Social Bookmarking – What Have You Done For Me Lately?

Now, I’ll apologize first for putting that song in your head, but when I read this comment over on a guest post by Trent Hamm at Darren’s blog, I couldn’t think of any better title.

4. Immerse yourself in a social bookmarking site

Many people have a hard time getting their foot in the door with social bookmarking because they just try to use it without giving back. Most social bookmarking sites are a community of people who enjoy interaction and discussion – if you just pop in long enough to toss up some links and then wonder why you’re not successful, you’re simply fooling yourself.

Why do we look at Digg and and all the other bookmarking sites out there and just blindly demand they shovel traffic our way? Why do we look at our precious readers and subscribers as something that can be just forced toward our sites?

We shouldn’t be asking what Digg or can do for us, how about what we can do for them? OK, maybe that is going a little loopy, but when’s the last time you went to a community site and just wanted to throw your link out there and hope someone was stupid enough to click it? Is that fair to the community? Who are you helping with this sort of behaviour? Really, you’re not even helping yourself, because traffic that comes from spam is rarely helpful to a site owner. In fact, it usually results in traffic slams and no advertising payoff or subscription increase. Why do we bother?

Well, in all walks of life, people think there is a free and easy way to success. Perhaps I can just write a few posts, slather on some Adsense and then throw my link at whoever will listen, and then I can sit back and count my money. If anyone reading this is really waiting on that to happen, I wish you luck with that scheme.

That’s why I loved the way the author mentioned that social bookmarking sites were helpful to him because he was a helpful member.

If you want to be successful on a social bookmarking site, get involved. I’m involved in several – I post links to both my own articles and to other things and I’m also involved in many discussions on what others submit. Over time, people start checking in on what you submit on those sites and tend to be predisposed to voting them up, which can in the end merit you a lot of legitimate attention.

Years ago, when I started a small cloth diaper company and sewed and sold cloth diapers for young mothers, the ONLY way I marketed the product was through forums and chat rooms. And, it wasn’t by spamming all of the people! I just took part in the discussions going on, like How to Wash Diapers, How to Waterproof Diaper Seams, etc. and was a helpful part of this niche community. People sent me emails to ask my advice and I wrote articles online for the sole purpose of helping people. The only way that people knew I had a business was because it was in my signature of my forum posts and in my email signature.

Was I successful with this limited advertising? Well, within the first month we had $25K worth of orders and I had to contact a manufacturer to take over, and these darn diapers cost $8.95 each! After a year, the work was so intensive that I stopped taking orders and shut the company down once the last orders were filled. My small, home business, was so busy that it was removing me from my family, and that was the whole point of my working from home at the time, so I canned the business. Don’t believe me? Look at the Way Back Machine for Also, I still have links in for this domain that focus on cloth diapers.
That diaper business taught me that people don’t want to be marketed TO, but they want to learn from people, make friends, and be treated as if they matter. My business, my site, was successful not because I knew how to spin things or because my diapers were better than anyone else’s diapers (although, they were heh heh), but because I cared about people and I was known as a helpful and knowledgable member of the cloth diaper community.

Who do you think about when you write your blog? Who do you think about when you submit your link to every site under then sun? I’m not saying social bookmarking is wrong, I do it occassionally, but I do think you should do your level best to focus on what your readers want (or potential readers), rather than just selfishly spamming all the community sites you can find.


Crafting a new site isn’t hard though it does require a lot of time. With a wireless broadband connection working does become easier. There are many sites which offer people good packages to buy domain names and hosting services. As the site grows and years pass load balancing is required amongst different servers and online backup for all the data is essential. A site that is about a year old should give off decent money through affiliate programs. Though during this entire process the marketing of the site is important to increase the traffic, hence comes in social book marking.

More On My Google Banning

Looks like it is an actual ban, since when I logged into the Google Webmaster area today I saw this notice:

Google Banned My Site

It would be much easier for site owners if your account would say ‘this is why you were banned’ when it does the check in this area. Instead it just says, ‘you’re banned, deal with it’.

I have no idea what could have caused this, as I don’t even do any SEO on this site… I decided to submit a reinclusion request, but there is no way I am agreeing (by submitting the form) that my site has in the past broken TOS, because I don’t believe that it has…

Banned Sites Must Admit Wrongdoing To Get Back In The Index

This isn’t really a huge deal to me, as the site isn’t really monetized well and most of my readers come from bookmarks, links to me or are RSS subscribers, but I can’t help but be a little pissed that it’s happened. I mean, what if I depended on my site for income, as so many of you do? The only recourse is to admit wrongdoing and ask for reinclusion?  How am I supposed to know what I’ve done?

Marketing 2.0

Just saw on Twitter that Emily Chang had posted about RSS feeds for archiving your own personal history. She’s created a feed, using Expression Engine, that follows her flickr, blog,, upcoming,, etc. She went the extra mile and created a mySQL database on her end to archive this feed.

