Monday, October 20, 2008

When Content Isn't King

Last week on Cult of Gracie, Callie & I were joined by Pearly Writes and Rebecca Deos for a long conversation about SEO and content.

For the most part, we all agree: content is the best organic SEO. You'll have to listen to the show for where we split hairs regarding SEO and social network sites, etc., but worthy of noting here today was our discussion regarding use of content.

Callie and I began the conversation by stating that before you blog (or your business, really) you have to know your mission. How else are you going to measure your success? Part of this business of your mission relates to content, how to use it, and the matter of "should you give it away for free?"

While we all agreed there are times to withhold content for money, deciding 'when' is the tricky part. Callie, who does consulting & writes conceptual articles & "how to" posts, discussed how some of her most thoughtful "free stuff" was often either not understood & therefore misapplied, or read too quickly (a kind way of saying that folks didn't really get it) and the information was not used correctly. She's decided that she won't be giving such things away, but rather saving most of her "goodies" for clients ~ not just to be paid, but to ensure that the advice or concept is applied as intended. Rebecca, an escort, uses her blog to write about things that interest her purely as a way for prospective clients to know more about her. And certainly an author has to decide what stories/columns should be sold versus what can be given away for free, as 'exposure.'

In any case, this "to be paid or not to be paid" is a rather subjective decision ~ one which can only effectively be decided once you know your goals/mission.

But this lead to a conversation about the worth of writing ~ again, partially based upon all the recent loss of so many "sex columnists". (It's a conversation I appreciate being kept alive by grande folks such as Amber, Dacia, & Callie.)

My thoughts wandered to the matter of value ~ value beyond paid or not, or how much per word, etc., but the matter of the value of adult writing on human sexuality.

We know that sex is deemed a less legitimate conversation than say politics, finance, or technology. Everyone knows I find that both a stupid ideology (everybody literally has a reason to both know about & explore sexuality) and a dumb argument in light of the fact that sex does in fact sell ~ and I'm talking actually selling sex, be it porn, toys, or sex worker services ~ to the tune of millions, billions of dollars annually. But the value of sex writing, fiction and non-fiction, cannot be discussed only in terms of its relation to non sexual writing ~ if only for the fact that we're missing the definition of the value of writing in general. Time for some conceptual algebra.

What value does writing have? And perhaps, more pointedly, just what is of value on the Internet?

Lately I'm more and more struck by the freakish facts which point to the fact that technology & its tools (the code, widgets, etc. known as Web 2.0) garner more money, attention and credit than content.

Name a site, strip it of its content and what do you have? Just a bunch of code. Yet people are buying code and concepts of code & tools rather than putting money into what it is that people really come to, return to, and love sites for: content.

All websites are publications/productions, so this monetary focus on the tools of the publication/production is akin to gushing over the pencil, the typewriter, the lush yet blank pages of a magazine. I'm focusing on writing here (and perhaps it's warranted because words are still the way things are found on the Internet), but this applies to images too. For example, Flickr without photos and images is nothing but a a potentially cool tool that's not being used; it only becomes popular when the tool is used to deliver content.

But the money seems to be going to the folks who create the tools, while content creators, adult or otherwise, are slighted. It's too lopsided.

So perhaps the question we should all be asking isn't, "Should I give it away for free?" or even "When should I give it away for free?" but rather "When are the big sites with budgets going to realize how damn important content is?"

For the flip-side of this argument, please read Rebecca's thoughts from after the radio show.

And then, please do tell us all what you think about the use of content and the value of writing.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Freelance Bloggers Getting Paid

The brilliant Genia of SistersTalk has started FreelanceBlogger.net ~ and yes, she's included a category for adult or sex bloggers.

Also included in the community is advice on and other tips ~ including this list of social bookmarking sites, with opinion on their effectiveness for traffic and SEO.

The plan is to get all you bloggers who want to get paid over there, registered and posting your mini-resumes and then go after companies looking for bloggers. Genia is anticipating a 30 - 60 day time line to get the community active before she'll really begin courting the companies who will pay for bloggers, but there are already some Available Freelance Blogging Jobs listed.

The sooner you get registered, the sooner your potential for a paid blogging gig.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cult Of Gracie Radio: The Marketing Whore Edition

Both Callie Simms & I will be back on Cult of Gracie Radio tonight, from 9-10 PM (Central), discussing mainstream & mature marketing from more of a 'how to' aspect. Tonight's agenda includes the following discussion:

* SEO: application tips (how) & definitions of purpose (why)

* The purpose behind & use of blogs (when to use, what they are for; when blogging doesn't make sense)

* Content: What is, and isn't, content with a purpose, and the issue of "giving it away for free". (somewhat related to both of the above)

* Ethics & 'feelings' about blogging & online user IDs. (When using a pen name feels icky, but is necessary; are there situations to 'out' yourself?)

(Of course, I'm sure we'll still have plenty of lively debate as we defend our reasoning!)

You can join the conversation by calling 646.200.3136

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Technorati Family Feud: Survey Says!

Technorati released its State of the Blogosphere for 2008. Being a survey of 1000 bloggers, a rather small sample, it poses more questions than 'facts' for me.

Let's start with gender.

The survey says more males are blogging.


And more men describe their blogs as professional, "about your industry and profession but not in an official capacity for your company"; while more women describe their blogs as personal, "about topics of personal interest not associated with your work."

As this matter of definition is purely subjective, I can't help but wonder about each gender's own bias here.

I did not see any information regarding the gender split in corporate blogging.

While women are more likely to seek to monetize their blogs, it seems they invest 50% less money in their blogs and make 50% less money in return.

Global Bloggers by Gender

Demographics Female
(N=438)
Male
(N=852)
Personal Blog 83% 76%
Professional Blog 38% 50%
Median Annual Investment $30 $60
Median Annual Revenue $100 $200
% Blogs with advertising 53% 54%
Sell Through a Blog ad Network* 16% 7%
Have Affiliate ads* 41% 32%
Have Contextual ads* 61% 73%
That ROI is something to think of when keeping things on-the-cheap ~ and far more informative than most of what is discussed in Slate's coverage of this Technorati survey, Blogging for Dollars: How do bloggers make money?. (That article is really a more theoretical conversation on popularity ~ which does affect ad revenues, but we'll get back to that later.)

However, women also stated they had benefited in other ways from blogging, with 9% more saying they had converted business leads from their blog.



Interestingly, women are said to have participated in more traditional blog networking (blogrolls, linking to other blogs, etc.) than men ~ including producing more content for other blogs. No number was given, but it makes me wonder about this in terms of blog investment...

Writing may be "free", but the sweat equity isn't noted in the discussion & in fact seems to have little payoff in terms of annual revenue. However, this sort of promotional writing could account for the conversion of business leads. I'd love more information on that area.

As far as topics go, Technorati calls them "diverse."
Blogging topics are diverse

Both personal and professional topics are equally popular. Forty percent of bloggers consider their blogging topics outside of these categories. “Other” blog topics include: 2008 election, alternative energy, art, beauty, blogging, comics, communication, cooking/food, crafts, design, environment, internet/Web 2.0, Jamaica, and media/journalism.

Three-quarters of bloggers cover three or more topics. The average number of topics blogged about is five.

There were some global differences. Music is more popular and politics is less popular in Asia, while personal, lifestyle, and religious topics are less popular in Europe.

You probably see what I see ~ an absence of "sex" as a topic.


It appears that Technorati did not include "sex" (or "adult" or "mature") as a topic in their survey; I'd gather that with those choices many sex bloggers would identify their blogs as "Personal/Lifestyle" blogs ~ or use the "other" category.

"Sex" is still not listed as a response in the "other" category. I have no idea if Technorati opted not to include "sex bloggers", if they edited/censored such responses when they published their findings, or if there were too few "sex" responses to qualify for a mention. Those surveyed may consider their blogging part of another category. For example, sex workers may state "business", authors "books", and sex positive feminists who discuss sex regularly might classify their blogs as "political" or "media/journalism" just as others who are not sex positive might (may also include "religion" as well).

