Earlier I posted that i'd give entrecard a try. And well, it seems to work quite alright.
Over on the Blog Azeroth forums there was some worry about recent changes to the EntreCard pricing system. But I really don't notice much issues as those reported.
So, now you may be wondering :
- What is EntreCard, and why should you find it interesting?
Well in answer to that, it's a blog / site advertising system. And you probably won't find it very interesting unless you have a blog yourself. The point being however, is that a good number of blog readers have a blog of their own. And another number of visitors are either considering or may consider making a blog at a later point in time. So, in the end the following information might actually be useful to you. If not, well, just skip the text and head for the juicy pictures at the end.
If you want to give it a try, you simply head over to the Sign up page and follow the steps. Add a 125x125 image that describes your blog and add the code that will display the widget. Nothing to it.
Once you got your account and widget in place your blog should show up in their listings, and pretty soon you'll start receiving advertisement requests. More on that later.
EntreCard's base assumes a sort of virtual economy, you gain credits by clicking other people's banners, having your own banner clicked on, or even showing their banner in your widget. You can also buy or trade credits, but you'd be crazy to do so.
All users on EC have to have the widget active. The widget allows people to "drop" a card into it. When you drop a card you receive 1 credit, and the person that receives the drop also gains 1 credit. If that person is nice, they'll track back the person who dropped a card on theirs and return the favor which will effectively give you 2 credits in total. The limit to this is 300 card drops per day.
When you drop a card into their widget, your 125x125 card will be visible in their card in-box. Thus you are basically spreading your flyer around other people's blogs. If you're smart you drop it on relevant blogs (such as other warcraft related sites) first. This will tell other wow blog owners that you exist and allow them to drop cards on you as well. You'll start building up credits pretty fast.
These credits you can then use to buy advertising space on other people's blogs (widget). Your blog should be getting a lot of attention and familiarity pretty soon.
Too much text? OK, here's the short version :
* Make account.
* Place widget.
* Click other widgets or sell advertisements to gain credits.
* Use credits to buy advertisements.
Quite easy see?
It ain't perfect
As I said, you'll be getting advertisement requests pretty fast, and in plenty of numbers. The problem that EntreCard suffers from becomes quite clear within less than a day. A lot of the big players on EC are sites that sell credits, or offer games in which you can win credits. Then there's a bundle of sites that are completely irrelevant to your own blog but who love the cheap advertisement price of new blogs.
What can you do about it? Simple enough, you decline their advertisement requests. Don't be alarmed to see your "% of advert requests declined" steadily going up. Most wow blogs will suffer from this, but it's a small price to pay to offer relevant, or at least interesting links to other blogs. There's only 3 things in your statistics that are more relevant for others to know :
* Popularity rating. Popularity rating goes up depending on how many cards are dropped on your widget by others. If your site is popular, you'll receive more requests for advertisements, and your advertisement value should go up as well.
* Average advert is approved in x hours. Lower is better. When people buy an advertisement from you they'll have immediately paid the price. If you keep them waiting 2-3 days for a response.... That's quite rude, and it artificially inflates your advertisement cost. Something that's likely to keep interested parties away from your site.
* % of approved requests declined, Never cancel advertisements, it's bad for you. Keep this value at 0%
Cost to advertise
EC's advertisement cost is weird to say the least. If a site has zero advertisements on it, or in the queue, the cost is 1 credit. Each additional ad in the queue then doubles the cost for the next one. Thus you'll see values going 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 etc. Popular sites will end up quite expensive depending how many advertisements they have in the queue. As such there was a worry and outrage on Blog Azeroth about popular sites such as Big Red Kitty and Big Bear Butt going skyhigh across the 1024 ec cost to advertise.
Advertisement costs will fluctuate however. If you accept or decline new requests fast (as stated earlier) and don't keep too many advertisements lined up and waiting then your cost for other people will easily be within acceptable levels. Currently BRK and BBB are around 32-64 credits. If a site you wish to advertise on is outside of your budget, just wait for a day to allow existing advertisements to run their course and the price will halve.
For the most part, WoW blogs cost between 8-32 credits. Paying this fee will put your banner on that target site for 24 hours. The owner of that blog will receive 25% of the credits you paid once those 24 hours are finished. The other 75% is deleted to reduce inflation of ec credits.
What to expect
Once you start, things can seem to pick up really fast. I started by simply dropping some cards around which gave me a few credits. Soon i started receiving drops as return clicks. The more cards you drop, the more you can expect to see in return. You can't drop more than 300 per day however, but this should be more than fine for most people.