This is fascinating, but even more so is the comments on her post. People from 30Boxes, AIM, etc. are telling how their service does something similar. That’s interesting in that I had no idea there were companies doing this AND in that these companies know that these comments will resonate to a targeted audience that they want to reach.

From a marketing standpoint, this clearly demonstrates the need to follow not only your name online, but conversations that are of import to your company. No search feed would have clued these people into Emily’s post.

These are likely either 1-regular readers of her feed or 2-regular Techmeme readers (being that the post is now on Techmeme). Either way, they are plugged in enough to know how to mention their company without sounding spammy at all. In fact, they have added their commentary to a blog post that is very relevant to their company.

No advertising will give these companies what these guys just gave them:

1. The real attention of a vocal, and well-read, blogger
2. The focused, relevant attention of all her readers
3. The attention of all the Techmeme readers who clicked through to read Emily’s post

Impressive on all accounts. Make it someone’s job to follow relevant feeds and comment when appropriate (and only then). If you don’t have someone on your team to do this, hire someone. This is WOM at its finest.

Forum Users Are Vocal

When I am looking to get the word out for a client, I often look at forums for inspiration, because I think the real conversations (since the pre-1995 AOL explosion), have always been on bulletin boards and forums. Forum users are loud-mouthed and honest and you can get a great idea of these things:

1. What they think about your product/site.
2. Which competitors they are choosing over you.
3. Their favorite sources of info (they quote liberally).

When I am in affiliate mode, I read these forums”

Digital Point, WickedFire, Webmasterworld, Sitepoint

The ones with RSS support get my attention first. The others, only when I have extra time, which is never. Before I wrote this, of course, I had to check and make sure the ISN’s forums had RSS, but, whew, they do, per forum. 😉

RSS was the ‘one-issue’ that I made sure I had when I set up my problogwriters forum (moderator needed, btw). There are only a handful of ways to achieve RSS forums for free, and SMF seemed the smartest, due to it’s beautiful integration with Joomla. Security breaches aside (I was hacked twice), this is still the solution I recommend to people.

But back to the topic at hand, forum users are influencers. I’d bet if you named off the top early bloggers, every one of them were forum users first. These people talk, and their ideas created a following.

As well, don’t overlook the SEO aspect. Do a search on a product, most likely you’ll get a forum (or several) in the top 10 results. These predominantly textual sites, much like blogs, are SEOed well by nature. If your product is great, you WANT it mentioned organically in forums. This creates a testimonial that is organically well placed SEO-wise and since it’s off your site, it is seen as user gen trustworthy. Of course, I stress I would NEVER suggest spamming a forum. This will almost always come back to bite you in the ass. If your product/site is crap, stay out of forums. If it is good, someone from your group needs to be in offsite forums on a regular basis with your link in their signature.

Don’t forget to use forums in your marketing push. Bloggers always talk about community. You won’t ever build a blog community that is as strong as a forum, even though some are close (think or any number of mommy blogs. The next post will focus on bringing the successful parts of a forum to your blog.

Google Reader, Where’s The Read All Button?

When you are super busy, and you have a couple dozen folders in your reader, a button that would allow you to ‘mark all as read’ from the top of the tree would be terrific. It’s the main thing I miss from Bloglines. Well, that and seeing the number of subscribers each blog has and being able to see who else reads a certain feed.

Gotta go… I have about 20 folders left to ‘mark as read’.

Lee Odden’s Must Read Search Marketing Blogs

This is one of the most comprehensive lists of great SEM/SEO and social media blogs I’ve seen. There are roughly 250 feeds handpicked by Lee Odden. The OPML is here. For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure to meet OPML, she’s an easy way to add a collection of feeds to your reader. You can upload/import this file to your reader and save yourself a great deal of time when subscribing.

Weed out those you do not need, but this is a great way to start following this topic in the blogosphere.

Below is a collection of over 250 blogs covering search marketing with a few that venture into blogging, social media and new media public relations. This list is an output of my own RSS reader and it will update (add/remove) as I update the list of blogs and feeds that I track. I hope you find it useful.

I’m honored to say Practical Blogging made the list. 🙂

Best Search Blogs of 2006

Be sure to go nominate your fav blog in the best search awards. And, if you’re a keen observer (which I know you are if you are a reader of this blog ‘wink’ ), then you’ll add these nominations to your blog reader.

It’s not often that you get a chance to have suggestions from people who read the same blogs as you as to where the best blogs can be found.

* Best SEO Blog
* Best SEM Blog
* Best Search Agency Resource Blog
* Best Link Building Blog
* Best Social Media Blog
* Best Search Engine Corporate Blog (owned by the search engines)
* Best Contextual Advertising Blog
* Best Affiliate Marketing Blog
* Best Search Engine Community/Forum Blog
* Best Web 2.0 Blog
* Best Search Linkbait of 2006

And, of course, if you don’t see any better social media blog on the list, do consider nominating Practical Blogging. Hurry, the nominations end tomorrow, December 12.

