to what they are offering in their free stats package including ‘Live Hits’ (the ability to see the last 25 hits via your feed (how long the 25 hits were over and what agent they used to read your feed) and ‘Yesterdays News’ (the ability to track your subscribers on different platforms historically).

Full details on the updates at their blog – FeedBurner Gets a Memory – Quick Stats Update

How to Recruit Bloggers

Chris has written a really useful post at Performancing on Recruiting Blogging Partners to write on your blogs. His tips are well thought out and very practical from someone who has some experience. I particularly like this:

“I have found the best place to look for long-haul bloggers are blogs. People who have maintained a decent blog for a length of time have proved they have that special something.”

I’m quite often approached by people looking for bloggers for different projects and my advice is usually twofold:

1. Look at your blog’s readership – if you’re recruiting a blogger for an established blog the person you’re looking for might be right under your nose commenting in your comments section or lurking in your RSS feed. The beauty of taking on someone like this is that they obviously have an interest in your topic and that they have some level of familiarity with your blog and it’s style. I’d write a post asking if anyone is interested and see what response you get.

2. Look at other blogs - if you can’t find a suitable internal applicant it might be worth looking at other blogs and their bloggers. It might be that there are other blogs on similar topics that have bloggers that might like to take on an extra project. The good thing about this type of recruit is that they not only have an interest in the topic but they also have a demonstrated ability to not only write on it but hopefully to stick to the job of blogging over the longer term (check their archives to see how long they’ve blogged and how good they are at it.

Chris goes on in his post to talk further about the process – well worth the read.

Alternablog: Videocast

This post has been submitted by regular contributor – Aaron Brazell

The past few weeks, I’ve been running a mini-series about different kinds of blogging. The first entry in the series was about moblogging and the use of mobile technology to update and post to a blog. Last week, we talked about a topic that is a bit more known and understood – Podcasting. The last kind of alternablog I’d like to tackle is the videocast.

Darren recently has experimented with the videocast as an alternate form of blogging and I’ve been running weekly videocasts in a “school” of sorts on American NFL football over at Squib Kick. I’ve only been doing the videocasts for a few weeks so I can’t report on the overall net effect on traffic, revenue etc., but I digress.
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AdSense changes default Ads to Borderless Ads

AdSense have emailed publishers today telling them that they’ve changed their default ad design to be a borderless ones. Their email reads:

“We’re writing to let you know about a coming change to the appearance of your Google ads. Your ads currently display the default Google color palette, Seaside (formerly known as Mother Earth). In the near future, we plan to update the default palette to Open Air, a new palette containing the same set of colors, but without the blue border. We’ve found that many publishers prefer the cleaner look of this palette and have also seen that a blended color palette performs better for them — attracting user interest while still maintaining the distinction between ads and content with the ‘Ads by Google’ label.

Please note that this change will only affect your ad units where your ad code does not specify colors. For all other units, your color selections will be retained.”

They then went on to outline the steps of logging into AdSense palettes to make the changes.

I’ve not considered this before but now that they mention it I’m surprised they didn’t do this earlier.

Idol Blogger Crashes Server and Teaches us a Lesson about Hosting

I just came across a story that makes me quite angry but also has an important lesson in it for bloggers on shared servers. It concerns the story of idolbloglive.com – a blog about Amercian Idol.

As you’d expect with a blog on the topic of American Idol it’s a blog that has had a bit of traffic in the last week or so (the grand final is tomorrow).

Unfortunately for it’s owner (djslim) his hosting provider suspended his account saying that he had crashed their server and is virtually holding his content ransom. He writes, “The only way to come back online or to retrieve the files is to upgrade my account which costs $110.00 a month.”

From what I can discern having spoken with one of djslim’s associates – the server apparently ‘crashed’ when it peaked at about 3500 page views in an hour from about 500 visitors (see graph below). I’m not sure what server from a professional hosting company crashes with a load of 500 visitors but thats what the host reported.

At that point the host (Surpass Hosting) of the site switched the hosting off without any warning and is refusing to allow access even to retrieve files. Obviously this blog had ‘surpassed’ what it’s host would allow (sorry – couldn’t resist).

I get angry when I hear of hosts switching off account without warning and holding content ransom in this way.

Having said that this is a good warning for bloggers to check into their hosts before signing up both to read their contract see what the limits are in terms of bandwidth but also what the host does when those limits are reached. It’s also a pretty good argument for dedicated hosting instead of shared hosting and for backing up your files along the way.

