Saturday, November 29, 2008

New Customer Support at Entrecard

0 comments
Entrecard has hired a new staff member - Stuart of Secluded Habitat.  He will be helping throughout the Entrecard blog and across the entire site.

Secondly, the support is now through a Ticket System, which will allow them to better manage and track your support inquiries.  You will also be able to login and track your tickets that have been created.  This will allow more people to have their questions answered quickly - the administrators/support will know if a question hasn't been answered and eventually, enough questions will be accumulated that you will be able to read other members' questions.

Note: Graham wrote this line: "Not the last upgrade we’re making in the near term." in the comments, so there will be more to look forward to in the upcoming weeks.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Use or Accumulate Credits?

3 comments
There are some people using Entrecard that use the system faithfully, day in and day out, who are able to quickly accumulate their credits, saving them until they have a few thousand.  At this point, some of them go on a spending spree (if they already haven't), or continue saving their credits.

Which direction is best for you?

Depending on your site or the features that Entrecard might roll out in the future (it is planned that the Marketplace will re-open with the option of selling credits for cash or other goods), you can choose multiple directions, which will be outlined below.  Now, I can only suggest general directions, as it is important to balance this depending on the critical factors put into place with your blog.  In other words, it's the ways that you save and manage your credits.
  1. No Dropping/Direct Earning - You will only be using credits that you have earned through advertisers on your widget, creating new posts, etc.  
  2. Drop, then Use Credits - You will earn credits through dropping and all other sources, but then use them nearly immediately to purchase advertising spots on other sites.  In some cases, you will save a few hundred to purchase higher-priced ad slots.
  3. Saving Credits - All (or nearly all) credits that you have earned will be saved into your account, possibly for future use.
Which of these methods do you employ on your blog/site to achieve the best results?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Using Entrecard: How to Market an eBook

3 comments
Note: Please make sure that the following tips are not against the terms of Entrecard before using them, or you may see your account suspended.  As long as the widget is on a page that contains text, linking to a 'quality' blog, you shouldn't have any major problems.

There have been a number of people on Entrecard that have been using their widget to promote services that they have created - in this case, we'll review how to market eBooks and other forms of digital good (specifically textual) through Entrecard.

Because Entrecard allows you to link to individual pages (be sure the widget and quality adheres to this page as well as the rest of your blog), you will be able to promote your eBook directly through Entrecard.

In short, here's how it's done:
  1. Create an eBook or other product that focuses on a subject oriented around your blog.
  2. Create an image that represents the product, such as an image of a book with the cover representing the book's main topic.  Keep in mind that it has to scale to 125x125 pixels.
  3. Upload the image to Entrecard, linking to the page.  You may also change the title of your blog and/or description to suit the change in where your link directs readers.
  4. Be sure that the page you have linked to works.  In other words, it must be a "landing page" for readers to find out how to download/view the book, not simply a link in the sidebar.
  5. Let the readers flow in to download and view your product.
Some other tips:

  • Don't use someone else's product or an affiliate offer on your promotion page.  This is strictly against the terms of Entrecard.
  • Be sure that everything is complete before you transition your blog over to the "marketing" stage.  You don't want any 404 errors and the like.
  • Be sure that readers notice your ad - advertise throughout Entrecard - so, you'll want to accumulate quite a lot of credits before you begin.
  • You shouldn't try selling your eBook (charging people to download it) through Entrecard - sales will be quite limited compared to other advertising methods.
Conclusion

If you don't receive at least some return on your eBook in terms of downloads, it might be time to take a different approach to marketing your product.  It is to be a product that is unique, so readers will find value in it.  Otherwise, you are simply promoting something that people already know how to do or have already downloaded/purchased before.

While these are some general tips on how to begin marketing your new eBook through Entrecard, there are many different avenues that you can explore in terms of how to use the powerful system, with more to be exposed in the near future.

What are your thoughts on marketing a single product (i.e. an eBook through Entrecard)?  Have you ever tried it — what were your results?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Entrecard Encourages You to Use Mixx

0 comments
Graham, the owner and creator of Entrecard is promoting another service, Mixx, which has seen exponential growth since it launched just a year ago.  The service is similar to Digg in that it will help you increase traffic, while promoting your favorite posts.
Mixx Home Page

To get started in posting content to Mixx, you'll need an account, and you will then be able to recommend your content to others.

The main issue being addressed is Bounce Rate.  When you look at sites like Mixx or Digg, you will rarely ever see high click through rates and any additional income from people clicking on ads, although any additional page views will lead to at least some subscribers, new comments, etc.  The entire purpose is getting your brand and domain name out there to as many people as possible.

