Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Revenue Opportunity: Blogging with Smorty

If you would like to explore some monetizing opportunities with your blog (i.e, blog for money, etc.), then sign up for Smorty. Smorty is an online service that gives you the opportunity to get paid for blogging. They basically connect advertisers to us bloggers by providing a good blog advertising system.

Nowadays, Product manufacturers or service providers advertise on blogs for the purpose of visibility and product awareness. Since blogs do provide fresh content they offer unmatched publicity specially when the blogger actually patronizes one of their products. Another advantage of a product being reviewed in blogs are the inbound traffic through link backs to their site where visitors can be converted to actual customers.

On the other hand, bloggers get paid for simply giving honest reviews and opinions about the advertiser's products or services. The only requirement is that the actual post should be at least 150 words in length. Its as simple as that!

How does Smorty differentiate itself from the other similar services?

  1. Pay outs are 5 days after your blog post has been approved through your paypal account.
  2. Each approved post will earn you a minimum of $6. This can get as high as $100 depending on your Pagerank and Smorty score.
  3. Smorty makes use of a unique blogger ranking system. Smorty's calculates it's own smart score system, it's created by combining the following factors 1) Googles PageRank, 2) Alexa Rankings, 3) Return rate of given tasks 4) Approval/Decline ratio of completed tasks and 5) Number of completed tasks. If you have a higher Smorty score, you are more likely to receive more campaign offers and more higher priced campaigns.

Okay, so how do bloggers join?

Joining Smorty is absolutely free. There's no set up and maintainance fees whatsoever. There are a few requirements though:
  • Your blog must be indexed by Google and Yahoo
  • Your blog must be older than 3 months
  • Your blog must not contain any violent, hate related or adult content
  • Your blog must be active and have a history of minimum average 2 new posts per week
  • The blog must not have duplicate posts or excessive duplicate content
Joining Smorty is a good addition to your revenue stream.
So if you haven't done it yet, you might as well sign up and get paid to blog.

Shopping for a Shopping Cart!

Before, one of the challenges of creating a web site for small businesses is incorporating an e-commerce functionality. I remember spending a lot of time sitting down in the front of my computer keying those PHP, ASP codes just to make a simple ecommerce software work.

Nowadays there's a plethora of shopping cart software available, the challenge, now lies in choosing the right one. Just recently, I came across Ashop Commerce. Ashop Commerce offers a complete solution for merchants to sell online. One thing that interests me was their service on hosted shopping cart software. Normally, a shopping cart is a software that you install in your web server and run in from there. Using Ashop's Hosted Shopping Cart, you don't have to install anything in your server, you can actually run the shopping cart from Ashop's hosted sites. And everything is web based, you don't have to code anything except some tweaking in HTML to add or customize your branding and layout. Ashop Commerce also provides a secure checkout system. You can try it out for yourself with their 10-day free trial and see how good their shopping cart is.

Here's a short list of their shopping cart features:

  • Web based store administration with no graphic design or HTML skills required
  • Fully web optimised structure, Page titles with keywords embedded
  • Easy shopping cart payment gateway setup (2 minutes)
  • Accept credit cards, real time payments
  • Integrated with all major banks and payment gateways
  • Offline (manual) credit card processing
  • Cheques, bank deposit
  • Create your own payment options
  • CVC (Security Code) support
  • Configurable currency symbol
  • Multi currency support
  • Google checkout integration

If you like to have a shopping cart for you site, you may want to visit http://www.ashopcommerce.com.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Entrecard: Is it really doing your blog any good?

Entrecard.

It's the hype in the blogosphere these days. If you're a serious blogger then you should know about Entrecard.

Its a social networking media that encourages fellow bloggers to visit other blogs and to drop their "business cards" on your blog. During my first few days after I joined, Entrecard drove at least 30 visitors a day. I estimate that this is a very small number compared to other bloggers.

But do these numbers really reflect the quality of traffic I get from my site?

