FOWA: How to Turn your App into a Business (Ted Rheingold) [en]

[fr] Notes prises à l'occasion de la conférence Future of Web Apps (FOWA) à Londres.

*Here are my live notes of [Ted Rheingold](http://dogster.com/)’s [Future of Web Apps (FOWA)](http://www.futureofwebapps.com/) session. They are probably incomplete and may contain mistakes, though I do my best to be accurate. [Suw also blogged this session.](http://strange.corante.com/archives/2007/10/03/fowa07b_ted_rheingold.php)*

*Blogged Ted earlier this year at Reboot when he was encouraging us to [learn about cats and dogs](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/05/31/reboot9-ted-rheingold-learning-from-dogs-and-cats/).*

Simple idea: let people make web pages for their dogs and cats. Realised later that this could actually be a business.

FOWA 2007 64

What does it take to be a business? Suddenly all sorts of words like CTO, CEO, Incorporating, Titles… start flying around.

But mainly, being a business is about **generating revenue**, or at least having a pretty good idea where it’s going to come from. If you don’t have an idea how you’re going to make money, you’re going to run out of money.

Important: don’t think there is a new economy. There’s new technology, but **the economy hasn’t really changed**.

Dogster and Catster make money from advertising, partnerships, people subscribing… A lot like a magazine. Virtual gifts. You’re maybe disrupting the economy, but not creating a whole new one.

**Learn your market.** It took Ted a long time to learn these markets. You can’t pretend to know where the advertising goes because you’ve read magazines. Also, get ready to learn other markets. Ted thought at some point they were going to do classifieds, spent a lot of time trying to figure it out, but nobody was interested in their classifieds, so that failed. Don’t get overly attached.

**Get advisers.** People who understand the industry you’re in. But also people who understand how to run a business.

**Learn business finance.** Know how much money you need to spend, etc. Forecasting expenses, revenues. Some of these things are actually pretty basic, but you need to be comfortable with them. Don’t spend any money you don’t have to. If you’re cheap with your employees and your contractors, they may leave (*steph-note: indeed!*), if you’re cheap with your hosting your site might go down, if you don’t trademark your logo/names…

**Sell, sell, sell.** Ted is a designer, not a salesperson. Nobody is going to sell your business for me. Everything changed for Ted when he brought in a business partner. (Not an employee!) Important to choose well. It will be years of partnering with that person, startups don’t usually get bought. You need somebody who is as passionate as you are.

**Make your business a business.**

Very hard to make money on AdSense or that kind of advertising unless you’re serving millions and millions of pages. Sponsors and partnerships are more viable. Even a small market is interesting if it’s targeted. Subscription: emotional thing. Be part of the team. To show their support.

*steph-note: lost some of the Q&A because of running around with the microphone.*

Fail fast. They just removed classifieds three months ago. Important to see if the changes you’re thinking about are really worth it financially.

Q: when did you decide it could be a viable business?

A: thought it would be a kind of passive business where he’d get a check every month from advertising for a bit of maintenance here and there. Month 3, 10’000 people joined the site. A lot! Way more than he thought. Used the wisdom of his crowds to think about it, and then sat on it for a while before making the big decision. Making sure people are using it and spending as little money as possible the whole time.

Hiring is a real pain, specially if you want to be ethical about it (don’t want to hire somebody and lay him off three months later).

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Short FOWA Complaint [en]

[fr] FOWA: wifi foireux et peu d'accès aux prises d'alimentation. C'est suffisant pour gâcher une bonne partie de la conférence pour les participants-blogueurs (surtout si on leur a donné un passe pour couvrir la conférence en direct)...

I’m here to live-blog, which must be a recognised activity as I got a “blogger” pass for it. However: **the wifi is crap** (sorry, I know it’s easy to complain, but it’s making my life difficult — uploading photos is a nightmare), and **the power plugs are right at the back of the room**. I think that crappy wifi and lack of power supplies are two things which can single-handedly ruin a good part of the conference experience for blogging attendees. Oh, and the rows are so tight that unless you sit in the front row, there isn’t enough space to type comfortably.

Do they really believe that people live-blogging the sessions are going to sit right at the back of the room? I take photos too, so I need to be in front. And the whole “power up then go back to it” idea just doesn’t work: there’s a session going on while I “power up” which I might want to follow!

Then, please let me say a word about the £4 sandwich I bought at the break. I know this is England, but… arghl! There are water fountains at the back of the room, but really (particularly when you’re blogging) bottles are way more practical. Which reminds me… I have an empty bottle with me, so I’ll do something smart and fill it up instead of just complain aimlessly (blame a bad day yesterday, food deprivation, and dehydration).

