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:


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.


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?

Saturday’s News: Payperpost Campaigns, FaceBook, Forbes and NT$

This week’s been quite an odd week for InvestorBlogger (and me!). It started off with me sitting under an A/C on a cold evening after an unusually warm day. Of course, the next day, I started to feel ‘blah!’… turns out I had probably a viral infection! That has kept me hacking away like a 20-a-day smoker over the last few days! I managed to struggle on, until yesterday when a class of eight 2nd-grade boys was almost too much!

PayPerPost Generates Interest


Apart from that, I did find time to run my second campaign with PayPerPost. (See the graphic!). I ran it on a Friday, which may not have been the best decision. But I did note an improvement in the quality of the posts after making several tweaks to the language of the post: including a note that I would award tacks on the quality of the posting, and that I would review every post personally.

I was quite horrified by the first post in the first campaign, but the problems have been rectified and overall, I would say that the campaign was a good success. Did it produce any additional traffic? Well, one produced the lion’s share of traffic, but there were seven visitors so far, and over 450 views of the articles. These are the short term results, there will be an additional SEO benefit, and future traffic as well when articles are broadly syndicated and read.

There are some changes I would still make to the next campaign: first, I’d include an image for visual impact, second, I’d try to time it with an announcement, and third I’d definitely rectify the title of the posts problem.

Updated Feed: New Feeds included in the new feed

I’ve managed to find some additional feeds for my favorite Make Money RSS Feeds, which I’ve just added to the download file, but there are still two empty slots… So I’m looking for more suggestions, just drop a suggestion in the contacts page, and I’ll check it out.

top feeds OPML overview

If you’re puzzled who’s in this download, what are you waiting for? There are seventeen, yes 17, great bloggers with lots of things to say about Investing, Tech, Making Money Online, etc.! It’s all great stuff! If you use even 50% of the bloggers suggestions, you’ll be a richer man or woman than Croesus! And it’s free! So if you don’t enjoy the download, I’ll give you double your money back!

IP Rights vs. FaceBook

Yesterday one of my friends ran this great article on FaceBook and your IP Rights. It’s well worth reading if you use FaceBook or syndicate any content there with your permission, or plan to. Here’s a juicy quote:

Facebook forces you to grant it the same rights as you would if you uploaded the content to their servers. In other words, they can change, modify and sell the work without requiring the consent of the creator.

Do read the article. Though my own photos aren’t valuable like Craig’s, I’d like to know that I still have 100% control over where, how and when they appear. This is why I host my photos largely on my own sites, if at all. I don’t think I have the quality yet to show off commercially.

But still they are MY photos. Not Facebook’s. Speak about overarching TOS. If you are going to use FaceBook, limit your photos to very low quality pictures that can’t be used commercially, but look okay on a screen that size. If you don’t upload high quality images, you will not find them being used. So use your commonsense. Just as you wouldn’t walk down the street wearing your finest gold watch for all to see, dressed to the nine’s in your DAKS suit, etc.. so you should remember that being on FaceBook is akin to walking in public, and you can be robbed IP-wise in a number of ways. So don’t wear your finest!

Forbes’ New Billionaires: New Wealth vs. Traditional Industries

And in more general news, Forbes published a new list of Billionaires with some interesting changes. The developing world is beginning to create new wealth, and many of the wealthy-to-be will knock the socks off the old world wealth by the staggering size and speed with which their wealth was accumulated. More interesting, though, was how traditional businesses were overcoming tech wealth as tech fortunes sagged, and more diversified interests did well. Take a look at the latest billionaire’s report on Forbes.

Other changes include the number of billionaires who do not reside in their country of citizenship. But, in Taiwan, there were seven wealthy individuals, all of whom live here: Tsai Hong-tu & family; Terry Gou; YC Wang & family; Tsai Wan-Tsai & family; Douglas Hsu; Tsai Eng Meng; and Barry Lam.

NT$: Inflation vs. Exports

Also, recent weakness in the US$ vs the NT$ has meant a nearly 5% improvement for our undervalued currency here. This largely is the result of the current government keeping the currency weak as a way to increase exports and fend off competition from China. But the direct result has been that increasing commodity prices in many areas has resulted in inflationary pressure in Taiwan on many everyday products and commodities. Most recently, eggs jumped by more than 10% in a few days; flour has gone up hugely, etc.. The government is now strengthening the currency to ease inflationary pressure amid popular demand just before the presidential election on March 22nd. It’s going to be good for a number of reasons, though, as most commodities are priced in US$.

