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What Blogging Platform Do You Use? [POLL RESULTS]

Last week I asked readers to submit to our poll the blog platform that they use.

The results were similar to last time we ran it with WordPress.org (36%) a clear winner, Blogger.com (25%) coming in second and WordPress.com (15%) coming in third.

That these three platforms take up 76% of responses says something in and of itself with the two varieties of WordPress being used by 51% of ProBlogger readers.

By no means are the results scientific – I originally had the poll set so that readers could add their own options but due to one person abusing it had to go with just 13 platforms. I did invite people to suggest others in comments if they didn’t use one of the 13 and have included them as ‘Other’ in the graph (and I’ve listed them below) – they made up 1%.

Blog-Platforms

The ‘other’ category was made up of the following platforms – each of which had 1 vote.

Nucleus, Pivot, Blogsmith, BlogCFC, Subtext, Typo, Mephisto, phpnuke, Vox and Pmachine.

Thanks to everyone who has voted. Dont’ forget to vote in this week’s poll – ‘How Many RSS Readers Does Your Blog Have?’. You can vote in it in the sidebar of ProBlogger.

Nip Problems in the Bud with a TOS Page

Any parent will tell you that the “good cop / bad cop” routine has stood the test of time for one reason: It works.

Do any of these sound familiar?

“You’d better not let mom see you eating that before dinner.”
“You just wait until your father gets home.”

You can exercise authority just by using the suggestion that something might not be cool with someone else who shares your authority. Most of the time, this will work even without the other person being involved — or even knowing the scheme took place.

But as individual blog authors, we are all pretty much single parents when it comes to dealing with (sincere) requests to appropriate, translate, etc. the content we work so hard to produce. Assuming you are gonna be nice about it (after all, they actually asked rather than just scraped) it still takes time to craft an answer for their particular situation. This usually involves a brief discussion of copyright, and how many hours you put into developing content, and so on.

And if you do not spend the time to write back and say no, many people will just assume the absence of a (time-consuming) “no” is a good substitute for a “yes.” So you have to do something.

A little while back, I got the bright idea to put all of those thoughts down in a general framework and call it a Terms of Service page. I mean, just about every other web organization has a TOS, right? Why not blogs?

The result has been a drastic reduction in people writing to me to ask if they can do the things I would not want them to do, and an easy answer to those people who either read it and write you anyway, or write to you without seeing the TOS page.

Example:

Dear XXXX;

Thanks for writing to me to ask about _________ (fill in the blank).

The fact that you even asked before just doing it tells me that your ethical compass point is better than most. I’m sorry, but _________ activity in question) is against the site’s TOS. I get requests like this frequently and while I would like to be involved in many more co-publishing projects, time limitations prevent that.

And I am sure that you can understand that with all of the time I spend on producing original content, it is very important to me to make sure people visit my site to see it rather than going to someone else’s.

Thanks again for taking the time to ask. You can see the TOS page here.

Thanks much,
David Hobby

Strobist.com

I have never even had a person question the idea of a TOS for a blog. (And why would they?) If I get a return email, it is usually along the lines of, “Wow, thanks for writing back. I hadn’t even seen the TOS page.”

Works great.

One last thing. You’re a blogger, which means that your TOS page can be much cooler than, say, Microsoft’s TOS page. Have some fun. Threaten
some bodily harm. Throw in an ancient Gypsy curse or two. It shows that you can be serious about something that is very important to your, and still maintain a sense of humor.

___________________________

David Hobby blogs about photographic lighting techniques at Strobist. This use of this article in other publications or website is subject to the conditions spelled out in Strobist’s Terms of Service.

The Mo Must Go

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Movember is over!

Thanks to everyone who sponsored me (it’s not too late).

The total donations so far have hit $1847.50 (AUD). That’s got to me about $1 a whisker….

A thanks to everyone who donated – but a special thanks to the ‘premium sponsors’ who each put up $200 or more. They are:

Fmf Introducing7-1Make Money OnlineCommunity BuildingHelp Spread Congenital Heart Defects Awareness125X125Online Shopping Awards

Also a special thanks to my wife V – who sacrificed more than I did for the cause!

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Next time you see me – I’ll be Mo-less.

How many RSS Readers does your Blog have? [POLL]

How many RSS readers does your blog have? (your biggest blog – if you have more than one)

This is the question for this week’s reader poll currently running in the sidebar.

It’s a question that some won’t be able to answer (so I’ve included an ‘I don’t know’ option if they don’t have access to Feedburner stats – but I figure there are enough blogs running their feeds via Feedburner these days that we should get some decent results.

How Many RSS Readers Does Your Blog Have?
View Results


I am looking forward to seeing the results on this one.

PS: if you’re looking for information on how to increase the number of RSS readers to your blog and how to optimize your feed you might enough my previous series of posts – How to make Your RSS feeds POP!. Also during the next week I’ve got a couple of posts that will extend this series a little further – stay tune.

Optimizing Blog Growth: Curing the Fears of Being an Amateur Blogger

The following post on Optimizing Blog growth has been submitted by Aaron Wall from SEOBook.

Many of my friends who are would be bloggers are afraid to start blogging because they are afraid of being wrong or writing something that might make them look foolish.

They want to make sure they know everything BEFORE they write anything. So they never do….