By entrecard's own system, it encourage bloggers to visit fellow bloggers site and then drop their cards in their blog's entrecard widget. This gives you EC credits where you can use to buy ads in the entrecard system. A few months after Entrecards' launch a site dedicated to entrecard network browsing is already in placed, see Createlf EntreCard.


However, how many bloggers are actually reading your blog? I myself admit that out of the 50 blogs I browsed in a day to drop my card, I only read and stay at about 5 blogs that interest me. To the rest of the other 45 blogs I am just another site statistic contributing to their bounce rate.

For those not familiar with what is bounce rate, here's a short note from wikipedia:

Bounce Rate (often confused with Exit Rate) is a term used in website traffic analysis. A Bounce occurs when a website visitor leaves a page or a site without visiting any other pages before a certain session timeout elapses. There is no standard minimum or maximum time limit a visitor must leave by in order for a bounce to occur. Rather, this is determined by the session timeout of the analytics tracking software. A commonly used session timeout value is 30 minutes. In this case, if a visitor views a page and leaves his browser idle for 31 minutes, they will register as a "Bounce". If they then continue to navigate after this delay, a new session will occur and the last page they view before exiting or timing out again will result in another "Bounce". Thus, it is important to note the dependency between bounces and sessions.


With this is mind, I go back to my original question: Is it really doing your blog any good? I would have to answer yes! As a networking media its main goal is to drive traffic--to give your blog the opportunity to be seen (or read) by a lot of people. It's a known fact now that bloggers constantly hop and drop their cards across the network of entrecard users. I think it will always be that way. Now, for those bloggers to actually read your blog, it rest solely on the blog author--to create a good, inviting theme that will showcase good blog content. As the saying goes in the blogosphere, CONTENT IS KING!

As for entrecard, it has done its job. Now the rest is up to you.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I just joined PayPerPost

I started this blog without really thinking that I will be hooked into it. Though I still don’t have that super huge number of readers or subscribers, I am currently and seriously contemplating on getting my own domain name and web hosting. As most successful bloggers will tell you—it is better to have your own domain from the onset to spare you the trouble when the visitors starts coming in and you have to redirect them to a new domain. Plus, having your own domain really looks more professional than having the .blogspot.com attached to it. However, I would like to get my domain from possible earnings I get blogging. Small goal, I think.

So with that in mind, I looked for some possible income sources for my blog—and there are a lot of them out there. With a quick pick among them, I signed up for Pay Per Post.

Pay Per Post pays bloggers just by blogging about web sites, products, services and companies. Their advertisers are willing to pay you for your opinion on various topics. You just search through a list of Opportunities, make a blog posting, get your content approved, and get paid. It's that simple.

Also, once you’re signed up, you get the opportunity to earn a significant bonus just by making a post about their service. Cool!

Seems like I can register my own domain after all, now what was that domain name I was thinking about?



 

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bloghology Launched!

Download Free Bloghology Ebook

Bloghology is a product of the hard work of Mert Erkal. It is collection of information, profiles and interviews of different bloggers from all around the world. Bloghology introduces you to the real people behind the blogs. Initially, it contains 24 bloggers but the list will grow during the subsequent release every quarter this 2008. So watch for it!

Meanwhile show your support to fellow bloggers and download the 2007 issue.

Find out more about Bloghology at Search for Blogging.

Joining The Green Cyber-Bandwagon

During these times when oil prices keeps on rising and the dollar is on a steady decline, you may find that your somehow high salary is no longer enough. Suddenly your $100 gasoline allowance is no longer sufficient. The times when you need to cash advance your paycheck or get some payday loan to augment or fill up those "in betweens" needs keeps on getting frequent.

For an average income family, this is a very likely scenario. But for those who have online internet access, a new revenue source is becoming popular: Blogs.

Blogs, or Web Logs, has been changing the face of the World Wide Web. Almost everyday thousands of blogs are being setup. Nowadays when you google a keyword there is a big probability that the results will point to a Blog rather than a traditional website. Blogs, most often that not, offer fresh content that search engine loves. And with high search engine rankings, blogs became a medium for money making opportunities. If you look around, a lot of top bloggers boast of five to six figures (annual) income from their blogs. Now who would not be enticed to do what they do? Not many I supposed since a lot of bloggers are joining the bandwagon.