Or perhaps survey respondents with sex blogs who noticed the "sex" option missing felt stating "sex" would mean they'd be excluded from the survey data.

The omitted options for "sex" and the lack of stated identification as "a sex blogger" does make me question the survey responses. As sexuality is just part of a human being's existence, I wouldn't throw the survey out completely; just keep the omissions in mind when reading & digesting.

Which poses more questions...

For instance, as the most popular sex bloggers are, collectively, female (no doubt due to photos, descriptions of personal actions etc., which draw many male readers), what does the possibility of censoring/ignoring sex bloggers mean for the simple "more men are blogging" data? Does this account for the "more females have personal blogs" finding?

I don't know; I'm still mulling it all over.

In terms of privacy, only 1/3 stated a concern for their privacy; I believe this would likely be much higher among sex bloggers.:
The majority of bloggers openly expose their identities on their blogs and recognize the positive impact that blogging has on their personal and professional lives. More than half are now better known in their industry and one in five have been on TV or the radio because of their blog. Blogging has brought many unique opportunities to these bloggers that would not have been available in the pre-blog era.
And, I find the connection between "openly exposing identities" and "better known" murky. I'm certainly better known in both my personal and professional life; but the name on my birth certificate, my legal name, is neither Gracie Passette nor The Marketing Whore.


Of those concerned about exposing their identities on their blogs, 36% said "other" ~ which included, "I've chosen to blog as a character." Maybe those with pen names, online identities, whathaveyou, answered the privacy/popularity questions from the point of view of being a character?

Now onto popularity...
Technorati 100, Next 500, and Next 5000 comparisons

We analyzed the Technorati index data to see whether higher-authority bloggers behaved differently from other bloggers.

Posting by Technorati Authority
Group Average Authority Avg Days Posting
(June 2008)
Avg Monthly Posts
(June 2008)
Top 100 6,084 23 310
Next 500 1,551 20 125
Next 5000 439 13 25

Blogs with higher authority are typically updated more frequently than blogs with lower authority. The Technorati Top 100 blogs had more than twice as many postings in June 2008 as the next 500, and more than 12 times as many postings as the next 5000.

What's missing from the discussion here are contextual issues such as monetization &/or business conversions and intent of the blog. Without knowing those variables, how can we call a blog successful?



There sure seems to be a connection between a blog's popularity and ad dollars, but this begs several questions...

1) If a Technorati Top 100 blogger is posting 10 or more times a day, with all the research & writing that implies, are the ad sales fair compensation for the number of hours a blogger works?

2) Are readers satisfied with such a saturation of posts? Lots of eyeballs do not automatically grant things such as loyalty & trust, nor translate into company endorsements & branding.

3) Are advertisers happy with their conversion &/or branding at these sites? Customer & potential customer impressions of the company /product/service are more important than number of ad impressions.

If all three are not satisfied the old "blog bubble" (at least as far as a business model) bursts.

For more anecdotal & theoretical conversations about this, I again refer you to Slate's piece.

Other tips included in Technorati's survey results: Technorati Top 100 bloggers are twice as likely to use tags in their posts, and they use the "news" tag more than two times as much as the next 500, and 19 times as much as the next 5000. (And, of course, their list of top tags for June does not include anything sexual.)

As for the results regarding branding in the blogosphere, there's a lot of chatter about how important bloggers think blogs and other bloggers are. I'm not saying I disagree with these findings, just that business might want to keep in mind that people within the group often are rather high on the group; your results may vary.

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Clash Of The Sex Writers: Should We Stay Or Should We Go Now?

A further, even lengthier, response to Audacia Ray's The End of the Sex Writer?

Like myself, Audacia says she sees herself as an activist, an advocate; and that writing is the medium for her message. In that sense we have to accept that there will not be paid writing gigs ~ in fact, there really are no paid activist positions.

No, not because getting paid is becoming "a sell-out to da man," but because no one pays a person directly for their activism. (Unless you count lobbyists; but so far, I've found no one willing to back sex as an issue. Let me know if you have any leads and I'll give you my packet.)

You could start a non-profit; but in order to become paid you'll need to be the executive director (at the beginning, you'll be lucky if you can afford to pay for even that position). But then, because staff members are usually not allowed to be on the organization's board, you will lose ability to control the organization. (After several years in the nonprofit sector, I've seen how the, "Oh, but I've selected the board to maintain my vision," works out. That varies between "poorly" and "horrific," by the way.)

I've written before about having to decide if you're in business or an activist, so I'll refer you to that post.

Now, if you've opted for "business" (with or without a dose of "activism" or "cultural mission" to your branding) and refuse to monetize your own site(s), looking elsewhere for a paycheck, let's look at what's happening in the business of sex writing.

Sex is still a taboo. Those of us who work with/in/under/behind/through any issues of sexuality, legal or not, face discrimination (and I mean real discrimination, not the made up kind). There are less options in general and they come with higher fees we must pay, further scrutiny for services, and even bigger prices in terms of employment and social relationships. Audaica (who I swear I am not picking on!) has been running into these issues head-on recently, as noted by Chris in The Shrinking Public Square.

I don't mean to sound bitchy or condescending here and I'm certainly not trying to alienate myself from anyone, let alone anyone in the business of taking sex out of the closet and having it be a recognized & respected part of the human experience; but I've been talking about all of this stuff here, and here, and here, and ~ hell, pick a site, a post, as you'd like. It's been a decade of writing online, folks.

It's not that I'm whining that no one's listening to me (although, who doesn't like to be noticed?), but it seems that there's a huge gap in understanding. Maybe it's due to age & experience (I'm likely at least a decade older than most of these folks). Or maybe it's a failure to understand how publishing works ~ especially when it comes to mainstream publications and sex.

The fact is that these publications which were paying sex columnists were not in the business of sex education nor with a mission of sex positivity.

Be honest, dear readers, if you weren't following the authors involved here because you knew them, would you ever turn to Valleywag or Wired for your sex info?

Does anyone read Fleshbot? It's no literary journal; it's a smorgasbord of tits & ass for 20-somethings who don't know better (and for older folks who should know better). This is due, in no small part, to cranking out way-too-much content ~ as Audacia mentioned. That's not only a shame, but a failure on the part of the writer &/or activist who expects to be read at a site that pushes more pink bits than the eraser factories do.

Naked City ~ that blog was so clunky I heard things fall off when the page loaded. And don't even get me started on what's wrong with the Village Voice.

So, times get tough, advertising shrinks, and these publications decide to axe writers. It happens; in print, on the web, everywhere. It's tough for smart writers who know they had done nothing wrong, had nothing to do with the decision (nor any of the decisions prior on how to run their business), but that's the way it goes.

For all the "newness" of these Internets, business still has the same old model to follow: make profit. (And more than a few of them are missing the boat by applying the same practices that they mock print for; but that's for another time.)

Do I think sex writers were likely viewed as the first to go in these economic cuts? You bet I do. In fact, if I were sitting there, making the decisions, I'd likely have done the same thing. A) Sex is not representational of the companies' core missions, and 2) having sex on pages can will deter advertisers.

If these companies had committed more to the issue sexuality as a right and therefore an integral part of their publications, rather than posing as sex positive hipsters exploiting sex columnists & titillating titular to garner some eyeballs and a wink-wink-nudge-nudge mentality, then my call ~ and likely the publishers' ~ would have been different.

On one hand I am frustrated by a world which refuses to have sexuality be a part of legitimate conversation; I'd love to see sex included as an important, fundamental human issue for grown-ups period.

On the other hand, these places were only using sex as a loss-leader and they could no longer absorb the loss.

That was their bottom line talking.

And they had no sex positive mission to adhere to, remember?

Now, when it comes to "sex writers," we all have our choices to make. Not just, "stay or go?" but if we stay, how? Are we in business? Are we activists? Both? And if both, how will we blend the two?

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Adults Embracing & Embedding Facebook In Wordpress Blogs

The fabulous & much adored by The Marketing Whore Callie Simms has posted The Best Facebook & Wordpress Plugins for Adult Bloggers; a useful list if you are, indeed, stuck with Wordpress.

