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Initial Impressions - Contestants Blogs

Sun, Jul 6, 2008


I know a few of you asked me to hold off until Monday to critique your blogs, but if I wait this time, then I’ll probably have to wait next time too… which throws off the timing of the contest.  Everything here is for your own good, and you aren’t being timed.  Remember, the prizes for the winner of the contest are just a bonus.  The important part is that you learn how to do this, and that you become motivated to do it well, and FAST!  The key to making a living flipping blogs, is the quality of your work.  When you start to get better at this, the quality of your work improves, and as a bonus, you get faster at doing it.  If you can flip blogs fast, and also manage to end up with a quality product, you’ll be making a great living in no time.

The problem with this is that traditional MMO blogs teach you how to build a blog SLOWLY.  This is actually the best way to build a blog for the long-term, but if you give yourself 30 days to get a blog to the marketplace, these methods aren’t going to do much for you.

Alright, enough talk… let’s check out some blogs.  It’s not my intention to hurt anyone’s feelings here, but if I don’t offer constructive criticism, then you’ll never learn.  So, I hope you all can handle it.

I’m not sure what to say about this site.  While it’s a wonderful idea, it’s lacking in a lot of avenues.   The most noticeable of which is the fact that there isn’t a blog.  It’s not required to have a blog of course, but I would recommend at least giving visitors some other ways to find out exactly what you are offering, and maybe check out some past “fluffs” since there doesn’t seem to be an archive.  You may also want to expand a bit so that “fluffers” can leave the link to their sites.

Now here is my real problem with this site.  It has a lot of good things, such as a great design, intuitive idea, and it’s already monetized.  However, my problem is this… anyone that pays to send a message on the internet is behind in the times.  There are 10,000 ways to say what you want to say on the net, without having to pay the Admin to say it for you.  The only way a site like this will work, is if it has the traffic to back it up.  If 10 people visit a day, $1 per message will never work (the humor value won’t lead to repeat “fluffs”).  If you have 10,000 visitors a day, and are able to leave a link… it may build some steam.  However, my first impression of this site is that it’s Twitter without the ability to see what others around you are doing/saying.  Add to that Twitter is free, and there are already millions of users, and I think this site may need some re-purposing.

This site is in the early building stages, so I’ll reserve the right to come back to it later.

At first glance, I like the design (I use the theme on one of my “flipper” sites), the content is good so far, and it has a noticeable purpose early on.  That’s the big thing, you don’t want people having to try to find what your blog is about, and even though the name is a bit strange or foreign to most, it still allows them to find the purpose of the site without much digging.

The problem that jumps out at me early on is that there isn’t a whole lot of topics of interest that you are going to gain by using Social Bookmarking sites such as Stumble, Digg, and Reddit.  When building a site in 30 days, the only way to get a considerable amount of traffic is to already have a list of readers in that topic, or to Social Bookmark your way to lots of traffic.  The problem can be overcome, but it’ll take some creativity.

Keep going!  You need to get some content on that sucker

Wonderful use of a free theme that’s niche-specific.  I love it!

The content so far (1 post) is wonderful, and it’s great link-bait for other travel sites and it’ll do wonderfully on StumbleUpon, and other social sites.  I think it may even get a few Diggs if you send an email to some friends abou tit.

Good stuff so far, just get some content going on it, and find a way to monetize it.

I also like that you included a way to opt-in for an email list.  The problem I have with this is that you are offering two similar deals on the same page.  “Subscribe to my RSS feed for a free copy of my book” and then “Sign up for my email list for a free copy of this other book”.   One, I don’t know how you are going to manage to find out WHO signs up to your RSS feed without them emailing you (or them signing up via email).  The second issue is that too many options on the same page, often end up in confusion, and the visitor selecting NEITHER.  My advice, remove the RSS offer and keep the offer open for opt-ins.  You can always merge your Aweber (hopefully you use Aweber) account and Feedburner accounts later, and the Aweber subscribers show up in your feed count.

