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How to Run a Blog Competition to Find New Readers and Make Your Blog Sticky

One technique that an increasing number of bloggers have been using over the last year to create a buzz on their blogs is to use competitions.

In this post I’ll share 9 tips for running a successful competition on your blog – but first why would you want to run one?

Two benefits of Running Competitions on Your Blog

  1. New Readers – competitions are potentially good for drawing new readers to your blog if you have a way to get the message out.
  2. Reader Stickiness – those readers who are already regulars on your blog can become more loyal, more engaged and/or feel more ownership over your blog after a competition.

My own experience with competitions is that both can be achieved – if you design your competition properly. I’ve been running one over at DPS that attempts to get new members of my forum and to get readers submitting reviews (content) to the forums.

It’s been going OK – but I’ve learnt a few things in doing it that I’ll do differently next time.

Here are 9 tips that come to mind on running a good competition (looking forward to reading your suggestions too):

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MyBlogLog Release Anti-Spam Plan

Eric from MyBlogLog has written a post on their blog explaining some of the problems that they’ve been facing on the spam front over the last little while and outlining some of the things that they’ve done (and are going to do) about it. I won’t rehash it all here -but for the fill post head over to The MyBlogLog Blog: Weekend spamtacular — what the heck happened and how we’re fixing it.

I’m particularly happy about #3:

3) We will include the text of the comment and associated controls (delete,reply, etc) in the alert email. You won’t have to go to MyBlogLog to manage comments on your profile or community page any more.

That’s something I suggested (I’m sure others did too) and it’ll save me considerable time.

Are .com and .net domains best?

Today I got a reader question that I thought might make an interesting discussion topic.

I am starting a new blog, and the hardest part so far has been naming it. The domain I like is only available in the .ca format. What is your opinion on using anything other than a .com or a .net? and do you think it will affect blog brand-ability?

I know there are different schools of thought on this question so it should make for an interesting discussion. I won’t sidetrack the discussion with my own opinion at this point but would like to open the floor for some reader comment. What do you think?

  • Are .com and .net best?
  • When is it OK to not go with them?
  • What factors do you consider when picking a domain name?
  • What’s more important – SEO or branding – for you?

update: With permission I can now say that this question came from Michael.

MyBlogLog – Is it Adding Value?

Mybloglog-ProbloggerProBlogger’s MyBlogLog community has continued to grow in number over the last couple of weeks since I added it to my sidebar however the last few days have given me numerous reasons to wonder if I continue with it.

Community Message Spam – I am increasingly spending time deleting spammy comments left on the community from members. While I’m not overly concerned by the ‘check out my community/site/blog’ comments (although leaving a comment like that’s not really incentive for anyone to check out your community/site/blog in my experience) over the last few days I’ve had an increasing amount of ‘harder edged’ spam on my community – particularly linking to porn and drug sites.

The result is that I’m spending more and more time each day removing spam (something I have enough of with my email and blog comment spam).

I’ve suggested to MBL that they give community owners a higher level of moderation. Perhaps one way would be to not only send an email every time a comment is left with a link to the comment – but to include what the comment is as well as a link within the email to delete it (similarly to how WordPress does with comments).

Author Spam – Last night I received numerous invitations from other communities to join them as an author – despite the fact that I’ve never heard of the blogs (let alone the fact that I’ve not written on them). The communities in question listed hundreds of authors. Today a number of other bloggers posted that they’d been added as authors on blogs that they didn’t write on including ShoeMoney, John Chow, Danny Sullivan and Web Metrics Guru. Reading the comments on these blogs shows that many others were spammed this way also. (The Jason Calacanis community also looks like a victim of this as he seems to have been made an ‘author’ of an SEO community).

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10 Mistakes that Will KILL a Forum…. or Blog

I love learning things from people in other arenas and applying them to blogging so today when I saw SEOrefugee has a post titled 10 Mistakes that Will KILL a Forum I immediately wondered whether the 10 mistakes might also apply to blogging. Lets see:

1. Excessive Ads

I’d completely agree. While different blogs can get away with different levels of advertising (and I’d argue affiliate programs) there comes a point where the number of ads on a site can turn readers away. I would also argue that ads that are aggressively positioned on a blog can turn readers away also. If when a reader arrives on your blog and no content at all is visible you might want to consider the possibility that readers will leave frustrated.