Friday News Bytes: Google, Greenbacks, Salaries, and more

InvestorBlogger’s newsbytes for this week. We’ve been plugging our new download for several days. I have no idea yet how many downloads there are (I should be tracking that I guess… but I didn’t!). Anyway, we’re up with other news.

First, some great stories since my last newsbytes on the 17th.

Now, I’m making a big think about my new poll: Which of the blogs would you like to see included? To vote or find out more just read the post. Don’t forget you can add another website! I’ll conclude the vote when I have enough votes!

In other news, yesterday’s Taipei Times reported these interesting stories:

Google Reports Flat Ad Clicks

Hah! Well, knock me over with a feather… But when you alienate your advertisers, your web publishers and your bloggers, all within a few months, … it’s hardly surprising that you should begin to feel the effects on your bottomline within a few months. It’s not rocket science, is it? This is a quote that I wrote on a popular forum last night:

While Google may do as they wish with their own index, it seems that their actions are beginning to have a negative effect on their stock price.
Earnings fell short; Adsense has a lot of competition now; Yahoo and Microsoft together could bring significant synergies; PR has caused a huge stink; publishers are up in arms about their cataloging of books without permission; cell phones companies are now watching closely…
The lesson is quite simple: you can’t rub so many people’s noses in **** without their being payback at some point.
Recently Google has looked like it owned the Internet (at least in the eyes of the people who work there), but in reality, Google is just another BEHEMOTH company that has to answer to its shareholders first and foremost. And now the pressure’s on them… hehehe.

Greenback drops below NT$31 (Finally)

And let me say it again… FINALLY. The local government has been holding the exchange rate here at about NT$32.5 to bolster exports by making Taiwan’s products cheaper for the export market. However, this is really stoking inflationary pressure in Taiwan, as commodities (wheat, oil, etc.) are all usually priced in US Dollars.

I bought a loaf of wholemeal bread from 7-11 last month at $35 for a half-loaf. I just got sticker shock today, when I saw that the price had now risen to $45 in nearly one go. Watching the TV news on TVBS or similar stations, prices for many staples are jumping: eggs, noodles, rice, cooking oil, bread, … Unfortunately, for many employees, stagnating salaries are now butting into rising consumer prices, increasing interest rates, and slowing export growth.

So why aren’t we getting salary increases?

Part of the reason is that employers themselves are facing increasing costs and employee-related expenses as Labor Insurance, National Health Insurance, and Pension Costs have all risen in the last few years. Although employers and employees ‘share’ the contributions, everyone knows that this is a ‘fiction’.

Employers’ contributions are simply budgeted differently, and ultimately come out of the same pile of cash as every other expense: their revenue. Since companies need to make a profit, there is simply less money left over for salary increases as the money originally ‘earmarked’ for employees as a salary increase gets paid to the government coffers. It may be ‘accounted’ for differently, but that’s the harsh truth.

And, it seems, people are worried, if the story in the China Post is to be believed.

The majority of office workers in Taiwan are worried about their finances as their earnings are eroded by inflation, according to the results of a survey released yesterday by 1111 Job Bank.

While these facts may be true, the survey also recorded 40.45% of the respondents classed themselves as ‘being in debt’. Wow! With interest rates generally rising in Taiwan, this is not an enviable situation to be in. To help manage their expenses, I’d suggest them to start looking at ways to cut the owed debt, the interest rate, and repay as much as possible as quickly as they can. That tack alone would help to alleviate some of the pressure, and free up additional funds for lifestyle requirements, investing, or other purposes.

In Blog News

I took on a consultancy role this month, helping add a web 2.0 life to a static affiliate-based website by adding a blog. It’s been a whirl, and I’m still waiting to see the outcome. In short, though, I had to set up the initial blog, tweak the settings, choose the plugins, upload the themes, create and add content for the blog (including a blog carnival, posts, and more), create an initial statistics basis for the blog, and begin simple online marketing of the blog. You can take a look at the blog yourself, but I couldn’t get an entire screenshot in. I only had about a dozen hours to work on the blog in the month, but I was surprised by how much I could do in that time, as well as how much work setting up blog actually takes. The focus of the blog has been credit cards and much more .


InvestorBlogger, Plugins and a slowdown!

I’ve also restored the Twitter Plugin from Alex King, which you can see below. I’m trying out several other plugins in right now, but the blog loading times are slowing down. I guess you can take the survey I put out on Payperpost Boards about the number of plugins installed in a typical WP install. I think with 20 or more Investorblogger needs a little trimming again. And the amount of JavaScripts in the sidebar is also similarly increasing. What to trim?

And that’s it for Friday, 29th February. Have a great weekend.