The Entre-end Has Arrived  

Not too surprisingly, this blog was unceremoniously deleted from Entrecard recently. I'm assuming that it was due to lack of activity and I understand the action taken and see it as an improvement to the community.

When I first started this and my other Entrecard blogs I had plenty of time on my hands and enjoyed the experience of interacting with other Entrecarders and figuring out ways to try and beat the system. I managed to earn some pretty good money farming ECs and while it was hardly a decent return for the time I expended, it was a nice bonus.

Bottom line is that I'm not a committed blogger and over the past 6 months haven't felt much of an itch at all to jump back into the Entrecard community. It was fun when it was just getting started and I still hope Graham makes a bundle on his investment. Now that I've stepped away and am back in the real work world, Entrecard has returned to its proper perspective in my eyes and serves a good purpose for many, many people. Can I live without Entrecard? I'm doing just fine, thank you very much.

So why this entry? Oh, probably as a thank you to the few folks that have read some of my past entries and occasionally find their way here. I appreciated the support and hope in some way I was able to enlighten or entertain. Good luck and good blogging to you all!



The Entrebeat Goes On  

If you build it...

I get visitors to this blog every day, although I suspect that most are just dropping and running. I haven't been active in the Entrecard community over the past few months and I don't see that changing any time soon. I still think Entrecard is great and I'm still a big fan of its founder. And while I'm willing to let my other 19 blogs go by the wayside, I want to keep this one a part of the Entrecard community. So, every once in a while I'll update this blog and blather on about something.

Oh, and I'm still waiting for the credit exchange.


Finding Entrecard  

As I recall, I was checking out various widgets on blogs, and trying to figure out which ones I wanted to add to my blog, when I first encountered an Entrecard widget. Sadly, I don't recall whose blog it was on, but it did lead me to my most active social networking experience to date. While I'm not blogging very often nowadays, I still consider myself a member of the Entrecard community and experience.

Recently I saw a graph that Graham posted related to Entrecard's growth and how it is similar to that of Pay-Per-Post. I got to thinking about the fact that there are millions of bloggers out there and only a small percentage that have joined Entrecard or even heard of it. For example, I have a friend from Dublin, Ireland whose blogs I have been following for the past couple of years, through several name and platform changes. While she used to have dozens of readers, there are only a couple of us now who comment regularly on her current blog. She and I are also friends on Facebook, which is a much more robust method of connecting than just via a blog. However, understanding the value of having at least a couple of regular readers of one's blog, I stay on top of her now-somewhat-infrequent posts. I suspect there is a boost that comes from knowing that someone will read what one has written, which is where Entrecard comes in.

Forum squabbles, feature flops, and other negatives aside, Entrecard does a great job of getting exposure for one's blog. No, Entrecard probably won't make you an A-lister or drive tons of unique visitors to your site. But with just a little effort, Entrecard will put eyes on your blog that wouldn't have seen it otherwise.

So why aren't there more Entrecarders? I've got to think that the vast majority of bloggers don't create a new post every day or are in it to make money. I wonder what percentage of bloggers actually want to have others--strangers--read their blogs? Does Entrecard really want casual bloggers in their community? I hope so. The spammers and gamers can go away, but there should be a place for the occasional blogger to participate and be a part of Entrecard.

OK...so do we just wait until bloggers find Entrecard on their own? Should there be an incentive for recruiting new Entrecarders? Should Entrecard take out ads on Facebook, Myspace, or other social networking sites? I can't say that I would spend much time myself searching out new Entrecarders, but I might try a bit harder if I were rewarded for my efforts. Shades of a complicated Affiliate Program! I don't know how best to structure a referral program, but I'd be OK with it if Entrecard decided to go that direction.

While it might not help everyone, Entrecard is designed to be an easy, free method for promoting one's blog. There is room for another 100,000 Entrecarders or more, if only they have the chance to try out the service. To do that they first have to find it!


In Search of Entrecard Mates & Matches  

No, this isn't a post about an Entrecard dating service. The recent Firestorm nonsense has driven home how differently I am wired than the raucous crowd that has moved its clubhouse temporarily to the batcave. Amidst tears, depression, wringing of hands, and I-just-can't-let-this-go outbursts, the big kitty in the Firestorm sandbox was silenced and then promptly chose to go spray his essence somewhere else. This of course outraged at least a couple of dozen of his closest Entrecard buddies, some of whom swore off participating again in the forums, but decided to still keep their accounts active. What a sign of support! Help me Rhonda. Naturally, they who were the bullies are playing the victim and the fist shaking goes on and on.

Ho hum. Entrecard isn't going to die because of this, or the last pricing system change, or any of the other reasons folks have pointed at as their excuse for leaving Entrecard over the past 8 months. There will always be flamboyant departures and predictions of Entrecard's impending doom, and just as in true in real life, others will step up and fill the void. Adios and good luck to you, and thanks for any drops you made on my blogs.

What I realized is that I really don't like these people, the drama kings and queens, the bullies, the Firestormers, the whole group of self-proclaimed Entrecard A-listers. I don't like the way they process information, the way they handle their emotions, their crude language and classless humor, etc., etc. Which raises the question of "Where are the people I would like better in the Entrecard Community?"

My days of dropping 300, 600, 900 cards or more are done. I don't believe that Graham will be able to maintain the $9.50/1000 Exchange rate for ECs and a fully functioning, non-manipulated Exchange will have a credit vendor getting around $3/1000. That's not enough to justify any time specifically for earning credits. Accumulate 20000 ECs over a couple of months and sell them should you choose for $60 and that will help pay your hosting fees, etc. Also, the next big change in the Entrecard community is going to further encourage meaningful interaction over pure card dropping. Like it or not, Graham is dedicated to making us better Entrecard Community members.

OK, sure, why not? I've given up on the idea of being an Internet Marketer and I'm no longer farming credits, so I'm left with the idea of being a blogger...who really needs to find some mates (as in buddies) whose personality and style "match" my own. I'm not even going to limit my scope by blog topic, world region, gender, marital status, or educational background. Nope, I'm just on a quest to find a few people like me in the Entrecard community...if any others even exist, strange bird that I am.

As far as the forums go, I'll still throw in my 4 ECs worth now and then, primarily to do my part to help Graham as best I can. I guess one benefit of the Firestorm fiasco was it shook the fence and caused me (and perhaps some others) to decide whether to support Graham or take potshots at him. I choose the former.

Entrecard Catfight!  

There's been a firestorm in the Entrecard Forums and here's some of my comments that were recently posted there:

"The thread everyone seems to be focused on was not the first time that certain folks had crossed the line of civility in these forums, whether it be in the name of humor & wit, free speech, or lively debate. (Guilty as charged.) I agree with Woobie's statement and further feel that over time the "witty" comments that were bouncing around here with regularity had become an unacceptable norm, no matter how entertaining to some people. It doesn't really matter how things came to a head, the point is that Entercard stepped in and correctly a situation that had gotten out of hand."


"I don't agree that the "little guy" is hurt by the changes that have been made to Entrecard since January, mainly because the little guy still has the ability to promote their blog via card dropping, advertise on other Entrecarders' blogs with credits instead of cash, and comment in the forums and on others' blogs. Entrecard is easier to use now than it was in January, there are 5x the blogs in the community, and there are better features for accomplishing the primary goal of most Entrecarders, that of promoting their blogs.

As far as censorship goes, even those in the world who enjoy free speech accept that there are limits to that free speech. I don't believe that these forums were designed to provide a venue for free speech, which can more effectively be accomplished via our own blogs anyway. It's great to get a healthy conversation going where the different sides of an issue (eg-powerdropping versus chain-dropping) can be presented in a civil manner, if that debate benefits the Entrecard community, to which end Entrecard has engaged Moderators to watch over the forums.

I haven't liked all the changes that have been made to Entrecard since January, but I do like the fact that Graham and Phirate are making changes and continuing to try and improve this service. This Firestorm brouhaha will have barely died down before the next one starts up, which I predict will be in about 5 or 6 days."


"Hold an event at a public park and there is an expectation of free speech with limited moderation. Hold that same event at someone's home or place of business and free speech is limited by the ground rules set by the property or business owner. I never perceived that these forums were "free for alls." There is a specific purpose for each Entrecard forum and they are moderated to make sure that Entrecard's desires for the forums are not subjugated to those of individual Entrecarders.