Oh, and next time, I have to remember that these boots are **not** good for sitting cross-legged on the floor. The talk in this room (which I’m only half-listening to, unfortunately) is about accessibility and actually sounds very interesting. I saw Suw typing madly a bit further down the row, so hopefully I’ll be able to read about it.

Aside from that, I’m really happy to be here and see everybody!

SET MODE GRUMPY OFF

**Update**: [Suw wasn’t very happy](http://strange.corante.com/archives/2007/10/03/at_the_future_of_web_apps_autumn_07.php) either.

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FOWA: We've Got This Community: Now What? (Heather Champ & Derek Powazek) [en]

[fr] Notes prises à l'occasion de la conférence Future of Web Apps (FOWA) à Londres.

*Here are my live notes of this [Future of Web Apps (FOWA)](http://www.futureofwebapps.com/) session with [Heather Champ](http://hchamp.com) and [Derek Powazek](http://powazek.com/). They are probably incomplete and may contain mistakes, though I do my best to be accurate. Chances are I’ll be adding links to extra material later on, so don’t hesitate to come back and check. See [Derek’s post about this](http://powazek.com/posts/717), and [Suw’s notes of this session](http://strange.corante.com/archives/2007/10/03/fowa07b_heather_champ_derek_powazek.php).*

FOWA 2007 7

Telling stories.

**Chelm Sweet Chelm**

Angels, trying to distribute something (?), and one of the sacks ripped and the contents spread out in the valley, and that valley became the town of Chelm (idiots). *steph-note: sorry, very confused, wasn’t concentrated.*

So, lots of stories around that. When you run a community site, you sometimes feel like you are living in Chelm. How can you make the most of your life in Chelm?

Heather and Derek are going to tell us some Chelm stories.

Derek will tell the first one, because it’s embarrassing to Heather’s employer.

Yahoo including **photos tagged “wii”** in a page. But you don’t really tell anybody about it. Users revolt: start tagging all sorts of things “wii”:

FOWA 2007 15

Heather: being the mothership, you’re always held to **higher standards** by your community. Do the right thing, *beyond* the legal requirements. Yahoo had the right to do this, but that didn’t make it “right”.

Derek: provide copious opt-outs.

FOWA 2007 17

Heather: last year, Flickr realised they were going to have to take the DB down (it was bad). So they decided to [turn it into a contest](http://flickr.com/photos/tags/flickrcolourcontest) instead of just displaying the “massage” message. Something like 2000 different entries. People responded really well. Gave away something like 16 Pro accounts instead of the 1 they had planned.

Derek: when you fucked up, say you fucked up. Confess. **You can earn a lot of credibility like that.** [When you suck](http://blog.flickr.com/2005/07/21/sometimes-we-suck/), own up.

FOWA 2007 18

Other example: FOWA sending out marketing e-mail to the “wrong list”, the ones who had opted out. “We screwed up!”

**Don’t keep score.** Here are the top… can be a really excellent way to motivate people when you’re playing a game. But with most web apps, it’s not about playing a game, it’s about sharing your photographs, telling stories… Use these scoreboards *when* you want to play a game. Otherwise it can actually work *against* your community.

Heather: Flickr interestingness. This is the only place in the Flickrverse where people are ranked. It was pretty bad when they launched (500 most…). It created aggravation and angst. Now it’s a randomly loaded page.

Derek: the goal of interestingness is to see some interesting photos. The error was showing them in a ranked order. “Hey, look how many photos are more interesting than mine!” Gaming behaviour can lead to a negative experience. (e.g. people trying to get to the front page of digg.)

Use scores where they make sense.

Heather: important to put an **editorial layer** on the “stuff”. “Contribute a photo of your day”: 20’000 people in the group, 7000 contributed photos, and 122 selected to be in the book. One way of bringing people to the forefront and rewarding them in a more collaborative way than just ranking.

Derek: producing print stuff is often seen as a money-maker. But actually, **providing physical real-life things is actually a great motivator to encourage people to participate in your online community**. JPEG Mag. Great photographers online, but never seeing anything in print. Getting published in the book was enough to get people motivated to participate in the virtual community.

Rip that band-aid (Heather): the [old skool merge](http://www.flickr.com/help/forum/32687/) thing. Flickr knew at some point they would have to migrate everyone to Yahoo IDs. Waited 18 months, and at some point… it’ll be in 6 weeks. Significant change that’s difficult for the community: don’t wait 18 months. 6 weeks is a good time. Discuss about it, answer people, but then do it, hold firm. **Sometimes you have to do things that are unpopular.** If Flickr hadn’t waited 18 months… would probably not have been that painful.

