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Google Reader Reveal Subscriber Numbers to Feeds

Google Reader have just started showing how many readers are subscribing to an RSS feed in a similar way to the way that Bloglines have been showing subscriber numbers for years now.

The subscriber numbers can be seen simply by doing a search for a blog’s name after clicking the ‘Add Subscription’ link once you’ve logged into your Google Reader account.

Keep in mind that the numbers are not total subscriber numbers – just those subscribing via Google Reader (some are saying it could include other Google RSS subscribing services like iGoogle).

Google-Reader-Subscriber-Numbers

via Daily Blog Tips.

Get Something Off Your Chest

Get-Something-Off-Your-ChestIt’s time to ‘get something off your chest’ about blogging.

I listen to a sports radio station here in Melbourne and every Wednesday morning while I’m dropping my son off to his Grandma’s house for the day a segment comes on called ‘get something off your chest’. In the segment listeners are asked to call in to share something that they’re frustrated about, something that they dislike etc. They get about 30 seconds each to say their piece.

It’s a great segment for a number of reasons.

  • Firstly it’s fun to listen to people rant.
  • Secondly it causes some interesting debate.
  • Thirdly it leads to solutions to problems (quite often questions are asked, confusion is clarified or problems are solved).

Every time I hear this segment I wonder how it would go to do it here at ProBlogger on the topic of Blogging.

So lets give it a go.

Here are the ‘rules’:

  • Tell us something that you’ve been wanting to get off your chest about blogging.
  • It could be a frustration, a problem you have, a concern you’ve been keeping to yourself – really anything that you want – just try to keep it to the theme of blogging.
  • Attempt to keep it to 150 words of so maximum (I’m not going to police this – but it’d help us all to digest everyone’s comments if they were shorter than longer).
  • No personal attacks please – while I don’t mind if you critique things or even others – try to keep things civil and don’t get too personal in bringing others down.

Hopefully this won’t be too negative (crossing my fingers) but can actually be a constructive experience and lead to us learning something about the medium of blogging.

PS: in a sense this is similar to my previous What’s Wrong with Blogging? posts from last year and the year before which led to some interesting discussions.

Image Source

International Blog Cup

Did you know that there’s an International Blog Cup going on at the moment.

I just got an email from a reader saying that it’s on and that ProBlogger’s made the Quarter Finals (I didn’t even realize I was competing :-) )

There’s even a ‘Virtual Blog Cup’ for the winner (for their virtual trophy cabinet I guess)!

update – I’ve withdrawn from the competition. As a result of my own stupidity I seem to have inadvertently gamed the system. Here’s how it happened.

When I first saw the Blog Cup I of course voted for myself. This took me to a page which showed the results of my vote. I didn’t realize at the time that this page had a unique URL. I then linked to this page in this post. Unfortunately the link that I had was actually one forced people to vote for ProBlogger simply by arriving on the page.

As I say – this was something I did without thinking – it’s actually probably a weakness of the voting system used at Blog Cup – but it was my fault and has led to unfair results.

As a result – I’m withdrawing from the competition. Apologies to anyone who was hurt by this – as I say, it was not my intention at all.

AdSense Introduce a Validation Period for Referrals Program – a Sign of Conversion Fraud?

AdSense have made a change to their referral program by putting a validation periods on publishers when they display non Google products. In this period publishers earn a lower conversion commission while AdSense works out if your conversions are ‘valid’. Once the validation period ends you then will earn the maximum commissions on the product.

It seems like this a system to combat some sort of problem that AdSense must be having with invalid conversions (some sort of ‘conversion fraud’ perhaps?).

AdSense says that the validation periods will vary from product to product and attempt to sell the change by saying that it is to ensure the ‘long-term effectiveness of the referrals program for both publishers and advertisers.’

I’d be interested to hear if anyone who has tried the referrals program has seen any real conversions from any products other than the Google products (AdWords, AdSense, Firefox etc)? To be honest I’ve only ever found one blogger who seems to be doing any good with non Google referral products.

More details on this change at the AdSense Blog

Sourcebench – a ProBlogger Community Blog Consulting Project

It’s time for the first ProBlogger Community Blog Consulting Session. I’ve explained what this is in my last post and would ask you to read it before you leave a comment below.

