Tuesday’s News on InvestorBlogger: WordPress 2.5, Social Spark, Hosting and more

Before I ramble on today’s postings, here’s a quick recap from the previous few days.

In Recent News

This review of recent posts starts of with the results from the Presidential Election from Taiwan 2008 in which the incumbent party got its ass kicked sharply, and we now have a new president-elect. This should bode well for business, investing and finance as Taiwan opens up to China and the world more. Of course, it fit in well with the theme “When thing’s don’t work… shake things up!” and that is what I will be doing short.

I already kicked out PayPerPost because it wasn’t working and I’m moving this blog to a new host once I find a reliable one. Why? Because just as the 17th Carnival of Making REAL Money: March 22nd 2008 Edition and my blog was featured on the front of BlogCarnival, Dreamhost pulled the plug for 12 L-O-N-G hours as they upgraded their equipment. I was back by 3pm NYT but I lost most of the daytime traffic that resulted from that.

The other big news was leaving PayPerPost (for the time being!) in an Open letter to PayPerPost: Goodbye and thanks for all the fish! I had several posts rejected because of ‘intrusive’ advertising which was against their TOS. Well, in Whose blog is it anyway? I wrote about how I was forced to protect my current advertisers by PayPerPost who effectively made me choose between a lot of money (my advertisers) and a little money (PayPerPost’s) – Wow! That was a hard decision. And in my first selection, one of the reasons my Carnival has been selected twice, was how I handle blog carnivals which I wrote up in Five Steps to Managing a Carnival: Policy and Action. So that’s the past ten days in InvestorBlogger dot com.

And now on with today’s news stories…

SneakPeak WordPress 2.5

Flashing on my screen today when I logged in: this intriguing news about WordPress 2.5:

write-wide

A customizable dashboard, multi-file upload, built-in galleries, one-click plugin upgrades, tag management, built-in Gravatars, full text feeds, and faster load times sound interesting? Then WordPress 2.5 might be the release for you. It’s been in the oven for a while, and we’re finally ready to open the doors a bit to give you a taste.

Of course, I’m really eager to try the new software out but it’s unlikely I will be trying it on this blog any time soon. Why? Caution. There are likely to be bugs in the software that cause problems, and I don’t want to be the first to find them on InvestorBlogger. I WILL be trying it out on my new blog though, because the blog is basically a standard install without many frills. You can read more about upgrading WordPress.

SocialSpark: Alpha rolls out

As many of you know, SocialSpark will be a revolutionary change in advertising through blogs. It will also be a step (too late for my PayPerPost involvement) in the right direction as it recognizes that nofollow is now important (whether one agrees with it or not); Andy Beard has already a fairly detailed introduction to SocialSpark (probably about as much as anyone outside the inner circle knows!). Anyway, today, as an advertiser on PayPerPost, my wife received this interesting email announcing the next stage.

As I am sure you know, we are very close to releasing a public BETA of SocialSpark, our new Social Marketing Network. We would like to invite you to participate in a private ALPHA prior to that release. We are not accepting any hard dollars during the Alpha period, rather we are providing credits for current PayPerPost advertisers.

Now through the end of March, for every $1000 you spend in PayPerPost we will credit you with $100 in SocialSpark Alpha Bucks and a key to the Alpha. Maximum $5000 Alpha Bucks per advertiser. You can spend your credits on anything in the system during the month of April.

These credits have no cash value and can not be redeemed outside of SocialSpark. All credits must be utilized between April 1 and April 30th, 2008.

If you are interested in participating in this limited Alpha launch program please contact me or your sales representative for more information.