Derek: **community, manage thyself**. Give people the tools they need so that they can be the community manager for you. Build tools to support that. In Flickr: I manage comments for my own photos. It’s my spot, so I’m my own community manager. Heather: it allows people to establish the guidelines for themselves.

**Community expectations:** Heather loves lawyers. Pages and pages of terms of service. Expectations of what your role is to be in that community. Flickr didn’t have community guidelines when it began. At some point, they understood they needed a way to put those expectations in human-readable format. “Don’t be creepy. You know the guy. Don’t be that guy.” 4-5 bullet points. Doesn’t supercede the TOS, but helps make expectations understood. Understand that nobody reads those legalese TOS.

Derek: **don’t create supervillains**. We usually have sites with free membership. Anybody can create an account. First community moderation tool: “boot member”. But the booted member can come back, create another free account, but this time he’s pissed. Booting people creates supervillains. Come up with clever ways to minimize their damage, contact them directly, person-to-person. Design community so one person can’t make too much damage. E.g. one site, if you get on their “bad list”, the site just gets slower and slower for you. That’s clever!

Heather: members of your community are passionate. Passionately good, and passionately… passionate.

Derek: **know your audience**. Eg. Tahoe thing: create your own ad. But actually, all you could do was actually add some text. So they went wild, of course. Be careful how tiny the box is you put people in. Here it was tiny, people rebelled. You couldn’t do much. Constraints are good, but if there are too many, people rebel. Also, their site was available to everybody on the internet, not just Tahoe owners.

Last and most important lesson: **embrace the chaos**. When you create something where people have a voice, they’ll do something you don’t expect.

Heather: small company which had 4 computers stolen, one of the laptops had PhotoBooth set up to upload automatically to Flickr. Some dude with astounding tattoos unwittingly uploaded PhotoBooth photos to the company’s Flickr stream. “OMG, this could be the guy who got our computer!” To cut a long story short, this guy was “known to the police”, and his lawyer saw a piece about this in the local paper, and told him to turn himself in… which he did.

Ex: person who used geolocating photos to spell “fuck” over Greenland. Lots of hard work there!

Incorporate these things as you go forward.

Derek: pet profiles on Friendster, which they wiped out in a week-end! Created a business opening for Dogster/Catster. When people misuse your site, they’re telling you there’s something to do there. **Sometimes the misuse is the most valuable input you can get**.

Q: how do you deal with requirements from the mother company regarding the way you manage your community?

A (Heather): not much has “come down”. Often, the answer is education. Talk to people — lots of misguided “requirements” come from the fact they don’t really understand your community.

Derek: **design for selfishness**.

Q: How do you balance community with commerce?

A (Derek): fable that community and commerce have to be separate, but that’s wrong. We talk about “commerce” a lot with our friends (products, etc). JPEG: been very upfront about “what we’re doing with your work”, “what you get out of it”. Set expectations well in the beginning.

Heather: two kinds of Flickr accounts. Pro, you don’t see ads. Is it worth the money for user X? Running a community costs money. Somebody has to pay for it. “The web is free”: to a certain extent, but when it involves huge amounts of hardware, somebody has to pay for it.

Q: (?)

A (Heather): if you have a global community, you want to ensure that people can express themselves — but when it gets member-on-member, that makes her uncomfortable (abuse). “What’s acceptable in the community?” Have a “report abuse” link in the footer of every page of the site. If you come down too hard saying “you can’t say that”… Trout-slapping. Huge question. Some people join communities just to be trolls.

Derek: if something inappropriate is happening in a global forum, create a place where it’s appropriate, and send people there to discuss it, so the rest can get on with their lives.

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FOWA: What is the Future of Web Apps? (Ryan Carson, Om Malik, Michael Arrington) [en]

[fr] Notes prises à l'occasion de la conférence Future of Web Apps (FOWA) à Londres.

*Here are my live notes of this [Future of Web Apps (FOWA)](http://www.futureofwebapps.com/) session with [Om Malik](http://gigaom.com/), [Michael Arrington](http://www.crunchnotes.com/), and [Ryan Carson](http://www.carsonified.com/). They are probably incomplete and may contain mistakes, though I do my best to be accurate. Chances are I’ll be adding links to extra material later on, so don’t hesitate to come back and check.*

*steph-note: arrived really late to this session (not quite as late as Arrington, though), so vaguely trying to pick up a few snippets here and there as I get organized for the day.*

FOWA 2007 3

Gphone. Gphone. Gphone. *steph-note: as I was entering the room.*

Launching a DRM-free music store would be a good business idea right now. But please, says Om, not another Office clone. We have enough.