At first glance, this blog is my pick to win it all.  4 wonderful posts, beautiful design, and a wonderful blend of images and video.

Not much to say, keep up the good work and build that traffic!

Did I speak too soon?  Looks like a legitimate contender here.

The only drawback I see so far is that the theme may be a bit complex for some.  We’re all pretty tech savvy as bloggers, but to the average user, this gives a lot of choices to the reader.  And when they get too many choices?  That’s right, they usually choose nothing.  I’d find a way to funnel the readers where you want them to go.  Perhaps a “related posts” option?  A “featured posts” section?

Also, this site is a bit heavy on the monetization side.  I’m not saying that it’s too much, just needs a way to blend a bit better with the content.  Perhaps blending affiliate links in with the content rather than posting amazon, adsense and affiliate banners?  You can also use the contextual advertising offered by Amazon, if it’s still around (haven’t used Amazon in a while).  I do like the CPA banner on the sidebar in the homepage.  This could be your best money-maker when you start building traffic.  I’m assuming you get paid on an email submit on this one, am I right?

What a wonderful idea.  I shouldn’t be surprised, the blogger behind it is quite creative.  Here is the basic principle that I gather from the site.  She’s going to be doing blogger profiles (and maybe a short review), and she’s hoping to gather traffic from organic rankings, and from bloggers writing about it on their own blog when they are reviewed.  For example, she writes about blogger X, and blogger X notices the ping.  Blogger X then proceeds to tell his readers about it in a blog post with a link so that they can check it out on their own.  Brilliant stuff!  Bloggers are vain creatures, so this plays on that.  Great concept.

Drawbacks?  Yep!  Nothing that she can’t fix though.  The biggest drawback that I can see is that she’s almost assuredly to land herself no higher than the 2nd spot for a particular blog, or blogger.  Why?  When they search for, then she’s always going to rank behind the site they are looking for if the search results are truly relevant. Also, this isn’t going to be highly appealing for Social Bookmarkers.   They generally only click on odd, sexy, funny, amazing, or “value” posts which teach them how to do something, or show them where to find resources.

The fix?  Nothing.  Level 2 may be high enough to attract searchers if she writes good headlines.  And I still think she’ll get social traffic because bloggers care about promotion.  So if the blogger she writes about stumbles the post, it’ll still send her some traffic.

Good stuff.  Get a theme going and some more content!

Great stuff so far.  The content is excellent, and I already found a great linkbait post.  Make sure to get people stumbling and digging these linkbait posts, as they really will provide you a great deal of traffic.

The problems I see with this site are easily fixed.  One, the red in the sidebar doesn’t stand out from the background very well, making it hard to notice without focusing.  Two, the adsense ads have a white background and red text.  You have to blend these to make them look like they are part of your site, rather than an eyesore that readers will quicly scroll past.  Also, I recommend putting them on top of posts, or aligned to the right so that they become part of the content rather than an afterthought at the bottom.

Other than that?  Not much… keep up the good work!

I Love Social Bookmarking
blog contest, contestants

18 Comments For This Post

  1. Piss Biscuit Says:

    Well, thanks for the assessment Bryan! LOL… I’ve lost some of my initial momentum, but I’ll be back on top again. My new goal is to be your “crowd Favorite” Good going Suite J, I new you had a winner.

    @ Mr. Gay… I mean Reggae… I think overall, you’ve got a pretty neat thing going on. As for monetization, I’d be doing the same. Right or wrong is up for Bryan to explain as he’s the pro… but I think its gravy. Kiss de egg man!


    Bryan Clark reply on July 7th, 2008:

    LOL @ Mr. Gay. I don’t know that he’s seen that comment yet or we would have heard something from him.

    Your site could be a real prize, it just needs some work. Keep going!


