My Experiences with FeedBurner, StumbleUpon, Surveys and Comments

Part of the Kenno's Blog series.
By Ken Brown
Editor, You Can Learn Series
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 vast universe.

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 this time.

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 article.

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!

Ten steps to make your blog successful. Ten Cash generating traffic busting blog techniques. Here is a list of ten things you must do in 2008 to make money on the internet. If you are wondering why you are floundering with little internet cash then you must read this article. If you aren't doing these ten things then you are leaving Internet money on the table. Why would you want to walk away from easy cash?

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