However, blogging is not an easy thing to do. From my initial study of some prominent and significant sites in the blogosphere, blogging takes a lot of hard work, perseverance, networking, and internet marketing skills to make it work. Sometimes luck also plays a significant role.

However, for some bloggers, the intrinsic reward is more significant than the monetary rewards. They blog not because of traffic for adverts, adsense, reviews, etc. but because of the pleasure of writing their ideas, of expressing their own thoughts and opinions. For them blogging (writing) comes as a stress-reliever in this fast paced world. It is more of a journey towards self discovery and the money as they say, is just icing in the cake. …oh how I wish I can be that type of blogger!

Yeah, I wish! But back to reality: the Truth is, not everyone can really earn a fortune from blogging.

So I may still take out some payday loans from time to time. But I guess everyone can take their share of a few hundred dollars earnings if they blog seriously about it.

Monday, January 21, 2008

How to add a "Contact Page" on your Blog(ger)

Do you own a blogger account and would like to have a dedicated Contact Page on your blog just like those using Wordpress? Read this article and find out how.

One thing I like with wordpress is that they have those "pages" feature. This feature enables you to create dedicated pages were you can place customized content on your site. One use for these pages is the creation of a contact page. Such is not the case with Blogger. However, there is still a way for blogger account owners to have a contact page in their blog (See My Contact Page for example).

Follow the simple tutorial below to install your own that Contact Page for Blogger.
  1. Log in to you blogger account and create a new post. On the edit window, click the Post Options in the lower left corner. On the "Reader Comments Menu", select the "Don't allow" radio button. We need to configure your post this way so that the comments option will not show in your contact page. If you notice, we will create the your contact page as a individual post in your blog. This is a work around since Blogger do not have the "Pages" feature of Wordpress

  2. The next step is to create the form itself. This may take some HTML knowledge so I am providing you the code below. Make sure to type this code in your post window in "Edit HTML" mode.

  3. <form>
    Enter your full name:
    <input name="visitor_name" type="text" size="40" />
    Enter your email address:
    <input name="visitor_address" type="text" size="40" />
    Enter your web address:
    <input name="visitor_web" type="text" size="40" />
    Enter subject for message:
    <input name="subject" type="text" size="40" />
    Enter your message:
    <textarea name="comments" rows="7" cols="50"></textarea>
    <input name="submitBtn" value="submit" type="submit"/>
    <input name="resetBtn" value="reset" />
    </form>
    This code will place the basic form in your post. The form ask and contain the following information:
    • Name of Sender
    • Sender's Email Address
    • Web Site Address of Sender
    • Message Subject
    • Message itself
    Now that you have the basic structure of your contact form, it's now time to put the code to process your form.

  4. To have this form actually send you an email, we need to create some "form to email" processing script. On a normal website, we can either create a CGI or PHP script and store it somewhere in your web server directory. However since we cannot access such directory in your blogger account, we will need to have a script that we can access somewhere in the web. We can find such service in Web Form Designer. This site can actually process our forms for free. If you are not comfortable with HTML, they have a small software that you can download fro free to design your forms in WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) environment. You can download the software here. What ever you may prefer, you need to go over the site and sign up for an account.

  5. Registration for an account is straight forward. Just fill up the requested information in the appropriate fields. The autoresponders email address field is where you specify the actual email address where you want the contents of the forms to be sent when processed.


    Do not forget to place something in the URL of the redirect field. The URL that you place here is the web page loaded once the form has been process. You don't want your visitors staring at a blank page after sending you a message, don't' you? After checking all the accuracy all the information, click the submit button.

  6. Before you can use the account, you need to activate it. Activation instructions will be emailed to you together with your confirmation email. This email will also contain your Password and Form ID. Do not lose this email. Archive or print and keep a hardcopy.

  7. Now we need to do some minor revisions on your Contact Form. Locate the <form> tag. Insert the following text

    name="Your_Blog_Name_Contact_Form" action="http://www.webformdesigner.net/wfd_f2.php?id=XXXXXXXXXX" method="post" enctype="application/x-www-form-urlencoded"

    in between the "<form" and the closing ">".