Problogger-Consulting-Sourcebench

The blog that we’re going to look at this week is Sourcebench. Thorsten is the blogger behind this blog and his email asking for help said this:

My latest addition to the blogosphere is http://www.sourcebench.com. I invested a lot of time and money in this blog – into its content and the design but somehow i cannot get it reach that I want. I am stuck with around 300 visitors per day. Could you give me a clue what i am doing wrong or how I could improve?

As I’ve written in my previous post – I now want to invite you, the ProBlogger community, to offer your advice, suggestions and constructive critique into the mix. I’ll then attempt to summarize our collective advice early next week.

Sourcebench-Screencap

To help you in your feedback – here are a few questions you might want to answer and some areas you might want to focus upon:

  • What do you like about this blog?
  • What could it do better?

Particularly – you might want to comment in these areas:

  • Design – navigation, usability etc
  • Content – including ideas for posts that might be worth writing that could go viral
  • Promotion – what tips would you give this blogger for getting the word out there about this specific blog?
  • SEO – could it be improved
  • Monetization – what techniques might work better?

Try to keep your suggestions as constructive, practical and as specific to this blog as possible.

Looking forward to seeing your advice.

ProBlogger Community Blog Consulting

Problogger-Consulting
Today I’d like to try something a little new here at ProBlogger and want to invite you to engage in a little blog consulting and work shopping on a reader’s blog.

Let me explain why I’m doing this:

  • I get asked to look at a lot of blogs – to give feedback – to do consulting and to help bloggers improve their blogs
  • I can’t possibly do this for everyone – in fact these days I’m stretched to the point where I am unable to do any at all – even paid consulting
  • Previously I’ve found that helping one blogger publicly actually helps not only that one blogger but those who read along – if one person has a problem it is likely that others are too
  • ProBlogger is read by an incredible group of bloggers with a diverse range of skills, experiences and expertise – collectively we know so much more than what we each know individually

How Will it Work?

The idea is that later today (in the next post) I’m going to post a link to a blog of a ProBlogger reader that has asked for some help (I’ve got their permission to do this).

In posting this link I’m not going to give any initial advice or tips or critique – I’m simply going to post a link, a screen shot and a few words from the blogger who is asking for help.

Then I’m going to throw the consulting work over to you the ProBlogger readership. In a sense it’s a type of case study or workshop.

Your job is to give advice, tips and constructive critique to the blogger. I’ll give you a few areas that you might want to divide your advice into.

I’ll leave you to do this for a few days – at which point I’ll then attempt to draw together some of the main themes that people have talked about with some of my own advice.

I don’t know how this will work – but my hope is that it’ll help one blogger improve their blog, that it’ll give those who participate and read on some tips on improving their own blogs and that those who give the advice might also help their own reputations a little by showing some of their expertise.

If this works I’d like to do it on a semi-regular basis – but we’ll see how the first one goes and take it from there (I’m sure that this process will evolve over time)!

All I would ask is that you keep your comments as constructive as possible. The blogger who has agreed to do this knows they’ll probably hear some negative feedback but is willing to do so because they want to learn and improve – however I’d encourage everyone to be supportive and constructive. The point of this is to help someone (us all) to improve.

How’s this sound?

Stay tuned for the first blog consulting project in the next few hours. update – you can see it here

Update 2: Thanks to everyone for participating in this and for your feedback. I’ve been inundated with emails asking to be included in future consultations. At this point I’m not taking any of these on – but want to see how this first one goes before deciding whether I’ll do it regularly and if so how that’ll work. I’ll post more in the coming week or so on how it goes and how we’ll proceed. Thanks for your interest in the project though – I hope we can consult with a lot of your blogs.

What would you do if you owned ProBlogger.net?

Mani got my attention with this post today – What would you do if you owned ProBlogger.net?

There’s some great answers in the comments section – would love to hear more of your ideas!

PS: I actually think it’s a good question to ask others about your blog. In fact I asked this very question to two other bloggers this past week and the answers were really informative. Sometimes getting perspectives from outside your own blogging zone can bring a great new perspective.

How to Become a Famous Blogger

So you want to be a famous blogger?

Cartoon Blogger Dave Walker has the secret on how to do it:

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

via Blogging Expertise

What I Learned Giving Away $60,000 of Prizes in a Week

A number of people have asked me to write some reflections on running the ProBlogger Birthday Bash $54,000 Giveaway last week.

What were the results like? What did I learn? Will I do it again? How would I do it differently?

