EntreCard Love, Facts, & Friends: Tips to Make it Work for You

I have just completed one month of participation with the Blog Traffic Generation Tool EntreCard, and I have been exceptionally pleased. After just one month using EntreCard, my blog traffic is up, my Alexa and Technorati Ranks are up, I have a Google Page Rank of 4, yada, yada, yada. But more importantly, I'm having fun blogging again. I've made some awesome new friends, I've participated in some lively debates, and I've had the chance to collaborate with other bloggers all over the world.

My purpose in writing this post is to share with you what I have learned and to help you make EntreCard work for you by sharing some insights with you. So if you use EntreCard, I hope you'll read this. But first, I want to share some love. The following awesome people with great blogs are those that have dropped the most EntreCards on my blog in the last 30 Days:

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Simon in Australia hasn't missed a day dropping on MTMD

DROP AND RUN and DROPPING POLICIES
After one month of dropping 150-250 cards a day, I've come across a lot of posts complaining about the phemenomen known as the "Drop and Run." These are EntreCard users who drop their card and go on to another site without reading or commenting on the site they've dropped on. My response to these complainers, with no disrespect intended, is just to get over yourself. Seriously. Card Dropping takes time. It generally takes two-three hours to drop 150-250 cards. That's a significant amount of time every day. I don't think there are many people, unless blogging is their full time profession, who can spend that amount of time, read every new post, comment on every post, and write their own posts while fitting in their lives somewhere else in the day.

I admit it, I Drop and Run. I have no choice. I have limited access to highspeed internet, so I'm pretty much confined to dropping before I go into work, while I'm on lunch break from work, or after my work for the day is done. Dropping is a serious time committment. However, that doesn't mean that I don't read the posts. The trick is to catch the eye of the card dropper.

CATCH THE EYE
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The ways you make card droppers stop and look at your blog are very simple:
  • Keep your content fresh, update your blog every day or every other day. Nothing makes me want to drop and run more than a blog that hasn't been updated in a week or more.

  • Use Eye-catching graphics. I can't emphasize this enough. My most popular posts are my Almost Wordless Wednesday posts because I open the posts with eye-catching, beautiful, and dramatic graphics. If all you're feeding your readers is text, they're less likely to stay around long enough to find the content that interests them.

  • Create interesting content. There are so many blogs that make posts whining or complaining about something. Their health, blog traffic sites like EntreCard, their alexa rank. To be honest, nobody really cares. If your blog is a personal blog diary and you have a loyal readership, most of your readers will care that you're not feeling well. But Card droppers won't. So if you must write about your sickness, don't do it in a whiny way about how horrible you feel. Do some research. If you have the flu, find images of the flu virus, find maps of the disease spread. Talk about how the flu mutates every year and write about how the health organizations guess at what vaccines will work for the strains and how they determine that. That stuff is interesting. The fact that you have the flu and that you feel horrible is not.

  • Clean up your blog! I can't emphasize this enough. Blogs that are covered with every widget and button and blog award known to man or woman, ads everywhere, sidebars that don't load correctly because images in them are too wide, music that autoplays.... All this stuff slows down load time and makes it harder to find your content--which is why a visitor will want to stick around and read your blog. Organize your sidebars, and eliminate anything that really isn't essential. I mean really, do I need to see a sidebar that takes up my whole screen showing me where your last 20 readers came from geographically and from what IP address or link referrer? I really don't because as a reader, I don't care.
If you catch my eye, whether it be a snappy headline, a beautiful graphic, or a great page layout, I promise you I'll pause from my dropping and take a look around. More importantly, most others will too.

RECIPROCITY, MY DROPPING HABITS and POLICY
Some people that I have had conversations with also wonder why people drop on their site infrequently or in spurts or why they stop dropping altogether. Having discussed what catches my eye, I now want to cover briefly the insights I've learned about how people drop their entrecards, and specifically, how I drop mine. Because some sites I do drop on every day, but for most others, I'm less regular.

Basically, dropping cards for me, as I've already stated, has to be arranged around my time, mostly during the day, when I'm not working. I'm a reciprocal kind of guy. If you drop on me, I'm usually going to drop on you. But not always. The way I go about dropping is this:
  • First, when I first log on to entrecard, I go to my dashboard. Every entrecard that is currently at the top of my screen I will drop on right then. I will drop on all those cards, from left to right, and I will follow every entrecard on each of those sites until I run into a dead end: a card being advertised I've already dropped on, or one I have chosen not to drop on because of how long the page takes to load, or one in which I've decided I just don't like the blog.