These forums--by design--are different in their appearance and function than most forums many Entrecarders will have encountered in the past. (Perhaps Phirate could link to the site that explains the reasoning behind this type of forum design.) And it's not like it's easy to figure out the ground rules here, as with other aspects of the Entrecard experience it seems like self-discovery is part of the agenda, Entrecard E-book notwithstanding.

In my opinion, the strength of the Entrecard community is not determined by what Marcus, or Deimos, or Sam, or any individual Entrecarder adds to the forums or the overall community. The strength of Entrecard is that there is a steady stream of bloggers who are eager to publicize their blogs and increase their readership via a free service that has greater utility and quicker payback than most communities or services that they have encountered anywhere else. I miss some of the Entrecarders who were active in January and February and no longer participate, just as some of those who were Firestormers will be missed should they choose to opt out of Entrecard as a result of the hubbub over the past couple of days. But Entrecard is bigger than any of us and will continue to roll on, bumpy ride and all...or at least I hope it does."


The EntreCream Rises to the Top  

I've been impressed many times in my nearly 6 months as an Entrecarder, but I can't recall a time when an intervention was made by the EntrePowers that had me tipping my hat to Phirate more than the creation of the new Firestorm forum. I'll admit to occasionally losing my cool in the forums and posting something I probably shouldn't have and usually regret soon thereafter. I'll further admit that I just don't understand how people can be so routinely rude to others and the best explanation I can come up with is that they are bullies or impotent human beings seeking to feel better about their miserable lives by dumping on other people. I have a clear picture of the first time I bumped up against what I would call a bitter, negative soul and I was shocked by the experience. I suppose I should have felt sorry for them, but honestly, I just couldn't believe that a person could take such obvious pleasure in randomly blasting anyone who crossed their path.

I've been equally puzzled by the group of 10-20 Entrecarders who have recently taken over the Entrecard forums and seem to have succeeded in lowering the standard level of civility to match their modus operandi and descend like a pack of wolves on anyone who might innocently misspeak or ask a question that a 5th grader could have answered. Yes, that is the norm for many forums out there and yet it hasn't been the norm in the Entrecard forums. True, Sam was controversial and Turnip seems to enjoy slapping folks on the side of the head on a regular basis, but those were rare exceptions to a generally cordial forum.

I've run into similar situations in the real world where a small group of people change the rules of behavior on a team or in an office to a more coarse, ruder, or less civilized level because the "gang" is all accepting of said degradation. What I found most interesting about the recent Entrecard forum activity is that the gang members were vocal in their support of each other's behavior as normal and acceptable and that Entrecard or the occasional random victim must be the abnormal ones. Maybe it's akin to people who are losing their hearing being unable to fully comprehend that they are now normally speaking louder than the average person. The gang thinks they are in the right and are battling Entrecard with the idea that their little group is reflective of the community at large and Entrecard got it wrong.

Sheesh. I've encountered this mindset before. 80% (or more) of college professors rate themselves as better than average and I'll bet the percentages are about the same for how we view ourselves as drivers, husbands, etc. It's why I refer to myself now as an average driver and am trying to make it up to being an average husband. I'll admit that I am likely more confrontational than the average Entrecarder and accept that I have to try harder in the forums to be more civil. It's a hard thing to admit...but I'll man up and do a better job.

What? I'm not being entirely civil here on my own blog? No, I didn't say I was committing to be perfect, just to try harder when I post in the Entrecard forums. I'll have to decide whether or not I will venture into the Firestorm forum. I'm not fooled by the gang's arguments of free speech or the need for intelligent debate. Those are weak attempts to justify their bullying and rude behavior. I learned earlier this year (when I had one of my blogs make the front page of Digg) that dark humor succeeds as it appeals to the baser instincts of many people. The Firestorm forum will likely end up as the most popular Entrecard forum for similar reasons, which is the reason that I won't be visiting there very often, if at all.

So it's two thumbs up to Phirate for insisting the majority of the Entrecard forums take the higher road and remain a place where folks can learn from each other and ask dumb questions on occasion without running the risk of being gang-tackled.


Entrecard Burnout, Turnover, and Its Soaring Future  

I first posted the following in the Entrecard Forums a few days ago:

"When I first showed up here in late December there was a core group of Entrecarders who frequented the forums and were the "regulars." Most of those folks don't participate anymore, and I've now seen another generation of regulars come and go. Sometimes it is related to burnout, sometimes they get irked at the latest round of changes, but it really doesn't matter why they leave, the point is they leave and Entrecard survives without them. I'll bet that some of the folks who have commented in this thread will be done with Entrecard within the next 30 days...but another 1000 will have taken their place. This place continues to change and the Entrecard you joined is not the Entrecard you will leave.

The fact remains that Entrecard is a tool that a blogger can use to build their readership and Graham is trying valiantly to turn the community into something unique that goes beyond just a being a traffic exchange. Whatever action he takes is guaranteed to irk hundreds of Entrecarders and there is no way that a consensus is going to be reached as to what changes are best. So he might as well go ahead with what he thinks will be best and keep moving forward, no matter how unpopular the changes might seem to the current regulars, because the folks who join next month won't know anything about what the norm used to be."

I guess I've signed up for over 100 of what could be called social networking sites in the past couple of years. Occasionally I have arrived after the heyday, like with emode.com, now called Tickle.com, part of the Monster.com family. I really liked Tickle.com but could tell that 12 months earlier would have been the time to be there to experience the highest level of site social interaction. I got in early with Twitter, only to discover what many others have discovered, that I just don't have enough friends who will care to read what I am doing at any given point during the day. I've joined Bebo, Friendster, Myspace, Tagged, Hi5, Orkut, Facebook, etc., etc., and don't use any of them on a regular basis with the the exception of Facebook.

Most social networking sites are naturally reluctant to publish user stats due to their ugliness. Sure there are 235,716,786 folks in my Myspace network, but how many use the site on a regular basis? People just like me sign up and then never go back, or stay involved long enough to determine that THIS particular social networking site is not their Utopia and off they go in search of the next new big thing. All of this is normal and to be expected with such low barriers to entry as exist in most social networking sites. Thanks to Mashable.com I've been able to get some invites to beta versions of emerging sites and have found that it still doesn't make a difference in my interest level. The truth is I'm not at all social and have little reason to network. Oh, I've tried to push some businesses via social networking sites, but in the end no one cared enough to buy anything.

My Entrecard experience has been different than that of other social networking sites, in part because the focus was on blogging more than what type of music I liked or the best sleazy pics I could publish of myself standing half-naked in front of a mirror. Don't get me wrong...I'm not really a blogger. I don't have that thing inside of me that begs to get out onto the page and shared with the rest of the world. I don't read other blogs, I rarely comment on other blogs, and my main purpose in joining Entrecard was to promote some business opportunities, which I have long since left along the side of the road. However, I have to admit that it was fun and engaging to drop cards (at least at first) and figure out how to do so in an efficient manner. Within the first couple of weeks I was an Entrecarder someone (Josh Whitford?) started selling Entrecard Credits via ebay and things got very interesting, very quickly. Before long I had started another 9+ Entrecard accounts and was on my way to being an EC vendor.

However, Entrecard is not a static entity and what was a good idea in January wasn't such a good idea in April. At one point I had 22 active Entrecard accounts and was updating them somewhat regularly. Doing so, along with trying to drop 1000+ cards a day took its toll on my passion for Entrecard and I knew I had burned out, a sentiment shared by others in the community. Some people just stopped updating their blogs or dropping cards altogether. It didn't really matter, because there were 1000s of new Entrecarders joining the ranks each month, full of interest and excitement about this new tool for promoting one's blogs. The newer guys, as I had been in late December, didn't encounter the same Entrecard that earlier members had joined. They took for granted features that we cheered about when they were finally implemented. They demanded better features and complained about the status quo, just as we had done when we were Entrenoobs. And that's when it hit me. This was a cycle that would repeat over and over again, and the only question was whether or not Graham could keep Entrecard going and growing long enough to get it off the ground and flying under its own power. Entrecarders were necessary fodder, with none being individually necessary. It doesn't really matter that the same 200 people post in the forums on a daily basis, because next year there will still be 200 people posting in the forums, even if Turnip is the only one in both groups. It really is about the community...and the fulfillment of Graham's vision.