Plugins. Facebook. [Organizing the buddy-list](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/08/16/we-need-structured-portable-social-networks-spsn/). Facebook Appls: we haven’t seen that many game-changing apps (besides Scrabble, says Om).

Om: Facebook as directory service. Ryan: critical mass. BBC/Radio4 talk about Facebook.

Arrington thinks there is a chance that Facebook will go the [portable social network](http://microformats.org/wiki/social-network-portability) way. (Ryan seemed skeptical.)

Arrington: more mobile stuff, and more “virtual reality” — using your body to interact with the computer.

Om loves his Crackberry.

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On Liveblogging [en]

[fr] Quelques réflexions de la part d'une personne (bibi!) qui prend des notes "live" aux conférences...

[Via Bruno Giussani](http://www.lunchoverip.com/2007/07/tips-from-the-t.html), a post by Ethan Zuckerman [on liveblogging conferences](http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2007/07/27/the-5-4-3-double-play-or-the-art-of-conference-blogging/). Again, a comment turned into a post — so here are some of my thoughts on liveblogging conferences, something I’ve been doing more and more regularly.

No big surprise, my reasons for blogging conferences are quite similar to Ethan and Bruno’s. “Taking notes” helps me concentrate on what is being said, I can search through them later easily, and this kind of “conference coverage” brings new people to my blog. I’m not yet at the stage where I’m being invited to conferences because of my liveblogging-fu — but who knows, in future? (hint, hint)

Here are a few of my comments (go read Ethan’s post first, it’ll make more sense):

– no lapdesk for me — due to RSI, the best place for my keyboard is right on my lap, even if it gets a bit hot.

– I take photos too, so I tend to sit in front, or further back right next to the central alley if there is one (the “distracting to others” side of liveblogging never struck me, but maybe I’m too engrossed in my typing).

– I’m not good at summarizing (like Ethan and Bruno do), so my style of live-blogging is very note-like, with a few “steph-notes” to express my thoughts along the way. Actually, I started liveblogging because I took notes for myself on the computer (RSI has made handwriting “not an option”), and thought “oh well, they’re pretty crap, but I might as well publish them” — and to my surprise, they were very much appreciated.

– I usually publish right at the end of the talk, which means I snap a few photos of the speaker at the beginning of the talk, upload one at some point during the session, and near the end copy my notes from WriteRoom (my editor of choice) into my blogging tool, add tags… I take note of Ethan’s “preparation” tip — I could really do with writing the post titles in advance. There are two reasons I publish fast (in addition to the little thrill I’ll admit to having at the idea my post might be “first up”): first, I get to enjoy the breaks, and second, it helps me continue to convince myself that blogging sessions does not create “extra work” for me — as I do it all during the session.

– One point Ethan does not raise is tiredness — is he immune, or just more resistant than I? Maybe it’s lack of practice, or just the way I’m wired, but I find that I can’t go without breaks. Even without taking RSI into account, my brain just goes liquid and I become incapable of taking in stuff after 2-3 sessions. So, I skip a session once in a while, and even sometimes skip it completely, not even attending.

Ethan mentions collaborating: some people blog, some people take photos, others keep an eye on blogosphere coverage of the conference, etc. I remember how [participants to the BlogTalk 2004 conferences took collaborative notes using SubEthaEdit](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2004/07/08/taking-collaborative-notes-at-blogtalk/). I have to say, I’ve never done it since. That gives me an idea for the next conference I’m going to…

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A Day at WordCamp 2007 [en]

[fr] Résumé des notes prises durant WordCamp.

Today was the first day of [WordCamp 2007](http://2007.wordcamp.org/schedule/). Had a really nice day, met cool people (hi [Daniel](http://dbrusilovsky.wordpress.com/)!), and live-blogged my hands off (almost literally: nasty [RSI flare-up](/tms/) which made me skip two sessions of note-taking). Two sessions in the morning, two in the afternoon, a big two-session break, and then Matt Cutts. I also, of course, took [a bunch of photos](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600938619089/), which, as usually, received far more praise than I think they deserve. I’d like to take this occasion to remind everybody to please [open up tagging to the community, and add tags to my photos as you stroll through them](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/06/20/flickr-open-up-tagging-your-photos-to-the-community-please/).

WordCamp 2007 4

Here are the sessions I live-blogged.

