Using Flickr Photos in Blogs

September 19th, 2008 · No Comments

Not too long ago we did a quick article on stock photos. I really didn’t have much of a problem with the results we were getting, however I was reading an article on skelliewag.org about how she uses flickr to get pictures and thought we might give it a try here. You should read the article but the the gist is:

  • It’s easy to find photos on flickr, which I’ve found to be quite true.
  • Only use photos under the Creative Commons license, which you can find here. This license allows you to make changes to the photo, like cropping our putting text over it, as long as you credit the artist.

Obviously the photos themselves are generally very striking. There are a lot of talented photographers on the site. I’m not completely sold on the idea however for a couple of reasons:

  • The photos don’t lend themselves as much to our “captions” which I think are sometimes funny.
  • Our plug-in that we use for the captions won’t let us credit the photographer in it, so I’m going to have to find a new plug-in
  • Most importantly, in another article by skellie on problogger, she was advocating against changing the “style” of your image usage. So I think she would disapprove of me sometimes using stylish flickr photos, and sometimes using silly cartoons. She’s pretty successful so I’m reluctant to ignore her advice, but I’d hate to commit to never using cartoons and such again.

I may have to disregard her advice for the time being and mix pretty flickr photos with the other stock media. I think in many cases they’re a visual draw and more compelling than the art we’ve been using. I just hate to give up my opportunity to try to be pithy. Either way it is definitely something to consider for any blogger.

→ No CommentsCategories: Applied Use · Reviews · Theory

Which Blogs Are Worth Your Comments?

September 18th, 2008 · No Comments

I’m a complete miser when it comes to my time and looking for ways to keep from wasting it. Nearly everything I do is calculated on a cost-benefit equation and potentially discontinued based on whether it was worth my time. In fact I’m timing how long it takes me to write this blog right now. Ignoring the question of whether I’m a soulless automaton, let’s get to the question at hand:

How can I tell which blogs are worth the time to post comments on?

I have a pretty simple formula for this. Just like PPC, I value a click at about 10 cents. If I were buying ads from Google, that’s about what I’d pay. When I go back and look at my Google Analytics, I can quickly tell how many viewers my post got me. So the obvious formula:

($0.10 x Visitors) – (Hourly Rate * Hours Taken To Post)

If I have an hourly rate of $50 and it took me 3 minutes (1/20th of an hour) to post a comment that got me 10 visitors, that post was worth:

($0.10 x 10) – ($50 * 1/20) = $1.00 – $2.50 = -$1.50

I got $1.00 of value for $2.50 of work, so that probably wasn’t a great use of my time. I could have invested my $2.50 of effort and bought 25 clicks from Google. In this scenario my break-even is 25 visitors. If I get 25 or more it was worth it.

If you don’t know what hourly rate to use, check out our article on Valuing Your Time.

What about quality?

There are a ton more variables you can use in this equation, like bouce rate, pageviews or return visits, but I am just looking for a simple rule of thumb. I can pretty quickly assess whether the traffic I’m getting is junk or not without getting too technical. It’s never going to be a science, but as long as you’re posting on relevant blogs and keeping an eye on the quality of traffic you’re getting, this method should help you keep from wasting time.

→ No CommentsCategories: Main blog narrative · Theory

Web 2.0: The Rich Get Richer?

September 10th, 2008 · No Comments

I always enjoy Cory Doctorow so I was intrigued while I was reading a Chicago Tribune interview with him. He really kind of gives a “pat” answer to the question of the advantage of “first movers” in the current space.

But there are plenty of old blogs that are still being written whose popularity waned over the years. It takes more than just being first. First helps, but… And there are plenty of new blogs that do very well.

This made me wonder: Obviously there is still room for big offerings, but for a moderate sized site, is it too late to get involved in the Web 2.0 revolution?

Web 2.0

The term “Web 2.0″ can mean different things to different people, but most people seem to agree that a pivotal point is collaboration and user-generated content. Hence the rise of sites such as Wikipedia and YouTube. This of course is a site owner’s dream come true. Not only are the site’s customers providing content for the site, but they consider it fabulous and empowering to do so.

So many of these sites are basically a framework put up by a very forward thinking mind who then lets other people generate a gold-mine. Obviously keeping these people in check and not letting them run amok is not a trivial problem. In essence this problem and this model is just an evolution of the Internet itself. The power that brought the Internet into the limelight was the reduction of barriers to entry, for good and bad.

Closing the Door
Too late to start building?

Too late to start building?

It is to some degree troubling to see the giants of the industry immediately begin making rules to make it hard to compete with them. One of the most noteworthy examples of this was (old news I know) Wikipedia’s shift to put “nofollow” tags on all its outbound links. Suddenly all the people who had volunteered time and information for their site had the terms of their deal shifted. They were suddenly getting one less benefit for their contribution (Pagerank) than they were before. Basically they’re saying that now that their users have made them the “standard,” they can retroactively make their part of the bargain less valuable and offer less in the future.

A more insidious result of the “nofollow” proliferation is that it has helped people realize the value of their links. People are much more reluctant to link to someone now, not only because they are giving away something of value, but because it seems it can potentially damage your Pagerank. So now that everyone knows their links are valuable the people who already have them can decide who gets into the party. If you have a Pagerank 6 you can basically dole out success. Moreover in the process you are probably getting something back that will continue to help keep you in that position.

Is The Door Closed?

So is it all pointless? Is the idea of a grassroots, DIY website empire dead before we’ve even started. I tend to think we’ve got quite a while before that happens and it may never happen. Much like in “real” markets, when people get powerful, they get lazy and inefficient. Nevertheless I do feel that the egalitarian nature of the Internet has been somewhat diminished by the dominance of certain players. It’s also made it a tougher challenge and, therefore, a better game.

→ No CommentsCategories: Theory