No worries...Entrecard did for me what it was supposed to do. It gave me an opportunity to promote my blogs and gain readership, but more importantly it gave me the opportunity to see if I was a true, dedicated blogger or just a dabbler. It also let me try my hand at Internet Marketing, blog layout and design, and online interaction with others. What I learned is that I am not a true blogger, I suck at Internet Marketing, and I'm more comfortable with Blogger than Wordpress. Oh, and interaction with others? Entrecard Forum participation is a harsh reminder that the world is full of idiots and jerks and I likely only enjoy each day because I don't come into contact with the bozos that lurk in forums.

I do hope that Graham succeeds in creating an Entrecard community that endures and successfully transitions into Web 3.0, the Semantic web. And while I doubt that I will still be an active Entrecarder if and when that happens, I'll be able to say I was one of the first to be an Entrecarder, and perhaps the only one known as The Entrecarder.


Entrecard Starts Selling Credits!  

Make a note of the the date, June 3rd, 2008, as it will be THE day that makes or breaks Entrecard as a viable business. The much talked about and long awaited Entrecard Credit Exchange was partially implemented on June 3rd, 2008 and it is now possible to buy Entrecard Credits (ECs) directly from Entrecard. Coming soon will be the full implementation of the Credit Exchange where individual Entrecarders can sell their own ECs anonymously to other Entrecarders, which is even a bigger and more important development. But for the time being, let's congratulate Entrecard for their boldness and wish them great success in their attempt to create a viable web currency with real dollar value.

To be sure, Entrecard isn't going to get rich from the spread they are making on the sale of Entrecard Credits. Currently they are buying the ECs they are offering for sale from trusted Entrecarders at $7.50 per 1000 and they have Paypal fees to account for when they sell them at $9.50 per 1000. The small profit they will make will help pay for servers and other necessary expenses, but isn't going to be what makes Entrecard a financial winner. No, the reason that this is a big move for Entrecard is that it provides a reason to stay in the Entrecard community for years instead of just a few months, and that's what will help build Entrecard into a viable web property, ripe for the picking by cash-laden Internet biggies.

The mere fact that Entrecard could sell approximately 40000 ECs at $9.50 per 1000 shows that a captive market are more important that good market information. The current price of ECs via 3rd party vendors is around $3 per 1000, although that price should rise and needs to rise if the Credit Exchange is going to work. The big advantage Entrecard has isn't the "trust" or "convenience" they are touting, but instead is the ability to advertise on each member's dashboard. The EntreBank and other 3rd party EC vendors have been selling ECs since January and most--if not all-- of the transactions have been completed quickly and without a hitch, using Paypal just as Entrecard does. However, I believe the point will soon be moot as once the Credit Exchange is fully functional there will be little need for 3rd party vendors and Entrecard will likely ban the practice so as to control all the sales of Entrecard Credits and reduce the likelihood that someone will abuse the system by creating splogs specifically to farm and sell ECs.

So, the first shoe has dropped and hopefully we won't have to wait another 3 months for the other one to hit the floor heralding the arrival of the Entrecard Credit Exchange. What a great day to be an Entrecarder!


An EntreAxe Falls  

On April 26th I posted the following puzzle:

"How does one drop a card on an Entrecarder who isn't currently displaying a widget?"

My intent was to warn fellow Entrecarders who had chosen to shortcut the system that their days were numbered and it was time to start playing by the rules. It's ironic that while they might have been getting credit for dropping on my site(s), they weren't actually visiting them and therefore likely didn't read or heed my warning. I'm not taking credit for those whose accounts were canceled today for it was not my intent to rat them out, else I would have listed them by name 3 weeks ago. The Entrecard security system is a healthy beast and it will eventually find out who is breaking the rules.

And it's not like the 6 accounts canceled today are the only ones that are breaking the rules when it comes to getting credits for card drops that don't result from an actual visit and manual drop. In the case of most of the accounts that were canceled today, I had received drops to one or more of my Entrecard widgets that were not published ANYWHERE. I had pulled them and placed this account's widget on their page and that's how I knew something was up.

I haven't spent hardly any time on Entrecard for much of the past 10days and haven't dropped but a handful of cards in the past 26 days. Out of curiosity I checked my Google Analytics numbers to see what kind of traffic I was getting nowadays, between both active sites for this account, entrecarder.com (new) and entrecarder.blogspot.com (original). Seeing as how I changed the url on my Entrecard account last week to the new site, I decided to look a recent day from before the switch (and during a modest ad campaign) and one from after the switch (with ads on my site disabled). Here's what I found for traffic sources and hits:

April 28 Original Site
Entrecard.com 48
Entrecard.s3... 40
Direct 29
Powerdropping.com 10
SiteHoppin.com 7
Google 3
All others 26
Total 163

May 12 Original Site
Direct 19
Powerdropping.com 10
Google 2
SiteHoppin.com 2
Entrecard.com 1
All others 9
Total 43

May 12 New Site
Entrecard.com 3
SiteHoppin.com 2
Direct 1
Total 6

It's not hard to see that my traffic has dropped significantly since I stopped dropping cards and after my ad campaign came to an end. Go figure...don't drop cards, don't advertise, and disable your own ads so your Entrecard doesn't show up on the campaign pages...and still expect to get any traffic? Well, sure. I did expect to get some SiteHoppin traffic, what with the new toolbar and as an owner of Beer Stocks. However, whether you chose the 7 hits on the original site in April or yesterday's 4 hits on the two sites, it's PATHETIC! Max! Help me figure this out! I own 6 Beer Stocks and I got 4 hits?

SiteHoppin aside, what was really surprising was the number of card drops I received for the two days. (Note that Entrecard's day doesn't jive with Google's, but that the numbers for each day were representative of other days, too and so I just washed the difference.)

April 28: 151
May 12: 90

What? Where did those 90 drops come from? I get 151 drops on April 28 from 163 (92.6%) visits to my site and 90 drops on May 12 from 49 (183.7%) visits to my sites? Ok, so I'm not going to complain about 70-100 drops a day on my Entrecard widget when I am doing NOTHING. From my traffic stats it's clear that there are anywhere from 10-30 people who have my site bookmarked and drop on it directly. Another 10 a day drop using powerdropping.com's list. Few, if any, of those folks are reading my entries and the most noticeable evidence was the dearth of comments on my EntreZoo post. Pin drop time. I'm not one to beg for comments, but normally a couple of folks--and I'm not just talking about the powerdroppers--would have said something had they actually read the post. I let that post sit there for 10 days, got over 800 card drops, 600 hits, and ZERO comments. Hmmmm.

There is a possible explanation for the disparity between card drops and hits...drops from the same IP address but from different Entrecard accounts. Well, that might explain yesterday's stat differential...but then why didn't the numbers show the effect of droppers with multiple Entrecard accounts back in April? Hmmmm. Another mystery.

Now, figures lie and liars figure, and as one (figurer, not liar) with a BS in Accounting, I am not too quick to read too much into the figures. Yet, the trend I see is far more disturbing than the possibility that a few folks might have figured out how to beat the system. I'm hearing the wind blow...as in ghost town. I'm sure I'm mistaken and it's probably just the air moving between my ears, but there is no question in my mind that Entrecard has taken another turn in its development and it is no longer what it was 30 days ago. Eh, big deal. Maybe a few of us were unrealistic in our expectations and the vast majority of Entrecarders are still tickled pink with the free, easy traffic. Yes, I would like to unload the 60000+ ECs I have accumulated for more than $3/1000 and am disappointed that the Credit Exchange is not a current reality. No, I haven't closed my accounts or written a "Entrecard is Bad" post. And yes, I have been enjoying the extra time I've had each day for much of the last month as a result of not dropping any cards.

Honestly, I don't know if I'll be posting as much now that the weather here in Utah has warmed up and there are more interesting things to do than blabber on about Entrecard, or anything else for that matter. The weeds in the yard are beckoning me, the kids want to play games, the wife is bugging me to get a real job and the time that I provided a small service to the growing Entrecard community has passed.

But don't let that stop you from dropping a card!


