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Ted Murphy Launches a Personal Blog

Posted on: July 13, 2008 I Written By

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Ted Murphy, founder of IZEA recently launched a personal microblog. If you are part of the IZEA family or a fan or rockstartup this is your chance to interact with Ted. You can check out the site here.

I was the 61st member of PayPerPost when I joined 3 years ago. You can imagine that over the 3 years Ted, myself and PayPerPost (now IZEA) have been through so many interesting experiences. While I’m not nearly as active in IZEA now, I still follow them and am interested in what their doing. Ted’s one of the most creative people I know so it will be interesting to see what Ted does with his blog and if he’ll have the time to do much.

Social Spark Has Been Launched

Posted on: April 23, 2008 I Written By

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I’m sure that many of you know by now that I have been with PayPerPost since nearly the beginning of Ted’s journey to make money for bloggers. It’s been quite the adventure for me and a true learning process. I’ve met hundreds of amazing bloggers and learned a ton about blogging. Oh yeah, and I made a bunch of cash along the way too. I personally call it my “date” money.

Well, back in November I attended Postie Con where SocialSpark was announced for the first time. It was a very exciting time to see what Ted and crew had been working on for so long.

I was invited into the alpha version of Social Spark and it’s been quite the experience. My favorite part has been the blog sponsorships. I can see why this might not fit right for many of the bloggers out there, but it’s perfect for a number of my blogs. In fact, I’d like to automate the blog sponsorship so that my blog always has a sponsorship with the highest paying sponsor (possibly with the option for me to block certain sponsors). Overall though, sponsorships are really neat and I haven’t heard any complaints from my blog readers. Granted I understand how I generate traffic to my blog and these type of sponsorships aren’t a problem. I’m still generating just as much traffic as before.

The next best part of social spark is the transparency and disclosure (ie. no follow). Here’s what social spark offers (which quite frankly was a problem with PayPerPost):
-100% Audit-able In-Post Disclosure
-100% Transparency
-100% Real Opinions
-100% Search Engine Friendly

Now that those problems are out of the way, I think that Social Spark can bring in some really large brands. Hopefully that means more revenue for us bloggers.

I think the most disappointing part of Social Spark to me has been the method of filtering, organizing and finding blog opportunities. It was bad in PayPerPost and is still bad in Social Spark. It should be much easier for me to know what opportunities are available and a way to sort them the way I want to see them. Plus, if I no longer want to see an opportunity, then give me an option to hide that opportunity forever.

Some of the social aspects of the site are interesting, but I would have preferred if Social Spark would have focused on more of the functional parts of the site and less on the look and feel of it all. I’m sure that hundreds of hours of design and development time were spent making it look pretty. When the reality is that functionality would have been more beneficial to all involved.

In the end, this is still the beginning of social spark, but I honestly had hoped for a little more after all the delays. However, it’s a good foundation for making bloggers a good amount of money. Especially with blog sponsorships. Let’s just hope the market will pay well for those blog sponsorships. They definitely can’t be missed by blog readers.
Sponsored by SocialSpark

Why the PayPerPost/IZEA Blog SUCKS!

Posted on: December 18, 2007 I Written By

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A little while back Ted asked the PayPerPost community if their blog sucks? I actually avoided saying much at the time. However, I think that it’s pretty clear what’s happened to the PPP blog. They stopped announcing almost anything!

There has been months and months of marketing hype over Argus which turned out to be Izea and SocialSpark. That’s the best way to kill a corporate blog. Spend months and months and making only superficial changes and not announce anything that significant.

When PayPerPost first launched the blog was hoping with new features and exciting announcements. In fact, I seem to remember someone even sarcastically complaining that it had gone 3 days since a major announcement. It was really exciting to be apart of a dynamic organization that was changing weekly.

It amazes me that this all occurred almost a year and a half ago. Well, times have changed. PayPerPost has an incredibly large community and too many employees to keep track of them all. No more videos of stressed out employees getting vitamin water. No more $10 million funding announcements. However, most significantly very few feature releases in MONTHS!!

The worst part of it all is that the Argus announcement at PostieCon was a big disappointment. Not because the changes weren’t good. The quick information that was given at Postie Con has potential. However, no one would ever know it, because nothing has been released. No one has access to argus Social Spark. The PPP community was left waiting for months for the holy grail they called Argus only to receive a rushed announcement and now over a month of waiting (and no end in sight) for the actual release.

I’m sure that someone will come and say that the release of Social Spark was delayed because of the release of RealRank. This argument misses my point that PayPerPost has released very few interesting features in months.

This isn’t to say that PayPerPost isn’t thriving and that it isn’t going to be huge. I’m just saying that’s why the PayPerPost blog sucks and has definitely affected the community around it. It may have been the best corporate decision for PayPerPost to take these months and rebuild PayPerPost from the ground up. However, I think you could make a good argument about why it would have been better for PayPerPost to release features early and often. WordPress learned this lesson which they took from Ubuntu.

I think it’s also worth mentioning Christopher Herot’s recent post explaining how he wasted much of his now failed startups time discussing and implementing features that users didn’t care about. Sure makes a compelling argument for an agile development environment with frequent releases of features. I guess we’ll see if the months of rebuilding PayPerPost and adding new features suffers the same unneeded feature fate that Christopher Herot experienced.