EC encourages people to read the latest blog post before dropping a card, however this isn't often the case. A lot of people simply visit the blog, drop their card and run off to the next blog to drop their card. While this may give your blog counters a heart attack, the actual visitors to your site will be fairly limited. Unless you have an amazing and relevant blog obviously. This is also why you should firstly focus on dropping cards on blogs that are relevant to your own. At least you can expect most of the visitors to have a chance at understanding your posts, and possibly coming back more often or subscribing to your RSS.
When you have enough credits (64 or so) go ahead and buy a bunch of advertisements at the same time. Pay 8 or 16 credits for sites that you know. And drop your card while you're at it so they know who you are. When people regularly see your card you'll become better known, and more likely to be accepted. If the blog owner is taking 4-5 days to accept or decline your request (and thus is holding your credits hostage), try sending them a message to please make up their mind. If this still fails i recommend just canceling the request yourself and find another blog to advertise on.
Tips n Tricks
Get "known", you won't accomplish much by saving up 128 credits and using it on a single advertisement. You want as many people as possible to see you exist, clicks don't matter.
You need credits to advertise, if you're willing to put some effort into it you can expect a lot in return. Now, you could just drop on random people and hope for the best, or drop cards where you know they're likely to receive a return drop. Browse trough the categories to see which ones are most relevant to yours or check the category browser to see the most popular blogs.
When looking trough those categories, try to focus on the people with a high drop rank. The more cards a person drops, the higher his drop ranking becomes. Such people are more likely to return your drops.
These are the different ranks for dropping :
* Deeply committed, Deadly serious, Drop masters
* Takes dropping Very Very Seriously
* Dedicated droppers with a hint of addiction
* Consistent, regular droppers
* Casual and relaxed
* Just here for the view
Casual, or just for the view, you can probably just ignore unless you wish to make a point out of letting them know about your blog. Don't bother dropping a card if you are expecting a return drop.
You can also visit the forums and see the Promotions and events section. Here you can perform actions and receive credits in return. Some examples would be stumbling a page, digg, or writing a review.
And finally, there's also a "you drop i follow" thing going on, which would improve your chances at getting a return drop.
As said before, quantity over quality seems to be a popular way to get yourself known. That doesn't take away the fact that quality sites will probably generate more traffic to your own blog. If you're short on credits however, use them wisely.
Slots, no not sluts like in the image slightly higher up on this page... Slots, if you like a daily gamble, would get you a few bonus credits. Chances are low, but it never hurts to take a shot at it.
Spam is bad, but harassment is worse. If you try to post your advertisement on a non relevant blog, and it gets declined then don't keep trying. It's annoying.
Keep your advertisement queue short and clean. Nothing is more annoying than waiting for 6 days for a response on an advertisement you pair 128 credits for, only to have it declined. If you're going to decline or accept something, do it fast. Check your queue on a daily basis.
In the end
A lovely dark haired lady in a tiny string bikini!! OK, she has a face like a horse, but were you really paying attention to that, eh? No wait,,, i'm straying from the subject again. You're almost at the end of this post, just hold on to your focus a tiny bit longer, you made it this far after all.
EC isn't bad. And it's free, but as with most free things there's positives and negatives. As also said by TJ.
* Extremely simple to register, install and use.
* Free advertising is always good if you are not interested in spending actual money.
* You get to pick where to advertise yourself, and who can advertise on your site.
* Discovering new and interesting blogs trough following other entrecards.
* A large part of the EC system is dominated by blog games, and people who are here to tell you how to make money.
* A lot of EC users simply fly by to drop their card and run off to the next site.
* A lot of high traffic blogs are artificially kept high by blogs running contests or selling RSS subscriptions for ec credits. Actually good blogs will tend to be around the middle of the actual popularity list.
If you're still reading this far down, good job! I know it's a lot of text, but hopefully you found it an interesting read.
Personally, i can only encourage you to give EntreCard a try. If after a month of time you aren't satisfied with it, just dump it. If you don't care about your % accept and decline ratio for advertisements then EntreCard is a good way to allow lesser known blogs to advertise on your own and expand the warcraft blogging community.
If you're suddenly inspired to make a blog of your very own, have a poke at Blogger or WordPress. Let me know when you have a few posts up and i'll come over and take a look :)
If you already have EntreCard on your blog, what are your experiences with it so far?
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