If I Ran The EntreZoo  

If I ran the EntreZoo, this is what I'd do:

1) My first order of business would be to let folks set the price of their own ad. (I've temporarily disabled ads on this site because folks kept spending too much for them.) The current ad system is responsible in part for the declining interest in Entrecard, even though it is an improvement on the old ad system. The dust has settled and too much of it ended up in our eyes, noses and mouths. People still spend too much to get on the Popular pages and lots of garbage and inactive blogs carry a higher price than they should because so many folks are bottom-feeding. However, I wouldn't just make this change by itself, but would consider additional changes to be a necessary part of a new system. (See items 2 through 8.)

2) I'd give each Entrecarder the ability to determine how many ads they would accept in their queue, up to a maximum of 30. The current system discourages anyone from purchasing an ad too far in advance based on its doubling the price day after day. If you give folks the ability to control their ad price you should also give them the ability to determine how many ads to accept.

3) Create a voting system for each ad that one purchases that would allow the advertiser to rate its performance. Market information is poor and a high Popularity ranking doesn't translate into high traffic, but how is an Entrecarder supposed to know which sites they should advertise on? Click through rates can be manipulated and user ratings could provide some input that would be helpful when choosing where to spend your ECs. Advertisers could rate each ad placement with "Exceeded Expectations", "Met Expectations" or "Did Not Meet Expectations" and an Expectations score could be determined for the past 30 days. If your score wasn't to your liking then you might consider lowering the cost of your ads. On the other hand, if you were consistently Exceeding Expectations you might consider raising the price of your ads.

4) The Ad Tax would go away or be greatly reduced. If an Entrecarder was able to earn the full ad price they set there'd be a bunch more advertising going on and I believe folks would try harder to make their sites more ad-worthy.

5) Create special clubs, services, awards, etc., that can be purchased by Entrecarders with their ECs. This would effectively take many of the untaxed ECs out of circulation and provide additional motivation for earning ECs. Examples of services could include additional database information that could help improve ad and card dropping strategies, like click through rates or the number of times dropped on someone in a given period of time, etc. Awards could be given to Top Droppers, Most Consistent Bloggers, Best Ad Value, or other types of recognition that would draw attention to Entrecarders who are very active in the community. Creating an Executive Wash Room type of VIP club where people could enjoy an unmoderated chatroom, or be included in planning sessions with Graham and Phirate, or other perks that would provide an additional reward for one's hard work and good blogging. Membership in other Entrecard clubs or services could be purchased with ECs and would allow those who choose to buy in with their excess ECs (or cash) to get some extra features and benefits, too.

6) Get the Credit Exchange system in place so there is a easy method for buying and selling ECs and for a market rate to be established. The rate would fluctuate based on supply and demand and Entrecard could manipulate it should they so choose by buying and selling ECs from a central bank. (I'll even let them use EntreBank if they want to.) I think the current price of $3-4 per thousand is too low to motivate people to earn ECs specifically with the idea of selling them. Conversely, $10/1000 is too high as it will attract the attention of those who will try and beat the system to earn some cash. Maybe one has to earn the right to sell their ECs by length of membership and/or community standing, which might inhibit spammers from setting up shop with garbage blogs just to farm credits.

7) Create a new Popularity ranking that was based on Entrecarder input and not on number of cards dropped or external rankings. Let each Entrecarder choose 10 blogs to put on their personal Top 10 list and weight each position accordingly. Use only the lists from active Entrecarders to calculate a Popularity ranking that others could see. The lists would remain anonymous, so there'd be no benefit to putting someone on your list unless you really like them. Prohibit the sale of list positions and discourage trading or otherwise attempting to manipulate the rankings. And yes, it IS a personality contest! Maybe have separate lists for different attributes, like Best Blog, Best Ad Value, Nicest Person, Best Commenter, Most Helpful, etc.

8) Allow for multiple blogs and remove any limits on drops per IP, but require approval for each new blog/account from the same Entrecarder. A simple yes or no question on the sign-up page would allow Entrecarders who are willing to play by the rules to state so upfront and be acknowledged as having multiple blogs. Use IP tracking checks to determine if someone has undeclared multiple blogs. One day we might be able to consolidate multiple accounts into a single account, but for the time being we could implement some more checks and balances that would weed out the spammers.

9) Create a TOS that has to be agreed to upfront, and not just the kind where you check one box and you're done with it. Make it interesting to read with key points highlighted and perhaps separated on different pop-up screens that each require a click to move on. So what if it takes 10 minutes to sign up for a new account instead of 5? At least this way new Entrecarders would know which rules they are breaking. Along with it I'd include a requirement for new Entrecarders to visit a FAQs page (or watch a video), just so they'd have a better idea of what it means to be an Entrecarder, the benefits of membership, etc.

10) Improve the communication between Entrecard and its members. The "buzz" line on the Dashboard is easy to miss and only a few people read the official Entrecard blog on a daily basis. Make the notices easier to see, send system messages, add the option in the Email Settings to receive an email when Entrecard sends you a system message, and create a method for highlighting a forum post that relates to an Entrecard policy change or other important information. I'd also start running surveys on the Dashboard to get input from the community about proposed feature changes or additions, as well as "temperature" checks about how well Entrecard is doing, burnout levels, etc.

There are several weightier matters that aren't as easy to solve as it relates to Entrecard's long-term planning and revenue model. If I were in charge, I'd be structuring Entrecard to become the premier community for bloggers, with the idea that some really big fish would want to Gobble it up for millions of dollars. Gobble would then put millions more behind marketing Entrecard and position it to be a key player in Web 3.0, the Semantic web. Entrecarders would have the opportunity of collaborating in the development of knowledge centers along their topics of interest. Gobble would have a leg up on developing collaborative teams of bloggers who could each receive some form of compensation for their contributions.

Entrecard has to continue to evolve to survive. Blogs have been around for a long time and there is so much redundancy that unless Entrecard looks to the future they will go the way of other social networks who have enjoyed success for a season but end up as virtual ghost towns when the thrill of the fad wears off.


Entrecard Ad Shenanigans  

I've had loads of fun manipulating the price of my own ad, largely because people were paying too much for it and so I figured out a way to discourage them for so doing, short of disabling ads entirely. The solution was simple: I bought my own ads from some of my other Entrecard accounts and drove the price up to 8192 ECs for most of the last two weeks in April, although it hit 16384 one day and was a "bargain" at 4096 a couple of times.

Imagine my surprise when someone actually purchased an ad on my site for 8192 ECs! I guess I faked them out because I was sitting in the #1 spot on the Most Expensive list, which was really fun and probably got me some extra traffic. Of course I rejected their ad request and the most anyone ended up paying for an ad was 1024 ECs, with the most common price (before I started buying them myself) was 512 ECs, which was still about 480 ECs too much. (No, I'm not sending out rebates.)(Oh, and for the record, I canceled all of the ads that I placed on my own site and got my 30000+ ECs back.)

April 18th was the last day that I dropped 300 cards and I've only dropped 66 cards total since that time. Also, I had not placed any ads for a long time from this account and I wanted to see how no drops and a few ads would impact the number of cards dropped on me. My stats page shows that the first ad I placed ran on April 24th and the last one completed on May 1st.

I tried to find sites to advertise on that would get me as many clicks for the EC as possible, but I also took a few risks and went with sites whose Entrecard featured pretty girls. Here's the results of my ad purchasing:

Dot Com Mogul.....................................78...............512..........6.56
ProBlogger Blog Tips.............................62...............256..........4.13
Slave to the Internet..............................51...............8............0.16
Fantasy Baseball...................................43...............512..........11.91
Josh's Unconventional Marketing Blog...23................256..........11.13
Entrecard Favorites................................15...............128..........8.53
Joan Joyce..............................................15...............512..........34.13
Stephan Miller........................................12...............128..........10.67
Pretty Girl...............................................6................16...........2.67
Internet Marketing Seminars..................5................64...........12.80
Follow Bec in her quest...........................4................32...........8.00
The Net Fool..........................................4................64...........16.00
Laura Williams' Musings........................4................32...........8.00
Making Mommy Hot...............................3................32...........10.67
You Can Learn Series.............................3................256..........85.33
Billion Dollar Baloney.............................3................32...........10.67
The SEOTree.........................................3................8............2.67
Mom Is Just a Nickname......................2................32...........16.00
Liz Harper Fitness.................................2................8............4.00
Jackies Biz Blog.....................................1................8............8.00
Online with Michelle.............................1................16...........16.00
Nuda Magazine.....................................1................8............8.00
Internet Marketing Strategy...................1................16...........16.00
MMO with Etienne Teo..........................1................32...........32.00
Pinay and Photoholic.............................0................8............n/a
Hot Asian Actress..................................0................8............n/a
Adware and Spyware.............................0................8............n/a


My apologies for the ugly chart. I didn't want to emphasize any particular Entrecarder so I didn't link to them and I'm not savvy enough to get a table to work properly in Blogger. I did learn a couple of things from my ad campaign:

1) The average number of clicks per ad was 8. I can use that as a benchmark for future campaigns to see how well I am choosing my ads.