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Image by Meredith Farmer

That model of thinking is generally self defeating for no less than 4 important reasons:

  • Nobody knows everything: in some cases, as you learn more you appreciate how much you don’t know, so it is hard to build enough confidence to feel like an expertise because self doubt can be consuming if you do not have a feedback network set up. Worse yet, in most markets worth participating in new information is always coming out, so you can’t catch up without establishing a base and getting feedback.
  • Authority is granted: being considered an authority is not about how much you know…it is about how much people THINK you know. Just writing regularly gives you an active audience acquisition stream while building a passive stream via the content archives.
  • We love empathy: if the reader feels they are learning along with the blogger they are far more likely to want to come back and read more. They are also more likely to tell friends about you. If you wait until you know almost everything then you might write at a level above most readers and end up with a small audience and no viable business model. Trust in search engines is established via analyzing linking patterns. You don’t get links for what you know and don’t share. Share from the start and you have content for just about everyone.
  • Feedback teaches: reading and writing regularly teaches you how to write clearly. As you write and see some of your ideas fail while others are far more successful than you would have thought you learn what people are interested in, what ideas will spread, and why they spread.

Virtually everyday I see experts in my field write things that are absolutely wrong, but go unquestioned. I have been guilty of it myself in the past, and as I learn more in the future I will likely discover that I was guilty of it today.

You can wait until your knowledge is perfected before you start writing, or you can learn from and with your readers while building trust, distribution, leverage, and social relationships. Learning as you go is a better optimized strategy than waiting for the day you know everything.

Zookoda – I Don’t Recommend them Anymore

ZookodaThis is just a short note to withdraw a recommendation that I made a year or two ago about the Zookoda email service.

When they first came out Zookoda was a dream come true for me – a free service that enabled bloggers to built a newsletter subscriber base, convert RSS to email etc. It took what Feedburner offers with their RSS to email subscriptions a step (or a few steps) further as it allows you to configure and design your emails. I’ve been using it on a weekly basis for 18 months to deliver newsletters to readers.

When it launched it was in beta and a little buggy but the support team was pretty good at fixing problems as they came up.

However since it was sold to PayPerPost (now known as IZEA) I’ve noticed the service becoming more buggy and the customer service seems to be decreasing. I’ve had problems with deliverability (for a while there it wouldn’t deliver emails to anyone with a yahoo email address – I have thousands of subscribers using them), emails regularly are not sent and I’ve noticed more downtime and slowness with the site.

This week I’ve had two emails queued to be sent for 36 hours now and they haven’t gone. I’ve attempted to reset them myself – but still they don’t go.Emails to their ‘contact us’ form have gone unanswered. Emails to my customer service manager have not been replied to (she’s previously been quite good). I’d understand this if it were the weekend and wouldn’t mind so much if this were an occasional occurrence – but it seems that it’s become an issue that happens every second week. update: just as I hit publish on this I got an email from one of their staff. The latest problem isn’t fixed yet – but they’re working on it. Having said this – it’s an ongoing pattern. I send an email, it doesn’t go, I email and complain, they work on it, it eventually goes.

Email newsletters have become a central part of my blogging and I can’t afford an unreliable service any more. I’ve hung in there to give the new owners time to improve the service – but if anything it’s gone backwards.

As a result I can’t in good faith continue to recommend Zookoda any more.

My emotions in saying this are sadness mixed with a little anger.

Sadness because it’s a product that I think had (and still has) a lot of potential – if only it would reliably do what it say.

Anger because I’ve invested time and energy both into promoting the product in it’s early days and building up my own subscriber base who use it (I have three lists with a combined total of 62,000 subscribers). I will now need to find another service and attempt to migrate these across (and in the process am sure to lose many of them as reputable service require you to get users to opt in to them – even though you’ve already done this previously.

Lastly – I’d like to ask readers who they use to deliver their email newsletters?

I’ve used AWeber previously and will probably go with them but what other services do you recommend? I’m looking for the ability to send weekly emails (html) to multiple lists with high reliability and as much ease of use as possible.

Update: after 5 days of waiting for my last newsletters to go (and having tried to reset them 4 times each now) I’m still no closer to my readers getting their weekly update. Readers have been emailing/complaining and I’m sick of it. On the positive side of things – I’ve had a number of other email service providers contact me to offer their services and hope to transition to a new service in the coming weeks.

WidgetBucks to Serve CPM Ads to Non North American Traffic

WidgetBucks have announced that they will begin to serve CPM based ads to traffic that isn’t from the US or Canada (starting early in December).

This comes in the wake of them previously stopping international traffic from seeing their ads – something that caused many publishers to stop using them. The announcement on their blog doesn’t mention what the CPM rate will be or what type of ads will be served.

They do say that the ads will not be adult or have ‘other suggestive themes’ and that they are country specific ads. My concern is that the quality and relevancy of an ad can have an impact upon the blog that it appears on. For example if you’re running a fashion blog and the alternate ad is one of those annoying smiley face ads then it’s going to be a turn off for readers.

It’s a step in the right direction – but I’d prefer a little more control over what ads appear on my blogs and would want to know the CPM range before I’d reinstall WidgetBucks on those blogs that I removed it from due to large proportions of non North American traffic.

My personal preference would be for them to set up a system like AdSense that would allow publishers to run their own ads as alternate ads.

Getting Your Blog Ready for Christmas

christmasWith December starting tomorrow I thought it might be worth pointing back to a series of posts that I wrote at this time last year on How to Optimize Your Blog for Christmas.

Keep in mind that positioning yourself for seasonal traffic (and believe me that the next month there are significant opportunities to do this) means thinking ahead.

Getting your blog ready in the week before December 25 means you’ll miss out on much of what you could gain by getting your blog ready now.

What are you doing to prepare your blog for the silly season?