Archive for the 'Blogging' Category

August 9th, 2006

SenseList Launches

For about a year, Morgen and I have been planning to launch several new Web sites to keep Interesting Thing of the Day company. It’s not like we’ve been working on them full-time for months or anything, but we’ve been plugging away as time permits, in between roasting turkeys, writing ebooks, and doing all the usual work that keeps us occupied most of the day. Today, we finally crossed that magical threshold of doneness with the first of these sites, and we couldn’t be happier. It’s called SenseList.

Both of us are compulsive list makers, and we’ve certainly noticed the popularity of some blog entries presented in the form of a list. Hey, who doesn’t love a good list? So we decided to come up with a blog consisting entirely of lists—but not just any lists. We were looking for a certain gestalt, a mixture of the trivial and the profound, the whimsical and the useful. Lists that make sense.

Many of the lists we’ll be presenting reflect random observations we’ve made, such as “Gosh, there seem to be a lot of B-52’s songs with outer space references,” or “Every cookbook I consult gives completely different instructions for hard-boiling eggs,” or “These IKEA product names remind me of ___,” or “I’ll bet I can think of half a dozen actresses that would have made a better Lois Lane in Superman Returns than Kate Bosworth.” So we’ve actually done the research and spelled out all these factoids, and many more, in convenient list form.

One of our goals for SenseList, having learned from experience, was to be able to come up with good entries a lot more quickly than writing Interesting Thing of the Day articles. We’re not telling stories or providing a detailed reference, just getting to the point quickly and succinctly. We hope the lists will be easy to read and fun to share.

Please click on over to SenseList and have a look. Assuming we get done with our other homework, we have (at least) three more sites that should appear in the coming weeks. And then: a little vacation, I think.

August 3rd, 2006

The alt concepts Mailing List

Now that my wife, Morgen, is officially part of the alt concepts staff, we’re working earnestly at getting several new Web sites up and running. We’ll be making a series of announcements here and at ITotD over the coming weeks. But to make our lives easier and help to get news out more quickly, we’ve also set up a new opt-in mailing list for friends, family, ITotD subscribers, and anyone else on the Net who’d like to be among the first to hear about anything new and interesting stuff in our little corner of the universe.

Thus: the alt concepts mailing list. It’s free (as in beer, but not as in speech, since we’re the only ones who’ll be sending messages), and we’ll keep the volume low and the spam nonexistent. Please feel free to sign up!

June 20th, 2006

A Plethora of Carnivals

Although I’m usually on top of the latest trends in the online world, for some reason, the notion of blog carnivals completely escaped my notice until a couple of months ago. A blog carnival is basically a single blog posting containing annotated links to other posts on a certain theme or topic. Carnivals on particular subjects tend to recur every week or two, and bloggers take turns hosting the carnivals. For example, if I’ve got a blog about writing implements, I might volunteer to host the Carnival of Fountain Pens one week. That means anyone who’s got an interesting post about fountain pens can send it to me that week; I’ll review all the submissions and, on the designated day, post a list of the best and most interesting ones. Then, the following week, another blogger (who, perhaps, focuses on calligraphy) does the same thing—with his or her own perspective on what’s most interesting.

Blog carnivals give valuable exposure both to the individual contributors and to the host, especially when the carnival is on a hot topic. There are hundreds of ongoing carnivals, ranging from the very serious (Carnival of Hurricane Relief) to the banal (Carnival of Drinking), along with everything in between. As long as you’ve got a post that’s genuinely relevant to a carnival’s topic or theme, it’s relatively easy to get yourself mentioned, and every additional link is valuable both for the traffic it generates directly and its positive influence on search engine rankings.

So I’ve been submitting Interesting Thing of the Day articles to a bunch of carnivals, and I’ve been very pleased with the results. Here’s a sampling of mentions that have appeared so far (last updated on July 1, 2006):

(This list is continued in Blog Carnivals, Round Two.)

May 31st, 2006

Interesting Thing of the Day 3.0

The extreme Web makeover is complete, and Interesting Thing of the Day is finally back up and running. There were, as I fully expected, a number of little glitches in the new system that I’ve had to work through, but for the most part, the transition was pretty smooth. If I do say so myself, I’m quite pleased overall with the new site.

This little publishing project, which is now, incredibly, entering its fourth year online, has taught me all sorts of valuable lessons, but what has astonished me more than anything else is the seemingly complete disconnection between the site’s income and the amount of effort I expend on it. Revenue from ads and affiliate links generated significant money, month after month, even when I didn’t touch the site at all or add any new content. Conversely, times when I’ve worked around the clock for days at a time to add features or write new articles have had hardly any financial impact.

Of course, the majority of traffic to the site (and thus, by extension, the majority of income) has been driven by search engine referrals. So what the statistics tell me is that if I want the site to succeed—as in, provide me with a reasonable paycheck for my efforts—I should focus less on creating lots of new articles and more on making people aware of what’s already there. So that will be one of my biggest ongoing projects in the coming months.

Nevertheless, I do have a healthy list of topics to cover, and I’ve already begun receiving submissions from several guest authors. I would love to have other people write, say, half the content, and that’s yet another thing I’ll be pushing for.

My fantasy remains, as always, that at some point the site would bring in enough income that I can treat it as a full-time job and post a new article every day. I don’t expect that to happen soon, but I’m hopeful that the new, more relaxed publication schedule—along with help from other authors—will enable me to keep it going indefinitely while trying to build a bigger audience.