2) There are occasional bargains to be found. I didn't pay more than 512 ECs for any ad and was lucky to get ProBlogger for only 256 ECs.

3) Not all clicks resulted in a dropped card. It's true that the subject matter of this blog is going to be of interest to Entrecarders and not many other people. I'm guessing that I got about 30-50 non-Entrecarders to take a look at my blog as a result of the ads.

4) I wasn't "thrilled" by hardly any of the results and likely won't advertise very often. ProBlogger and Slave to the Internet were the best deals I found and while many of the others were acceptable, I don't know that I got any new readers as a result of advertising. Had I spent the same amount of time dropping cards as I did purchasing ads I would have ended up with the same number of cards dropped on me and I wouldn't be out the 3360 ECs.

5) It might be purely coincidental, but the number of comments to my posts dropped significantly during the this experiment. I suspect it was a result of not dropping cards on folks who would normally reciprocate with a visit and a drop, commenting if they had the time and inclination.

No one ad strategy will work for all Entrecarders as we each have slightly different purposes and desires for our Entrecard participation. I'm now trying to figure out whether or not I want to place ads OR drop cards anymore. I'm leaning towards spending my time writing posts, posting in the forums, and commenting on selected Entrecarders' blogs. I won't end up on the Popular lists or accumulate many ECs with this strategy, but I hope it will allow me to stay involved in the Entrecard community and neither wear out my welcome or burn out.


Fun with Multiple Entrecard Accounts!  

Most Entrecarders know that if you take the Entrecard widget off of your site you will get an error message on your dashboard that lets you know that they can't find your widget. However, did you know that you don't get that error message when you put any Entrecard widget on your site, even if it's not the one associated with that account? I tried a little experiment a few weeks ago where I replaced all of the Entrecard widgets on my 19 other Entrecard accounts with the widget for this account. And guess what happened?

Everyone who dropped on one of those widgets on my various blogs gave a credit to this blog's Entrecard account! How sinister of me! I'm sure there were a few folks who got the "1 per day" message and were a bit confused as to what was up, but that happened to me all the time when I was still dropping cards and I just figured it was another Entrecard glitch. As I wasn't dropping cards from most of those other accounts or doing any advertising, I doubt that it improved my numbers too much, but if someone was hell-bent on making the top row of the Popularity rankings, it would help to have one widget on several different blogs.

There was a time a couple of months ago when I would drop cards on each of my 20 accounts from the other 19 accounts, guaranteeing 760 credits and a 100% return drop rate. Of course, that strategy was a lot easier before Phirate changed the widget, and it was a real pain for those couple of weeks when Entrecard was mired in molasses and signing in took forever.

On another occasion there was an Entrecarder who was paying a bunch of ECs for new RSS subscribers and I signed up with my 20 different gmail accounts. (Took about an hour.) He clearly was looking to pad his feed numbers and I gave him what he wanted, but he didn't understand what had happened and complained to Phirate, who slapped my wrist and made me promise not to use multiple accounts to enter contests or earn ECs from fellow Entrecarders.

A couple of posts ago I raised the issue of generating a drop without actually going to the Entrecarder's page. As most of my accounts have been dormant, and the widgets on the sites were directed to this Entrecard account, I was surprised that I was still receiving cards in my Drops Inbox. Once or twice I could understand as another Entrecard glitch...but 15 times by the same person? I compiled a list of Entrecarders who were exploiting this minor hole in the security system and it's right here:

Just kidding...I have the list, but won't publish it. Certainly the reader can tell that I like to push the parameters and I'm not one to throw rocks at another Entrecarder for being "creative."

Maybe I've enjoyed Entrecard for the wrong reasons, but it sure has been fun to try different strategies using multiple Entrecard accounts. I'd be lying if I said I'd never gotten the dreaded "Busted" message, but you sure learn a lot more about a system by trying "stuff." And as this blog was supposed to be about tips and strategies, just how useful would it have been if I didn't tinker with Entrecard every now and then?

Next Post: Entrecard Ad Shenanigans



Before you read this post, go to Ben Barden's blog and read his interview with Graham Langdon, Herr Doktor & Creator of Entrecard. I've been a fan of Entrecard from late last year when I signed up for the first of what ended up being 20 Entrecard accounts. I'm still a fan of Entrecard, even though I'm now a bit wiser and not so much a fan of Graham Langdon.

Don't get me wrong...Graham hasn't done anything unkind to me or anything that can be considered unprofessional or unethical. As far as I can tell he is a sincere, hardworking entrepreneur. However, sometime in the last 4 months Entrecard ceased to be about Graham and took on a life of its own as a community of bloggers, a fact that I suspected before reading the above-mentioned interview and that I am convinced of now more than ever. Graham doesn't drop many cards, he doesn't blog very often, and he only occasionally posts in the forum (RickRoll?). There's nothing wrong with that...except I believe he doesn't fully understand what he has created...and that could be a problem.

Graham and Phirate didn't expect that folks would drop hundreds of cards every day in order to earn credits, nor do they think it is necessary. Of course it's not necessary, but when you see dozens or hundreds of folks spending so much time dropping cards--when they could buy them--that should be a clue as to what is appealing about the community. Most people aren't going to buy ECs, especially with a new ad system (folks, Who - Won't Get Fooled Again) that still stinks, only with a slightly different odor than did the old system. Clearly Graham and Phirate envision a different Entrecard experience than some of the folks who have been most active as Entrecarders over the past months. I wrote about some of the issues that I felt needed to be addressed and received a response from Graham that indicated he had "rebuttals" for most of them, which made me feel like he had his mind made up and wasn't interested in my input. Cool. It's his baby and he's earned the right to make the decisions.

Mike Huang from Bloggin-Ads.com is just one of several Entrecarders who have announced recently that they are "done" with Entrecard. Mike and the others don't seem to be angry, just making a decision that it's no longer worth it to be Drop Master...to which a few of us have suggested that he and the others just keep the Entrecard widget on their blogs and don't worry about dropping cards. Ironically, this seems to be what Graham had in mind in the first place. To me the answer is simple: Monetizing Entrecard Credits created a monster that can't be ignored by many Entrecarders. Provide us a way to make money from our blogs and we'll focus on how to maximize that income while we build traffic. That's part of the Entrecard pitch, even if the fact that Entrecarders fully embraced it seems to have taken Graham and Phirate by surprise.

Entrecard is going to continue to grow and will provide a great opportunity for thousands of bloggers to get cheap exposure to their blogs. However, I think it would help to view the Entrecard experience as a training ground, a phase for newer bloggers to hone their craft and learn from their peers. Some will decide that blogging isn't their thing and some will decide to move on to greener pastures, but it's my opinion that most will agree that they had some really good experiences as a result of being an Entrecarder, and that's almost as good as money in the EntreBank.


Entrecard Represents What % of Your Site's Traffic?  

Results of last week's survey about the percentage of your site's traffic that comes via Entrecard:

0....................1 (3%)

<25%.............9 (25%)

25-50%.........5 (14%)

51-75%.........5 (14%)

76-95%.........8 (23%)

>95%............2 (6%)

Don't know...4 (11%)

Don't care...1 (3%)

Total respondents = 35


Entrecard Puzzle of the Day  

How does one drop a card on an Entrecarder who isn't currently displaying a widget?

Note: The above is a rhetorical question. Please don't answer. I'm not interested in circumventing the Entrecard security system. However, I know of at least 10 Entrecarders who have been and this is a little word of warning to them.

Entrecarder Profile: Lee Doyle  

One of the most well-known Entrecarders, Lee Doyle, isn't always a happy man, although he would like to be. Fresh off a post where Lee is attempting to re-vitalize his U Drop - I Follow movement, Lee is a great example of moving forward despite significant difficulties in his personal life. I'd be angry most of the time to be going through what Lee is going through, and I believe it attests to his character that he is able to look beyond himself for ways to aid the Entrecard community.