    IMPORTANT NOTE: you need to replace the "XXXXXXXXXX" text with your FormID.


  8. Next, locate the "<input name="submitBtn" value="submit" type="submit"/>" line of code. In between "input" and "name", insert the following code:

    onclick="return confirm('Please make sure all fields are correctly filled up, otherwise I may not be able to answer your mail. Are you sure you want to submit this form?');"


  9. Thats it! You can save or publish this post and you now have a contact form for your blogspot blog!



Note:

Although, this can work as a Contact Page for you..it is by no means comparable to the plugins available for Wordpress. If you notice, the contact form was created using the basic HTML codes, no javascript or PHP. Thus, some limitations are:
  • No script to validate the contents of the form before processing;
  • and there is no tool to moderate or filter spam comments.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Are You Losing Your Sanity to Spam Emails?


If you are, chances are you're not alone. Spam emails have been used as a cheap online marketing strategy since email and the internet has been popularized. And as long as unscrupulous individuals exist, the end to email spam is far, far into the future. Still, you can do something against spammers to keep your online sanity...


What is Spam?

Image from http://qcbdebtfree.com/142.jpgSpam Emails are junk, unsolicited emails you received from unknown individuals. They are usually sent in bulk. If you don't have any spam filtering software installed, spam emails eats up your time just by filtering which emails are valid from your inbox. Spam emails also eat up your bandwidth. If you own a website, emails sent to your domain are part of the bandwidth you pay for web hosting. So unlike traditional snail mail where the sender pays for the postage, in email you actually pay for the spam message to be delivered to your inbox.

Spam emails are also a tool for phishing. This happen when spammers forge their email to look like it’s from someone else you know or from a reputable organization or institution. Such fraudulent emails target users to unknowingly respond with certain personal information such as username and passwords.

Why do people send spam emails?

The bottom line of spamming is to push their “products” using cost effective techniques. Individuals or even large companies engage in spamming because it’s cheap. It’s a numbers game. Imagine sending marketing ads of their products via email to several or even hundred thousands users, chances are people will bite into their ad. Even if only a few hundred people buy into their product, the returns exceed the cost of sending these bulk messages.

Harvesting your email address

You may be asking yourself, “How the heck did they get my email address?” There are a lot of ways to do that, but I’ll just list down the most obvious ones:

  1. You subscribe to some questionable websites. These websites gathers emails address and then sells their email database to spammers.

  2. You have your email address (yourname@yourdomain.com) posted in a web page somewhere. Some spammers deploy "Web Spiders" to crawl the web for the sole purpose of generating a list of email addresses. So if you have your email address posted in a website. You are vulnerable to get spammed.

  3. Joining discussion Groups. Discussion groups are one place where spammers routinely join. And they join not because they are interested in the discussions or topics. If you think they are there just for the email addresses, you guessed right!
As I mentioned, there are lot of ways how a spammer can actually gather email addresses. Some can even generate a program to scan popular email domains such as Hotmail, MSN, Yahoo, and Gmail. The technique they employ is a pattern matching algorithm that matches initials plus surname with @maildomain.com. It’s a hit and miss technique but it yields addresses nonetheless.

Finding their way to your inbox

Since spamming has been identified as an unethical and illegal activity, spammers have gone some great length to send out their emails without actually revealing their real identities (because once they do this, its game over for them). Large companies are hiring third parties to do the spamming for them so that in case of complaints or law suits, the blame falls on the third party.

These third parties, to protect themselves, employ a cat and mouse game against anti-spam professionals. Some techniques done by spammers are:
  1. Setting up spoof websites to send out spoof emails. Having a fake website let spammer gather emails from unsuspecting users. They can also be the launch pad in sending the spam emails. With little knowledge of PHP, a spammer can make use of the fake web host to forge emails and send it out to anyone in their list.