  • Second, after that, I will drop on every single one of the advertisers for my widget currently in the cue. They're advertising on my site, it's only fair that I drop on them. Maybe I'll want to learn more about them and read their blogs. My advertisers usually become favorites.

  • Third, I will click on the statistics tab, and click on all of the blogs listed as the most frequent card droppers on my site (The top 10 I recognized at the top of this post.), then I will click on all those sites listed that I had advertised on that generated the most clicks to my site, and finally, I'll click on the last box in the category that shows the greatest cost per click value yield.
By this time, I've probably already dropped cards on 75-150 blogs.
  • Lastly, the end of my blogging day is the most fun for me. I save all my favorites for last--the blogs I have favorite on my EntreCard page, or the blogs I have linked to on my sidebar, or the blog communities I have joined--such as Red Hot Drops.


    I click on my dashboard, and go to my favorites, and then I drop on each and every one of them depending on my time available. I'll either hit these blogs every day, or at the least, every other day--depending on how they usually update their sites.
So if you want me to drop on you, and drop on you regularly--be one of the Top 10 Droppers on my site as reported by EntreCard statistics, Advertise on my site, Generate a lot of traffic to my site when I advertise on yours, promote my blog and give me a reason to link to you directly, or simply become one of my favorites. It's that simple.

FUN STUFF: MAKING FRIENDS AND BUILDING A LOYAL READERSHIP
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Bree, or Roxy--she answers to both--at Roxiticus Desperate Housewives, Matt at Matt-Speak, Henson Ray at Henson's Hell and my friend from Nova Scotia at Sizzling Popcorn.com have all become my best blogging friends because of comments I left on their posts, recommendations I wrote for their blogs on EntreCard, or both.

It's easy to make friends in the blogosphere. If you read something that interests you, comment on the post. If you see something that catches your eye, comment. If someone advertises on your EntreCard widget, send them an EntreCard message thanking them. If someone has formed a blog promotion community, see if it's right for you and decide if you should join. It's like your mother always said: If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all (or write it), and if you do have something nice to say, shout it with a great barbaric yalp from the rooftop of the world. (Yeah, Whitman is one of my favorite poets.)

Roxy and I read each other's blogs every day, comment on each other's posts, have running discussions in the comments section on our blogs and on others on whom we've commented on, and we vote for each other in Battle of the Blogs on another blog promotion site Blog Explosion.

Matt and I get into great discussions and debates, our posts have sparked ideas resulting in other posts on each other's blogs, and we're looking at collaborating on another project together.

Henson Ray just wrote the first guest post I've hosted on my site in two years, and it's awesome. It'll be up Monday morning and I really hope you'll all spend a few minutes to read it. It's very insightful, but mostly it's f*cking hilarious as Henson reminisces about some early camping experiences.

And my as yet nameless friend from Sizzling Popcorn will be collaborating, Siskel and Ebert/Ebert and Roeper style on a movie review for the upcoming film: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. The movie comes out Friday. Look for our review late Friday night or early Saturday.

See, these are the things you need to do to build your blogging community. You need to comment, you need to interact, you need to drop cards, you need to engage other bloggers. You can wish for traffic and hope that people will find you through your EntreCard, but don't expect a lot of results. EntreCard is a tool. And like every tool that works, it has to be used and you have to expend some elbow grease using it.

So in conclusion: Drop on the blogs that drop on you. They will become loyal droppers and should stick around to read your blog. Clean up your blog to attract the eye of casual browsers and droppers. Comment, comment, comment on posts that interest you and that you admire or blogs that you like. People love compliments, so always be positive. It's okay to disagree in a comment, but be respectful and keep it objective. It's never personal, or at least it shouldn't be.

I hope this post is at least informative for those of you reading it. If it helps just one of you, writing it has been more than worth my time. And I want to extend a sincere thanks to the bloggers who drop on me religiously, who accept my ads on their widgets, who generate traffic to my site, and whom I hope, are becoming regular readers and fans of MTMD. Thank you, my friends.

And thanks for reading.

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13 comments:

Matt said...

