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Qumana – First Impression Review

Well rather than procrastinating I thought I’d download Qumana straight away and am writing this post from it as a first impression review.

Downloading was simple (is it ever not on a Mac?) with the file only 8.7MB. Installation was a breeze as was configuring Qumana to blog to ProBlogger. It, like other desktop editors, has an auto set up where it will search for your blog and settings once you type in it’s URL. I was ready to post within 30 seconds.

My first impression of the layout of the tool is that it looks pretty professional and at a glance seems to have all the features I’m used to using my normal desktop editor ecto. There are also a few extra buttons and features that I’m not used to including the ‘insert Ad’ button which is the interface that Qumana has with Adgenta ads (an ad network run by the same people). Following is a screen shot of the post window that I’m currently looking at

Qumana

Inserting an image like that is a drag and drop deal and resizing the image can be done either by right clicking it and entering the ‘image properties’ option or by clicking on the image and resizing it by dragging it in a similar way to the way you’d do it in a Word Document.

I’m unsure if this image will appear as a thumbnail in my actual post (I use thumbnails a lot via ecto) and cannot see a ‘preview’ option which is something else I’m used to. update: as it turned out there were problems uploading the pictures so I’ve uploaded the image using another method and have made it a thumbnail. I’m not sure what the problem with the images was – it could have been at my end or theirs.

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How to Get Your Blog to 100,000 Visitors and Beyond

This post has been submitted by ‘FMF’ from Free Money Finance. It’s actually the first post in a series he’s going to start on FMF in the coming week by the same title.

How to Get Your Blog to 100,000 Visitors and Beyond – Step 1: Pick the Right Topic

I’ve had a lot of requests to detail how I got 100,000 visitors (now past 150k as I write this) to Free Money Finance. While the topic is not clearly in the subject area of personal finances, it can be part of how you increase your income (and thus improve your net worth), so I’ll cover it. Plus, this will serve to help out other bloggers as well as remind me of what else I need to do to grow this blog. If this isn’t your cup of tea, simply ignore these posts. I post frequently enough that a new, money-related post is not far behind this one.

I’ll over this topic in a series of “steps”, each one presenting a simple, unique step I took to get to 100,000 visitors. I’ll also try to keep the steps in the order I did them, though several happened simultaneously, so that won’t be easy.

That said, here we go.

Step 1 to getting to 100,000 visitors and beyond: Pick the right topic.

This might seem to be a simple step (and maybe even counter blogging — can’t I just blog about what I want?), but it’s critical. To me, the right topic is one that:

You’re passionate about — If you’re not passionate about it, you won’t post regularly, you’ll lose interest, and your readers will be able to tell your heart isn’t really in it (and they’ll go away). If you are, your readers will identify with you and get to “love” your personality. And they’ll come back. And tell their friends to stop by.

You’re knowledgeable about — You don’t have to be an expert on the topic, but you need to know more than most people to get a lot of people to your site. Otherwise, why would they stop by (or come back)?

Is it popular — Let’s face it, if you want to write about the exercise habits of your hamster, not many people are likely to visit your blog. You have to have a topic that many, many people want to read about if you want to get to 100k. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t write about your hamster (or anything else a large group wouldn’t want to read about). If you blog for your own pleasure, then go for it — make Hammy a star. But if you want to get to 100,000 visitors, you need a topic (like personal finances) that many people what to know more about.

Watch out for the rest of FMF’s series later in the week at Free Money Finance.

Performancing Firefox Extension Launches

Congratulations to Nick and Jed over at Performancing for completing their Firefox extension which enables you to blog directly from within Firefox in a split screen way.

While I’m an addicted ecto for Mac Fan I can see how this extension will be very handy for many bloggers (especially non Mac users) as it enables an integrated system that means you never have to leave your browser and the pages you’re surfing.

I’ll be sticking to ecto for the time being but in testing the extension (I’m writing this post on it right now as the following screen cap will show – click to enlarge) I’m certain it’ll be a winner for many. Get the extension here.

Congratulations Performancing.

Performancing-Firefox

update: I’m not quite sure what went wrong with this post but the image didn’t get uploaded (I’ve now added to manually). The rest seems to have come across nicely although with a bit different formatting to how I’m used to with ecto. All in all – it’s a tool with promise that is sure to improve as it comes out of beta.

Amazon ProductWiki

Amazonwiki

There has been quite a bit of talk in the past couple of days about Amazon starting a wiki – Church of the Customer started it all but the interesting thing is that no one that I can see (including Church of the Customer) seems to have a link to it anywhere. Some say it’s something that only some people can view – but even still I would have expected links it it.

The wiki is called ProductWiki but most people don’t seem to be able to find out where it comes from. Business Week does have a link to a help page explaining what a wiki is but it doesn’t really refer to an Amazon wiki as such.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/wiki/ currently points to an error page for me – but it’s not a ‘this page doesn’t exist’ type error but one that says they are having problems processing the request. So maybe that’s where it is.

