Comment Spammers: 2nd Time’s the Charm

There’s a new level of blog comment spam out there that’s as wonderfully clever as it is evil. Here’s how it looks:

Imagine you wrote a blog post about kola nuts. A few days later, you see this comment awaiting moderation:

“Extracts from kola nuts are great energy boosters. Couple kola nut extracts with Vitamin B complex to increase energy and stamina. In addition, this combination will enhance circulation, protein metabolism and also maintain hormone balance.”

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Turn That Blogging Hiatus Into a Contest!

I hate to break it to you, but you look like I need a break. 🙂

If the idea of a break from blogging doesn’t resonate with you at the core of your being, you don’t have a pulse. Especially if you’ve been doing this full-time for more than a couple years.

Feeling a little claustrophobic? Chained to your blog? Believe it or not, you CAN get away. We all need a break from the norm. Even bloggers deserve vacations, sabbaticals, and moments of solitude. But it takes too much extra work to have posts ready to cover a vacation!

So let your readers write for you. Why should you have to work extra hard before your time off just so you can be too tired to enjoy it?

Turn that Sabbatical into a Contest!

We’re experimenting with this idea right now on my wife’s blog – Mommypotamus.com. We’re expecting baby #2 any day now and my wife doesn’t want to lose steam during that first tiresome month with our new baby. She also doesn’t want to scramble to write extra posts beforehand… that’s not relaxing! So we’re doing a contest. We’re putting her readers in charge of the content during that first month and giving a pretty major prize to the winner.

Getting to Know the Readers

My wife blogs on many overlapping niche topics – real food, organic lifestyle, attachment parenting, full-term breastfeeding, family vision and purpose, etc. And since the majority of her readers are mommy bloggers, we know for a fact that many of them are still blogging on no-cost solutions like Blogspot, WordPress.com, and Typepad. These women are passionate about their families and lifestyle choices, and some of them are burgeoning small business owners. But with almost no startup funds, it’s tough to justify making the switch to a self-owned domain and content management system.

Since I have set up nearly 30 different blogs on the self-hosted version of WordPress, we’ve taken my talents and offered them up to the guest blogger who gets the most comments. Whoever wins this guest blogger contest will receive a free domain registration, free year of hosting, import of all content from current blog platform to self-hosted WordPress, and a premium theme. Winning this contest will take one blogger from the rank and file of amateur bloggers into a force to be reckoned with.

The Premise of the Contest

Her readers are encouraged to submit a guest post along similar themes to the typical daily content on Mommypotamus.com. The winner of the contest will be determined by the most unique commentors on a guest post during my wife’s time off. This motivates each contributor to tell their friends and family and followers in hopes of winning the prize.

There are so many benefits to this approach that I can only thank God for the idea.

Benefits of Guest Blogging Contests

  1. Free content – each person who enters the contest writes and submits one blog post. Heather doesn’t have to write anything if she doesn’t want to after the baby is born. I can edit and format the posts for her and take the blogging burden off her shoulders.
  2. Spreading the word – each guest blogger will send their friends, families, and neighbors to the site to read their post and leave a comment. More people will become aware of the site.
  3. Comments leads to return visits – when you visit a blog for the first time and you see 20 or more comments on several of the most recent posts, you get the point that this blog is somewhat popular. If other people find it useful, you might too. So you make the mental association that this is probably worth revisiting sometime later.
  4. Engaging the community – you might think that the regulars would check out if there’s an extended hiatus from the blog owner. In this case, I think we’ll find that readers visit more often, to check out the competition’s posts and to keep a tally on blog comment totals. They’ll need to know if there’s a reason to find more friends to comment if they start losing to someone else.
  5. Promote the community – you build loyal relationships when you give your readers a voice and then promote their blogs at the same time. Each guest blogger will get a bio and link to their current blog on the post.
  6. Builds business exposure – I don’t actively promote my blog consulting and building services. But this contest will make everyone who enters or considers entering aware of what I do and what it can turn their current blog into. Whether anyone entering this contest ever requests my services or not doesn’t really matter. Each of them knows potentially dozens of OTHER people who they might refer to me. And this is purely an additional benefit. I couldn’t care less if this generates revenue or not. It’s really all about getting guest posts for my wife and making it fun.
  7. It’s just plain fun – As I just mentioned, there’s nothing better to unite a community than to get everyone in on fun activities. A little sense of competition with the underlying motivation of helping out a new mommy is a winning combo! Who wouldn’t want to help out a woman with an newborn and gain some exposure at the same time?