Why do I say "stuck" with Wordpress? Well, as seen in Callie's article, nearly everything with WP requires a freakin' plugin.

Yeah, I've defended Blogger & other platforms before against the Wordpress fans who believe the WP stands for "worship" ~ so why bother to do it again? Because I use WP at one of my mainstream gigs and I hate, hate, Hate it.

When it comes to hosting, WP is a hog. It requires SQL & PHP be installed on the server and as it uses a live database, is far more intense, requiring far more effort on the part of the server. This also means more stuff to go wrong. And then there's those plugin requirements for every little thing... :sigh:

So, when Callie says, "More and more adult bloggers & business owners are moving to Wordpress for their blogging platform because of simplicity it provides as a content management system," I have two questions:

1) Says who? Who says more and more adult bloggers & business owners are moving to Wordpress?

B) Who says it is a simpler platform &/or content management system?

If you are using WP, and want to do the Facebook thing, Callie's article is, as I said, useful. But if you aren't using WP you can simply use RSS to create/take dynamic content from virtually any social networking site (or use the tools/widgets most provide), as well as use RSS to place your content from elsewhere into your social network profile/pages; WP has no corner on that market.

Of course, all the general rules regarding being a polite adult content person within mainstream social networks still apply. And I'm still not a fan of the Facebook.

But you can hear more about that when Callie & I face-off on Facebook and other things this Wednesday on Cult of Gracie Radio.

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Read, You Will

Links from my Delicious Bookmarks:

Oversharing, Blogging, And Transparency: Notes—And Quotes—From A Talk
Susan Mernit reports on a talk she gave at Arse Electronika, the conference about sex and technology and culture, on blogging, transparency, authenticity, and identity.

Mediabistro Panel topics?
What kinds of panel topics would you like to see mediabistro.com produce in 2009?

A Slip of a Girl: I Read, I Rant; It's As Simple As That
Who told you to make a 'cutsie website in flash'? Whoever it was, they ought to be shot. The person/persons behind the push of flash are idiots because...

High-Five Fridays, The Banned Book Week Edition - Sex~Kitten.net (NWS)
Celebrating Banned Books Week the Sex Kitten way.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

This Week's Links

This week's marketing links from my Delicious Bookmarks:

MarketingProfs Knowledge Exchange : Ethics of blogging

My company just started a blog, and I found some issues to write about that I think are important to the industry. However, when I visited my competitor's websites to find more ideas I noticed some of their blogs aren't really what I think a blog would be. They are more like FAQ's pasted onto a blog. This got me thinking are there really any ethics or guidelines to blogging?

Hey Blogger, Are You Ready for the Lawsuit? | Marketing Profs Daily Fix Blog

When a journalist takes on a company, brand, individual or other entity -- they are protected by the big media companies that employ them. Bloggers, not so much

Feature Focus: The New Face of Amateur Porn - XBIZ.com

While some folks might find this increased level of public acceptance of adult material to be a good thing, it planted the seeds for what this observer sees as potentially being the worst thing to hit adult entertainment since the Meese Commission.

Catalina Loves » Blog Archive » Catalina loves Her Daughter - Buy a Raffle Ticket to Win one of Many Great Prizes!

I’ve never discussed this on my blog before, but recent developments have prompted me to discuss the reason why I’m no longer a teacher. Being Catalina isn’t always a good thing. I separated early this year with my school as a peaceful way to avoid a public scandal that would ultimately affect my teenage daughter, who attended said school.

Writing sex and parenting - dangerous but essential | Sex In The Public Square

There are few places where our public and private lives become blended into such ugly displays as they do in custody and divorce proceedings. The current controversy surrounding Jefferson's appeal for support because of a custody challenge that is, at least partly, based on his blogging about his sex life demonstrates that better than almost anything could.

Who Made Publishers the Morality Police? | BlogHer

"Let the books speak for themselves. If you don't want your kid to read a book because of the author's post-publication actions then don't buy it, but you should get to decide what is suitable for your child, not the publisher."

XXBN: The Monolith Of Alternative Media: Thoughts On Blogs & Blogging

Blog definitions; something I find both interesting and irrelevant.

Techno @ VirtualCrux: How to enable del.icio.us daily blog posting to Blogger using FeedBurner

del.icio.us daily blog posting is not compatible with Blogger. Here's a solution to this problem using FeedBurner.

A Slip of a Girl: Claims Of Big Britches Make Me Post Big Bitches

recent Violet Blue "blog-troversy" in which BoingBoing removed/unpublished/deleted posts of Ms Blue's

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The Assumptions About Links & Comments

With all due respect to Jonathan Morrow at Copyblogger, his Why No One Links to Your Best Posts (And What to Do About It) is more than misleading, it's based on assumptions that could cost you.

In the article, he discusses the reason why your "best post" has no links &/or comments ~ even when you've emailed "all of the top bloggers in your niche, pointing them to the post". He states that content is not king and that the problem, your problem, is one of cronyism. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”; and you don't know enough of the cool kids. His solution, then, is to give you a short list of ways to butter-up popular, powerful, bloggers.

But I'm not buying it ~ at least not completely. And neither should you.

It's not just because the things he suggests on his How to Make Friends with Popular Bloggers list are rather Internet circa 1999, with its "guest post" idea (very "free article service"). It's not just that a majority of the list's actions are down-right bribe-tastic, with its "Volunteer to 'vote' for any posts that they’re pushing on social media sites like Digg, Del.icio.us and StumbleUpon" and "Join their private membership program (like Teaching Sells) and make lots of smart posts in the forums". (Both of which set my teeth on edge.) It's because I take issue with his whole take on what is important in blogging and writing in general.

If you are blogging to connect to & communicate with Big Name Bloggers, then perhaps the 'desperation suck-up to appease the popularity gods' Morrow suggests will work. ("The key is finding ways that you can be genuinely useful to them. Make yourself relevant and then use that opportunity to start building a relationship." Arg! I hate such insincerity, myself. And it's too much like those high school games of trying to make the cheerleading squad or just to get to hang with them; I never did that. There's an entirely long post on this whole subject.)

But blogging is done for many other reasons than to be a "cool blogger" or a pundit. Some of us, many of us, blog for those other reasons.

We blog to connect with current customers/clients &/or potential customers/clients. We blog to connect to readers & researchers who have an interest in our topic. We blog to increase conversation about an issue ~ even if that conversation occurs around the dinner table or as pillow talk. We blog to take reader interest and turn it into a concern and then an action via voting & activism, and supporting organizations and issues with memberships and donations (which is rather like connection with customers &/or potential customers, really; but still bears mentioning).

While getting linkage at cool kid sites is welcome, such linkage, as noted (second part of post), may not not really mean anything for those goals. But the absence of such linkage &/or commenting does not mean failure or that no one is reading your "best post".

Morrow's post forgets about such valuable things as The Long Tail & the silent visitor (reader).

I am a huge fan of quality information being available for the if & when of a searcher, no matter how long after that post has been published. It may not make you cool to anyone other than that searcher, but I think that searcher is important. That's you reaching your audience. The value of such a "long tail" has been discussed over and over again by many people, so I'll let you check that out for yourself & move on to the often overlooked importance of the silent visitor.

Contrary to what people will tell you, not everyone has a blog. And yet the blogless have incredible power of their own. They do have purchasing power & potential for other action (activism, word of mouth influence on others, etc.) Getting caught up in who is powerful &/or basing it on popularity (links in, page views, comments) isn't necessarily reflective of

Case in point: My mom.
She doesn't blog. Not having a blog, she's no user ID and that can (& does) intimidate her even more from the technical point of view; but really, she is too polite to even consider posting a comment at a "weblog of a person she doesn't know." However, this doesn't mean my mom is irrelevant in any sense to the blogger, large or small.

