Part of the
Kenno's Blog series.
By Ken Brown
Editor, You Can Learn Series
Updated: November 17, 2007
It has been a busy week for me.
Unfortunately, I haven't spent much time writing. What have I been doing? I
have been checking out social networks like StumbleUpon. I am learning about
FeedBurner. I added a Survey plugin to the site and I have added a comments
section to the blog.
One of the things I added a long time ago was an
RSSFeed. This is a tool that allows users to utilize pull
technology to get their information. Instead of a webmaster sending you an
email once a week or once a month, there are feed readers available that goes
to a website and pulls down the latest articles. Then you can read the article
at your convenience.
FeedBurner allows you to subscribe to an RSSFeed using your favorite RSSFeed
reader. It also allows the webmaster to track the number of readers who are
subscribing to the website RSSFeed. Before, visitors would click on the orange
RSSFeed button at the top right hand corner of each page and I wouldn't know if
one person or a million people were subscribing to my feeds. For the webmaster,
FeedBurner gives us that information.
As of November 17, 2007, I officially have one subscriber. (A big Homer Simpson WooHoo)
And if I don't write more articles soon I might be down to zero subscribers. I
suspect over the next year that number will jump up as I write more relevant
articles to my target market. So for dedicated bloggers at this point in time I
say give FeedBurner a try. If you are a webmaster or blogger that has tried
FeedBurner, I would love to hear your comments.
The next hot thing I tried this week is StumbleUpon. The concept is pretty
cool. You sign up with StumbleUpon
and then download the plugin / toolbar for your favorite browser. Then when you
are ready you begin to stumble.
Stumbling is not a bad thing. When you signed up you clicked on the areas of
interest you have about many topics. There must be at least 50 major
categories. Then when you click on the Stumble button in your toolbar a random
website comes up that is relevant to one of your areas of interest. It is
definitely a cool way to find out about other websites. One of the areas of
interest I had checked was astronomy. The first astronomy website I stumbled
upon was outstanding. Photographs of galaxies. You could see all the different
types of galaxies. Wow.
This is totally off topic. I remember years ago when I was at the University of
Illinois in Champaign. I was taking an astronomy class. One night we were given
the opportunity to use the University telescope. I thought, this is gonna be
fantastic. I am going to get a really close up view of the planets. Jupiter,
Saturn and maybe even Venus. Well, I was totally blown away. We didn't see any
planets. We were shown galaxies and nebulas. It truly opened my mind to the
Back to StumbleUpon. If you like a website when you stumble upon it, then you
can vote for it. In fact, if you don't like a website you can give it a thumbs
down. The toolbar you added to your browser has these little thumbs that allow
you to vote a site up or down. These thumbs are important. As you browse and
vote for these websites the back end search engine at StumbleUpon is evaluating
your votes. If a lot of people voted your site up, then it will be shown more
often. If people are voting a site more thumbs down, meaning they don't like
it, then when you stumble the site will be shown less often. It is up to the
people to decide what they like and what they don't like.
You might have noticed on the right hand side of this page a survey is
occurring. I signed up with a company called Vizu
to run the survey on my website. Currently this process is free. But, I think
sometime next year they will want to charge for the survey on my website.
Why do I put the survey on my pages? Honestly, I am hoping enough people take
the surveys and I can earn a little money. Companies are paying Vizu to place
the surveys on relevant websites and then Vizu will pay the websites that show
the surveys when people click on paid surveys.
I Like the Surveys and I Hate the Surveys
Truthfully, I like the surveys and I hate the surveys. What I don't like about
the surveys. The first thing Vizu needs is demographic information on my
readers. So, as you read this article you are seeing really offensive
demographic surveys on the right hand side. The survey is asking you for your
income level, your marriage status, how many people are in your household,
education level, gender, and your age.
When I first saw these questions I almost pulled the survey down immediately. I
am offended by these questions, I can't expose my readers to these questions.
They are all going to run away. But, after I thought about it, these questions
make sense from a marketing perspective. Vizu is asking companies to give them
money to run surveys on websites. Well to run a good survey and to know which
websites to run the survey on, you need to know the general demographics
on that website.
You Might be Offended by the Questions
You might be offended by the questions, but from a marketing view they are
important. Now, Vizu will allow each of these offensive questions to be shown 6
times to the visitor without any survey question being clicked. After a visitor
has been exposed to each of those surveys the requisite 6 times, then they are
shown other more fun questions. If a visitor clicks the demographic surveys
then the demographic surveys go away.
Well, here is where the problem for my website comes into play. None of my
visitors will actually see 30 pages. Most of my visitors come from organic
search. They have been looking for information on landscaping, flowers,
perennials, weightlifting, or programming. They find their information and then
leave. Few will wander around my website. Which is okay by me. I built
the website to provide information. But, they are all going to miss the beauty
of the surveys.
The part about the surveys I like. Once you get past the demographic surveys,
then Vizu begins to deliver some really cool surveys. They ask questions like what
can you least do without, chocolate or pizza. There are fun questions
like that and then there are serious questions. A couple about politics, some
surveys about relevant issues from today, like Barry Bonds and Googles foray
into the phone industry. To me the surveys are really fun to take. But, you
gotta get past those pesky demographics.
I have spent a lot of time this week getting my comments section up and
running. So much time that I haven't written a lot. I apologize for that. But,
the comments are up. You can comment on any article. Right now I have
implemented them only for my blog. If they work okay there then over time I
will roll them out to the rest of the website.
The comments section is at the bottom of the page. I ask for your screen name,
email address, website URL if you have one and then your comments. It is a very
simple process. Long term I will actually capture your email address and allow
you to signup for my newsletter. I have not implemented that functionality at
Get a Little Link Love
I will also use the email address to capture the number of comments you have
left on my site. Then for the top 10 commenters of each week there will be a
little section on the right nav bar where your name and a link to your URL will
be posted. So you will get a little link love if you comment regularly. I
haven't hooked this into a backend database system yet, so it will probably be
a week or two before that is fully loaded.
I know some people don't read comments, some people only read the comments and
some people read the article and the comments. For myself, I will always read
the article and depending on the website sometimes I read the comments. I have
found that sometimes the comments section has more value than the original
I suggest you make your comments more valuable than the original article. Read
the article. Then answer some of these questions. How did the article make you
feel? What did you like about the article? Where did the author go wrong? What
did he leave out of the article? What can you add to the article that helps
complete it or keeps readers from getting wrong information? If your comments
contain information that relates to some of these questions then the comments
section will be really cool. But, I want you to know I will read any comment
you leave, good or bad.
I have written the comment section in such a way that your name is tied to your
URL with an anchor tag and a rel=nofollow link. So, if your comment
makes sense and my readers see value in what you say then you can drive traffic
to your website. I am also actively looking for spammers and spam techniques
and will squash them at every opportunity. If this all becomes too much for me
to manage alone then I will pull the comments. But, I think we will be okay.
Thank you for coming to my website and reading. I appreciate it. I hope this
article gives you some ideas and maybe helps you monetize your website. Good
luck and have a great day!