  2. Hijacking other peoples’ computers and sending their spam emails from them (also know as zombie machines). Just like how a virus can propagate, a malicious program (malware) can be installed in any computer. Once it's there the malware takes care of sending the spam messages without the computer owner's knowledge.

Restoring your sanity

How to avoid spam emails

The best way you can do to avoid spam emails are:
  1. Stop yourself from giving out your email addresses online. If you have to subscribe to an online newsletter or service, check out the credibility of the website first. Some decent websites have a privacy or anti-spam policy posted. If they have, read it.

  2. This also applies when you subscribe to discussion groups such as Yahoo groups or Google groups. When joining such groups it really help if you personally know who the group owner or members are.

  3. Avoid posting your email online. I have read somewhere that posting your email even in yourname[at]domain[dot]com format is not longer safe since some spammers have configured smart web spiders that can identify these format.

  4. Scan your PC regularly. These days, you should scan your computer not only for viruses but also for malwares (malicious softwares). If you notice your computer to hang up or runs significantly slower when you are connected to the internet there may be a chance that your computer have turned into a “zombie” that sends spam. Scary huh?

  5. It also helps if you can install some software which monitor your network or bandwidth activity. This way you can check if there is some unauthorized traffic coming in or out of your system.
I got spammed now what?

Once you're spammed, the probability of the spammer leaving your email alone is close to none. So if this is the case, you may want to consider getting an antispam software. There are a lot of anti-spam software ranging from freeware to licensed versions. If you are a website owner you may want to install SpamAssassin into your server. SpamAssassin, an open source software, is commonly distributed as an addon into your Cpanel by your Web Host.

If you use a private email then you may want to check out some available anti-spam software available in the net (i.e., SpamCop, Spam Killer, Spam Buster, etc).

If you use free email (i.e., Gmail, Yahoo, etc), they normally have some spam filter installed. I use Gmail and I am find their spam filter to be good enough.

The battle between spammers and the anti-spam industry is still ongoing and far from over. However, if you take some precautionary steps there's no reason to go insane about it.

 

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

An Online Business Card for Social Networking

I chanced upon EntreCard last week, however, I managed to register and install it in my blog just yesterday. In less than 8 hours, it managed to bring me 24 unique visitor traffic. For some that may not be a huge number but for a simple cut paste of a javascript code in my blog, I can say that was significant. I still need to log into entrecard's website for a deeper "read and understand" visit so I really have not taken any other serious activity with what entrecard has to offer still the initial surge of traffic have impressed me.

From my initial browse, here's a quick look of what EntreCard is all about: "Entrecard is a blossoming social network of bloggers centered around the concept of community, sharing, and helping each other out." It's actually a sort of digitial business card, for networking and promoting your blog (or website maybe) in the EntreCard Community. It even have its own forum where its community can easily interact.

Currently I find it a worthy try and will see how it turns up in a couple of weeks.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Audio Ads: The Next Big Thing!

Personally I think this would be the next best thing after ad sense. Pay Per Play is a non-intrusive marketing method since there are no banner ads cluttering your web space. What it does is it plays a 5 second advertisement every time your web page loads. Your reader does not see anything (i.e., banners, buttons, text-links, etc.). And the good thing is—you get paid every playing of the audio ad, no click through are necessary. This is a nice addition to your blog’s revenue stream. But you need to hurry Pay Per Play runs live February 2008. So if I were you I will waste no time and sign up as an affiliate right now!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Save Energy, Turn Your World Black!

Recently, I came across this unique search engine. Blackle was created by Heap Media to remind us all of the need to take small steps in our everyday lives to save energy. Blackle searches are powered by Google Custom Search.

Quoting from their site:

Blackle saves energy because the screen is predominantly black. "Image displayed is primarily a function of the user's color settings and desktop graphics, as well as the color and size of open application windows; a given monitor requires more power to display a white (or light) screen than a black (or dark) screen." Roberson et al, 2002


It does makes sense. I read an article before that in order to prolong your computer monitor's life then stay I way from colorful wallpapers. Actually, in my computers I normally set, plain black as wallpaper. I figure it makes my computer speed up a little bit faster. Now, the black background saves energy too!

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