Saturday, October 3, 2009

A rotten week for this blog


I’ve run this particular blog for over a year now and it has been mostly a pleasant experience.

This week, however, two events occurred which make me really question how enthusiastic I’ll be about posting my usual brand of nonsense in the future.

It seems the old ways of generating a little traffic and making some cash are swiftly becoming things of the past. Let me explain.


One of the most effective ways I found to generate traffic is to participate in Entrecard. For those not familiar with that site, subscribers simply put an Entrecard widget on their sites (you can see the widget over in my right sidebar) so that other bloggers can run small “calling cards” on their sites.

Attractive cards bring in some traffic and Entrecard members earn credits through clicking on cards, visiting sites, etc. that can be used to purchase space on all those Entrecard widgets scattered on blogs here and there. The system worked very well for awhile.

A few months ago, Entrecard started allowing advertisers to purchase spots on those aforementioned widgets. The primary problem with that arrangement (as far as I’m concerned) is that it does take away from the exposure Entrecard members bought with their hard-earned credits.

Entrecard came up with a partial solution to the “paid ads” problem by allowing users to refuse to accept any of them at all. That, seemingly, is about to change. Apparently, on Oct. 5 all members will be required to carry paid ads unless they send Entrecard $50 per blog to opt out of the program. If you want to read more about that plan, just click here.

Entrecard has been trying hard lately to run off its members and the plan seems to be working. That’s a shame – Entrecard is made up of a great community of bloggers and I fear a lot of them will simply choose to take off rather than waiting around to see what kind of weird policy comes next.

Frankly, I’d suggest avoiding Entrecard at this point and go with a service that generates traffic without a whole of strings attached –

The Google hates The Hawg

For close to a year now this blog has sported a Google PageRank of 3. Last night, Google decided to change that rank to a big, fat zero.

Why? I did some research and – seemingly – it has to do with the fact that I do accept paid posts. The focus of this blog remains on my original, non-commercial content, so why not? What’s wrong with making a buck or two?

From what I can tell, Google is worried about the links in those paid posts – they might not yield solid search results. For example, let’s say someone is looking for some information on the history and development of the big thermos. If I’ve got a post talking about the latest thermos from Big Thermos Inc., then that could lead someone astray – they might come over to my blog based on the Google search engine picking up my “Big Thermos” link.

That issue gets down to the quality of the content – if someone is looking for the history of the big thermos, shouldn’t they be able to do that without having to slog through a bunch of links sprayed all over the place through paid posting? That’s a pretty admirable goal, to be sure.

Ah, but wait. Google’s argument loses more than a little steam when you consider all the junk sites that Google’s AdSense sends people to. Yes, it’s very common for blogs to run AdSense ads, so it does appear that Google might be worried less about protecting consumers and more about protecting itself from competition.

Still, it’s Google’s kennel, so why not leave it to Lassie? The main problem I have with the policy is that it’s simply not enforced consistently. There are a lot of sites out there that host nothing but affiliate ads and some of those have achieved a far superior page rank to mine.

Also, my rank was reduced without warning and I’ve heard nothing back from the “request to reevaluate site” application I’ve made. In addition, I have a problem with the notion that AdSense links are just fine and dandy but other commercial ones are not. I hate thinking along those lines because AdSense is truly terrible. Since July last year, I’ve made around $155 through AdSense because no one clicks on the blasted links. That stinks.

And – last but not least – I make some great money from taking paid posts. That will dry up soon with a rank of zero because who would want to pay for a post on a site that is – in the eyes of Google – pretty well worthless? So, Google has cut off a bit of money for me and I’m not sure I’ll ever know exactly why that is.

Again, I’m not saying that Google sucks or anything like that. I am saying, however, that it’s disturbing to know that the company that seems to be well on its way to owning the Internet has essentially determined my blog is useless.


Lyndon said...

Welcome to the two biggest problems facing bloggers, traffic and money.

Let's start with traffic. All traffic/group sites like Entrecard, BlogExplosion, BlogCatalog, BlogMad, etc... all start well. The problems all start when they try to monetize.

Since most start as free services (which try to make their money from advertising) and become very popular with the users. But with popularity comes extra burdens, mainly server costs.

Once they try to charge users or try to flip the site to new buyers. The users usually revolt, the site goes downhill and even if they survive, they're never the same. BlogExplosion comes to mind!! (I used to be on them)

On to point two. Sorry to hear you got bitch slapped by Google. I don't know how long you'll be in the doghouse, it could be a few months or a few years.

Unfortunately, it's the risk you run into, when you do sponsored posts. Heaven forbid, you try to make a little money, when the big Ad sites are making a mint and paying out hardly anything.

I wish I could tell you it get's better or easier. But blogging is pretty cutthroat world. Blog because it makes you happy or for the social connections you can make. If money is your only reason, you might as well get out now. Because it's just becoming harder and harder to monetize.

Hope I haven't bummed you out. But I thought as someone who's been doing this for awhile. You might just like to hear the plain old truth.

Keep blogging Hawg!! Don't throw in the towel yet :)

Sherry at EX Marks the Spot said...

Very interesting and informative post. I'm still toying with the idea of ads and such. I'm wondering if any of it is worth it.

Harrison said...

Many have dropped out of EC... seems it's tough for them to make money, too. That is terrible your Page Rank dropped like that. It's tough to get to 3 and to fall so far so fast is bad news indeed.