Mixx has about 1/28th the total unique visitors of Digg, but it'll be that much easier to have content reach the homepage, which serves more than 60,000 visitors daily. Full traffic details here.

Start by registering for Mixx or going to the Marketing Forum where you can post your recommended stories.

We Want Your Thoughts!

I'd like to open this blog up to further feedback from the dedicated Entrecard readers.  We have come to a point where I want additional thoughts from readers about this blog.

Therefore, if you would like to take a short questionnaire about "how we're doing," feel free to do so through this form (Google Docs).  It is less than five questions.

We don't want any biased opinions, so comments and backlinks have been turned off/closed for this post.  All your responses will be kept private within the document and no one will have access to your responses other than me.

Remember, I am doing this to determine the direction of the blog - it will help you in the long-term as I'll focus on the responses provided.

Monday, November 17, 2008

One of Most Popular Entrecard Blogs was 99% Copied

4 comments
In another turn of unfortunate events, Monkey Tales, one of the most popular blogs on Entrecard for the entire time that the service was existent was uncovered to be nearly 100% copied, other than a few comments and rearranging of words in the posts.

Most of the posts were copied from this blog: Where the Hell Was I?

I won't get into much detail on it here - you can view a longer discussion at Turnip of Power.

However, it isn't the fault of Entrecard in any way.  Other services, no matter how many precautions they put in place, have blogs that filter through that have copied material.  In this case, it was nearly impossible to tell that the content wasn't original unless you happened to past a line or two into a search engine - even then, it would have been hard to uncover.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Review of the Blog Quality Standards

0 comments
I'd like to take the time again to review the Blog Quality Standards, which were set forth to create the best, highest quality network of blogs - in the long run, they'll help improve the overall experience of all members.

It is important to remember them, or you run the risk of having your account deleted.

Warnings

A warning will be sent to blogs if your blog doesn't meet the Blog Quality Standards and is only a minor offense.  At this stage, you'll be given 3 days (72 hours) before your entire account will be permanently deleted.

For all other, "major" offenses, your account will be immediately deleted and you won't have permission to "reactivate" it.

When Your Account is Deleted

If your blog fails to meet the standards and is deleted for whatever reason, you will receive an email from deleted@entrecard.com, which will state the reason why your account was deleted.  Once you have addressed the problem (whether the deletion was in error or not), you can send a reply to the message and they will review your site/account again.  If the moderators find that it has been "fixed," your account will be reopened.

At no point will they ever discuss a deleted site with other members of the site.

Main Rules

These are the main rules that you must follow in order to remain a member of the site.  While not all rules are watched, many are reported by moderators/members of the site.
  1. No Nudity - Because Entrecard is a (generally) friendly-family site, any blogs with images containing nudity in the posts or ads are not permitted.
  2. English Only - To maintain a "readability," your blog must be in English, otherwise use a translation plugin or write it in a different language.
  3. 5 Posts Minimum - To become a member, you need to have at least five posts at all times on your blog.  They must have been written within the past three months.
  4. Original Content - You can't replicate content from other sources, which includes "free articles," from the public domain or other illegal sources, such as stolen content or scraped feeds.
  5. No Full-Screen Ads or Popups - Bogs that contain these will be removed as it is annoying to readers who visit your blog through the service.
  6. No Illegal File Downloads - You may not link to or host files that are illegal - such as music, movies, or software.  You may distribute content that you have created, as long as the user opts-in to the download.
  7. Present Entrecard Widget - The widget is required to be on your site at all times.
  8. No Redirects - Your URL cannot contain redirects to any other site.
  9. No Duplicate Accounts - No duplicate accounts for the same blog.
  10. URLs Must be Valid - In other words, don't use someone else's site or a URL that directs to a non-existent site.
  11. No Automatically Playing Audio - People don't want to hear your music or advertisements when they visit your site.  You can have video and audio, but it can't be set to automatically play.
  12. Recent Content - You can't have content on the main page that hasn't been updated within the past 90 days (3 months).
Additional
  • No non-blogs, including directories, indexes, forums, or stores.  They can be attached to your blog, but can't be used as a site connected with your widget.
  • Sites cannot contain more than 50% paid content - paid posts, posts with links to online stores, or affiliate links (to keep down on spam and people who want to build dozens of sites to market through the system illegally).
Illegal Activities

These activities pertain to generating credits, spamming, and "gaming" the system.
  • Using an automated program or script that does the dropping for you.
  • Drops done through means in which you are not visiting the blog.
  • Using the message system to send unsolicited spam to members you have had no interaction with previously.
  • Using the message system to ask for recommendations or to ask for participation in a recommendation exchange.
  • Harassing other members, using profanity, etc.
  • Uploading a card that contains nudity, illegal activities, or is offensive to other members.
Link: Blog Quality Standards

All of these standards, rules, and procedures have been set forth to ensure that the integrity of the site remains as high as possible, as well as to keep the site growing strong.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Quick Review of Dropaholics.com

1 comments
I recently found a new site related to Entrecard.  Appropriate with the last post, along with the fact that this blog covers nearly everything Entreard, I figured I would write a quick review of it here (if you haven't already heard about it).

