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Melbourne WordCamp is a Go – 17 November 2007

Wordcamp-MelbourneIf you’re in or near Melbourne you’ll want to block out 17 November from 12.00pm until 7pm (and perhaps a little longer for a drink or two) because the first ever Melbourne WordCamp is on!

Venue: WordCamp Melbourne will be held in the ‘Pavillion’ at the Watermark Bar, Victoria Harbour Docklands on Saturday, November 17th from 12:00PM – 7:00 PM.

Cost: $25 to cover the costs – any left over money will be put on the bar.

Program: looks like it’s up to us to create our own afternoon of learning! James is calling for presentation ideas and round table discussion ideas.

Full details are at WordCamp Melbourne. RSVP here.

I’m 90% sure I’ll be there – just got to coordinate with Mrs ProBlogger and ProBlogger Junior.

Speedlinking – 11 October 2007

A few newsy items from the last couple of days:

  • WidgetBucks have announced that they’ll be moving to reporting revenue per click and revenue in real time – starting today. This was one of the main concerns that I”ve been hearing about the ad network – while they will still apply an audit to figures (you’ll see a ‘pending’ status on figures for a few days) it’s good to see them improving things. On WidgetBucks – how are people finding it’s performing? My tests in a couple of positions are showing that it’s earning more than AdSense for me and as much as Chitika – this is on a product blog where I’d suspect it will work best.
  • Over at b5media we’re really excited this week with the beta launch of our new Entertainment Gateway Spekked. It draws content from our Entertainment channel and we’re launching with a competition with some cool prizes.
  • Google today announced that their Trends tool is now being updated daily. This is a great tool for tracking how many people are searching online for different terms – incredibly useful if you’re researching a new blog topic.
  • 9rules has launched their next version and it’s fantastic. Congratulations to the team there!
  • ChrisG shares some insights on the topic of buying and selling blogs and particularly on ascertaining the value of a blog.

AdSense: “BTW – That Video Product We Launched – It’s only for US Publishers”

<rant>Once again AdSense have alienated publishers not based in the US with an update to their blog post announcing their new video units with a short update:

“Video units will be live in AdSense accounts later today (10/9). Currently this feature is open only to publishers located in the United States with English-language websites.”

These US-centric product releases are incredibly annoying for those AdSense publishers situated outside of the US. Despite having sites which attract largely english speaking US based readers and despite our blogs usually being hosted on servers within the US we are penalized by our own locations.

Yes I know there’s probably a perfectly legitimate reason for it – but give us a break! By the time we get to play with these new ads the US dollar that we all get paid with for AdSense will be worthless and video will be SO 2007!

Just once I’d love to see AdSense release something that is exclusively for those situated in Asia, Europe or Africa.</rant>

Can having too many Digg Using Readers Be a Bad thing for a Site?

Digg-CultureA number of months ago I wrote a post titled How to Build a ‘Digg Culture’ on your Blog which explored a trend that I’d noticed on my blogs where getting on the front page of Digg once tended to lead to attracting other active Digg users to your blog – which in turn led to more success on Digg – which led to more Digg using readers which led to more Digg success…. etc (see image to the left for a visual illustration).

It was something that I’d noticed happening on a number of my own blogs as well as blogs of others.

However in the last few months I’ve noticed another Digg trend. At this point it’s just a theory and I have no way of proving it – but I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps a blog can be penalized for having too many active Digg using readers.

I first noticed this through chatting to other bloggers who would regularly get on the font page of Digg quite organically as a result of their readers submitting and then Digging theirs posts up. These blogs had medium to largish sized readerships (although none were A-listers).

After a few months (or longer) of getting semi-regular appearances on the front page of Digg these bloggers started to notice that their posts would do well for a few hours after being submitted by readers but that as they approached the top of the upcoming lists they would disappear.

While it is not unusual for some posts to be buried before hitting the popular page (not everyone on Digg will appreciate every post you write) these bloggers began to notice that it happened to every post – even their best ones.