Regards,

Joe Vaughn
Director of Sales
IZEA – Innovations in Social Media

Since her budget isn’t that big, it’s unlikely she’ll qualify for the credit! (oh, well!) But anyway, the following screenshot shows some of the must-have features. A closer look at the center reveals that there will be quite a lot of information for advertisers on each page:including Page Rank, Alexa, Comments, Blogger Profiles, click tracking, etc…

socialspark screenshot

There are still a number of problems with Page Rank to be worked out, also with nofollow tags which are going to be common, and persuading advertisers that the new metrics will really help drive traffic. At the moment, most of the advertisers in the PayPerPost system are signing up to buy pagerank rather than traffic. In fact, in the most recent three campaigns that I ran (albeit small campaigns), the clickthroughs to my blog were in fact quite minimal – I ended up paying nearly $10.00 per click as tracked by Google Analytics. Although I got a $100 dollar freebie, at nearly $4 per click it was pretty expensive. Part of the fault may lie in the lack of actionable content, the fact that I got some really low quality posts on free domains (which I did not want), and some of the writing was lackluster to say the least.

Updating my Hosting

Having been with Dreamhost for over 3 years, I was comfortable with their service, enjoyed their generous space allotments, and have had quite a learning experience over the years. But one feature I have noted over the past few years: they’re just not so robust or reliable. In August, just as my traffic was picking up, there were outages that lasted on and off several days. Then again in September. In January 2008, there were serious billing issues. Then again on March 22nd we had an outage of 12 hours. I’ve also had persistent problems with old sub-domains that haven’t been ported properly.

While for many sites that are smaller with less visitors, the occasional outage isn’t a big deal, on several occasion just as traffic was building up, something happened to cap that traffic on InvestorBlogger Dot Com. I think that I’m getting the sign that it is time to move hosting to something more robust and stable, esp. some hosting service that will open up the doors to more traffic. I’m now considering two or three additional hosting companies: BlueHost, BlueFur, MediaTemple and A Small Orange are my candidates. BlueHost seems to offer a lot for a little (warning signs?), BlueFur (which hosts John Chow’s blog) had trouble getting their act together for new sales leads, MediaTemple seems okay and has a bit of oomph, and A Small Orange (seems expensive, but may be worth it). I also looked at Micfo (which hosts JohnCow’s blog), and one or two others.

I will likely divide my sites into three groups: static sites and very low demand sites will be hosted together on a small plan; my customer sites will be hosted on a more powerful host; and InvestorBlogger dot com will be hosted on the most powerful of the three hosting plans. In fact, using three separate hosting companies will allow me the flexibility to shift things around much more when the hosting plans go awry. I’m also considering shifting my domain registrations to another company, as I’ve heard that will allow more flexibility still.

Obstacles to Growth

Last year at our business, we were suffering something of a sharp downturn in business. In the end, we had to let go one member of our staff after she didn’t accept the changes to her job description. Since then, in our business we found that such a simple change opened the door to new growth as we cleared out the negativity that was part of our operation then.

Instead, we all buckled down and accepted the situation, then we got to work. It took us a year to rebuild that growth; and we all learned a lot during that time. But I was surprised how one person can prevent growth. I’m now beginning to wonder if InvestorBlogger dot com is now outgrowing Dreamhost (not the actual hosting resources) but the ‘quality’ of the service. Perhaps so.

So, change is coming (it always is); and it will bring new opportunities and new challenges. I’m ready. Are you?

4 thoughts on “Tuesday’s News on InvestorBlogger: WordPress 2.5, Social Spark, Hosting and more

  1. Andy Beard

    I haven’t seen the inside yet

    As for monetization, it would probably be fairly easy to get a plugin modified so that your inline text links don’t appear on posts that an advertiser is paying for.
    Lucia (of Lucia’s Link Love fame) created a plugin to handle this for Kontera, it is much easier for something PHP based as you can just wrap the wordpress filter in some php logic based upon a category, or maybe custom fields.

    p.s. blocking links with robots.txt doesn’t prevent them accumulating Google juice. Blocking links to other blogs with nofollow prevents those links being seen, and could get any pingback or trackback flagged as spam.

  2. InvestorBlogger Post author

    Actually, it wasn’t inline advertising, I don’t really use that yet. I had a 250×250 ad that was in the top of the each post. Apparently, the advertiser didn’t like that. Of course, I couldn’t change it just for one post. I had had other posts approved without issue, but I had to accept that it was against their TOS when it was pointed out to me.

    I’m new to this nofollow rap, so I guess I’ll be making a lot of mistakes.

    kenneth

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