– [Dan Kuykendall, Podcasting and podPress](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/07/21/wordcamp-2007-dan-kuykendall-podcasting-and-podpress/)
– [John C. Dvorak and Om Malik: Blogs vs. Journalism](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/07/21/john-c-dvorak-and-om-malik-blogs-vs-journalism/)
– [Lorelle VanFossen, Kicking Ass Content Connections](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/07/21/wordcamp-2007-lorelle-vanfossen-kicking-ass-content-connections/)
– [Jeremy Wright, Im in ur blogz grabbin’ ur kash! Blog Monetization](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/07/21/wordpress-2007-jeremy-wright-im-in-ur-blogz-grabbin-ur-kash-blog-monetization/)
– [Matt Cutts, Whitehat SEO Tips for Bloggers](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/07/22/wordcamp-2007-matt-cutts-whitehat-seo-tips-for-bloggers/)

So, *what do you think, ;-)* should I start marketing myself as a 2.0 conference live-blogger? (Laying aside the fact RSI *does* limit the number of sessions I can do in a row…)

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WordCamp 2007: Matt Cutts, Whitehat SEO Tips for Bloggers [en]

*Here are my notes of [Matt’s session](http://2007.wordcamp.org/schedule/search-engine-optimization/). Might be inaccurate, blah blah blah. Oh, and RSI, so might be a bit short. Check out the [post on Matt’s blog](http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/speaking-at-wordcamp-later-today/) too.*

**Update, August 2007:** Matt wrote another blog post in which you’ll find [links to his Powerpoint presentation and the video of his talk](http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/whitehat-seo-tips-for-bloggers/).

WordCamp 2007 Matt Cutts

Google doesn’t hate your site. [Some guy](http://alexchiu.com) invented an immortality device (with magnetic rings). His site looks like the love-child of Geocities and MySpace. He claims to have been repressed by Google because of the immortality device. No! Instead, view the source of the page. Ugly things hidden in it! Hundreds of words in a tiny textarea! Hence, the penalty.

Good plugin: [SEO Title](http://www.netconcepts.com/seo-title-tag-plugin/) (swaps the name of your blog with the name of your post).

Don’t put your blog at the root of your domain:

– what if you want something besides a blog?
– people link to main page and main blog page, so you get some extra links that way.

Think about it.

Call your blog “blog” and not “wordpress” — you never know if you might switch.

What do SEOs know that bloggers might not?

**Keywords**

What might people be typing to search for your stuff? example… “[lol kittens](http://flickr.com/photos/tags/lolkittens)”! Don’t spam, but if you know what people are searching for, there are perfectly natural ways of slipping them in your posts. Use synonyms! *steph-note: it’s also better writing than repeating the same words over and over again.* Use this knowledge for good, not for evil!

Use category names which are good keywords. Dashes are best to separate words. Then underscores. No spaces is dreadful.

But wait! If everything is already in place, don’t completely mess up your urls to change. Leave the old stuff as it is, and make the new stuff better.

Use alt tags, or the blind guy at Google will get really angry. 3-4 relevant words. Keep it short.

Q: does having .php .html .asp in the URL make a difference?

A: nope. just avoid .exe 😉

Dynamic URLs are treated just as static URLs. However, keep the number of parameters low.

Should I do an audio podcast, or a video? Well, depends on how pretty you are. If you’re not sure, try hotornot.com.

**Usability**

Make sure your site is crawlable (WP: good).

Q Ben Metcalfe: what about duplicate content WP archives create? Supplementary results?

A: Not too bad, but WP does suffer a bit from the fact you can get to a post from 3-4 different ways. Will have WordPress wishlist at the end of the talk.

Make sure post creation dates are easy to find.

Q: Does Google care about the number of slashes in a URL? (Date in URL)

A: Google doesn’t care about link depth.

**Moving to a new IP**

1. Reduce your DNS time-to-live
2. Back up your site, bring it up on new IP.
3. Watch Googlebot and user traffic until they fetch the site from the new IP address.
4. Take down the old site.

*steph-note: heck, will be doing that soon.*

Q: for mobile/iPhone, different site, or different stylesheet?

A: if you can, different stylesheet.

A2 from public: use Alex King’s wp-mobile plugin

**Moving to new domain**

– use a 301 redirect

better:

– do 301 on one subdirectory and when that is ok do the rest
– write to everyone and ask them to update their links (useful!)
– standardize www or [no-www](http://no-www.org/) but don’t use both, also slash/no-slash

**Free Google tools**

– webmaster console
– feedburner (you can get feeds.mydomain.com rather than feeds.feedburner.com with MyBrand for free *steph-note need to do that!!* so you can leave feedburner…)
– custom search engine
– adsense
– google analytics

**Webmaster Console**

It’s at [google.com/webmasters](http://google.com/webmasters)

A famous web publisher used robots.txt to blog Google completely, then called in a panic “what’s the matter! Google is blocking me!”.