I didn’t take a lot of notice of this at first – but after hearing the same story from 10 or so other bloggers began to wonder if there was more to the story.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve noticed the same thing happening on my own blogs – blogs that quite often used to reach the front page of Digg completely organically.

My question to Digg (something I’ve asked via email – but which I don’t really expect a response) is:

Can having too many Digg Using Readers Be a Bad thing for a Site?

I understand why Digg needs to protect itself and ban sites who attempt to manipulate their system – however I’ve heard the above story/complaint from a number of legitimate and high quality bloggers now and wonder if perhaps Diggs algorithm or filtering system is being a little too zealous and weeding out quality and legitimate content simply because those sites have grown a readership that love and use Digg.

Now there is a weakness in my hypothesis – and that is that mega/A-list blogs who must have a lot of Digg users regularly feature on the front pages of Digg. Perhaps this is an indication that my theory is off – however I couldn’t imaging Digg banning Engadget, Gizmodo or Lifehacker (who all feature heavily on the front page of Digg).

It’s just a theory – but I’d be interested to hear other’s thoughts on the question.

Can having too many Digg Using Readers Be a Bad thing for a Site?

Your first 10,000 Blog Posts are Always the Worst

Practice“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson – Photographer

I came across this great quote today and as a photography nut it rang true.

However I quickly realized that the quote could easily be applied to the medium of blogging.

“Your first 10,000 blog posts are your worst”

Like anything – blogging is something that the majority of us are not brilliant at in our early days. I look back at some of the posts I wrote in my first year of blogging and shudder with embarrassment. The mistakes were spectacular and frequent.

However with each mistake and failure comes a lesson, with every post comes comes a new skill and with each experiment comes a discovery of a technique that works (or doesn’t work).

If you’re a new blogger – don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t ‘click’ for you straight away.

Practice, Practice and Practice some more.

AdSense Launch Video Units

AdSense have today announced their long awaited Video Units.

This is what ProBlogger broke the news about last week. It allows you to get video content for your blog with an embedded ad using YouTube ‘partner content’ on your blog.

Basically you set up a video unit to run on your blog and either choose a category of video to be targeted to your blog, select a content provider to provide the video or leave it completely up to AdSense and Youtube to do it for you. You also get to customize the video unit to blend into your site in terms of color and size.

The AdSense blog say that you can log into your AdSense account to start using this – but I’m yet to see the option yet so haven’t yet tested it – but it looks like a useful option that will suit those of you wanting to play with video.

The only negative that I see is that you can’t choose specific video to show on your blog. You can target videos from one provider – but it could end up serving anything from that provider.

More information on these new AdSense video units can be seen at the AdSense Help Center and on the Inside AdSense Blog.

Here’s how an AdSense Video Unit looks:

Adsense-Video

Update – Turns out that this is only available for US publishers with sites in English

Blogging Ethics and Sponsored Reviews

Melissa-PetriThis post on Blogging Ethics and Sponsored Reviews has been submitted by Travel Blogger – Melissa Petri from Europe String.

With the increasing number of people turning to blogs, it is no surprise that companies have also started recognizing its use as powerful marketing tools. And apart from just helping to spread the word, blogs can also serve as a way to communicate directly with would-be consumers.

Among others, the travel industry has seen the light. They now know better. Some – like Southwest and several travel aggregators – established their own blogs to reach out. Others, on the other hand, sought the audience of established individual or network travel bloggers.

Like travel writers from influential newspapers and magazines, travel bloggers are now being approached (at a smaller scale) to join travel junkets, receive freebies and/or get paid for sponsored reviews.

Now, if YOU – as a travel blogger – decide to accept these travel freebies, how can you make sure that you do not sell out and that you remain ethical?

Be Transparent. Always inform your readers that you are writing a sponsored review and/or that you have received certain items to review for free. Especially if you write a glowing review, your readers deserve to know that you are being paid for what you are writing.