The Challenge: Too Few or Too Many

One of my concerns was that we wouldn’t get enough submissions. If I give my precious time away to set up a blog for someone and my wife only benefits one week off, I’ll be disappointed. I want all sides to win on this one. But in the same vein, if we were to somehow get 30, 40, or 50 submissions, we’d have ourselves another quandry. I don’t want the contest to drag on forever, and I don’t want to turn anyone away.

Keep it Simple

I think we’ll limit the contest to the first X number of entries. Then we’ll cut it off. If our goal is 20 posts, I might accept 30 just in case 10 are really bad or off topic. Everyone will lose steam if the contest lasts longer than a month and my wife will forget how to blog if it turned into a two month hiatus. Okay, probably not. But you get the point.

I’ll report back in a week or two with an update on the contest.

For the Love of God, Host Your Own Blog

It’s Friday, and time to hand out a single tip for amateur bloggers. There’s plenty to glean from the daily crush, but today is my own personal case study: to see if beginner tips are still needed. We’re going to start simple and work our way up. So let’s start at the very beginning.

Twitter Search Enlightened Me

I try to answer questions floating around on Twitter from all sorts of people. Questions about blogging. Anything from “Why don’t I get more traffic? I thought this blog thing was going to be easy!” to “Why can’t I change the style of XYZ on my blog?” After pulling up their profiles and clicking links to blogs, I found that 80% of the questions I run across are asked by people blogging on third-party blog platforms.

Host Your Own Blog

1. Register a Domain

2. Create a Hosting Account

3. Upload WordPress 3.0

4. Import Existing Blog Posts

If you’re still using free blogging solutions like WordPress.com, Blogspot, or TypePad, you won’t always be able to implement these Friday tips or the other ideas you might catch from some of the blog crushes featured here. Some of them simply cannot be implemented until you have full control over your blog.

So if you’re serious… if you will commit to blogging at least three times a week for the next six months… be a good little blogger, scrounge up $9/yr for a domain. I recommend using Moniker for domain registrar. The spend $5/mo for hosting. I recommend HostGator. Most affordable hosting solutions have a simple WordPress installation button. Look in your dashboard. It’s really simple.

Why Spend Money on My Blog If It Won’t Make Money?

There are no guarantees you will make money on your blog. But that’s not why you should take the time to blog or spend the money on hosting and domains. If blogging is important to you, be the best blogger you can be.

No one takes a third-party blog seriously. Your friends might visit, but it’s very difficult for a free blog to gain steam beyond your closest friends and family.

Why? Because you’re using a crappy template and your domain name says randomblogtitle.blogspot.com. That’s a mouthful! It’s not memborable. A memorable domain name will stick in people’s minds. It’ll also look better on a business card. Trust me. Business cards are a good idea. Even if you’re not a business.

The Cardinal Rule

If you don’t care about your blog, why should anyone else? Never forget that. If it’s completely bland without character or voice, DON’T host your own blog. Use the free third-party platform. You won’t care about it, and neither will anyone else.

But if it matters to you… if you have something to say… make it something worth visiting.

You’re Killin’ Me, Smallz

If you refuse this foundational advice, you can still benefit from my site… just not as much as you COULD. You’ll still get tips on writing, voice, and most importantly examples of bloggers who do it well. But if I’m going to care about HOW I write, I wouldn’t waste my killer content on a forgettable, subpar blogspot template. But that’s  just me.

How Do I Get My Site Added to the Sociable Plugin?

There are dozens of site submission options for publishers / bloggers using the Sociable plugin for WordPress. You’ll see it at the end of this post. It offers you the option of sharing this article with your friends or bookmarking it for later use on many different social bookmarking sites. We use the Sociable plugin […]