– test robots.txt before pushing live
– submit an authenticated spam report
– remove URLs (for emergencies, useful!)

You can see the backlinks — who’s linking to your site.

Q: can google analytics harm your search results? (?)

A: nope.

You can see crawl errors which can give you hints on making your 404 handling better. Also, tell Google what your preferred domain is (www or not).

“Get noticed, then get traffic from Google” rather than “Get traffic from Google, then get noticed” (*steph-note: yay, exactly the position I defended in a whitepaper on search optimisation for a client!*)

Ideas:

– PDF sign converter
– Lolcat builder
– iPhone app directory
– say Google fast
– sell your moustache on eBay — linkbait!
– free hugs campaign
– tutorials
– analysis
– hunting down wikipedia defaces
– liveblogging
– create controversy (like Dvorak!) — linkbait!
– mention Robert Scoble
– make lists (13 reasons why something rulez/sux0rs)
– …

Be creative! (Well, maybe we need to embrace the fact there are many ways to get attention, and linkbait is one…)

*steph-note: Matt is deadly funny… watch the video of the talk if it exists.*

If you get popular enough, people might want to hack you. You can make your wp-admin accessible only via a whitelist.

A to Q: Google doesn’t look at meta tags much.

Don’t worry about the algorithm too much, focus on compelling content.

If you’re buying/selling links, make sure they don’t affect search engines.

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WordPress 2007: Jeremy Wright, Im in ur blogz grabbin' ur kash! Blog Monetization [en]

*These are my notes of [Jeremy’s session](http://2007.wordcamp.org/schedule/blog-monetization/). They might be inaccurate. I did my best. Reminder: you’re invited to [tag my photos on Flickr](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/06/20/flickr-open-up-tagging-your-photos-to-the-community-please/) if you go off to explore them.*

WordCamp 2007 Jeremy Wright

[b5media](http://www.b5media.com/) is a large blog network. 250 blogs. Finds people who are really passionate about their stuff (gardening, football, cats…) and help them make money with it.

Plan, invite a few random people on stage for an impromptu panel. Open source presentation.

– one person who earns money blogging
– someone who’s earning a cup of coffee a day
– someone who’s thinking about making money with blogs, but just thinking

Quick historical look at blog advertising.

2003: blog advertising was evil. Selling your soul. (It does happen, but by and large bloggers are fairly opinionated, and readers fairly astute at outing fakers.) Before [pay-per-post](http://payperpost.com/), which is [obviously evil](http://www.calacanis.com/2006/06/30/payperpost-stupid-and-evil/), btw.

Now, anybody who wants to, can make a full-time living blogging. *steph-note: I must have misunderstood that.*

There’s a lot of money in blogging. AdSense, TLA, custom campaigns… You do need to put a few months in before you get to full-time pay. You make more money consulting/speaking etc. than actually writing.

3 people:

WordCamp 2007 Panelists Concentrating

– [Eric Nakagawa, Mr. ICanHasCheezburger](http://icanhascheezburger.com/)
– [Michelle Leder](http://footnoted.org/)
– [Julie](http://cottagedaily.com)

Q: picking a topic that will maximize monetization?

A E: we didn’t choose a topic to make money. just wanted to do funny stuff. And people came.

WordCamp 2007 Eric Nakagawa

A M: started four years ago, early blogger (*steph-note: and what am I, then? OMG! dinosaur!*), linked to book she wrote.

WordCamp 2007 Michelle Leder

A J: getting out of unemployment: program, needed an idea, chose to blog about her passion, cottaging.

WordCamp 2007 Julie

Q: ??

A E: wondering what the people who visit our site would be interested in? And match up with relevant advertisers, rather than use AdSense which just scrape your content.

A M: struggling with this question right now. Google ads are not a good match for my audience.

[Lorna Dietz](http://www.radiantview.com/blog/): Philippino community site => gets huge amounts of dating sites with AdSense, annoying!

E: being a full-time blogger is really full-time, so you better really love what you’re blogging about.

JW: reducing the number of ads on a page.

[Ben Metcalfe](http://benmetcalfe.com/blog/): seems the best way to monetize your blog, going down the long tail, is not advertising but adding value with your blog to some other thing you’re going to be able to earn money from.

