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Making the most of ecto

At first sight, ecto seems to be a simple desktop client that allows you to author content for your blog. There are a couple of advantages desktop blog tools offer over control panels: You can write entries while offline, keep a local searchable cache of published entries and drafts, use spell-check, manipulate images and movies before uploading, to name just a few.

But ecto for MacOSX (and soon also the Windows version) does even more than that, it can help you to raise your blog’s visibility in the blogosphere and even make a bit of profit. This blog entry will show you how to make the most of ecto.

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Stickiness

One thing all bloggers and webmasters want is return visitors. Many of us watch the stats and monitor this critical measurement of web success…if you come back time and time again, you must like me. If you like me and return enough you’ll finally heed my call to action – make a purchase, register, click on an advertiser, etc. Stickiness makes a blog and return visitors are paramount to ecommerce success – repeat buyers are a critical component to revenue growth.

How best do you get people back to your site time-after-time?

Like many, I’ve tried countless ways to attract and retain repeat visitors – polls, weekly features, giveaways, interviews, guest bloggers, links, quizzes, contests, etc. Some worked better than others, some had little affect at all. Great content is a given. But what puts you over the top? Sometimes just adding a fraction to your audience makes all the difference in the world.

Polls were interesting for a while; they seem to be abandoned now. Contests got old and quizzes smelled funny. Guest bloggers and interviews are currently popular. Maybe there’s a cycle and what was once old will again appear new.

If you blog or run a website, what are the best features you’ve added to your site to attract and retain repeat visitors? What are the most effective features you’ve seen on other blogs and websites? Lastly, why do you think they work?

Marketers are turning to blogs for online ad spending

Research out of Forrester is showing a growing interest to place advertisements on blogs and/or in RSS feeds. This should be no surprise, given the mainstream business coverage of blogs that has issued recently.

Of those surveyed by Forrester, 64% would be interested in advertising on blogs, while 57% would be interested in advertising through RSS. Both these figures represent more interest than advertising on mobile devices – this just shows which way the industry is set to grow.

Forrester estimates that total online advertising and marketing dollars will reach $14.7 billion for the 2005 year – that’s 23% more than in 2004. Banners/sponsorships will grow 11% per year to $8 billion by 2010. We’ll also see a large increase in spending for search engine marketing over the next few years, up to $11.6 billion by 2010. Online marketing spending is the only area of growth in advertising spending as a whole – so interest is definitely present.
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Trying FeedBurner Total Stats Pro on View from the Isle

headerlogo.jpgYeah, I admit it, I’m a metrics junky.  Which is good, since I am the chief blogger for Elytics.com writing on the web metrics blog.  Regardless, I’m also a huge fan of FeedBurner.  I admit I check my FeedBurner stats throughout the day, especially when one of my articles has been picked up by several other blogs.  In spite of being a metrics junky and really wanting to know what content is popular on my blog I resisted trying Total Stats PRO–Burning Questions – The Official FeedBurner Weblog - FeedBurner – FeedBurner Total Stats PRO.  Why?  I’m cost conscious.  I really try to keep my business overhead low.  Then it hit me, as a blog consultant/pro blogger/syndicated writer I really should look into this.  I already set up all my clients with FeedBurner from day one–learning from my own mistake–and I tell my clients check your FeedBurner and other stats to figure out what content is most popular and use this to help guide your content decisions.  It makes logical sense, then, that I should try it myself and see if it’s worth $5/month.  So, over the next 15 days I’ll be checking my stats with Total Stats PRO.  I’ll probably do an initial assessment later today, then one in a few days, etc.
 
As professional bloggers our content is both our calling card and our gravy train.  It’s how we earn our money.  There’s no point in writing tons of articles on topic x if those aren’t as popular as topic y, especially if you’re writing for a client.  There will always be a certain number of articles that you write or publish, things like press releases, that aren’t glamorous and don’t get a lot of attention, but are essential regardless.  Then there are the articles which both you and your client intend to be interesting to a wider audience, those are the articles that I’m talking about.  That’s the important information that I hope FeedBurner can now provide me.  If so, $5/month could be a paltry price to pay to be able to effectively target the content published on a blog by blog basis.  Here’s hoping!
 
I will post charts, tables, etc as appropriate to give you a feel for what I’m seeing.  Because great data poorly presented, is almost as useless as not having it at all.
 
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Tris Hussey is a professional blogger and blog consultant, the Chief Blogging Officer for Qumana Software, and Managing Director of Qumana Services.  He can be reached at tris AT qumana DOT com or tris AT trishussey DOT com.
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Blogging Domain Name Brand Mantra

Darren asks, ‘What’s in A Blog Name?‘. He’s right, a name is a very important piece of becoming a successful blog. Think branding…it’s all about branding. Certain names and words flow off the tounge and are more memorable than others.

