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My Backpack

I’ve decided to test Backpack with their free service. My hope is that it will help me to be a little more organized in my blogging.

I’ve made my front home page public to show you a little of what it can do – I’ve not put anything special on the page so far, but you get the idea.

Of course there are other secret blogging business things lurking behind the scenes in the private areas (insert evil laugh here). Actually the only thing behind the scenes at the moment are a growing list of blog posts that I want to write on ProBlogger in the next few days which I emailed to the list as I thought of them. But I can already think of a number of uses for my BackPack which could assist me in my blogging.

The free version has ads on the public pages and doesn’t allow image or file uploads. It also only allows limited numbers of active reminders and pages – but it definitely gives a feel for the program. I’m really impressed by its simplicity, speed, smooth transitions and many potential applications.

A number of features I’d love to see incorporated would include:

  • SMS alerts to my mobile carrier in Australia (Telstra)
  • ability to email reminders
  • ability to respond to ‘reminder’ emails from within the email. ie if at the bottom of each email it had a link to ‘snooze’, ‘delete’, ‘edit’ etc. It does have one link to a page where all this can be done – but a one click option to delete would be cool (I’m lazy).
  • public editing of pages (I wouldn’t want this on any page – but I’d love to be able to offer a couple of pages to readers of this blog to be able to edit. Even if there was a ‘register’ option where the public could apply to be a contributer.
  • ability to change the look and feel of public pages

Of course these might be features I’ve just not yet found.

I’m particularly interested in how others are planning on using BackPack – especially in your blogging. Do you have any initial reactions on it that you’d like share?

Blogging – A Job that Never Ends

Driving across the Sydney Harbor Bridge on the way to the airport on a recent trip my taxi driver decided to give me a trivia lesson on the bridge. One of the statistics he recited was about painting the bridge – a job not for the feint hearted. It takes 80,000 litres (21,000 gallons) of grey paint and is an an endless task. As soon as they get to one end of the bridge they start again at the other.

Some days this is how I feel when it comes to blogging. There is an endless source of news, stories, tips and links to post on any given day. My goal each day is to clear my News Aggregator (Bloglines) of unread items. This is no easy task as I’m tracking 391 feeds in the search for quality content for my blogs. I do tend to scan more than I read word for word – however I like to do a pretty comprehensive job which takes time.

I get to the end of most days and have a similar feeling to the bridge painters in Sydney as I click the last ‘unread’ feed or folder – only to refresh the page and find more. A never ending task in a sense – but a satisfying feeling for that split second each day when its a fully read feed list.

A number of readers have expressed to me their frustration with this aspect of blogging – sometimes it can all seem rather overwhelming. I usually respond with some advice that my Dad used to give me when I felt overwhelmed by my studies:

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Vespa Blogs

Steve Rubel announces that Vespa will start blogging later in the year at VespaBlogs.com. They write:



‘Why is Vespa launching blogs?


Piaggio USA feels blogs are an ideal way to connect with Vespa brand loyalists and encourage them to become online evangelists. It is an extension of the scooter clubs that have existed offline for years. One reason is that U.S. scooter buyers are heavy online users. According to internal Piaggio USA research, a full 65% of prospective motor scooter buyers visited the Vespa USA Web site, while 56% visited other sites when conducting research prior to purchase. Piaggio USA hopes that by hosting a transparent peer-to-peer discussion, it will enable more individuals to embrace scootering for a wide array of daily lifestyle needs. In addition, it will enable Piaggio USA to actively listen to consumer feedback in real-time.’

This is a very smart move. Vespas are a lovemark (if you haven’t read this book can I recommend you grab a copy from your local bookstore) and the best way that you can tap into the love that owners of your products have for such a product is to provide a space for them to come together to talk, connection, obsess, rave, gush, dream, evangelize and be excited about your product. This is what might just happen with such a blog.

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More on Blogging and Farming

Return Customer extends my post on Blogging as Farming and takes it in some interesting directions by looking at an article about small farms. Some of the quotes from the article are excellent and the comparisons to blogging are obvious:

‘One way farmers can draw customers is by growing a crop few others are selling locally….’