Very good post, Matt. Leave it to you to say what you think, lol. I think you might ruffle a few feathers with this one, as you know how much effort people put into their sites, and even constructive criticism like the points you made in this post will not go over well. But you are right, one must have a "catchy" title or terrific graphic above their newest post to make someone want to stop and read it. That's what works for me. I have very limited time to do all of my LinkReferral requirements and Entrecard dropping as well, not to mention participating in other blogs and updating my own, so the ones I stop to read have caught my attention. I also like a clean, uncluttered site, and have often wondered if I should take the "Reviews" and Feedjit traffic feed off my sidebar, but I only have the feedjit because I love to see where my readers/viewers come from. I guess I could hide it, maybe. But, you know the one that really surprises me is the photo slideshow in my sidebar. I almost didn't put it on there because I felt people wouldn't care about my personal pictures, but the opposite has proven to be true. In my LinkReferral reviews I am always getting comments on how much someone enjoyed viewing my pictures. It really surprised me. But I agree on the music; I think it is cool to be able to put music on your site, but most people will not share your favorites in music and will not want to listen to it. It is good for the site owner to listen to while making news posts, though, so I don't have anything against people putting it on their sites (that's what volume control is for). lol

May 10, 2008 12:34 PM
Matt said...

Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot to thank you for mentioning my site in your post, and for showing my card. It's always fun having an intelligent debate with someone who is as passionate about a subject as I am. Thanks, again, Matt.

May 10, 2008 12:37 PM
LizzyT said...

Great post. I must admit I don't comment on every post, but I do read every post that catches my eye. It is very difficult to make a large number of drops, I think the most I have done is 100.

May 10, 2008 4:06 PM
Matthew S. Urdan said...

Matt,

Thank you for such an awesome comment! I hope I won't ruffle any feathers because that was not my intent. Every blogger has the freedom to create the site they want for their own purposes. I'm just addressing the issues that are frequent and consistent complaints that I have seen some bloggers post about why all "EntreCard" is an artificial site traffic generator; and I tried to offer some insight as to what makes someone "Drop and Run" and what catches the eye and compels someone to stick around for a little, read posts, and comment.

Everything is a process. Blog creation is a process. I have a lot of extraneous material in my own sidebar, but I hope to streamline and make it more relevant upon a template update I am in the process of making. Still, everything I put in that sidebar has to have a legitamate reason because it takes up bandwith. If it's not adding to the content of the site and is not a valuable resource for my site's readers, then I have to look hard at myself to determine if it truly needs to be there, and the same is true for every blogger.

I'm certainly not pointing fingers at bloggers or complaining about specific sites. If a site wants ads, great. If a site wants buttons and widgets everywhere because the blogger thinks they're cool, I am nobody to judge. However, for me, and a large number of bloggers and web browsers and EntreCard droppers, some of these features, while definitely cool, are an unneeded hindrance that detract from the focus of the blog.

Certainly, a blogger should pick and choose what he or she wants. But it's like my mother always said: "Everything in Moderation."

And if a blogger is offended by this post because I'm calling a spade a spade, well then, the blogger should really look in the mirror. This post, I hope, is completely constructive and anonymous. If a blogger gets offended because the blogger perceives that some of the points I make apply to him or her, well I can't control that. But I would ask that offended blogger to evaluate objectively if what I say is valid or not for him or her. If my comments are valid, then the blogger should make a change. If my comments are out of left field, the blogger should just laugh and move on. I'm certainly not insulting anyone or trying to put anyone down.

Whew! Long-winded I is.

And anyway, you also missed my comments where I thanked everyone for supporting my blog--including yourself--as a card dropper, as a contributor, as a commenter, as a reader. Something about MTMD catches some people's eyes. And for the eyes I catch--my audience--I want to inform, provoke (being the fomenter that I am), and entertain.

Lizzy, thanks for your comments and the validation, I really appreciate them.

Cheers!

May 10, 2008 5:41 PM
Dave said...

Great post, Many of us here find it hard to drop as many as possible, I'm lucky because i have an internet connection at work that allows me to reciprocate quite well as long as im in the office and not out looking at jobs, Occasionally my job takes me away which is always hard, but work pays the bills, Blogging pays nothing when done for enjoyment.
I usually browse through peoples posts but as you mentioned in your post, It needs to grab the attention.

Hopefully have the guest post in a day or 2.

May 10, 2008 7:00 PM
LadyJava said...

Wow Matt.. This is an awesome post. Very useful tip and definitely worth paying attention too.. and you're right.. dropping is serious stuff and does take time..so it really does help if the page loads fast and the widget is right there on the fold :)

And thanks for the mention of Hot Red Drops. Much appreciated.. Btw.. am on my rounds now :)

See you later :)
LadyJava

PS.. perhaps we'll see each other at Roxy's blog.. am a regular there too :)

May 10, 2008 10:23 PM
Mariuca said...