I’ve been reading Darren’s blog before it was ProBlogger.net. What was it? Um, something like blog.livingroom.com.au, I think. Get the point? That name sucked. Sorry Darren, I think you knew that. That’s no way to build a brand name. I think Darren can prove that his traffic and general reputation grew by leaps and bounds when he moved to ProBlogger.net. The design helped too :) Of course, it can be done, but it’s much harder.

So as a serious blogger…if you want to be serious, and taken seriously, you have to stop using those unbrandable blog domains like supercooldude.blogspot.com. The time has come to drop $8.95 at GoDaddy and get your own domain name. Or, for the sake of this shameless promotional entry, you could use one of mine below.

I’m currently looking to either sell or develop the following domain names. If you are interested in either offer, please email me at [email protected]

www.hotelblog.com
I’m looking for a writer who wants to take it and make it into a network blog about hotels. I’m willing to pay up to 75% of all revenue it generates to the right person who can make it a success. I’d host it, and provide the MT blog software and setup. I’d also do the design and any tech stuff. All this person would have to do is write, well… and often.

I also have these domains I’d like to do something with. Either sell them or develop them. Have an idea? Make an offer? Let me know.

News-blog.com
College-blog.com
Career-blog.com
Business-blog.com
Blogbucks.com
Blog-shop.com
Biz-blog.com

How-To Get Slashdotted

Nicholas Roussos has a good post on How-To Get Slashdotted. His method is a slightly less direct method than you might think – ie it’s about getting your link on Slashdot in the byline of the person who submitted the article rather than having a post you’ve written directly linked to.

‘The secret lies in submitting stories. Slashdot relies on readers to send in stories. A lot of sites work like this. If you send in the story, they’ll throw you a link in the write up. Bam, you’re on Slashdot. Sure, it’s not as high profile as it would be if the write up was about your site, but it’s better than nothing. Plus, if your site has an article of interest, what better way to make sure you get referred to than to write the story itself.’

Nicholas is onto something here – whilst you might not end up with a deluge of traffic from this type of Slashdot link – there are other benefits – the main one being that it gives you a link from a highly ranked website (Slashdot currently has a PR of 9). I’ve used this method before and it does work (its all about picking the right story), it does bring a trickle of traffic and you can slip in links to your own blog (if they’re relevant to the story).

So if you want to get linked to on Slashdot – check out Nicholas’s post which includes the steps he uses and a useful submission guide as an update.

The advantages of Different Types of Traffic

WorkBoxers writes a great post comparing Search Engine Traffic to Daily Visitors, Which Is Better? I agree with Scrivs again on this one – its a ‘both’ thing – both types of readers have their value to your blog. You can successfully target either one exclusively or even both depending upon what the goal of your site is.

Targeting Search Engine Readers – For example when we ran the Olympics blog last year we were not really too interested in loyal daily readers (apart from the two weeks of the game themselves) – we did have a few of them but the vast majority of the 2 million readers we got that month came in via Google. Whilst the loyal readers were great and added something special to the site they were in the minority and not our main focus. As Scrivs say its the SE readers that most believe click on ads more than loyal readers so this group of readers can be quite rewarding.

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Random Blog Tips – Purple Cow Blogging

PurplecowOne of the common mistakes that I see in many blogs is that they are quite simply unremarkable.

We’ve all seen seen these blogs – (and most of us if we’re honest will admit to having written them at some point) – they are the blogs you look at for a few seconds without actually seeing anything before you surf on to some other site.

A couple of days ago I told you that blog readers stay on any given blog for an average of 96 seconds. Its not long so you’ve only got just over one and a half minutes to make an impression – to do something remarkable that will rock your reader’s world a little and shake them out of the web surfing zombie like state that they are probably in.

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The 4 Secrets to an Effective E-Newsletter

One of the good blogs that I’ve started reading a bit more of lately is Search engine optimization and Online marketing, a group blog written about Affiliate programs, B2B Marketing, Business Blogging, SEO and more. They write an article today that might be helpful to bloggers wanting to explore developing an E-Newsletter to add to their blog and keep readers in touch with their blogging. They write 4 secrets – the first of which is:

Make it Useful. With a business to business newsletter in particular, it’s difficult to get any traction with readers if you don’t give them some kind of actionable “aha” with every issue you send. They are barraged with emails, and eager to click the delete button as often as possible.

Your goal therefore, is to give them pause. To make them live in fear that if they delete your newsletter, they will miss some insight that would have made a significant impact on their success. Useful information rises to the top of the pile, and when your newsletter is on top, you need not worry about how big the pile is….’

Read more of this article at The 4 Secrets to an Effective E-Newsletter

I would recommend starting an Email Newsletter for your blog if you’re interested in developing a more loyal readership. Last year I started one on my Digicam blog that has now been signed up for by 3000 or so readers that have opted into the newsletter which lets me promote my latest posts to them every week. Its really added a new dimension to what I do. Of course if you’re wanting to start such a newsletter make sure you’re willing to actually deliver what you promise to your readership.