Lee is a young (25) father of three who is battling for the right to stay regularly involved in all of his children's lives, and in the past has been an outspoken proponent of fathers' rights, which he believes has led to some of his current difficulties. I've had a few interactions with Lee regarding his Followers and found him to be a reasonable and amicable fellow. He really does Follow those who drop on his site with a drop of his own and is seeking to improve his U Drop - I Follow movement by weeding out those who are Followers in name only.

I've found that a good way to see what a blog is about is to take a look at the Categories. Here's what I found on Lee's site:

* Uncategorized
* Poems
* Funny
* News
* Rants
* Fathers-4-Justice
* Website
* Blogging
.....o Guides
.....o Meme
.....o Debates
.....o Questions
.....o Blog Of The Week
.....o entrecard
.....o Blogging Tools
* Computing
* My Case
.....o Social Services
.....o Police
* My Children
.....o Harmony
.....o Faith
.....o Jack
* Media
* Fans Section
* Thoughts
* Interviews
* Reviews


Entrecard Popular Page Revisited  

Three weeks ago I spent too many hours on a post that took a look at what it took to get onto Entrecard's Popular page, which at the time consisted of the 30 Entrecarders with the highest ad prices. Shortly thereafter, Entrecard changed the ad pricing system and the Popular page ceased to exist, replaced by a Popularity ranking number for each blog. There is still value to being in the top 15, 30, 45, 60, 90, or 120 (depending on the Browser tab default) in Popularity, as your Entrecard will be seen by more folks. The Popularity ranking is currently determined as it was before, by the number of drops your widget has received in the past 5 days. I thought it would be interesting to see how the ad pricing system changes impacted the 30 Entrecarders whom I had previously highlighted.

I'm using the same table as before, only I have taken out the Location and Alexa Ranking columns and added current Rank and Ad Price in bold.

RankImageURLAd Price
1 2Internet Business Guide838 1024
2 6Dot Com Mogul808 1024
3 1Monkey Fables and Tales734 2048
4 18CK Marketing684 1024
5 99Ahkong.net675 1024
6 86Personal Finance Management Guide650 256
7 -Chalk is Cheap642 -
8 11Fantasy Baseball636 512
9 129SiteHoppin'622 1024
10 4Saphrym607 1024
11 171Josh's Unconventional Marketing Blog599 512
12 8Turnip of Power598 2048
13 15Joan Joyce590 512
14 54Reward Rebel585 256
15 28Sense to Save584 1024
16 48Media Morgue582 512
17 59Pandora's Casket575 512
18 51Lee Doyle574 256
19 72Blissful Weddings571 512
20 5Diet Pulpit567 1024
21 35Geek Mom Mashup560 1024
22 177artconstellation558 256
23 10New York Nitty-Gritty550 512
24 351Momma Muse544 128
25 31Bloody Computer!538 512
26 68malinesky534 256
27 136Biyahilo520 256
28 239My Absent Mind515 512
29 195Hulag509 256
30 116Wild Clips Comedy498 512

First off, let me say that these numbers are moving all the time and since I started this post there have been several position changes in the Top 30, as well as Ad Price changes. I'm presenting this information to highlight trends and am not claiming any precision in the analysis.

I can think of several possibilities for the fact that almost 2/3 of the Top 30 from 3 weeks ago are no longer in the Top 30, and a good number of those are no longer in the Top 100. I suspect that the #1 reason is that they are no longer dropping as many cards as they were before the ad pricing system change. Second, some of them were involved in the U Drop I Follow movement and the new drop stats have weakened the Recipro Groups considerably, as it is easier to see who is actually "Following" your drop. I noticed several blogs who used to have Lee's graphic are no longer displaying it.

There are a couple of other reasons that might explain the shift in the Top 30, like burnout, disenchantment with Entrecard, discouragement resulting from Alexa's changed algorithm, better ad info and cheaper ads resulting in more folks advertising than dropping cards, and maybe fewer overall drops in the system than before. As far as overall drops goes, I don't have access to the numbers, but looking at the Top 10 blogs from 3 weeks ago and the 10 Ten today, we see total drops for 5 days of 17,240 versus 16,524. The difference is not significant enough to suggest that there are fewer cards being dropped over all, at least on the Top 10 blogs.

What is clear is that it costs more to advertise on most of the Top 15 blogs than it did 3 weeks ago for ads you want to purchase right now. The upside is that one lucky person will get to purchase an ad for half of what is currently listed as the Ad Price once the current ad expires. The average price paid for an ad on the Top 15 has likely dropped in the past 3 weeks, but, again, I don't have access to those numbers. Right place, right time (hint: many ads currently expire between 8AM - 9AM ET) and you can occasionally get a bargain...like finding Problogger available for 256EC. :-)

It was my intent to include updated Alexa numbers, but the rankings came out weird this morning and I'm delaying that analysis for a future post.

Entrecarder Profile: Mike Huang  

Bloggin-Ads was created by Mike to explore the whole Blogging Community by reviewing a blog every single day. Mike started this idea because he felt that people paying to get reviewed was not very fair to smaller blogs or blogs that do not receive income. Regular visitors to Mike Huang's Blogging-Ads will note that he and his wife Michelle have expanded their original concept to include "Blog Reviews, Ramblings, No Money Involved!"

Before I address Blogging-Ads' content, let me say that Mike already has 3 things going for him in my book: 1) He's from Los Angeles, where I spent most of my life prior to moving to Utah; 2) He's a devout SiteHopper; 3) He always has pretty girl pics on his Entrecard. While age is no real barrier to becoming a successful blogger, I'm still surprised by how young some of our Entrecarders are (Mike is 20), probably because I have children ages 25, 21, and 18, and while I accept their skills and accomplishments, I haven't quite made the full mental shift to embracing their generation as peers.

Mike is a fan of the NOT-Evil one, which is interesting because Blogging-Ads is not an MMO site. They do take paid banner ads in order to pay hosting fees, etc., but the reviews are not paid and there aren't any funny MMO schemes woven into the site. Recent posts include some of the above-mentioned "ramblings":

User Friendly Is A Bonus
John Chow Is NOT Evil
Global Warming: A Scientists (rare) Perspective
Retiring Early With A Bang
The Secrets Of eBooks

I first became aware of Bloggin-Ads via the "One Heck of A Giveaway Contest" Mike spearheaded in January, in which I was fortunate enough to be the winner of Group 6 prizes, which included 200 OneBuckWiki pages from SiteHoppin Max. Not many other Entrecarders can boast 917 subscribers and I find it amazing that Blogging-Ads has a price of 256 EC at the moment. I wonder if Mike and Michelle will continue to go the review-for-free route, considering the number of subscribers they have? Personally, I wouldn't think less of them for charging a few bucks for a review, seeing as I'm thinking of doing the same. Of course, my subscriber count hovers around 20, but that should be worth about a nickel a day, don't you think?


Entrecarder Profile: Cecilia  

The Cleveland Ohio Real Estate Blog has some great tips for buyers and sellers of real estate, regardless of where they are located. Great tips aside, it's the person behind the blog that has made a mark on the Entrecard community. I did have to look up her full name, but that only helps support my point that Cecilia Sherrard, aka The Realtor, is one of the few Entrecarders whose first name is sufficiently well-known as to generate immediate recognition from many of the active members of the community.

Perhaps it's due to her photo being an integral part of her Entrecard, or maybe she's easy to remember because of her quick wit and humor, but there have been few Entrecarders who've hit the scene running as quickly as Cecilia did and become so recognizable so fast. After reading her bio page I shouldn't be surprised at all, as Celicia has garnered many awards as a successful Realtor. What is surprising is that she manages to find the time to stay active in the Entrecard community! I spent 8 years as a Loan Officer and interacted with many real estate agents, most of whom weren't particularly drawn to techie stuff, and the more successful ones (like Cecilia) were too busy for something like Entrecard. Honestly, it was usually the guy who sells two properties a year that was into Internet stuff and not the top agent in the office. What that tells me is that Cecilia is just plain good at what she does.

