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Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Advertising blogs: Entrecard


So, here I am again, two posts in twenty four hours and that is unusual. There is of course a reason for this; bear with me and I’ll try to explain.

Blogging is, when you come right down to it, an instrument of self-promotion. You have something to say, you want to say it to as many people as possible and so you put it on the web – otherwise it would be enough for you to tell it to your nearest and dearest. Part of it is, therefore, a version of the opera singer’s basic morning exercise; me-me-me-me-me-me-meeee! The problem is that there are over a hundred million bloggers out there in cyberspace, all singing a variation of the same exercise, a real cacophony for every potential listener (reader) surfing around the marvellous Vanity Fair which is the internet. So, how do you manage to stand out from all the others, what do you do to ensure that others – as many as possible – find their way to your blog, after you’ve told your family and friends about it?

There are all kinds of tips available on-line about increasing the number of hits your blog gets. Some of them are easy to do, some are complicated and time-consuming. It all depends, I suppose, how important it is to you and how much time and effort you want to put into it – and where you want to put that time and effort.

I started this project last February basically for myself; for fun, as a hobby (I really hate that word, it sounds so trivial for a description of something most of us invest so much of ourselves in, but that’s language for you!). I wanted to write and follow a feeling that I could do so in a fashion that readers would find interesting, informative and, perhaps even, good. And, so far, the feedback has been fairly positive and the number of hits on the site pleasantly satisfactory. So let me express, before I continue with this, a big thank-you to all of you who take the trouble to read what I write, particularly to those who keep coming back to read the new essays I post.

But nothing in life remains static, if you’re not moving forward you’re moving backwards, etc., etc., so I’ve been thinking recently about what I could do to increase the visibility of my blog, to increase my volume and melodiousness, if you will, in that huge choir of opera singers doing their me-me-me exercises. Or, put another way, my baby has grown up a little bit and I thought it was time for it to take a few more steps out into the virtual world.

I’d already done the obvious things like telling my friends, putting my URL on my various on-line profiles and sharing links to my posts on Facebook. But I felt that the time had come to do a little more and, having a few days holidays left before going back to work, started looking around for the best ways to do this. One of the things I came across was something called Entrecard.

If you are attentive, you will notice to the right of the text (actually, if I’ve got the length of the text here right, you should be near it now), under the list of “Followers” a new widget, a box with the bottom in black-and-gold and an “E” followed by the word “Drop”. Above this will be an image of some sort, which is actually a link to another blog. Do, by all means, click on it – after you’ve finished reading this, of course – and go and read it. For Entrecard is an advertising forum for bloggers, where they get the chance to publicise each other on their web-sites.

The whole thing is a wee bit complicated; if you want to know exactly how it works, I suggest you go to the following link: http://entrecard.com/blog/?p=1593 . And there you will also find the reason why I am putting up a second post within 24 hours, because, if I’ve done this right, then I’ll get five thousand EC credits for doing so which will enable me to do quite a bit to publicise this blog. (Unfortunately, there’s a deadline for all this which runs out tonight so I have to do it now.) That’s the theory anyway, how well it works is something we’ll just have to see.

It does mean giving up a tiny corner of control over my site, although, if I’ve understood Entrecard properly, I will have approval and a right to rejection of those bloggers advertising on my site, so I can promise you won’t be linked to pages plugging Scientology, or Sarah Palin, or Japanese porn. Indeed, Just Plain Tired …, the guy who’s there at the moment (http://justplaintiredof.blogspot.com/), is well worth a look – and that’s an unsolicited recommendation!

In this context, I want to emphasise that this blog is basically a labour of love, and I plan to continue it as a platform to publish stuff; I hope to spend most of the time available writing for it and not playing with it. Unlike many others, I’m not dependent on it to make a living so I don’t have to plaster it with ads. I’m not ruling out the possibility that the odd advertisement may appear here sometime in the future – I may be a pinko liberal with strong socialist tendencies, but this doesn’t mean that I hate the chance of making a little extra cash. But personally, sites that are filled up with commercial links and flashing pictures annoy me and so I would always ensure that such additions are tasteful, understated and don’t take from the basic character of the blog. So don’t worry, you won’t be confronted with an extra Welcome portal with the announcement, “Attempted Essays is proudly sponsored by Runalot, the laxative that keeps you going, day and night!”

Oh yes, and I won’t do Twitter, I don’t like it and am not interested in it.

(And finally, I should mention Molly, on whose site http://cblegacy.blogspot.com/ I first came across Entrecard. Thank you, Molly, your posts are always worth reading!)

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