Sponsored Tweets PRO Equals #FAIL

I like Izea and the properties it holds, but unfortunately, the services have really just kind of hit rock bottom. I took a 30 day challenge for the PRO member account for Sponsored Tweets and… that was a wasted venture.

I had no opportunities offered and the only thing I could say was that I paid $1.99 for little blue icon that said PRO. It was very disappointing. And even though I kept my account for nearly half a month more in the PRO status, I still did not get any offers.

It may be $1.99, but it is not worth it.

Here are some of the reactions in the Sponsored Tweets Get Satisfaction forum from others.

Here is the update from Carri, a staff member of Izea.

While I am not telling you to not use Sponsored Tweets, I am recommending that you use it at your own risk. Based on my own experience and those of the community there, it is not a service that works well for those with little followers or even a decent followers with a decent true reach. You may be better off to offer sponsored tweet services from your own site or through Fiverr.

Have you taken the Sponsored Tweets PRO member challenge lately? What are you thoughts? If not, and you are a basic member of Sponsored Tweets, how has the service worked for you? (Please do leave your twitter ID so I can go and follow you on Twitter.)

How To Change Your Blog’s Design Without Alienating Your Visitors

As your site grows older, you have learned a lot of things (at least I hope you have.) In that time you should have played with ideas on what you would like to change in order to improve your website. However, I am sure that you probably think that if you change certain parts of your website, that you might alienate your visitors.

PSST— In a lot of cases, you probably will not alienate your blog visitors unless your site is hard to navigate, your content starts to suck, or your whole brand changes (the design of your site, logo, and even yourself.)

Ease your visitors into the idea of the change.

1. Let them know of your upcoming plans to change your site. You can make this sound like something exciting for your visitors to keep checking the site. You can let them know with a blog post, or perhaps a tweet, through your site’s newsletter, or maybe a message on your Fan page or a message on any other social network you have.

2. As the time comes to unveil the new design, inform your guests of the changes. Involve them with the change by asking them to contribute their opinion or to tell you if they catch any minor design issues.

3. Unveil the site and again, ask for feedback and even ask your visitors to spread the word, especially if they like the new site design.

4. Try to make the re-brand of your new site’s design consistent with your social network handles, like your Twitter background, Youtube channel, or Facebook page.

Now, the above are suggestions that can be used for total blog and website revamps or partial changes. Including your visitors in on the process allows them to feel like they have helped and that you really do like to listen to their feedback.

30 Day Challenge With Sponsored Tweets PRO – Halfway Point

So, I am half way through my 30 day challenge with Sponsored Tweets PRO, and you know… no opportunities. As promised, I went through some of the messages being said in the Sponsored Tweets forum about this and no surprise- even users with over 80,000 followers on the PRO membership are not getting opportunities.

Here are some of the responses found:

And when they ask why is this happening, especially when being a PRO member means the user is to get better exposure with the advertisers, the staff responds:

Another response around that time, by the same staff member was that basically that the paid tweet opportunities had been given to non-PRO members.

WHOA! Wait a minute here! Does this basically mean that people are paying for a service that basically is useless. If you are giving opportunities, they should be to the PRO members first, right? Hmmm… sounds funny to me. And then on top of that… in waves. I am not certain, but after Izea’s annual parties, becoming a public company with stock options, currently hiring, and even offering to sponsor Tweetups, Sponsored Tweets is doing pretty good getting advertisers.

By the way, someone commented on the post for the start of my challenge about finding more followers. I have a decent amount already, so that is not the issue. I had opportunities in the past (though they were few and far between) with Sponsored Tweets.

So far, I am leaning to Sponsored Tweets PRO = #Fail.

Be Selective When Accepting Guest Blog Posts

Occasionally I receive guest post inquiries from previous guest bloggers that want to submit a post under another name, even a fake one. I normally do not accept these types. I am very selective when accepting guest blog posts and encourage others to do the same.

Why?