The site monitors the people who are able to drop the most cards per day, with a listing of the Top 100.  You will then be able to visit their blogs, which serves as a little reward to get on the list.

The one negative: You need to submit your blog to the site in order to even be considered.  Otherwise, you'll go unnoticed with the other top droppers who haven't visited the site.

When you visit the list of top droppers, you'll find that when you hover over a site, a hover box will appear, showing the sites that this person drops on everyday.  However, it appears that the lists are rather small (less than 60), so it might only check against the sites listed on the site and not the entire network of sites.

You can add your site to the list by visiting this page.  Then, you'll need to input your Top Card Droppers RSS link into the submission form provided on that page.

Although the site is rather basic and serves a single purpose, it may be useful to see who are the top droppers/keep track of them.

Disclaimer: I am not the owner of this site.

How Much Time Do You Spend Using Entrecard?

0 comments
A common complaint by people leaving Entrecard (for various reasons) is that it takes too much time to use to its full potential.  Some claim that "dropping" three hundred cards/credits on other sites is a waste of time and isn't effective in building your site - you could instead be writing a few posts on your blog.

However, there are a few reasons why this myth can be proven as false.  Now, these aren't anyone else's opinions, but my own findings through the use of the site.

First of all, there is no "requirement" of the number of sites you need to visit within the system, only a limit of 300.  People that strive to reach the maximum amount often become exhausted and call the task a chore. You can cut down the number of drops daily to under 50, or any other amount, depending on the amount of time you have.  If you encounter "dropping fatigue," then rest for a while.

The main problem with the current limit is the "need" to achieve that level day in and day out to get the most results.  The truth is, the popularity of your blog also weighs in on that as well as the date you joined the site.  Alone, dropping on all 300 sites won't get you as far as the previous two tasks, which should be put first.

Another suggestion is to network with a few blogs and promise that you will only drop on a select twenty or so blogs.  This alleviates some of the hassle of dropping on so many sites, while still being able to take advantage of what Entrecard offers.

Finally, you have to look at the system in perspective.  If you took the time to visit three hundred random sites on the Internet, it would take you the same amount of time, if not longer.  You get something out of dropping on Entrecard - more experience as a blogger, an idea of what is happening in the world through non-media eyes, personal thoughts of other bloggers, and traffic returning to your site everyday (along with subscribers, comments, and more).

So, the question of the post is: How much time do you spend using Entrecard?  Is it worth it to drop on 300 sites daily, or do you find that it is best to use an approach that balances drops with comments and other promotion methods?

Get in Early, Leave Late

0 comments
This post, titled "Get in Early, Leave Late" is meant to help you judge when the best time is to join Entrecard if you haven't already.

I was a little late in joining the system, although I have taken advantage of it heavily primarily in the past few months, as it has been an enormous help in growing a community while growing traffic.

There are still quite a few people who actively participate in the site, who were there when it first launched, and they have been able to use the system to its full intentions - gaining subscribers and traffic along the way.

Following the mindset of the post, there is little to lose in joining the site right now.  This is not a paid advertisement, as this blog reflects on Entrecard news and announcements, but simply a call out to those of you who haven't signed up for the service.  There is little to lose except the time you spend commenting, visiting others' blogs, and connecting with other bloggers who share your passions.

What Else Will You Gain?
  • Subscribers from people who find your blog and find it interesting.
  • New visitors - people who would never have visited your blog otherwise.
  • An increase in comments from people who want to share their thoughts on your posts.
  • Tips and tutorials on blogging from their blog.
  • Tools to help market your blog to the world.
  • Ways to earn money (in the future).

Entrecard Marks One-Year Anniversary

0 comments
As the first year of Entrecard has passed, the entire community behind the system and its owner are eagerly looking onto year two of the powerful system.

In this post, Graham (the owner/creator) outlined what is to be expected from year two of the site.