    Mr. (RE)Gay reply on July 8th, 2008:

    Yeah I saw this….but I think he means well


  2. Nick Says:

    The go green site looks awesome, and no offense to John, but I’m glad you wrote what you did about the site. I went there, and I felt like an idiot because I felt like there had to be more than just the one page and I couldn’t figure out how to get into the site.


  3. Missy (from Bloggers Search) Says:

    I personally am digging the Frugal Zeitgest, as with green, folks are looking to both be frugal and green. The two go hand in hand, and are super hot right now.


  4. Jay Says:

    Wow. Thanks for the comments guys. It’s very much appreciated.

    I’d have to say that the Frugal site is my favortie at this point, mostly because of the big list of where to get free coffee! Without large doses of caffeine, I wouldn’t have been able to enter the contest. lol

    Ok, let’s get back to work and take it up a notch this week! Good luck to everyone in “Round 2″!


  5. Forest Says:

    Hey Bryan and everyone else… I am very happy about the initial comments and thought that my site would be kidn of viewed as a cliche!!

    I have been struggling with the design and took a few days away from it. I think I will have to bite the bullet and make it 1000 wide (my idea was to have it 800 wide so that frugal people on library computer monitors could see it without scrolling but I need more screen estate!!)

    Does anyone think the post area would look better white?

    I too think that the green site is leaps ahead in design and dig the content!!

    Good luck everyone… I will be doing the rounds and subscribing / commenting on everyone’s sites when I get a free moment.


  6. Piss Biscuit Says:

    @ Forest: I think that in general, it’s a bit hard to read all the way around. Granted, at least you’ve got something for people to read, so take my comment with a grain of salt. But I really do think that between the white writing on peach background and the red on the wood… it’s really tough to read.

    As for the library… just use you AWstats to see who is browsing with what. I think most everyone has a little wider monitor these days… and even if not… their resolutions are set higher, in turn making everything fit.


    Bryan Clark reply on July 7th, 2008:

    I agree with PB 110%. Check with Google Analytics and it’ll actually show you what browswer people are using and what resolution is the most used. I think you’d be surprised that most people are using a higher resolution than you think. But the idea was good!


  7. Jovana Says:

    Eeep, I know - content. Well, my original plan for yesterday was to sit all day and write posts.

    And then my friends from Cuba came through for the day and I was set on a mission to show them all the glories in my city in one day (a very achievable task since I live [while on Holiday] in a fairly small town].

    I actually agree with you. Almost ten seconds after I bought the domain name I thought to myself: whoops. This is the type of site you need a couple of months to get going, not one month!! But I guess I’ll just have to work a bit harder, won’t I? Thanks for the comments Bryan - and good work everyone


  8. Jovana Says:

    And I know highbrow isn’t well known *smacks head on pavement* I blame my mother - she’s an English professor and when I was little we used to write down words, their meaning and a sentence using the word on small cardboard pieces and I’d keep them in my room so my vocab would increase!


  9. Nick Says:

    Are you serious, who doesn’t know what High Brow means?


    Bryan Clark reply on July 7th, 2008:

    I know what highbrow means, and I’m sure a lot of others do too. However, you always have to assume that your readers are stupid. Don’t treat them like they are dumb, but simplify every process you can for them. Maybe add a definition to the header


  10. Nick Says:

    Ok, and just to clear it up for those that don’t know… It means to have high standards or to be pretentious, or, it could be a person who thinks too highly of themselves, or to have high values.

    Think of a rich, uppity, person raising their eyebrows at the young kid with a mohawk and thinking ‘oh my’. That’s high brow.


  11. Jovana Says:

    Or it can be someone of superior learning and culture. Thus the term ‘highbrow’ magazines. ‘Highbrow’ society. Etc.

    And that what my blog focuses on - giving people the reigns to having a insight into a part of culture and breeding that they might not have had.

    A lot of people lack reading skills or the directions to take it further - so we’re a guide, to become cultured and more learned ^_^


  12. Marceia Says:

    Hey Bryan!