Product-Wiki

Interestingly (and maybe it is connected – and maybe it’s not) if you go to http://www.productwiki.com/ you’ll find a ‘coming soon’ message – in fact whatever is there is coming very soon – midnight tonight in fact. Perhaps this is the new home for Amazon’s ProductWiki or perhaps someone else is capitalizing on what they see Amazon doing.

The page design doesn’t look very Amazon-ish and they tend to keep everything on the one domain so I’m not sure it’s officially Amazon or not but time will tell.

update: a whois on the www.productwiki.com site has no obvious connection to Amazon. It’s registered to Amanie Ismail from Canada. Probably a dead end to that lead.

update II: I’ve just had an IM from Tim Flight who says he can see Wiki links on normal Amazon pages. They also have a description as follows:

You can create Wikis about a many different things on Amazon. For example, you might create a Wiki to describe a particular opera recording. Within that Wiki you could create links to Wiki entries defining words such as “soprano” and “coloratura”.

You can view how a particular Wiki entry has changed over time, to see who has contributed what and when, and you can subscribe to be notified by email of any future updates to Wikis you are interested in.

A list of Wikis you have contributed to appears on your Your Amazon Home and Profile pages.

Interesting. Obviously I’m living in the wrong part of the world (again) to participate in it but it looks like an interesting interaction with customers by Amazon.

Web Moments That Changed The World

The Webby Awards have come out with their 10 Web Moments That Changed The World – many of which were revolutionary to blogging also.

Hat tip to Dave Johnston who has written a post bouncing off the Webby Awards list and adding his own comments.

Affiliate Programs – Transparency and Disclaimers

I’d like to see some discussion around the topic of transparency in using affiliate programs.

When you link to one do you indicate that you are benefiting from the link in some way?

I’ll kick us off here and say that I do – and I don’t.

I probably need to come up with a better policy on this – but in general this is how I approach it.

If I’m recommending a product that I’m linking to with an affiliate program then I generally indicate that it is an affiliate link in some way. For example – regular readers will know that I’ve been talking up Chitika’s eMiniMalls recently. I’m obviously very happy with the product and am recommending that bloggers give it a go. In doing so I link to Chitika with an affiliate link. I am part of a group testing an affiliate program that will be launched publicly to all of their publishers shortly.

At the end of each post that I link to Chitika with I place a disclaimer that reads:
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Favicons on Blogs

Today I had a nice surprise waiting for me in my inbox – an email from Tiago who had kindly taken it upon himself to design me a favicon for my blog in thanks for the advice I’d given him and others through this blog.

For those not familiar with favicons – they are the little tiny 16×16 pixel pictures that appear to the left of a site’s URL. They also appear in the tabs of firefox and in bookmarks on some browsers. – in my case Tiago had taken the ‘p’ from my logo and constructed one as follows.

Picture 2

He then pointed me to this favicon instruction site which told me how to add it to my blog – it took about 2 minutes.

I’ve been meaning to add a favicon here to ProBlogger for some time as it adds another element of branding to the site, increases useability for tabbed browser users and those who use bookmarks regularly to surf – but unfortunately it’s always slipped to the bottom of my ‘to do list’ – so a big thank you to Tiago.

Google Blog Search – First Look Review

Google-Blog-SearchMy initial reflections on Google’s Blog Search:

  • the basic bones of the technology seem to be there.
  • basically it seems to be using similar (or the same) technology as Google News.
  • they seem to be indexing new posts very quickly which is great.
  • the pool of blogs that they are indexing seems smaller than I’d have expected. Of course they’ll be adding new feeds to track over time
  • they will have a big challenge of filtering spam – I’ve already seen quite a few spam posts in it both in the ‘related blogs’ and the actual posts that they are indexing
  • I’m disappointed with the ‘related blogs’ results – I’ve seen spam blogs, blogs that havn’t been updated for 6 months and know it’s omitting major blogs in certain niches. It seems from testing that the blogs served here are very related to the title of the blog concerned rather than the content in my initial tests.
  • The ability to subscribe via RSS to search terms is fantastic – top marks Google.
  • Being able to see results both ‘by date’ and ‘by relevance’ is a good thing.
  • The Advanced search functionality seems to offer more options than most other blog search tools that I’ve seen.

Overall – the technology is promising. It is in beta so we can’t expect too much I guess but I hope they make some improvements on some of the above areas.

I’ll also be fascinated to see how this impacts blog’s search result positioning in the main Google index. Will it lead to them being indexed faster and higher? Or is this a step towards downgrading their importance in the main index.

Update: Which indexes posts quicker – Google Blog Search or Technorati? The first one to index this post was Google in 50 minutes. The strange thing is that when I entered the index I entered it way down the page and not as the most recent post. Technorati is yet to index this post – however it has indexed considerably more in the mean time than Google.

Update II: Other reviews and first looks of Google Blog search can be found at:
- Anil’s first look at ProNet
- Paul’s Predictions
- Duncan’s Review
- Chris Pirillo has a massive list of posts from around the web on Google Blog Search

Intereseted to hear your reviews of Google Blog Search in comments below.

Melbourne Geek Dinner

Geek? Melbournian? If you’re both you need to get to the Melbourne Geek Dinner on Friday 26th August. RSVP to Tejas. I’m going to try to get there.