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A Day in the Life of a Blogger – Vidcast

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Yesterday I got a new toy – an iSight webcam.What follows is a little video I made with it describing ‘a day in the life of me’.

It’s nothing to serious and not the best quality video I’ve ever made (it was a little dark in the room) – but it was a fun way to spend a lazy Saturday evening.

This video was originally shared on blip.tv by darrenrowse with a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license.

PS: The music is Chemical Brothers – Setting Sun from the albumn Dig Your Own Hole (aff)

ebay AdContext Product Manager Sheds Light on Program

One of the product managers from ebay’s new AdContext contextual ad program, Ken, has just left a comment on my previous post about AdContext. As the comment was pretty long and quite comprehensive I thought I’d promote it to be a post of it’s own. Hopefully it sheds some light on AdContext for those of you considering joining the program. Keep in mind the information is from someone working on it so there is an element of natural bias there – but I think Ken’s done a reasonably good job. Thanks for stopping by mate. Here’s his comment:

I’m one of the product managers for eBay AdContext. I just read Darren’s post and everyone’s comments and I wanted to give everyone some information so you can decide if AdContext is worth your time (or not :). I’ll try to keep it factual so you won’t think I’m trying to pull some marketing spin here.

Payout structure: The payout structure for eBay AdContext is based on eBay’s affiliate program. In the US this based on a revenue share for bids, BINs as well as each new confirmed registered user (CRU) you send to eBay. Details are here. For other countries where eBay operates the compensation structure is not revenue share but pays out on each bid, BIN and CRU (for example, see the UK payout structure here).
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WordPress Plugin: Timecapsule

This post was contributed by Aaron Brazell, a regular ProBlogger contributor.

Update: A new version of the plugin has been uploaded.

I accidentally published this early and had to pull it back because it wasn’t ready-for-live yet. RSS subscribers, you got a sneak peek early but I wasn’t ready. Now we’re ready. :-)

Last week I passed my two year birthday as a blogger. Much fun and joyfulness were had by at least three readers. Such milestones tend to make me think about where I’ve come as a blogger and where I’m going. Though I have not always produced wonderfully excellent content, it’s really beneficial to highlight where I’ve been… especially as the really early stuff begins to fade away.

Finding a way to highlight older content adds a new dimension to your blog. Typically, a blog is single dimensional – that is, it is read from top down and unless some creative means are put in place to connect other aspects of your blog, readers may never experience them. Since I hate content to disappear into archive purgatory, I put a feature on my blog a few months ago called “The Timecapsule”.

I don’t know how it is in other parts of the world, but in the United States, folks looking to preserve historical moments and memories, will encase a “time capsule” in the cornerstone of a building when the ground is first broke for building. It’s the symbolic memorializing of “that which once was” which preserves memories for future generations.

As with memories buried inside a building cornerstone, a timecapsule on a blog can reveal to readers “that which once was” and can serve as a wonderful reminder of where you have come as a blogger.

I’ve taken the feature from Technosailor and wrapped it into a single WordPress plugin simply called Timecapsule – of course, notoriously, the first ProBlogger plugin release. :) This plugin was built on WordPress 2.x, but I don’t see any reason why it would not work on earlier versions of WordPress. I just haven’t tested it.

Instructions are really simple:

  1. Download (link fixed) and extract the plugin.
  2. Upload timecapsule.php to your plugins folder.
  3. Login to wp-admin and activate.
  4. Configuration can be made in the Time Capsule submenu under the Manage tab.
  5. Drop &lt;?php timecapsule(); ?&gt; where you want to display the timecapsule.

Changelog
2006-06-01
– Initial Release (1.0.1)
2006-06-01
– Bugfix release (1.0.2)
– Fixed Bug with Number of posts displaying incorrectly
– Added ability to customize ‘no posts’ message
– Added ability to turn off ‘no posts’ message

A Question about Comments and Permission

Amy (a ProBlogger reader) sent me a question this morning that I thought might make an interesting discussion question:

“A writer for a newspaper would like to quote some of the comments my readers have left on my blog. As the blogger, I’m not sure what’s appropriate–to give her my permission to use whatever comments she wants OR to insist she first tell me the comments she wants to use so I can contact each commenter and get their permission.”

What do you think? Do you (or anyone else) need to get the permission of those who leave comments on your blog if you’re using their comments for any other purpose than where they’ve left the comment?

I’m interested in your opinion.

ProBlogger Blog Case Study – Digital Photography School

Last week’s experiment with Vidcasting brought a lot of positive feedback so I’ve decided to make it a regular thing. This week I’m testing blip.tv (still in beta) to host my video. Let me know what you think in comments.

In this week’s vidcast (6 minutes and 23 seconds) I walk you through my latest ‘blog’ Digital Photography School. It’s an experiment on numerous levels and I talk you through some of the theories that I’m testing there.

By no means is this new project finished (it’ll take years to get to where I want to go) – I’m not satisfied with many aspects of it yet but as I say it’s more of an experiment than anything else and I’ll use it as a blog case study both in this vidcast but also in the coming months as I continue to develop it. In this way I hope to give a practical example from startup through to maturity (hopefully) on how I set up a new blog. I’m taking a long term view of this process so settle in for the ride.

Hopefully it will also be a useful blog for some of you who are interested in improving your digital camera technique – if that’s you you might wish to subscribe to it’s weekly email newsletter or RSS feed.

Of course any link love that you can give it will be much appreciated!

Here’s the Vidcast.


Blogs: Frequently Asked Questions

What are blogs anyway?