    Thanks for the love. You know, I agree with you on the confusion thing. It’s actually a Yaro Starak tactic and I always wondered about that one. (see his blog )

    I don’t use aweber - I use a self hosted script for my autoresponder. So unfortunately, no merging. My goal with the autoresponder is to build a list like you mentioned in another of your earlier posts so that I can keep the list and sell the blog.

    I definitely want to keep building a list, but you still think I should ditch the RSS? I’m not arguing your point on the confusion - though - maybe a way to make it better?

    You like using posts from other blogs and linking to them? I actually used that as a place holder and thought you’d hammer me for not using original stuff. I was thinking of writing original pillars and filling with posts like that one that I find throughout the web. Your thoughts? I haven’t done this tactic in the past. All my posts have always been totally original - or at best totally rewritten

    Thanks much to everyone that’s left comments on the site. I’m not ignoring you. Just finishing up today and will get all my comments answered and will visit your sites to return the favor.



    Bryan Clark reply on July 7th, 2008:

    I suggest ditching the RSS incentive. You definitely still want RSS subscribers, so remind them at any chance you get to subscribe. However, you don’t want to give too many options. And building the list is a good idea. However, where did you get the idea that I like to use posts from other blogs? I always write my own stuff.


  13. Marceia Says:

    no, I didn’t mean that. I have a hangover from hell today so my writing is a bit off. I SWEAR I’m never drinking Wal-Mart Tequila again…

    anyway, what I MEANT was - Did you like that IDEA? You commented earlier that you liked that post on my blog and it’s really just a repost from a different blog. Granted, I do provide proper credit, etc, but I didn’t give anything new and original there.

    Like you, I have always been original in my blog posts, so I didn’t think you’d like that particular place holder and would “hammer me” for it when you reviewed the site. Though I must admit I would prefer to write pillar posts and then surround the pillars with posts just like the one you saw already.

    sorry if I wasn’t clear. Sam Walton (Unfortunately, not Sammy Hagar) is pounding on my head reminding me that too much tequila is a BAD thing.


    Bryan Clark reply on July 7th, 2008:

    OOOOh… I see. I would always recommend writing your own stuff. Even when you give a credit link, it’s still duplicate content, just not as frowned upon by Google since you link to the source. However, buyers aren’t so generous. They don’t want ANY duplicate content on potential purchases.


  14. Marceia Says:

    ps. Agreed on RSS. Will take it out from it’s current place and promote it only through the posts…



  15. Forest Says:

    Hey Guys, I have been working on the redesign and now want some opinions

    Let me know what you think….. guess I better start promoting now.

    Which post did you think was great linkbait?




  16. Piss Biscuit Says:

    @ Forest: It’s a GAGILLION time better!


  17. Jay Says:

    @ Forest: Good job man, that’s quite a bit better. Much easier on the eyes.

    Since it’s easy to try, maybe test a few different background colors. I find black is best to use for sites with heavy imagery/graphics/photo galleries, etc. But, that’s personal opinion. A color can make HUGE difference on the overall view though. Even the deep reddish/brown you have as link color might work in the background, but I’d have to see it. I’m a big fan of using a total of 3-4 color combos.

    Anyway, I guess I better get my ass in gear and step it up a notch?




    @ All: Well done so far. I have been a little quiet over here as I have a lot on, but I have been checking your sites almost daily and have commented on all of them ( i think). My top picks would be ‘gogreen’ and ‘frugalist’ as I think they are head and shoulders above at this stage. Thats not to say things wont change and, having read all the comments here, it is great to see that everyone is helping one another out with this.

    @ Bryan: Point taken, thanks for a great assessment of my site. You are right about monetization and the fact that too many choices = people choosing none. I have a lot to get on with as far as this site goes but the fact that you (pretend to) like it gives me some hope. I lost a lot of time this weekend and need to get back on it again. BACKDATING POSTS….you watch me go


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