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WidgetBucks Announce New Widget Creatives

WidgetBucks have announced new widget designs. Each of the different ad unit sizes now have two options (now when setting them up you’ll be able to choose a ‘B Series’ ad unit). One ad size (medium rectangles) even has three options (see below).

Also now you can change the rotation time for the product rotations in the widgets (it’s set at 3 seconds default – but can be anything from 1-10 seconds).

Here’s the normal widget:

A

Here’s the B Series Ad Unit

B

And lastly – the C Series Ad Unit

C

This was announced on their blog and via email. However in both places they recommended publishers check them out on the blog where they are in action. Only problem is that those of us not in the US can’t see the ads on the blog – because we get served CPM ads instead as part of the exclusion of non North American traffic.

On that note – I will say that the Alt CPM ads that non US and Canadian traffic sees have no relevance at all to any site I’ve seen them on. While this won’t necessarily hurt earnings as they are not click based – it doesn’t help your readers to see you as a relevant site when on your camera blog they see IQ tests and ‘outdrink the fratboy’ ringtone ads.

My WidgetBucks Recommendation:

My thoughts on WidgetBucks haven’t really changed in the last month. If your site has mainly US traffic (or you have the ability to do your own geo-targeting) then it’s great – particularly on product related blogs. I know some publishers who are making hundreds a day using it.

However if you have largely non US traffic and care about the relevancy of the ads being served to readers – I’d go with another option. The most similar ads to it at present are Chitika’s eMiniMalls and some of the widgets available in the Amazon Affiliate Program.

Managing Facebook Friends

I was just over at Facebook and noticed that the option to create Friends Lists had been activated. Now you can organize your friends by type (handy). Now I’ve just got to find a spare 4 hours to sort through them all (feel free to befriend me here).

Facebook-Friends-Lists

Speaking of Facebook – Mark Cuban has written about his new Facebook Strategy now that he’s hit the 5000 friend limit. I think we’ll see more and more people begin to hit this ceiling and grapple with what to do.

New Interactive AdSense Unit with Pictures Spotted

There’s been lots of testing of new ad formats going on at AdSense recently – but this one is really interesting – it’s a much more interactive looking AdSense unit that looks and functions a lot like Chitika’s eMiniMalls and WidgetBucks units.

It seems to be called the ‘Google Checkout Gadget’.

Google-Ad
The ad was seen on a UK Tech site – Technical Itch by Dean.

Stuck Writing a Post? – Change Your Writing Medium

WritingDo you ever have an idea for a post that you just can’t get out? You know the gist of what you want to say – but the words to express it clearly just don’t come. How do you get it out?

LifeClever has a writing tip that I’d not hear before. They write that they write most of their posts as an Email first – particularly those that they get stuck on.

I’ve never sat down to write a post in email before (although I’ve written emails answering questions to readers that do evolve into posts) – but I do get the idea of writing in a different writing environment.

Sometimes when I get a little stuck I start writing in different mediums including:

  • notebook – pen and paper, sometimes you can’t beat them
  • whiteboard – usually just main points – brainstorming
  • out loud – sometimes I find ‘speaking a post’ can be quite helpful in getting my head around what I’m trying to say
  • Twitter – a few times lately I’ve ‘thought out loud’ on Twitter and the ‘thoughts’ then progressed to a full post
  • Text Document – when I’m writing an official post I do it in Ecto (a desktop blog editing tool) but around 50% of my posts start less formally as Text Documents in TextEdit.
  • Instant Messaging – I quite regularly IM one or another of my contacts to run a post idea or opening paragraph by someone else

Sometimes changing things up in one of these ways will help you to find words to describe what you’re trying to say, give you a new perspective or help you stumble upon a killer idea.

Keeping a Blog Diary to Analyze Your Blogging Routine

DiaryThis year for Christmas I’ve asked my wife if she’d give me a personal trainer.

Warning – Tangent Ahead…. It’s been years since I’ve had an organized exercise routine – and while I do eat reasonably healthily and attempt to walk regularly – I’ve gradually felt my body ‘slipping’ further and further out of shape. I’ve put on weight, get out of breath more regularly and find myself getting sick more often.

It was time to bite the bullet and get back in shape.

I’m not great on disciplining myself when it comes to exercise and respond well to being accountable to others – so I asked my wife if instead of a new gadget or toy for Christmas whether she’d give me a personal trainer. She agreed – enthusiastically.

I shot an email to Melbourne exercise guru and blogger Craig Harper to see if he knew of anyone in my area that would be a good trainer and he put me in touch with Danny from MCallisters Fitness.

A few days after I moved I showed up for my first session and Danny put me through my paces with a fitness test. The result was pain – dizziness – nausea and a realization that I was more out of shape than I thought.

Food and Exercise Diary

ExcerciseDanny said a lot of great things during our first session (we’re going to have a weekly session – maybe two) but the thing that I’ve appreciated most since then is the food and training diary that he set me up with.

The exercise is simple – to record all the food that I eat each day and to note the exercise that I’m doing.

It’s such a simple exercise – but I can already see the impact of it and think that it’s probably a worthwhile thing to do for bloggers also when it comes to analyzing their blogs. Danny simply asks me to record the meal, the time I eat, the quantity of food, the food itself, water consumption, the mood I’m in, the energy levels I feel etc

Recording my food intake has already helped me in two main ways:

  • It shows ‘gaps’ and patterns in my diet – for example I can see that I eat more food in the afternoon and go most of the morning without much food – no wonder I crash early afternoon, there’s no juice left in the tank. Seeing the correlation between the food I eat, energy levels and mood is particularly interesting.
  • It makes me think about what I’m eating – knowing that I have to record everything that I eat makes me think twice when I’m in the act of ordering food, cooking meals and snacking. Just knowing that Danny will look my diary over next Thursday in our next session has impacted my choices already.