Well, I want my readers to read posts from real people who they can connect with. There are too many available guest writers wanting to post that are actually using it as a way to make money. I respect that people need to make a living, but not when it may be the fact my readers are not able to connect with my guest bloggers.

Getting money to get a backlink on someone’s site, well, that means someone is making money off of me and I just gave kudos to their client in the person’s author bio. Of course, I do not publish guest posts, but I walk away knowing that my readers know who is writing and that they are eager to respond back.

I want real people to guest post, not middle men (or middle women.) I deserve it. AND…. so do you.

Even if you have a site that is fairly new, you should be selective about who you let on board. You want guest bloggers who want to interact with your readers, not someone there for just a backlink for a business. Of course, in some cases, and I say this is a not often, you may find a business who have relevant topics for your blog and wanting to interact. Great! That is what you want.

While I am sure you are eager to push out content, making sure it is quality and done honestly is just as important. You never know- you could be inviting plagiarism, spun articles that do not have much value, and much more. There is a big market out there in the freelance world looking for writers and article re-writers who will basically ghost write and allow their articles to be spun maybe a hundred times and sold to clients to disperse around the Internet.

Make sure when you are allowing guest writers on board to establish a set of rules and also, you need to follow up with them. Guest writers who are not actively responding to comments on articles they have written obviously have no care other than money. They do not even care that their client they represented got a backlink from your site nor are they held to any rules to respond to articles written.

I am sure there are quite a few people who may not agree with my thoughts on this matter, but it is a choice I made. I was tired of seeing it on other blogs and stopped it from continuing on mine as those posts in the end held little value to encourage my readers to engage.

Are you selective when accepting guest blog posts? What tips do you have from your own experience?

Trendy Web Design Is Not Always For You

The web has come a LONG way. I am pretty sure in that first sentence alone, all of you can agree and maybe you have heard something similar said from other people. The problem is that there are still a lot of trends floating around that people still want to stick to. However, for branding purposes, trendy web design is not always for you.

When you started your own website, you had something in mind. Maybe it was the colors? Maybe it was a vision for the logo? Maybe it was the format of the website itself? Many of us are influenced by other websites that are doing well, but many have a site design that has become the trend.

Their site is successful so if you have a similar format, you might be successful too… that is probably what you are thinking? However, where is your individuality? What makes you different from that person? Obviously, you want to have some influence and authority, but not be confused with sites you were inspired to emulate.

Here are a few tips to step away from having a trendy web site design.

  • Brainstorm what you believe is really necessary for your website.
  • If you prefer a general format of a trendy website, think of ways in designing it to make it your own.
  • Try not to emulate another company’s or individuals logo. You want to be memorable, so be unique.
  • Be on top of your niche market. Research all sites in your market and see what other website elements are successful. Try those and see how they work for you.

Please note when I say website elements, or site elements, I mean things like featured content sliders, newsletter subscription modules, marketing funnels, how posts are formatted design-wise, and more.

So, in conclusion, whether you are putting together a website for the first time or doing a revamp, think about how you can be unique and memorable, not just another trendy looking website.

How have you broken away from trendy design? What advise do you have for others who may still be struggling with branding their websites to reflect themselves or their business?

WordCamp St. Louis 2011: Matt Mullenweg’s Town Hall Q&A

WordCampers were delighted to see Matt Mullenweg attend WordCamp St. Louis 201. He took attendees through an informal Town Hall question and answer session. However, before sharing the questions and answers, here were a couple facts Matt shared about WordPress: 1, WordPress passed 50 million sites and 2, WordCamp San Francisco 2011 surpassed selling 1000+ tickets.

Now on with questions:

What is Automattic?
Automattic is a company founded 5 and a half yrs ago. Matt said he felt like services were not being easily addressed and employed people to address those issues (spam, polls, comments, etc.)

Is there a roadmap to mobile for WordPress? How will it change?
Matt laughed and began with, “Ah, the internet in your pocket.”