A blog is a regularly updated website consisting of regular article postings. Links to and from other blogs and traditional websites are a prominent feature of most blogs. A blog tends to be focussed on a single topic or issue, and usually invites comments from readers on the posted articles, starting a conversation between writer (called a blogger) and the readers. A blog usually reflects the personality of the writer, and is most often written in a personal and informal style.

Isn’t a blog just an online diary?

An online diary, or personal blog is only one type of blog. Along with personal blogs, there are many types of business, technology, and professional blogs. The personal blog was once the predominate form of blog, but that is definitely no longer the case.

Are there different types of blogs?

Blogs can be in the form of written blogs, hosted on a blog server or on the webmaster’s own site. Blogs can also be found that use audio postings rather than written posts. There are blogs for every type of business, profession, and technological concept. Writers, lawyers, accountants, real estate agents, search engine optimization experts, marketers, and public relations professionals are just a few of the professions making use of blogs in their businesses.

What value does a blog have for a business?

A blog opens up the lines of communication between the blog writer and the reader. By becoming accessible to the public, a business can be seen as more than simply a faceless company, but a group of real people. The blog provides a powerful element of personal contact with the reader, building trust and confidence in the business and its personnel.

What type of businesses could benefit from a blog?

Any type of business that requires communication with potential readers in the general public can benefit from maintaining a blog. The public can be current and potential customers and clients, the news media, other business or professionals in the industry, or simply casual readers interested in the topic.

What business uses does a blog have?

A blog is ideal for opening the lines of communication between the business and the current and future customers. Communications builds trust that goes far in the areas of marketing and public relations. The blog puts a human face on the company and builds the level of trust. People are far more likely to purchase products and services from other people who they know and trust. A blog is also a very powerful tool for improving search engine rankings because of the keyword rich fresh content and the abundant incoming links.

Are blogs a useful networking tool?

Because of the intensive personalization involved with writing blog posts, the blog is a natural networking vehicle. Readers interact with the writer through the blog comments and by e-mail. The contacts often lead eventually to many shared business opportunities. Successful business arrangements formed between two blog owners, and between a blogger and a reader, occur very frequently.

How could I start a blog?
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Humanity Still Trumps

This post has been submitted by regular contributor – Aaron Brazell

I suppose this is somewhat of a tangent but if you bear with me, I believe this dovetails nicely with the focus of this blog. Last Friday, I went through one of the most terrifying situations a parent can go through – having surgery performed on a child. In my case, my son is two years old.

Sure, in my case, the operation was minor, and the doctors were the best doctors in the world, but nonetheless – no surgery is minor and no doctor is immune from making mistakes.

So after an agonizing period of waiting while specialists, anasthesioloigists, and nurses paraded over to check on him while we waited for the procedure to begin, they finally took him into the back room to sedate him. The poor child had a look of sheer terror on his face while the doctors tried to calm him. One nice inhale of “the gas” and a wide-eyed look put him in a deep sleep.

My wife and I were allowed to go and grab a bite to eat in the cafeteria and were summoned a short time later to come be with our son. He was coming out of his drug-induced sleep and had been numbed from the waist down as well, so he definitely wasn’t feeling pain – we were told.

As parents, we sat there with Devin holding him and stroking his hair. He was miserable and the heart strings were being tugged as we sat watching him in discomfort. As parents, this sort of thing is agonizing. You hate to see your child uncomfortable.

The nurse, who I am sure is very experienced and very knowledgeable, kept trying to calm us and tell us things like “He can’t feel anything”, “This is normal” and “he’ll go back to sleep for a bit”.

At one point, the nurse looked and said, “I’m going to give him another dose of the pain medicine. He shouldn’t be waking up so soon. At another time, the monitor went off because he wasn’t getting enough oxygen. So the nurse fetched him an oxygen mask and made a comment about how it was very odd that he wasn’t getting oxygen.

The point of this very long and windy entry is that people that run an internet business, including bloggers who are monetizing their blogs, can easily fall into a pattern of the expected. It’s relatively easy to read entries here at ProBlogger and other sites that talk about optimizing sites for search engines, how to make title tags efficient or how to garner the most traffic and ad revenue. Like this Johns Hopkins nurse, there are notable experts in fields that will make their wizardry seem easy. And following the advice of experts will usually put you ahead of the crowd.

However, the one factor that cannot be quantified, measured, explained or predicted is the human factor. Despite the fact that our blogs and businesses are internet-based, they are based in humanity – a humanity that is unpredictable, emotional and takes different shapes for different humans. Sometimes all the 10 step processes and tricks don’t work because there are humans in the picture messing the formulas up.

Fortunately for us as bloggers, one size doesn’t fit all and when one formula fails, chances are we can find one that works in our situation with our personalities.

Australian AdSense Publishers Get Direct Debit Payments

Good news for Aussies today with AdSense notifyig them that they can now be paid by direct deposit! Here’s an excerpt from the email sent:

‘We have recently added a new payment option for Australia and wish to invite you to sign up to receive payments directly to your bank account.

I’m not sure if this is just an Australian thing or whether other countries have now been upgraded to EFT payments also but I know a few other Aussies that will be happy about this one.

Mark Pilgrim Gets Back in the Game

Mark Pilgrim is back. Mark Pilgrim was actually one of the early shapers of my philosophy on blogging and left me somewhat disappointed when he left the game a few years ago. It looks like he’s back though, based on his entertaining (as a parent) entry on bath time with his child, one cannot be sure what shape his blogging will take this time around.

Hat Tip: Blog Herald