She talks everyday, on the phone, chatting with friends, mentioning who & what she was reading and passing along blog names like she once gossiped about the neighbors across the street who kept weird hours and never spoke to anyone in the neighborhood. And she emails. Yes, she is the one who forwards all those goofy & annoying email jokes and stuff (in her circle, she's cool for passing them along!); but she also sends links to those in her circle. And because she is respected by her peers & family (not to mention cool from the aforementioned email forwards), we all read what she has taken the time to send us. Mostly. (Or suffer the guilt of ignoring her.)

My mom & others like her may not cause your site stats to increase wildly; but she probably has brought you a few new fans &/or sales ~ and without her regular visits and emails, your traffic & sales could decrease.
Case in point: My dad.
He still has his homepage set to Yahoo! for news and has RSS feeds plugged in from "everywhere". But he has no blog and doesn't post comments.

He says that if it's a good article, he feels no need to post a comment. It's complete, addresses his questions & concerns, and as far as the author goes, he thinks it's 'nuff said and won't bother with a comment or email. He does, however, relay the information to family & friends, including recommending sites & stories for others to follow.

If it's a bad article or post...

He'll get good and worked up. But like yesterday's Letter To The Editor, he finds himself not making the effort to write his full argument in light of other more pressing and practical things. (And he won't bother with a partial, lame argument.) He does, however, perform more than the occasional live heated debate with the paraphrased, and not present, author.

Would you dismiss his passion & interest simply because he's blogless & therefore cannot link to you & has not commented?

Case in point: My sister.
She's a high powered corporate attorney at a huge world-wide corp ~ the names of which I cannot drop because of implications she'd not wish. This precisely illustrates why she cannot, will not, blog or comment. As for making a user ID, she finds that "silly & time consuming". However, she reads quite a bit of news online. And she does a huge amount of shopping online.

That's not only for convenience, but due to her wide circle of similarly financially endowed, privacy requiring, friends, who, for the same reasons, email one another about the latest sale, best baby find, and coolest scrap memory book making sites & tools en route to China, London, and Ohio. She, and her friends, read and buy online quite a bit; but no one is publicly talking.

You'd be a fool to ignore their buying power & influence.
Case in point: adult content visitors.
When it comes to the mature side of things, those of us in the adult industry know we are blogging for and to a huge population which will not out itself. For every comment posted I receive at least double the emails (more like five-to-one, but I've never really calculated the numbers); but still, most people do not declare their private desires in public places. Don't let the number of sex bloggers fool you; far more of we humans are having sex (& even talking about it) than are blogging & commenting. The interest in and popularity of sex blogs alone doesn't prove that; increase in population itself does.

Would you dismiss such silent traffic? If you do, you dismiss the majority of your visitors.
Dismissing silent readers such as these are a mistake. Hell, just as not everyone clicks links on blog sidebars or in blog posts, there are those who don't even read blogs or online at all. Yet the silent visitors who do may be the very people carrying on your organization's name, your product, your service, your mission, via word of mouth. Real mouths to real ears.

Silent readers may be your vital connection to real world people, purchases, votes and other actions which help your bottom line, no matter how you define the success or action taken.

And they have to matter just as much as those cool kids, the Big Bloggers.

Sometimes we spend too much time focused on the statistics, rankings, links in, comments and other things we can see ~ simply because we can see them. I'm not saying these things are meaningless; but neither are the actions we cannot track, like the silent reader.

Sometimes we have to operate without such stats & tracking ~ not driving blind, but using our common sense. Throughout the history of communication, there have been undocumented, untrackable, unseen & not heard, results of communication. People who listened & said nothing but then went to others and gossiped and whispered behind backs, carrying on the news. People who listened & said nothing, but then directed another based on that information. Just because we cannot count them, doesn't mean they don't matter.

Morrow's entire article on courting big name bloggers does not consider, for even a moment, the worth of all the silent visitors.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sex Worker How-Tos

In Reality Check: Dealing With Assholes, Radical Vixen answers the question, "How do you deal with asshole clients?" It's for phone sex operators; but there's gold for any business owner ~ working on the phone or not.

In Rant: Strip clubs are for customers, not dancers, the SEXhobbyist gives a reminder just who the business is for. Along with clues for strippers, there are reminders for bedraggled business owners to recall that they may run the business, but if it's to be profitable, it must be focused on the customers.

Last, but certainly not least, Emilie gives safety advice on Anonymous Blogging for Sex Workers. A must read for anyone working with on the Internet. (Via Courtesan Connection.)

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I Hope Not

Wired's Paul Adams asks, Is Captcha's Moment Passing?
Recently, though, the various most popular Captcha implementations have been cracked. Bots with character-recognition ability have gotten pretty reliably good at figuring out what the distorted text says. That means they can sign up for Gmail, Yahoo, and Windows Live accounts automatically, and use those accounts for their own malicious purposes -- typically to send spam.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Adult Marketer, Can You Use Blog Talk Radio?

I was recently interviewed on XBN (NWS), a radio program run by SWOP East, which is powered by Blog Talk Radio. Not only was it fun, prompting me to schedule another interview (perhaps even host a show), but the experience resurrected talk of Sex-Kitten.Net radio.

For a few years we've been discussing starting a radio show, but along with the investment costs (equipment, time and additional marketing efforts), we were skeptical of the feasibility of such a project. While we know that discussion of sexuality is both needed and desired, we worried if the uphill battle of selling the program would result in a watered-down, wet-blanket version of the show & programming we envisioned. The other option, of course, was to run our own Internet radio station ~ which led back to the additional costs of equipment and bandwidth on top of all the other issues. The bottom line was if we had less tech and marketing efforts, it would be worth the old college try; but without that support, it was a bit too much to bite-off. So the the project was shelved, occasionally resurrected when something, like the XBN interview, reignited the spark of passion.

Back in the early days of discussion, our research included the newborn baby BlogTalkRadio.com. And we've investigated, as they've popped up, other options. But none seemed as simple as easy, with the most options, as Blog Talk Radio. All you need is a computer, an Internet connection, and a phone. And yes, kids, Blog Talk Radio is free.

It's free for listeners, and even free for callers if they use VoIP.

The past few years have shown not only Blog Talk Radio's stability in the reliable sense, but a real growth in terms of listener audience and increased options.

Along with the opportunity to increase your connection with readers via audio (listening to live shows, downloading podcasts, and offering additional real-time conversations with your blog &/or website readers), you have the opportunity to recruit new fans via regular users of BlogTalkRadio.

BlogTalkRadio isn't just a technology platform, allowing you to create shows and store them; it's a social network where members can find and hook-up with & befriend other members ~ which includes show hosts as well as other listeners. They also offer a number of widgets, which allows fans to literally help you broadcast your shows by posting your show on their blogs and in their profiles at other social networking sites.

In January of this year, Blog Talk Radio also started a RevShare Program. When you opt in, show hosts can receive 35% of ad sales/sponsors for their shows ~ and if you find a show sponsor who is not currently using Blog Talk Radio, you'll get a 50% share of the ads they place on your shows. (All paid show sponsorship & advertising must be run-through Blog Talk Radio.)

This also means that if you have an adult product, your ad money is welcome at Blog Talk Radio. Starting at $100, you can buy ad space at targeted radio shows where the listening audience is your market audience, willing and ready to buy. You can see more information and find the full rate info here.

There have been a lot of changes at BlogTalkRadio, and with renewed interest I began to investigate if now was the time...

I found the FAQs (both the public list and the additional FA available for registered users) a bit confusing, and being one of those polite marketers, I wanted to see just how welcome adult content would be. So I got in touch with John Sweet, Director of Customer Relations for BlogTalkRadio.com.

Are we adult folks welcome at Blog Talk Radio?

Yes. And you'll see when you fill out the information for hosting a show that there are several options ~ there's both a "Mature" and an "Adults Only".

What are the standards?

It's self-regulating; but basically "Mature" would be an "R" or "NC-17" and "Adults Only" would be for more risque talk ~ but again, we're still not talking X-rated or pornographic talk. The rule of thumb here is the entertainment aspect: discussion about sex is OK, but reading an erotic story is not. In other words, you can move the listeners to actions such as "buy this book", "attend this conference", or "show up at the rally"; but if you're trying to move them into ah, well, lifting their hand for some other self-entertainment purpose, then that's a no-no.