2. Cliques

I think that a cliquey blog can be just an uninviting a place as a cliquey forum and that it can happen on two levels. Firstly the blogger themselves can be very cliquey in only linking out to a certain few other privileged bloggers (something A-list bloggers – whatever they are – are often accused of). Secondly the comments sections of blogs can be a cliquey place also with those commenting using in jokes, jargon and/or being snarky to new readers. While some successful blogs get away with cliquey behavior (and a few actually seem to thrive on it) the average blog trying to find it’s feet can suffer a lot as a result of it.

3. Trolls

This one applies with blogs and it’s something that I’ve seen frustrate a number of bloggers to the point where they’ve actually thrown in the towel and have given up blogging. Likewise trolls can frustrate readers and cause a lot of flaming between a blog’s community to the point where they almost take over.
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SOBCon 07 – 12 May

Sobcon ButtonTwo days ago I had a nice little surprise when I opened my inbox. I got a sneak peak at a blogging conference that is running for the first time later this year. Interestingly enough its being run by and featuring a group of bloggers that I know well and respect (although they’re all obviously good at keeping secrets).

The conference is SOBCon 07 and it is on in Chicago on 12 May (with a cocktail party the night before). The cost is $350 USD if you book before April 1.

The conference schedule and speaker list looks like a lot of fun – I just wish I were in the area in May.

Monetize Your Blog through Text Messages – TextMarks

TextmarksAn interesting new monetization strategy for bloggers is emerging today – letting readers subscribe to your blog via Text Messages.

TextMarks has launched this new service which allows bloggers to either charge $4.99 or $9.99 per month to their readers to get these instantaneous alerts.

It’s currently only available to US cell phone users on Cingular, Verizon, Sprint or Alltel.

I’m not sure it’d work for the majority of blogs as an income stream – but for those who break news that people must know – then it could be a worthwhile monetization stream to look into.

How much do bloggers make from TextMarks subscriptions? From reading the Terms of Use it seems that publishers only make 30% of the subscription (while I know they’d have costs and the carriers take their cut it seems a little low for my liking – as a content provider I’d be hoping to make as much out of it as the carriers themselves (who can make as much as 50% by the looks of things).

Some questions for readers:

  • Would you pay for this type of service?
  • What type of blogs/sites would you pay for this type of service on?
  • Do you think your readers would pay for it?

Via TechCrunch

Anothr – RSS Bot for Skype

AnothrOver the last day or two I’ve been testing a tool that bloggers wanting to stay right on top of the news breaking in their niche might find very useful. It’s called Anothr and it’s an RSS bot for Skype users.

How does it work? – its pretty simple really. You add Anothr as a buddy on your Skype account, you subscribe over at the Anothr site with the feed you want updates on (lets use the random example of… hmmm…. ProBlogger’s feed). Add some tags and you’re done. When the feed you’ve subscribed to updates you’ll get a quick skype message delivered to you via skype.

Why would you want to use it? – While news aggregators are wonderful at helping you keep on top of the breaking stories around the blogosphere they only really work as fast as you check them (unless you have some sort of notification tool). If you’re like me, skype is a logical tool to use as a notification tool because I’m on it all day (more than I’m looking at my news aggregator).

I don’t use it with every feed that I’m subscribing to (it would be pinging you all day everyday) – however with those key blogs and sites that it’s really advantageous to be right on top of (as they break key news) this is well worth using.

There’s a few other cool features (you can subscribe to new feeds via skype, share your subscriptions (or keep them private), promote your blog on Another with widgets (see mine below).

Subscribe by Anothr

Like I say – this is a tool for those of you looking to really stay on top of the news on a particular niche. If it’s crucial that you know when a feed’s published – this is a tool to check out.

Introducing Mrs. WordPress

Time for a little weekend diversion….

Anyone who has started a WordPress blog will probably be familiar with Mr WordPress. He’s the guy who makes your first comment by default so that you know what a comment is.

Very considerate of him really.

His comment looks like this:

Wpcomment1

Today I discovered Mr WordPress has a secret….

He has a wife – Mrs. WordPress – and she’s started a blog. Not only that, but he has a child -Junior WordPress (pictured below the fold).

Her blog is an attempt to find Mr WordPress who walked out on them. Someone has too much time on their hands – and a great sense of humor.

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