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Web Chew: Contracts, Free Toolbar, Podcasting Trends, and Paid Blogging

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Welcome to Web Chew, a digest of web trends and tips for BlogMasters, podcasters, and webmasters.  In this addition we'll review contract pointers for freelancers, paid blogging, SEO techniques with a new toolbar, podcasting trends, and income from pop-up advertising.

Contracts, Free Toolbar, PodCasting Trends, and Paid Blogging

Contract Tips.  Donald Hammond wrote about some great ways to protect yourself as a freelancer, which any web developer who works on a contract/project basis should know about.  Speaking of "contract work", you do get a written contract for every job, don't you?  Come on — sure verbal contracts are binding, but when it comes down to a dispute in court, it is "he said/she said," — your word against theirs, unless you have it in writing.  Get it on paper. Remember the daytime Peoples' Court judges?  The only way they could tell if someone was telling the truth or not was to review receipts and other evidence on paper.  At the very least, send a registered letter outlining your agreement, to your client… before the work begins.  And, Mr. Hammond has some other good advice for you in his article.

Copywriting… What's "Copywriting"?  So many times web developers and webmasters are called upon to wear hats for work in which they have little or no training.  What about the words, or "copy" that go on your websites?  Well, "everyone knows how to write," right?  Sure, but not everyone can command a top paying job as a copywriter for an ad agency, PR firm, or corporation, and there's a reason why. While most college-trained people can write, few can write well.  But you can learn the tricks of the trade — just Google copywriting tips and techniques.  Maybe you should consider hiring a professional when your background and focus is on programming code. One good way to locate a professional copywriter for your projects is to review successful bidders at the freelance technical project websites online.  Do a search there for "technical writers," or just post your project, then read carefully the reviews and qualifications for those who make bids to work for you.

  Where should you "host" your podcasts?  Writer Marshal Sandler does a good job of not only profiling three top podcast hosting companies, but also giving a brief explanation of what podcasting is, and two success stories in the field, in his article, "Hosting Your Podcast & Podcast Stories."  One of the success stories details how podcasts, or "GodCasts", are reshaping how the Baptist Church reaches the faithful.  Hmm… now here's a new market for Apple's iPods.  See also our "Firefox Trick" for this column which analyzes the SEO for two podcast Hosting companies using the new WebWinX.com WebHelper Toolbar.

The Gurus At Google Are At It Again:  Did you know that Google has this development department called "Google Labs," and that their interesting and valuable work often spills out of the "lab" and into the public Internet?  One such project they've let loose on the world of late, is called "Trends", and it "aims to provide insights into broad search patterns."  Then  they give this disclaimer: "As a Google Labs product, it is still in the early stages of development. Also, it is based upon just a portion of our searches, and several approximations are used when computing your results. Please keep this in mind when using it."  Duly noted.  But even with that under consideration, this "Trends" tool looks to be very helpful for online marketing analysis.  Let's take a look at the results that came up when I entered "podcasting". 

What came up at first is a chart of a timeline for the search volume for "podcasting," with links to articles corresponding to points on the trend graph.  For example, the chart showed a big spike in search volume for the term "podcasting" in January of 2005 with the article "Apple Adds Podcsting to iTunes" linked right to the top of that spike.  Both before that time (2004) and after (2006), search volume tapers off.  Does this mean that the overall interest in podcasting is sliding way down after a peak in early 2005, or that only the excitement of the early adapters is tapering off after major firms have signed on? 

You'll probably need to do more research elsewhere to answer such questions, but you can vary the trend graph results by regions, years, and months, and even languages.  Looking at just 2006, I see mostly a flat trend for "podcasting" but higher than it was in previous years. This analysis just scratches the surface, since the Google Trend engine also lets you compare searchs for related, or different terms.  "Podcasting, microphones" (you separate terms with a comma) could tell you more about what's going on with podcasting, for example.  But wait, what about inputting "Koran, Bible", or "Democrat, Republican", "Liberal, Conservative", etc.  Strikes me that most Podcasting hosts could use this tool for some very interesting talk show topics.

New Poll:

Is Paid Blogging A Good Way to Advertise?  What do you think?  Vote and discuss this at that link (WebMaster-talk board), and read a review of a blog advertising company below, in this issue of the Web Chew column.

FireFox Trick: WebWinX.com WebHelper Toolbar for SEO and Web Development

For this column's trick, I'm pleased to present the new WebWinX.com WebHelper Toolbar, which we'll use to analyze and compare SEO for two podcast hosting companies.  Just click on the link to download your free toolbar — it's crossplatform (works on Windows and Macs in Firefox, and also is available on Windows for IE).  Here's your trick (click to enlarge it):

In Sites from WebWinx.com:

Most webmasters I know are looking for ways to boost their earning potential at their websites.  This column's "In Site" focuses on a company called Adversal that will buy up all — that's right, all — of your pop-under inventory each and every month. They pay up to $1.20 per 1,000 page views, so for high-traffic sites, this can be a good option.  According to the company, their system will evade most pop-up blockers, enabling you to earn ad revenue even if your visitors are trying to block your ads. Hmmm… how many visitors will this system make angry?

The Verdict:  You can make some extra money with this program, though lower traffic sites will not earn too much, and you should be able to sell your pop-unders for a higher CPM — 8 diamonds (out of 10).


Traffic Bite: Advertising in Blog Posts — Good or Bad?


What if you could hire bloggers to post reviews of your product or service?  Now you can, with PayPerPosts' blog advertising service. This can be a great way to create "buzz" for your company and what you offer.  Here are some important points about the service:

  • You post "opportunities" and, if your post is approved, and relevant, bloggers will determine if the price is right, then blog about what you have posted
  • You can require a link to be posted to boost your search engine rankings
  • You can require a photo or graphic to be posted
  • If the bloggers use RSS, your content will be syndicated throughout the internet

Hmm… does this mean that the end has come for the free exchange of ideas?  What about the separation between content in a blog and advertising in a blog?  Depending on how you answer these questions, this kind of service could anger folks in the blogging community. 

Then again, why shouldn't bloggers get paid for their passion, since you may also sign-up with this service to get paid to blog?  Aren't bloggers really journalists, and don't publications cover stories, and accept press releases from their advertisers?  And paid bloggers are not prevented from giving an honest review of a product or service, nor are other bloggers prevented from criticizing same in comments regarding a blog post.  Is it a conflict of interest?  Depends on the stated purpose of the blog, and its posts.  If the blog states that its mission is to provide an "independent" review of products and services, then this is a deceptive practice.  If, however, the blog discloses that it sometimes reviews affiliated products, services, and companies, then it is not.  And in the latter case, it's a great way to advertise.

What do you think?  Take our poll: Is Paid Blogging A Good Way to Advertise?

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