Sponsored Posts

I noticed this today at PaidContent:

Nine Systems provides a comprehensive solution for rich media production, publishing and distribution in today’s most popular formats. Our large selection of rich media management tools allows content owners to control all aspects of their media in a robust, yet easy-to-use application, Stream OS. Our aggregated “Network of Networks” is an industry-unique solution that dynamically routes content through a hierarchy of Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), ensuring your content is delivered quickly, completely and cost-effectively.

Click here to learn more about our one of a kind solution.

Apparently it’s not their first Sponsored Post, so I assume this is something they are entering into with some thought. As well all build our blog business, we are continually challenged as to what we initially held sacred. In this instance, it’s the blog post. At one time, for me, it was my sidebar. I didn’t even want to place adsense on my original blog, because I thought it devalued the site so much.

But, when I don’t work outside of my blogging and when I am pouring more than 8 hours per day into my business, I expect, even demand that it earns me money. I’m sure some of you feel the same way. I admit I am revisiting things like ad placement and email newsletters because to make money blogging you actually have worry about those sort of things.

See, I’ve been playing with those things to earn money on my other sites, but Sleepyblogger has been sacred. I’ve only recently begun playing with AdSense on here, and until last week I’ve never even considered a paid post. So, without futher ado, I’ll share with you what I’ve come to believe is the only way you can pull off a sponsored post well.

1. You have to disclose you’re being paid.
Now, I don’t mean burying it somewhere within the post, but put it in the Title and make the entire post scream paid post with graphical representation and the like.

2. Refuse to write sales copy.
I didn’t mind reviewing a site last week for money. That was easy and it didn’t feel dirty at all. However, had they made me pretend to like the program at all, I’d have chosen to avoid the entire shebang.

3. Make sure it’s relevant to your readers.
Don’t waste their eyeballs and time sending them an ad that isn’t worth anything to them.

Were I to do something like what PaidContent is doing, and that is a distinct possibility, I’d refuse to write the post. I don’t mind giving an advertiser some tips on what my readers like, but I can’t write their ad as then I’d be getting paid to say the product was good and I just can’t do that.

I have been contacted by numerous people in the last few months about sponsored posts. Most are off of my topic. They’re just looking at the blog because the traffic is good and the page rank is credible. However, there was at least one who would have been worthy of a sponsored post. I’m considering it because it would allow me to cut some outside blogging in order to focus on writing herein. I invite your comments on this.

Reviewing ReviewMe

I got an email today from Gavin at Text Link Ads (aff link), letting me know I’d been pre-approved for the ReviewMe service. TLA doesn’t send out alot of emails, so I took time out of my crazy schedule today (one of my blogs is in the middle of a HUGE contest) to give ReviewMe a cursory review.

Right off the bat, the most interesting thing was that reviewers of ReviewMe were being paid to review the service, good or BAD. So, consider this one my paid review of ReviewMe. As you may know, I came out hard against PayPerPost, and my initial reaction, even though I love the other products that TLA offers, was not one that would have made any of the folks at ReviewMe happy. Knee-Jerk reaction? Paid Spam.

However, first to admit I’m wrong, I noticed the first positive thing when I read that reviewers are paid, regardless of their opinion’s positive/negative flavor. This is very different than PayPerPost‘s specific demand for a positive post. (correct me if I am wrong here, I could not find the documentation to support or disprove this oft-repeated statement)

And, I heartily agree with ReviewMe’s reasoning here:

We do not allow advertisers to require a positive review. The vast majority of reviews are measuredly positive, although many do contain constructive criticism. We view this as a bonus: how else can you quickly and cheaply get feedback on a product or service from influencers?

Now, I have to also add that I can appreciate the money involved too. Sell a post on my blog, my baby, for $5? … not likely. $50? Now, I’m listening.

What I liked:

That the grade wasn’t just based on Alexa, Technorati, RSS subscribers or some other arbitrary, easily gamed ranking. Instead, they’ve taken a sampling of those three numbers and combined them. You can even see where you are weak (transparent).

Here’s mine:


So, while a text link on my blog costs you $30 per month, and RSS advertising on my site costs you $30 per month, you can buy a permanent link via a post on my blog for $100. Of course, it may come with derision, but more often than not, it will come with constructive criticism. Depending on ranking, you’ll pay between $40 and $400 for a blog link.

Also, I liked that they pull the RSS feed of the site so that the advertiser can get an idea of what the blog normally holds without having to leave the page.

Constructively, I’d like to add that it would be nice to have a page that pulled all these things together. Clearly TLA, Feedvertising and ReviewMe are run by the same people, under the same umbrella, so why not have it included on my listing at Text Link Ads?

Also, were they to create that ‘catch-all’ page, I’d link to it from my site to increase it’s exposure. A handy branded button would go far here.

Now, considering my normal rate for writing, consulting, etc. is $50 per hour, I’m right on target here. This post took me roughly an hour to write and I’ll receive $50 for it. What do you think? How would you improve ReviewMe?