Cecilia also did something that I think is really smart in that she put her URL on her Entrecard, which might seem unnecessary as far as the Entrecard community goes, but makes for a great ad on sites like Chow, Cow, or Problogger, where the vast percentage of visitors aren't Entrecarders. She's got name recognition, face recognition, industry recognition, URL recognition, and location recognition all wrapped up in her Entrecard presence. There's a lesson to be learned here for those Entrecarders who are in the community to promote their businesses.


Entrecarder Profile: IT-Aid  

Do you know this blogger? IT-Aid: PC Tips, Tricks and Tweaks is at this writing in the 56th position on the Popularity rankings and deserves to be there. Check out these stats: current Alexa 3 month ranking of 114,492, but 1 week ranking of 37,148, Drop Master status, and a Google page rank of 3. What's not clear is who the author is, merely a username of Slavezero. Ah, well, a few minutes of searching did not yield a answer and so Slavezero's anonymity can be left in place.

Ok, so IT-Aid is the real deal and that's leaves us asking the question "Why?" This answer can be found without much difficulty as the site is full of exactly what the title suggests, tips, tricks and tweaks. Recent posts include:

* The easy way to Fix your Task Manager
* Restore your desktop icons arrangement
* How to disable PC speaker beeping on errors
* How to convert DVD movies to PSP format
* FREE Traffic Exchange / Stumbleupon Exchange
* FREE Blog Backup
* World's Fastest Internet
* Future applications for mobile devices using nanotechnology
* The Ten Most Dangerous Online Activities
* How to Remove Happy99.exe

Not thrilled with that list? Give credit where credit is due...someone, a LOT of someones, must enjoy these posts and it would be wise for each of us to take a closer look, if for no other reason than to place an ad on their widget. This is one Entrecarder who is headed to the top of the heap!


Entrecarder Profile: Is A Man's World  

For starters, you've got to love the non-politically correct title of today's highlighted Entrecard Advertiser. Is A Man's World is authored by David Jackson, a New Zealander, and the site's byline is Where Technology and Humanity Meets, which helps focus in on the real intent of the site, which has nothing to do with the anti-feminism movement.

From Dave's About page:

This blog is about My thoughts, My Interests with Sports as well as technology, planes, motorsports, everything about big boys toys, including New Ideas, News, Gadgets, Resources related to technology, Opportunities, Comedy and more.... that is why my Site calls "Is a mans world" I will be posting contents that interest men and women in some occasions.

Sure enough, the top post categories on the site are Home Technology, Motorsports, Mega structures, Technology, Airlines, Supercars, Make Money, & Big Boys Toys, topics that have traditionally been "guy stuff." Dave must be doing something right as Is A Man's World has been climbing the Entrecard popularity rankings of late. (It's not hard to figure out...he's dropping lots of cards and placing ads on good sites.) I liked the site right away, because it has a "guy" feel to it and he's featuring a SiteHoppin Beer Credits widget.

The blog is appropriately listed in the Entrecard Men's Interests category, but that shouldn't stop the ladies from visiting to see what interests the fellas. However, if you're looking for controversial commentary about the sexes or how to win a man's heart, you'll have to look elsewhere. This blog is about the stuff that interests guys, not what's interesting about guys.


Entercarder Profile: Bloggernoob  

The Noob got married! Any day now Bloggernoob will be returning from his honeymoon with pics and stories for all his fans. In the meantime, the "BrotherNoob" is filling in and has written some interesting posts of his own. This is a site worth spending some time on and not just passing by while dropping cards. Chances are, if you have already been to the Noob's site, you might have missed his video that got over a million hits on youtube. It's on his About page, as well as some FAQs that give you an idea about his personality.

Bloggernoob has been very successful making money online in just a short few months and if you are trying to do the same you should check out his income recap post for some ideas. I enjoyed the random pics of starlets that are scattered around Bloggernoob's site, decorations and eye-candy that have nothing to do the various posts, but make your visit a bit more enjoyable nonetheless.

Bloggernoob has been pretty vocal about the Entrecard popularity rankings and for good reason. At the moment he boasts 282 Subscribers and can back that up with the number of folks who have signed up for various programs via his affiliate link. Of course, the new Alexa rankings smacked the Noob on the backside along with most of the rest of us, but it's my belief that the Noob's widget is a good one to consider buying an ad on. I did!


Entrecarder Profile: Mall of Earnings  

Pay attention, those of you who want to see an example of how one can design a great looking site that is hosted by Blogger! Mall of Earnings' site was so good I had to check the URL to make sure it had blogspot in the address. Mall of Earnings is "A place where you can earn everything... from money to wisdom, life's humor to life's lesson, tips and turn, and a lot more!!!"

Lucky_witch is the author of Mall of Earnings and her site is a good study in how to diversify your traffic so your Alexa ranking doesn't tank. She is listed with a number of social networks and blog directories, something that I should do more of, and have since visiting Mall of Earnings. Maybe I missed it, but I didn't see an About page or section and while I was able to track more information about this author with some Google searches, I'm hoping she'll list some personal info on her site and allow everyone to get to know her better.

The Entrecarder? Poll Results  

This poll was a bit tongue in cheek and I suspect that a few folks might not have responded for fear of offending me or somehow my being able to track their vote. My purpose was to get a feel for whether or not I was being perceived as a "spammer" for my 20+ Entrecard accounts. I didn't feel that I deserved that pejorative, yet I wasn't going to fool myself any longer if that's how others perceived me. The choices were a tad disingenuous in that one had few choices that might have accurately reflected their feelings. Nonetheless, my intent was to get a read on the spammer question and as only 1 out of 32 respondents chose that option, I can view the rest of the answers as "non-spammer" votes. It was funny the number of people who chose "who?".

54% chose Creative Guy

34% chose Who?

9% chose Misguided Soul

3% chose Damn Spammer!

*Total number of respondents was 32.


Entrecard: Is the Honeymoon Over?  

The Entrecard community has steadily grown over the past 6 months and there are hundreds of near-addicts who find themselves spending too much time every day dropping cards, blogging, reading others' blogs, and posting in the forums. As is true of many new businesses (and marriages), there comes a time when the honeymoon is over and the real work of making the venture successful sets in. Recent events, both internal and external, suggest that Entrecard's honeymoon is over and that it's time to decide whether or not this thing's going to work.

Here's a list of 10 challenges that Entrecard has to deal with that could make or break it:

1) Alexa - Ouch! Many Entrecarders (and other bloggers) got spanked hard this past week when Alexa changed their ranking algorithm and there were few left in the community whose Alexa number was under 100,000. Some have suggested that it is a short-term adjustment and that in a week or two they will be able to regain their favored status. Wishful thinking! They must be looking at their 3 month average and not their 1 week average! The real pain from Alexa's change is yet to be felt by many Entrecarders, as the not-too-distant future will see them with a much higher number than they want or are accustomed to. What is important here isn't the number, rather, what will an increasingly worsening Alexa ranking do to the psyches of Entrecarders who have justified their community participation in part to their robust Alexa position? Just how many will toss in the Entrecard towel is yet to be seen.

2) Entrecard Burnout - It's fun to try new things and to become more proficient at new processes. Based on many comments I've read on blogs and in the Entrecard Forums, there are other Entrecarders who have experienced the same burnout that I have been through. It was exciting at first to find sites to drop on and more exciting to get folks to drop a card on your site. Hours and hours and hours later the thrill has worn off and it's not likely to be very thrilling in the future. I'll bet the numbers show that over 50% of those who signed up for Entrecard are done dropping cards by their 3rd month. Oh, their widget might still be on their site, but they really aren't active Entrecarders at this point. This isn't just an Entrecard problem...it happens all the time in MLMs and other situations where expectations outrun results. What's specific to Entrecard is card-dropping and there's no getting around how tedious and boring it can become if one is trying to hit the magic 300 per day mark. All of this means that unless Entrecard develops additional methods for generating credits that reduces the need/desire to drop til ya drop, Entrecarders will continue to burn out, leaving a passel of dead accounts that clutter up the community.

3) Too Successful Too Soon - It happens in the MLM industry all the time. A new company gets overwhelmed by their own success and are unable to keep up with all the new sign-ups, which success ultimately kills the company. With Entrecard it's not just a question of needing a new server, as the real problem is the lack of customer support. We're talking about a founder and a programmer, the latter of whom has 10 other clients, with a few forum moderators thrown in. There just isn't the personnel to handle all the Entrecarders currently in the community and if growth rates continue to hold, Entrecard might sink under its own weight.