Statistic - Five million visits per month are generated through the system to the members that are a part of the site.  Assuming that all blogs are as active as one another, that means (according to the number of blogs in the network, which also includes new blogs, 'spam' blogs, and inactive blogs) that the average site receives 189 visits referred through the site by placing ads or dropping credits on other sites.  Not too shabby for a site that was started just a year ago.  Again the main purpose was reiterated - that is, to help bloggers succeed.

In Year Two
  1. The shop will be re-released with a feedback system.  Within this area, you will be able to sell anything for credits.  It appears at this point the vision is for it to be somewhat like eBay, where you will be able to purchase items with credits, helping improve the economy and give you opportunities to use credits for other purposes other than advertising on other blogs.
  2. A credit exchange will be added, so you can buy and sell credits from your dashboard.  This will allow people to generate a little side cash from their efforts using the system.
  3. Partnerships with other services and more features as the site grows.
  4. More feedback/personalized touches from members: You can now use the username Blogger and the password entrecard to blog on their blog by logging in at: http://entrecard.com/blog/wp-admin.   Your article must be related to blog industry news, making money with your blog, tips and tricks to improve your blog, and Entrecard news and announcements (by Entrecard administrators).  You will be able to post a link/image at the top of the most directing readers to your site, which should further help you build your blog over time.
  5. For the past month or so, contests were posted on the blog, but with the change of direction, they will be moved to a separate forum with new contest announcements and updates.
Your Thoughts
What do you think needs to be "fixed" in the system?  Which of these features do you want the most or will benefit the community the most?  Weigh in with your thoughts and ideas.
Turnip of Power also remarked on the results of the first year in a "grade" format.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Concept Behind "Top Monthly Droppers"

4 comments
Browsing through the Entrecard directory, you'll find that many people feature a list of ten or so blogs each month, which either have produced the most number of consecutive returns to their blog (top droppers) or have produced the greatest return rate for advertising on other blogs.

While the concept is simple — you are linking to another blog within the network, rewarding them for visiting your blog and supporting your blogging efforts — more happens "behind the scenes" than you might initially think.

Let's assume that just 1% of the entire network of Entrecard was to create a list of their Top Droppers. This would mean that anywhere between 200 and 300 blogs were to add this list somewhere to their blog, whether on a dedicated page, in a post, or within the sidebar.  If you are listed on just a few of them, it could amount to a few hundred additional visits, or at the very least, a few more links back to your site.

Linking to people who visit your site helps further build a relationship beyond the rather close relationship you may have developed with other blogs on the network.  If you are able to continue dropping on the same, "favorite" blogs each day, you will help them build their blog and online presence as a blogger - more rewarding down the road than anyone might realize.

In addition, linking to other blogs will reward the groups of people you have linked to - you are helping them build PageRank, or Google's ranking of a site's popularity - which will help them across the board when it comes to selling advertisements on their site, ranking in various search engines, and other purposes.  Visitors not a part of Entrecard may see additional value in this, despite the fact that they haven't even become a member of the tool/service yet.

Other Points:
  • Linking back to your "Top Droppers" shows your commitment to building a community and further rewarding people who have helped grow your blog.
  • You are able to connect to people who may not have ever visited your blog before, because you are providing links to sites that they normally would never have visited.
  • In the long-term, every site that links to your blog/you link out will benefit from the additional links with a few additional readers/subscribers/visits.
All in all, it is important to reward your frequent visitors and commentators on your site - Entrecard has proven that.  You can read more on this tip and comments from other members on this Entrecard post .

Thursday, November 6, 2008

10 Steps to Choosing the Best Blog to Advertise On

2 comments
Most of what Entrecard has been built upon is directing people to blogs that may interest, allowing them to further grow their own blog and connect to people who may want to subscribe or visit it daily.

Why It is Important to Choose the Right Site.
When you place your 125x125 image on another blog, you are essentially spreading word about your blog - in more ways than one.  First of all, you are placing an image, which represents your blog and yourself.  Secondly, you want to target sites that will offer you the best return for their cost.  Similar to traditional advertising models in which you pay per click (PPC), a set monthly rate, or per 1,000 impression (CPM), you'll need to find sites that offer a mix between a good traffic level, number of readers, and return rate (people who will be interested in your site).