All good questions – let me share a few reflections (as much for my own benefit – so next year I’ve got some ideas on how to do it):

problogger-birthday-bash.jpg‘Results’ - Over the week we ran 18 giveaways. There were over 4000 on site entries (a few of the competitions called for people to enter in some other way so we’re not sure how many entered those). RSS subscriber numbers increased over the week by around 1500 (in a normal week it goes up by a few hundred) and site traffic was up by about 10-20% (depending upon the day).

The week wasn’t a massive success in terms of driving traffic – however that wasn’t my overall goal. The main thing that I wanted to do over the week was to add to the sense of community on the site – to have some fun – to get a few lurkers participating and to thank readers for being a part of ProBlogger. In this regard the week was a big success with many first time comments and a lot of thank you emails from readers who seemed to enjoy it.

It’s was a lot of Work - when I first called for prizes for the giveaway I didn’t expect the response from sponsors that I got. Previously when I’d called for prizes I’d had 30-40 offers – but this time it ended up being around 130 (including a few late ones). I realized at this point that the event could be huge – but that it was also potentially going to be a logistical nightmare. The solution was to hire Lara to manage the project. This took a lot of the work away from me – however the week was still a lot of work for us both and left me feeling quite exhausted.

Get a Team to Help – one of the best things that I did was to bring Lara on to manage the project. A smaller scale giveaway would have been manageable for me alone – but with 100+ sponsors to coordinate and thousands of entries to sort through it would have been beyond me.

Reflections on Prizes – I am so grateful to those who sponsored the project. It was amazing to see them all listed. Having said that – there’s a few things that I’d do differently when it comes to prizes next time:

  • Less Prizes – 100 prizes of such high value was great for creating a buzz about the project – however it brought a number of challenges. These included the logistics of making sure everyone who won one got one – but also giving sponsors value for their buck. 10 prizes would have meant that each sponsor got some serious attention – but with 100 it was difficult to give each their moment in the spotlight.
  • Higher Value Prizes - having less prizes would mean that we’d be able to include just a few higher value prizes. This would hopefully keep the value of the competition high and give people incentive to participate
  • More ‘On Topic’ Prizes - while I loved the fact that we gave away prizes with a lot of diversity (everything from scar treatment cream, to bunny slippers, to holidays) it made it also made the project challenging. I think next time I’d attempt to keep the prizes more blogging related – or at least to weed out some of the more off topic ones.

Less Giveaways – having less prizes would mean fewer giveaways. Over the week we ran 18 separate giveaways. While this gave a lot of people a chance to win something it was probably too many things happening over the week. At times we had two giveaways running at the same time (some went for 24 hours and some for 8). This caused some confusion and made it all quite hectic for us to manage. Next time I’d attempt to make the whole process simpler.

Weekdays not Weekends – we decided to run the bulk of the competitions over a weekend rather than during the week simply because it’d make it easier to manage it for us. The downside of this was of course that less people are around to compete on the weekend. We couldn’t really avoid this on this project – but next year I think I’d go for a midweek project.

Using Keywords for Comment Entries Was Genius – one of the challenges that we faced was that to enter people had to leave a comment on a post here at ProBlogger. The challenge with this is that my comment moderating tool (Akismet) can be a little too eager on occasion and filters some first time comments as spam. While these can be retrieved – I get a lot of real spam comments and finding them all was going to be a challenge. However we decided to make entrants include a ‘keyword’ in their comment so that we could quickly track down comments falsely queued as spam. This saved us hours of work.

Distraction and Burnout – running a competition of this scale does have a downside. If you haven’t got it already – this was a lot of work and I’ll admit that it’s left me in the last couple of days with a bit of a hangover (what good party doesn’t). Next time I think I’d work harder in the lead up to a competition to have some posts written before the competition that I could use in the days following it to take some of the load off.

The other downside of any project that runs for a few days on a blog is that it can be a distraction from the main purposes of the blog itself. I attempted to combat this by keeping new ‘normal’ posts going up on the blog over the week. This helped a lot – but the blog did get a little crazy for a few days and on reflection a few less giveaways might have helped to keep the blog more on track. I think we did OK on this – but next time I think that a simpler competition with less giveaways might be better on this front also.

Overall I’d judge the experience as being a success. I definitely want to do another one next year – but will approach it a little differently.

What did you think about the week that was? I’m aware that it wasn’t perfect – but would love to hear your constructive critique and suggestions on what you thought about it and how you’d suggest we tackle it next year.

PS: Lara has written a similar post with some of her own reflections on the week of giveaways.