John was clear to also tell me what would happen if someone were to complain or contact BlogTalkRadio regarding a show's content. You won't get the boot instantly. He'll review the show and if there's a concern, he'll contact the show's host to discuss what can be done to make corrections to avoid potential problems in the future. So you have some breathing room; self-regulation is not a trick question, setting you up to fail.

One thing you must know about adult shows is that they will not be visible to the average visitor to BlogTalkRadio.com. This does not mean your show is buried. Registered users may opt to see & search for listings in the mature & adult only shows simply by correctly setting permissions in their profile. Just toggle "Disabled" in the safe search setting, located in the "My Options" section of your "Settings" page.



And, registered user or not, any links directly to your show's page will be seen and heard. So, like any good marketer would do, when you link to your show from your website &/or blog (or fans do), folks will properly arrive there; no fancy settings or permissions needed.

Other info you may want clarified:

Show Length:

Show length is listed as up to 60 minutes, but it is now up to 120 minutes ~ plus you can have up to one additional hour in which the show is being taped for the archives, but is not streaming live. So if your guest has created quite a crowd of questioners, you, the guest and callers may still continue the show. New listeners arriving at the page will not hear it, but anyone playing back the archived show will hear it all, up to 180 minutes.

Remember, you need not have a show or shows that long; you may select show length to be as little as 15 minutes. But once the stated length of the show ends, you have up to 60 additional minutes of recording time. Which brings up the matter of what happens post show, if/when you and your guest are doing wrap-up chatter. It is being recorded and you should let the guest know that it is still being taped &/or edit this out of the recording so it is not included in the show's archive.

Newbie Restrictions

When you are a new host of a show on Blog Talk Radio, you are limited to three shows per month, and you may not have a show during prime time hours (without special permission ~ more on that in a bit).

It doesn't sound like a lot to an eager new radio personality, but John assures me it's not such a problem. As your show increases in popularity (number of live listeners and number of downloaded archived shows), a magical algorithm calculates your worthiness of more shows. In other words, by the time you've got a few under your belt, you'll be ready for more. (And if not, well, then increase your marketing efforts.)

Radio, is a lot like blogging. It takes time to build your blog, your audience and pacing is a huge part of it. (How many times have we seen a new blogger post like crazy, with dozens of posts a day or a week, only to find they've abandoned the blog a few weeks later... Having a low start limit prevents enthusiastic burnout rates.)

Prime Time Slots

Prime time slots, as defined by Blog Talk Radio, are 7:00 PM EST to 12:00 AM EST, Monday through Friday.

The issue of limiting prime time show spots is obviously based on the desirability of such time slots. As these are the most popular hours for listening, BlogTalk Radio naturally wants to play fair with them, and overall limits them to one prime time slot per week. Newbies have to pay their dues, build an audience, to earn that time. Again, John says that it's not too difficult to get in. And in fact, we adult folks may have an inside track...

It only makes sense that adult programming would be more popular in the evening, as adults can't listen to such shows at work or while the kiddies are awake and about. So if you have an "Adults Only" or "Mature" show, contact John (johnsweet+at+blogtalkradio.com) and ask him to help give you the clearance to schedule during prime time.

Fine Print

Registering at BlogTalkRadio.com requires a user agreement. This user agreement indicates that you do not own the copyright to your show.

This means that you may not sell rights to your show, but Blog Talk Radio may.

It's a scary thing for a content creator to contemplate... I asked John about that, and it's pretty simple. They have the right to sell your shows or excerpts of your shows. You don't get paid, but you should get your name out there.

So, for a hypothetical example, if NPR wants seven minutes of an interview on your show, they need to negotiate that with Blog Talk Radio. You don't get a cut; but you will be mentioned. John agrees that not mentioning the specific show and host would be a disservice to both the host/creator and the listener. (Plus, John said Blog Talk Radio would want to talk that up themselves as well.) But if you want to retain rights and control of your radio show or podcast, then this isn't an option for you.

Other Blot Talk Radio Options

As I mentioned, Blog Talk Radio has grown quite a bit in the past few years. They are continually increasing options and features. One of the most intriguing to me was BlogTalkRadio stations.

Station are a means by which you can broadcast multiple shows & further brand yourself. Prior to stations, if you wanted multiple shows, you had to create multiple user ids. While that allows you the option of more than one show, it doesn't allow for them all to be under the same umbrella. The rates for stations are a tidy sum, starting at $5,000 a month. I'm not one of those marketers who says you can't put a price on branding (Because if you can't, well, what's the point? It's a business after all.), but I wouldn't readily dismiss such a fee.

Along with tech assistance, show producers (help with calls etc.), you have to consider the practical matter of Internet hosting. There's both the software to run the shows, streaming of live shows (including chat & callers), and the storing of archived shows. That's a lot of data, a lot of bandwidth. Also, to off-set the cost of a station, you are able to keep 100% of ad & sponsorship payments you gather. And, as a station owner, you do own the copyright to your shows.

John mentioned a few other new features that Blog Talk Radio will be launching soon ~ but I've agreed to be mum until he gives me permission to mention them. So keep an eye out here ~ or I'll poke your eye out there. :p

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sex 2.0

Cory Silverberg, About.com's Guide to Sexuality, posted Conference Explores the Intersection of Feminism, Social Media, and Sexuality:
There are so few safe public spaces for people to explore, challenge, and share their thinking about sexuality that whenever I hear about a new conference giving people a chance to come together and talk about sex my heart lightens a little bit. Sex 2.0 is a one day event in Atlanta in April, focusing on the “intersection of social media, feminism, and sexuality.” I virtually sat down with organizer Amber Rhea to find out more about Sex 2.0 and what attendees can expect.
There's still time to get to Sex 2.0, so if you can, do.

Amber's promised a post event wrap-up ~ which I am looking forward to nearly as much as if I could attend.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

High-Five Fridays #11

High-Five Fridays
1) My dear friend, Libby, has started Red Light District Chicago, "Sex workers making media so the media doesn't make us." (In case you don't understand the need for this, here's some background: The Importance Of Sex Worker Made Media.) (NWS)

2) Dee Stewart has tips on How to Breathe Life Back into Your Blog.

3) Amber Rhea quit writing at Download Squad; can't say I blame her one bit. I high-five the self-awareness to realize what your limits are, and the self-respect it takes to stay on that side of the line.

4) In Oh, The Irony, Slip of a Girl mocks misuse of the word in hipster fashion advertising.

5) Thoman B. Edsall's Huffington Post piece, Interview With Walter Pincus On The State Of The Press.

I found myself saying a big amen to lots of things; particularly this:
EDSALL: But are you saying in this new generation of reporters, there is much more a sense of the need for personal comfort and less interest in expressing outrage or whatever --

[Less interest in what is now called "crusading"?]

PINCUS: Well, there's more interest in expressing outrage on personal matters, you know -- Clinton's activities with Monica, Spitzer and call girls. Everybody's against that [kind of behavior.] That's easy. But those aren't policy issues. And I think it's just not the Post, I think it's everybody. I also think -- I mean, the Post and the Times to give them credit, do some good work. That's why I go back to Walter Reed. Nobody else did it.
Want to give your own high-fives? Find out how to give your High-Five Fridays here!

The purpose of this meme is to give high-fives to 5 people, posts, blogs and/or websites you've admired during the week. I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 5 high-fives on Friday. Trackbacks, pings, linky widgets, comment links accepted!

Visiting fellow High-Fivers is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your High-Fives in others comments (please note if NWS).



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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Star Light, Star Bright, Should I Give Away First Rights?

In Bad ways to use your rights (and the links therein) Val Gryphin discusses what happens when authors publish their stories and original written works at their blogs. She cautions:
There is no such thing as "pre-publishing," and posting your work online gives up your first rights. You do not have to be paid to give up your first rights! All that has to happen is your work be printed in a periodical, or put online where anyone can access it. Do either one of those and you loose your first rights, which are the most valuable in almost all cases.
But too, she offers many examples where publishing online has generated book deals for the actual works published as blog content. The trick is to calculate a plan and execute it well.