I hope this post isn’t seen as complaining. PayPerPost is welcome to do whatever they want with their product. I couldn’t care much either way. Although, I do appreciate them offering me a front row seat as I watch and learn from their experience building their company.

Something Kind of Similar to PayPerPost

Posted on: November 21, 2007 I Written By

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Someone emailed me about a website called Pick A Blogger. It’s a cheap attempt to compete with PayPerPost. I didn’t sign up, because it didn’t seem like there was really anyone on the site. It was like a ghost town. I’ve often said about PayPerPost that they needed to focus on advertisers and making sure there were plenty of ways for bloggers to make money. They’ve done that and done well. Unfortunately I don’t think that Pick a Blogger has done the same thing.

My PPP/Izea Ranking

Posted on: I Written By

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PPP/Izea has rolled out their new RealRank measure for blogs. Honestly I don’t personally believe that this rank will have much meaning outside of those blogs that participate in PayPerPost. However, it will have significant meaning to the 70,000 (or however many it is now) bloggers that use PayPerPost. Plus, it will be great for all of those stats addicts out there like me.

Of course, I’ve been in Hawaii and so I haven’t been able to check my PPP tools (now called ITK) to make sure it was installed properly. Looks like when I was trying out the Argus beta stats I messed up my PPP tools. I’ve fixed it now and tomorrow I’ll finally be able to see my RealRank.

If anyone else needs help with this let me know. I’m always happy to help people when I can. Even if it will be a bit busy over Thanksgiving.

LiveBlogging Announcement of SocialSpark (Argus) at PostieCon

Posted on: November 10, 2007 I Written By

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Ted is excited. You can see that he’s pretty nervous.

-It’s about advertisers and giving them value
-We have the loudest bloggers
-Announcing SocialSpark
-Bloggers and Advertisers are the same (this is nothing new, he told us this a while ago)
-Each blogger and advertiser has a public profile that’s available on the general internet
-A few technical difficulties
-Props or drops on a person’s profile
-Eventually will present a history of screenshots to see how a blog evolved
-Alexa and Google PR kind of suck and should go away. ROI rank is SocialSpark’s way of measuring value
-Provide live view of stats and even offer demographic information on who visits a blog
-Demographic information is only of those people who visit your blog and our members of Izea
-Blogs are going to have RSSBrief look at what kind of perception your blog has.
-Actually 2 Ranks. One called ROIRank and one for RealRank which just takes into account traffic
-Place to leave your personal information for sampling opps

Ok, that’s enough liveblogging for me. I’ll write more about it later.

PayPerPost (IZEA) Announces SocialSpark

Posted on: I Written By

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Update: TechCrunch finally put up their coverage of SocialSpark. Pretty weak coverage since Mike didn’t cover much of the announcement at all. Maybe he was busy since it’s the weekend.

I’m currently sitting at PayPerPost/Izea’s user conference called PostieCon. In 30 minutes we’ll be seeing the unveiling of Argus to the world. I’ve previously blogged about how Izea is planning to take on Google. We officially know that Argus is now called SocialSpark. I’ll place a screenshot of the new site at the bottom of this post.

I think the most groundbreaking feature they are announcing with SocialSpark is allowing advertisers to sponsor blogs.

In addition to sponsored posts, SocialSpark has created a viable alternative to traditional online display ads designed to provide a higher return on investment for both advertisers and bloggers. The revolutionary new form of advertising allows marketers to set a price range they are willing to pay to sponsor a blog via an interactive ad unit called a Blog Welcome™. The new unit welcomes a user when they visit a blog and then collapses into a small persistent sponsorship bar that remains at the bottom of a browser.

I’m not so sure about having a permanent bar at the bottom of a blog, but I guess I don’t see any reason why it’s a bad idea. I think I’ll have to see the full implementation before I make final judgment. Plus, I think it’s important to know how much that’s worth. Can you have multiple advertisers? Does the toolbar have a set price for a certain time frame? I think we’ll find out when Ted shows it in a few minutes.

As expected, Izea is going to have a whole group of stats.

Analytics tools installed on a blogger’s blog allow SocialSpark to provide traffic data on the blog’s public profile. Advertisers are provided with a complete picture of a blog’s influence including visits and page views, along with other demographic information such as aggregate gender, age, location, interest and other visitor information. That data allows advertisers to build their street teams based on the audience of the blogger. Once a campaign is launched, advertisers can monitor CPC and CPM as well as gauge brand awareness and campaign impact across the blogosphere.

Looks like SocialSpark should be pretty interesting. They are also unveiling a blogger’s social network. It doesn’t look that interesting to me. Although one feature I know about does look interesting. It’s essentially a way to manage your blog roll using PayPerPost SocialSpark. For advertisers the idea of creating your own niche social network of bloggers is a pretty unique way for advertisers to find their target market.

Another important part of this announcement is required in post disclosure. A great step forward.

30 minutes and we’ll be able to see it in action and I’ll be able to tell you more about what I think of SocialSpark.

SocialSpark Initial Release