Try to Avoid ‘Only Positive Reviews’. If you are going to properly evaluate a certain product or service, you need to write both the pros and the cons. Yes, even if you are little miss sunshine and would rather focus on the positive, your readers need to know if there is one aspect which is lacking or which may be of concern to other travelers.

If You Get a Giveaway, Give it Away. At least, you can try. The best way, in my opinion, is to hold a contest and give the giveaway away. Provided, of course, that it can still be used after evaluation of the product. In my opinion, this is a win-win situation. You will encourage reader participation, make one winner happy and your ìadvertiserî will get an extra giveaway or contest entry. AND if you have something considerably big to giveaway, you can even generate more traffic.

Travel junkets are trickier, though. Even if you promise to be true to your readers, how realistic would your experience be? I can safely assume that most of these companies would go all out because they know that you would be writing about your experiences later. You’ll get special treatment, the best rooms, the best food and I bet that you would not have to fall in line, either. Even if you write a glowing review because you’ve had this truly wonderful travel experience, do you think you would you still be true to your readers? Would your experience and your recommendation really reflect the kind of package they are really offering to normal travelers? Something to make you go hmmm…… Told you, it’s tricky.

Many say that the judgements of travel bloggers who accept freebies are compromised. Well, your readers would have to be the judge of that. The important thing is that YOU do not become a travel whore (excuse my language). YOU should not accept any sponsorship or freebie offers if they do allow you to be transparent and write negative reviews, if any.

Melissa Petri writes for 4 network travel blogs. Her day job allows her to travel 25x a year, written off as travel expense and/or courtesy of the miles she has accrued through the years. She admits to occasionally accepting giveaway (to be later given away in her blogs).

The Party is Over – One Last Giveaway

problogger-birthday-bash.jpgOh My Goodness – our 3rd Birthday Prize Bonanza is over (well it will be shortly – because there’s one more giveaway that all of you can enter below).

Over the last week we’ve given away over $54,000 in prizes (in fact it’s been closer to $60,000 because we added a few prizes and underestimated the value of a few others).

Before I announce the last giveaway – I want to take a moment to acknowledge the hard work and generosity of a few people.

Project Coordinator, Lara Kulpa - Lara Kulpa  has gone so far above and beyond the call this week that I can’t express to you how hard she’s worked. Lara has had significantly less sleep than she normally would this week and has managed over 100 sponsors, tens of thousands of entries as well as me (no mean feat on that last one). The project was much bigger than I ever expected it to be and Lara has taken it in her stride. If you’re ever in the market for someone to help you with web design, internet marketing or SEO – do consider Lara Kulpa (PS: subscribe to her blog here).

Our Sponsors have been wonderful. When we decided to go with over 100 prizes I literally began to shake as I began to think about the complexity of the task. Not only has Lara been great at helping us with the coordination of everything – our sponsors have been incredibly patient and generous with us. Of all the sponsors only on one occasion have we had any issues resulting in a sponsor pulling out (and that seems to have been a miscommunication – I substituted a cash prize in for the person who won that prize) – everyone else has been incredible! Please do visit some of our sponsors today as a thank you to them. If you won a prize it’d also be great if you’d link up to them as a thank you.

Here they are once again:

Help Desk GeekHoliday for Every DayHome Based HolidaysI Hate Bad ServiceIntricate ArtiPod Repair of MemphisIt’s Write NowJCM EnterprisesJer GamesJewel CaddyJill KoenigKim and JasonKirsty Dunphey – speaker, author, entrepreneur, retired at 27Leisure LabLille Punkin’ ReviewsLisa Marie Dias DesignsLuluMagic Vacation VillasMary Jo RulnickMederma for scarsMelissa RobertsMeryl Evans – Content MavenMighty MugsMike CavarocMillion Dollar Pet PixMorris Green CleanNathan RiceNetLink WebNika’s CulinariaNo Full StopOlive Oil PassionOn Target Media GroupOrganize & SimplifyOrganized OutcomesMiloPersonal Self DefensePublicity HoundRaven’s RoadsRemarkable CommunicationRetreat and HealSea Slugs! Anime BlogSecure DeliverySeekZapSEO AwareSEO BookSimple Kind Of LifeSKY FM RadioSmallFuel MarketingSoy CoffeeStarFeederStogie ReviewStreet Smart MarketingTamra EngleTea Party GirlThe Bargain QueenThe Collecting LifeThe Essentials of Tradingthe Palmetto GuesthouseThe WellCenter GroupTim “Gonzo” GordonTime For Coffee and TeaTreo TodayTruffle TreeViral ElectronicsWall Street FighterZach Everson[Geeks are Sexy] Technology News1 Cool FileAngela WillsAnother Old Movie BlogArtisan’s Cup (Teas)Associated ContentAuthor Media TrainingBabble SoftBack in Skinny JeansBarefoot PartiesBazBest Hawaii Vacation BlogBetter WallpaperBlog About Your BlogBlog LouderBlogFluxBlogging FingersBlogging TipsBook Test OnlineBVT ProductsCenter of MuseCheap ShooterChitikaChristina PerdueColor ThemesContest BloggerContest QueenCory MillerDavid AireyDerek BeaucheminDisplayLinkdistilled: pure website expertiseEgg Marketing BlogExplore Life BlogFashionista TVFree Money FinanceFreelance Writing JobsFreezing HotGeeky SpeakyGenealogy Reviews OnlineGood DoggieGroovy VegetarianGrown Up Geek

Readers – lastly I want to thank each and every person who participated in this last week whether they linked up, entered or patiently stood by and patiently allowed the craziness to take over ProBlogger for the last few days. Without your participation this event would have been boring. I was overwhelmed by the responses of many of you – some of you brought me to tears (in laughter) at your entries and I wish that I had more prizes to give away to reward you all.

While this competition was about celebrating the last 3 years of ProBlogger and creating a little buzz around this blog – ultimately it was my attempt at giving something back to you the ProBlogger reader community. ProBlogger.net is really nothing without those who read and participate in it – I hope you enjoyed this past week as much as I have.

One final Giveaway for Everyone (well 3000 of you)

OK – I promised one more giveaway. This one is one that I think everyone who wants to be a part of will hopefully be able to get in on the act of.

The giveaway is simple – SKY.fm Radio are offering a free 6 month Premium Upgrade (value at just under $30) for the first 3000 people who email them. To qualify you need to have a blog that’s been going for 1 month. To qualify simply email the URL of your blog to [email protected]

This giveaway will be closed off by SKY.fm in 30 days or after the first 3000 winners – whichever comes first.

This is it – The last 8 hour giveaway!

problogger-birthday-bash.jpg
Well ladies and gents, this is the absolute final 8 hour giveaway in the ProBlogger Birthday Bash! Can you believe it?

What we’ve got here is a pretty random mix of prizes, and we’re ready to get on with the giving!

Prizes

How To Enter

  • All winners chosen at random. One comment per person – duplicates will be deleted prior to draw.
  • If you’ve already one something from a previous giveaway, please don’t enter this one (unless we said it was okay on the other one).
  • Leave a comment below, with our last keyword of the giveaway: “Random8″ (This helps us through moderation… don’t worry if you misspell it or forget it by mistake – but try to remember or we might lose ya!)
  • This giveaway ends at 4am on Monday October 8 (New York, USA time)

Our last 24 hour giveaway is still going on, so if you’re interested in business and life, go check it out.

Look forward to a final post from Darren to wrap up the whole thing (yep, we’ll have one special last giveaway that all can win!) sometime at the end of the 24 hour giveaway.

I also just wanted to say thank you to everyone thus far – you’ve been great, and most of you have welcomed me to ProBlogger for the giveaway in the most wonderful of ways! Thank you so much! ~ Lara

Update – We’ve just closed this competition. We’ll be in touch with the winners and sponsors in the coming hours. Stay tuned for one last post and competition in the coming hour or so.