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Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers – Reader Submissions – Part 1

200605231206Thanks to the many bloggers who have been responding to my group writing project on the topic of ‘habits of highly effective bloggers’.

I’ve created a central page for linking to all of the submissions from readers here and started the list off with the submissions below. It’s not too late to join in – I’d love to get your reflections on the topic whether as a longer list type post or a shorter single ‘habit’ post. Just follow the instructions outlined here and get your submission in by Friday.

Here are the submissions so far:

Thanks to all who are participating – there is some good ideas in the above mix of posts.

If you’ve written a post on the topic and it’s not here yet please make sure you email me with a notification of where it is and I’ll add it in the next batch.

AdSense tell Publishers about Video Ads

The official AdSense blog has just put up a post announcing the Introduction of video ads to publishers (they announced it to advertisers yesterday – why they don’t do simultaneous announcements I’m unsure).

They clarify a few points (most of which we’d guessed to be true):

“Video ads will compete in the same auction as text and image ads for placement on your site, and as we’ve mentioned before, increased competition in the ad auction means increased revenue potential for you. Video ads open your site up to a whole new type of advertising that is engaging and highly relevant for your users.”

They go on to write that there are no ways to make these ads appear but that you can increase your chances by opting into image ads and using one of the rectangle formats (300×250, 336×280, or 250×250) which are the only ones that video will show on.

I am disappointed that there is no apparent way to opt out of video ads without also opting out of image ads. While in many ways they are similar in appearance (remember the videos don’t play until your reader clicks them) I think the video ads will be more distracting and disruptive to a site than a static image ad and as a result they won’t suit all sites.

Cooking Up a Storm Over Blog Copyright

I’ve just stumbled across and interesting discussion on a cooking blog that seems to have overstepped the mark when it comes to using another cooking blog’s content.

Head over the Culinary Arts Simple Shepards Pie recipe and then to Simple Recipes Easy Shepherd’s Pie recipe.

The Culinary Arts version gives a credit link to the Simple Recipes page as it’s source but the writer of the original post (Elise) takes exception with the way in which the post has been reproduced. Elise doesn’t seen to mind that the recipe has been reproduced but takes exception to the introductory passage being virtually identical and the use of her original photos all being used.

I’m interested in the conflict that is happening in the comments of Culinary Arts because it’s an example of a conflict that I’m seeing happen more and more as bloggers clash over different standards of what is and isn’t acceptable with using the content of others.

From what I know of copyright around recipes – recipes themselves are not copyrightable but unique descriptions or highly personalized instructions are projectable – as are photos.

My own approach to using other people’s content (whether recipes or any kind) is that to simply cut and paste (even if you change a couple of words) a full post including images into your blog then you’re probably overstepping what might be considered to be fair use – particularly when your blog contains advertising and is obviously a commercial venture (to some degree). The exception to this in my mind is when you have permission to do so from the author or copyright holder.

I don’t have issue with using quote from other sites as long as they are not full articles. I generally would stick to a paragraph or two (unless the article I was quoting was a very long one), make it obvious which bits are mind and which bits are the quotes (using blockquotes, quotation marks etc).

My other practice is that if I’m asked by another site to remove content (whether I think I should or not) I always try to come to some agreement with that person. This might ultimately mean the removal of content (I’ve only once been asked to remove content – a quote that an author didn’t want reproduced) or a revision of the use of that content. Perhaps this is not a legal thing but to me it comes out of my own ethical standards (not something I’d push on anyone).

I’m interested in the thoughts of others on this. Obviously the example I’ve used has gotten people’s blood boiling a little looking at the comment thread – I don’t think we need to add to the conflict but lets see it as an example and lets talk about the issues at hand.

A Guide to writing good email…. and blog posts?

There’s a nice post over at blue flavor on how to write good email – an author’s guide which as someone who gets a lot of email I wish everyone would read. It’s got some great common sense tips.

I wonder if there are a few good tips for bloggers writing blog posts buried away within it also? Here’s a few that I’ve tweaked to see if they might apply:

On Brevity

“Short emails blog posts rule. When I get come across an email a blog post that’s several pages long, I have to make some decisions: do I have time to handle this now? Is it important enough to come back to? Can I pass it on to someone else? If I can’t say yes to any of these, I will probably never get back to read it.”

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