In her post, Val also mentions Dana K. Cassell's Writing Contest Cautions, sharing this tip for spotting a bad contest:
No entry fees - Writing contests cost money to run. If they aren't charging, how are they paying prizes and judges?
I'd say the contest should be paid by selling copies, or with sponsorships; not a lottery based on the fees of submitting authors. But that's just me.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Scheduling Drafts In Blogger

A few weeks ago, Sara Winters (who dared to call me disappearing!) mentioned the ability to schedule posts using Blogger:
4. For the lazy blogger in all of us: Draft.blogger.com. Why am I highlighting this (since I'm posting on blogger and, presumably, so are most of the people who would respond to this)? 1. Because Google doesn't feel it necessary to tell people about things they're changing/working on in relation to the site and 2. when signed in through this version of the site, it allows for bloggers to schedule posts. What does that mean? If you set a post to appear at a future time/date, instead of automatically posting it when you hit publish, the software will save the post until the time you've set. So, if you're like me (someone who doesn't post for a month and then suddenly gets ideas for 6 blog entries in one day), or if you go on vacation, you can make it appear as if your blog is getting updated regularly. This might come in handy for certain Blushing Ladies or a disappearing Whore of the Marketing variety. ;-) That is, if it'll work on their respective sites.

The tricky business is, and I've noted it both at blogs hosted at Blogger as well as this blogs hosted 'elsewhere' (like this one), that once the posts are posted they do not have their own individual URL. Any links created which would generally be to the individual post are credited only to the blog's main URL. This means is makes it difficult for another blogger to link directly to the post.

I'm hoping that the reasons we've not officially heard of Draft.blogger.com is that this is in Beta ~ and thus there'd be hope that this particular peccadillo will soon be corrected.

Because, as noted, other blogging platforms offer post scheduling and it is useful.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

High-Five Fridays #9

High-Five Fridays
1) Violet Blue with coverage of sexual privacy and SXSWi.

2) Three Wise Guys on those strange outside bathtubs in erectile-dysfunction ads.

3) Just what is the big deal about sex?

4) Bombshell Betty starts a series on getting paid to perform ~ keep an eye on it for more.

5) One of my favorite perfumes is Shalimar. Reformulated, re-released, but never the same.

Want to give your own high-fives? Find out how to give your High-Five Fridays here!

The purpose of this meme is to give high-fives to 5 people, posts, blogs and/or websites you've admired during the week. I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 5 high-fives on Friday. Trackbacks, pings, linky widgets, comment links accepted!

Visiting fellow High-Fivers is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your High-Fives in others comments (please note if NWS).



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Friday, February 29, 2008

High-Five Fridays #7

High-Five Fridays
1) A Dress A Day shows you there IS such a thing as bad publicity, which is so right-on regarding poor email releases & contact that many of you who have been so horridly pitched will find yourself saying, "OMG, yes!"

That link was found at 2) bits and bobbins, where she re-caps the "don't"s for you.

3) While we're at it, check out Pop Tart's rants about bad companies ~ are you guilty of these things?

4) Mark Glaser on the ever-blurring distinctions between bloggers and journalists.

5) This Month In SEO brings you more than SEO ~ readers here know I personally ponder everything but SEO and there's plenty to ponder in this post.

PS I'm still down-for-the-count with a cold; hence my silence here (and elsewhere). I only note this here for those who wondered ~ and literally 'here' at the bottom because I hate posts which start off that way and 'click away' asap. *wink*

Want to give your own high-fives? Find out how to give your High-Five Fridays here!

The purpose of this meme is to give high-fives to 5 people, posts, blogs and/or websites you've admired during the week. I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 5 high-fives on Friday. Trackbacks, pings, linky widgets, comment links accepted!

Visiting fellow High-Fivers is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your High-Fives in others comments (please note if NWS).



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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Nag Nag Nag

I'm hoping that a Tuesday post about a Friday meme will prompt you all to be prepared to post this week. *wink*

General tips, for this or any other meme, are:

1) Follow the meme rules. In this case, please remember to do the following:
a) Post a comment in the current High-Five Fridays blog post so that other participants and readers can find you

b) Please use the whole code as noted here ~ links back are nice, as are those to Technorati, but as this is a very new meme the text explanation helps others to know what's going on (and hopefully join us!) Other memes require such stuff, so it's not out of the ordinary to ask.
2) Go around and comment at other meme participants posts. Meeting people is half the fun! And, in this case, we're all finding other neat websites too.

Oh, and thanks to Pop Tart, there are some cool new images to use in your High-Five Fridays posts. (Pop Tart, consider yourself high-fived early *wink*)

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Friday, February 1, 2008

High-Five Fridays #3 (Givin' Props Where I Can)

High-Five Fridays
Props to my girl Pop Tart (aka DeeDee at SK ~ and endless others) for two things:

#1 Creating a cool award. The Get Out! Kitschy Kitschy Coo Award isn't just another random "I like you" blogging award; this one is for excellence amusement in comments. What a great way to increase participation at your blog! (May Will have to 'borrow' this idea.)

#2 For said award, Pop Tart used PikiStrips to make the award image or badge. I know lots of you can use PhotoShop (and excel at it); but I'm not like you. I'm also on Linux which can greatly limit the number of other online image editing sites (due to flash) & downloads (Windows or Apple only) ~ but PikiStrips I can use! (Yeah, look forward to lots of my works to appear here ~ I've got some free time this weekend lol)

#3 Slip of a Girl has a great post on the changing size of the fashion market and how smart manufacturers can profit from it.

#4 Greg dishes on the new era in media ~ which poses some chewy questions I'll likely masticate at length later.

#5 Mister Linky That's the widget you see at the bottom of these (and other) meme posts. I love that it allows participants to add their linkage to the post (rather than me having to do it, or having them only seen by those who read the comments).

Today, however, their server had a issue and it caused any site with Mister Linky code to be unloadable ~ it was a short time (though a sneeze seems eternal in length while waiting), but those of us scrambling to find contact were thwarted by the use of contactprivacy.com (used to cloak WhoIs etc.). Since the bugs I note tend to get beaucoup search results, I will list a contact addy here for those who need to find/note it: super dot linky at gmail dot com. (And note the gmail addy ~ that means even if the site servers itch again, the email can still be received!)

Mister Linky still gets a high-five because when I thought of what I'd have to do without it, I about puked :p Oh, and pay for the Gold membership. At $10 a year, you can use it across multiple sites with just a few tweaks.

Want to give your own high-fives? Find out how to give your High-Five Fridays here!

The purpose of this meme is to give high-fives to 5 people, posts, blogs and/or websites you've admired during the week. I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 5 high-fives on Friday. Trackbacks, pings, linky widgets, comment links accepted!

Visiting fellow High-Fivers is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your High-Fives in others comments (please note if NWS).



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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Marketing Whore Q & A

I invited Marketing Whore newsletter subscribers to ask me questions (with caveats, guidelines and restrictions, of course), and this is some of what I received that was worthy of response...

You've seemed anti-Digg, so what gives with all the Digg talk? Why follow it if you don't like it?

I'm not anti-Digg; it's just not a huge part of my life ~ professionally or personally. However, it has to be recognized as a 'player' and even a 'shaper' of the game, especially when there are lessons to be learned as a site like Digg grapples with what it is, what it will be... To that end, David Binkowski's got a Digg update.

Why do you use/recommend Blogger and not WordPress etc.?


Honestly, now it's familiarity; I've been using it so long, why switch? And while I have used a few other blogging platforms, there are X reasons why I likely won't switch.