Keep a Diary of Your Blogging Habits

We’ve talked here on ProBlogger about keeping organized with diaries, calendars and schedules numerous times before (here, here, here and here for starters) – but in each of these cases the diary idea has been to help you plan what you’ve got coming up on your blog and not to analyze what you’ve been doing.

It struck as I was filling in my food diary today that it would be an interesting exercise to keep a blogging diary for a week or two to see what patterns it might reveal.

Here’s some suggested items to check:

  • Posting Times – when do you write your posts, when do you write your best posts?
  • Post Topics – are you focussing upon part of your overall topic but not others?
  • Length of Post - do you just post one length or do you mix it up?
  • Post Type – what type/style of post are you writing mostly?
  • Post Frequency – how often do you post per day
  • Reading Other Blogs – how much time are you learning from others? Are you being distracted or inspired by it?
  • Other Activities – what other blogging related activities have you engaged in (networking, guest posting for others, social bookmarking, responding to readers, commenting on other’s blogs)
  • Comment Numbers – what posts are getting the most comments?

The list could go on. I think it could identify some interesting trends in a blogger’s rhythms and reveal when they are most productive, how they work best, what posts are working well etc

What else might we monitor with our blogging diary?

PS: this could also be extended into some sort of Points System as I wrote about a few months back.

Speedlinking – Celebrity, Awards and Top Lists

It’s that silly time of the year where lots of awards, ‘best of’ articles and ‘top 10…’ lists start appearing on blogs (and MSM sites).

  • This morning I got an email about making the Forbes – Web Celeb 25 list. I scraped in at number 25 (warning – that page scrolls through different profiles) – watch out Perez, I’m coming after your #1 position. One thing I noticed about the list straight away was the ‘male-ness’ of it. Only 4 women in the list. Also the ‘white-ness’ and the US-ness of the list stood out. Lastly – the average age of the list was 38. So much for the theories that the web is just about young people.
  • While I’m glowing in my own celebrity status (my wife and mates are going to give me so much grief about that last one) Wendy emailed me to let me know that I made her list of most influential Dads in the Blogosphere.
  • Performancing are holding their Blog Awards and are calling for nominations. 28 categories there to choose from – nominate yourself, nominate your favorite blogs etc. Spread the love around – think before your nominate, it’d be great to see some quality new and fresh voices featured.

This is just the beginning of awards and top lists that will do the rounds over the coming two or three weeks. Then it’ll all be about ‘predictions for 2008′ type posts. It’s a bit of a ‘silly season’ – but can be fun too.

Valuing a Blog

Duff McDonald of Portfolio.com writes a piece on the Valuation of Drudge Report and tries to come up with a valuation based upon three methods (eyeballs, ad value and ‘ask his mother what it’s worth’).

Somewhere between it all they value it at between $10M-$20M.

Using Your Own Picture in Your Blogging

Do you have a headshot handy that you could send to a media organization quickly?

Picture

Today I got an email from a rather large media publication requesting a picture of me for an article that they might include me in (they were being a little cagey and wouldn’t actually say if I was ‘in’ or not – so I won’t say who it is).

The email was marked ‘Urgent’ – they needed my picture as soon as possible as they were on a deadline.

Luckily for me I have a few head shots that I was able to send off within a few minutes of the request hitting my inbox – but it reminded me of a similar request a few months back when I didn’t have a suitable picture handy and ended up being left out of an article that could have brought significant exposure.

I learnt my lesson from that occasion and got a photographer mate to take some high resolution and professional looking shots.

Picture-On-Your-Blog

Having a set of quality pictures of yourself can be a very useful thing – for a number of reasons:

1. Media – while some media outlets will send their own photographers to get a new and unique image of you – many will not – particularly if you are not close to them. Similarly – having your images readily available on your blog means that they’ll get used by other bloggers also. I regularly see my ugly mug on some blog or another when people write about something that I’ve written. This can be both good and bad (depending upon the shot that they choose to use) – but it’s mainly good and can add to your personal brand.

2. Personal Branding - putting your image on your blog will not be for everyone – but I’ve certainly learnt the power of it over the past few years of ProBlogger. These days my image is down in the footer (although there is one slap bang in the middle of my home page – on the video) but for the first 2.5 years of this blog it was right up the top. The impact of this was quite powerful in terms of a personal branding exercise. However this is not for everyone – some bloggers want to brand their blog more prominently than themselves (for example at DPS I don’t include my picture – in fact I don’t even include my name on posts). It depends upon the objective of your blog.

From-The-Editor-1-13. Adding a Personal Touch – Having said that I don’t use my image on DPS, I do use it in my weekly newsletters where I include the image to the right in one of my sections. The reason for including it is not to promote myself – but to give the newsletter a more personal touch. Interestingly the week I started doing it I had 10 or so emails from subscribers that specifically mentioned it. Sometimes having a face to put to writing can add a new dimension to your reader’s experience.

Of course using your image online can have some dangers and risks and will not be for everyone. I I’m comfortable with people knowing what I look like, but I know many bloggers choose to blog more anonymously – and this can be a good thing also.

Sometimes Blogging is Like Watching Grass Grow

As we continue to settle into our new house, a new routine and new surrounds in our suburb I’m being constantly inspired by the lessons I see around me and how they apply to blogging.

In today’s video I want to talk about Grass (Turf that is…)
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