A M: I make a fair amount of my money through speaking, clearly more than ads.

A E: could make money selling billions of T-shirts, but do you really want to do this? We’re just trying to do this and see how long we can push it.

A J: making videos of wakeboard stuff, hoping to attract a younger demographic. Problem now is: how can I get traffic?

JW: Average traffic, average money. 10-12’000 page views a month for a personal blog won’t bring you much more than a couple 100 $ a month.

JW: Would you read your blog?

Ten tips:

– lots of valuable content
– host your blog yourself, own your domain
– AdSense is the crack of blog advertising, but don’t get hooked
– do 2-3 things really well in blog advertising
– CPA/CPL don’t work well (repeat audience)
– content syndication
– partner
– be smart about TLA (you don’t want to be exited by Google)
– don’t sell out
– if your audience supports it, blogging about stuff your paid for can work

*steph-note: going too fast, fingers hurt too much. folding up for this session.*

**Extra:**

– [Jeremy’s blog post](http://www.ensight.org/archives/2007/07/21/blog-monetization-session-wordcamp-2007/) and [powerpoint presentation](http://www.ensight.org/uploads/wordcamp.ppt)

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John C. Dvorak and Om Malik: Blogs vs. Journalism [en]

[fr] Conversation entre John C. Dvorak et Om Malik sur les similitudes et différences entre blogging et journalisme. Intéressant.

*These are my notes of [this session](http://2007.wordcamp.org/schedule/blogs-vs-journalism/). They may be inaccurate. Check with people who actually said the words before jumping up and suing them. Thanks.*

WordCamp 2007 John C. Dvorak, Om Malik, Matt Mullenweg

[John C. Dvorak](http://www.dvorak.org/blog/) thinks there is no difference whatsoever, and bloggers should be given credentials. The mainstream media are not taking bloggers seriously *yet*. *steph-note: I remember [Dvorak from 2002 and the kitty-heads](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2002/02/20/dvorakitty/).

[Om Malik](http://gigaom.com/): Shift… blogs have a different dynamic, do not replace mainstream journalism. Careful not to lump all bloggers in the same category.

*steph-note: arghl, going to sleep. Please, wake me up.*

JCD: bloggers cover crap stuff like Paris Hilton’s lost PDA or Tom Cruise doing something silly, just like the mainstream press. Problem. “Quote posts” amongst bloggers (quote, + “what is this guy thinking?”, and that’s your blog post). Driving mainstream media nuts. The blogging world will be rejected by the mainstream because they are an annoyance.

At one point, JCD had to fight to stick links to outside sites in his column (“OMG! if we link outside people will see how crap we are!”)

OM: comments can be good/bad. Important feature. You have to assume that your commentors care. They’ve spent time on your site. Respect that.

JCD: asking readers to fill in the blanks of your story *steph-note: like I’m doing for my 2002 Dvorak article* — very interesting, the whole of the information is in the post **plus** the comments.

OM: comments are what makes blogging different from mainstream media, tapping into the collective intelligence. Engage every single comment. Single most important lesson learned.

JCD: hey, you can moderate comments without killing the blog (JCD uses Spam Karma). Some comments don’t contribute much (“You suck!” doesn’t really add much to the conversation). Recommends moderating to make sure comments have value. Need critical mass of readers to have enough comments. Moderation should be the responsibility of the post author. In this new world, you make a post, these comments are part of your job as the writer.

OM: you set the tone. There are good bars, lousy bars. People choose. *steph-note: blog gardening is really important. what you accept or not will influence the way people act in the comments.*

WordCamp 2007 Om Malik

JCD: also need to relax. Not a national disaster if things go downhill in the comments. JCD has been called an idiot for 25 years, but he’s still up there ;-).

OM: you can rate comments.

JCD: doesn’t like rating comments, except restaurant reviews. *steph-note: I don’t like comment rating very much either.*

OM: One trick is to step away from what you wrote for 15 minutes before posting.

JCD: journalist trick: read out loud (really!) because your ears and eyes don’t work the same way. Catches a lot of errors.

OM: Actually, you can have your mac read it back to you.

Q [Ben Metcalfe](http://benmetcalfe.com/blog/): “no difference about bloggers and journalists” — could you explain more? Investigative journalism, holding government to account… More thoughts on the mainstream stuff.

JCD: Importance of layout. If it “looks too much like a blog”, you may lose credibility (people go “ah, it’s a *blog*”). Cf. [The Onion](http://www.theonion.com/content/index). NYT redesigned after the Onion (challenged!) Neo-blog style: credibility goes way higher, with same content. Same old templates, different flower, different pink, place for cat photo… Same old tired layouts.