The 10 Steps to Choosing the Right Site.
  1. Analyze Alexa statistics to compare your site's traffic and ranking against other sites.  Although the graphs don't represent the true traffic levels of sites (higher ranking sites display lower on their rankings than they should be and vice versa), it can still be used as a separate tool in analyzing traffic other than specific traffic levels.
  2. Next, use Compete.com traffic statistics, which present fairly (yet again, not always accurate) levels of United States-specific traffic.  The levels of this site are generally in line with what you'll see if you looked at their Google Analytics or other metrics.  You can compare growth of the site along with several other key factors.
  3. Directly contact the blogger with their mission and what type of content is on their site, if it isn't already obvious.  Ask them if they can provide screenshots of traffic information, derived from tracking cookies and codes installed on their site.  This will provide the most accurate information relating to analytics that anyone can offer (unless they provide false information).
  4. Look at their contact page, number of comments, and type of content published on the site.  This will allow you to see whether the site holds any value.  Now, personal sites have different factors that must be put into play (those sites that aren't commercial - without advertisements).  Often, the person(s) that run the blog will provide statistics on their "About" or "Advertisement" pages.
  5. View their feed growth and statistics by using this Blog Perfume Tool.  If there is little to no growth or a downward slope, that means that the blogger in charge of the site isn't adding value to their readers, thus the negative trend.
  6. Be sure that the site is legitimate (it has been open for quite some time) and has developed a following, not just because it is reposting content from other sites (scraping feeds).  If you find this, it should first be reported to Entrecard as a low-quality blog.  You will get the least amount of value out of this site than any other sites you advertise on.
  7. View the advertisements that are already on their site (if there are any).  Judge them, see what categories/types of services those advertisers have chosen to place on the site.  There is a reason they chose to advertise on the site vs. other sites that cover similar topics.  Is the site unique in the way the owner presents information, is there a unique design, is there a large subscriber base?
  8. What is the cost of the ad?  Is the ad cost influenced by people who are 'friends' of the blog in mention, or is it a sincerely popular blog, with hundreds/thousands of daily visitors and value for readers/visitors?  Unless the blog follows some of the 'qualifications' outlined above, you won't find as much value in advertising there for the price.
  9. Does the site allow OIO Publisher ads?  If it does (not only did the owner invest money in the site), you'll find that the site is easier to advertise on (you'll be able to advertise for around 166 credits per day), making it more valuable than many blogs that run at more than 2,000-4,000 credits per day, especially as 1,000 credits is roughly equal to $6.
  10. Finally, you have to judge the ad location, sidebar text, and widgets installed on the blog.  If the Entrecard widget is placed amongst other widgets and advertisements, it is less likely that people will visit your site (avoiding it due to clutter), meaning you've just wasted your credits to advertise on the site.
While this is an incomplete roundup of ways to choose the site you'll advertise on, what other methods do you personally use to determine the best value for your time?

Entrecard Updates Homepage

0 comments
 The Entrecard team has updated its homepage with a more professional "about" image and more clearly defined message to new members.

Main blog categories have changed, listing the number of blogs in the category (whether or not it was present before).
Preview of New Homepage

The sidebar no longer features recent posts from the members, but offers the same advertisements listed from the blog page, which is okay, as Entrecard is like any other service or business and needs to generate a revenue to continue operation.  This may present a better value fort he blogs and services that want to advertise on the site (the homepage sees more than a million unique visitors each month compared to numbers in the thousands on the blog page).

Feedback is welcomed in the forum post.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Top Droppers for October 2008

1 comments
I'd like to thank the following people, who each visited this blog on an almost daily basis.  If you want to appear on this list next month, you'll need to "drop" on over to this site nearly each day (at least 25 times), and appear in the list provided on the Statistics page of Entrecard.
Dropper# of drops
Realm of Prosperity30
Septagon Studios Inc News Blog29
Kitchen Retro29
MJG's Rambling Thoughts29
Earn Blogger28
The Virtual Dime Museum27
AdsenseAddict27
Beethoven Midi26
Internet Marketing Blog26
Ben Barden | Top 10 Blogging Tips26

You can find the Top Droppers feed by clicking here.

New Contest: Momma Wannabe's Thanksgiving Contest

2 comments
A new contest has been announced on the Entrecard blog, with full details available at Momma Wannabe.com.

There are dozens of prizes available, with simple ways to enter the contest, such as writing about it, subscribing to the feed, and leaving a comment on her blog.

Go over to either post to enter the contest today.  You don't want to be left out of this one - there are multiple chances to win one of the prizes.

The contest runs from October 26 to December 01, 2008.

Account Warnings Now in Place

0 comments
Members that have had their blog marked as "deleted" will now be given a three-day grace period before their blog and account are fully suspended and deleted.  It is of utmost importance to keep the system as free of spam and inappropriate blogs as possible.  When these "blogs" enter the system, nearly everyone suffers as the quality of your traffic goes down, value of credits goes down, and other factors result in a less-than-ideal system for members to use.

From now on, if your blog is flagged for minor violations of the Blog Quality Standards, you will be given this one warning, until you update to adhere to the standards set forth by the Entrecard team.