Hi Matt! What an excellent post! I love how you do your drops, it's similar to how I do mine. Always the ones at my Dashboard first, followed by those that are featuring my EC, then the ones in line to advertise at my blog etc...and of course RHD fits somewhere in between! :)

Oh yeah, the drop and run complaint is getting kinda old...it's very hard to complete the 300 clicks and sometimes drop n run is the only practical way. I will usually drop by and comment when I come across my regulars or a post that catches my eye! Fair enough right? ;)

May 11, 2008 1:39 AM
Dee S. said...

great post. I like blogging again because of entrecard, too. What I like most is visiting blogs I never would have visited otherwise

May 11, 2008 7:07 AM
Henson Ray said...

Great post, Matt. Lots of great info. I think your comment on the "drop and run" complainers is accurate. However, I find if I drop on someone's site on a regular basis, I sort of get to know them through osmosis. (Especially their Entrecard graphic)And often, I will then stop and read something if the title or the graphic catches my attention (as you said). I rarely EVER read people's blogs where they talk about blogging or their ratings or anything like that---as you said, who cares? If you write something interesting and original, I'll stop. But if you're just out there filling space with other people's content, or complaining how your blog isn't getting enough hits, then why should I ever come back? (After all, I have the same issues. Why do I need to hear about yours as well?)
In closing, I've found Entrecard to be one of the best ways to actually interact with other bloggers. You see a lot of cool sites, and meet people you never would have otherwise.

May 11, 2008 7:29 AM
Ken Armstrong said...

I'm like the guy on the phone-in show where the guy before him said most of what I wanted to say!

Henson's point about getting to know people by osmosis is well made.

Maybe every visitor doesn't stop and read your entire archive but getting them to your blog is a great first step. It's like putting-in-golf (which I don't play anymore) you have to get the ball up to the hole to give it a chance to fall in. Similarly, get the folks onto your page then do what you can to pique their interest.

I drop a bit like you do but less orderly :)

May 11, 2008 10:39 AM
Matthew S. Urdan said...

All, thanks for taking the time to stop by, read, and comment on this very long post! It's much appreciated.

Dave, looking forward to the post!

LadyJava, thanks for the validation and the very kind words! I'm at Roxy's blog every day, so no doubt we'll cross paths there!

Mariuca, thanks for the validation and the kind words! You're absolutely right, it's very fair just to comment on your regular reader's posts, or on posts that you come across that catch your eye. If they don't catch your eye, chances are it isn't worth reading (for you) in the first place.

Also, thanks for the tag. I'll get to that later this week. I've got my blogging all done through Thursday and the posts have been made--they're just waiting in the blogger scheduler for the time stamp I put on them to come around.

Dee, thanks for the kind words and the validation. I couldn't agree with you more. EntreCard has introduced me to blogs I never would have found otherwise. I now have a solid core group that I try to visit every day.

Henson, you're absolutely right. Over time, when you drop on a blog repeatedly, even if you're just dropping and running, you get to know some basic stuff about a blog: how often it's updated, what the theme looks like, the graphics, the entrecard graphic....If a blogger drops on me consistently, I'll often pause and look around before dropping and running. And I'll echo what you and Dee both said about meeting people you never would have met otherwise. You're one of those great people.

Ken, yeah, in the blogosphere it's typical for someone else to beat you to the punch. But I think it's clear we're all of a like mind.

Also, the way I drop isn't necessarily the best way. My style is a little rigid, but I find it maximizes the use of my time. But every once and a while I deviate. I think all writers do--when you come across something by chance that seems worthwhile, it's often worth the time to follow the road less travelled to see how it will pan out, even if it's not part of the program.

Matt--so far no negativity or criticisms, I'm actually kind of surprised, but gratified.

Cheers all!

May 11, 2008 4:14 PM
Periapex said...

Sure, dropping EntreCards is what it's all about. But that's the face value. I've met some interesting and fun bloggers through EC and for me, that's the reward.

I don't think you or I would have chanced upon each other's blogs without EC.

May 12, 2008 12:42 PM
The Handyguys said...

Matt - You mentioned having people stick around. I found your blog by accident and did stick around so I thought I would post. It led me to read about entrecards and to think about how to promote http://www.handyguyspodcast.com/ I'm not sure about the EC thing. I need to understand the concept better. Anyway, thanks for a good post.

May 13, 2008 8:09 AM

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