Matt expressed that at first, mobile development for WordPress was a mistake and said that basically developers were cramming WordPress into phones that could not handle it – too many steps to do things and not very capatible.

For the future, he hopes that mobile capabilities become more streamlined and even with version 3.3, making it more web responsive. He added that currently the Twenty Eleven theme does have responsive design and to try it out.

What can we do to support WordPress?

  • Come to WordCamp
  • Word of mouth- tell ur friend
  • Support and share your WordPress knowledge with others
  • Attend local WordPress meetup groups
  • Help develop

There were talks in 2010 that WordPress might be acquired by Microsoft?
NO…pure rumor.

What are some plans for WordPress Foundation?
Matt briefly covered that the WordPress Foundation because a 501.3c non-profit organization. He also shared that both the intellectual property and trademark of WordPress were moved under the control of the WordPress Foundation.

He noted that some of the beginning tasks dealt with cleaning up sites that were misusing the trademark.

As for the future, Matt expressed that he Would like to see WordPress Foundation dabble in education and Women in Technology. Also, in terms of WordCamps, the WordPress Foundation would become a financial backup resource in case there were not enough sponsors found.

Are there any future WordPress multi-site plans???
Matt mentioned that currently plugins for multi-site are not that great, however, there are plans to do more network admin cleanups.

WordCamp St. Louis 2011: Core Q&A

At WordCamp St. Louis, WordPress Lead Developer Peter Westwood (@westi) opened the floor for a question and answer session.

Here were some of the questions asked:

What does a WordPress core developer do?
WordPress core developers do triaging bugs and trac.

How can you contribute to the Core Handbook?
Contact Peter Westwood.

How do you centralize updates in core?
1. core.trac.wordpress.org
2. weekly meeting in dev irc 4P UTC on Thurs (List of IRC Channels on WordPress Codex)
3. wpdevel.wordpress.com
4. wp-hackers mailing list and testing mailing list

What is target version release goal for WordPress?
3 to 4 per year in order to try to get more focused releases instead of waiting so much longer for new features

What are some key features that may be expected in future?

  • Media- improve uploader.
  • Make it easier for plugins to integrate better
  • Better theme options
  • Better overall experience

Thoughts on WordPress and mobile???? (Peter’s thoughts)
Definitely an area to improve.

Is there any plans to improve backend search in WordPress? (hard to find a post based on keywords)
Right now, it is not something currently put to core at the moment.

Will WordPress drop IE7 support for 3.3?
A little too soon for future 3.3.

Standardization on custom fields?
Something that could be on the table maybe 3.4.

Where are unit tests?
Codex instructions for Unit Testing WordPress.

How features are prioritized?
Usually WordPress ideas forum (where users can submit idea and even vote.)

What are some upcoming updates to expect?

  • WordPress.com- improving import and export process
  • WordPress core- bringing HTML to email capabilities

30 Day Challenge With Sponsored Tweets PRO – Start

So, I decided to try out about a week ago the Sponsored Tweets PRO membership to really see if it makes any difference in gaining more paid to tweet opportunities.

With the system, apparently my membership would put me closer to the advertiser and not so far down as the ‘low man on the totem pole.’ This idea for experimenting came about as I combed the Sponsored Tweets support forum and the majority of the comments about it was just disappointing.

While I get a free 30 day trial on the system, I am going to be gathering comments from other PRO users, reveal if I actually got a decent opportunity or two, and share my final thoughts.

I am glad Izea is making money on their properties, but I think with so many users in the program, the advertising programs they offer, and more, the system, seems to have deviated off its original path and only become useful to those with large follower accounts. These larger follower counts do not necessarily have a great “true” reach – meaning they might have 80,000 followers, but maybe a reach that is 5 to 10 percent of that number.

It makes me wonder if even the Klout system, also an Izea property, is as accurate as it should be or perhaps another faulty system.

So, follow me on my journey.