‘Small farms also have the ability to develop close ties to regular customers. Farmers should pay attention to what repeat customers are buying and why….’

‘Farmers markets offer a great venue for developing repeat customers … Farmers need to connect with customers and explain the benefits of fresh, locally grown produce to turn the novel experience of visiting the market into a weekly routine’

Read more at Cultivate Your Business and Customers

Blogging and the cost of content – A paper by Trevor Cook

Trevor Cook has just had his paper for the upcoming Blogtalk Downunder conference published on the conference website. I’ve only just started to read and digest it (I’m generally not too goo at reading long papers at this time of the day (I’m better at siestas to be honest) but what I’ve read so far is well worth the read. It’s titled Up Against Reality: Blogging and the cost of content and it covers themes of bloggers as journalists, corporate blogging and blogging and advertising – all themes that ProBloggers need to get their heads around.

Reading his paper makes me want to go to Blogtalk Downunder even more – I’m just not sure I can afford the accumulation of conference fees, airfares and hotel costs all on top of a brand new mortgage – cash flow isn’t great.

Are any of my fellow Australian bloggers out there going? Help me decide if I should head up to Sydney for it.

Backpack from 37 Signals

37 Signals is launching their latest project – Backpack on Tuesday. Whilst the main site doesn’t seem to have gone live yet a number of previews of this new program have been written which you should check out. I been given a bit of an inside look at it by three readers of ProBlogger in the past 24 hours and I must say that I’m really impressed by it and am looking forward to trying it out for myself.

In short Backpack is a web based way of organizing your information that lets you organize it as you like. It lets you keep some private and allows you to share other bits of it. You can access it via email or via the web. It has blog-like characteristics but also reminds me of a wiki – dynamic stuff, yet simple.

I won’t explain it as well the people behind it so check out this Backpack Preview for the inside word. As I say – I don’t yet have my own Backpack but from what I’ve snuck a look at through others free tries it looks pretty nice.

Also check out business logs mini preview of BackPack.

Update: Backpack is now live.

The Power of the Passive Link

Eric Ward at Search Engine Guide writes about the power of the passive inbound link. In short – a passive link is a link you don’t buy, ask for or trade links for. His premise is that passive links are a more powerful type of link than others – especially reciprocal ones. Search Engines treat such links as a vote for the authority of your site.

This is one of the strengths of blogging – write something original, clever, witty, powerful, touching, insightful, controversial (linkable) and the links tend to come in. Whilst you can spend all your time emailing people and asking for links with the offer of linking to others, the best strategy for getting passive links is simply to run a quality blog.

If you want an example of this principle currently in progress check out what happens when you land a big story – like the Engadget interview with Bill Gates today. I must have seen at least 15 links to it in the past hour and technorati reveals more.

Adsense – Not for Everyone

Stephen Baker from the new Blogspotting blog has an example of why some blogs are probably not suitable for using contextual ads on them. He refers to a religious blog that he saw an ad for ‘sexy black singles’. Not that there is anything wrong with sexy black singles being advertised on a religious blog…. But perhaps not the most relevant of ads.

Fastclick Launch Text Ads

An email was just sent out to Fastclick Publishers announcing that their new Text Ad program has just gone live.

We have exciting news to announce – we launched our new Text Ads ad format today! Text Ads are the perfect supplement to your current display advertising, using unobtrusive text with customizable formatting to fit your site-specific needs and generate additional revenue.

This is different to Google’s Adsense due to ads not being contextual in nature. This should mean that both ads can be shown on the same page as long as the Fastclick ads do not look too similar to Adsense ones (I guess this is open for interpretation – but I’d advice being careful).

Get more details on what this new program involves at their official press release.

Google Adsense Local Currency Payments are Here

Just went down to my PO Box – and my first local currency cheque arrived from Google. Very exciting. Normally when I get a cheque from Google it takes another 6 WEEKS to get it cleared. Today when I go to the bank it should be a few days at the most before the money hits my account.

It comes at a good time – we settle on our new house this week!