4) Graham - I suspect that Graham has no idea how much time and effort Entrecarders are putting into his venture. He had a good idea...but folks, he's still just a kid and there's nothing on his resume to suggest that he has any experience with running this type of organization. Ignorance was bliss...and my confidence in Graham's ability to run this community was shaken by his recent video blogs. I've got a 25 year old son who is a programmer and another son who is 21, and while they are very talented, they still don't know just how much they don't know. Graham's a nice kid and he came up with a good idea. Does he have what it takes to turn his idea into a thriving, long-term successful venture? I get the impression he's on a lark, having a great time basking in the spotlight, clueless to the impact his decisions have on the community, ignorant of the effort that folks have expended as Entrecarders. Does he have what it takes to step up to the next level and run a company? Time will tell.

5) Big Brother is Watching - I understand the need for a security system. I understand the need for selectively withholding information that could compromise the security system. I don't understand why changes are made to the pricing system and other Entrecard components without proper notification or community consultation. Push a button and send a message to every Entrecarder about outages, policy changes, new features, etc. Posting in the Entrecard blog or forums doesn't cut it because only a small fraction of Entrecarders go there on a daily basis. Entrecard could survey community members about possible changes and get better input than from by just asking the forum regulars. What it feels like to me is that Phirate and Graham aren't really all that interested in what we have to say, as if they feel they know best. Cool...I can appreciate that confidence. But what if they don't know what is best? There are many, many Entrecarders with significantly more experience in business and life than Phirate and Graham have and could be a resource to Entrecard if their input was more highly valued. Idea guys and programmers have their value, but they don't always see the full picture or impact of their decisions. The dust has settled on the new ad pricing system and while it is an improvement over the old system, it still has significant flaws, not the least of which is there are so few pricing options between 256 and 1024 ECs. Again, the bigger problem I see is a Big Brother Knows Best attitude that I believe has to change.

6) The Worth of An EC - There was a thriving market for ECs until the Credit Exchange was announced. Some will say that it was the "spammers" who drove the price of ECs down, which I think is pure nonsense. Sure, if there were 250,000 ECs up for sale at any given time the supply would be greater than the demand and the price would drop. No, what I believe happened is that folks sat back and decided to wait for Entrecard's exchange to kick in and it was the demand that dropped and caused the lower prices, not an increased supply. It doesn't help that Entrecard has been touting itself as a community where a blogger can make money via the sale of their ECs, should they so desire. Delays related to paypal have extended the credit exchange's launch, and the current low price of ECs, coupled with limits on max drops per IP address and changes to the security system that slowed down dropping speeds, have created a situation where most folks would be hard pressed to earn $2 a day from their card dropping efforts. Sure, $60 a month from your blog is still $60 a month...but the opportunity cost of what you could have done with that 1-2 hours a day looms large. For a while it was possible to drop 300 cards in 20 minutes and if one had 3 accounts they could reasonably generate 1000+ ECs for an hour's effort. Turn around and sell them for $10 and one could almost justify spending the time building their blog traffic via Entrecard. Now, hustle and drop 400 cards in an hour, get a 50% return drop rate, sell the 600 ECs for $5/1000 and end up with $3. Whoopee! Creating a cash value for Entrecard Credits is a great idea and once the credit exchange is operational, I believe it will be a good thing and we'll see many folks sign up as Entrecarders as a result. The risk is that the market drives ECs down to $2/1000 and the EC as currency loses its appeal.

7) Lack of (Funds for) Marketing - I'll bet that Graham hasn't spent much money on advertising or marketing up to this point. I understand why, yet at what point does Entrecard spend money to increase its public profile? The Entrecard community feeds upon itself and the lack of any incentive to reach out to those outside the community (i.e. - referral program) means that folks stumble upon Entrecarders rather than seek them out. Entrecard has an opportunity to tout its collective expertise as an asset to the public at large, which could result in many new readers to Entrecarders' blogs. However, such touting costs money, which seems to be in short supply.

8) Creature Comforts - I started a blog called Entrecard FAQs because there really was a lack of good info available for new Entrecarders. Even now, the new Entrecarder is thrown into the community without much aid or direction. I've read Phirate's reasoning for the type of forum that is used by Entrecard, and while I acknowledge the good reasons for it, I can also see that most people come into a community expecting to find answers more quickly and easily. Unless it has changed, I don't believe that Entrecard sends out much in the way of a welcome letter or anything that would help the new Entrecarder figure out what's what. Even the TOS is buried and is presumed to be agreed to, without the cursory "Check that you have read the agreement" verbiage. Yeah, I know, Phirate's been busy with higher priorities...which is a poor excuse for saying that Graham is underfunded or there'd be more cooks in the kitchen. Not everyone enjoys camping out and roughing it and Entrecard would be better served by offering more creature comforts to its members. Instead of creating its own item number, I'll throw in access to better data under this item. Entrecard has all sorts of data that we could use to make our dropping decisions (e.g.-number of times we have dropped on someone in past 30 days, ability to sort by number of times someone has dropped on us). Come on guys, give it up and make our lives easier!

9) Too Many Entrecarders? - Is it possible that Entrecard has already become grown too large? Is being a global community too ambitious? Would smaller Entrecard communities that were topic or location based be more rewarding for community members? I joined Entrecard in late December and could tell that there was a core group of Entrecarders who knew each other and visited each other's sites on a regular basis. Due to burnout, life changes, discouragement, or burnout, many of those early Entrecarders are no longer active. I think part of it is related to the size of the pond and whether or not you know the rest of the fish. Imagine 50,000 Entrecarders and the task of trying to get to know more than a few of them. Yes, it can be done, but will the sense of community cease to exist when you no longer know 99% of the populace?

10) Revenue - I've saved what I think is the biggest issue for last. Gee, this is fun, but just how is Graham going to pay for his new digs in California? Project less-than-Wonderful adds a few hundred a month, and the Credit Exchange might bring in some cash should it ever get off the ground. We've heard rumors about other ads that could bring some dollars into Entrecard, but is there really a plan? Not that I'm concerned with whether or not Phirate has pizza money, but no one wants to spend time swabbing the decks on a sinking ship. There is either a plan that includes having sufficient revenue to run this place or there isn't. One thought I had was to have a premium VIP Entrecard club. Monthly fee sort of thing, which I would usually turn down flat, except in this case I might be able to pay my dues with ECs, which Entrecard could then sell. (Or conversely, I could sell the ECs myself to pay my monthly dues.) Sign up 1000 Entrecarders at $30 a month and then Phirate could buy some beer to go with his pizza and Graham could afford to fly across the country.

I like the Entrecard community, even though I'm trying to sell The Entrecarder and move on. It's been fun and I've been able to test out some ideas, but most of all I've realized that I don't want to be a regular blogger. Yes, I have proven to myself that I can do it, I just don't want to anymore. Both by the nature of this blog and the time that I have invested in the Entrecard community, I want to do what I can to help Entrecard succeed. My intent today was not to trash Graham or Entrecard, but to highlight what I perceive as challenges that must be overcome if Entrecard is going to thrive and be profitable.

Entrecarder Profile: ClickDTalk  

Today I am highlighting Iris of Clickdtalk, "A sister, a daughter and a mother of two gorgeous kids and most of all a wife of a wonderful and loving man from New Zealand." I didn't realize until I wandered through her site, but Iris is also the author of TheBuzzNutter, another very popular and familiar Entrecard blog.

Spending so much time writing about Entrecard, I enjoyed reading Iris' posts about buying a new vacuum cleaner or who should be in charge of the money, husband or wife? From her About page we get an idea of what her blog is intended to cover:

About clickdtalk
Clickdtalk is about womens interest, fashion, styles, beauty tips and tricks. Every now and then i am posting funny stuff. This is sort of personal diary for me but have included some stuff that have interests me being a women, a mother, a sister and a daughter.

My Motto is "No venture, No gain"

I love to learn and i am passionate of what i do, i simply love blogging and i love tweaking, playing with my site -- That is why i got in trouble most of the time :(

Really, wouldn't you rather read about what Iris is experiencing today as a mother than the current Entrecard issue-of-the-day? I think Iris is much more representative of today's blogger than I am, and as such you should pay her a visit!