The number one reason is images. Images are a huge part of adult blogging, and, because images make any blog more interesting, I even try to find images for this blog from time to time. I've used Wordpress and what a nightmare images are! You have to size images for conformity; if you want a decent sized image in your post yet have it 'clickable' to a larger image, you have to upload more than one image and monkey greatly with code ~ oh, and don't get me started on how unfortunate Wordpress is with even paragraph formating! :Blech: Anyway, my point is that Blogger makes decent sized images for posts and automatically gives links to the larger images.

Plus, and let's not underestimate the value of this, Blogger doesn't require additional plugins for things like video.

There are also additional small things which could be all in my head... But if Google owns it, won't it be spidered well? And that Blogger bar at the top is used for surfing, random blogs etc, so it offers at least the potential for more visitors.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Things I Was Reminded Of, Or Learned, When Setting Up A New Blog At Blogger/Blogspot

Setting up the High-Five Fridays blog at Blogger/Blogspot (remember to participate on Friday, will ya?), I thought I should share a few thoughts...

* Feed Settings We had a previous discussion on the problem with splogs and scrapers and I was going to try a trick at this blog, but honestly, I'm of the opinion that just using the appropriate setting removes much of this problem.

In Blogger 'settings', under 'site feed' I use the 'Short' setting. 'Short' only syndicates the first paragraph, or approximately 255 characters, whichever is shorter; and therefore only gives away part of your content. While in theory any 'good' scrapper may follow the feed and cut & paste your whole article, it will remove a pretty hefty percentage of such use as most scrapers are too lazy to that. (If they weren't lazy, they wouldn't be scrapers.)

* Blogger now asks you if your blog has adult content. This is new and I admire blogger for doing it rather than forbidding such content. So be the ethical, responsible, adult bloggers I know you are, and go into your Blogger blog settings and admit the truth.

* While setting up the new blog, I naturally wanted to 'claim' the blog at Technorati. There I discovered a new way to 'claim' ~ via OpenId. It has some bumps ~ for example, you'll want to proceed from Technorati to your blog via a new browser tab or window as it won't return you to Technorati. (And you want to be logged into your blog first, for the best results.) But the option is nice and prompted me to look for more regarding OpenId and Blogger.

While some are not heralding that Blogger now works with OpenId, it really is only in the capacity of making it easier for non-Blogger folks to post comments on Blogger blogs. That, and the magical marriage with Technorati for claims. I say 'magical' because despite being able to awkwardly perform my claim, I was unable to find in any other way shape or form mention of OpenId from the Blogger dashboard & it's settings. And believe me, I looked.

Ionut Alex Chitu offers tips for how to use a Blogger blog as an OpenID identity and says/shows that you need to check "Enable OpenID for blogs" in your Blogger profile:



It's a good thing Chitu (parenthetically) adds:
(the feature is still experimental, so it's not added in the public release yet)
Otherwise I would have gone mad trying to find such a thing. It doesn't exist, no matter how crisp, clean and pretty the instructions were.

If you use any of the following services listed here (and you'll see that Blogger is not), you already have your own OpenID. Otherwise, along with that list of services you'll find a list of places/ways to get an OpenId.

Related:

In discussing StumbleUpon and other social bookmarking widgets I opted to use a third party service rather than monkey with more code ~ not just because the images & links were piddling-about, but because I couldn't get the proper code to work properly with this blog (being hosted off Blogger means there is a code difference).

My price for laziness is that I'm routing users/readers to an additional site/stop and possibly loosing them along the way. Is it a large price to pay? I'm not certain; most users of Stumbleupon etc. use the toolbars and widgets offered by their favorite social bookmarking site anyway. But as it can result in annoying or losing a reader, I don't recommend being lazy ~ unless, like I, you just can't make it work on your own. So I do recommend piddling-about.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

High-Five Friday: The Introduction

I typically try to set aside at least one day a week in which I try to get around to everyone I know's blog or website. I don't always leave comments because
some of the best posts are those which get me thinking and that often requires a bit of time (and may end up being a post of it's own

I find myself unable to post a comment easily

I find myself thinking "cool" but don't want to just post that and possibly look like a spammer

I bookmark/save the page/post, intending to come back but then, as time passes, I feel my comments are too little too late
At Sex-Kitten I occasionally do a review called "Gracie's Been Sleeping In Your Blog" (NWS) to point these gems out to others, but with all the sites I read and all the hats I wear, sites do not always fit at SK.

So here I am, pondering this problem today, wondering what I can do to sort of give everyone I read & admire a high-five which benefits them and doesn't take a whole lot of extra (distracting) work on my part... And then it hits me: Make a regular feature which links to these great sites and/or posts, carrying my admiration along with some Google juice.

This feature will be called High-Five Fridays and it's rather open theme means I can replicate the feature at any blog, but each with relevant high-fives.

Since it's easy to replicate, it lends itself to being a meme. And memes can be fun ~ I'd sure like to know who or what you've been reading this week which you think deserves a high-five. So if you care to join me, get on over to the new, official home of High-Five Fridays.

Note: I know I'm starting this late in the day, but anyone who plays today will get a free link at High-Five Fridays as a thank you for being an early (but late-hour) adopter. *wink*

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Of Splogs and Scrapers

The definitions of 'splog' and 'scraper' are not really important here ~ we all know them when we see them. Here ShoeMoney writes of scrapers:
How annoying is it when you make a post and 5 other posts rank above yours in the search engines all that have your content wrapped around huge Adsense units. When you goto the site not only is it copied word for word but there is zero attribution to the source.
And can't we all relate to that one?

I quite often find these blogs have little Technorati Authority due to few links in, but these blogs do work some SEO trickery and get themselves high in search placement.

As a writer, I'm quite aware of copyright and normally take the blogger to task (and if I can't find contact info, I go straight to the blog/site host). But policing your content takes time and at the end of a Monday I am already wishing for the extra eighth day of the week. So, as ShoeMoney asks, what can you do?

Well, ShoeMoney answers his own question ~ and more:
I came up with this idea a while back to put a link back to my site in my blog feed. This works because if search engines think a blog is worthy enough to outrank yours then it should pass you juice as the authority of the article. If the site doesnt rank (lets face it 100% of the traffic to these scrapers is search engine generated) then its a wash because the search engine has already identified and the site never had any link juice (page rank) to pass in the first place.

I talked to Joost De Valk about the idea and he has made a plugin for it.

The 'and more' comes in as ShoeMoney asks for thoughts on this solution in terms of affecting your site's rank in bad way and gets a response:

UPDATE:

Matt Cutts - Googles lead spam engineer has responded in the comments:

Comment by Matt Cutts
2008-01-10 14:41:09

Don’t cloak the link or make the anchortext spammy, but otherwise: sure. See the interview I did with Stephan here: http://www.stephanspencer.com/search-engines/matt-cutts-interview where I said that syndicating articles with a link to the original article was smart:

As a writer, I'm not saying this should replace the policing & protecting of your copyrighted works; but it is a little bit of insurance.

The plugin or tool Joost De Valk created works for WordPress, so those using other blogging software will need to play if they want to go this route. And, as also discussed having the info in the feed footer may make it easy for the cut & pasting scraper to ignore it.

I'm no techie, but I have an idea and I'm going to see if I can play with the code here to see if it works. (Keep your fingers crossed ~ I'll be needing all of mine. *wink*)

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SEO Case Study

You know I'm Believer in content rather than SEO, but I do like to consider &/or avoid potential problems as I can and to that extent I offer like-minded folks Understanding Search Engine Penalties for such consideration. In it David Peralty gives tips via looking at a particular site (for you visual types).

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Scratch My Back?

ScratchBack is an online "tipping" system, which can be seen (as well as used Heh Heh!) in my sidebar, and it promises a more fun, conversational way to accept donations than Amazon or PayPal standard donation systems as it allows those who tip to get a link to their own site as they pass on public praise.

It's a neat idea not just for the link, should you have a blog (if you don't, I guess you could just put a link into the very site you're donating to?); but it also allows public praise with a donation. Very few people make a donation and then post a comment saying, "I just made a donation because I love you!" so this is a neat idea. Plus, it allows such praise to act as testimonials and be very visible on the site.

And yes, you have the right to reject/refuse comments which are not so nice (see the FAQ).