WordCamp 2007 John C. Dvorak

BM: Is it really just a question of layouts?

JCD: What I’m saying is valid for first impressions.

Q: ??

JCD: “Citizen Journalism”: artificial construct *steph-note: what is it with Dvorak and cats?*

OM: Bloggers should call people. Try to get information directly from people. At least you can say you tried to get in touch.

JCD: Maybe take one course in journalism so at least you have a clue how it works, and study libel law, that’s important (you can’t call people a “crook” for example, you can get sued into oblivion — “douchebag”, however, is OK!)

OM: Actually, “douchebag” might even have a greater effect in the post. The English language is wonderful, has many ways of describing the same thing.

JCD: You need to be careful, and I think bloggers haven’t had the lecture on libel law. You don’t want to get sued for a minor comment or something.

OM: blogging uptake directly related to broadband penetration *steph-note: not sure about that!!*

Ben Metcalfe: places blogging is catching on are places where there is not really much free press (e.g. Eastern Europe, Iran — not necessarily lots of blogging). Absence of free press more valid correlation than broadband.

OM: Lots of blogging in USA etc.

JCD: yeah, countries with a lousy free press. We don’t have a free press.

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WordCamp 2007: Dan Kuykendall, Podcasting and podPress [en]

[fr] Notes prises à WordCamp 2007. Introduction au podcasting et à podPress, un plugin WordPress qui le transforme en machine à podcaster.

*Here are the notes I took of [Dan’s talk on Podcasting and podPress](http://2007.wordcamp.org/schedule/podcasting/). I did my best, but they may not be accurate.*

WordCamp 2007 Podcasting and podPress

[Dan Kuykendall](http://www.mightyseek.com/) is the author of the popular [podcasting plugin podPress](http://www.mightyseek.com/podpress/).

Podcasting is very similar to blogging (just audio/video). About getting your message out. All about content, in consumable ways. Feeds.

RSS2 feed + “enclosure” tag.

Difference with blogging: lots of offline podcast viewers/listening. (Not many offline blog readers.)

Gear? Microphone, recording software, site + RSS2, something to say/play. Dan has a $100 mike, a $100 external sound card — *steph-note: fancy! but not even necessary… in-built microphone and soundcard can do for starters.*). Software: [Audacity](http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/) is free, so is WordPress.

WordCamp 2007 Dan Kuykendall's Gear

Podcasting does not require a major investment.

Dan got into podcasting early 2006. *steph-note: is [that](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/02/18/nuit-du-journal-intime-quelques-paroles/) early, as far as the history of podcasting is concerned?* Podcasting is a little more personal than blogging (voice, etc.) Podcasters, like bloggers, really crave feedback. At that time, podcasting wasn’t built into iTunes. WordPress looks great for that, but if you’re interested in podcasting more than blogging… hmm.

WordCamp 2007 Dan Kuykendall

Dan heard about the plugin system in WordPress… He had figured out how to do podcasting and make his podcast look good in iTunes, but what about others? => started writing a [plugin, PodPress](http://www.mightyseek.com/podpress/). “Which has now grown a bit out of control!” *steph-note: indeed, problems with redundant queries which caused my site to be shut down by DreamHost twice in the last six months.*

Podcasting is not just about pointing to your mp3 files. PodPress adds meta information, media players, etc. This means your public can view your podcast even if they don’t use a dedicated “podcast reader” (iTunes…)

*steph-note: tour of podPress’s features, and demo (not blogging this)*

WordPress: amazing blogging platform and CMS, with tons of hooks for plugin developers.

*steph-note: my experience of podPress is lots of settings, does the job though, even with minimal settings. However, as I mentioned above, my blog has been taken down once and maimed at least once by DreamHost because it was raising the load on the server it was hosted on way too much. After narrowing down the problem, the culprit appeared to be podPress.*

Q from Dan: who is providing media content in their blog, but doesn’t use podPress? *steph-note: question unclear from me, in my mind a blog which provides media content is a podcast, as long as the media content is made available as an enclosure in the feed, which I thought WordPress did out of the box.*

Q from audience: monetization? A: no, for free, but PayPal donations, though they haven’t really covered the cost of hosting…

Q Mark JaquithAaron Brazell: I love podPress, but the only problem is the weekly releases… could we space them out a bit? A: never sure when I’ll be coding, so when I get some stuff done I release it. => Q for Matt: will WordPress support some kind of plugin update automation? A (Matt): yes, for 2.3 (at least notification). *steph-note: yay!*

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