The program links do not increase page rank, Technorati authority, or otherwise upset or offend Google with paid linkage as all links use the "nofollow" command:
Do My Links Pass Page Rank?

They do not. Every single link, including the link back to Scratchback, in the TopSpot widget has a "nofollow" hard encoded in them. The code is delivered in Javascript format as well. That means that Google and other search engine spiders "won't follow" the link. It doesn't mean your link isn't clickable, it is.

You cannot remove that code, nor should you attempt to as per the user agreement every publisher and advertiser agree to upon registration. Google has made it perfectly clear that "selling page rank" is not something they believe in. We don't believe in it either. This system is built for fun. There are plenty of other solutions out there you can use if you want to "pass Google juice", just not this one. Did you hear that Google? :)
I'm not certain ScratchBack is very adult friendly, and their directory offerings seem to be quite limited too; but the Marketing Whore is willing to give it a try. (If she can't pass, likely most of you won't either; and should she pass, it may only mean those who step to the line will have a chance.) But the concept is worthy of noting and giving a whirl. (I can be quite the whirly girl!) And I do recommend that those of you who are interested and aren't too explicit in your sites give it a try.

Of course, it could simply turn into a "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" situation in which no one actually makes any money too... Which isn't the worst thing ~ unless some expect that and those who don't end up offending others... Which of course the sort of thing you can run into with placing a simple link on your site... All of this just means that unless you and another actually agree to scratch each other's backs, don't expect it; you'll only get your feelings hurt.

I would imagine this type of tip jar is worthy of replication in the adult community. Naturally I wish these things would be inclusive, but the Internet is so fractured it makes sense it would be replicated and a version sent to the red-light side of the web.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Thoughts On The DMOZ

A former editor talks about the DMOZ: "Dmoz began as a good idea but it grew faster and farther than the available volunteers."

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Heated Rants & Cool Kids: Social Bookmarking

In this most recent episode of, "Waaa, it's hard to be an adult webmaster or blogger..."

Sara alerted me to Fleshbot's Why Does Digg Hate Porn (which, by the way, finally made me get off my figurative ass and audition for ability to post comments at Fleshbot), and so the saga continues.

Actually, there are two sagas here; one is the dealio with adult sites and the old censorship condom, and the other is the matter of social networking. Heck, there's a few more, but I'll start with these two and, driving my former English profs to rend their clothing and pull their hair, I'll not include them in the opening summary but just get to the others when I do.

Get a beverage and settle in; this is going to be a long post.

It's easy to take it personally when content is not accepted by sites like Digg; our sites/companies are like our babies and we don't like the other kids rejecting them. But let's look at things from their point of view: Somebody is gonna scream bloody hell and they don't want the trouble.
Case Study: Fark once had categories called "Boobies" and "Weeners" which was, as you imagine, links to softcore naked boobs and dicks (respectively, if not respectfully) and adult conversations or links. But advertisers would complain, prompting Fark to make changes.

First they went with the sneaky approach. When they got a new advertiser, they stopped publishing "Boobies" & "Weeners" for a few weeks, then figuring the advertisers had tired of watching their ad on Fark, they resumed the "Boobies" & "Weeners" postings. But eventually, either they tired of such monitoring or continued to get flack at Fark HQ, and they stopped.

Both "Boobies" and "Weeners" have been moved to Foobies.com, leaving Fark more acceptable to advertisers. (Interestingly, "Boobies" always out-number "Weeners" ~ and I'm not talking 2-1 as anatomy suggests. Is this proof that porn pics are still more a man-thing than some media would tell you? I'll get to those myths later; remind me.)

Fark went where the money was. Can you blame other social sites for doing the same?
Now, before you start yelping how other sites ~ sites even 'worse' than yours ~ get to sit at the cool kids' table, let me remind you that these are social sites and, as noted in the Fleshbot comments, you're in if one of the cool kids lets you in. Which all goes back to doing your research to discover who the quarterbacks and prom queens are (the marketing term for these people are 'influencers').

Remember, the Internet isn't much different than the real world; you just can't invite yourself to the cool kids' table, you must be asked.

Now, many folks will tell you that you just need to become a member and submit your link yourself. You join the social network, you post the link, and let others bump it up and help you drive the traffic. That's part of the 'poo' in Web Poo Point Doh.

Members know if you are really a member or if you're a user, a poser, a plant, a shill ~ a fake. To be a member, you have to be a member. You have to have actual, real conversations & make friends. In social networks this means leaving comments, ranking other links, messaging and using all the frills that said network provides to members. Over time, you'll learn what all the cool kids are into, what the lingo is, what the insider jokes and nicknames are, and assimilate in a myriad of ways. But even then, you may not get your link liked.

Why?

Because it's just like the real world, kiddos. You can join the new school, go to all the football games, but that won't make you prom king or queen.

So maybe you are really likable. Maybe you do fit in at this new school. But this is going to cost you a huge investment in time ~ so I hope you really like this place because you're going to have to show up at a lot of parties.

***

Recently (just hours before I made this post) my site, Sex-kitten.Net, had a link listed at Reddit ~ actually, at NSFW Reddit (which means it's Not Safe For Work). Nice, yes; but not just for me. This proves that some social bookmarking sites are open to adult linkage, but you may have to hunt for where they are allowed.

In some sort of twisted fate, the link the Reddit user put in was not the correct link and so it was taking people not to Shame, Shame, Shame; Shame of Fools (NWS) but to The Doctor (NWS). I have no idea how that happened and as tech was sleeping, I did a quick dirty fix by posting a note at the top of The Doctor, telling Reddit folks where to find the correct article. I mention this so you know that being slightly obsessive about your stats and refers can in fact be time well-spent.

Also in this Reddit experience was a reaffirmation that your link traffic may not benefit your site as you might think.

While (at the time of this post) no one has slammed or mocked the piece at Sex Kitten (which believe-you-me does happen), the increase in numbers is a quick thing. As soon as that little link of mine moves down the page, the light will cease to shine on my site.

In fact, that little light doesn't shine as brightly as you may imagine.

Instead of all those new readers scampering like kittens all over Sex Kitten, they came, read and left. As I write this there are no new comments (and don't say it's about registering there, I've seen this across platforms), and very few visit any additional pages on the site. Well, in this case, they may be seeing two pages; the bad link to The Doctor and then move on to the Shame piece as intended. But in general, you are darn lucky if 10% look at any other page of your site or post on your blog.

And the numbers are even less for any links off site.

This I know, 'cuz my refer logs tell me so.

(In this example, I also asked Secondhand Rose, who wrote Shame, to give me the numbers of refers coming to her blog from that piece; less than 2% at the time I wrote this.)

So why do so many people pray for such linkage? How do 'they' say that getting picked up by sites like Fleshbot, Reddit, Digg, Boing Boing etc., is the holy grail?

Well, links at such popular sites are good things. But moving from a one-hit-wonder to a popular site in your own right is rather like potato chips... Just one isn't enough.

Like traditional advertising, getting links at popular sites is a matter of awareness. See one ad for a movie and even if you were intrigued by it, you may forget about it and not go to see it; but see a number of them, and while you may not drop everything to line-up outside the theater, you're more likely to make plans to see it. That's how being featured at other sites is; the more often you are featured, the more links you get, the more people remember you and decide to adopt you somehow... buying your product or buying into your site (brand).

After seeing you a number of times, the big influencers may like you so much that they get your RSS and rush to be the first to post you themselves. (Cross your fingers!)

And if your content has broad enough appeal, enough of factor X for site 1, enough Y for site 2, etc., then your site, either that very same link or another page/post, will likely pass to another site as users troll sites for good stuff to pass onto their buddies. (Just like jokes or party invites travel from the cool kids' table to the locker room to the pompom squad.)

But all of this requires that you have content worthy of that influencer, that community, that site.

So stop reading here and get back to work creating your content. *wink*

Note: The Marketing Whore Newsletter, after a hiatus, will be sent tomorrow. So if you have not yet subscribed, please do so!

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